Monday, September 14, 2009
After The Storm Breaks Pt. 1
In the east thunderheads were gathering, giant black and grey anvils, stacking up on one another. In the west the sun was setting slowly. Bantam cocks fought in the yard as my father and I filled the barn with bale upon bale of hay. With each toss and turn, the stacks grew higher and higher. Finally after hours of stooping and reaching and grabbing and tossing- we were done. Just as we closed the barn doors a crash of lightning announced the arrival of the storm.
My father and I ran, almost skipping, through the rain, thrilling in the wild downpour of the sudden storm. That was the last moment I want to remember. We stopped short of the porch when we saw the figure of my mother crying by the back step. Around her were all the dishes, every last dish in the house, lying broken and shattered in a semi-circle around her. At her feet lay the two Bantam cocks that fought in the yard. She had wrung their necks, and the blood that dripped from their beaks was on her hands.
Not knowing what to do I rushed inside. The kitchen was empty. There was nothing in the cupboards, in the pantry or on the counter tops. When I got to the dining room I found out where everything was. The kitchen knives were stabbed into the table and the seats of chairs. Everything had been thrown or stabbed, or stabbed and thrown. I had never seen anything like it. I almost laughed at the clever way my mother's madness arranged the knives, smallest to largest, except one knife was missing, there in the middle, taken away, like a man with a broken grin.
Things had never been this bad before. Even when my mother had her "that-sort-of-day" days, even when her medication ran out because she had been taking them and throwing them down the sink. I ran upstairs to the office to the phone to call someone, but when I got there I didn't know who to call. I thought about calling my siblings, maybe my older brother Ted who still lived in the area, only a twenty minute drive away, or maybe my sister Susan, she was down in Moulton though, a whole hour to the south. I sat there paralyzed by the phone, I knew that I needed to call someone, because my father was down there dealing with my mother, who would probably try to hurt him or me, or both, like she did last summer when she pushed my cousin James to the floor and bit him on the shoulder. But she'd been taking her medication and we thought, we thought things were getting better.
I ran my hand over the phone, I still didn't know who to call when I heard my father yell from down stairs. He yelled in pain. This was the man I saw lose a finger without flinching, he didn't bat an eye when the tractor engine sheared off his right ring finger. He simply grabbed a kitchen towel, wrapped it around his hand, and walked to the car. My father calmly drove to the hospital with his hand above his head. So when I heard him cry out in pain, I knew my mother had stabbed him. I knew she had done this because last winter we took her to the hospital and as the orderlies took her away she whispered in my ear "I'm going to get you for this you little shit, I can't believe you'd betray your own mother for Christ's sake." and then no longer in a whisper she yelled "I'm going to get you all, oh yes, you'll all pay, they won't get me." When the double doors slammed shut we could hear her yelling down the hall.
I was finally happy and free for about three months. Father and I worked the farm, and we even allowed ourselves to laugh sometimes. We didn't have to force pills down my mother's throat, we didn't have to wake up at three in the morning and drive along country roads to go find her.
And I didn't have to run to the phone to go call someone.