You Try and Save Mebysweepthefloor©
I finally sleep with the smell of that new book in my face. Only about twenty pages to go when my eyes closed forcefully with the light still on, the print blankets my face. Waking up where I left off some six hours earlier the story is finished. Supposedly a novel a day keeps the shrink wrapper away, my theory in high school. No, I do not want to meet with the child study team so they can put ink blots in front of my face and ask me what I see in the picture. I see nothing, it is just black ink smeared onto a white index card, nothing more than that. People always want to make more out of things when really less is best.
I look out of the broken back porch door, into the small yard and alley way where honey suckles grow wild and taste better than white sugar. The bathtub sits in the yard filled with brown water and algae. Goldfish swim in that porcelain pond. In the bathroom upstairs half the wall is gone. I see the innards of housing, two by fours and wires and broken off sheet rock. She pees in the toilet and I can not wait any longer so I pee in the bathtub while sitting on the edge of it like it is one big toilet bowl, she flushes and I turn on the water then we brush our teeth with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and we have the whitest teeth in school. Our white smiles render us lucky even if our teeth are crooked.
I have golden-locks, dirty blonde to be truthful that shines to strawberry in the sunlight. I braid my head with two long thick braids that look like ropes that could strangle a man to death. When you see me I am all knees, in shorts with baseball spikes on my feet. I am the tallest kid in my class till I start smoking tobacco and drinking coffee; I think I stopped growing. My home is behind home plate, I have a strong arm, and I am a good catch. I hear the umpire call strikes and balls and safes and outs for nine innings, after the pitch my catchers mask comes off every single time. I feel the fastness of the pitch in my glove and it stings the palm of my hand and turns it red. I beat the ground with the baseball bat, keep my eye on the ball and crack it over the fence, just to hear that sound. I still live behind home plate in that squatting position.
You can always distinguish the poor kids from the middle kids in Catholic grammar schools. The have-nots wear stiff socks that are hand washed every single night in the sink and dried on the oven doors in the morning; the socks lose their elasticity from the washing and linger around the ankles all stretched out leaving cold bare white legs turning blue and big knees. You can spend your days pulling your socks up to your knees but eventually you just forget about them. The blue plaid jumper does not have any fabric left to hem, except for a thread and it just keeps getting shorter and shorter and shorter. You rub holes in your navy sweater where the thumb lives and eventually your thumb pokes through it, now you are covered; the sweater with your holes for your thumbs to live in shelter your wrists and most of your hands; compensating for your exposed bruised knees.
Your Daddy drives a nineteen fifties Plymouth painted primer gray and it makes lots of noise but it does run. It has that old car smell of ripped leather, stale smoke, empty beer bottles and rotten padding, you get the pliers to roll down the window to get some air. The torn seat is irritating your bottom so you shift your weight. Your Dad wears a soft flannel shirt and worn in blue jeans with paint stains. You can not imagine a man dressing or smelling any other way than him. When high school comes to town your first Daddy approved date looks like your Dad. You drink milk shakes and drive in the woods with his four by four truck for courting. It is muddy and dirty and the truck gets stuck. He knows not to keep spinning the wheels, we just go deeper and deeper into the tracks. We walk, holding hands, in the dark, in the woods to my house to find some plywood to wedge between the mud and his tires because we have vocational school in the morning: you are going to be an electrician and I am going to cut hair and paint nails. I am a beauty school drop out in a cold black leather jacket.
I live in my room and it becomes a museum. On the ceiling is a painting of a street map, I glue little match-box cars and plastic trees to the roads. With his tools I mount the furniture to the walls elevated off of the floor and paint each piece shiny black. Every wall is a mural of hearts and rainbows and clouds with red rain drops. I live in the sky. There is no television and no telephone but I have books that I eat for breakfast lunch and dinner. I stay up all night and sleep at school; it is boring anyway and I stumble through the hallways trying to find my classroom. I like my art teacher and my english teacher so I produce for them. I only want to seduce my history teacher and I know he wants me. All the grown men want to save me, and they all think they can, it gives them power.