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As the House Began to Rumble
As the house began to rumble, I heard a piercing scream right before the violent shadow of the one hundred year old crystal vase shattered above Trent's head. "I fucking hate you! Who do you think you are? I am not some dumb bitch that's just gonna let you walk in and out whenever the hell you want!" Carolyn threw the vase full of water, while Trent ducked in just enough time to dodge the family heirloom his great-grandmother passed on to him just before her death.
This is where I first learned what rage was. Trent's hands then balled up in tight fists of fury. The corners of his mouth began to curdle with white foam as his eyes burned a hole through Carolyn, in a stare with such an intensity I've never seen before.
This stare of pure hatred sent shivers down my spine. It was the type of glare you could tell a person is capable of doing anything vicious to another, including the one they love. At the time I was unable to interpret Trent's countenance, all I could feel was the twisting and burning irritation going on in my stomach. He yelled at me to leave the room and closed the door before my body was completely out of the way, letting the door assist in my hasty departure. I then heard the crack of my mother's skull against the door. She screamed out in agony, "No, Trent, this is going too far!"
Carolyn and Daddy fought a lot, but I assure you my Daddy was a good man.
My Daddy was a very handy man, a man of few words, but a strong man nonetheless. He performed manual labor for neighboring white folks in order to make the extra money we needed to keep us living in the fancy white neighborhoods. "I only want my daughters to have the best," He would proudly boast while sipping Jack Daniels with his friends. It's funny because he never asked us how we felt about living in the white neighborhoods. Either he was so caught up in his delusional attempts of what it meant to be successful, or he simply didn't care.
He didn't know how we feared for our lives walking to school everyday hearing scraggly white men screaming threats of harm and degradation. "We are going to rape you little black bitches if we see you walking around here again!"
It was so terrifying for me and my two sisters to walk the mile and a half to school, that we had to choose different routes every day to avoid the potential of being hurt. It didn't matter anyway because each route we took presented a different form of harassment. We would either have rocks thrown at us by little kids when we took the long route or be spat upon when walking through the junk yard where the old crotchety white men worked. I never told Daddy about this because I knew he would wind up in jail for killing someone if he ever found this out. If a black man even looked wrong at a white man in the 60's, the white people would lock them up so fast and throw away the key. Whether there were good times or bad, we needed Daddy around.
Daddy spent a lot of money on his tools—especially his drill. He would sometimes save as long as six months in order to get the best equipment which we really could not afford. I will never forget the day he brought home his "Baby," The CTX-900 Cordless Power Drill Deluxe package.
This is the only thing he cared about more than us! How do I know, you ask? Well, how about the fact that it had a homemade glass case with a threatening sign that read "DO NOT EVER TOUCH ME." Besides that, my sisters and I heard everyday about the chrome handle, with its pristine sleek finish on the body, oh, I can't forget about the twelve exchangeable head feature. The presence of the drill caused so much controversy in our home.
You see, Carolyn was unhappy with Daddy for recklessly spending all that money on a drill when it could have been put into a savings account which would have taught us financial responsibility—something Daddy did not understand. This was nothing out of the ordinary for Daddy however, we are talking about the same man who drank daily, had an addictive personality with a tendency for manic shopping sprees, and would gamble away the rent money because of an "inside connection" that he was so sure would double our money. Instead, this inside connection snaked away all of our money and we would have to move in with Grammy until we could afford to move into another fancy white neighborhood.
"It'll pay for itself baby, just as soon as I find more work." He was always so damn sure of himself and I was used to seeing him unhappy that whenever he got excited for something, I jumped right on board to support him. "Yes, Carolyn I think Daddy is right, I like the drill." I supported Daddy all the time, he would always wrap me in his giant hands and give me the biggest hug and kiss that I would ignore the strong scent of bourbon excreting from his pores. All Carolyn would do was shake her head in an attempt to not get angry. "Oh baby, what do you know and stop calling me Carolyn, I am your mama!" See, what I now know is that all Carolyn could do was walk away at that point because in our family, the woman was never to defy her man. "You support that man, even when you know he is about to make a big mistake," Grammy so adamantly demanded.
