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by John Ridgway 3 years ago in fiction
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Growing Up tRumped

She always dressed in faded black jeans with the knees torn out and sleeveless T-shirts emblazoned across the chest with the logos of famous rock bands (who inevitably, mother said, seemed to have the word ‘death’ in their names). Basically, She was a good girl, who did all of the things that good little girls in her land did, like worrying about problem-things. Indeed, on the day that our story takes place, She was very embroiled in a problem-thing. She had just come from a lecture about a problem-thing that was altogether new to her and was having quite a struggle wrapping her thoughts around it. New words were all floating around in her mind, like a bunch of little problem things that she could not make into the very big problem thing that the lecture had actually been about. It was all very confusing, but she was sure that if she concentrated real, real hard, she eventually would understand. And concentrate real hard, she did! Why, she was concentrating so very hard on the problem-thing that when she got home she ran in the front door and right through the living room, moving so fast and thinking so hard that she didn't even notice her family waving at her from their very favorite spots in front of the television. She just ran into her bedroom, slammed the door shut, put on her favorite CD, The Dead Lovers In Potato Crates, pulled out a cigarette, lit up with her unicorn lighter and started smoking furiously—like she always did when things needed thinking about.

Now, though She did not notice her family when She passed through the living room, they most certainly had noticed her. And when She turned up the CD as loud as it would go, they noticed her even more. The strange music pounded out of She's bedroom right in the middle of Father's very most favorite part of the whole game—the important half-time talk, where famous sportscaster’s express views of interest to sports fans everywhere. Father was not too pleased with the development.

He cast a stern look down the hall when a creepy, screechy voice screamed, "Death is a cool old fool, a kinda’, sorta’ thing, baby. Baby, baby, baby, my little baby thing."

This was not the first time that She had turned the stereo up so loud that weird noises drowned out the television. Normally, father would just cluck his tongue a few times and use his bemused voice to tell little Skipper-Do that he should go into his sister’s room and tell her that ‘She better turn that music down if she knows what’s good for her;’ but not that day. That day Father was very, very angry and he jerked his very favorite hat off his head—the one with his very favorite team written across the brim—and just threw that prized possession right down into the middle of the living room floor.

Mother looked down at father's favorite hat laying on the mint-green shag carpeting and said, "I guess that it's time to teach that little girl some respect for other people's feelings."

Then she reached down into the bottom of her knitting bag and pulled out a long, nasty, old, gray chain.

‘Yes,’ father nodded, as he pulled a lasso of scratchy looking twine out of his pants pocket and said through gritted teeth in a hissing voice, "I'd say it's well past time."

Mother got up from her chair, straightened the lace doilies on the armrests, then looked down at where little Skipper was laying in front of the television with his face just inches from the screen.

"Come on, little Skipper-doo.

"Oh, all right," Skipper said, but as he got up from the floor and followed his Mother and Father down the hall, a dour expression showed his continued displeasure.

As they came up on She's door, the creepy voice fell silent. Suddenly from the living room, they could hear a sportscaster's excited voice saying, "Now, Herb, that is the craziest thing that I have seen in my twenty fold years of being associated with this wonderful, wonderful game. Let me send this back over to you, Herb, as I ask, in your four years of proud association with this game, isn't that the craziest thing that you have ever seen?" At the sound of sportscasters, Father smiled and turned around and started walking back toward the living room... but then, before the sportscaster Herb could even answer the important half-time question, the weird music started up all over again! This time it was louder than ever and sounded like metal rods crashing and screeching against each other in some terrible, industrial machine.

Father stopped in mid-step and grew all still, his face and neck became fire engine red and his eyebrows shot way, way up on his forehead. Skipper watched father closely, because he thought steam was going to shoot off Father's ears like in all the cartoons, but it didn't.

Father pushed mother and Skipper away from the door, grabbed the handle and said, “I’ll take care of that little missy." When he threw that door open, right then and there, three jaws dropped to the ground! She was waving around a cancer-causing cigarette and bouncing up and down like a satanic pogo stick. She had her eyes closed, so she just kept bouncing around, even though everyone else was mortified by her aberrant behavior.

