Some of the things I’m gonna say here may not be egg-zackly true cuz I was out of it most of the time but I’ll tell ya as best I remember it. My sisters are no help neither as they was mostly out of it too. The only person that has all the facts is my Ma and she won’t talk about it. Forget Pa. He don’t never say much bout anythin unless it’s like doin our chores.
The two things I do remember for sure though is that we all went high-bush blueberry pickin that afternoon and had to rush home early sos I could pass my paper route. We was all sweatin like hogs it bein a pretty hot one and we hadta hold onta our pails real tight as Pa had that ol Chevy up to 50 on those back roads like we was late for a funeral or somethin. Ma told him to slow down that she didn’t want the funeral to be hers but he weren’t listenin as usual.
The bundle of papers was on the porch when we arrived and I got right to it cuz I knew I was gonna be in trouble if I was one minute late at Petey Morrison’s place. That ol foul-mouthed geezer was a real pain in the you-know-what. Every damn day he would wait for me in his yard, hollerin, You’re late again, you little twerp even when I wasn’t. I think he had nothing else to do and wanted to make somebody else miserable like him. Not only that but he wouldn’t always pay me on Saturday like he was supposta. He’d always make some durn excuse like my pension money ain’t come yet or some such slop. And then I’d hafta wait another week which would make Ma mad since she counted on my few dollars to help with the marketin.
So off I goes with my wagon fulla papers and I only gets to the corner before I barf all over the road and faint dead away right there in front of Mrs. Langston’s chicken coop. That’s when everything after that is like blank, but I was told what happened by Mrs. Langston who had whatya call a front row seat. Ma yelled for Martha, our oldest, to take over and she did. She got about two houses before keelin over too. Then Beth, Annie and Sarah tried their luck. One by one, they went down like bowlin pins. Five of us lay there in the road barfin and cryin while the local hounds, hogs and billy goats all made such a racket you woulda thought it was a revival meetin.
Ma looked around for Pa who weren’t there neither. He had got as far as the kitchen door before he was down too. There was only one thing left to do. Ma had to deliver the papers herself. And she did real well, according to Mrs. Langston, except for one very loud stop at Petey Morrison’s. When she got back home, we was all, including Pa, in our beds as pale as the sheets. That day, Ma didn’t hafta make any supper since there was not a single sound from anyone till the dawn.
We never did find out for real sure what did us all in but the blueberries we had picked and sampled on our way home were in the trash the next morning. Ma said that since SHE never ate blueberries and was the only one still upright, it was them for sure; some critter had probably peed on a couple of those high bushes.
I continued doin my paper route for another two years when I got me a job at the sausage plant in town which helped Ma even more. For some reason, I enjoyed those last two years more than before cuz crazy Petey Morrison stopped meeting me in his yard and paid every durn Saturday without fail. He musta got religion or somethin.
Richard Torpey November 13, 2008
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