Now, I always knew how important the drill was to my Daddy, but I never suspected that it would overwhelm the family with all of his love. The amore he held for the drill was never proven until Carolyn's face hit the door.
As Carolyn continued to scream behind the enormous wooden door, I heard the slow creak the "DO NOT EVER TOUCH ME" drill case made whenever Daddy went to show it off to someone. Then I heard another crushing punch that silenced Carolyn's screaming.
I ran to my room and grabbed the tattered, yellow Whiffle ball bat that I got for Christmas, and I began hitting the door frantically yelling for Carolyn to open the door. Okay, being seven years old wailing a Whiffle ball bat obviously isn't very threatening but, shit, what would you do? As the whining sound of the drill began, I began to convulse with tears and begging ever so desperately for Carolyn to open the door, "Please, open the door, Carolyn, I can help you, please!!" Carolyn could not answer my cries, as I heard the sound of Trent's foot crack into her teeth.
I fell to my knees and looked around the room. During still times it conveyed a soulful ebony tint with a strong ambiance of peace, but as the chaos and dismal turmoil of my rumbling shack ensued it gave off an essence of Black pain and regret. The grey in my eyes slowly turned red as I heard the aggressive drill slowly dragging through the soft texture of Carolyn's cocoa skin, and cracking harshly through the bones of her face.
Carolyn's afflictive yelps reinforced my true helplessness. "There is nothing I can do. I am so sorry Mommy." I remained on my knees sobbing tears of dejection. It was true, there was nothing I could do, and Trent had finally snapped and showed what was more important to him. I can't call the police; it was never okay to involve the white man in a black man's home life. Mommy would always assert that "they look for reasons to round up and take a nigga's child."
I was so built up with emotion that my tears stopped forming. My throat locked up on me and I couldn't for the life of me scream for help. Finally the drilling stopped and the door swung open to a grisly fog. Trent walked past me with blood-soaked hands, stopped and calmly said, "Stop those tears, she'll be alright! You know I love you right?" I couldn't speak; I could only stare at the terror of my mommy's limp body on the ground, shaking and sobbing violently.
To this day Trent's words fly through my mind everyday with incessant repetition. Could it be true that he really did love me after he mutilated my mother's face? In my home there was always an element of functional psychosis that lay behind the macho veil of Trent's madness. This veil was more like a rock that slowly hardened Trent's heart. I can't begin to explain fully what brought him to draw the final straw, but he let his everyday battles and mental struggles ruin our family.
Maybe his sanity began to chip away when he finally received the letters hatefully nailed to our doors threatening the degradation of his daughters from white men. Maybe reading, "Don't go to sleep, or we'll rape those little black bitches of yours," made him feel like less of a man and made him hurt my mommy. I do recall the fire in his eyes slowly diminish with every failed attempt at giving us the life he thought we deserved.
I stood behind Trent as he sat with his back hunched over with his head placed in his bloody hands. He always tensed his shoulders when he was stressed. I ran quickly to Mommy trying to help her off the floor. She pushed me off and ran into her room slamming the beautiful oak door behind her. Ten o' clock reads on the winding clock, Trent had to be up at 4 am to work on Ms. Abigail's shed.
He lifted his conflicted head in regret and then proceeded to wash the blood off of his tired hands. He calmly retreated to his room to hibernate, where he dropped to his knees to pray for a change in life with a new day coming. He guiltily kissed Mommy and rubbed her wounds. "I am sorry," he whispered. I began to clean the blood of the bathroom floor, as my sister's were coming back from Grammy's the next morning, and I could not let them see the mess. The house then began to settle as I grabbed my stomach in reaction to the sharp ulceric pain that had resurfaced. I then vomited the entire contents of my small stomach until I would soon fade into my sleepy safe haven, where I would forget about it all, that is until the next time the house decided to rumble.
Excerpted from Breaking the Cycle by Tony Wilson Copyright © 2012 by Tony Wilson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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