Become a Fan
Feather in a Tornado
By James J. Marry
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Reading this beginning to a life may start slowly. I need the feedback as I have never gone this route before. Angela's Ashes pushed the button for me.
Feather In a Tornado
By James Marry
I begin to look upon forty years of Americanism with a little distaste. I mean to say why should this tale of reverence be of any interest to any human on the planet aside from myself? My agent should be asking that question, and I’m sure that if I had one, she would be. Unfortunately, with a cast of thousands standing behind me saying, “Go on. Get it over with. We want to know if no one else does. What the hell created a beast like you on this planet?”
The cast is wont to say a lot more with even cruder expressions than that, but I will try not to share the rudeness with you. There is far too much rudeness in this world as it is, and I’ve learned that keeping mine to a minimum lets me keep the chain on the dog. So to speak.
Oddly enough, this reminds me that with each passing day I see a little more of my father in me. That is certainly not a bad thing in the very least. Dad is a great human being. I know. He’s finally become my best friend.
John Peter Kolesnick was a born American. His mother, Teophilia, and his father, Philip, were immigrants to Ellis Island in New York from Poland well before Hitler started to get the flow started. My estimates get old Phil here sometime in the teens of the century. Grandma made it here a few years after. John Kolesnick was never a loose-lipped man and regarding his father and mother, I think he says even less.
Philip was married once before Teophilia and had children in that marriage. Given the beliefs and habits of the day, it is believable that his first wife might have given him the motivation to become an American. As I say, John Kolesnick kept the whole story fairly mum, so I am not privileged to share it with you.
John was born in Brooklyn in 1925 on March 9th. His dad had taken on a laborer job plus he had found housing for his clan as an apartment manager. Since the later arriving Teophilia came to give him two sons and a daughter in total, Phil was made to be a good provider. Alexander was the first child, then Helen, and the youngest was John- my father. I see the thinking with names like Alexander and Helen on history’s lap (‘the Great’ and ‘of Troy’ respectively). I think that naming my father John might have been their way of saying “Yep. We’re Americans now!” Maybe not, but the taste is right.
John Kolesnick was a smart young man and very healthy. From his shyness and European bred distrust of strangers, Dad might be thought of as a modest man. To see photos of Dad as a young man, he surely had women swooning all over him. He was six feet tall, dark haired and very muscular. He was the star of any soccer team he played on and all of them wanted him. John was even, I’m told, invited to play for an Olympic team. At least that was what my Uncle Harold told me.
Harold Mooney. He was no blood relationship whatsoever with John Kolesnick, but I still picture the two of them together as boys today. I can’t say that Uncle Harold was unquestionable as a source of info on Dad. He could stretch a story a little bit far, but the reality somehow struck home anyway.
Harold once told me that he and my Dad were known to be a couple of guys that you just didn’t mess with back in their soccer days. Looking at my uncle, I think a person would be convinced that Dad was the threat, though Harold was not exactly a small man either. He was quite a joker though.
Case in point. Once, Harold told me that he and Dad were finishing up a game at Miraculous Medal in Maspeth, Queens on the Brooklyn-Queens border. Harold had been listening to this guy in the stands for the whole time heckling him to death. John Kolesnick never even noticed- he was too busy being a star. Well, Harold didn’t feel like owning up to the beating that this dude said he was going to hand him. So, when things wound down and his doom was pending nearer, Harold simply told him, “John, you should hear the things that those guys up in the bleachers were saying to Arlene.”
Now, Arlene was my Mom and at this point she was probably busy with her girlfriends, because according to Harold, John Kolesnick never even thought about asking her about these guys. My uncle told me that I should have been there to see the bodies flying out of the bleachers. People were running and there was screaming and that was just the spectators. Dad caught Harold’s enemy and the guys that were with him fists first.
When Harold explained what he had done afterward, Dad just shrugged. Harold said he thought my father was actually embarrassed by the whole magilla. John Kolesnick will always be a humble man in my eyes, so this fit his character beautifully. I think he also knew shame, a passionate battle he handed down to at least one of his sons. That emotion crops up a couple of times as the years continued.
