Minnesota Winters: V (raw)

Chapter 5
Miracles and Nightmares

Seven year old JB and six year old Dirk are bundled up in snow suits, the two of them look like morbidly obese penguins waddling around. They are playing in the backyard of the yellow split level two story house that Stanley, Paul, Chris, Bill, Mick, and Denny built on Desoto street in Maplewood, Minnesota.The house is built on top of a hill, once a fertile german farmstead until the owner died, and the land was sold off in parcels.

The two of them are arguing over who gets to use the red hornet sled and who gets to use the toboggan. JB snarls “I dragged the hornet out of the rafters of the garage, I’m using it first!” Dirk picks up a mitten full of snow, forms a hard snowball and pelts JB hard in the face, “I’m using the hornet.” JB reeling from the pain from the impact and sting of the melting snow freezing on his cheek, angry “Ok you can have it!” Pushing Dirk backwards, forcing him to tumble on his hind end. Dirk lands in the sled and JB gives it a kick, knowing full well the sled was going to bounce off the fence.

The sled plummets down the hill, Dirk flailing and hollering, manages to get the sled to spin around by using his leg and jamming it into the snow, so he can see where he is going, but could not gain control. The sled pummels the fence like a torpedo to a battleship, the sheer force caused Dirk to slide under the chain links which were supposed to be buried 6 inches in the ground. The pressure of being pinned down, Dirk starts crying “It hurts, I can’t breathe” his breath looks like a geyser of steam with every scream. JB is laughing so hard he can’t see straight from the tears stinging because the freezing cold turning the tears to ice instantly. Dirk is screaming at the top of his lungs and crying “Get me out of here! I can’t breathe!” Flailing his arms and legs like a caught bird. JB still laughing “Oh shut up, I’m coming!”

Flopping down on his butt, letting the suit act like a sled, he slides down the hill to help his brother from out under the fence. JB crashes into the fence, and stands up. Dirk screams out in pain from the fence moving up and back down into his chest, ripping his suit. JB reaches down and grabs a handful of fence and pulls up. Dirk slowly wiggles his way out, he ends up on the other side of the fence. “I’m going to kill you!” JB starts laughing again, begins to run up the hill before his little brother can get over the fence. “Catch me if you can asshole!” Dirk is scrambling to get a footing in the chain links with his big rubber sorel boots, and he manages to get himself to the top of the fence, then his ripped snow suit catches the link on the fence when he clambers over, he tumbles, face plants into the snow like a rag doll. Whimpering he gets up and starts running after JB, “When I catch you I’m gonna kill you!”

JB reaches the back door, he’s fumbling with the door knob because his mittens are so huge and frozen. He looks back, Dirk is almost upon him, laughing and excited he rips off the mittens, opens the door and runs into the house. Dirk not caring, picks up an iceball from the pile of shovelled snow near the back door, and runs into the house after him. JB runs around the corner down the hall into the family room and stands in front of Rose. Dirk lets the iceball fly.

A direct hit to the face, the ice ball shatters, JB falls over backwards, the shards hit Rose and knocks her glass of pop that was on the corner of her chair all over her hawaiian mumu. JB lies on the floor unconscious with a bloody nose and a huge cut over his eye. Rose jolts to her feet “What the fuck are you two little shits doing?”

Dirk’s jaw drops in fear, he runs upstairs knowing full well the kind of trouble is in store for him. He attempts to hide in his closet of his bedroom. Rose sees the blood flowing all over JB’s face, she freaks out, runs to the bedroom and get’s dressed as fast as she can. She runs back to see JB rolling over onto his stomach bawling and gagging from the pain. She runs upstairs rips open the closet doors and grabs Dirk by the ear “come here you stupid little shit!” drags him down the stairs, grabbing her purse and keys off the counter, “Get your ass into the car or I’ll beat the stars out of you!” She picks JB up and carries him to the car.

