Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

This is the first chapter to my novel "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother." For more information about this book and how to purchace a copy click on the link (Picture of book cover) at the right of this page.

1 The Goodbye Kiss


He heard his mother calling. He looked and saw her standing there on the wooden porch. She was all dressed up. She had makeup on, and a hat. It was midday. He ran towards her. He flipped the latch on the gate to the chainlink fence with a stick that he had been playing with. He ran and leaped up the four wooden steps that led to the porch. His mother was worried. She was very worried.

He was a little preschooler with blond hair and big blue, Tweety Bird eyes. He was one of those kids who always looked worried and lost. One look at the wonder and confusion in his eyes always made his grandmother laugh and want to hug him and pinch his cheeks. He never resisted.

His mother squatted down in her high heels and fancy dress. She looked like a new person to him, with her lips bright and red, and her cheeks an artificial rose. She embraced the cheeks of his face with the palms of her hands. She stared into his confusion - her eyes misty with the fogginess of possible tears.
“Now you’ll be a good boy, won’t you?”

He nodded his head as he trembled inside. What was happening? Where? Where was she going? Why was she so nervous, so frightened? She was staring into his eyes, but she wasn’t seeing him. She was talking, but not to him.

“Mommy has to go to work, now. Daddy can’t make enough money. So Mommy has to go to work too.” Her lips trembled. This was very serious, he thought to himself. He had never seen his mother in this state before. She had never before been so tender. She never looked helpless. Never, ever before did she look as though she needed his help. She had never, ever touched his face so softly. Now suddenly she was hugging him to her body. She was squeezing him strongly. This was a new experience. He didn’t know what to do with his arms. He didn’t know how he was expected to react. So he didn’t react. He stood with his arms dangling at his sides and his body limp.

She smelled of a strong perfume - lilacs or flowers. This was all very strange. She never wore perfume. She never dressed up in high heels. She never hugged him, or touched his face tenderly with her hand. What did she want from him?

“I can’t be here with you like a good mother should because now I have to go to work. This is not what I want to do, but we don’t have enough money, so I have to.” She pushed him from her embrace by grasping his shoulders with her strong hands. She peered intently into his eyes, which were now moist with their own tears. “You know, if I could, I would stay here taking care of you, don’t you?” she sobbed with her voice cracking. He nodded his head. “But I can’t. I have to go to work. I can’t keep begging from my brothers and sisters just because my husband can’t provide for his family.”

She was still peering into his eyes, but yet not talking to him. But who was she talking to? “But I am going to do it. Just like when I was fourteen and I took care of my brothers and sisters. They’ve forgotten it all now, but it was me who paid for their school clothes. It was me who quit school and went to work and paid for their little shoes and their little dresses. No! They have forgotten all of that. They don’t remember now, but I haven’t forgotten. You are going to have to be good.” Now, she was speaking to him. “Stay around the house. I don’t want no trouble. Do you understand?” She was not asking a question, but he answered yes anyway. “I’ll be back. I’ll be home for supper.” Then suddenly, she kissed him and on the LIPS. She leaned her head back and took a good look at his confused face, and struggled a smile. She hugged him again quickly, and then pulled away. She stood up, straightened her dress, took a deep breath and started down the porch steps. As she flipped the latch on the gate, she admonished him once again. “You’ll be good now won’t you?”

“Yes, I’ll be good. You won’t have to worry.”

“Okay? You promised. I’m off. Bye, bye.”


He watched his mother walk away. He went down the steps and out the gate. He watched her walk all of the way to the end of the street. Then she turned to the right, and was gone.

He sat down on the curb. With his stick, he swished around the dirt and a paper gum wrapper in the gutter. His mother’s worried face lingered in his mind’s eye. She was truly worried about him. He would have to be very good. This would be very important. She had called him over just to kiss him and say goodbye. It felt funny to be kissed. Her lips were moist and sticky from the paste she had on them. They were cold. Her hands were cold also. His mother didn’t kiss often, and never on the lips. She didn’t hug often either. His grandmother always hugged him and kissed him, and that’s why he often went up to her apartment. He would lie on his grandmother’s carpet and listen to her old, floor radio play Polish polkas. His grandmother spoke no English and he no Polish, but he knew that she loved him. They would sit in the same room without a word, and feel comfortable together.

