Tag Archives: family

Mope, the One-Eyed Mutt

Mope wasn’t always named “Mope.”
Long ago, he was an “André,” fearless puppy of the night, keeper of justice for the barefoot children that played soccer in the alley.
Brought up on chicken and tortilla scraps, with all his shots current, he had a bright future ahead of him.
He would follow Alexis to school everyday, wait for him by the gate, walk him back home, watch him do his homework, and then he would responsibly destroy said homework.
Around eight they would have dinner together, and he would listen in from the corner on how everyone’s day had gone.
Papa Edmund had a new secretary at the bank.
He would take the kids to the beach that summer if they got good grades.
André had never been to the beach.
He’d seen it on T.V. and other dogs had talked to him about it.
He looked forward to romping in the waves and running through freshly built sand castles.
Mama Mayra said the meat had gone up at the butcher’s and fruit never seemed to be in season anymore.
Sister Sylvia said she was trying out for the volleyball team.
Alexis fed André bacon under the table.
Then, religiously every night, they would go play soccer with the neighborhood kids.
The months went by and the weather got warmer and warmer.
The beach vacation became more and more prevalent in the family dinner discussions.
Everyone talked about what they would pack.
Papa Edmund would take a cooler and a barbecue pit.
Mama Mayra would take a picnic basket and wine bottles, sunscreen, and her crochet needles.
Sister Sylvia would take her volleyball, a couple of mystery novels and her new bikini, which her dad had been unaware of until then.
Alexis would take André, a soccer ball, his snorkeling gear and a boogie board.
André would take his favorite bone and cushion.
The last day of school was excruciatingly hot and Alexis brought water for André, who was faithfully waiting outside by the gate in the sun.
When the bell rung, Alexis, Sylvia and André ran home from school and packed their bags while their mother yelled “Don’t forget this! Don’t forget that!” from the living room downstairs.
The a/c had broken the day before and everyone was sweating or panting.
Papa Edmund came home from work and the family gathered around him, welcoming him home with a big bear hug.
“Mayra, we need to talk.”
The couple entered the bedroom and André ran under their bed before they closed the door.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mama Mayra.
Edmund sat down on the bed.
“You look upset. Did something happen?”
Edmund didn’t look straight at her, but mostly looked past her toward an open window. He got up to shut it.
“Edmund, it’s 100 degrees up here! Leave the window open.”
“Stop telling me what to do! There you go again, giving me orders.”
Mayra bit her lips and shook her head.
It had all seemed too good to be true.
She started pacing around the room packing more things into her beach bag.
“We’re not going to beach, god damn it, Mayra! Stop packing!”
“Well I’m not going to stay here. You promised the kids. At least one of us has to keep their word.”
“I lost my job.”
Mayra stopped packing.
She tried to hug her husband, but he just stood up and pushed her away.
“What happened?”
Edmund’s cell phone rang. Mayra looked at the caller ID. It was his secretary. Mayra crossed her arms and her face and looked intently at Edmund.
He took the call in the bathroom.
A few hours later, Mayra had packed the station wagon full of as many things as a family relocating could possibly pack in a situation in which they are fully incapable of packing the most important thing of all.
The kids were crying in the back seat and André, confused, put his paw on little Sylvia’s face, alternating licking each child’s cheeks.
They had driven about two miles when Mayra pulled over and said, “You know what? We have nowhere to put that dog.”
The children screamed in resistance.
Engulfed by jealousy, she was willing to get rid of anything that reminded her of any decision her husband had ever taken without consulting her, including bringing home this mutt.
“What are we going to feed him? I don’t even have a job! We have nowhere to live!”
The kids protested in indistinguishable whimpers.
She opened the back door, picked up André, and left him on the side of the road.
She turned red as she realized, walking back to the driver’s seat, the unrighteousness of her vengeful act.
André barked and ran after them for a good three miles, while Alexis stuck his head out the window, shouting that he loved him and he would return for him.
Eventually, André lost sight of the station wagon and he had nowhere else to go but back home.
When he got there, he was thirsty as hell and ready to collapse on his cushion.
Papa Edmund had been hitting the bottle and now he seized the opportunity to take out his rage on someone.
“So you’re the only one who came back? Stupid beast. Where are the rest of them? Are they gone because they can’t stand to see me like this? Because they’ve always known I’m a liar?”
André looked down and rested his head on his paws.
Then, Mr. Edmund did something that André cannot believe to this very day.
He took the bottle and broke it straight into André’s right eye.
The next morning, still hungover, Edmund took André to the pound and said he was a stray he’d found near his house.
André is no longer a puppy.
No one has adopted him because they say all he does is mope in his cage, so the staff there baptized him “Mope.”
He awaits Alexis’s return to this very day.