Rose speeds down DeSoto street taking a right onto Larpenteur ave, driving through the stop signs, swinging left onto 35W towards downtown Saint Paul. JB is screaming in pain the entire way, she breaks the speed law intentionally not caring. She arrives at the Ramsay County Emergency Hospital. Exits the car “Get your ass out of the car and follow me, and shut your mouth!” She carries JB into the ER room. The receptionist, a young lady working at the desk sees the shoulder of Rose’s coat is saturated in blood, hearing the bone chilling shrieks from JB she rushes the three of them into one of the rooms, and moments later an on call doctor comes running in. Rose sets JB on the table, and the doctor grabs the boys’ face with both hand turning his head side to side. “He’ll need a couple of stitches, his nose is broken. His eye looks ok, but it’s going to be filled with blood for a week or two.” Rose flops down in the chair relieved. Dirk just stands there staring at Rose, knowing he’s going to get a beating when he gets home.

Rose looks that the doctor “Do you mind if I use the phone please?” Doctor replies “Sure, the nurse will show you where it is.” Rose walks down the hall behind the nurse who points to the wall where the phone is. She picks up the receiver, starts dialing the rotary to her Husband’s work. One of the guys answers “Yes, can you put Stan on the phone, this is an emergency!” While waiting she can hear her son screaming at the top of his lungs, notices 4 other nurses running into the room.

Stan sounding out of breath, “what’s up?” Rose choking up almost in tears “JB is in the hospital getting stitches, those little shits were at it again!” Stanley replies “I’ll be down there in 20 minutes.” Rose interjects, “No, it’s ok, turns out all he has is a broken nose and needs a few stitches.” Stanley shocked “What the heck?” Rose “Dirk threw an iceball at JB in the house, knocking him out, spilling pop all over and creating hell!” Stanley sighs, “They are going to cause us bankruptcy with how much they visit the ER room!” Rose “You’re not the one that has to look them in the face and yell at them for being stupid all the time!” Stanley “I’ll deal with them when I get home.” Rose “I love you, you know that right?” Stanley senses she needs a little reciprocation “You’re the love of my life Rose. I’ll see you in 3 hours!”

Rose walks back into the room, sees four nurses holding JB down while the Doctor is trying tp put a needle into his face for a local. “I’m going to fucking take a hammer to your head when you sleep Dirk!” Rose walks over to the table, looks down, yelling “Shut your damn mouth and stop cursing!” JB is even angrier and struggles against the nurses, shaking his head back and forth while the doctor attempts to put the needle in. Doctor stands up annoyed “We are going to have to give him some anesthesia, he’s too angry and hurt to sit still.” Rose nods, knowing it’s going to cost another couple hundred dollars. “Fine!”

Dirk starts crying, Rose “What’s on with you?” Dirk “I killed my brother!” Rose starts laughing, after trying to compose herself “Maybe next time you won’t try to kill him, this is all your fault!” Dirk starts wailing even harder. Rose shaking her head “He’s just going to another room so people can’t hear him scream.” Dirk sniffling “So… he is not dying?” Rose “No, but you’re going to when we get home!” Dirk runs out of the room in terror, sits in the lobby chair sulking.

Later on in the evening, Stanley walks in from the garage to see Rose sitting in her chair passed out. He smells something cooking, recognizes it, mumbles to himself “mmmm pot roast!” He goes upstairs to check on the boys. Dirk is in his room sitting on his bean bag sulking, JB is in his bedroom playing with his colored building blocks. “You two out to the dining room NOW!” The two boys run down the hall and sit at the table on opposite sides. Stanley puts his lunch box and thermos down on the countertop, looks at the boys “Ok who’s going first?” Dirk jumps up “He started it!” JB sits quietly. Stanley “And how did he start it?” Dirk flops down on the chair “He pushed me down the hill, I got stuck under the fence, and ripped my snowsuit!” JB is smiling. Stanley gives JB the stink eye, “Ok Dirk, why did he push you down the hill?” Dirk looks at his father as if he’s innocent “We were arguing, he got mad and pushed me.” JB continues smiling. Stanley looks at JB “What do you have to say?” JB sits quietly, smiling. “Why are you smiling JB?” looking at his father “Because I’d do it all over again if I had the chance, only next time I’ll let him stay there!” Stanley replies “So you did start it?” JB shakes his head “I’m not saying a word, because you won’t like what I have to say.” Stanley “Speak your mind! You know how I feel about honesty!” JB “Ok, that little fucker threw an iced up snowball in my face, it hurt so bad so I pushed him backwards, he fell in the sled, he slid down the hill on his back, got stuck under the fence, I slid down, I got him out, he chased me up the hill, into the house, and threw an ice block at my face.” point at his stitches “I’m going to hurt him when he least expects it!” Stanley “You will do no such thing!” Turns and looks at Dirk “No tv, no playing outside, and no comic books for a week, your allowances are revoked for a month!” Dirk screams “This is not fair! He threw me down the hill!” Stanley interjects “only after you hurt him first!” Turning towards JB “You are going without dinner tonight!” JB “What did I do?” Stanley replies “You said Fucker, and because I said so!” Dirk is smiling. “Get out of here and get to your rooms!” Stanley says with pretentious anger. After the boys run down the hall pushing each other into the walls. Stanley mumbles “Good lord!”