I think though, being from a family of true immigrants, and running with what- to me at least- seemed to be a group of second and third generation Americans, that John might have had some other inclinations. My father was exceptionally intelligent and he probably was very grateful to be a part of this crowd. I’ve been in those shoes and when someone has their “fun” with you, you want to go along with the joke a bit. It can be easier than the other options and I’m sure that John Kolesnick knew that. Prejudice is not a new invention and I think it was probably a lot stronger then. I’m sure.
As John and Arlene were at the advent of maturity, they complied with the signs of the times. The years had brought World War Two for their adventure and John had given his share early for the US Navy. Boxes of memoirs filled my childhood basement. Following the majority of their classmates, they married.
Shortly thereafter, they were graced by the birth of my brother- Kenneth Philip Kolesnick. Mom has always been progressive, so the first name was chosen strictly for taste. His baptized name comes from my past tense grandfather, John’s dad. I need to be explicitly clear about one extreme factor regarding my older brother- he was absolutely a gorgeous baby.
Now, the first thing to cross your mind may be that my own adoration is getting in the way here. But two things conflict with that premise. One- I have not adored my brother for twenty years, and Two- I wasn’t even born for ten more years after Kenny’s arrival. Photographs and film attest to his beauty, but the reactions of the people who witnessed this child carry so much more weight.
Even Harold and Gertrude, who themselves bore five children, would comment on the flagrant pleasure that they experienced hen they saw him. Then you measure in the Aunt and her undying love for the boy and the concoction can become fairly volatile.
Helen Kolesnick was John’s older sister. She was not a pretty woman on any scale, but her heart was forever giving. She was the epitome of old school and when Alexander, her oldest brother, took sick, she knew that it would be her place to care for him as his condition worsened. I can’t blame Uncle Al’s sickness for Helen’s singularity though since he passed sometime around 1962 and my aunt stayed unmarried for eternity.
Aunt Helen adored that Kenny though and since Mom was just a young girl, certain processes inevitably crept in. Kenny had the devoted love of three women I think- Mom, Helen and Teophilia, but Grandma wasn’t long for this world. I perceive that my brother was about four at her passing and since she was a powerful personality, she left a lingering effect in death. John was a stoic superman, I’m sure. Helen kept ever-knotted bundle of emotion bound to the back of her ox cart going to market. Kenny as a four year old gave his youth to understanding the loss with the assistance of his mother,
Now Arlene was a complete misfit with this event. She had none of the preventive medicine that John, Helen or Alexander contained via their near gypsy blood. She had come from a family of long term Americans grown from Irish and German emigrants well before the Civil War. Her family of three girls and a boy had broken the bonds that held them accountable for their actions regarding the death of loved ones. They weren’t shriekers, but they weren’t statues. Dancing, singing and a bottle seems to paint their wakes more clearly- oh…and maybe a fight or two also. Yeah, that sounds like Mom’s family.
So, this twenty-ish beauty got the opportunity to watch every person she cared about get torn apart by the death of their matriarch. She also got to watch them flounder about helplessly without any means to express their pain. Arlene did not understand. She couldn’t be. In fact, she thought they were idiots at times. But given the weight of the feelings that she was sure they were hiding, she tried to help each of them learn to express that pain. She failed miserably against the ages of Eastern European tradition.
Then in 1954, John and Arlene were blessed by a damaged daughter- Karen Elizabeth. John fell in love all over again though the injuries to the child were fairly severe for this day and age. She was born with a broken collarbone, a badly separated leg, and minor kidney ailment. Her recovery would tax Arlene for the better part of a year. Kenny was set aside.
Six years old and spurned repetitively by the woman who held all of his dreams- Kenny refrained from reacting. Kenny’s father explained to him that Arlene needed to spend more time with his injured sister and Kenny tried to understand. There was certain elegance to the young beautiful child suffering a terrible and new loneliness in the name of his sister’s improvement. His Aunt Helen saw this clearly, and reacted with benevolence.
Of course, as 1956 came to a head, Helen was relegated more each day to the care of Alexander, the oldest Kolesnick. His polio was beginning to degrade his ability to be self- sustaining in rapid blows toward incapacitation. On healthy days, Alexander and Helen would enjoy Kenny and Karen, but they suffered the wrath of the Queen to speak their minds regarding the upbringing of either child. Arlene could never allow their wishes to outweigh her demands for the care of her prodigy. A quiet battle built slowly with no gain to any of the competitors.