The Last Day of My Life at Bar Happiness

If at the end of your life, you were given the option to live one day out of your life over again, just one day, just for the next 24 hours, what day would you choose?

Who would you spend your last day with?

More importantly, how do i come up with these questions, and why do i try?

We were eating at California Pizza Kitchen, one of my favorite places (even though today they put bacon on my veggie pizza and brought me the Seasonal Sam Adams instead of the Draft) when my mind drifted to when we ate pizza in Florence.

Next my mind drifted to when we visited Lago di Garda in northern Italy.

And I then asked myself
How do I work this?
And I then asked myself
Where is that large automobile?
And I then told myself
This is not my beautiful house!
And I then told myself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Sorry, mind drifted again.

(Letting the days go by… Water flowing under-)

And I thought,

Same as it ever was.

j/k ok sorry, i thought, i would love to live that day over again.

The day we spent at Lake Garda.

Bar Happiness
Happiness Bar at Lago Di Garda where you can literally drink up happiness.

So naturally i asked my husband the question at the onset of this post: what day would you live over?

His answer didn’t shock me but it was a wake up call.

“I would choose the day my mom told us she was expecting my brother.”

Aww! How sweet, right? Wait. There’s more.

“Because everyone was there. My brother, in my mom’s womb, my sister, my dad and my mom.”

Everyone was there.

As in- everyone that matters?

Everyone you would want to spend more time with?

Everyone who isn’t your wife (aka- ME)?!?

Wait- there’s more.

“I was going to say our wedding day but my sister wasn’t there.”

I wish i was making this up.

But it’s practically verbatim.

Then of course i proceeded to get all teary-eyed, after which his usual reaction of having no idea what’s going on with me- the “did I say something” script.

I tried not to dwell on it and changed the topic to pizza.

Then he asked me the same question.

“What day would you choose?”

I was embarrassed of my initial choice.

I ransacked my memories for alternates.

I came up with a couple other memories i could do over.

Both with him in them.

“It’s not important,” i said, dipping my pizza crust in ketchup.

He insisted to the point that i figured he must be thinking i must be thinking of some other guy, all the while i was really thinking, ‘don’t let him know you love him more than he loves you, don’t let him know you love him more than he loves you.’

I had to come up with a better answer fast.

“You know, i haven’t really thought about it. Rather, i need to give the answer more thought.”

So now i’m thinking, whatever day i would want to live over- i probably haven’t lived it yet.

Cause if all my favorite memories are post-marriage, and yet my marriage-mate essentially does not see me as part of “everybody,” then perhaps i’ve overrated my life thus far.

Maybe, if God gave me the choice, i’d just say, “uh, thanks, just shut me in a cell with an ocean view instead. That way no one has to spend any more time with me.”

Italian Audi
Or maybe i’d just ask God to please let me drive around Lake Garda in an Italian sports car listening to The Talking Heads.

Because if i’m not “everybody,” then I must be some form of opposite of that.

Perhaps, “nobody.”

At least not anybody important.

The good thing now is, i’ve got two cats that really look up to me.

Sure, i’ve had more suicidal thoughts in the last couple weeks than i did in the last 6+ months, but it’s hard to leave or kill yourself when that would disturb your cats’ daily rituals.

Also, i’m not sure my alter-ego would be able to update this blog as well as i do.

TBH, she’s kind of neurotic.

The Wallflower Hums

There is a tape recording of me as a child crying in the background while my father plays some of his songs on his guitar.
Then the tape stops abruptly.
You turn it around and I continue to cry.