He went to his grandmother’s often. She always had soup cooking on the back of her old-fashioned stove. She sometimes had chocolate pudding with milk on it for him. He really didn’t care for the milk but the chocolate pudding made it worthwhile.

His grandmother lived in the tenement house with him and his family. Some of his aunts and uncles lived there also. It was an old building in a blue-collar, New England mill town. His grandmother had always been old. She had gray hair and hobbled about with one weary, wrinkled hand bracing a hip. She looked old, tired and worn. But whenever little Richard appeared, her tender eyes would sparkle with joy and her grooved and wrinkled face would beam and blossom. She would smile. She would tweak his cheeks. She would laugh and make funny, little, sing-song noises. Sometimes it would hurt when she would tweak his cheeks, but he liked to be touched by his grandmother. His mother’s touching was another story.

Why all of this touching today? Why a kiss; and a kiss on his lips? What was this all about?

The next day it was the same treatment.


He came running. He flipped the latch and ran up the stairs. She hugged him. She admonished him to be good. She smelled once again of lilacs. She had tears in her eyes. She smiled. To see his mother smiling was not wonderment; it was a miracle.

“Be good,” she said.

“No trouble?”

“No trouble.”


A final hug and then another kiss.

There was something important going on here. He didn’t know why, but it was important. It was very, very important.

As the days went by, it seemed to get more and more important. Certainly it became more and more important to Richard. For some unexplained mystery, at a particular time each day, his mother needed him. She had never needed him before. In the past he was always in the way, under her feet, in her hair. Now, suddenly she needed him. She needed him very, very badly. She needed him so badly, that it made her cry. She cried each day, every time. She was frightened. He understood being frightened. It was very important that he be there so she could kiss him goodbye. That kiss was giving her strength. It was giving her courage. It was very, very important that she kissed him goodbye. It made her smile. When she smiled, her eyes sparkled. For that moment, somehow, things were better. When she kissed him and then smiled, somehow a great burden was lifted. A cloud had just been removed from the sky; there was a new star in the heavens above; the sun had gained one extra ray of warmth. This kissing and hugging business was important. Oh my, yes! It was very, very important.

Wherever Richard was in the morning, he was sure to be there at the appointed time when his mother would make her appearance on that porch. And each time the experience got better and better. Sometimes she would even smile just to see him running towards her from the street. Her lips were always cold and paste-like. Her hug was nervous and frightened; her eyes always moist and watery; her cheeks red and rouged; her odor floral and overpowering. The smile was fleeting, but yet a peek at his mother’s soul. That look was a startling flash, a ray of light, a moment of sunshine, a bit of truth. What was it? He didn’t know. But it was important. It was very, very important. It was more important than anything that he had ever imagined. It was something between him and his mother. At a certain time, Monday through Friday, his mother needed him. Out of some unknown, unspoken necessity, his mother must hold him at this time. This act meant something to her. It was important for her to kiss him. As the weeks went by, he just knew that as long as he was there for her at that precise time, available for her hug and her kiss, everything would be all right. It was very easy to do; be there, on time; let her hold you; let her kiss you. Then she would be protected, and all would be right with the world.

One day, he was playing on the next block in woods on the corner. He was in the clubhouse that he and his little buddies had made from discarded wooden crates. He and his friends were trying to build a second story on their clubhouse. It was fun. They were trying to build a tenement, just like their real house. The time had passed, and somehow he had forgotten about his mother and their new ritual. A picture of her worried face flashed before him. The appointed time had passed and he knew it.
He leaped to the ground and went running up through the woods, then through the alleyway between the white-shingled house and the yellow wooden house. He then squeezed through the yellow-slatted, wooden fence that guarded the big yellow tenement and the pole of the adjoining chainlink fence of the white-shingled house. From his position there on that sidewalk he could see his front porch.