As the young family solidified more under the increasing inevitability of Alexander’s condition- Helen seemingly abated her distaste of Arlene. She donated her energy to assisting Alexander and continued her employment with Bulova Watch Company. Helen worked on timing mechanisms for the United States government. It was said once that Helen Kolesnick had more to do with the success of the Cold War than Mc Namara did. History will hold that secret most dear, as Helen patriotically did.
The world was good in the late 50’s for the family. Money was good. The children seemed to be going through life happy. Vacation time was spent at “Dude Ranches” with close friends. Arlene seemed less paranoid and angry. All was well- until it all changed.
First and most unexpected, Arlene announced a new pregnancy. Obviously, questions were asked, but answers were unimportant. John contemplated the possibility that Arlene might have done the deed intentionally. He couldn’t honorably ask her, so he needed to accept the fact without thinking towards potential dishonesty on her part. Arlene knew that John had considered the possibility though. “Maybe” carries a lot of weight with a delusional mind. If not today-
Arlene had dealt with death badly from her teens. Up until the Depression had landed in New York City, Arlene had been the favorite youngest of three daughters for an upper middle income father in Brooklyn. She was a little spoiled, to say the least. Then shortly after her younger brother Charles was born, shit hit the fan. First, the depression and then her father died. In short order, her mother Sara became partnered with her father’s driver. She was confused, hurt and distressed. In the 1940s, Arlene was also helpless. That was the way it was.
Then the death of John’s mother and the imagined effect that Arlene had placed upon the entire family. Some could say that sickness was a reaction for attention that got out of hand, but the lack of recognition in a time when mental illness was considered a weakness played its part as well. Arlene had taken her attention from the golden child Kenny, to find greater and more positive attention with the ailing Karen. Once Karen was getting better, she might have resented the favor shown to a slowly dying Alexander. But for her husband to imagine that she could have purposefully derailed their chance at financial peace may have been too much. She couldn’t say that his original view was wrong, but the concept that he might have considered her capable of this added doubt to her estimation of his love for her. The love that connected her to her entire reality.
As for John, he couldn’t possibly adore Arlene more. The new pregnancy meant that John would work many extra hours for Schaefer. It also meant that 10 year old Kenny and 5 year old Karen would be receiving more attention from Arlene- so long as the mother’s occasional fits of depression would allow. Arlene pleaded for time to rest for the sake of the coming baby, and Helen, Alexander and husband John conformed their schedules to Arlene’s abilities whenever possible. In her descending condition she was receiving the attention she originally craved but for all of the wrong reasons.
Then, on September 9th, 1959, near 9th street in Brooklyn, Kevin Charles Kolesnick was born. Though it was reasoned that John’s mother couldn’t say this name, she had long ago passed before the bay’s arrival. He would be known as “K.C.” for most of his life and confusion would reign supreme in his arena. He would learn to live as a feather in a tornado.
K.C. Kolesnick was born in Brooklyn, New York City in 1959. His family resided in a garden apartment in Copaigue on Long Island. Essentially, he shared a house with three other families in a comfortable neighborhood- very suburban.
At the top of the score, K.C. was a good sweet kid. He adored his mother above every human being on the planet. He knew early on that she wasn’t well, though he wasn’t too sharp on the particulars. They weren’t important. What was important was to help her feel better and avoid upsetting dad. Mom always told K.C. so.
There are no relationships that compare to mother and child. The duality of spirit begins in the womb and is purchased by birth. We know our maternal heartbeat as our own until the moment we are separated by the scalpel’s cruel dissection of the umbilical cord. K.C.’s love for Arlene was no different; in fact it may have been stronger.
An early memory as Arlene’s sickness continued unabated would be of smiling in the cuddled embrace of the loving woman. Arlene never ran out of love to give even in the depths of her later confusion. She did however diminish her capacity for translating this love into action. The finality of the early memory of K.C.’s motherly embrace is caustically exclaimed with hot cigarette ashes accidentally falling down the young child’s pajama top. Even though the incident became K.C.’s ultimate fault, the caring for the third degree burn lingered in an odd place of sensitivity and terror for the boy to become man.