My parents listened to a lot of Santana, Roberto Carlos, Rocío Durcal…
Mostly 80s latino sounds.
That was 50% of it.
The other half was when we’d play what we wrote ourselves.
There is another recording in which my parents are pressuring me to sing a song i wrote into the tape recorder.
I refuse because my brother is “looking at me.”
I was a very self-conscious 4 – year old.
While my present style of writing music is heavily influenced by Rocío Durcal, if no one else, i discovered Classic Rock when i was 12 and would say my lyrics have also been influenced by what’s her name, the blonde one.
Stevie Nicks.

I saw Christie Hynde (the Pretenders) perform not too long ago.
I love her 80s music.
But she’s really rude on stage.
Not Rock rude.
Bad rude.
Not bad rude.
Stupid rude.
For example, the concert opened with this great Irish guitar duo.
Then Christie got to the part of her show where she presented her band.
She didn’t know the pianist’s name and regarding her guitarist, asked, “When was the last time you heard a good guitar player?”
Uhm, half an hour ago?
Your opening band?
She cursed every time a flash went off.
Then she kept saying she was leaving but kept coming back.
I understand when bands do this to take a breather.
Or hit or whatever it is they do backstage.
But she did it over and over and over.
My husband and I kept walking down and then up the theater stairs to go back to our seats.

The theater where she played has a whimsical romantic style about it.
My best girl friend in high school and i once saw the Wallflowers play there.
After that show, we knocked on the bus door and the drummer asked us to have sex.
“Uhm, we’re underage?”
YOLO.
But not us, cause we’re Christians, so we told him we just wanted to talk about God.

To be honest i never really have been able to play or sing my own songs in front of my family.
They’re so much more talented than me when it comes to music.
The other day i was playing a recording of my newest song in the car and my husband inadvertently turned it off.
Then i texted a fb friend of mine who also composes if he wants to do a collab, but he wants to barter for his services.
I feel a bit deflated.
Which is great kindle for a wannabe song writer.
I’ll try experimental sounds next.
Perhaps an album where i cry for an hour.

If you agree with me that sound is music, i recommend you watch the movie Frank.☆☆☆☆☆

This was written in response to yesterday’s daily prompt, but i fell asleep before i could finish it.

Values, Sibling Rivalry and Stuff

As i sit here on the front porch of my only brother’s new forest dwelling, i wonder how two people with the same roots can wind up having such different approaches to life.

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My husband and nephew are wrapping up a game of chess in the living room.
It’s a stalemate.

They have found their intellectual equals in one another.
(My nephew trains with a Master).
That is something I have been conscious of for years now.
And it should come as no surprise, seeing as how my brother’s wife has the same personality as my husband.
It makes sense that my nephew would have so much in common with him.
Even if i feel they all have little in common with me.

My family has always stretched out the joke that I was adopted.
The truth is I was switched at birth.
I don’t recall if I’ve ever written about this; i apologize if i redund myself.

It was the first time my mom was going to breastfeed me after having given birth.
She says the nurses brought her an Asian baby.
The baby didn’t take to her and she didn’t take to the baby.
For starters, the baby didn’t speak Spanish.
My mom pressed the red emergency button by her bed and a couple nurses came running in.
“No es mi bebé.” (This isn’t my baby).
The nurses looked embarrassed and apologized.
Then they brought her the “right” baby- Me.

I have heard this story so many times that I have a vivid recollection of everything that happened even though, technically, I wasn’t there.
A few of my dad’s clients are neo-natal nurses.
He says sometimes he hears them chat about how they remove the id bracelets from the newborns and then try to guess who is who.

So who knows how many people in my hometown have actually grown up with the wrong family.

All my cousins say I look exactly like a younger version of my paternal grandmother,  so I have never bought into my family’s “you were adopted” joke.

To be honest it is really my brother who is different.

He is far more determined and assertive than any of my other relatives.

I worry we are too different now.

He was the one person who always got my sense of humor.

Then, his success made him hyper-conscious of being overly culturally sensitive and politically correct.

See, when you’re a minority, it’s easy to joke about the stereotypes attributed to your own culture.

But if you don’t share in that culture’s problems, it seems insensitive to joke about those who do.

