Holiday: a Monologue on Family and the Things They Leave Behind

Holiday: a Monologue on Family and the Things They Leave Behind

I was born on this holiday of rape. Works well I guess since he raped Mom on Valentine’s Day nine months before.

He felt entitled I suppose and she seemed to accept that as an excuse since it was Valentine’s.

She’d done what she thought was honorable and accepted the proposal her daddy and his daddy forced him to make on account a what he done. Don’t know what the grandpas threatened him with, but whatever it was it wasn’t enough to make him stick around long afterwards.

Mom was not only knocked-up. She was jilted. Me too I suppose. I was causing lots of trouble before I was ever born.

To top it off I decided to come on out on Thanksgiving Day itself. The Marshall County Hospital baby delivery doctor was apparently rather upset he had to miss the Cowboys-Cardinals game.

Here I am, thirty odd years on, Mom gone, still causing trouble. Only this time, I mean to.

I guess I’ve come to decide that Mom was the kind tried to cause no trouble and wound up bearing the worst of it at times. Better I think to be the one making trouble than getting buried beneath it.

Maybe old Dad came to that same conclusion too a long time ago. That’s why he did the things he done. That’s why he did the things he done. Cause trouble, run from trouble, so long as you take the proactive approach. Don’t just sit and let trouble happen to you. And in a place like this, it most definitely will come one way or the other no matter how meek you might just sit there existing.

Ma sat here and existed for forty-eight years before her heart didn’t want to take it no more. It let a valve go and she died in her chair in the living room in the middle of the the trailer.

And really I don’t have a problem with going out that way myself. It’s the living in the mean time I gotta deal with.

Holidays like this. Now.

I mean, mostly this time of year stirs feelings of anxiety and loneliness in me. Of Mom treating dry turkey breast like it was a special meal and me just preferring to have some Spaghetti-O’s or Vienna Sausage or both mixed together.

I don’t want to just sit around and feel that, the way Mom musta sat around on Thanksgiving looking at me remembering being abandoned before I was born and raped on another holiday. Lord knows what kind of troubled mind she had to sit there with on Valentine’s Day itself.

Whatever Mom dealt with the grandpas did their best with me. Taught me to fish and shoot and hunt and stuff. Answered my questions and gave me advice when I had to work on the old ratty truck one of the grandpas give me in high school. That was Mom’s dad.

I could tell in some way that Dad’s daddy’d been a hell-raiser and trouble-maker in his day, like his son, but something had changed. Maybe he done something he regretted or maybe Dad’s mom just cooled him out. Maybe he made the same exact trouble his son done later on to Mom but he was just able to stick it out and deal with it the way he wanted his son to do.

I figure him having trouble in his past whatever it might’ve been, was why he felt so obligated to me. I was his son’s trouble but since his son was his and I was his son’s, he felt the need to watch after the chain of trouble he made.

Still got an old truck of course, just a different one than Grandpa’s truck. That one blew up beyond fixing some years ago or I’d still have it. I’m sentimental like that.

The knife I use to start my current truck on account the ignition is busted is a knife my grandpa who didn’t give the old truck give me. Apparently, it was my daddy’s pocket knife and it got left behind when he took off. It’s my knife now I guess.

This truck come off a guy round my age a couple of years ago. It was his daddy’s who’d passed. The son drove it some then let it sit some then decided on selling it. I don’t think he needed the money, had a habit to support or nothing, just wanted it gone and wasn’t too attached. The truck was from the year I was born. I took it as a good sign and give the selling price.

Had it maybe two weeks before the ignition broke, but besides that and regular tune-up stuff the old pickup has given me no trouble.

It has a busted seam in the middle of the bench seat. I just folded an old Indian blanket of Mom’s, one she used in that chair quite a bit, and laid her across the seat. Cushion’s good and the blanket pattern goes well with the blue vinyl on the seat back. Seems to have stemmed the tearing of the seam.

As I sit under the wheel now, Dad’s knife hanging in the ignition, it idles quiet and feels cozy. Homey. More’n the trailer or the porch hanging off the back of it facing the patch of oak trees and poison ivy.

That’s where I usually sit to fire my gun. Drink beers and stir up birds and squirrels I see running around in the oak and ivy. Don’t ever try to kill ’em, just shoot under, around, above ’em. Scare ’em into doing something interesting for my amusement.

I suppose that’s what I’m here to do with Dad. Just shoot around him. Under him. Above him. Near him. Scare him some. For my pleasure.

