“He taught me how to read people’s eyes, ya know what I mean?” I lifted one a my tools, a heavy-ass poker, and moved toward the roarin fire. Flames curlin outta the fireplace. Damn, shit was hot.
“Nah, you don’t know nuthin, do ya, kid?” Kid cowered where I tossed him on the floor, shaking his skinny little white-boy ass off. He was scared. Real scared.
“Lemme tell ya, kid. My Pop, he a man, kid. A real MAN, ya know?” The tip of the poker got red-hot but I didn’t take it outta the fire yet. Kid whimpered.
“Pop, he work real hard, ya know? He did whatever he hada to keep the groceries comin in. He a MAN.” Kid eyed up the fire and trieda scoot back a little. Welts was comin up on his little ass, his butt-ugly face. Good.
“Pop was real nice mosta the time. He’da laugh at anythin, mosta the time. Momma n him’d be laughin upa God-damn storm mosta the time.” That gave me a laugh, rememberin dat. Poker was headin near orange already. Nice.
“But every once ina while, kid, Pop’d get angry. Somethin’d piss him off and he’d go off drinkin, stay away hours, days, once even weeks. Shit. Momma was half-dead time he took two weeks a come home. Shit.” Tipa the poker was blue. Kid cryin then, sad little screechy sound kinda gotta me. Didn’t stop me, though.
“So, times when Pop’d get angry, he got MEAN. Real mean. You ain’t never seen nuthin like it, kid.” Kid’s face was bleedin where I wooped him.
“Pop’d come bargin in, all drunk n shit, dirty, smellin like a barrel. Thing is, kid, Pop always dressed nice, clean, n he was always laughin, never mad. Till the drink got’m.” Memory kinda got me. Poker was hot n heavy.
“He’d come bargin in and first thing, he’d get Momma. She’d be screamin upa storm, putting upa fight like she did, and there was nuthin nobody could do, ya know?” Kid squirmed and whimpered. Underneath’m, a river a piss. Damn.
“Not nobody could stop him, kid,” I took a step closer to’m, makin a few slashes ina air wid the hot poker. Like Pop useda do.
“Big bro useta try’n protect me and all, ya know. Ya gotta big bro, kid?” Kid too far goneta talk. “He’d tell me go hide n all, but it ain’t never help. Pop always find me.” Swish, swish, closer to the kid.
“This one time, he gotta poker from the fire, like this one I got here,” I waved it right up in his pasty little face. Kid cryin real bad.
“Pop, he angry, he drunk, and he come lookin for me. He find me under the bed all crammed up in the corner. He drag me out, toss me around. Like you, kid,” I shot him a smile but kid don’t get it.
“He standin dere, holding the blue-hot poker, and he smilin. But his eyes ain’t smilin, ya know what I mean, kid? His eyes just dark and angry and fulla the Devil. Shit.” Kid tries to scootch sideways along the wall but it ain’t work. He too scared.
“Why’m I tellin ya this, kid? Ya don’t givea shit.” I gave’m a poke on’is ugly face and he yelped real loud. Another. Another. I went someplace else. I was stabbin him n runnin the poker down his skinny chest and his bony back. The lines showed up real nice on his white skin. I played around with’m, havin fun, laughin like Pop usedta, and I starteda wonder what my eyes were sayin.
What are my eyes, sayin, kid? I didn’t ask it, though. Just kept havin my way with him, makin him sing his sad wails, makin him piss again, makin him cry, over and over, everythin the same.
“Don’tya worry, kid,” I boomed in Pop’s voice. I laughed Pop’s laugh. “I ain’t gonna kill ya, kid.” Nah. Pop never killed me, did’e? Nah. Once a kid all marked up real nice, red lines criss-crossin and repeatin like mine, I all done wida torment. I cleaned off the poker like Pop useda, n put it away so kid don’t see it.
I cleaned’m up real nice, like Pop useda. I even sang’m those old spirituals, like Pop did. Everythin the same. I put the fire out n took’m back where I found’m.