Josh Gardner, “My Mother, the Somnambulist”

Josh Gardner ☛ My Mother, the Somnambulist

The cops have been called to my family’s house only twice.

I say only because we’re screamers, not talk-it-outers and it’s amazing those thin walls never just went kaput, blown out like some cartoon when we got into the groove of one of our screaming matches: me against Tina, Tina against Donald. Donald screaming at mom, more like at a child than his own wife, and mom just sitting there with her voodoo eyes.

And because sometimes I could hear the screaming from way down the block on my way home, and the neighbors would look up at me from watering their lawns or walking their dogs and then just as quickly look back down.

What’s funny is, both times they’d called the cops were after silences—once right before Tina finally ran off for good and once when Donald heard me whispering on the phone to another boy and broke my nose. Both times, there was our usual noise followed by nothing. Hollering followed by smashing followed by nothing.

The first time, Tina’s time, came after she told Donald to fuck himself. She was sixteen and brazen, and backed up by her boyfriend’s invitation to come live with his family. She was late coming home and when Donald asked her where the fuck she’d been, she turned to him and said, “Jamie’s” and kept on walking. “Dumb little bitch,” he called her for the millionth time. And for the first time, wild-eyed and manic, Tina stopped. She stopped and she said “Go fuck yourself, you piece of shit,” emphasizing every single syllable like it was the most important of them all.

Donald ran up the stairs and grabbed her by the hair, all the while screaming more obscene things than even I was used to hearing. And Tina screamed and kicked. And I yelled, begging for him to stop. And after he smashed Tina’s head into the drywall, he did stop. Everything stopped, just for a moment, and we all floated there in adrenaline confusion, wobbly. (more…)