I bet up to now, he thinks the year I was born was his worst holiday season. That’s what made him up and leave his home. Turn his young life upside down. Or maybe he never thinks on it. Man like that. Leaves behind a perfectly good pocket knife and wife and baby boy.

Turns out he never run far. Well not really. He’d been all over working on a seismographing crew. Blowing up dynamite in holes in the ground so some engineers could read the vibrations and check for water and gas and oil and shit. Company he worked for was out of Tishomingo and he’d been renting shitty little apartments around, though spent a lot of nights in motels all over the place on the road crew. Blowing up earth and shit during the day. Drinking in bars and trying to catch skanky women at night. I bet.

When the grandpas died I got all their tackle and rods and guns and knives and shit. So I had my options for this here.

Once my mom’s dad’s nosy sister who’s hell bent on living forever told me she had an old friend that’d spotted my daddy working with that crew a few towns over on a holiday shopping trip, well I guess I started thinking about causing him trouble right off.

Wasn’t hard to ask around a little after that, figure the company number. Call and get his schedule this holiday season.

Told the lady answering phones I was trying to catch up with my dad for the holidays, surprise him on the road. She said he didn’t never mention a son but of course that don’t mean he didn’t have one she figured and it all sounded reasonable sweet to her so she give met he motel address he was at. Even give me the room number.

I figured on one of Dad’s dad’s guns. That seemed most appropriate. That grandpa was always so guilty round me. He might of shot ‘ol Dad himself with one of his guns given the chance. But he was dead now like my other grandpa and like Mom. Just had to decide which gun.

Figured a pistol was best since I’d be in the truck cab here, and then figured hell why not my bird and squirrel porch pistol. It’s a neat little five-shot revolver still packs a wallop. And it’s Dad’s dad’s. And Dad’s like a bird, just flying around, dropping his mess, and flying on. Good choice I suppose.

He’s got a second floor room. It’s a little two-story balcony motel. Gives me plenty of time to time him and get my mark as he comes outta that room. Locks his door, comes across the balcony, down those big concrete stairs, and over to his shitty little car in the lot.

Man with a job like that and no truck. Just a rusty-mufflered Honda beater. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t drive no new Beamer obviously, but my old pickup runs good. I bet Dad don’t even maintenance his. Bet his don’t run near as good as mine. Shame.

Once I got that mark, and once he’s halfway across the lot in this autumn early dark, all showered up after work, or not, thinking he’s on his way to the bar and another drink and maybe some askance woman to lay later, then I’ll make trouble. Then I’ll take my shots. Just like on the back porch. Just like when I shoot at birds and squirrels off that old porch I’m gonna make him dance a scared and frenzied dance. Gonna make him panic without even knowing why he’s panicked. Just under some primal fear for his life shit. Shots coming from where he cannot know. His next move he cannot plan. Only know that he must move. And fast.

Maybe he’ll get so scared and move so fast his heart will blow like Mom’s only he won’t go so peaceful in a chair. He’ll go alone and knowing it in a shitty motel parking lot on the side of the road in southern Oklahoma. But I can’t figure that far. That’s not how you make trouble.

No to make trouble good you just fire away, what happens be damned. Then you walk away. Or drive away. Like I will. Tonight.

Dad taught me that much. And, this holiday on which I was born, and, every so often, when my birthday’s on a Thursday like this one, lines up with my newly given year, I’d like to give thanks to Dad for that. Show him what he passed on to me by running away. Grandpa and Grandpa and Mom may be gone but there’s still family in this world.

For that I sit here, pistol loaded, thankful, eager to show Dad my thanks.



About the Author

Adam Van Winkle was born and raised in Texoma on both sides of the Oklahoma-Texas border and currently resides with his wife and two dogs on a rural route in Southern Illinois. His writing has appeared in places like The Dead Mule School of Southern Lit, Cheap Pop!, Crack the Spine, Vignette Review, Steel Toe Review, Dirty Chai, and Pithead Chapel. He has new fiction forthcoming in Red Dirt Forum as well. His debut novel, Abraham Anyhow, was published by Red Dirt Press in March 2017 and selected by The Southern Literary Review as the June 2017 Read of the Month and featured in Monkeybicycle's If My Book series in July 2017. An excerpt of the novel has also received a Pushcart Nomination. Its style has been compared to the likes of John Steinbeck and Billie Letts and Donald Ray Pollock among others.