That’s why I take great care to never make insensitive comments on this blog, not even about white people.

My brother saved my life once.
He walked me to class on the first day of school.
He taught me to respect my parents.
But I don’t see myself adapting to this new lifestyle of his.
A lifestyle in which he expects me to keep my point of view to myself.
Perhaps nothing’s changed at all.
Come to think of it, that’s the way it’s always been.

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"A dip in the pool, you say? Silly Girl, the only way to thrive is to adapt," (Baby Lizard has Australian accent.)

Unbeknownst Self

Another hard day draws to an end.
The typical night fog clouds up the stars.
Murky sky.
What have we done to the night sky.

I ended that with a period because it’s rhetorical.
Or it ought to be
You, the reader, ought to be meditating on your carbon footprint.
I’m trying to imply concepts but we each have to do our part.

Not that I personally have much of a part.
If I do, then I’ve forgotten my lines.

The neighbor has turned off their porch light making the sky less bright but still murky.

I sit in the car and stare at people walking their little dogs between the mobile homes.

When we had to move here in February, I practically threw tantrums on the floor every night.

I have a 1 hour commute to work Mon-Friday.

I never have time or energy to cook or do laundry.

Then I thought… I hardly ever did that before anyway.

Once I settled into the new routine it became less hard.
I gave up on trying to get to work on time.
I am not a morning person.
Never have been, never will be.
Lucky for me, neither is my boss.

I stopped trying to change myself to fit so many conventional norms.

I stopped talking back to narrow-minded idiots.

What difference does it make.

(Note the period?)

My car is cold.
The day wasn’t hard because of the commute.
My assistant I recently wrote about made a rude remark and it makes me sad.
She said, “You can’t just please yourself all the time.”
Her tone and words imply pleasing myself is all I ever do.
I want her fired.
She’s known me for years so it really hurt.

We’re not close friends but then again I’m not close friends with anyone.

Speaking of close friends, a little while ago, my husband and I were speaking with our loan broker, who happens to be the beautiful wife of my ex-best-guy friend.
He was my best-guy-friend until he broke the golden rule of guy-girl friendship.

After being close friends with each other for half our lives, he made disrespectful comments to me late last year.
He tried to get me to do something for his employer by hitting on me.
I don’t know him anymore.

My husband sought out his wife to see if we qualify for a house loan- which of course we shouldn’t- but being the creative persuasive woman that she is, she has helped us find a lender at a decent rate.

“Yes, yes,” you are thinking, “Blahblahblah but why are you in the car?”

Now you must know as well as I do that everything in this world has a catch.

The catch to this “let’s buy a house” project is that it’s really a duplex and I will have to live next to my in-laws forever, or the rest of my life, whichever ends first.

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I’d be fooling myself if I told myself my husband wants to buy a house for us as a couple cause that is the normal way of couples who love each other.

Idk maybe I’m just cynical.
He wants to buy a house for his parents to retire.
I said “Ok but not your brother.”
His mom said, “Yes your brother.”
He said, “Oh well.”

Today is a hard day because he doesn’t hold my feelings or opinions in any regard.
I mean, he doesn’t even read anything I ever write.
I’m not writing this behind his back.
I’d be relieved if he read it.
But it hurts that he doesn’t really care.

Well he did bring me a quesadilla out to the car a few minutes ago but sometimes that’s just not enough.

My biggest problem is I can’t remember things.
Like I know he made me really sad the other day and I deleted his messages, but today I have no recollection of what happened.
I don’t understand- do I forget cause I love him?
Is that forgiving?
Am I really just pleasing myself all the time?

I miss my friend- the broker’s husband.
He’d let me rant on about this for hours.
His broker wife probably knows too many things about me.
She must know about my writing habits and my imaginary stalkers and how I was in love with someone else a while back.
It is awkward that she is helping us.
Or maybe…
Inadvertently, she’s not.

For just a few seconds, I caught a glimpse of the moon.

A Post About Teenage Incompetence

Ok, I can understand a teenager not passing their drive test.
Driving is in fact a very complicated task and not for everyone.

