Cowardice

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My thin, barren aunt had twins. God was working through her; God, with his sick sense of humor. They came out of her like fiends in a horror film and, because there was so little of her to devour, they began devouring her husband, my uncle, who was a kosher butcher, and had been emasculated by my aunt. He was a thin, grey man who never walked, but always shuffled.

The twins started by licking the beef blood from his fingers. They gnawed on his cuticles and knuckles. There was so little he could give them, and so little he wanted to give. He’d assumed he was sterile.

Even I was infected by his cowardice. When I was two, I flung a weeding tool in his direction and it embedded itself in the mesh of his garden chair, right between his legs. The garden chair sat on a green lawn that my father mowed every Saturday. The blades of the lawnmower were surrogates for his anger.

My father yanked the tool from the mesh and turned toward me as if I were a weed. I took off running. You’d think he would have caught me easily, but he was portly and smoked unfiltered Chesterfield Kings, and cigars. I looked back and he was bent over on the sidewalk, his elbows on his knees.

A neighbor invited me in. He was a kindly psychologist who wore plaid berets. He offered me milk and chocolate chip cookies, and I fell asleep at his kitchen table as the sun streaming through the windows melted the chips. Years later, he would be convicted for being a child molester, but I don’t remember him touching me. You might say I’d had three close calls in one day.

I returned home. The front door stood open. I gingerly entered, careful to wipe my feet before putting them on my mother’s pure white carpet. There was no sign of my father, though I could smell cigar smoke.

The bloodthirsty twins sat on the stairs between the living room and my bedroom. They had made the stairs their rocket ship, and wouldn’t let me pass.

Photo:  “Twins of Evil” by Paul ; licensed under CC BY 2.0