Rose comes walking into the kitchen, seeing Stanley sitting on a bar stool at the extended counter top nursing a cold beer he grabbed from the fridge, “I heard, you made the right choice. I would have beaten them senseless!” Stanley shakes his head. “Stan if you’re smart you will take JB to McDonalds and talk with him about his strength. He’s twice as big as any other kid and three times as strong. He could have really hurt Dirk.” Stanley looks at Rose in shock “I will do no such thing!” Rose crosses her arms “Rose, he’s a good kid, he was provoked and he responded, I’m not going to teach him to turn the other cheek!” Rose calmly “You can not let him fight, he will hurt someone!” Stanley starts laughing “Who’s the one with the stitches Rose?… He’s the one that will stop a fight not start it!” Rose huffs with disagreement, and starts grabbing dishes from the cupboard. “He should never have pushed Dirk down the hill like that!” Stanley “Are you kidding me Rose? … He only defended himself, and I’m done talking about it. He’s being punished with no dinner. Now drop it!”

Monday morning, JB and Dirk are walking to school. Rose is totally comfortable letting the two of them walk a half mile to school, even if it is cold out. They live in a safe neighborhood, surrounded on the outskirts with Hells angels bikers that all had a crush on Rose. Dirk is taunting JB “I’m going to tell everyone I kicked your ass!” JB “Do that, find out what happens at recess!”

Lunch bell rings, all the children run out to the playground. Dirk and a group of his friends are teasing JB about getting stitches and being a wimp. JB grabs Dirk by the back of his coat and shoves him into the snowbank, kneels on his back between his shoulder and gives him the royal snowjob. The process of shoving snow down one’s underpants till it looks like the person had an accident, then kicking them so it melts. “You always got to poke at me. Just stop it!” Dirk responds through tears “I’m telling Mommy on you!” JB laughs and walks away into the school library. JB didn’t like being around the other kids, they are always teasing him. He’s always been smarter than the rest, however JB’s antisocial behaviour made him a target. A giant with a huge intellect and the demeanor of a lion in sheep’s skin. Just wanting to be left alone to read his books, exasperated from getting abuse on all sides. Mother beating him, brother will not stop trying to intimidate him, peers constantly making fun of the hearing aids and how funny he looks.

Sister Clarice walks into the library and sees JB sitting in the corner on a big red bean bag, with his feet up against the wall reading a book, smiling big. “What are you reading JB?” Bending his head backwards over the bean bag looking at her, “The Secret Garden by” mispronouncing it due to his hearing impairment “J.B. Limpcock” Sister Clarice puts her hand over her mouth trying to stife a chuckle, “JB why aren’t you outside playing with the other kids?” JB replies “Because I don’t want to!” With a stern voice and a cold stare “Come on put the book away and go outside and play.” JB stands up closes the book, tucks it under his arm and walks out the door, thenruns down the hall opposite of the front doors, down to the 8th grade math room on the other side of the school and sits in the back corner on the bean bags and starts reading again. Sister Clarice shakes her head and mumbles “at least it’s constructive…” and proceeds to her office.

