This gal I know, you can’t tell her nothin’

She’s no ears for it. They got cut off years ago at age 5 or 6. Because there were adults in the room who were awful. They blew up with every little mistake. Mis-set table? BOOM! Pencil mark on the wall? BOOM!!

It was a mine-field for those little Buster Brown’s to navigate, that house. A back-hand remark, or a back-hand hand hung in the air like cigarette smoke. It was a dare: You gonna hold your breath forever, kid? You’ll have to breathe in sometime, and when you do I’ll be waiting. Don’t you flare your little nostrils at me!

A decision was made by the soul’s higher authority, tasked with security and border control, that mistakes can’t be allowed anymore. So no more mistakes, even if you redo it a million times. It’s not OCD. It’s strategy. And if the unthinkable mistake occurs then a finger is tasked with pointing elsewhere. There! Or there! Or at her — she did it! Or at him. And no apologies… that’s as damning as a confession, a confession in a cigarette room with hands flat against the formica and that wooden spoon handy.

So no no no! We won’t hear of it! You’ll not get the words out before you’re interrupted and cut off at the knees. It’s a no man’s land. The signs are up and you can read. The perimeter is marked with lipstick. The counter-attack will find exactly where you live and kick-in your testes.

I’m reasonably, says I. My aunt says I was an ugly baby, so we can hide that, right?

I have my own cigarette room with a spoon in it, or a belt on a few occasions. Kids at the bus stop taught me at six about independent thought scaring authority. It’s good to wake things up.

But I’ll leave that little girl sleeping wherever she sleeps. The blinds are half pulled and slitted like lizard eyes. There’s a yellowed electric clock purring in the kitchen. Flies are motionless. TV’s have only three channels and soon a car will stumble into the driveway, keys will fuck around in the lock, and then you’ll know who’s in charge, kid.