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“It's gonna be alright baby.”
That's what my Mom would tell me when I was kid and the sharp sound of a gun in the night would send the dogs barkin' and the police runnin'.
But not anymore. I'm older and I know it's nothin' to worry about.
I worry anyway.
“Mommy! What about Daddy?”
“Daddy alright baby, he just at work.” My mother would oh so wearily tell me, and not even botherin' to put some truth sound in her words!
I was coming back from school in second grade the first time Daddy got arrested.
Mommy was cryin' in our shoddy living room. What a sad sight. It sent my ideas of just how strong my mom was running like gangsters when the cops showed up.
“Mommy, what's wrong?” I asked.
“Your Daddy gone and get himself arrested.” Mommy said as she sobbed into a handkerchief. I could never figure out whether Mommy loved Daddy or not.
“Don't matter why, just that he has, and what are we going to do, baby?” Mommy went back to her wailin' while I patted her on the back and told her it was goin' to be alright.
“Mommy, why've they gotta keep shootin'?”
“Cuz they want somethin' baby, and that's what folk do around here when they want somethin'. They shoot at who's got it.” She said “shoot” as though a disease lived in the word and the only way not to catch it was to spit out the word right after you said it,
The next day at school I did one of the dumbest things I ever would do.
This girl at lunch had a cookie I wanted, and so I put my hands together like a gun, raised them up in the direction of her head, and let out a mighty BLAM like a gun so I could get what I wanted.
All I got then was a trip to the principals office where the badness of guns was impressed upon me (and he was the one that said to praise and thank our great nations military heroes every single day, and don't tell me they didn't use guns) and a stern talkin' to from my Mother.
“Mommy, I'm sad.”
“How about a joke baby?”
That's how we felt better; tellin' jokes. We had joke books by the millions! So whenever one of us got sad we'd crack one open and read our favorite jokes. We would laugh so hard it felt like our gut's were gonna burst right open!
“Tell another one, mommy!” I would say when I was little.
“Okay baby, why'd the turtle cross the road?”
“I dunno mommy!”
“To get to the shell station on the other side baby!”
We would always giggle and laugh at that one.
“Mommy, don't ever leave me.”
“Of course not baby.”
Well guess what.
I was cryin' the whole way through her funeral. Twenty-two people came to see a first-rate women get buried in third-rate coffin by a third-rate priest in a third-rate cemetery. She'd been killed by a drunk driver as she was drivin' home from work.
Daddy showed up for the last five minutes. He'd gotten out on bail a couple months earlier. He'd had his hand on my shoulder like he was some responsible father figure.
I put a couple flowers on her grave and left with Daddy.
How I want to hear her voice again.
“It's gonna be alright baby.”