The recess bell is rung, classes are about to resume, JB stands up and starts walking to his class. The one class he hates more then anything is the english class, because he has to take it with his brother. Dirk loves to pull practical jokes and blame it on JB. Today Dirk snuck in during recess and used the chalkboard erasers and powdered up the teacher’s desk, erased all the material on the chalkboard, and dusted JB’s desk, and tossed the erasers in his desk and traced something in the residue. A couple of the 8th graders put him up to it, or they would beaten him up.

Sister Maria opens the door and walks into the classroom ahead of the children as usual, she sees the mess. Her desk looks like a white dust storm hit, his desk looks the same, with a message on it. “English Sucks!” and the blackboard was a mess, everything was erased. She turns to JB “You were in the building all during lunch, get yourself to the principal’s office NOW!” JB looks at Sister Maria, angrily he screams out “NO!” She grabs him by the collar, dragging him to the office. “SIT!” JB flops down on the chair angry.

She walks into the Principal’s office, few minutes later Sister Clarice opens her door “JB please come in here. Sister Maria you can go back to your students.” JB walks by staring at Sister Maria with pure hatred. Sister Maria walks by without paying attention to him. Sister Clarice motions for him to sit down in the chair, “would you like a chocolate kiss?” JB reaches into the jar and grabs a few hershey tear drops. He starts opening one when Sister Clarice in a kind voice “JB I happen to know it wasn’t you, I saw where you went during recess. I know you hate the other kids. But the evidence is overwhelming.” JB just eats his candy and shrugs. “Your mother was called, and she is on her way here.” JB looks at her in shock “I didn’t do it!” JB tries to dart for the door, Sister Clarice puts her foot in front of it so he couldn’t open it. “You’re not in trouble JB, we are just going to have a conversation.” JB angrily grabs another handful of hershey’s and sits down in the chair. “Why are you so angry?” JB just sits there and doesn’t say a word. Fifteen minutes later A knock at the door, Sister Clarice opens the door, the receptionist is standing there “His mother is here.” Sister Clarice looks Rose in the eyes and invites her in.

Rose walks into the room, sits down in the chair next to JB “what did my son do?” Sister Clarice “Someone played a prank in the classroom, and made it look like he did it.” Rose replies “What happened?” Sister Clarice “I don’t know the details, but Sister Maria dragged him down here by his shirt collar, she was pretty upset.” Rose “So why is he in the Principal’s office?”

Sister Clarice “JB displays high aptitude, but doesn’t want to take the initiative.” Rose “I don’t know why.” JB blurts “because everyone is stupid!” Sister Clarice “He speaks! …And why are they stupid JB?” JB just shrugs his shoulders, expecting them to understand since they were adults. Rose looks at JB “She asked you a question!” JB grabs the candy in his lap, gets up from the chair, starts in a loud voice “I get picked on all the time, brother, other kids, mother, and teachers. No one lets me be alone!” Rose “Sit down JB, you’re being foolish!” Sister Clarice “No… he’s on to something, let him continue.”

JB “Because I look like an eighth grader in a third grade class, because I like reading more than playing, because I like being alone. Kids think I am weird.” Sister Clarice “No that just means you are unique.” Rose looks at JB “Is there something else?” JB Looks his mother, anger sparks inside of him like a volcano, the candy that is in his hand, he whips it at her hard “You are an evil mother, you always beat me, you always call me names, and you always make me feel like I was a mistake, you even said adopting me was your biggest regret!” Rose shocked “When did I ever say that?” JB starts screaming “You don’t remember? God I hate you!” Rose responds “You will not talk to me like that!” JB “Go ahead HIT ME, you do anyways, you will when we get home!” Sister Clarice “Would you step outside for a moment, I need to talk with JB!’ Rose “No!” Sister Clarice “Please, I promise everything will be fine.” Rose nods, gets up from the chair and leaves the room closing the door behind her.