As Arlene’s mental problems progressed; Kenny’s mishandling of unabated freedom fueled his own psychological profile. Kenny was the child of Arlene’s adoration, though she would never deny any love to the younger Karen and K.C. Helen had become a nuisance with her constant advice on the upbringing of the young boy on his verge of manhood. The aunt was becoming a third parent to the children, but very slowly since her care for brother Alexander was increasingly more critical.
Alexander played an important role in the early development of K.C. in spite of his infirmity. The relationship was surprisingly healthy and John reveled in his older brother’s attention to the boy. K.C. was an entertainer and Al tapped that fact once he heard the boy sing to his mother at age two. It must have been quite a sight to see the man in the wheelchair egg on the two year old to get him to tap dance with an impromptu stick for a cane.
Al taught the high conversation toddler sitting games and some facts of life that could steer him through some of the extreme tumult that would follow. Roulette was a favorite for the two since K.C.’s fascination with the numbers and the silver ball could hold the child’s attention for hours. This early adventure may have given the lad a different appreciation for life also.
The perspective came from the result of the target goal for the game of roulette. There are thirty- six possible numbers plus both zeroes. That means that in a perfect world you would hit any number you chose once in thirty- eight throws. It is not a perfect world though and roulette might have proven that to an overly analytical toddler- on some level at least. K.C. might have learned about planning for the future or even about betting only what you might be willing to lose here. I think the lesson was possibly simpler. Life is a gamble and winnings are based on stakes. Losing too. You bet more…
Judging the future by events in the past is futile. Many things would change if only the smallest item was manipulated by fumbling human hands. Destiny depends on our actions at the moment they take place and it should. Alexander might have lived longer and increased some of the family’s chances for happiness, but he didn’t. He died in 1962 and wheels were set in motion.
His condition didn’t drag on. Alexander died suddenly in his sleep and Helen was immediately freed from a grave responsibility. Many women in their forties would have taken the opportunity with vigor and cheer. Neither of these words could ever describe Helen Kolesnick. She had only one place to distribute the love that she couldn’t share with a man and that was with her brother John’s children.
On K.C.’s first visit to the home that Alexander shared with Helen he was instructed that his Uncle Al would not be there anymore to play with him.
K.C. got over it. Maybe there was a little bit more understanding on his part, but the family had been prepared for Alexander’s end forever. Surely this sense of relief was passed on to the boy. Plus, there seemed to be a new effort on the part of the family to bond. There were more trips and restaurant days. Shopping seemed to be child purposed. K.C. even recognized that he was seeing his Aunt Helen more often. He enjoyed the extra love that she could provide and he looked forward to showing off for his aunt also. Later he would understand that the crux of this improved life style came from the added money Helen was doling out to his family as gifts.
Alexander’s death added another facet to the improvement for the Kolesnick family. He left behind a life insurance policy. The indeterminate amount wasn’t exceptional but it did provide one thing- a down payment for a mortgage. And the house John and Arlene chose was in a fairly nice neighborhood too.
This home would be the base of operations for the construction and demolition of K.C.’s early life. Many critical changes would happen here. The dynamics of the neighborhood and neighbors alike would challenge and enhance a maturing tadpole. So, as in all real estate transactions, location played a critical role. The house was and is at 200-19 26th Ave., Bayside, NY. It lies as close to the edge of Metropolis as Superman’s bedroom slippers. One bus, a train and an hour's commute would land you on Broadway in the heart of Manhattan.
Coming from the island, Long Island that is, John Kolesnick cut his trip to the Brooklyn Brewery down to an hour. He left the house at 530 am to return at 430 PM daily. Eight hours, seven to three, five days a week. The one bus ride could take Arlene to Flushing, New York- an area with five large department stores in the early sixties. A slight distraction to the benefit that the home was within city limits was a city tax, but this was easily outweighed since Long Island had begun a similar trend. The advantages by far ruled out the disadvantage also.
