Monday, January 03, 2005

life of buddy don, chaptur 129: them bruises

by januwary of 1982 whenever the winter quarter begun, i had dun larnt how to be a graduwait student, witch twuz a game whar yer perfessers give ye more wurk than inny human could ever do n then see ifn ye kin figger out whut to do n whut to pertend ye dun n how to make it seem lack ye dun whut ye never had time to do.

then thay wuz yer classes, witch ye had to take two or three of em, two ifn ye wood teach two english classes, witch thats purty much whut everbidy had to do to make ends meet. corse teachin two classes wuznt no easy trick neethur on a counta ye had ye a good 25 students in each class n they had to rite em at lease 8 essays to pass n ye couldnt speck moren maybe 5 of em to drop the class befor they had dun failed the thurd essay.

corse, that wudnt a nuff fer me on a counta how i wonted to be a riter n figgerd all that wurk at skool wuz jes a way to give me sumthin to do while i wuz spozed to be ritin, witch i felt guilty mos everday of skool on a counta how i dint rite as much as i figgerd i orta, witch that led to us gittin that group a'goin n that becum lack a nuther corse i wuz a'takin only the stories i writ fer it is still wurth readin n aint hardly nuthin i writ fer skool wurth lookin at twice.

ifn ye mayshur in a lil time fer gittin yer grossries n doon yer housewurk n a lil time fer visitin friends n more time fer dealin with the farm n givin yer fambly thar time ever now n agin, ye kin see whar thay wuznt hardly time to have sex with yer wife. twuz so bad to whar one mornin emily splaind to me how durin the nite i had woke her up without a'wakin up my ownself n got her all hot n botherd till we masturbated together, witch we dun that in sted of 'doin it' on a counta she dint have her diaphram in, witch she wuz a'takin the pill but she wuz so deathly afraid of gittin pregnunt that she had to use two methods at lease. i caint member nuthin lack that happenin to this verr day, but she swore twuz jes whut happend n showed me the stains to proov it. tiz the kinda thang that makes ye wunder ifn ye takin on too much.

so twuz only natcherul how i gut to whar i wood try to mix two or three thangs together, a'trine to git eli or virgil or maisie or brew to cum to the group or visitin em only durin a party or rite befor a party to hep git thangs reddy.

nuther way i tuck keer of moren one thang at once wuz in gittin eli to cum over to take me on our munthly grossry run to the krogers out on chapman hiway. twuz a fack that i spent more time with eli than i dun with all my other brothers n sisters combined, mainly on a counta how we wuz close in age n bofus lacked to rite n all. ye mite member how he had bought my volkswagen whenever i quit carbide n started skool n how twuz good fer him n me bof till he wrecked it round christmus of 1981. it tuck em a coupla munths to git it to whar twood run agin tho they couldnt git it alined proper, witch that meant it chewed up tires before thar warranty hardly gut dry.

innywho, his car bein broke is whut gut maisie out fer a visit n to hep me git them grossries long bout the end of januwary n the instunt i seen her, i knew sumthin wuz rong. her rite eye wuz blue black n her nose wuz crooked. ye could almost see the fist print n whenever i looked at her that furst time, thay wuz a moment when bofus knew whut twuz i wuz a'seein, but whenever i ast whut happend, she claimed how she wuz the clumsiest human alive n how she had fallen n landed rite on the door handle n dont i know how we duncans need to larn to clean up our thangs to whar we woodnt be trippin overm?

i let them lies go fer true fer a lil while sos we could git them grossries. we talked bout lots of thangs. i tole her bout a story i had writ name of Cleaning Up, witch i splained how twuz a tale bout them four thangs that makes marrg so hard: relatives, sex, money, cleanin the house. befor she knew whut she had sed, she added one: alkyhol. agin, i dint say much bout it, but we gut on the topick of how hard tiz to be marrd.

ye mite member how maisie deecided she wood marr oscar clowder, witch he wuz brew's bes frien. oscar n brew gut to be friens whenever they went to robertsville junior high skool. thay had bofem ended up in whut brew called the dum class. whut happend to brew wuz we moved whenever he wuz in furst grade n he dint larn how to read all that well, so by thurd grade, them skools had deetermind he wuz a'gone spend his educayshun in the lease challengin classes.