“JB, Are you abused at home?” JB grabs a couple more hershey kisses, and flops down in the chair with a thunk, Sister Clarice grabs the candy dish and puts it in the desk drawer “JB, I need you to answer me.” JB tears up “She’s my mother, she loves me.” Sister Clarice “Ok JB, that’s fine. You can wait out in the office, I’m going to talk with your mother now.” JB gets up from the chair, walks to the door and opens it Sister Clarice is standing behind him. He walks to the chairs in the lobby, Sister clarice motions for Rose to come into the office.

Twenty minutes later, the class bell is ringing, the halls are buzzing with children. Rose comes out of the office, “JB come with me, we are going home.” JB follows his mother out to the car. The two of them get in and drive home. When the car is put in park in the garage, Rose turns to JB “I want you to go up to the dining room table and wait for me.” JB silently does what he is told. Rose sits in the car for ten minutes, almost breaking down into tears.

She gets out of the car, walks into the house putting her purse on the bar counter to her right, heads down the hall to the stairs. She goes up to the dining room table and sits down. Looking at JB for a minute or two. JB sits quietly staring back at her. “JB what happened at school today?”
JB shrugs his shoulders and looks down at the table. “JB please tell me what happened.” JB just shrugs, “nothing.” Rose sternly “JB if nothing happened why was I called, now tell me.”

JB gets angry, gets up from the table and runs to his bedroom, slams his door. Rose gets up and walks after him. Knocking on the door, “Go away! I hate you!” Rose starts crying, and walks down the hall to the living room. She sits on the couch and grabs the phone receiver, and cranks the rotary dial and calls her husband up.

An hour later Stanley shows up, Rose and him talk for a few minutes. Stanley walks down the hall and knocks on JB’s door “Son can I come in?” JB responds “I don’t care!” Stanley walks into the room and sees a massive, beautiful architecture that JB built from the building blocks. Pieces of wood that Stanley cuts up from the junk pile at work, paints and puts in a bucket for the kids to play with. JB is standing on the chair reaching up and putting the final touches on top of the structure. “JB. You did this all by yourself?” JB nods.

Stanley “Stay right there, do not move!” Stanley runs down the hall to the closet and pulls out the kodak camera, and returns to the room. He snaps a picture of JB standing in the center of his massive structure, smiling. As he is shaking the square photograph dry “JB, lets go to McDonalds.” JB excited plows through the blocks knocking everything down, flying down the stairs leaping 4 steps at a time, grabbing his coat off the rack, runs through the garage and into the van before his dad could get a word out.

Stanley walks down the hall, hands the photograph to his wife. “JB is a special kid!” and leaves.

Rose is staring at the photograph in total disbelief. Mumbling to herself “He did this in one hour, my god!”

Stanley and JB are driving to McDonald’s on White Bear Ave. “JB what’s wrong?” JB looks at his dad “Everyone is picking on me all the time!” Stanley, “I find that hard to believe.” JB responds “That’s because you leave for work before we get up, and you don’t get home until half hour before we have to go bed!” Stanley drives quietly for a while. As he is turning left off of Larpenteur Ave onto White Bear Ave “JB how about you tell me everything.” JB just sits staring out the window mumbling to himself.

After ordering food, Stanley drives onto hwy 36, and heads over to Lake Gervais beach where they sat and ate their food. Stanley lets out a lion’s roar belche, JB starts laughing. JB gulps some air in, and lets out a belche too. Stanley chuckles “That’s a loud one!” JB laughs so hard milk shake starts squirting out his nose, Stanley is laughing at the site. Shaking his head in amusement

“JB not everyone is out to get you.” JB responds “Mom told me I was her worst mistake in adopting me. She says I’m fucking stupid, calls me an asshole, calls us retards and lazy little shits. My brother is always trying to pick a fight with me, even gets his friends to help. “ Stanley interjects “That can’t be true.” JB stares at him and continues “ …I am the one getting hurt, and punished for it. The teachers don’t listen to me. I can not tell you because Mom will find a reason to take the wooden paddle to me the next day. I’m tired of feeling alone!” Stanley sits in shock. “JB are you telling me the truth?” JB wounded by his father’s reaction, face turning red, trying to hold back the tears, shrieks out at the top of his lungs “ASSHOLE!” throws his milkshake on the floor of the van, opens the door and runs down the parking lot, looking left and right, he crosses the street and starts walking down Edgerton Street. Stanley runs after him, catches up and starts walking beside him “Why did you get so mad just now?” JB stops and looks at his dad, angrily he punches him in the stomach “You don’t believe me!” and starts running down the road.

