July 8, 2014

The Axe

Four months seems to be a time frame that the most memorable times in my life were spent. As a fifth grader four months seemed like much longer. Four months was the amount of time we spent at Grandma and Grandpa's after the banker put all of Mama and Daddy's stuff out in the snow. That day I came home from first grade and saw Mama standing in the yard surrounded by the stove; I remember the stove the most. Maybe because the stove is where I stood so often to be warm in the house without heat. The stove eye is where I had laid my reader from first grade. The one that had Sally on the cover. The shape of the stove eye could not be hidden from my first grade teacher. It could not be hidden from the bratty little kids in the class either. What happened to your book? I never answered. I have always had a great gift of fibbing, not answering and ignoring anything I did not want to face. Four months was the time spent with Daddy's brother and his family after Grandmother's house burnt. I had this crazy notion that I should stay with my Daddy's sister just like my Grandmother did. That is one of the things that still makes me have the complex notion that I am not good enough or as good as others. Daddy's sister had girls, I should have got to stay with my girl cousins. I wished to stay in the brick better house without the fighting that was an everyday thing with Daddy and his brother. The whole four months were full of fighting. The simple thing would have been for Daddy to refuse to stay where we were not wanted. That was the main cause for many of the fights.
We had dried beans and cornbread for most of the meals during the four months we were there. The fights were often after supper. That was the time that both brothers were home from loafing most of the day while we were at school. There were times they were at work, but not as often as the just roaming the roads. The work that they did was for their brother-in-law; that was who I wanted to stay with during this time. I wanted this in my mind, but knew that my aunt was not about to put up with Daddy's drinking and Mama's mental state. At that time she was dubbed crazy before she really went crazy. I know she was not crazy because she had worked the four months we stayed at her mom and dads. She saved the money for us to come to Alabama.
I often over heard the adults talking about Joe Abe getting a place of his own during this time. Grandmother and Grandaddy moved into the new little brick house in March. It broke my heart what I heard from Grandmother's mouth, "this will give Joe a chance to find them a place of their own." Yet another time that I felt as though I was not good enough to live in the new house. Grandmother had came to get us at the bus station to live with her and now she did not want us in her new house. We instead were still at the old not painted house that Daddy's brother rented from Steve Garner. Steve was a second cousin to my Grandaddy and just as evil as Grandaddy was.
The fighting only got worse as the weeks went by. One of the worst was the cut that Uncle Keith put in between Daddy's eyes. This was another one of those after supper fights that spilled all the pinto beans from supper onto the kitchen floor. My aunt had went to great pain to come up with the money to buy the beans only for Daddy and Uncle Keith to knock them into the floor. The butcher knife was an old hickory and very sharp. It was easy for him to grab and swing it across Daddy's forehead. The wound was deep to the bone and took forever to heal. The whiskey he consumed daily must have made it harder for it to heal. The cut within days started to rot around the cut spot.
During the day fighting they did I missed, except on Saturday afternoons. Finally on one spring Saturday afternoon the fighting was to what was going to turn tragic. Well, it did not turn tragic, but could have. The uncanny thing about it was that terrible thing that could have happened got me where I wanted to be. To this day there are many times that I really believe fate is on my side. I say fate really knowing that God has watched over me for me to not have it so terrible.
The porch of that old non-painted house went all the way across the front. There were two front screen doors, one into the kitchen and one into the livingroom. The fight had started in the livingroom, because Daddy was just sitting on the couch doing nothing. Uncle Keith had the notion that they should go to Grandmother's new house and move a sand pile left from where the concrete was mixed to lay the bricks on the house. Daddy was not in the mood to do anything anyone wanted him to do, he was on the couch for a drinking afternoon.
His brother was hell bent on getting Daddy off the couch, in the car and moving the sand pile. He walked past the couch and snatched him onto the floor instead of pulling him up Daddy hit the floor. He got up out of the floor and went out the screen door, off the porch and by the pole that held the porch up he grabbed the first thing he saw to use as a weapon. That day it was not a broom, garden hoe or stick, it was an axe. Uncle Keith came out the front door after Daddy. We the four of use kids had made it outside to watch the fight. I was standing behind Daddy as he stood hiding the axe behind his back. Aunt Nell was not there when the fight started, but pulled up to see what Daddy was holding behind his back. She did not get out of the car. She backed out and went to get Grandmother. The trip to the new house was five or so minutes away. Fifteen minutes at most. Aunt Nell came back with Grandmother. She pulled the car right up to the fight. Grandmother got out of the car begging Daddy to put the axe down. He only stood there with that evil drunk look that I remember seeing so many times. He was grinning as she pleaded with him to drop the axe. This was one time that after Uncle Keith realized that Daddy had an axe he did not move towards him to fight back. He just stood on the porch hoping the women would talk Daddy into putting down the axe.
He finally did and what got him to put it down was Grandmother telling him that the only way this fighting was going to stop, before someone got hurt really bad was for Daddy to come back and live with her. When she told him to put the axe down and get us and all of are clothes, he did finally put down the axe.
Mama had hid in the kitchen during the whole axe deal. I ran in and told her that Grandmother said we could come to the new house. The fight with the axe was the fight that ended the crazy four months we lived with Daddy's not so kind brother. Once again I was gathered up and taken to Grandmother's house.

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