But what about not being able to use public transit?
Do 16-18 year olds really need to be given a ride everywhere they go?

When I was 18 I already had an A.A. Degree and was planning my wedding.

Not that I’m an example to follow…

But still, I’ll never be one of those parents who chauffeurs their almost young adult everywhere, or pays for fancy shmancy trips with their friends, or buys them clothes and food and stuff.

In true Mexican custom, my parents made me and my brother work for everything.
We had to serve and wash our own dishes, buy our own presents…

My brother’s taken the opposite approach to his kids.
The white upper middle class approach.
The “you’ll be lucky if your kids know how to dial long distance from a landline” approach.
-Something I had to teach my current new coworker.

But she’s not a teenager.
She’s just incompetent.

Just kidding.
I was overwhelmed with a project at work and my manager, (who has since asked me to refer to her as “our CFO”- not my manager, even though I’m technically not even an employee of that company) has hired me an assistant, who happens to be a church friend of mine.

This is the same assistant who filled my position when I almost moved to Europe that one time last year and met Leo.

Leo is this guy who saved my life in a park in Rome but he didn’t take advantage of me like some might argue he should have.

I don’t know his last name or profession.
All I know is he lives in London and has friends in Florence.
And he has in-depth appreciation of fine art.

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I imagine it would have been better to have loved and lost.

Anyway, I eventually came back to my job because.

Some people at church thought maybe my friend was going to keep my job, myself included, but no, my boss and the CFO are way past the point of no return with me.

Which is too bad because it’s not exactly my field.
I don’t share their passion for root canals.

I don’t know why I came back to my job really, why couldn’t Leo just take advantage of me?!?

Thus ends an informative post about teenage incompetence.

Morning Free Write

I woke up today a little more excited than usual so I am funneling that energy into a 5-10 minute free write.
My husband and I are getting ready to buy our first home.
He is already on Zillow even though we usually don’t get up til 8:15 on Saturdays.
Well technically we’re still in bed, but we’re both wide awake.
Our cats are staying with my parents since their home is a lot cooler than our temporary RV home and wow why am I talking about the weather.
There is something that has me perturbed in the back of my head and that is that my manager has decided to send me on a business trip.
Last week I was fed up with being bullied by my coworker and being the monkey in the middle of all the communication mishaps so I got a couple of job interviews.
One was supposed to be today, and it was for my type of dream job, taking photos of pre-school kids.
The problem was it’s commission only and no gas-reimbursement.
I still have a huge student loan to pay off so it felt irresponsible and too risky to switch into photography again.
I also feel like my boss and manager are depending more and more on me each day and it is overwhelming at times.
In my new role I am doing the job my coworker used to do 6 hrs/day plus what I would do 4 hrs/day, compacted into an 8 hr. day, which is usually only a 7-7:30 hr. day because I, uhm, arrive late and tend to take long lunches.
Ok so maybe part of the stress is my fault, but still, sales are growing considerably and we have two new distributors, one in Europe and another in Africa.
All of this should be reason to feel excited but me, I’m just overwhelmed.
Maybe cause I don’t get a cut of the sales growth… I don’t know.
My husband says that I can go back to part time if I want but I need to pay off that loan and also I have my heart set on a Tesla.
I’m just not career-motivated I guess.
Though I’d still like to become a certified interpreter.
Good grief, who gets me?
If you are wondering how my mom is, she is better.
Thanks for wondering.

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Donut Cloud is an omen of good things to come

Flash Fiction: the Day Naboo Was a Human

Ever since she was a kitten, Naboo just naturally assumed one day she would grow up to be a human like her mom, dad and grandparents.

“But you are not human,” her sister, Fifa, would insist in vain. “You are a cat, like me. You have stripes and whiskers like me.”

“Nonsense, Fifa, you may grow up to be a cat if that’s what you choose to be, but I’m sure I’m gonna grow up to be a human, just like Mommy.”

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The years went by and Fifa taunted Naboo.
“Ha! See? You still have a tail and all.”

Naboo replied aggravated, “Wait until I graduate kitten-garden! Then I can start working like a humans do.”

Fifa rolled her pearly cyan eyes while Naboo worked hard at eating up all the garden plants, believing that was the fastest way to graduate from kitten-garden.