Stanley takes up chase, when JB finally runs out of breath because of his asthma, Stanley catches up to him. Picks him up, and carries him back to the van. JB is crying, kicking and punching him the whole way back. Stanley puts JB in the seat, puts his seatbelt on, unscrews the door lock, and pushes it down, closes the door. Walks around the front and gets in the vehicle. The two of them drive over to Arlington Ave, to his Mother and Father’s house. “JB you are going to stay with grandpa and grandma for a few days.” JB tries to smile and nods through a tear stained face.

Later that evening Stanley is sitting at the table eating his dinner. Dirk “Where’s JB dad?” Stanley takes a bite of food and stares at Rose. Rose feeling uncomfortable “Where is he Stan?”
Stanley replies “I’m eating!” The three of them eat dinner in silence. Stanley gets up from the table, puts his dishes in the sink and goes into the living room and sits on his lazy boy, flips on the evening news. Dirk gets up and goes downstairs to play on the atari. Rose cleans the dishes. When she finished she walks out to the living room and sits on the couch. “Where’s JB Stan?” Stanley looks at her with red eyes, almost ready to tear up. “I want a divorce!” Rose is shocked.

Rose “What are you talking about Stan?” Stanley gets up from the chair in a hurry and walks into the kitchen, he starts making a pot of coffee. “Stan!” Stanley whips around growling out with sheer anger “You abuse my children! I won’t have it!” Rose stammering “… I never …” Stanley growls “Don’t lie to me Rose!” Rose “All I do is run after those two hellions trying to kill one another!” Stanley barks “You told JB he was a mistake!” Rose who is standing on the other side of the counter, slumps down on the stool and stares with her mouth agaped.

Stanley is pouring a large mug of coffee, Rose chokes up “Do you remember the other day when you came home, and you saw the atari on the kitchen counter?” Stanley nods. Rose continues “Dirk wouldn’t let JB have a turn at the game, and when JB turned the television off, Dirk used the controller and smacks JB in the back with it. JB picked up the atari and smashed it over Dirk’s head and whipped the game cartridge at the wall!” Stanley responds “So that’s why I had to shell out another 30 dollars towards the machine!” Rose nods “I was so angry at the two of them I started saying things without thinking. I am sorry. I never meant it. But all those two… spoiled… little brats do is destroy everything, and cause us financial ruin with their destructive hatred for one another!”

Stanley responds “today when I brought him to McDonalds and we sat at the beach talking, he got so angry, anger like I never seen before. He’s a quiet kid and yet he blew up!” Rose starts crying. Stanley continues “He feels the world is coming down on him, he feels like you hate him, he doesn’t feel loved, and he was running away from me. He punched me because he thought I am against him too. I chased him down, a whole mile down the road until he ran out of breath. I had to carry him back to the van crying and throwing a fit!” Tears flowing down Roses’s cheeks,. Stanley looks at her with mixed emotions, Rose see’s the expression on his face and breaks down into full hysterics.

Stanley clears his throat,. Rose, through her heaving sobs “I think we need to have counselors!” her hysterics intensifies, Dirk hears the commotion and runs out into the dining room “What are you doing to my Mommy?” Stanley yells “Get to your bedroom NOW!” Rose is shocked out of her hysterics, her face is red, make up smeared “Don’t you yell at him!” Stanley looks at her with detest “You truly don’t give a shit about JB, … Do you?” Stanley smashes his mug into the sink and leaves the house, gets into the van drives off with Rose staring out the front bay window. He arrives at his parents place, walks up the stairs to where JB is sleeping and lays next to him. JB stirs, Stanley strokes his head and kisses him. Pulls the blanket up over his shoulders and snuggles him, falls asleep with an arm draped over JB.