oscar gut to them dum classes a differnt way, witch he wuz the kinda feller that jes couldnt hold in a smart-alecky remark even ifn he knew twood git him in trouble. he lacked to make fun of the smart kids in class n hung round them that dint bleeve in trine all that hard.

twernt a matter of eethur one of em bein dum atall. fack is, brew is bout as smart as innybidy ye ever met, speshly ifn yer trine to settle sum kinda conflick, witch thats one reason he rose up so high in the local of them carbide guards. i member minny a deebate at home with daddy n me n eli n roena may making the mos sofisticated arguments ye could magine. finely brew wood speak, say one line bout how mayhap he dint understand the issue well a nuff, but he thought twuz a simple matter. then he splained whut he though n purty soon, couldnt nobidy cum up with a better anser. he lacked to say since he wuz dum, he had to listen harder befor he sed innythang, n since he wuz dum, he had to thank rite keerful bout whut he wuz a'gone say so nobidy dint make fun of him.

bofem fellers lacked fishin moren jes bout innythang, so they wood tie flies n buy rods n study weather n git depth finders n yew name it. wuznt nuthin thay lacked bettern goin fishin out a melton hill lessn they could git up to obed. bout as quick as he got on out at the plant, brew bought him a lil flat-bottum boat with a evenrude motor n thay gut to whar they knew mos ever inch of melton hill lake n then they gut to wurkin on watts bar.

thay wuz bofem born in 1955, so whenever it cum time fer the draft lottry of 1973, thar fates pointed em in differnt die-reckshuns. oscars number wuz low, somewhar in the thirties if i recolleck it rite, but brews number wuz near the verr top, 361, witch we had us a party fer thatn n oscar wuz thar n a lil riled bout how fate had dun im, a nuff to whar he gut to drankin tequila n broke up a lil anteek coffee table aunt ruth had give us by sittin on it n then laffin whenever the legs give way.

so oscar joined the navy n spent mos of his two years over in the fillipines, whar he claims all he dun wuz type forms out all day ever day. by the time he cum back home, we had the farm so oscar gut to whar he wuz one of the callus basturd reglars out thar, witch thats how he cum to know maisie.

oscar had gut im a job at orkin sprayin houses fer bugs, witch he gut rid of all the bugs out at the farm once maisie moved out n cumplaind bout em. he had im a good wit n could keep ye in stitches talkin bout cockroaches. he dint have no problem touchin em or even smashin em dead with the palm of his hand, witch that turnt everbidys stumach.

i reckon thay musta gut marrd rite after we cum back frum germany, sumtime in 1980. they gut marrd in the presbyterian church, same as roena may had dun, n then they moved in to oscars apartment, witch twuz one of them pre-fabs name of 'e apartments' on highland avenue.

once they had dun marrd, ye could go ver long stretches without seein maisie even one time. she wurked as a dental assistunt to the same dentist gretchen schuler wurked at, witch thats how gretchen n maisie gut to be bes friens, n twuznt odd not to see her now n then. fer that matter, ye mite not see inny one of us fer long stretches, so dint nobidy thank nuthin of it.

but whenever i saw them bruises that furst time, a slew of thoughts run through my mind bout how everthang fit all of a sudden: her disappearin now n then, the way randy fox hated oscar clowder, the way everbidy lacked jokin bout how clumsy maisie wuz, even the habit she gut in of gittin sample painkillers frum her dentist.

whenever it cums to drugs, maisie wuz eager to git innythang she could. she lacked mos ever drug ceptn the evil weed, n she luved to git thangs frum eli, witch he had dun been thru a long series of differnt medicayshuns till they finely gut him more or less settled down on a steddy dose of bout six differnt pills, witch the one he lacked the bes -- artane -- wuznt even spozed to hep his mental illness but wuz fer the side effecks of them otherns, manely the problem of how his muscles wood git to twitchin to whar he couldnt git still. turnt out they wuz a favert of maisies too.

