Autumn

Autumn

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Remember the Hate

Deep summer meant thick fields of grass and calloused hands wrapped tightly around the ash handle of the sling blade. I hated the sling blade. I loathed the high grass of the fields.

I remember the arrogance of the man. He was perhaps fifty, fairly tall to a child of twelve, and land lord to my little brother and me. I remember, most vividly, my hatred of the man. We lived under his roof. He was my uncle.

I remember the cold winter day our mother stood beside her gray car and tried to explain her reasons why it was necessary for us to remain behind in her sister's care. "It's only temporary. Farm life will keep you busy. Mind your manners and behave. Your aunt and uncle are doing us a huge favor."

Then she was gone.

The farm stood close to a railroad. I remember the stand of hardwoods and the tattered fields of corn and how the land sloped away from the house and I remember the hog pens and the house garden and how hobo's had marked the back door with their jackknives. I remember, that first winter, how the old man stood on the lower stoop  and pointed towards a tract of land and said, "When the grass turns green it'll be your job to cut it. Every week, you cut it. You understand...no work, no food. For either of you."

Soon winter turned to spring and then summer. He took a slingblade from the barn, said, "Sharpen it then get on that field." I remember he kicked a chicken from his path and walked away to his bottle.

The texture of the grass was thick - juicy stuff. Each swing of the blade resulted in a watermelon scented blade of grass blood.

The first day was painful only for my lack of technique and style. I became friends with rhythm.

I still remember the day he walked out and stood close and said, "It's the chicken poop. I spread a heavy load on this field. Gotta let it dry, can't dump the wet stuff. "Yep, the chicken s*it makes the grass. Can you smell it?"

"No."

"What the hell is wrong with you. You mean to tell me you can't smell that fine fertilizer? You dumb or what?"

I kept the blade on the move. My senses were attuned to the ripe odor of green grass and the south wind and faint odor of oil and creosote from the tracks. I seem to even remember the scent of sweat and loamy earth. I'd never admit the undertones of chicken crap...because I remembered I hated him, and the farm too.

He bent and took a handful of dirt and squeezed, held it tight, then took the back of my head in his meaty paw and with his left hand shoved the dirt into my face. "Now, can you smell it? Ain't that nice?"

I spit. Wiped my face. Held the sling blade tightly. Eased it back. "Go ahead, boy. Try it. I asked you if you can smell that chicken s*it, and you'd better answer me."

I remember the tears on my face and how my hand came away streaked with dirt and bits of grass...and how much I hated the man.

"You a tall boy for your age but I'll still cut you in half if you don't answer me."

I took a step back and said, "No. I can't smell it."

I really do not recall his punch. I remember I awoke in the field. He stood above me with a huge grin on his face, bottle in hand - my uncle. 

I remember the ring in my ears, how my face hurt. A bit of blood on my fingers. He said, "Come here." I went. "Now, do you smell the chicken s*it?"

I wanted my mother, I remember that. I remember the high clouds as they scuttled high on the south wind and I think I remember a flock of birds but I'm not really sure of them. I remember hate filled my heart. Hatred grown from the lack of a father, and my mother's absence. Hate so vibrate it painted my soul.

"Yes."

"Yes, what, boy?"

"Yes, Sir."


Stephen
 


 
  





 

41 comments:

  1. You are everything that he was not.....and more. I am proud to call you friend.

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    1. Thank you, my dear friend. Have a great day.

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  2. Sometimes a father ain't better. I still remember the time that my alcoholic father spent a drunken afternoon abusing my mother, my sister and me. Eventually we ran to a neighbor's house and called the police, and they came and took him off to jail. The revolver that was normally in his nightstand he had moved to a high kitchen cabinet. Next day my mom made me go along when we picked him up from the jail - - she dropped the charges. I didn't speak to him on the way home. The incident wasn't repeated, as he stopped drinking the vodka that provoked it, but I never really trusted him again after that.

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    1. Thanks, Bob. I can understand the lack of trust. Sorry.

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  3. Wow, so much for happy fathers day memories for you, huh? I hope you have a nice day today despite all your current troubles.

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    1. It's fine, my friend. This blog is a journal for my grandchildren...I tell, write these stories for them. The memories are just flickers of my life.

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  4. Wow a powerful story, I'm sorry it had to happen to you and your brother. To better days in life.

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  5. What Vicki said; may every day be better than those.

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  6. Those life lessons callous and blacken the heart. It is a strong man that can remember them and then turn them into something better.

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  7. My father never struck a living soul. He did like the ladies, though. Hurt comes in many forms. What matters is how great you turned out to be, after all. Happy Fathers Day to you, my friend.

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    1. Very true...'hurt takes many forms.' Thank you, my lovely friend.

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    1. Thanks, my friend...not that big of a deal, now.

