sloe gin

[sometimes a single word will jog a torrent of memories.]

some things jog memories 
 He left my world
 forged his own
 one where I touched the fringes
 when I was a little boy,
 he took me to work
 I thought it was the big city.
 a busy street
 a bustling office.
 I remember looking out the window, on a summer’s day
 when he showed me a portion of his world
 away from my small town
 his work.
 showed me the teletype printouts
 the slide rule he used.
 I remember the day he brought home the slide rule.
 it was an amazing device. 
 performed complex arithmetic calculations on a ruler
 I didn’t understand, but I was amazed.
 he left
 tears on my mothers eyes.
 an end to a bad, sad marriage.
 I never really new the significance of separate beds.
 though, I still remember a time before,
 the time I walked in on them
 both asleep on their stomachs
 sleeping after an afternoon fuck
 I’d walked in their bedroom
 and quietly turned around, realizing without knowing
 that I’d intruded on something different.
 our new house
 we owned the house
 the G.I. bill…He got the loan
 and we moved from our small rented place,
 the place where he slept on a roll away bed 
 in the alcove in the upstairs hall
 and She slept downstairs on the couch.
 that house, I hated to leave
 didn’t want to leave my girl friend Jackie
 who kissed me because I got a home run
 in a little league baseball game,
 the 8 to 11 year old league.
 her kiss was moist and fresh 
 exciting even to a prepubescent boy
 I cried when we moved
 from the downtown end of main street
 to the uptown end
 from the downtown end
 the very end 
 of main street
 right next to the tracks
 across those tracks
 the white poor
 and some excitement
 young fantasies with girls
 pretending nakedness
 pretending bare tits
 I grew a little that day
 I stood on those tracks
 (he’s from across the tracks)
 I found out about a boy, whose name
 was King
 not his nickname
 I can recall that day, 
 we scoured the neighborhood, knocking on doors
 “do you have any empty pop bottles 
 you want to get rid of?”
 we collected a load of bottles
 and returned them to the neighborhood grocer.
 Stores that you don’t see anymore
 no foodliners in those days
 no super K-Marts, Super Wal-marts
 just ma and pa
 we cashed in the bottles for the 2 and 5 cent deposits.
 today…it’s throwaway plastic
 throwaway glass
 back in the day
 we already had recycling
 5 cent deposit on quart bottles of pop
 King and I 
 we divided the money
 not much, 
enough for penny candy
 but King surprised me
 he didn’t buy candy
 he bought a loaf of bread
 “I’m going to give it to my mom” he said
 that jolted me
 and I realized without words being said
 my eleven year old brain
 about his poverty
 poorer than my family
 his house across the tracks
 the tracks that I moved from
 moved away from midnight train whistles
 away from black Chessie, who used to hold the stop sign
 holding back traffic from crossing the tracks
 as heavy fast freight trains passed by
 rail road crossing with no gate
 just Chessie Thornton directing the traffic
 yes, I moved from the tracks
 leaving King
 and Jackie’s kisses
 to move uptown to our own house
 no more rentals
 and it was a fine house
 150 years old
 civil war era home, lived in by Mr. Wells himself,
 and Dad had bought it with his World War II G.I. money
 I admired the fine hardwood cupboards
 the old gaslight
 the vintage hardwood floors
 the very floors my friends and I wore off the finish
 worn off by dancing shoes.
 nightly dance parties, with Rick playing 45’s 
 on his record player
 that record player that he’d carry. 
 it was suitcase sized.
 no boomboxes in those days.
 Just Rick, and his record player, and his spindle of 45’s
 soul music
 and we danced and danced
 mom away at the Eagles with my step-dad
 and teenagers
 smoking Kools and drinking Strohs 
 and love making in the garage
 but this was after
 after the time when He was still here
 after the time I saw the tears in Her eyes
 after He took his clothes out to his used car
 packed his things
 and left for good
 she divorced him
 she left him
 she forced him out.
 left him even before he was gone
 “so, you were out with your mom’s boyfriend today?”
 and I didn’t know what to say
 didn’t know how to answer
 standing in his bedroom
 their bedroom
 with the separate beds
 so long since I’d seen them naked 
 in their double bed 
 years ago
 And I lived a life he never new
 it was so long to me.
 but only a few short years to Him
 and he forged a life of his own
 never bothering to reach out to his children
 never ever visiting
 and I sought him out
 found him in that artsy crowd
 the actors and play-writes
 and I entered into that world
 I brought my high school friends with me into His world of art
 I remember the cast party
 rubbing elbows with the local talent
 the small town actors
 I remember the party
 I remember the sloe gin

© 2008 Marc McCune

Originally published at on February 24, 2016.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Marc S. McCune’s story.