My universe is like a theater-house: full of frantic drama, broken legs, and lots of faggots. And like any theater-house, the things that go on inside it don't often occur in the normal world. I tell you this so you understand just how strangely this story may unfold, so you know that huge bears and sentient babies aren't really anomalies in Tornadoland. Though the things to come may strain your credence in me, rest assured they really happened.
On November 24, 1965, we piled into Calhoun's pick-up truck and headed to Morningbird, Tennessee. Winter came down early and in a big way that year, making the roads slick and white, the skyline inscrutable. Delilah started polishing her nails halfway there. I gave up trying to breathe, since I was crammed between her and my father, with no access to the window crank. The cigar smoke didn't bother me, but the stench of that nail polish--it could've knocked down a wall.
"Hey," I said. "You mind?"
"Now you know Mommy's gotta look pretty tomorrow." She splayed her fingers to inspect them.
"Poor bastard's right," said Calhoun. "You're blame near killing our son and you're blame near killing me. Put that shit away." She snatched the cigar out of his mouth, then cranked down the window.
"Fine," she said, "but this is only fair."
"Hey, hey." He swerved the truck trying to take back the cigar. "Alright already; I get it; now give it back." She did, and that was the end of it. Any disagreements between my father and mother would usually fizzle out seconds after they began. They never became a spectacle, which I was grateful for in most cases. Just not this one.
We arrived that evening. Marylou Williams, my spry and bright-eyed grandmother, loped out of the house and towards us at our coming. Her tits swung like waterskins on an angry mule.
"Here she comes," groaned Calhoun. "God, that woman."
"Be nice or she'll full-nelson you again," said Delilah as she waved to her mother.
"Let her try."
When Maryou reached the truck, she pulled up the train of her ruby-red dress, then hopped onto the hood, causing the whole rig to shudder. My father braked immediately.
"What the hell is she doing?" he howled. "She'll scratch the paint!"
"Oh, give it a rest, Calhoun," said Delilah, and she hopped out of the truck and went to hug my grandma. While my father grumbled some more and reached for his cigar case, I hopped out as well.
"My!" huffed Marylou, detaching from her daughter, then sliding down onto the gravel driveway. "How your son has grown." She squeezed me hard. I could almost chew the smell of her perfume. "Last I saw you, you were half a foot shorter and not nearly so muscled. Have you been doing your deadlifts like Grandma showed you?"
"Of course," I said, "and you?" She flexed. Apparently she had.
The four of us went to the farm house, a more palatial abode than our own. It had three stories, paneling that hadn't gone to rot, and a few more right angles. For the first time since school began, I was happy to be somewhere, especially with goddamn Marylou, one of the few blood-ties I could respect. The woman scaled construction scaffolds for fun.
"Got more stories?" I asked her, as we stepped inside.
She turned around to face me, her cheeks flushed with excitement, and said, "Just you wait."