The next morning Beth is cooking breakfast, Chris is sitting at the table, JB walks down the stairs after waking to the smell of bacon. He smiles as he sees his grandpa, he pulls a chair up next to him. Chris ruffles his hair and smiles, picks up the Star and Tribue and snaps open to the sports page. Beth “Chris put that down for now, JB what would you like?” JB replies “What ever gramps is having please!” Beth puts a plate of scrambled eggs and toast in front of the each one of them, then puts the bacon and sausage platter on the table, with coffee and Orange juice. JB reaches for the bacon, Beth slaps his hand with the spatula lightly, “prayer first young man!” Jb smiles “yes grandma” JB bows his head “Bless our food dear lord amen” Chris chuckles “From the mouth of babes.” The two of them start eating. Stan walks down the stairs and sees the two of them eating, and Beth is putting two more plates on the table. She sits down at the table, and Stanley pulls the chair up. He reaches for the bacon Beth smacks his hand “BOY!” Stanley laughs “Yessum” JB laughs too. He said grace and they all eat their breakfast.

Chris wipes his mouth, pushes his plate forward and takes a drink of coffee. “Spit it out son!” Stanley still trying to eat his food, stops “There are complications between my wife and myself, and JB is in the middle of it.” Chris tilts his head in confusion “What is going on Stan?” Stanley hesitates until JB is done eating, “JB go into the living and watch TV grandpa and I have matters to discuss.” JB “ok dad.” JB picks up his plate and puts it in the sink, walks by Beth and kisses her on the cheek “thanks grandma.” and leaves the kitchen. Beth smiles “He’s such a sweet child.” Stanley shakes his head “JB is feeling overwhelmed. My wife, his brother, and kids at school are causing him stress.” Chris responds “What do you mean son?” Stanley replies “Well, I found out yesterday that Rose told JB to his face that he was the biggest mistake she ever made.” Beth gasp in revolt “The galls of that woman!” Chris reaches down the table and taps Beth’s hand, she responds by picking up the plates and walks away from the table to the sink to wash the dishes. “Stan, you need to be clear about this matter.” He nods at Chris “Dad, The other day Dirk started a fight, JB defended himself, and then JB was hit in the face with an iceball and ended up in the hospital.” Beth gasps “That explains why he has stitches on his face!” Sighing. Chris “what else?” Stan clears his throat “He was blamed for an incident at school and I know he would never do anything like that, on top of that Rose is always blaming him for anything that happens.” Chris sighs, closing his hands on the table. Low voice “Stan what are your plans?” Stanley hesitates “ …I told Rose I want a divorce.” Beth whips around from the sink “You will not!” Stanley shocked “I will not have my son abused!” Beth barks “Then you get counseling, you do not divorce over something like this!” Stanley “Yessum, but for now He and I are going to stay here.” Chris responds “that’s fine, take all the time you need.”

“Mom, can you and dad watch him for today, I’m not sending him to school after what happened.” Chris interjects “We will find something to do.” Beth nods, Stanley grabs his plate puts it in the sink “Good I have to get to work, I’m late already, Thank you.” he leaves the room to get ready for work. On his way out the door, he stops in the living room “Behave JB, you get to spend the day with your grandparents.” JB starts jumping around excitedly. Stanley smiles and ruffles his hair and walks out the door.

While eating lunch Chris looks at JB smirking “How would you like to go Highland Park to go sledding” JB’s eyes opened wide “yes yes yes yes.” Beth starts laughing. “Go ahead Chris, take the boy, I’ll clean up around the house.” Chris smiles and ruffles JB’s hair. The two of them get ready to go, Beth hands them a wicker basket filled with food, “Here you go hon, a little snack in case you are late for dinner.”

Chris opens the garage door, JB stands there amazed at the chrome and turquoise Plymouth Fury. Chris chuckles “You like this don’t you?” JB excitedly “yes.” Chris “come on get in, I’ll put the toboggan and red runner in the trunk.” The two of them drive off to the the Highland Park. For hours Chris and JB walk up, and slide down the massive hills. Until Chris feel exceptionally exhausted for some reason and sits on the bench watching JB sliding until he walked up and sat down across from him. Chris says “Why don’t you go grab the food out of the back of the car JB, I’m going to sit here for a while.” JB slides down the hill on the red runner to the street where the car is parked, grabs the wicker basket and puts it on the sled, and totes it up the hills to the bench where they sit and eat sandwiches and hot cider.

