I stood there as confused as a kid could be.
My uncles rushed to the aid of my grandfather while he struggled in vain to steady the still listing ship that was my grandmother’s bulky frame; like asking a stalk of corn to brace a tipping fire hydrant.
The science of leverage was awkwardly defining itself in real time.
He was all of 6’4″, kind and gentle as any person you’d ever meet, she was a wide stump of a woman with an iced grey, evil dead eyed stare that could bend an I-beam and bring concrete to tears. And when she narrowed that laser like gaze occasionally turning her brand of affection towards me, the overly potent mixture of her rose scented perfume and stinging pain screaming from my cheek as she twisted it with a little too much pleasure….well, this kid learned early to keep a safe distance from that thumb and forefinger.
With the men shoring up the aft, pocketbooks snapped open and out came the doily edged hankies dotting the sweat now appearing on my grandmother’s brow and rouged cheeks. Dumfounded, I watched as my aunts dutifully smoothed away the upset in her rose printed sundress, surrounding her like handmaidens to a queen. I still didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. On the receiving end of my father’s own icy dead eyed stare, mom was admonishing Pretty Boy but she seemed as confused as I was. Neither of us had ever heard Pretty Boy say those words before.
I had no clue know what they even meant.
And there we all stood, suspended in an uncomfortable void of inaction, afraid to move or say a single word hoping this unpleasant catastrophe had finally subsided, hoping we could move on to the buffet to fill our bellies and forget it ever happened.
“God damn shit…God damn shit…God damn shit!’
Pretty Boy, still bobbing and weaving along his perch and clear as day suddenly pierced the silence and proudly squawked another string of expletives to the crowd. But if the huge gasp that heaved deep from my grandmother’s innards were any clue as to how this all would end, you would have thought those three words like three poisoned arrows…. were aimed directly at her.
Unsteady again as one hand reached instinctively for the rosary beads in one of her two side pockets while the other found a gaudy gold crucifix on the heavy chain around her neck, up rolled her eyeballs as my grandmother began to breathlessly recite a mournful monologue of Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s in her native Italian. She held the crucifix in such a white knuckle grip pointing it at Pretty Boy as if Lucifer himself, sat on that perch cloaked in blue and white feathers.
Oh, it was quite the dramatic scene as she turned on her heels and thumped towards the door with my poor grandfather behind her gesticulating, endlessly apologizing with that familiar expression
on his face,
the helplessness that was forever creased in his forehead.
This act mercifully came to its conclusion as the rest of the family followed the mighty matriarch, heads down and mumbling as they corralled their children and shuffled out the door.
It was the last time any of them would ever visit our house.
Being the early riser it was my chore to remove the cover from Pretty Boy’s cage. I’d fill his seed and water containers and begin his daily chatter while teaching him some of my own sing song phrases.
‘Here comes the sun…here comes the sun….here comes the sun’,
lifted from the title of my favorite Richie Haven’s song playing constantly on the AM radio station that summer of ’67. Leaning close to the cage, I would let my waist length hair sift through the cage until it covered his head. Nibbling the ends a little. he waited for me to lift his veil of hair and repeat,
‘Here comes the sun …here comes the sun…here comes the sun.’
Our silly version of peekaboo. But Pretty Boy wasn’t waiting for me on the familiar perch near his little mirror that morning.
Reblogged this on 20 Lines A Day.
I fell in love with pretty boy, the way you have written this had me smiling. Capturing the drama, the family nona, I so loved your descriptive write – the doily handkerchief, all of it, completely and utterly and I smiled and smiled. I could even see your waist length hair, playing peek a boo, and heard her comes the sun, then I reached the last sentence and my heart literally sank.
yeah, i’m sorry Jen. mine did too, even after all these decades, when it came time
to write this part silly me got choked up a little too. then a flood of memories i’d
forgotten came to the fore and i realized i had more to write.
i’m glad you enjoyed the storytelling, this was just a blast to write and ty
for your wonderful comment. it plastered a big smile on my mug! lol
I can imagine, with you having lived through it 😦 but I am glad I put a smile on your mug 🙂 thank you for writing and sharing. Hugs.
This is a great story W your memories are vivid and reading it is like I was there. Will watch for the conclusion 🙂
ty M…heh, i wish i could remember yesterday as well
as i seem to recall these memories from 40 years ago! lol
I don’t think I want to read Part III. 😦 I love Pretty Boy.Your descriptions of everyone are wonderful.
aw Sis’, i’m sorry. but trust me, if you love him now,
you’ll love him even more after next week.
You are such a great story teller, a true gift. I was right there in the room with you watching the ridiculous scene with fascination. I totally related to the claustrophobic anxiety little you was feeling, yeah I know how that feels. Can’t wait for the next addition… You left me very scared for Pretty Boy and your little heart.
Thank you for sharing this precious piece of you.
well ty D, i really do appreciate your appreciation. i love telling stories and i’m liking the challenge of writing in efficient digestible posts so folks don’t have to devote so much time, but hopefully keeping them invested and waiting for the next installment. yes, ridiculous is THE adjective D! heh, and with the characters in my family i never have the need to exaggerate a thing.
next week is already written in my head, i’ll just say it will be dense.
oh and i plan on coming over to your place later…..
So I was trying to eat lunch while reading your post here, and I had to stop because I was laughing so hard. I agree wholeheartedly with lionessawake’s comment above–you are such a gifted storyteller, and I’m glad you’ve shared your talent for us to see here. Your description of the scene and characters, and of your grandmother in particular, is so vivid–I can see it perfectly in my mind’s eye! And then of course I reached the ending and was heartbroken because Pretty Boy was gone. Now I’m eager to read Part 3 so I can find out what happened to him. (If it’s going to make me cry, please warn me in advance.)