His mother was not standing there waiting for him. He was already out of breath. He ran between the parked cars and crossed the street. From that sidewalk he could see to the far corner. He saw a woman rounding that corner, and to the right. It was her! It had to be her.

He would catch her. He would run up behind her and catch her. He would pull on her skirt. She would turn and look down at him with that worried look in her eye. She would see him standing there and then everything would be safe.

He ran. He spanked his side as he ran. The spanking was for his horse - that invisible horse that all children his age rode so well. He had a fast horse. He would catch his mother. But by the time he had gotten to the corner, she was gone.

The view from this corner was much greater. He had never been all the way to this corner by himself. He had only been this way once, and he had his mother’s hand to hold at that time. They had turned at the very next corner. But, there in the distance, far ahead - wasn’t that a figure walking up there? Yes ... yes ... it had to be! That must be his mother.

He cupped his hands to the sides of his mouth and yelled, “Maaaaaahhhhh! Maaaaahhhhhhh!” But she was too far off into the distance. She could not hear him. He screamed once more, but the figure in the distance just kept walking. There was only one thing to do. He would have to catch up to her. He would put his head down and speed as fast as he could. He would catch her. There would be no doubt about it. Richard and his faithful horse with no name could run like the wind when they wanted to.

As he ran, he kept his eye fixed on the figure in the distance. He had never, ever been this far from his house by himself. He had never been all the way to the end of this street. There were more cars on this street than on his home street.

He could see the red-brick wall of a big mill at the far end of this road. He could see his mother. She had stopped and was waiting to cross the street that passed before the great, red-brick mill. There were lots of cars passing in both directions before her. He was worried for her safety. His eyes were tearing up from the wind and the speed of his running, and the terrible anxiety that was swelling inside of him. What horrors could befall his mother if she were not to be protected on this day by the mystery of his hug and the comfort from his kiss? She would be so worried and filled with fear from his absence that something horrible would happen. It would be all his fault, for he would have let her down. He would have failed in his duty. The protective shield that blanketed her and brought her to smile and gave her courage would not be with her on this day. It would be all his fault. It was inevitable. Now something terrible would happen. His eyes were now so filled with tears that all the buildings and all the cars were distorted and blurred. The buildings moved and swayed as though viewed through a fishbowl. The sidewalk began to roll in front of him. He began falling and stumbling, and when he looked up and into the distance, his mother was gone. Her black dress had completely disappeared.

He rose and rubbed his eyes with his sleeves. Miracle of miracles, she was there once again. He would not even blink now for fear that she might once again disappear. He screamed to her for a third time. She was still waiting there in the distance, but she didn’t turn. He would stare at her back and send soundless, invisible messages that would act like rays. She would feel them poking at her back. She would then turn and see him coming to save her.

She didn’t turn. The light changed and she crossed to the other side of the street. He screamed, “Mother!” over and over again. It was to no avail. Why couldn’t she hear him? He could see her now. She wasn’t all that far away. There were lots of cars and lots of noises and lots of reasons.

Finally he was at that distant corner. He was on the sidewalk before the whizzing traffic. She was right there across the street. She was entering into the mill by way of a huge, green door, which was a tiny part of an even greater, wooden, green wall. The huge, green wall was made of slats. They were like the slats on a picket fence. The green wall was a gate in itself - a giant, wooden gate that separated the red-brick walls of this grand castle. It was a castle just like in the story books. It had peaks and towers and walls and pathways and gangplanks that stretched between the buildings and floated in the air. Crowds of women were walking on the pathways going from one building to another.