Mother covered her eyes with one arm, threw the other hand behind her head and stumbled backwards in a near faint. Skipper jumped behind Mother to stop her from falling, but mother was so very much bigger that he was knocked back against the wall, where head bumped into Father's most very favorite painting in the whole world; the one that he bought at the Starving Artists sale at the Ramada Inn, after going to all of the trouble of scrapping a chip of paint off of the hallway to compare to the browns in all the various landscapes. The painting swung this way and that, this way and that... then came crashing to the floor! They all three watched aghast as the corner of the Genuine Maple Frame hit the shag carpet and broke into two pieces.

Father looked down at that sad sight and said, "You know, and this is a fact, mind you-it's cheaper to buy a whole new painting at the Starving Artists sale than it is to go to Sears and buy a Genuine Maple Frame."

All the while, She had no idea that she was causing any mayhem, let alone that her very fate was being decided as she danced around, smoked and listened to The Dead Lovers in Potato Crates. When Mother pulled herself back together, the first thing she did was pat little Skipper on the head, then she turned to her enraged husband and offered him a perky smile as she said, "Tie her up, boys! Go on and get to it."

Father rushed into the bedroom and reached for his bouncing daughter just as she shot up, impaling her throat on his long, sharp nails and tearing bright, red gashes in her pale, white flesh.

"Ouch," She cried.

Father used the scratchy twine to tie her hands behind her back, and then he forced her down onto her knees. Mother came into the bedroom happily strutting like she did just before her and father went to bed early for noisy intercourse, pulled that CD out of the stereo, got a grip on each side of it, and start smashing the disc over her daughter’s spiky orange hair. And she kept up that smashing until The D.L.I.P.C. ‘s second album, Monkey Vomit on a Leper’s Little Toe, broke into pieces that flew all over the room! Skipper could not believe how cool things were going!

All he could say as he watched his mother was, "Cool. This is so cool."

When Mother was done pummeling, she threw what was left of the CD into the wall, crossed her forearms over her pert breasts, threw back her head and laughed like a Jackal, for a long, long time.

Skipper was more than a little creeped by the time Mother stopped, put her index fingers on her daughter's temple and said, "Let us all silently pray."

She had just stayed quiet up until then, because everyone in her family was acting so weird, but things seemed to be calming down, so she said in her nicest, politest little girl voice, "Hey, I'm sorry about the cigarettes, alright? I've been meaning to bring it up with you, but you're all so weird about everything. I mean, it would be like the tattoos and weed all over again, and I don't need it, alright? When you guys quit trying to drag me back in time, then we can talk, okay? Aren't you guys about done praying? And why can’t you just see it’s a waste of time, for god’s own sake."

No one paid any mind to She, as they were all deeply embroiled in their own individual discussions with the Lord. Skipper felt particularly driven to seek the comfort of a deity, because he wanted to be forgiven for the sin of breaking father’s very favorite piece of art as soon as possible, so that if something happened like a meteor hitting their house and he died, he could still get into heaven without any serious hassles. When Mother was done praying for the lord and all his grace to fill the vessel of her child, she cleared her throat to signal everyone that they should finish up, or, in father’s case, quit pretending.

Then she looked down at her daughter, smiled and said, "This hair! Lord help us, but that is the first problem we are going to have to sort out."

Mother spit into the palms of her hands and began rubbing them down the sides of the spiky orange head.

Now, She liked her hair just like it was, so she started tossing her head from side to side and going all crazy. Mother tried to keep straightening the spiky hair into something more flat and normal, but it was darn near impossible with She squirming and trying to fling her head from side to side.

After a few moments of struggling with her daughter and heavily moussed spikes, Mother finally stepped away from the struggling She, put her hands on her hips and said in a very, very angry voice, "You will have normal hair." Mother looked at Skipper and Father, put a smile back on her face and said in a much, much nicer voice, "Keep a firm grip on her, boys. I'll be right back."

As soon as mother was gone, She tried pleading with father and Skipper, but they both just held her tight and stared straight ahead, acting like nothing she said mattered at all. No matter what she said, they just kept staring straight ahead at the wall and pretending like she wasn't even there. It seemed like Father and Skipper had been replaced by people She didn't even know and that made her very, very scared. Mother returned to the room carrying the re-chargeable curling iron that Father had bought her for Mother's Day, reached down and grabbed a handful of the orange spikes, jerked back She’s head to expose her throat, then clamped a thin fold of flesh with the searing, red hot metal.