It was an odd sort of home in comparison to the Cleaver-ish style that middle Americans seem to be used to. Home was the last connected brick structure from the corner in a row of eight family domiciles. Each had a modest front yard with the Kolesnicks owning the largest. The house had two four steps and a landing with a two by four space at the door. A cement path went to the right walk around to the cement patio in the back of the house that led to a side back door at the top of six cement steps. With the city sidewalk in front of the house- that was a lot of cement for three children to grow up on.
At the back of the house was the garage that was only for the least used items for storage. Since the house was at the end of the eight and the backyard was actually an alley joining all of them, John’s garage made for a drastic left turn that was near unnegotiable. Since it was unspoken law among the neighbors to never leave a car parked in the strongly down sloped alley, the children all found their playground in back of their homes.
One oddity of the home was that in every districting it became located on the outskirts. This factor held little regard for the adults in the equation. It would affect the children regarding school and churches though. Eight year old Karen would take a school bus for only two more years. Then she would walk a grueling 12 blocks each way to and from Public School 184 near Francis Lewis Boulevard. This measured near a mile, and Kenny began at thirteen at Bleeker Junior High School riding city buses for three miles. The independence and discovery added an entirely new facet to Kenny’s quickly growing repertoire of potential.
The new house even sustained Arlene’s spirits for a few months, but only that. She began to spend long periods of time locked away in her bedroom. John took care of sending himself off to work on independently. When Karen rose for school, she was forced to do the same. Three year old K.C. was a different story entirely.
K.C. would rise to a new day and quietly slip past his mother and father’s bedroom and down the stairs to the living room. Here, he would bring his cereal and milk and turn on the television. Arlene was generally not likely to awaken from the sound until noon or later. A scream at the child from upstairs would send the boy into quiet hiding.
“Turn that f---ing thing down or your father will beat your butt.”
K.C. learned to tell time at a very early age after only a few spankings. The television would be “off” by noon and he would only play the quietest of games by himself. He was not allowed outside when only Mom was home.
Kenny seemed to fold into the new life very quickly. He discovered how simple it was for him to travel into the greatest city on earth and promptly began to do so. He encouraged or facilitated students he met at school with the same intellectual fervor of curious travel. In short notice and a leather jacket, the thirteen-year-old became “cool”. He also became a delinquent and very adept with lying to his parents.
John was very direct about Kenny’s planned absences from school. He even spoke with the truancy officer regarding how to prevent this from continuing. Since corporal punishment in 1962 was highly acceptable, one can expect that Kenny wore out his share of whipping straps. Possibly, without any outside elements of confusion, John might have turned the boy into a better man, had his punishments been less interfered with.
Today, we seem to be realizing that a mother can endlessly make us feel better about ourselves. She gives us a value that our father may never be able to translate. In quite the same voice. Mom makes us feel like we are always worthy of being loved. Hopefully we can use our own translation skills to bring that art to our own loves later in life. But the impetus is strictly upon the student rather than on the instructor.
A father’s art of responsibility, in a perfect world, seems to deal with some less warm and fuzzy issues. Dad deals more strictly with our feelings of responsibility, duty and punishment in most households of two parents. I know that this can be and is accomplished regularly by one parent households also. A healthy father figure has a knack with teaching respect as well. This all assumes that there is no impedance set before the father regarding teaching these skills to any child. I might clarify that statement with “especially in 1962-63”.
Initially in the realm of Kenny’s educational distractions, John managed to put the boy back on track. Summer school even caught Kenny up on not losing time with his classmates. At the first sign that he was again skipping class, a firm dusting of the boy’s breeches might have twisted the boy enough to keep him firmly on track. Other events and opinions interceded though.
Arlene was getting increasingly depressed in the clinical sense. She had scared John on several occasions with talk of harming herself. Though she never mentioned the children, I’m sure that thought was inescapable to John. It certainly did not escape Helen’s grasp. The competition was evident even without paranoid schizophrenic tendencies. To Arlene the competition became critical.
Helen provided Kenny with things that Arlene could not. She gave him money and she gave him protection. When John would feel the need to clip Ken behind the ear for the sake of his behavior, Helen would pull him away. Kenny offered Helen continued influence on John’s family because Kenny needed the regular transfusions of money to keep his private life where he desired it to be.