The buildings were massive structures. They stretched in both directions as far as the eye could see. They were six and seven stories high. They had long, huge windows but the windows were covered with dirt. You could see nothing that might exist on the inside of them. Suddenly all of the cars stopped racing in front of him. People began to pass from one side of the street to the other. He grabbed onto a woman’s coat, quietly, and ran behind her to get to the opposite sidewalk. She didn’t even notice. He ran to the fence and peeked through the slats. He saw his mother turn and enter through a door and into the red-brick building to the left. He pulled on the door that had been cut into the huge, green gate but he could not get it to open. He returned to the slatted, green wall, stuck his face between two of the slats and stared at the door through which his mother had entered into the red-brick building.

He tried to crawl under the fence but the bottoms of the slats were just slightly too close to the ground. He could get his arm under the fence, and his leg, but his chest and his head would just not make the squeeze. But he tried.

This was the worst thing that had happened to him in his entire life. He had abandoned his mother and now, undoubtedly, something terrible would happen to her. And it would all be because she was not protected by his small hug and mysterious kiss.

He began to cry as he rose once again and pushed his face between the slats of the big green wall. He stared at the space in the wall through which his mother had disappeared. His tears were now beyond his control. He crumbled to the ground. He sat with his elbows braced on his legs which were crossed beneath him. He buried his face into the palms of his hands and cried as he rocked back and forth there on the sidewalk before the giant, imposing, and impenetrable green monster that separated him from his mother.

“Hey, hey, what is a big boy like you doing here crying?” A strange man was squatting down next to him and rubbing him on the back with his huge hand. “It can’t be that bad, can it?” Richard didn’t know what to do, so he just kept rocking and crying. He wouldn’t remove his face from his hands. He was ashamed to be crying. “You’re not hurt, are you? Did you fall down?” The man explored the boy’s legs and ankles for broken bones or tender places. “I don’t feel anything broken. Come on now. Can you stand up?”

Richard stood, but he kept his face in his hands and continued to sob. “It is all right to cry. Everybody cries. It is all right to cry, as long as a man has a reason. I am sure that a big boy like you has a reason to cry, and I’ll bet that it is a good one, isn’t it?” Richard nodded his head up and down with his face still wrapped in his hands. “Okay,” the man proclaimed as he pried a hand free from Richard’s face. “Let’s go inside and see what we can do about this situation.”

The man led Richard over to the green door that was cut into the huge, green fence wall. He pushed the door open, then lifted Richard up into one of his arms and carried the boy inside. He took a bright, red handkerchief from his back pocket and proceeded to wipe the tears from Richard’s eyes. “Okay now, tell the old man here what the problem is?” Richard tried to explain, but gulps of tears and gasps for breath kept getting in the way. Yet he told the story as best he could under the circumstances. The man laughed. “Oh really?” he said. “That’s exactly what I thought. I knew that it had to be something very, very serious. Well, I’m going to tell you something. This is a problem that I can handle. I can’t handle too many problems, and to tell you the truth, sometimes I would just like to sit down and cry too. But, nevertheless, I’ve got you covered with this here problem of yours, buck-y-boy. We are going to go over here and we are going to talk to the big boss about this whole situation.”

They entered a little building just beyond the gate. There was a man inside sitting behind a desk. When the man saw his buddy come through the door with Richard sitting on one arm, he leaned back in his swivel chair and smiled.

“Well, well?” he said, looking at Richard’s tear drenched cheeks and raw eyes. “This looks very serious ... very serious indeed. What’s the problem here, Jack?”

“Well, I’ll tell you boss, we got a big problem. As I understand the complaint, this young man’s mother has run off without kissing him goodbye. If he doesn’t find her and give her his goodbye kiss, as he does everyday, there is going to be a very serious catastrophic consequence. So, did I tell that right, son?” the man asked, while searching Richard’s eyes with a face gravely serious.

Richard nodded, positively. Both men laughed. Richard suddenly felt foolish and he buried his face into his hands and began once more to cry.

“No, no, no. Hold on here, son. We’re not laughing at you. Are we, Jack?”

“No sir!”

“No sir is right! I’ll tell you what I’m laughing at. I’m laughing because it wasn’t too long ago that the very same thing happened to me.”

