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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 16

maybe, and she lifts up her hand that got bent back like a garden claw when she got the shingles and ain’t come straight since, and she rakes the air, sayin’ “I am not going to pay for you to relieve your breasts in my sink” in that high-pitched wail of hers, like it was a sin. She wanted a whole day of free work outa me for the time I spent in the bathroom since I started. Now I never take no other breaks, and I always give way to her even when I’m mad like when she accused me of stealin’ her pruners. Now how would I use a pair of pruners settin’ over the hardware store on Main Street? But I didn’t say a word back

The worse was—I didn’t tell you this yet—when I had to bring her dog Corkie to the vet to be put to sleep ’cause he was fifteen years old and pissin’ on the chairs. I had to hold him while Dr. Jensen stuck the needle in and I watched his eyes freeze over in less than a second and then I dug a hole for him where she wanted his grave in the corner by the picket fence and then I go pick some daisies and wild delphinium by the crick to throw in with him and she come out and says she ain’t payin’ for me to pick flowers. Now already since watchin’ the needle and Corkie’s eyes freeze I’m all tied in knots and all I wanna see is Bubby ’cause he can lift the weight right outa my body sayin’ sump’n like, “Bye Corkie! Dirt on you now.” He’s like you, Daddy, he don’t flinch. Me, I just hold it in till it come out like poison, or like Beulah said ’bout givin’ birth, how you wait and wait and you don’t push till you just can’t hold back no more. Instead of Bubby though, she come out raisin’ that same claw of hers and has the gall to make me stay extra for my time pickin’ flowers and I say like an idiot, “OK.”

Today it was just too much, Daddy, I couldn’t stomach that withered old hunchback one more second, raisin’ that hand like I was some sort of weed ready to spread in her house.

I walked out. I left behind a check of $97 but I didn’t care. I felt like you again, Dad, walkin’ down that mountain with all them trees ripped away after spottin’ the bear and pointin’ him out. I felt big and I was ready to take Bubby huntin’ if that’s how I had to feed him. I remember you and

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