Bayside is on the north side of the borough of Queens in New York City. Other communities in the area include Whitestone, College Point, Bay Terrace, and Flushing. Though every area of the Big Apple includes some remnant of less affluent housing, the import in this region is noticeably diminished. Basically, most of the families are upper middle income. John would have to admit that his life leaned directly on the lower middle income tier. This put Kenny in a painful minority with his peers. Therefore he felt a greater need for Helen’s money that she doled to the children as a weekly allowance assuming that she saw them. For the $20 per week she offered Ken in 1963, he did all he could to get Dad and Mom to agree to seeing her.
These weekly meetings circled around Sunday. First church at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, then the half hour drive to Elmhurst, then sit at Helen’s a while and catch up on each of the children’s weekly events. Afterwards would be a restaurant meal, return to Helen’s and allowances be meted. Ken received $20, Karen $10, and K.C. got $5. These funds kept the kids in the same ballpark as their wealthier friends and influenced the family in every possible way.
It was difficult for Ken not to equate the money with power. He saw the cash as a tool. With his strongly emergent hormones, he used this tool to get to his favorite candy- girls. Ken had learned the art of manipulation from birth by playing his mother against his aunt. He refined the talent with junior high school as his body began to revolt. His only path of resistance lied in the direction that had cursed him from the same childhood. The one form of competition that continually thwarted his attempts at more, more, more could only be seen as Ken’s only real rival- John, his father.
Ken was enabled in his manipulation by Helen and Arlene’s competition. The enablement was amplified by Arlene’s growing fatigue derived through her battling of the daily depression. His coup de tat awarded Ken with John’s frustration with needing approval from both to discipline his son becoming a man. Kenny had all the cards- so he ran with them. He ran away.
Arlene’s condition finally had reached critical. She found herself so close to suicide that she insisted that she get the help she needed to survive. First, she voluntarily enlisted with the famous New York facility- Creedmore Mental Hospital. They immediately found it necessary to legally commit her to their care.
The obvious bind on the family was tantamount to Kenneth’s desire for youthful pleasure. His rival had other plans though. John actually expected Kenneth to live up to family obligations in assisting him with Karen and K.C. The desired effect of this would be to get the fourteen year old to buckle down and pitch in thereby creating a good man thought John. Ken had other ideas. The clash would bring Ken to a new adventure.
He couldn’t defeat his father, so he ran away.
John had dealt with adversity as life had given it to him- in shovels full. He knew that life was not going to stop, but John was surprised at this turn of events. His wife had evacuated from their home to become imprisoned by the state and the only person he thought he could demand dependability from had egressed from the home without a word. Kenneth just didn’t come home from school one day. He left his nine year old sister and four-year-old brother in the lurch. They were alone at home.
In a strange way you may say John was lucky. John was also pragmatic. He could possibly ask his sister Helen for help, but he could see the possible problems that this could cause. His visits to see Arlene buoyed his spirits for he convinced himself that she would get well enough to come home. Then they could answer her problems the old fashioned Eastern European way- with family, love, and discipline. For now he would need to rely on this odd luck for the care of his children beginning with K.C.
The fortunate fact was that Arlene’s youngest and only brother Charles had married a woman that loved being a mother. K.C. would know her as Aunt Audrey. Charles was known as Uncle Bud. The boy had no idea where his father was taking him on that night in 1963 though.
John was going to try and take care of the one child he had a chance of succeeding with- nine year old Karen Elizabeth. This attempt would fill a temporary void and continue with great strength throughout both of their lifetimes. K.C. only wished that he weren’t alone for the drive to the Gregory’s in Danbury.
K.C.’s world skipped like a stone for him with the change of life that possessed him at age four. The child in him was fairly adept to adjustment due to his mother’s manic and loving tendencies. It was easy for the small boy to be prepared for change. Change had slapped him in the face daily from the beginning of his existence.
For most other children, it could be expected that they might act out. K.C. found a way too, though his means of getting there were motivated by something entirely different than by his move to Connecticut. The drive was rather pleasant in retrospect.
