I am writing this on my new and much improved laptop, an Asus, which is honestly amazing and for which I no doubt paid too much money, but, I did NOT pay too much money for the fellow who bought it for me, loaded it for me, and managed to move everything from my dead laptop to this one, all configured and readied so that I did not have to spend forever figuring shit out. Would that he could “migrate” the rest of my life in the same way.
That said, I am – fingers crossed – seeming to finally emerge from the writing dead zone. I have begun something that I actually can almost stand, and, so, I am going to blog less and write more. Here’s a taste of it — and I warn you, this is FIRST ITERATION — I’ve no idea into what it will finally morph.
The nuns gave Parker Jones, age six, and his sister, Maggie, age thirteen, second place in the talent show because the Hickman family was going through a divorce, the first in the small Roman Catholic parish, and it trumped the dead father aura which had long made the Jones’s the whispered about, pitied ones.
“It’s better, don’t you think, Parker? “ Sister Anthony whispered, having materialized like she did, right next to Parker, to whisper in his ear whenever he so much as considered having a thought or feeling less than worthy of the boy destined to be the first American Pope. “Wouldn’t you much rather picnic with Father Willhaven, Sister John Vienna and me? Doesn’t it give you a good feeling, knowing how the Hickmans need that twenty-five dollar first prize?”
Parker knew that each of the seven blonde beautiful Hickman children who’d butchered “So Long, Farewell” with their out-of-tune vonTrapp imitation – divorce or not – had their own bedrooms in their huge, modern split-level house with a swimming pool, and wore clothes their mother mail-ordered for them from big city stores, and went on vacations every summer, and were visited regularly by non-English-speaking relatives from some-exotic-where ending in “-uania” from whence had come their not very-well liked prior to her being abandoned mother, named Elke, she of the slight accent and quietly gossiped about likely communist background. They had a swimming pool, their own bedrooms, and an aura of mystery. It didn’t seem to Parker they needed twenty-five dollars and a pity-first-place as well. But, when Sister Anthony gave him that look it meant more than any prize; the half-tilt of her habit-ed head and the slight tightening of the lips that meant Parker was being trusted to divine what she meant and share in her wisdom about what was best for the greater good, the whole of God’s plan; it meant that she was certain that he, like she, would selflessly sacrifice and martyr himself to ease the pain and suffering of others, knowing while doing so that it was merely a temporary delay before receiving eternal reward in heaven.
Sister Anthony was the first in the long line of women with whom Parker confused his own obsequiousness and fear with love and devotion, women he mistakenly thought he walked beside, as companion in a powerful partnership, while the women in question were equally certain he understood himself lucky just to be following behind, vassal at best. Inevitably, finally, having served whatever purpose they’d intended, they’d reveal to him his real place in their story as stooge, sycophant, or, on the one occasion he had gumptioned up enough to recognize his toadying and refuse further service, he was labeled betrayer and dragged through the courts, reputation and finances ruined for his trouble.
That was what arguing and objecting got you, so he tried never to do so. If he came in second – and that was as high as he ever came in – it was because it was his fate, some plan, either the will of some power greater than his or the result of his own poor choices and inadequacies. Easier to, over and over again, nod along in agreement, always. Good boy. In his place. Second. As he had with Sister Anthony.
Which was how he had ended up where he was forty-five years later, age fifty-one, on the night his sister, Maggie, age fifty-eight, died.