"Ouch," She cried.

The skin in the curling iron sizzled and sputtered. She was struggling very hard indeed, but Father and Skipper held her tight. They could see by the look on Mother's face that she was bound and determined to keep burning that neck until she was darn good and ready to stop.

"This hurts me more than it hurts you," Mother told her.

After what seemed like forever to She, Mother finally had enough of that curling iron, but when she tried to pull it away the red metal stuck to the black skin. Mother had to jerk and pull and twist and jerk some more, until finally, with a look of sheer determination on her face that warmed Father's heart, she gave a very strong tug that ripped the curling iron right off. A big patch of flesh tore free, as well. Before mother could do anything about it, the bloody flap of flesh dripped red gunk on the white shag carpet.

Mother looked down at the mess and said in her frustrated voice, "Oh, now look what you made me do."

"Ouch," She cried again.

"Are you going to mind me, young lady?"

She had not liked being scarred for life one little bit, so she tried to say just what she thought Mother wanted to hear, "Oh, yes, Mother. Now, please, can I get up?"

"Well, first we have to do something about these bumps of hair on your head, then we'll see." Mother began clamping orange spikes of hair into the curling iron and twisting and jerking, until one after another they became perfect curls.

When She's entire head was transformed, Mother stepped back and got a smug look on her face and she said in her tough-gal voice, "Well, at least I managed to get a little bit of that orange mess under control."

Then her voice became very, very nice as she looked her daughter right in the eye and said, "Oh, really, that's so much better, dear. You'll like this new look. Especially once you get used to it. I'll bet the boys are going to like you a lot better, too. Why, we have two boys right here, so we can ask them what they think? Say, boys, is this some juicy trim, or what?"

Father made a show of looking into She's face and smiling, then he gave her a peck on the cheek and said, "I forgot how pretty you are."

Mother turned to Skipper, "And what about you, Mr. Skipper-doo, don't you have something that you want to say to your sister?"

Without even looking, Skipper just kind of muttered, "Okay, yeah, it looks better. You're some juicy trim, Sis."

That wasn't good enough for Mother. She looked down at Skipper and shook her finger right in his face, "Now, Skipper, you go on and take a really good look at your sister."

Skipper was not about to disobey Mother when she was shaking her finger right in his face, so he looked at his sister, and when he did, boy was he surprised—She really did look better.

Skipper sounded all excited as he told her, "Gosh, you look great. Mom, she is some juicy trim! From now on you can come to all my games, okay? You and mom and dad! We’ll eat hot dogs."

She had never cared for the games and had been a vegetarian since her cat died in August, but everyone was just being so weird that She went ahead and told Skipper that she'd love to go to his game and eat hot dogs. Then She looked up at Mother and asked, "Can I get up, please?"

"After that little display?” Mother shook her head, ‘No.’ “I'm afraid that you've done nothing to show me that you know how to behave around your elders. You know, we do all this for your own good. So you'll be happy, dear. You're always moping around here, whining all the time about all these mopey things.”

“I am happy."

"Happy is as happy does, dear. Listening to songs about death is not a sign of happy. And protesting all this stuff, it just makes you so sad.” Mother turned away and started walking out of the room; over her shoulder she called out in her tough-gal voice, "Boys, you go ahead and chain her to the bed, and bind that little thing down tight. She's not going to like it when we shove it in."

She thought about trying to fight as father and Skipper chained her to the bed, but the last time she had disobeyed her parents she had been scarred for life, so she didn't do anything. Even though the chains were so tight that they cut into her skin and made her fingers start to turn purple.

"Ouch, " She cried, “The chains are cutting me? Why must they be so tight?”

Father came out of his daze, or whatever, and answered in a voice that She had never heard before; it was a strange and breathy sound, "You just lay there and take it."

She couldn't believe that her Father was going to let chains cut her wrists. That day was so weird. Blood was seeping out around the nasty chain, bright red and glistening, flowing in thin tendrils down into the cracks between her fingers. She was ready to try to say something else, but just then a loud whirring sound blasted into the room and startled her to no end. The whirring came from the blades of the Cuisinart, as Mother placed things into the clear container and hit the Puree button. Mother spread a white dishtowel on the kitchen table and began laying out on top of it all of the ingredients for a very special batter. There was a handy calorie counter, no bigger than the palm of your hand, just the right size for a purse, yellowed copies of "Dear Abby" columns that Mother had always thought were just so right, pictures of models cute enough to make her melt, and lots of other stuff—even a few things that her own mother had given to her on a day that had been a lot like the day of our story, though a lot different. After listening to the rise and fall of the whirring Cuisinart for a few minutes, Father got such a hankering to out into the kitchen to see what was going on, that he did just that.

