No one believes me when I tell them I do not know what my father did for a living. In elementary school I had a friend whose dad was a doctor. I had a friend whose father was the conductor of the Philharmonic orchestra in our city. My mother pushed me to be friends with both those girls. I think she hoped it would raise our status by association.

My father was rarely home. His business trips took him away for indefinite periods of time leaving my mother with bills to pay and no money to pay them. I knew that she asked my grandfather for money which couldn't have been an easy thing to do. My grandfather was not the type of man to say I told you so,but his eyes were sad when he handed my mother money to pay for groceries and to keep the bill collectors away for another week.

If there had been a "Take Your Daughter to Work" day in the '60's. I would have ended up in an old warehouse. A small, tool filled warehouse that smelled like old tires. My father had a desk and a swivel chair in the corner of the room but it was piled high with junk.

Instead of saying he was going to work, my father would say, I'm going down to "S"street.

66 "S"Street was in the black neighborhood. My father, a white man, never seemed to have any problems with them and they never seemed to have a problem with him.

The people my father had problems with were the people who wanted their money. One afternoon when I was seven my mother opened the front door to some men who needed to see my father about "business."

My husband is out of town, she told them, glancing nervously at her company. I quickly offered the ladies in the dining room more cake and coffee so they would not be so intent on the conversation in the hallway. I felt sorry for my mother. I knew she was ashamed and embarrassed in front of the women. These women knew where their husbands were and what they did for a living.

When my father returned from that particular trip he brought me a present. While he and my mother argued over unpaid bills and strange looking men at the front door, I played listlessly with a doll dressed in a Japanese kimono. She was almost my height. I remember not wanting her in my room.

I always hoped my father would start doing a real dad job. I wanted him to have an office in one of the tall sleek buildings downtown. With elevators and secretaries. Not a sliding wooden door with rows of padlocks and the number "66" painted on the front.

The few times he brought me with him, I pretended the warehouse was a fun place as I spun around in the dusty swirly chair. I made up beautiful stories in my head about the dismal surroundings.

One night I heard my aunt's frantic whispers and my mother's muffled tears from the bedroom. Someone threatening to kill someone with an ax. Someone begging my father to put down the ax. "Begging on his knees," I heard my mother whisper in horror.

I never spun around in the dusty swirly chair again.

Forty years later I live near a restaurant with a wood burning oven. Outside my bedroom window I can hear the chop, chop, chop of the ax as they split the wood for tomorrow's pizza.

I shut my window and turn up the volume on the television until they are done.


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Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on December 28, 2012 at 7:31am

I think your childhood-memory pieces are remarkable, this, perhaps, my favorite; it's harrowing in a simple manner, that is, it's genuinely compelling and frightening.

Comment by Hyblaean~ Julie on December 28, 2012 at 7:33am

ugh :( I remember reading this before, or an earlier version. It makes me have that same elevator stomach feeling 

Comment by Joan H on December 28, 2012 at 7:35am
Rita, you ARE first! I hope I can put them all together in a collection, yes. My goal for 2013... :)Your input is so appreciated.xox

Jonathan, this one is one I thought about leaving out. Thank you for your input!
Comment by Joan H on December 28, 2012 at 7:41am
Julie, that's exactly why I think about leaving this one out. Too ugh...
Comment by Hyblaean~ Julie on December 28, 2012 at 7:46am

no, visceral is perfect. It means that even though I didn't have a Dad exactly like that I can still relate it to my own life and get resonance out of it. It's a very good thing.

Comment by Joan H on December 28, 2012 at 8:01am
Some of the stories I've written as though they are happening now, and some as though I am looking back. I want them to all be consistent. Anyone have a preference?
Comment by Zanelle on December 28, 2012 at 8:22am

I like the idea of triggers.  The story is so powerful and then at the end you get a time warp and see what triggered the memory.  Excellent.  Go beyond time.

Comment by Joan H on December 28, 2012 at 8:46am
Thanks, zanelle. :)
Comment by Lyle Elmgren on December 28, 2012 at 8:52am

I think it is good to show that few if any of us live in a perfect world.

Good writing.

Comment by Joan H on December 28, 2012 at 9:28am
Thanks, Lyle. It's true, no perfect world exists. For kids, we wish we could make it so...


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