After the beating that Ray took, and his resulting hospital stay, my father and I got back to what was normal for us. That is to say that I was no longer staying away from him and we would talk frequently like we had in the past. I found out in a convoluted way that he was having some money problems. My cousin, Billy called me and asked to borrow a thousand dollars. I told him that I could do it, lend him the money, but I wondered whether he wasn't getting into trouble of some kind if he needed the money in the first place. He and Theresa came over that night and I gave him the money, in cash, while we were outside alone. I had just gotten a new car for myself, a '62 Chevrolet Impala, and I was showing him the engine and the big trunk.
"Billy, I hope you aren't getting into something over your head here, needing to borrow money and all."
"It isn't for me Jackie, the money I mean. It's for a friend who asked me to help him out. Since I didn't have that much money just laying around, I told him I'd have to go get it and bring it to him tonight."
"You're borrowing from me just to loan it to another guy? Damn Billy, I don't have so much money that I can afford to let it go outside the family. I thought it was for you." I probably had a little edge of anger in my voice when I said this to him, since he turned and looked at me sharply when I said it.
"It is staying in the family Jackie, it's just that he came to me and not to you. And don't ask me who it is, because I'm not saying." I figured it must be my Uncle Bill, Billy's dad, or maybe one of my other uncles, so I didn't say anything more about it.
"So, how do you like the car? It's a real beauty don't you think?"
"Yeah, it must be nice to have the dough to throw around for one of these. Maybe I need to think about raising my wood prices to you so's I can get one just like it?" My delivery business was doing very well and I had three drivers working for me full time and now had four trucks. Uncle Donald had found me two more Army surplus trucks, and he and I had come to an understanding and made a deal for him to take care of them all mechanically. I was buying all the wood that Billy was getting for me. Several times guys had approached me about selling their wood to me. I always told them that I only bought from Billy, but told them that I had heard that he was looking for more cut wood to buy and then resell. I heard that he was making a six dollar profit per cord just by doing that. I was happy for him to be getting it.
Billy and Theresa left soon after and I was in the living room going over the books, trying to keep up with everything, and seeing where I stood profit wise. The business wouldn't run itself out of my hip pocket anymore, I had to write all the numbers down now just to have an idea of where I stood.
"Jackie, Theresa told me the strangest thing while you were showing Billy the new car. She said your dad was over a couple days ago and she heard him asking Billy to loan him some money. Wouldn't your dad know to come see us first? Maybe we should call him just to make sure that things are all right?"
"Ellen, if Pop wanted to talk to us about something like that he would already have done it. We should just keep our noses out of his business. I don't want to talk about it anymore either."
A couple days later we all found out why he'd needed to borrow some money. He'd just up and moved out of the house and went off to live with a woman who worked as a barmaid at the El Bolero Tavern. Ginny Speers was her name, a woman of about twenty five or so who'd been around the block a few times. She had blond hair that had been bleached so often it looked all brittle and coarse. I guess she was attractive if you liked big tits and a nice firm ass, but her personality was slutty and vulgar. She made good money herself, hustling tips from the old guys who hung around the bar all day and night, pretending to be big spenders when she let them get an eyeful of her ripe body. She would sometimes balance two draft beers on her tits and walk across the room to deliver them like that. She'd get a big round of applause when she did it too.
This is what my father left my mother for, walking away from a marriage that had lasted longer than his new girlfriend had been alive almost. I knew that my dad had strayed from time to time, but this was really going over the line of acceptable behavior. He'd outdone himself this time. I waited several days before venturing over to see my mom. I knew she'd be too hurt and pissed. I decided to wait a bit, to let her cool down a little first, and then go over there. I was right about that, her being hurt and pissed, but three or four days hadn't been nearly enough time for her to calm down.
"Jackie, I'm glad you finally came over. I need you to do me a big favor. His Nibs, that bastard, has decided he's going to be needing a few more of his clothes than he thought he'd need when he scurried out like the craven coward he truly is. He called Annie and asked her to see to it, but Annie, rightfully, came to me. Since he doesn't have the courage to set a single foot inside this house, I hope you'll do me the kindness to take that trunk I've packed over to him. I don't know where he's staying at the moment, but you can just deliver it to his Whore over at the den of alcoholics he frequents. I'm sure that slut will see to it that he gets it all right. Thank you Jackie, I knew I could count on you in my time of trouble."
I spent the next thirty minutes holding her and listening to her wailing out her grief. It isn't ever easy seeing your mother suffer like that. This wasn't the first time he'd let his dick get him into trouble, but it was the first time he'd let it get this far, and there was no way my mother would ever be able to absorb so public a humiliation. In the past he'd at least made some effort at being discreet.
When I left, a couple hours later, I dragged that big steamer trunk out and down the stairs to the back of my new car. I opened the trunk lid and put the steamer inside. I needed some rope to hold the trunk lid down, since there was no way that steamer trunk would fit and still allow the lid to close. When I got to the El Bolero, I grabbed the big trunk and dragged it inside with me. I saw my father sitting at a table nursing a beer. His new girlfriend was standing right next to him, I guess they'd been talking when I walked in. I took the trunk over to him and let go of my hold on it.
"Mom asked me to bring this here for you."
"Hello, boy. I'd like you to meet a friend of mine. Ginny this is Jackie, my oldest boy. Yutch, this is Ginny, a very good friend of mine." He was smiling like he thought I'd just go along with everything and not make any fuss. Hoping, probably more than expecting.