When Skipper saw Father get up and start silently creeping out into the kitchen, he just had to follow, because he liked to do everything that Father did. Mother had her back to the door when father entered, so he snuck up behind her and gave her a big hug. Mother snuggled back into Father, rubbing her ample buttocks back and forth over his bulging crotch, before turning around so that they could embrace properly. Father reached around behind her back and tried to slip something into the Cuisinart, and though Mother did not even look like she knew what was happening, just as father's hand neared the batter, her hand shot out and grabbed his wrist. She pulled his hand out into the open and they all looked down into his palm at the little blue and white Madonna from the dashboard of the Buick. When mother saw that little blessed virgin, she just broke out laughing, let go of Father’s hand, pointed at the batter, and gave father the old ‘thumbs up!’

Skipper watched the Madonna fall down onto the chopping blades and get pureed, and he wanted to put something in that batter so bad that it felt like he might pee. He grabbed the closest thing, which happened to be a big mop with a wooden handle that was a good two feet taller than Skipper. He held that mop up in front of his parents and asked them, "Can I put this in? Please, can I? Please?"

Mother looked at the size of that mop and she just had to laugh, and that laugh was still in her voice as she said, "I think it would be pretty hard to get that in the Cuisinart, honey."

"I can make it fit, Mom. Remember, the puppy, mom? He was bigger than this mop."

Father had to say something about then, because someone had to change the subject.

“You know, honey, I think you're underestimating the men in this family. Skipper, you go ahead and give it a try." Then with a wink to Mother, he added, "I might have something else for you to do before you have time to finish the job, though. Go ahead, Skipper, show your Mom that you can get that thing in there."

Skipper climbed up on top of the counter, put his feet on either side of the Cuisinart, shoved the gray, swirly mop head down into the batter and used the toe of his sneaker to hit the ON button. The silver blades began slamming into the wooden handle, hitting so hard that it was all Skipper could do to hold on. Twice he lost his grip and the mop went all crazy, banging into his thighs and the cabinet (but not his peter, which is what Skipper was kind of worried might happen). As Mother and Father watched Skipper struggle with the mop, they exchanged proud and amused smiles, but it was obvious to both of them that the job was too much for the little boy, so finally father stepped up to Skipper and gave him a friendly punch on the arm as he said, "Son, I have something more important for you to do.”

Skipper knew that Father didn't think that he could get the mop into the batter, but he was determined to do just that. He used his most confident voice to tell Father, "No, I'm big enough! I am! I am!"

"I know you are," Father told Skipper, "but I have something more important. Go out into the garage and get the funnel that I use to put transmission fluid in the Buick, then take it out in the back yard and rinse it out real good with the hose, okay? This is important, every speck of oil has to be gone—we don’t want rogue lubricants getting into the batter, by god no. Rinse it out real good, alright?"

"Dad, first I want to do this. I can do it!"

Father's voice became sad, "Oh, I know that you can, son... it's just that, well, I guess that I can try to get that funnel clean... I don't know if I can, not with these eyes of mine. Getting that mop in there is a lot easier than cleaning a funnel, so I guess you should just do the little boy work."

Skipper thought that Father was being honest. He jumped down off the counter and started running for the garage.

"You go ahead and take care of that stupid mop. I'll make that funnel so clean it'll look just like new."

"Son, I know you will." Father called out after the disappearing Skipper.

Mother turned to father and said, "He's going to grow up to be just like you.” Father's face just beamed when he heard that.

By the time Skipper came back in and proudly displayed a clean, red, plastic funnel, the batter was done. Skipper had meant to tell his parents about getting tangled up in the hose and how the wet spot on his pants wasn't what it looked like, but when he saw the batter he forgot everything and his face filled with a look of wonder.

"It's like green snot, but it smells great! Like a fish stick shake, or something! Can I have a taste?"

