We finish our meal and Mother takes all the empty plates off the table and replaces them with the little ones made especially for slices of apple pie.
I take my first bite. The crust is the perfect cover for the apples that melt like butter in my mouth. I eat every single bit of my piece. I even lick my pointer finger and use it like a fork just so I can pick up any stray crumbs.
Ike’s pie is still sitting there, untouched of course. Everybody knows Ike would just as soon be chewing on a piece of mesquite bark than to eat pie. He says he prefers to get his sugar from a whiskey bottle.
I stare at his piece and see that it’s bigger than mine was. The sweet apples ooze out the sides between the top and bottom crust. It’s calling me forward, challenging me to come and get it.
I slowly reach over and pull Ike’s pie in front of me. I stare down at it and wonder if Ike’s piece is gonna taste as good as my first.
Dad says nary a word when he reaches across the table and slowly pulls that slice of pie back over to Ike like we’re playing a game of checkers. I concentrate thinking that the next move is mine. I smile and slowly pull that pie towards me thinking I should be kinged.
The hard slap across my face surprises me and drives me halfway out of my chair.
What the hell just happened?
I stand up knocking my chair over, grab a knife off the table, and swing it under Dad’s chin, wanting to cut his head plumb off.
I’ve made a big mistake. I missed.
Dad runs around to my side of the table holding a craze of fire where his eyes used to be. He grabs me by my shirt collar, and kicks a table leg that snaps off. Dishes crash to the floor. He drags me to the door. I hear it slam shut. We’re outside. He’s not finished.
Although I feel the fast blows to my head and face, they seem to come at me in slow motion. I curl up into a ball on the ground.
“Protect yourself at all times!”
Who’s saying that? Who’s saying that? There’s no one else out here!
“Put your arms around your head! Protect yourself!”
I do as the voice tells me. I wrap my elbows over my ears, my hands on top of my head. Okay, that’s better. It doesn’t hurt as much. My eyes are stinging from the sandstorm. No, it’s a hail storm. I can feel big clumps of ice hammering my body.
My ears ring. Somewhere close to me Pooch is barking his head off. There’s so much noise in my ears, I can’t tell where he is. Then I scream really loud, “The first chance I get, I’m gonna kill you!”, the words that only I can hear.
Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper by C. Dennis-Willingham, my father’s story
Author’s note: After this event in my father’s life, he later became a boxer in the Army.
Daily word prompt: Crumb
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