the other day the wife and i were making out on the couch…yeah, it’s like that…we make out like teenagers on the couch…like drunken strangers who picked each other up at a bar…!…and for no apparent reason…an old short i wrote…older than i care to admit…flitted across my mind…and then today…i found out that a favorite blogger of mine moved…and again the story came back to me…this thing is about sharing…so…here ya go…a blast from the past…
ICED CREAM OF WHEAT
I am four again.
I’m sitting in the warmth and comfort of my mother’s kitchen. Outside, it’s a bright winter morning. It snowed last night and everything is covered in a blanket of white moisture. School is canceled for the day and my best friend Eddie and I are anxiously awaiting our celebratory bowls of warm Cream of Wheat. Eddie lives next door.
Two years from now, with cool sweat running down my back, I’ll get my first kiss from Charlene Arroyo playing house in Eddie’s basement.
After spending all morning shoveling neighborhood sidewalks, Eddie’s older brother Will comes into the house peeling off his coat while my mother brings us our steaming breakfast. As Will sits at the table, he rubs his little brother’s nappy head and asks for a bowl.
On Will’s eighteenth birthday, the three of us will sneak out and “borrow” his father’s car for a rambunctious midnight joy ride.
As we say grace, Eddie and I poke at each other like inattentive boys at Sunday school. I look at my cereal and know that it isn’t complete. I add a lump of butter and watch it melt into a yellow pool. I pile a pyramid of sugar on top and remain unsatisfied. I turn towards the kitchen window to the backyard and realize what I need.
When I am nine, I’ll run home screaming with blood gushing from my head after falling into the basement of one of the unfinished houses being built in the field where we used to play baseball.
I walk outside in my flannel p.j.’s and slippers to where my father’s vegetable garden lies
dormant. Scooping up a handful of the chilly December snow, I look up into the hard blue sky and watch the sun’s rays glisten on the icicles hanging off the rain gutters. My dog Shep pokes his huge head out of his house and looks at me as if I’m crazy.
When I am at college, Shep will die from poison fed to him by thieves so they can break into my family’s home.
My mother asks me why I went outside. “I’m going to make Iced Cream of Wheat”, I tell her. The simultaneous burst of laughter from the three of them send the birds outside the window fluttering to the trees. I nervously glance at Eddie, and I find I am comforted by the understanding in his eyes. On my mother’s face there is a trace of bewildered surprise.
I remember that same look fading to sadness after both of us saw Eddie get gunned down in a drive-by shooting three years ago.