eli begged me to try it sos i wood know whut kinda 'chemical cage' he wuz a'livin in, so i dun it. twuz a verr odd kinda hi whar ye dint wonta do much of innythang. ye could sit lookin at yer hands fer hours, swep up in wunder bout how mazin fangers is. eli lacked to call it 'brain-stop,' but even he add mitted yer brain dint stop but jes gut stuck on common thangs since everthang seemed lack such a miracull when ye wuz on it. ye also dint feel a hole lotta pain whenever ye wuz on it.

maisie luved her sum artane n purty soon she gut to whar she could git it frum her dentist, witch i dont know whuther he wuz even in on it -- maisie dun everthang at the offus includin the books, so twuznt hard fer her to hide sumthin lack that.

odd thang bout oscar wuz how he dint much lack takin no drugs. he lacked dranking beer n had the red face n pot belly that goes along with a six-pack a day habit (ifn he dint drank more, speshly whenever he n virgil gut to drankin together). everbidy knew he had im a bit of a problem with it, but lack lots of folks with problems, oscar lacked to point at the problems other folks wuz havin whenever one of his problems wuz a'showin.

me n maisie talked bout mos everthang under the sun ceptn fer them bruises that i couldnt keep frum starin at. we wurked our way thru the marital battles round sex n relatives n money, witch thay had em thar share of trubles in all three, n turnt out cleanin up the house wuznt no problem since they wuz bofem such slobs that they never noticed.

bout the time we had made our way thru them topicks of marital mizry, i sed i hadnt cunsidderd alkyhol as one of them topicks befor. that made maisie blush till i sed, 'ye dont half to lie to me, maise. i kin see how yer been beat n taint the mark of no door handle.' that statement busted the damn n the tears flooded out. we hugged while she tried to splain the hole thang, how twuz really her fault on a counta i dint know whut a bitch she could be n she orta know bettern to say sartin thangs to oscar whenever he wuz drunk n she needed to larn how to hold her tung when she knew she wuz a'winnin the fuss n fite n she knew he dint have no chants agin her in fussin n fitin on a counta all she had larnt frum mama n daddy.

after that, it tuck her a while befor she wuz dun with the kleenex n could talk without crine. purty soon she tuck her a big breath n let it out n laffed. then she ast me to promiss i woodnt tell nobidy bout whut she had tole me. i tole her that woodnt be easy, but she insisted, so i did.

fer a few weeks, she wood cum over bout ever other day, till i half to add mitt i wished the problem could be over on a counta all the wurk i had to do. i blush to add mitt that now on a counta i caint member a sangle importunt thang frum that wurk i had to do but i caint never fergit whut maisie wuz a'gone thru.

long bout the beginnin of the fall quarter in 1981, emily made her a new frien, a woman that lived in our bildin name of margaret dobbins, witch everbidy called her maggie. maggie wuz a beeyootiful woman who had dun been marrd twice n had a lil boy left over frum each marrg. turnt out she had been abused durin her furst marrg, witch that led to the secunt one on a counta she marrd the lawyer that handled her case. he hired her as a legal secretary n i never herd whut ended thatn. innywho, emily tole her bout whut i had dun tole emily bout whut maisie had tole me bout whut oscar had been a'doon to maisie. maggie wonted to hep, so we tride to git maggie n maisie a chants to talk bout how she could deal with the situwayshun. maggie lacked to point out that twuz importunt fer maisie to make the deecishun her ownself. she dint need to be forced on a counta her problem wuz how she had been forced to accep ever deecishun made bout her frum the time she wuz born, witch i had to add mitt twuz so.

but maisie dint never git no chants to meet maggie. in sted, oscar tole brew bout how he had to put maisie in her place, witch eli herd that n went over to see maisie n put two n two together. maisie begged him not to tell nobidy, but twuznt his way. he gut to shoutin bout how evil oscar wuz n how sumbidy needed to do sumthin bout him. whenever i herd how angry he gut, i wunderd had i dun the rong thang by not gittin into a angry snit my ownself.

