{September 4, 2012}   The Hunky Man

Summers were hot in Atlanta when I was growing up. We rolled down windows in our new black Plymouth. There weren’t any seat belts. When Mother slammed on the brakes, if I was in the back seat, I tumbled into the floorboard of the car. It happened almost every time we drove home from Rich’s. Mother said it was rush hour so there were a lot of cars that stopped quick. We went shopping a lot. Mother had money because we were Thousandaires. Daddy said that’s when somebody has a thousand dollars saved in the bank. Daddy went to work to make money so Mother could spend it at Rich’s. She always told the joke that her first words were, “Charge it!” I liked going to Rich’s because we ate sandwiches from the automat on the Bridge.

It was too hot in the summer to stay in the house. We only had one fan and that was in Mother and Daddy’s room. I wished that I could be a grown up so I could have a fan in my room. I spent hours outside on summer afternoons listening for music from the hunky truck. The hunky man sold ice cream from his truck. From far away I could hear the twinkling music of the hunky truck. When I was sure the music was moving closer to my street, I’d run inside and ask for money.  One day Mother didn’t have change for me to give the hunky man. All she had was a $5 bill. She told me to buy my pushup and bring back four $1 bills.

I waited and waited for the hunky man to come. I heard the tinkling music fade away. I still waited. That day the hunky truck didn’t come down my street. While I waited, I dug in the dirt with a stick. I buried the $5 in the dirt and ran off to play.

When I got home, Mother asked “where is my money?” I told her I lost the $5 while I was waiting for the hunky truck. I told her it never came. She told me I’d better go and find it. She said $5 is a lot of money. So I went back to where I sat in the dirt waiting for the hunky man. I dug all around the area looking for the money. I couldn’t find it. I thought maybe I didn’t bury it. Maybe I dropped it. I looked for the rest of the day. I didn’t find the $5.

I had to go home and tell Mother I couldn’t find the $5. Mother was mad. She said I needed to learn not to lose money. She went outside and broke off a switch from a bush in front of the house. She stripped off the leaves and whipped my legs with the switch. I cried myself to sleep in my hot bedroom.

A few days later I was playing in the dirt. I dug a hole. There was the $5! I found it! I was happy because I could show Mother that I hadn’t lost the $5. She would be sorry for whipping me. I went inside. Mother was putting on makeup in the bathroom. I held up the dirty $5. “Look! I found the money!” I said. Mother asked, “What money?” She forgot about the whipping she gave me for losing the $5. “This is the $5 you gave me for the hunky man. I buried in in the dirt and forgot where it was. Look, I found it.” “Oh,” Mother said. She pulled the $5 from my hands. She walked to her room and threw the $5 in her drawer.  She didn’t say anything about whipping me. I wanted her to say she was sorry for whipping me now that I found the money. But she didn’t. She just took the $5 and put it in her drawer. I went back to my room. I was mad at Mother.

I was really mad. Mother just took the money I’d been whipped for losing and didn’t feel sorry about it. I pulled out the writing tablet from my dresser. I found my fat pencil. I started writing the words, “I hate mother” over and over. I filled the whole front of the page with line after line, “I hate mother.” I did hate her. I hated her so bad I bared down hard when I wrote. I tore the page with my pencil. I turned the page over and I wrote “I hate mother” all over that side, too. The paper was full with my hate. I felt better. I folded the paper up into a small square. I put it in my dresser drawer along with my pencil and tablet. Then, I went back outside to play.

A few days later I was playing in a neighbor’s yard when I heard Mother calling me. Maybe it was time to eat. Or maybe we were going somewhere. I skipped inside the house. Mother was sitting at the kitchen table. She held up my note with all the hate on it. I was caught. I didn’t think Mother looked in my drawers. But she did. And she found what I wrote. “Is this really how you feel about me? Do you hate me?” Mother asked. I hung my head. “No,” I said. “Then, why did you write this?” “Because.” That’s all I could think to say. “Well, this hurts my feelings.” Mother’s feelings got hurt? I didn’t think I could hurt her feelings. She hurt mine all the time. I never even thought I could do that. Mother got up and threw the paper in the trash. “You can go back out and play now.” Mother said.

I went back outside and sat on the front steps. I had to be careful from now on. When I wrote something, I had to make sure to put it in a hiding place where Mother wouldn’t find it. If I write how much I hate her, I’ll throw it in the trash next time before she can find it.  Then what I write can’t hurt anyone.


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