"Hi Jackie, your dad's told me all about you, but he didn't tell me what a handsome man you were. Did you John?"
"Look pop, I know you expect me to make nicey nice here with your new friend, but I'm really not in any mood for it. I just left the house after spending a few hours listening to ma crying her guts out and screaming about how you're a no good cocksucker for doing this to her, especially over what she thinks amounts to nothing more than a few quick fucks with some sleazy whore. I gotta tell you, I think she has it just about right." I turned around and walked away. I figured he'd get up and do something about what I'd said, but he just took it and stayed sitting right where he was. There wasn't a single sound anywhere in the place from the time I walked in until the time I left. I was relieved that he hadn't gotten up, for both our sakes. I was mad enough to really tear into him. He might have beaten me in the end, but I'd have gotten in some good whacks too.
It was the next day before I learned that my mother had taken a scissors to every piece of clothing she'd packed into that trunk. Ray told me that the biggest piece of cloth was no larger than the size of a back pocket on a pair of dungarees. I had a good laugh, relieved that my mother hadn't lost either her fighting spirit or her sense of humor.
It was another week before I heard that Ginny had kicked my old man out of her place. Maybe she was upset over him not doing anything when I'd told him about what mom and I thought. Maybe she got tired of watching him drink himself into a stupor every night like I'd also heard he'd been doing. Maybe, after he'd gotten his dick wet a few times, he realized what a big mistake he'd made. I don't know, but whatever the reason, he was living with a couple old pals of his from the Navy and staying away from my mother and the El Bolero Tavern.
Ellen and I, and most of the family, rallied around mom. We took her out to supper and made sure that she knew that we all still loved her even if my father didn't. She probably never had so much company before or since. It went on like that for a couple months. After that couple months though, ma started asking everybody she talked with about what they'd heard about my father. All of us just looked at her and shook our heads. We all knew that she was getting herself ready to once again forgive him and take him back. It seemed sick to me, how she could even think about it after what he'd put her through. Not just this time, but all the other times too. Finally, once when we were alone, I just had to speak to her about it.
"Ma, everyone's asking the same question here. They all wonder if you're thinking about letting him come home again. Nobody wants you to do that ma. He shit all over you. If he really cared anything about you at all, he couldn't have treated you that way. He doesn't love you anymore ma, hasn't he made that clear to you yet?" My mother's shoulders were shaking and she was sobbing with her head down. I felt like shit, but somebody had to tell her. When she looked up at me, I just felt so sorry for her.
"Jackie, you don't understand. I love him. None of you seem to understand that. Sometimes, I don't understand it either, but I love him. I have to know he's Ok, that he's walking around in clean clothes and he's getting lots of good food so the booze doesn't kill him too soon. If I did decide to take him back, it would only be something between him and me. If I did though, it would be for me, not for him. I can't sleep at night, Jackie. It's worse than when he was away in the War. Then I knew I couldn't do anything but wait and pray for him. Now, he's not that far away. I know him, the bastard, he's not doing a single thing to take care of himself. He's letting all those years I've spent taking care of him, trying to keep him from drinking himself to death, he's letting it all be for nothing. He'll be dead in a year or two if I don't look after him, and we have to hurry before he's just pissed it all away."
"Ma, what about your pride, what about what people will think?"
"Do you really think I care what they think or say, Jackie? Do they pay my bills or keep me warm at night? Do they let me sleep when nothing else will? As for pride, don't you worry none about that. I'll get my pound of flesh and maybe a bit more from that bastard. I'll make his life so god damned miserable he'll wish that he'd stayed away when he had the chance. He only thinks his life is wretched now."
"Don't do it ma. Don't fatten him back up so he can do it to you again. We'll help you if its the money. I've got enough to chip in every month. You don't need him. We don't need him. Get yourself some damn sleeping pills. Get over him!"
"You're a good boy Jackie, and I love you. You hate it, I know, but you're a lot like him. Too quick to anger and too slow to forgive. Well I'm not asking you to forgive him Jackie, that's my burden not yours. I am going to ask you to go see him and to tell him that I said it's time to come home. Would you do that Jackie? For me, not for him. I'm asking you, because I know you're the only one who'll do it when I ask you to."
"I'll do it ma, but I'm going to hate doing it, and I hope the son of a bitch has too much shame to come crawling back here. I'll tell him what you said though." She kissed me and had a tight smile on her face as she knew I'd do what she wanted. I felt so mad at him that I wanted to kill him. I was mad at myself because I knew that I had to do what she asked.
It took me a couple days to find out where he was drinking at. It was a fisherman's bar over in New London, close to the harbor. I went over about 3:30 and waited for him to show up there. He finally got there around five and got himself a beer. He was sitting at the bar nursing his drink when he looked in the bar's mirror and noticed me sitting there in a booth having my own beer. He called the bartender over to him and said something to him. A minute later the bartender came over and brought me a fresh drink.
"From the Chief." He nodded over at my father. I picked up the beer and threw it over against the bar, maybe ten feet away from where my dad was sitting.
"Fuck the Chief. I don't want anything from him!" The bartender just looked at me and backed away.
"You sure it has to be this way, Yutch? Can't you just let it drop and walk on out of here? I don't want to do this with you right now. Maybe later if you still need to, but not now."
"I've put it off for too long already. If I don't get it done now, I'll never get it done. I need to show you that you can't be doing this to people and getting away all the goddamn time."