Miranda , you just made my weekend, ty! this is the first story i’ve attempted with a humorous perspective and i wasn’t quite sure how to write it, but i just figured the if the sheer absurdity of the situation were described without trying too hard…it might just work. it made me laugh out loud imagining you laughing as you tried to eat, laughing always wins doesn’t it?
about next week….well, i’ll just say my poems and stories are always redemptive, a benefit for having lived nearly 60 years now.
Keep at this, my friend. You have a gift.
**blush**, ty for that Miranda, i will.
A real pleasure to read! 🙂
ty so much echo, i appreciate you taking the time to read it through.
Agree heartily with your other readers–you are a wonderful storyteller, MasterWho. Painted with an artist’s sensibility and eye for detail. My heart actually began to sink with the grandfather’s “helplessness forever creased in his forehead”(terrific, vivid line, that), or perhaps even before, with the matriarch’s darkness, and definitely with the spare, wrenching line of that being the last visit to your home. I have similar scenes peopled by different names and faces, but tinged with the same poignancy. Looking forward, girded, for Part III. Congratulations, my friend. xoxo
well, as always nothing escapes your laser perception dear Chloe, yes, there is foreshadowing there especially in ‘“helplessness forever creased in his forehead’. after i wrote that line, i realized there was much more i needed to tell. i think you know from your own experience, these are rarely singular events that occur in a vacuum, that don’t alter family dynamics for some time to come, sometimes for ever. it still amazes me how many vivid images i have stored in my head from my childhood, how i can recall them but not what i did yesterday! lol
i know Sunday’s are your rehearsal days, so ty for taking so much time to read this through, and as always leave such engaging and encouraging comments. you are treasured here.
Oh my you can tell a story! So funny in its utter ridiculous that can only be real life 🙂 Love all the detail and “bring concrete to tears” ha! sound like my grandma!!
So funny and then that ending… 😦 I’ll have tissues ready for next installment just in case.
this part of the story was a lot of fun to write, i guess someone could
make this up but i didn’t have to embellish a thing. my family with their antics
and drama needs no embellishment, just someone to take notes! lol.
and yeah…, there’s next week, but i always find silver linings Melanie,
ty for reading this through and appreciating the storytelling as you do.
Lol… Fantastic story…
oh ty Lumar, i’m glad you enjoyed it. i have to admit it was fun to finally write too!
Lovely story telling! Best I have read in a long time. I can see you had fun putting this episode on paper. Looking fordward to more.
well ty Tiny, that;s a wonderful compliment. i wasn’t sure i was up to the challenge
of writing something humorous having never done it before.
Verdaderamente preciosa esta historia.
así ty tanto Mavi y una muy cálida bienvenida a usted!
Realmente aprecio que tomarse el tiempo para leer este medio,
y escribir un comentario tan maravilloso.
Ohhhhh, no more family coming to visit? That’s too bad. I’m wondering where Pretty Boy learned that phrase. Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to wait until part 3 eh.
Great story. Very well written.
ty so much stacy, it was a pivotal moment in our family dynamic as absurd as it sounds.
and as it turned out unbeknownst to me, mom had a bit of a potty mouth..lol,
and parakeets will mimic what they hear, if they hear it enough times.
Oh no. Haha. Then it was mom’s fault. lol.
Looking forward to part 3.
You had my attention the whole way through, as I dread the meaning of the empty cage. I can see and feel the tension in the air and then the lightheartedness as the room is cleared of all the menacing figures – I felt the pinch on the cheek. Great read and hoping that the empty cage is for a good reason, as the story is leading us to a dreadful end for Pretty Boy . . .
knowing now how many blogs you follow, i’m even more grateful you take the
time to read this through and be that invested Mary, ty. my poems and stories
are always redemptive though, a benefit for having lived nearly 60 years….:-)
I wonder if thats why no one comes to my house anymore…
Zoro (my parrot I somehow became companion with LOLS)
speaks in Sci Fi fluently, cries like my grandson when he was a baby, chats in small childrens voices as he listened on the porch outside by a bus-stop…and then there is a string of profanity that comes out of no where 🙂
he also says Here Kitty Kitty…pretty zoro…mine ..mine mine!
now he has learned goose language LOLs ( I have 3 new goslings !)
I love your story, and yes I laughed out loud at the description of Grandmother ….so vivid I saw each character in living color !
Wonderful..please no sad endings ..I just buried a baby squirrel…
his mom must be heartbroken….I know I am…the first year I have had baby squirrels and goslings…*sigh*
I look Forward to your next one!
Thank you for a much needed chuckle today
Take Care…You Matter…
‘I wonder if thats why no one comes to my house anymore…’ oh gosh maryrose, i laughed out loud when reading this and all the things your parrot says. and that’s the thing about these birds, if they hear it enough…out it comes regardless of the situation!
so sorry to hear of the babies passing away, it’s so heartbreaking isn’t it? well, as i’ve said upthread, my stories and poems always have that color of melancholy, but they’re ultimately redemptive. ty so much for taking so much of your time to read both parts of this story, i love when you visit and write such heartwarming comments. the conclusion will be posted tomorrow morning, hope to see you then.
Love and Hugs to you maryrose.
Just thinking about you and hoping you are doing well. 🙂 You are missed.