once the news wuz in elis mouth, twuznt but a hop skip n a jump till we were all in a fambly council over the matter, witch everbidy wuz thar ceptn brew. mama wuz sayin how she wonted to beat the peewaddlin out of oscar her ownself, witch she sed he she had always figgerd he wuz meanern a striped snake. eli gut to talkin bout how twuznt no marrg n twoodnt be no sin to deevorce such a animull. poor maisie dint do nuthin but sit n cry n try to beg folks to let her do thangs her own way. i tride to support that idee, but daddy brung everthang to a end by tellin us all to shut up.

durin that long silence, twuz easy to see how much daddy luved maisie n how hurt he wuz by all this stuff. they had always had em a speshul relayshunship. they lacked to hike together, speshly up to frozen head state park or mount le conte. they had em a secret tree that dint nobidy no nuthin bout sumwhar over in the woods near south hills golf course in oak ridge. to this verr day, aint nobidy outside of daddy n maisie that knows whar that tree is. so when daddy sed fer us to shut up, we did n twuz such a moment that maisie even stopped crine to listen to whut daddy wuz a'gone say.

he tuck his time gittin reddy, smokin the res of his cigarette n drankin the res of his beer n openin a nuther. finely, he sed, 'maisie, i aint a'gone say this but one time: ifn yer a'gone stay with that man -- no that lil slimey inseck -- ifn yer a'gone stay with him, ye all are a'gone half to git used to visitin me in prison or at the graveyard. i will kill him ifn he touches ye one more time.' maisie tride to say sumthin, but daddy shut her up n turnt to eli n sed, 'wood ye tell oscar whut i jes sed?' eli wuz proud to do jes that, only he wonted to know whut we should do bout brew. daddy sed ifn oscar wuz a'whuppin brew, that wood be brews problem. eli sed twuznt that, but how brew n oscar wuz bes friens. agin, daddy sed twuz brews problem n we couldnt live brews life fer im. eli dint lack the anser n he later tole me he dint see why we let brew live his life but changed maisies. all i ast him in reply wuz dint maisie ast ye to keep quite with whut ye knew? made him mad n he sed i must not luv maisie verr much ifn i wood let her git beat up thataway.

by this time, twuz near finals in march, so i dint see much of nobidy fer a while. but i couldnt quit a'thankin bout maisie n purty soon i rote a story name of Big Wheels Roll bout her n the situwayshun, witch i member how ashamed i felt whenever i red it to the group n they all gut to praisin it n i gut to thankin how i wuz so brazen as to make a 'profit' on maisies pain.

once the quarter wuz over, maisie ast could she cum hep us git grossries. emily wuz at skool whenever maisie gut thar, so we drove out n gut the grossries. maisie kep on a'sayin she felt bad bout thangs on a counta she wuz jes as much to blame as oscar. she dint know if she should stay away frum him or maybe move back in. he even ast he bout whuther he should re-up in the navy sos they could see the worl. i sed no doubt he wonted to git away frum the fambly on a counta how we woodnt tolerate whut he wuz a'doon to her. maisie jes kep a'sayin i dint understand.

whenever we gut home, i ast her did she wonta git hi, which corse she did. i tole her bout ritin a story on the topick, so she gut to beggin to read it. i finely let her. twuz a long time she red it n her tears gut to flowin agin, but she dint wonta stop. whenever she wuz dun she stood up n started walkin in a circle. then she stopped n put her arms out. i give her a big ole hug. while i wuz a'doon that, she thanked me fer lettin her read that story. i gut to whar i wonted to apologize fer usin her story fer my writin, but she dint wonta here nun of that.

'ye dont understand, bud. i luv yer story n besides that, i aint a'gone back to him fer nuthin now. i dint real eyes till now jes how thangs wuz till i saw whut ye had writ. taint my fault atall. i aint a'gone back to him fer nuthin now.'

maisie never went back to live with oscar agin n thar deevorce cum thru sumtime durin the summer. maisie started datin n such n one day she cum over to visit when emily wuz in class. she sed she wonted to thank me. i ast her fer whut? she sed, 'fer showin me whut them bruises look lack.'

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