Richard uncovered his face and stared at the man who was now up and out of his swivel chair and sitting on the edge of his desk. “That’s right,” he said, appealing to the child and winking to Jack with a grin. “But it wasn’t my mother who left me with not so much as a kiss, but my once lovely and dear bride.” Richard was interested. “Yes indeed, one day she just walked out the door. I thought that she was going grocery shopping. She didn’t go grocery shopping. Do you know where she went?” Richard, sitting high in Jack’s muscular arm, shook his head negatively. “She went to the damn bank and drew out all of my money.” Jack laughed. “And when I went down to the bank a week later and found out how much money she had taken, I sat down on the carpet, right in front of the teller’s window, and bawled my eyes out.” Both men laughed. Richard looked into Jack’s eyes for corroboration.

“That’s right! That’s the truth. I saw him, myself. Look at the size of him, will you? Can you imagine a grown man like him, sitting on the floor of the bank, crying his eyes out?” Richard looked, dubiously, from Jack to the boss.

“Darn right and I was embarrassed. It’s one thing for a little tyke like you to cry, but can you imagine a big lug like me sitting in the middle of a bank lobby, crying his eyes out?”

Richard examined the boss. He was a large man, with stubble on his face. He had workman-like muscular arms. He would look strange sitting on a floor crying. He smiled at the thought. The men laughed.

“Did she ever come back with your money?” Richard asked.

“No, she didn’t, but your mother is coming back, and we are going to find her. What’s your mother’s name?”


“Right, mama, I should have known that. Did you ever call her anything else besides mama?"


“Anything else?”


“Do you know your mother’s last name?” The boy stared, blankly.

“What did your mother call you?”


“Okay Richard, and what is your last name? Richard what? My first name is Bob and my last name is Ross. Your first name is Richard, and your last name is what?” Richard was perplexed. He had no idea that he had any other name. If his mother had a last name he had never heard it mentioned. “What does your father call your mother?”


“Mary, ah ha! Do you know any Marys, Jack?”

“Oh maybe a couple of hundred; this is Roman Catholic country. Marys are everywhere. My little girl is Mary. My sister is Mary.”

“Well, let me go over to the office and check with Marilyn, anyway.”

Jack put Richard over in a corner in a big chair. “Don’t worry son. The boss will find your mother.”

Richard wasn’t worried. He felt safe with Jack and “Boss.” He was in their hands. They had told him not to worry. They were grownup men, like his dad.

He kicked his heels on the rungs of the chair and looked around the room. Everything was old and dark-brown. The room was smoky. The desk was covered with papers.

It was scary not to know your “last” name. What was a last name? If you don’t know your last name people don’t know who you are or who you belong to. What if these men are unable to find his mother? What if that image that he had chased all the way over here wasn’t even his mother? What if she had gone in another direction? How would he get back home? How had he gotten here? What would these men do with him, if they couldn’t find his mother?

“I want my mother?” Richard cried out from his large chair. “I want my mother.”
“Hey, hey, hey, don’t get rambunctious over there. Your mother is going to be here in two minutes. Don’t you worry. Do I look like the kind of a guy who would lie?”


“Well then, just take it easy. Let us worry about everything from now on, okay?”

Jack ruffled the boy’s hair as he walked away and returned to what he had been doing. Richard’s Uncle Ray used to ruffle his hair like that all the time. His Uncle Joe did too. His Uncle Joe had a gold tooth. He liked it when Uncle Joe smiled.

Jack and the boss brought Richard a soda and some potato chips. They asked him questions. His answers often made them laugh. Richard liked the two men. They were like his father. His father was always “away”. He worked on a ship.

A large clock on the wall was the biggest clock that Richard had ever seen. Richard waited in the room with Jack and the boss for a long, long time. Jack and the boss were tracking down “Marys” all morning, but never the right one. They decided to just baby-sit until the shift ended. At that time the big gate would be opened and they could stand out in the forefront and petition all of the mothers.

