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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 9

just as I come back into my own eyes, you said real close to both of us, “You just seen like a cow but don’t you tell no one,” and I didn’t.

But then every time I was upset, like when you and Ma was fightin’, I’d go to Teator’s either alone or sometimes Billy’d come and we’d stare and feel like you was with us again talkin’ us in, and after, we’d feel all refreshed like we just had a bath. Problem was we’d git this weird taste in our mouths that was wicked bad, acid like, and I could always tell when Billy’d sneaked down alone ’cause he’d be spittin’ the whole day. We couldn’t help ourselves. Them eyes was like drink, like a curse. I quit when I was sixteen, fought like hell to quit. I knew it was bad, would do me in.

Beulah and Tappen’s been good to me, Daddy. After Bubby was born, I stayed right in their house and it seemed all natural like Beulah was my ma. She got down a box of diapers from the attic. She don’t throw nothin’ away. She taught me how to put the pins in right, I’d never done it before and I felt all new and not brave at all like when I felt like you.

After a week there though, Tappen walks into the room we was stayin’ in and says, “You gotta go to a doctor, you gotta go to the town clerk and you gotta git a birth certificate.” Now Bubby, he looked pretty fat and the yellow in his skin’d gone, he was almost pink, but I knew Tappen was right. I knew there was sump’n if I didn’t do Bubby would die even if he looked and felt to me OK, I couldn’t really tell—they knew all sorts of tests to do. Even if he didn’t die now, he might later when he was full grown ’cause of sump’n I didn’t do. Just as long as they didn’t stick no needles in him like they did you. So I got into the truck with Tappen and went to the town clerk and that’s when the trouble started.

Daddy, I ended up on a list of New York State as a child abuser for three offenses: failure to seek medical help for the baby (havin’ it and stuff), failure to use that silver stuff in the baby’s eyes in case I had VD, and I can’t remember the third, actin’ without a license, I think.

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