Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mag 77 -- She was nine.

Summer Evening, Edward Hopper, 1947

"Why didn't you ever tell me before now, Sis? How old were you?"

Cliff flicked a long, hot ash onto the pea gravel below the porch of the old house where he and Leeza had grown up. It was the first cigarette he'd smoked in eight years.

"Nine. I was nine. It happened after my ninth birthday party at the bowling alley," Leeza answered with her husky voice dialed way low.

"I want to go inside and kill that mother fucker, you know that I do. No, I want to kick him out into the street and beat him to near-death, then turn the headlights of all his yard junkers onto that pile of shit and blast a horn to wake up the neighbors...then let you scream out what he did to you that night."

A moth flew onto the porch and clunked around the bare light bulb burning above them.

"Where's a bat when you need one," Leeza wondered under her breath.

"I have one on the shelf in my old closet," Cliff said with growing excitement. "Are you thinking...."

"Cuh-rist, Cliff! I meant a bat to take out that asshole moth!" Her twitch of a smile flattened quickly when Leeza added, "He didn't do it just once — and what makes you think I'd tell a bunch of strangers what happened when it took me all these years to tell you?"

God, how he hated this house, this town. Cliff never understood why Leeza stuck around this low-life place, why in the world she chose to live in Scio only five miles away. He was no psychologist or anything but he wondered if her working at the Wal-Mart where the bowling alley used to be had any connection. He would never have come back if Leeza hadn't called saying she needed him now to help her to make decisions about the old man.

"I asked the doctor if this Alzheimer's could have hit him in his early 40's, when — you-know — started. But they said nah, this is a now thing just beginning. He's just starting to do stupider things than he ever did when he was 'normal.' Did I tell you he gave the '55 Ford away to that broad who used to be his dance partner at the club? It was no biggie, but it was my favorite of all these heaps and I think he knew it deep down in the part of him that will always want to hurt me."

Cliff lit another cigarette. "Leeza, you don't owe the bastard anything. I don't see any dilemma here. I think we should forget about him and let him rot alone inside the house eating canned beans and watching Fox News."

"And with his Bible on the side table," Leeza snarled. "This morning he read that commandment out loud to me while I was making notes about his meds. You know, the one about honoring your father and mother...that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth? The jerk. He knows he's losing it so he's playing the guilt card to keep me coming around to take care of him."

"Guilt card?" Cliff stomped the cigarette into the old wood. "You have nothing to feel guilty about!" he urged.

Cliff watched Leeza bite the corner off of a ragged fingernail and spit it into the darkness.

"Hmmm," she pondered. "Well it has never been so WELL with me. And, you think I want to live. long. on. the. earth? .....Right."

Leeza closed her eyes and let her head drop back. She took a deep breath, just in time to fully inhale the smoke from scorched, dusty wings sizzling on the porch light.

 MLydiaM ~ August 2011

This Magpie is a work of fiction inspired by the photo prompt at Magpie Tales, where you can, of course, find many magnificent Magpies to read and enjoy.



Erratic Thoughts said...

Wow that was tough...
thinking of living long should not kill the moment...
Glad she realizes it in the end...
Nice work :)

Doctor FTSE said...

Very good. You catch the sound of their speech very well. And you understate the story of what happened to the nine year old girl equally well.

Brian Miller said...


you set the scene very well..agree with FTSE you did not need to say more on the abuse, it leaves a eerie feeling as is...def was getting my blood pressure up...

mythopolis said...

Oh boy...I could feel the tension in all of this. And, could relate to the dialogue of two people at one age processing and looking back on a time long ago that still carries so much weight after all the years...still trying to comprehend it, still feeling, even reeling from that life changing moment of a distant year. Very powerful, Lydia. And the Hopper painting took on a whole other mood, or context, for me.

Morning said...

live talks in between, well done.

Darlene said...

A short story of a long brutal life summarized eloquently. We hope that a brother's caring will help her through her dilemma of how to handle the pedophile. (Personally, I like the brother's solution best. There is no crime lower than the abuse of a vulnerable child.)

There's a lot to digest. The Bible was a neat touch that told the truth of the hypocrisy of 'pseudo' religious nuts.

Lydia said...

Erratic Thought~ Thanks much for your visit and comment. I really enjoyed my visit to your blog as a result. :)

Doctor FTSE~ I so appreciate your giving my Magpie a read and providing me with such great feedback.

Brian~ Hey, if this got your blood pressure up then I feel I accomplished something here. Thanks for the feedback. And speaking of "eerie" one came close to your Magpie for that this week!

mythopolis~ Your comments are so helpful to me in gauging where I hit and miss, and I thank you.
This was one Hopper that, if I ever had seen it, I was not aware of -- so I didn't have earlier feelings for it. The people simply looked like siblings to me, and I took it from there.

Morning~ Thank you for saying that. Dialogue has always been difficult for me, so I am working on it.

Darlene~ It almost seems you know those people you gave me such honest, sensitive feedback. I sure agree with you about there being no lower crime than the abuse of a child, and at the hands of a family member it is unforgivable. Bless the people who work with cases like this on a daily basis, the most difficult jobs, I think.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

i love Hopper, so have been quite annoyed not to be able to find time this week to do a magpie.

I like yours though - they do look like they are having a very deep and dark conversation, dont they?

Lydia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ds said...

I see we were of like minds this week. What a story, and so well told. Thank you.

Tess Kincaid said...

Excellent write. Bats...spitting...we are on the same vibe this week!

Bee's Blog said...

The intensity of this short story is electrifying. The conversation between the couple is for me, obviously serious . The body language in this painting tells me so. Great write.

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Hopper is indeed great. He brings about a longing in me, but never what I would call a feeling of joy, and that includes this painting.
I am reallyreally anxious for you to join in on Magpies. Next week?
{Note: I originally wrote join in on FF55 instead of Magpies, but obviously I hope you write for both of them!}

ds~ Yes, we were, as were Tess and I. Always fascinating.
Thank you for being here.

Tess~ Thanks much. Yes, the bats made some sense, but the spitting? Now, that was really something!

Bee's Blog~ I so appreciate your comments. Thank you.
I thought the conversation looked serious, and not romantic, and isn't it interesting the different interpretations? That's what art is all about.

bfk said...

Absolutely engrossing.

Lydia said...

bfk~ I am pleased you found it to be that. Always a pleasure to see you here, bfk.



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