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  9. You made me cry, Stephen. Honest. And I rarely if ever, do. I wish that you could have had a father like mine. I wish that every kid could. Your uncle taught you something valuable though: What a real man isn't. When all is said and done, you won. It's an honor to know you. And Sweet Wife is a one very lucky woman.

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    1. I'm sorry, my dear...it wasn't my purpose to make anyone cry. Just a flash of memory I needed to vent and journal for my grandchildren. Just in case they care. Thanks, my sweet friend.

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  10. Do like I do, Stephen. Don't think about bad things from the past. That will just make you crazy. I work really hard on not thinking about bad things from the past. You have to work at it, especially at night.

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    1. Harry - that is some really good advice.

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    2. It's very hard, Bubba, but I do try...

      kymber, thanks. I agree.

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  11. Stephen,
    I am so sorry that you encountered an abusive uncle. It's strange how in that era many men believed that they were building character in their sons or relations by being abusive. This means to me that it happened to them also. Of course, that is no excuse.

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    1. Sweetheart...you should have met his oldest son...man was pure evil. He was a just released prison felon. Sadistic.

      Thanks, my lovely friend.

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  12. Did ya go back after twenty years or so and take him some newer chicken sh^t?

    I think I would have.

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    1. The butthole died before I ever had the chance.

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    2. Nope, the butthole died before I ever had a chance.

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  13. My dad was an abuser he liked to hit(beat)...my mom and us kids...Always remember...You can be better or you can be bitter...Seems to me you took the high road and have become better and stronger...The memories will never go away, but they can serve as a reminder of what you do not want to become!...God Bless you and Happy fathers day!

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    1. Thank you, dear lady, and God bless you too.

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  14. Wow.

    Not sure if you've seen this. It's sort of similar.

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    1. Thanks, my friend. I read the piece and it was powerful. Isn't it strange, the power of dark memories, how it shifts our lives like deep river currents.

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  15. my daughter tells me what harry f. said to you.
    st. paul says to think on good and pleasant things.
    but... the scars are always there, like a scar on the body which, when you move a certain way restricts the movement and brings the constant reminder that it is there.
    you can't get away from it.
    did your mom ever come back for you? what is the next chapter?

    i hope that one day God is going to clean up this damned mess.
    that's my hope.
    God bless you and yours always.
    deb h.

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    1. Deb, I agree very much...scars are constant reminders. Yes, my mother returned...after three months. A story for another day. We agree on this mess. God bless you too and thank you.

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  16. dear sweet one - there is nothing i can say that the others haven't already said. the only thing i can offer is to try to be in the present at all times. the past is gone, and nothing can be done to change it - the past is there only to learn from. the future hasn't happened yet but that doesn't mean that you can't plan for it - while you are in the present. and while you are in the present - enjoy every minute of it. even stuff that is bothersome. and stuff that you don't like. i know you grind your teeth for an hour when Sweet Wife watches American Idol, but you are there with her and she enjoys it - enjoy her enjoyment. and take her to church, that means so much to her when you go with her and hold her hand. and when you are cleaning your weapons, or reading and listening to the rain - enjoy it. i know i am not telling you anything that you don't already know.

    and i suspect that writing this post on this particular day may have finally gotten something off of your chest. i sure hope so.

    like always, i wish you and yours all of the best. i'm glad that you are back to writing again. you are an excellent writer.

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. kymber, I try to enjoy the present. I have very bad periods of depression...I deal with it, no big deal. It's important to remember, this blog is a journal, a diary if you will, for Little Bit and Sport Model. This story is a shadow of my childhood and I feel its important for them to understand and know their Papa, flaws and all....thanks, my dear friend.

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  17. Stephen my friend, here is a personal quote from me.

    "What's in a persons past, is the past. It's what the person does in the present, that matters."

    Your a good man. I'd be proud to ride with you back in the 1800s, and today.

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    1. I'd be proud and honored to ride with you too, my friend. Thanks.

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  18. Wow,Stephen powerful emotions come out on the keyboard...... Coming from a dysfunctional family myself abandonment comes in many forms. Divorce was my mother's choice of abandonment for me and my brother and still it seems we went from the pot to the kettle just in a different mother.
    Everybody here seems to have an experience of one kind or another and some like my husband had the fortune of seeing the other road... loving family and all that.
    Do hope you have found or find the peace every one of us seeks.... it is a wonder that more of us don't end up 6 ft under quickly! Although my mother tried literally I am still here by God!!

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    1. I've found peace, my dear. Thank you for the kind compliment and for sharing your personal story. God bless you, my lovely friend.

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  19. Someone very close to me . . . often recounts cruelty at the hands of a relative . . . but Stephen . . you have transformed the cruelty and pain into powerful poignant prose that will forever throws light across that sad boy's heart. You've transformed his pain into art. Beautifully.

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    1. Whew, thanks, Sweetheart. Bless you.

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