That noise. It has stayed with me for as long as I’ve been sucking oxygen.
It’s like the sound of a fiberglass fishing pole whipping the air in rapid succession.
No. It’s the sound a rubber hose makes when you twirl it overhead. Helicopter blades slicing
the atmosphere? That noise.
The memory of that day is tattooed on my Grey matter. ‘Think ink’.
Me. A thirteen year-old punk, a pisspot. My acne-pocked, “Pizza-with-the-works”
pre-pubescent self-portrait. Attitude running rampant and in search for an outlet
for pent up male aggression. Enter my big mouth. My mother, God Bless her,
had her hands full with a half-dozen kids and my father, sometimes passionate,
most times inebriated. Sometimes a funny drunk. Most times not. And me (see
description above) looking for my place. Aimless, self-guided and a batch of stupid ideas
in my ever inquisitive psyche. That day. That noise.
Set the scene.
Sunny, summer, Saturday afternoon. Dad, soberly sitting at the kitchen table.
Sports page spread, cigarette – his unlit and dangling oral fixation. Mom,
the housework Houdini, hands submersed in suds, her sincere supplication
to a snippy, spoiled brat son. It all hinged on that simple request. “Can you take out the trash?”
I don’t know what prompted my edgy (read ignorant) reply. But the words
fought each other to be the first ones across my lips.“I don’t feel like it. Why don’t you take it out?”
Silence. Jaw dropping silence. I looked over to my father thinking, “Look at the man you raised.
A chip off the old shot glass.” But two words were all that emerged from my cavernous cavity. “Oh Shit!” Strike two.
He extricated the cigarette from his pucker. He folded his newspaper. By the time
his palms hit the table to push himself erect, I had bolted out the screen door.
I ran as fast as my wiry Wally wheels could carry me. There was a second slam of the screen.
Then it came. That noise. That fiberglass fishing pole, that rubber hose, low flying helicopter.
It came faster and louder than my fumbling flat feet could carry me.
I found myself cast in a Peckinpah movie. In slow-motion I went down, felled like a sequoia.
Face first and tumbling like a handicapped hedgehog. My father, not one to waste unnecessary movement,
only got three steps outside the door. He reached for the broom that had previously leaned lazily
against the clapboard. He deftly flung the aluminum projectile like an anodized boomerang.
As it followed its circuitous path it cut the air, like a fishing pole. Rubber hose. Helicopter, catching me
perfectly at the back of my neck. Lights out. Down for the count.
I lay there stunned as my father slowly approached. He stood over my prone body pointing a reprimanding finger at me. “Don’t ever let me hear you sass back to your mother again!” Then broom in hand, he turned and headed back to the house. Stopping abruptly, he made a sweeping motion in the air. “A clean sweep” he laughed. From that moment I made it a point to mind my verbiage around my mother. And in case
I had a lapse of memory, I hid the broom.
And I still hear that noise.