Posted on June 29, 2015June 29, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair6.29.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Le Trou June 29, 2015: When they got together… Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Mam said they wasn’t welcome in the house. No sir. Not with their cussing and their smell and their clumsiness. They was always spilling their drinks and making more mess with their trying to clean it up. And some of ‘em smoked pipe tobacco and it stayed caught in the curtains for days and choking the air. Or they was always farting, blowing like trumpets, and such a performance of it they made and slapping each other on the back and laughing and saying well done Sparks or Kitt or Brewster.
Mam said they could use the garage for their get-togethers. They wouldn’t be disturbed out there and they could just be by themselves and be themselves. They played cards some nights, or dominoes, or they just chewed the fat, cutting their mean bosses down to flea-size with the sharpness of their comments – or they talked of girls they wished they could but never would or fish they’d caught and thrown back.
I stood outside the garage window where they didn’t know I was and I listened to ’em sometimes and to what they was saying. They talked about their wives some, and not a bad word said against any of the women, not really. It was like a prayer meeting then, all their voices shrunk to hush and a softness in their words, ‘cept they threw in cuss-words for emphasis.
And da said our mam was an angel in disguise and he said he felt close to fucking heaven when she was laying sleeping next to him in his bed. And he touched her sometimes, just because he didn’t always believe she was real, touched her hair and her lips and her titties. And that did not sound like he was talking ‘bout our mam, not the same mam that snapped against his drinking too much, or his dirty hands under her dress when it was not descent to do that in front of us kids, or mam that said he smelled like a pig sometimes and she said cleanliness was next to godliness and he was sure as eggs to go to hell and keep company with the devil for the way that he smelled.
And listening to ‘em talking about this and that, it seemed to me that grown ups is at least two different people held hostage in the same body at once. Our da, soft and lilting and loving when he was with his mates or when he was in the dark and watching mam sleep; and da hard as slammed doors and punched air when he was just out of his bed in the morning and mam was crying to him up the stairs that he was going to be late for work and what would we do then for food on the table.
And Sparks and Wood and Brewster and all the rest, well they was just the same. Not always soft ’bout their wives, but there was someone that made ‘em melt, slippy as butter that has been left out of the fridge on a warm day. And Jenny at the shop could do that to all of ‘em – Jenny that was nineteen maybe, and Sparks had kissed her once and it was at the Church fete and he paid a pretty penny to charity for that kiss and he aint ever forgotten it, turns it over and over when he’s laying next to his own wife and she’s sleeping. And all of the others, I can hear ‘em thinking to themselves, and the silence is full of breath and blow and suck, and our da clears his throat but he don’t say nothing – not about our mam and her saying they wasn’t welcome in the house, or Jenny who was always pleased to see you in the shop and she asked before you had paid if there was anything else she could do for you – and fuck, said Sparks, but she could sell kisses at the shop and that’d do for any of ‘em.
And I walk away then.
Later, when I am alone and in my bed, and da is maybe touching mam as she sleeps, I close my eyes against the dark, and I put the tips of my fingers to my lips and I imagine what it would be to kiss Jenny in the shop like Sparks did once.
Yes, so they sit about sometimes, drinking tea and putting the world to rights, talking serious and loud, and like it’s so fucking obvious and easy and they don’t know how the people in high places don’t see it. They got opinions ‘bout most things and if they don’t got an opinion they get one, plucking it out of the air so as they’ve got something to say.
They argue ‘bout everything and nothing. That’s just their way. That’s what they’ve always done and it’s accepted by ‘em all. But there’s some things they agree on, things that is at the heart of what they are and what they think. I know cos I hang with ‘em sometimes, and it’s there in all that they say and do.
You got to help those as need help. That’s beyond dispute. We’re all in this together, whatever this is, and we got to work for each other, to make things better for everyone. Like when Mrs Elizabeth Cartell’s husband died sudden of a stroke – and they shook their heads and they said it was on account of the things that he ate and the beer that he drank – enough to float a battleship – and Mr Thomas Cartell living on his nerves rather than on his wits: betting on horses with every penny he had and, well, aint that a mug’s game? And when Mr Thomas Cartell just keeled over in the middle of the high street and was dead as a door after, didn’t they all chip in and Mikey went round with his cap in his hand and a gift of some money to keep the wolves from the front of the house.
She’s a good looking woman, Mikey said when he came back, and he licked his fingers and scratched at his crotch and everyone agreed that was not proper in the circumstances. And Mikey apologized if he had spoken out of turn and so it was all ok.
Yes, so helping those in need, that’s important to ‘em. As is the faithfulness of women and their men. Of course, they talk about women they’d not kick out of their beds – like it might be possible that Angelina Jolie would one day turn up in Kitt’s back room wearing nothing but a smile! But though they talk ‘bout what they’d do with all the pretty women of the world, they stay true to their wives and they say as how that is important, though they none of ‘em talk ‘bout love or two hearts beating as one.
And being true to each other, that’s a rule, too. Loyalty they call it. And there aint no one stands taller than the other cos they’re all the same. And even if it was the Queen as called in for cup of tea – milk and two sugars she’d take according to Brewster, cos why wouldn’t she with all the money she has – she’d get no special place to sit but they’d make room for her in their circle.
As for me, well, I’m not quite like ‘em cos I aint married yet. There’s a different rule for ‘em as aint yet walked down the aisle in a sharp suit. You got to play the field, son, they tell me, and sow some wild oats and get it out of your system. And so when we next collect some money for Mrs Elizabeth Cartell, it’s me as is sent to deliver it, and they was all winking and grinning and saying as how it wasn’t right for a woman to be alone for the rest of her days just cos her fat slug of a husband didn’t do right by her.
And Mikey was right about Mrs Elizabeth Cartell being a good looking woman and that’s all I’m saying and all I’m allowed to say according to their rules – though they all of ‘em know what’s what by the smile on my face when they mention her name and they nod and are quiet for a moment, making room in their thinking for what me and Mrs Elizabeth Cartell done together.
‘You was a help to her, I should think,’ said Corrigan. And we left it at that.