Sunday 12 September 2010 - Filed under Fiction
Kitchen-table talk had it that when Uncle Junior was young and dashing, he was in love with the Maconochie girl—Sharlene. They were to marry. She was quiet and pretty in a flowered dress sort of way, a little taller than he but her sweet way of smiling at him made them go together well. Junior was stylish—wore two-toned shoes in the summertime, pleated-front trousers and had a gold tooth to the left of center. Then, the family lore goes on, one day he heard the voice of the Lord, or so they said. He heard the Lord “calling” him. He was to preach the Good News, set the captives free, live a life of holiness and service.
Junior said “No.”
Without a word of explanation, several months later Sharlene married the red-haired guy who drove the Tulsa-to-Oklahoma City Greyhound bus line and moved away. Uncle Junior took a job at Brache’s Candy Factory in the city, where his eldest sister worked in a Defense Plant and they lived in her basement apartment for the balance of World War II.
He came home on the bus every-other weekend. After supper those Friday nights, none of us kids went out to play. We knew the grown-ups would talk and laugh, tell stories, and someone would have a letter with real news of the war; Junior would describe the picture shows he’d seen in the city, talk about work, then out would come the candy—bags and bags of candy—from the corner of his brown, Alligator-embossed cardboard suitcase in the front bedroom. Like dogs slinking around a fish-fry, we fidgeted as Grandad read The Daily Oklahoman and grownups talked. My youngest aunt and uncles, almost kids like me, might get up a game of “I Spy” or “Poison.” Sometime later Uncle Junior would slip outside for a smoke then dodge into the bedroom on his way back in; the rustle of cellophane and soon we kids were lost in the bliss of chewey strawberry Kewpie doll-shaped candy, chocolate Scottie dogs and vanilla rabbits. Wise enough to distract us first, he would quietly slip the special candy brought just for his momma—chocolate covered peanut clusters.
Now grown, those chocolate covered peanut clusters still carry a meaning for me firmly tied to those moments when we were all together, beneath my grandfather’s roof, in the morning of life.
2010-09-12 » Kate