Both men liked Richard. He was a cute, little guy. He spoke only when spoken to and he did whatever he was told. He had those big eyes of wonderment. Whenever either of them looked at the boy, he was looking at them. He was a “people” kid. His eyes soaked in everything. They could look into those intense eyes and see the wheels turning. He was very busy thinking and figuring. He was not the type of kid who would just sit there counting the fingers on his own hands or playing with his shoelaces.

The room was a wonderment and these men were a curiosity to him. They explained to him whatever they were doing. The boy wasn’t a bother. He was attentive, obedient and quiet.

Five o’clock was the change of shift. A minute or so before the shift buzzer went off, they went out and opened the big gate. They brought Richard out with them. As the ladies piled out of the redbrick buildings, the two men began shouting.

“Look here ladies! Look here ladies! We’ve got something here that belongs to one of you! Look here ladies!” they yelled.

Richard’s big eyes leaped from one woman’s face to another. The men continued screaming, but most of the women were chatting and talking. They didn’t seem to notice. Jack then placed Richard up onto his shoulder, and both men began pulling randomly women’s sleeves and pointing up to the boy. There were hundreds and hundreds of women exiting the building. Finally a woman emerged from out of the crowd. The blur of faces was suddenly just one. It was his mother. Jack placed Richard onto the ground and he immediately ran over and wrapped himself about his mother’s leg.

“That little tyke has been here all day,” they informed the lady, cheerfully. The woman wasn’t smiling. She wasn’t smiling at all. Her face just seemed to get redder and redder by the instant. “Ahh, don’t get me wrong,” Jack interjected in a sort of defense. “He wasn’t any trouble.”

“No, no,” Bob joined in the chorus. “He’s a heck of a good kid. It was fun having him around for awhile. He was absolutely no trouble at all.” The woman was not hearing a word. Her face was crimson with embarrassment and outrage.

“Yes, yes, thank-you, I’ll take care of everything. I’m very sorry. It will never happen again; I assure you.”

She was not about to discuss this situation with strangers. She was embarrassed. What did these men think of her? What kind of mother did they think that she was? Why wasn’t a boy his age being kept somewhere, maybe with a relative or something? What was he doing out and wandering the streets of Lawrence by himself? She didn’t know what to say, or how to defend herself. What possible excuse could she offer? There was no excuse. She wanted to just disappear. She could die. She wanted to cover her face and hide.

It was too late. The damage had been done. Now she just wanted to escape, to get away from these men and their inquiring eyes as quickly as possible. She couldn’t even look them in the eye. She hung her head, and began busying herself with the task of untangling the frightened boy from her side. He didn’t want to let her go, but she un-peeled him.

“Hold my hand,” she directed the boy. “Thank-you, thank-you very much, this will never, ever happen again,” she told the two men.

“Oh, that’s okay. No problem. He was very well-behaved.”

“Yes ma’am, he is a fine little boy.” They were both well aware of the mother’s anger and nervousness. They could see that junior was in trouble and they were prompting for a reprieve. “He did everything that he was told to do. I wish my two at home had a little of Richard’s temperament.”

“Don’t be too rough on him, ma’am. He was well intentioned and everything worked out just fine.”

“Yes, yes, thank-you.” And Mary scurried off dragging Richard by the arm. She was rushing so fast and holding Richard’s arm up so high, that the boy’s feet were barely hitting the ground. He kept losing his step and falling to his knees, but she would snatch him up quickly to a standing position. He tried running to keep up with her, but she was going too fast. They crossed the highway with him half flying through the air and half dragging on the ground.

Richard was excited. He kept waving to his new friends, Jack and Boss, over his shoulder as he bounced along his way. He wanted to tell his mother everything about his day. It had all been so exciting. But the traffic was so loud, and there were hundreds of women talking and laughing. He was so happy to have found his mother. It was a miracle that nothing had befallen her. She was safe and she hadn’t even received his goodbye kiss. It was probably his presence so nearby that had saved her from any disaster. He had done the right thing. Everything had turned out fine. They had found one another, and his mother was safe.

