Friday, February 14, 2020

Peacekeeper - 1969

The small waste can bounced off of my brother’s head and he slammed into the picture frame, shattering the glass and cutting his wrist as he fell to the ground. The old man stood over him, yelling, “That’s your mother- she’s MY girlfriend and that’s who I care about!”

He was about to strike another blow, he was like that, given to seemingly out of control rages, though I had often suspected he was, at all times, by virtue of his outbursts, in perfect control. My slender, but firm, hand reached out to stay his arm as he arched it backwards. “That’s enough!” I yelled. “He’s bleeding!”

The old man stood back and surveyed the damage he had done. His eyes took in the form of his crumpled older boy on the floor, weeping; and the broken frame and glass which sprinkled the black and white tiles of the foyer, the blood on the wall, and he stared in disbelief.

I began to clean up the mess as the two former combatants, who had only moments before been so bold and loud toward one another, slunk away, as if by doing so they could undo what had just happened.

The glass was cleaned up, and the frame removed to some long forgotten corner of a closet. The old man finished cleaning and dressing my brother's wound, and then we all went to the hospital to see Mom.

It was Valentine’s Day 1969. My brother was 16 that day and wanted to see his girlfriend, whom he would later marry. My father wanted to have a little birthday/Valentine’s Day party in the day room at the hospital for my Mom. I just wanted to see her. And she just wanted to see us.

Why am I writing this story now, after so many years? What point am I trying to make? Only that the simplest of emotions, and the best of intentions, can sometimes both backfire and blow up in your face. There is no explanation for our emotions, sometimes there is only damage control.

Note: The photograph was taken in July of 1969 on a trip to Florida. The flag, at St. Augustine, is flying at half staff. I have always remembered this as being in honor of Senator Everett Dirksen, who had just passed away. Evidently my memory fails me, as Senator Dirksen did not pass away until September.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Bitter Man

'Tis a bitter man I am, man.
'tis a bitter man I am.
They didn't allow all that I can, man.
So, 'tis a bitter man I am.

They left me in a jam, man.
They did this and then ran.
Left me doing what I can, man.
Now, 'tis a bitter man, I am.

NOTE: Illustration by Fred Bernard.