Mother picked up the bowl and held it out to him, "Go ahead and take a little dab on your finger." Then she turned to Father, saying, "I know you're just dying for a little taste."

And Father was. Both put the green slime between their lips at the same time and then let out long moans of satisfaction. Skipper liked the batter so much that he even stuck the tip of his tongue under his fingernail to get at a tiny green glob. "Oh, that's good, dear," Father told mother." I could eat this stuff everyday!" Skipper added. Mother blushed warm at the compliments. She took a certain pride in her cooking and commenting on it was a sure fire way to just make her melt. She looked down right delighted as she picked up the bowl of batter, held it over her head and began a little dance out of the kitchen and down the hall. Skipper and father joined in the little dance, though Skipper quit pretty quick, because he was sure that he looked nerdy.

While her family was in the kitchen, She had been laying in her bed, her wrists and neck wracked with agony from the cutting chains. She had no idea what was really going on, but she had seen lots of movies about weirdo’s doing really sick things and could imagine all sorts of stuff that she didn't want to happen to her. She was so scared that she started shaking like she was cold and making a sound like a mouse, "Errrrk, errrrrk." When She heard her family come back into the room, she opened her eyes and started to ask to be let up. But before she could talk Skipper and Father jumped on the bed, grabbed her by her hair and twisted her head until her ear was pointing up toward the ceiling. Then Father pulled the funnel out of the waist of his pants, took a firm grip on the red plastic with both hands, and, with all his might, slammed the thin nozzle down into her ear. Red and yellow gunk squirted out, covering father’s arms all the way up to the elbows.

She’s eyes shot wide open and her mouth started opening and closing real fast, her lips making a circle that grew big and small, big and small—like a goldfish gasping for air in a filthy bowl. Mother poured the lime green batter into the bright red funnel, and it flowed inside She’s head. The green gunk seeped through her brain dissolving all of the problem things that she had fretted over, and sometimes even cried about; suddenly they didn’t seem so important, like they had lost some obscure power over her. They were almost gross. Like they were bad things to even think about. She could finally see them for what they were—buzz killers, to be avoided by looking at pretty things and being pretty and making things pretty.

The old gray chains somehow melted into thin air, and the bloody wounds on her wrists and neck were all gone. Why, even her clothes were changed! She was suddenly wearing an outfit that She was pretty sure came from the Gap or their bastard child Old Navy, but right then she didn’t even want think about child labor. What did it matter where her clothes came from, anyways? Laughing and carefree, she jumped up from the bed, bounced her head from side to side in a parakeet manner that everyone recognized as mother's, then turned from one face to another, and offered one and all as cheery a smile as they had ever seen. Then to father, She said, "Gosh, I guess it's time to dye this crazy hair back to brown. Will you take a chip of paint off the wall in my room, so that I can make sure that I match?" Father said this was such a great idea that he could hardly wait to get to the hardware store! They all laughed, and there were big old bear hugs all around, too. They bridged the generation gaps and all that stuff, and then they all lived happily ever after. Really.


About the author

John Ridgway

I have five published books, wrote for two small tv shows, hosted the comedy hit PEACE AND PIPEDREAMS, playing 14 comedy characters plus... on FEARLESS RADIO. I also consult for the intelligence community in various capacities.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • John Burden4 days ago

    This is one of the greatest writers of his generation. Unfortunately he ran into problems with the government, who repressed his work. He has five books on LULU, three you can get for free, WAKING UP JESUS, about when he was classically brainwashed, and used by hidden intelligence concerns on a mission that he refused to help with, once he realized how dark their intentions were... a book of comedy, The Religious Psycho Killer's Shit List, and ONE WAR. One of his five major's in university was Anthropology with an emphasis on Military Intelligence, and he writes this one in three triptychs, one based on a Navy Seal during operation Phoenix, another on a poet who writes about Iran Contra, killing the character based slightly on Gary Webb, who broke Iran Contra, and later, after Ridgway wrote his book, committed 'suicide' rather miraculously with two bullets into the back. Casey, the Reagan CIA director was scheduled to go before congress on this matter, and had a brain tumor blow out his brain three days before. Expecting to be killed at any moment, or erased from the web, he hastily put the books up without the editing he would have preferred. Later, it was revealed that Ridgway had been in deep cover for sixteen years, during which he did classified work which fought factions in the US government, as well as foreign threats.

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