For some strange reason his mother was nearly yanking his arm out of its socket. It hurt. She was in such a rush that she just didn’t realize what she was doing, he thought. He tried to tell her that she was hurting him. She paid no attention. He tried pulling his hand from hers but it was not possible.

When they finally got across the street, his mother quickly ducked into an alley dragging him behind.

“You’re hurting my arm Mama. You’re hurting me.”

“What do you think you are up to?” she yelled.

“I … I ...”

“Are you trying to make a damn fool out of me?”

“No ... I ... I ...”

“What were you doing over there?” she screamed. Her scream was so intense, it startled Richard.

He looked up into her enraged face. He didn’t understand. Why was she so angry? Jack and Boss had told her how good he had been. He wanted to tell her that she had left without kissing him goodbye and that he was worried about her.

Before he had a chance to explain adequately, her right hand cracked against the side of his head. It was a hard blow and it made the boy stagger to one side. He was quickly straightened up when her left hand caught him forcefully on his opposite cheek. He was stunned and wobbling. What had he done? His ears were ringing. He covered his ears with his hands and began to cry. This is what he had always done at these times. She was yelling and he was staring into her horrid, screaming, hellish face. Her face was so ugly and filled with hate. He had thought that something had changed with all this kissing and hugging business. She began to strike him harder and more ferociously. He covered his head with his arms and fell to his knees and screamed pleadingly as she continued to beat him.

The blows stopped momentarily. He peeked up and into his mother’s eyes. A number of women were standing at the edge of the alley. They were yelling things at his mother. His ears were still ringing and he couldn’t understand what they were screaming. His mother yelled back at them. She told them that it was none of their business. She grabbed onto his hand and yanked him from the ground. She pushed and shoved her way through the crowd of women bundling at the alley’s edge.

She dragged him home, sometimes just yanking him through the air. He had stumbled several times and had ripped holes in the knees of his pants from banging onto the sidewalk. He had cuts on his knees and he could feel blood running down his legs. He didn’t speak. He was much too frightened. His mother had lost her mind again! Was this horrid person still his real mother, he questioned? Her face had changed completely. It was now hateful and ugly. It was full of meanness. He dare not speak. He dare not cry. What would she do once they were home? What would this strange, ugly person do to him? How would he protect himself? He was too small. He could run, but where could he run to?

Once home, she flung him into his room and slammed the door shut. He scurried under the bed and into the farthest corner. He hugged his knees up to his chin and rocked back and forth while he cried. His mother was pacing up and down the kitchen ranting and raving. She had lost her mind. She was acting crazy! She was another person.

“Trying to make a fool out of me, I should break every bone in your body! You little fool! What in hell do you think I am? Everybody looking at me! What kind of mother do they think I am?” She was pacing back and forth in the kitchen and screaming to the heavens. The bedroom door would open momentarily and he would shiver and shake with fear. His heart would jump. “What kind of mother do they all think that I am now!” He cringed at the thought that she would come for him under the bed to beat him once again. When the door would shut, he would feel safe for a moment. Finally there was quiet. He would nevertheless remain under the bed.

His older sister arrived home from her day at school. His mother then screamed the whole day’s events to her in detail. She screamed and screamed and screamed! Richard feared that at any moment she would send herself off into another rage and bust into his bedroom. The door flung open.

“And if you ever do that again I’ll knock your damn teeth out! Let me tell you buster, I will knock some sense into that dumb skull of yours! You can bet on that, little man! If you forget this time, you can be sure that you will not forget the next time!”

And so the little boy had truly learned his lesson. He would never do that again. He would never, ever do that again.

He would not make the same mistake twice.

He would never again feel sorry for his mother.

He would never, ever again worry about her.

He would not be so foolish as to be swayed by her apparent need for his kiss, or his hug.

No no no ... never again ... never, ever again would he hug his mother.
No no no ... never again ... never, ever again would he kiss his mother.
No, not under any circumstance would he be so foolish again ... not EVER.

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