John and Bud had planned the ordeal rather cautiously. K.C. didn’t know he was going until it was already time to cry. Didn’t make much sense though- since he was already on the way. On arrival, he needed to get to bed since school plans were getting made the next day. K.C.’s Aunt Audrey wanted to soften the blow as much as she could and sat him at the kitchen table with some milk and cookies.
“You know, in the morning all the kids are going to be getting ready for school tomorrow. It won’t be like New York though. You’ll be going to school with Tracy- she’s a year younger than you- and Laura Jean- who’s your age. We’ll see if we can’t keep you two in the same class. Tracy only goes for nursery. You guys are in kindergarten with Mrs. Cooper.” She said.
K.C. just listened, though he wanted to get her attention very badly. Gosh, his aunt was pretty. Not as pretty as his Mom, but real close. K.C. really wanted Aunt Audrey to like him. Right from that moment on.
Next day, when Casey awoke in the room of Butch, age 9, and Eddie, age 8, he began to sense a glimmer of how different the world was going to be. K.C. tried to act like he was still sleeping, but he watched the older boys get ready for school very carefully through his slitted eyes. The two boys wore ties!!!!! Would K.C. need to wear a tie to school? He had been to nursery school and that was an all day event in New York for him, but he wore his own clothes and NO ties. His cousins were wearing uniforms of dark blue slacks, short sleeve white collared shirts and a navy blue and gold plaid neck tie. Wow.
When the boys were just about ready, they went out to the kitchen where K.C. had eaten cookies the night before. And his beautiful Aunt Audrey was there too. He could hear her in spite of the hustle and bustle of the five children heading for school. He had to see this. So, in his pajamas he climbed out of the bottom bunk- Eddie slept above him- and edged out to the kitchen quietly.
As he leaned over to look at the kitchen table, all five of the kids saw him and began an eerie silence. K.C. observed as the oldest child, Charlene, raised her hand and pointed. “Mom? I think K.C. might want some breakfast too!’
Audrey looked down from her position over the stove with a warm smile billowing down upon the young boy. “Go sit in your place at the table and I’ll get you some oatmeal, K.C.”
K.C. didn’t know what to do with himself. If a pecking order existed, he knew he was at the bottom of it right then. That wasn’t likely to change. But it was okay. He was scared that they might reject him, not that they wouldn’t accept him. Audrey had already asserted that the chair he was sitting in was “his” and that he belonged with the family. The oatmeal smelled wonderful too.
“Butchie, get him a glass of juice.” Charlene barked.
“Is he gonna help me and Tracy clean the table?” Laura Jean asked.
“He better.” Eddie snarled and smiled at K.C. He rustled the longish mop of hair on his young cousin as well.
And for better or worse, K.C. was accepted as another Gregory mouth to feed, and another child to smile. Aunt Audrey watched with great warm approval as her brood grew one smile larger.
Uncle Bud worked exceptionally hard to keep the family expense on track. He knew that he didn’t have a choice but to help his sister with her children in a time of need. Not that he thought he would ever be able to get the favor returned. The financial arrangement was reasonable though. John was paying a stipend worthy of K.C.’s care and was prepared to pay additional funds for matriculation at St. Gregory’s, the Catholic school that the major Gregory’s were attending currently. Bud wanted to get his two youngest girls there also, but the finances were tight. Casey would benefit his plans on this level though.
Still, he found himself putting in long hours for six days a week. He was tired when he arrived home in the evening. The children and Audrey would usually have eaten, and that was fine. Three or four nights a week, Bud would eat and then turn in upstairs at the room heading the stairs. Bud hadn’t gotten to bond with K.C. yet, though he felt that the boy was a bit odd, from having seen him come in the door with John. Quiet, and he didn’t look you in the eyes when you spoke to him.
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Wonderful write, James; very well done! BRAVO!
(((HUGS))) and love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
|The title drew me in, and I wasn't disappointed. You capture a rich history with this family, their thoughts, their emotions, their lives. I was captured, and didn't think it was "slow." Vividly told, I felt like I was sitting at an elder's person's knee, listening to them tell old stories. Well done! I enjoyed this one, very much.
"Angela's Ashes" is one of my favorite books, too. :)
(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.