Finally, her graduation day came and Mommy and Daddy said, “OK, Naboo, that’s enough munching on plants. No more garden for you.”

They had a two-week long graduation party in which no one ate anything but canned gourmet food and sedatives.

Naboo applied to a number of jobs but none of them called back because she didn’t have enough work experience.

“Do you think it’s ok I used Dr. Mowry as a reference?” she asked Fifa.

“Our vet? What if she tells them you had a UTI?”

“Oh. But nobody knows what that is.”

“People know, Naboo! You don’t know cause you’re a cat!”

“Stop calling me that!”

“Cat! Cat cat cat cat cat! C-A-T, CAT!”

And they’d start to wrestle on top of their mommy at three in the morning.

Naboo was beginning to lose all hope of ever going to work as a human and was beginning to think a life of sleep, play and laziness might be all she was cut out for.

Then one day her mom woke up hideously ill.

“Naboo, darling, I cannot go to work today. Please call the office and tell them I am sick.”

This was the chance Naboo had been waiting for.

While Mommy was busy emptying out the previous night’s tuna from her digestive system, Naboo cunningly swiped the green button on the cell phone and meowed that due to unforeseen circumstance, she would be filling in for her mom that day.

Of course, it didn’t matter what she was meowing.
None of the people at the office spoke Meow.

She arrived at the office and sat on her mommy’s chair.
“Hello,” said her mommy’s nearsighted boss, Mr. Galapagos.
He handed her some papers.
“Please shred this stack.”

Naboo was an experienced shredder.

Her mom’s manager called.
“I’m out today but do you need me to buy more sticky notes?”

Naboo replied, “Mrror.”

Customers came and rubbed her belly.
She told them it would give them luck, and they gave her money.
She didn’t know what money was, so she shredded that too.
She made copies of lots of papers on the paw-friendly copy machine, before shredding those as well.
When she wasn’t sure if she’d shredded enough, she decided to go ahead and shred every paper in the office, just to be on the safe side.
Then she filled stacks of empty boxes with the shredded paper and took a hard-earned nap inside.

And when the day was over, the boss came and congratulated her on her efficiency.

Naboo had worked so hard she had missed her lunch break.
When she got home that evening, she explained to her parents, “Mom? Dad? I am grateful for the opportunity but I think I’m gonna keep being a kittens for now.”

Fifa rolled her glossy Venus-shaded eyes and waited til three in the morning before picking another wrestling match against her obstinate twin sister.

bipolar bear cat toss

When Someone Says “I Don’t Admire You”

Has anyone ever told you they don’t admire you?

How is one supposed to react to a comment like that?

Is throwing things at them out of the question?

What if the person is a really close friend, relative, or someone you really look up to?

What if you’ve looked up to this person for years, confiding in them, trying to please them, and all of a sudden you come to find out this whole time they’ve simply been putting up with you, that they think they’re above you in every way…?

What if you have to live with someone who has such a low opinion of you?

Wouldn’t you want to throw things at them too?

I’m not saying anything sharp or heavy.

Something big enough to get your point across but that doesn’t leave a mark.

bipolarbear-cattoss
Don’t forget to use your death-ray stare against your aggressor as you throw a fluffy object at him.

 

People- we all tend to say stupid things when we’re angry, and if we’re always angry, we’ll only say stupid things.

“Stupid” in the sense that they don’t contribute anything positive to this here world of ours which is already in a sorry state, and the mean comments could have gone without saying.

Ok, yes, he doesn’t admire me. I’m not admirable. So what?

I’m already trying as hard as I can to be a good person.

The inability to impress someone who means a lot to me only discourages me. It kind of makes me want to run through traffic or off a cliff.

But one person’s opinion can’t be my whole world.

My opinion of myself always has to carry more weight than others’ opinions of me, because aside from God, no one else understands my circumstances.

That is why it’s so important to have a healthy self-esteem to begin with.

Every morning, wake up and thank God he made you so great.

Some people think love and admiration go hand in hand.

Others think you can love someone without necessarily admiring them.

Both points of view seem valid.

