My clothes soak and wet from playing tackle football in the rain and mud. My shoes squeaked with every step.
I was cold.
It was November and the yards on Cleveland Ave. covered with bold orange leaves as the strong red and vivid yellow ones laid on the curb content.
I couldn’t resist walking through them and kicking them as I go.
It took longer than usual for me to get home. I was kid, being a kid, having fun.
When I entered the hallway I began taking off my clothes.
By the time I was at our door, which sat in the back to the right under the stairs leading upstairs, I was in my muddy underwear only. I knocked.
After what seemed to take eternally, Mom opened the door with one hand while cuffing a bowl of cake mix in the other.
She had the phone receiver secured tightly on her shoulder with her chin and neck talking to someone.
The telephone cord wrapped around her body like a hula hoop. She pointed toward the bathroom smiling at me.
I hopped in the tub and made sure I didn’t miss a spot because I didn’t want Mom scrubbing me until my skin felt like it was coming off.
I scrubbed my knees and made sure I washed behind my ears.
“And make sure you get behind your ears Vernon because you don’t want me coming in there and doing it for you,”
Mom screamed from down the hall.
After bathing I dressed in my bedroom and walked by the hole in the wall put there two weeks ago from my two older brothers fighting.
My brother Joe came home drunk as usual one morning and started cussing and screaming at my mother.
I watched from my room with the door cracked open. He didn’t know my brother Tim was home.
Tim came from the middle room and jumped on Joe knocking him into the wall and on the floor telling him that was the last time.
Punches thrown and blood splattered.
I could smell alcohol.
I was happy and scared at the same time.
I remember the police being there afterward and a woman voice coming from their walkie talkies repeating our address.
The small stocky Caucasian officer acknowledged the call. Two officers stood in the hallway talking to my mother while my brother Joe had on hand cuffs against the wall.
The wall with the hole.
“Lets go Joe,” said the tall black officer who reminded me of Ed (Too Tall) Jones from Dallas Cowboys.
They knew my brother by name.
They took Joe to jail 3am in the morning. I had school the next day. I was eleven years old.
“Mom what you’re cooking?” I asked looking into the pot on the stove.
“What kind of food?” I asked reluctantly.
“The kind you eat.”
I always asked the same question and always gotten the same answer.
“Baby after we’re done eating lets play a game,” My mother suggested.
Mom always enjoyed doing things with me and my brother Keith.
She couldn’t wait until school was out for the summer so she could spend more time with us. I loved it also.
“As long as it’s not Scrabble,” I said knowing it was her favorite game.
We ate dinner then played a game of Monopoly.
I watched my mother move her game piece, the shoe, around the board picking up Boardwalk and Park Place while my game piece, the doggie, sat in jail.
I wonder how my brother Joe felt being in jail.
Moms continued moving her shoe around landing on the jail. She said with caution. “I’m just visiting.”
She had always said that’s the only way she would visit her children in jail.
We watched TV and ate desert upside down pineapple cake then I went to bed.
Walls of a home let you know how stable or unstable the home is.
While I slept I could hear the wall crying at night.
Every night it wailed the pain of my mother and dysfunction of our home.
I tried covering my head with my pillow but it only cried louder. The wall wanted happiness and peace in our home and so did I.
It only stopped crying when it heard me crying.
Every morning on my way to school I would gently touch the wall with my finger tips. It would giggle.
It liked when I touched it because that let it know I heard it and I could feel its pain spiritually.
All it wanted to do was feel.
One day I came home and seen the hole patched. I asked mother what happened and she said someone fixed it.
I could see where the hole once was and it didn’t look fixed to me it just looked covered up.
The wall cried no more at night because someone had supposedly fixed it by hiding and covering its feeling.
The wall looked fixed but I knew the hole was still there.
I learned from the wall how to fix my feeling by covering them with denial.
At eleven years old I started hiding and suppressing my feeling just like someone did the wall.
It was the start and development of my fractured personality.