The Streak



It’s always good to write about something I laugh about, and I can’t help but laugh a little bit about this one. (Okay, maybe it’s not a something to laugh about – but it was funny at the time. Hilariously so.)

When he’d go to spank us my dad had us strip to our underwear, and then it was “bend over, grab your ankles” – and and hang on! Because your rocket was fixin’ to be launched into space, if not the nearby wall. You’d feel fire on your butt and smell smoke in your nose, and you knew the rocket was you.

I’ve gathered that this form of punishment – having your boys drop their drawers, bend over, and ‘take it like a man’ was a somewhat normal thing; though maybe NOT completely normal. I’ve heard and read of others who had the same sort thing. Of course some aspects were not normal, as as best I know I’ve blocked them out. My brother told he remembers hearing me scream and scream – and I have dim memories of being dangled upside down; being beaten by a belt in one hand, suspended in the other – nothing but (maybe) a thin pair of worn underwear on . . . and one thing I learned early on:

Face the bed. Always face the bed. Because that first one’s gonna send you flyin’ – and you don’t want to hit the wall. Damaging the wall with your head is only going to anger him; best stand still. Don’t scramble around like a monkey (which my brother always did) shrieking and screaming. It only turns him on. Keep your mouth shut until the end – as long as you possibly can. Always. (Little did I know he got off on our screams; I should have screamed sooner, like my brother did. No, instead I paid for my stoicism, my ‘immunity’ to pain, and my stubbornness to give into him – or my crying – for as long as I can.)

Anyway, this one afternoon it’s my brother’s turn – he’d done something (or maybe not; according to my phone call the other day, sometimes – to him – we got whupped just for being there – who knows? There’s little doubt – my dad’s a classic closet sadist, getting off on control, hurting someone, and punishment – having others under his thumb, and at his mercy – with them ‘worshiping’ him (or else).

And he has a streak of cruelty ten miles wide; he’s the kind who would torture butterflies just to pull their wings off. But I could use a good laugh today, even if it’s a bit grim, and like I said: abusive or not, I just laugh at this. (It’s that lack of references thing, I reckon.)

My mom and I are sitting in the kitchen, and poor Bro is getting pounded somewhere in the back bedroom – or more than likely, ABOUT to get pounded when . . .

Suddenly this flash of white lightning goes running past us – between us – screaming all the way – naked as a jaybird – on out the kitchen door – and takes off up the hill. (Okay, I’m smiling now, always a good thing!) My dad comes pounding after him – and me and my mom are sitting there staring at each other.

And we just couldn’t help but bust out laughing as they went out the door. It had to be one of the Funniest things I ever saw as a kid. “The Streak” – long before the streak was born. And he had good reason!

Eventually they came back home, both panting and weary. Some of the neighbors had spotted him – them. My brother literally high-tailing it up the hill, kicking up dust in the sand hill road. My dad pounding after him, his combat boots still on; he’s dressed in green sateen’s with a white tee-shirt on – the belt whirring in his grip . . .

And of course nobody said anything – just a few snickers going on (mostly amongst us kids). And the parents – they just went about their chores (it was about suppertime). Back then nobody stuck their noses in someone else’s family – especially here in the Deep South. It’s still a good way to get your nose kicked in or cut off. Even the police kept a strictly ‘hands off’ policy when it came to family affairs. As long no one went to the hospital too often – it didn’t matter what went on.

And yes – my dad took my brother – exhausted, sweaty, dirty and naked – back into his room to finish what he’d begun – and begin again for another thing: running away before he was done.

What can I say. Just business as usual – another day in the ‘hood.