In other words, I have no idea. I just know it hurts.

Flame by Ave Valencia

Legal Terminology Flash Fiction #2

As I stood before the giant bonfire Dad was buildin up in my late grandparents’ patio, I looked through old family photo albums, salvaging pictures of those whom I reckoned familiar.

A tan satin sheet caught my attention.

It was the case docket from the condemnation trial against my grandpa’s ranch land, with date May 31st, Nineteen Hundred n Sixty-Three.

Along with it was a copy of the Bill of Particulars from when he tried to sue the mayor for inadequate planning.

It wasn’t just about the land.The forced sale was affecting his livelihoods.

He argued he’d have to take his kids outta schoolin.

Put the boys in the mines and the girls up for housemaids.

He’d a have to cancel his respiration therapies he was engaged in every other month in the capital.

‘Course, he failed.

But Granma was a glass-half-full type o’ gal and she thought there was a great opportunity there to expand her store.

Auntie Martha, the youngest of their ten children, now crossed the patio in a hurry and dumped a box of receipts into the greedy fire.

“Auntie Martha, what’s this about?” I asked holding up the documents.

‘Quench my curiosity,’ my eyes a-beggin’.

Now, she was the type who tended toward gossip and after mumblin excuses and I-really-shouldn’ts and an ask-your-father, (Dad stabbed at the receipt-ashes with the prettiest of the sticks while pretendin he couldn’t hear us), she sat herself on a chair, untied her long white hair and sank her head in her rough hands.

“Pa’ insisted on keepin the money in a savin’s account, you know, for when he retired from them fields, if he ever saw the day, but Momma- she went n took out a loan on it behind his back.

“Your Uncle Jess, he was a player in every filthy sense of the word before the Lord called him, and didn’t he find the cash under the trays in Ma’s jewelry box? And didn’t he bet all $18,000 of it on a bad hand cause he had nothin left to lose ‘cept what wasn’t rightfully his?

“That was around the time Pa’s health turned south n he started gettin these coughin spasms that- well you heard the big cat when he gots hairballs? It was more frightful than that, and your Aunt Maggie, she had been studyin to become a nurse before- she said he ain’t got much time. But ya’ know, who does.

“Well finally Pa gave way to fate and when us younger kids got home that bright Sunday afternoon- all the older kids had left the nest to seek out their own fortunes- well us younger kids, your dad and your Aunt Tina and I, we found him dead in his rockin chair. His chair still a-rockin.

“He was a clenchin Ma’s loan certificate. His will on the floor.

“Now you know the will left the remainin crop lands to Uncle Jesse but all hell broke lose at the funeral when Ma sent your dad to fetch the cash from her jewelry box in order to pay the mass and such but there wasn’t no cash in no jewelry box nor nowhere.

“The priest tried to keep the event a dig-ni-fied, oh and thee whole town was there by the way, so he recommended ‘the matter be settled through adjudication.’ Tha’s what he said.

“But Judge Warner, I dunno if you ‘member him, he married your cousin Tobiah, I mean he married Tobiah n Natalie, cause they was pregnant, not that Judge Warner himself married Tobiah, you ne’er know these days! Ha! Nah, you was  too young, you don’t ‘member, in any case, the Judge, his name was Judge Warner, he was appalled by Ma takin Pa’s sole other heir to court just a two days after the burial.

“He exonerated Jess from any wrong doin.”

Auntie Martha seemed to need a hug somewheres around this point. So she hugged herself.

“An attorney told Ma that if she tried to take any type o’ retaliatory actions, not only would she be fined but also charged for exemplary damages.”

Auntie Martha got up dustin’ her apron with her hands as if there had been dust on it.

She went in through the kitchen door and turned off all the lights inside. Like we wasn’t there.

And that’s the story of why Dad built a bonfire.

Vocab
Adjudicate: to hear/try and determine judicially
Bill of Particulars: factual detail submitted by a claimant as requested by adverse party, clarifying the charges or facts alleged in a pleading
Condemnation: Eminent Domain
Exemplary Damages: monetary award by way of punishment for injury caused by aggravated circumstances or malice, in addition to compensation for the injury
Docket: a document which summarizes a case