Beth is cleaning the house, dusting the living room, a knock on the door, she walks to the backdoor and opens it. Rose is standing there, Beth looks at her indifferently “Come in.” Rose walks into the kitchen, and sits down at the table. Beth “What can I do for you Rose?” Rose sits there for a few minutes, then starts to cry uncontrollably. Beth takes pity and sits down across the table, makes a loud sigh intentionally. Rose looks up “I messed up, …I messed up bad!”. Beth agreeing “Yes! You said something that should never had been said.” Rose replies “Yes, I did say it, it was said out of anger. I couldn’t handle the fighting anymore.” Beth curious “What do you mean?” Rose says “Those two children are driving me into a break down, always going into the hospital, always fighting, so much blood, so much destruction. All they do is fight, fight …fight. JB smashed the Atari over Dirk’s head after being attacked with the controller” Beth responds “That doesn’t excuse what you said to that poor boy, you said you didn’t love him anymore!” Rose snaps back “I did not!” Beth snaps “You might as well have, telling him he was a mistake, pretty much says you hate him!” Rose “That is not what I said!” Beth angrily “In a child’s mind, when a parent says something like that, it destroys his trust and love in you, because you broke his heart. He’s scared of you!” Rose responds “I don’t know how to deal with it. I can’t punish them anymore, they already think I am an abusive mother. They don’t listen. They hate each other like fire and ice.” Beth calmly “As I said to Stan, this is not the reason for a divorce, you two and your family needs to see a counselor!” Rose “I already suggested that. …Stan got up and left angrily!” Beth in confusion “you already suggested this?” Rose is shaking her head in affirmation.

Chris and JB walk into the house to find Rose and Beth at the table. JB looks at her, then at his grandfather and runs out the door. Chris runs after JB catches him. “Why don’t you give her a chance JB.” JB struggling and screaming “No, Let me go.” Chris wraps both arms around the boy to restrain him “JB starts screaming louder “Let me go!” Chris picks JB up and throws him over his shoulders and brings him back into the house, setting him down on a chair. “Stay there JB!” JB looks at his grandfather with hatred “I hate you too. You lied to me!” Chris wounded by his comment leaves the kitchen to the living room to avoid showing the tears. Beth snaps at JB “Be Quiet!” JB instantly closes his mouth, crosses his arms, sitting there sulking with hatred in his eyes as he stares at Rose.

Rose turns to JB “When we first brought you through those doors and everyone was all around you, i could not have been happier.” JB starts to tear up. “You were and always will be my child. I love you.” JB snaps “You said I was a mistake, you hate me, you yell at me, you don’t care about me so you beat me all the time, even if I didn’t do it. Go away. I’m living with Grandma and Grandpa” Rose starts to cry, JB starts to cry too. “I am sorry. I am so sorry.” Rose gets up from the table and starts walking to the back door, JB jumps off the chair and runs to Rose and grabs her leg, “Don’t leave me!” Rose picks him up and kisses him all over the cheeks “Never” Beth is sitting at the table with tears running down her cheek, and Chris is standing in the arch between the living room and kitchen with tears in his eyes too. Beth clears her throat “Where’s Dirk?” Rose responds while looking at JB “Julie from next door is watching him.”

Beth gets up from the table, wipes the tears from her face. “Would you like to stay for dinner?” Rose nods “If it’s ok with Chris, Yes.” Chris nods and turns around and heads to his rocking chair. Beth smiling. Clearing her throat from being choked up “Do you need help finding a counselor?” Rose responds “If you know of anyone, sure.” Beth turns and looks at her “How do you think Chris and I survived three hellions and 45 years of marriage?” Rose smiles.

Stanley walks in through the door to see Rose sitting at the table playing cards with JB, Beth is at the stove cooking pork chops and sage stuffing. He looks at Rose and walks past her without saying a word. He walks into the living room to see his dad on the rocking chair with his eyes closed. Whispering loudly “Dad, what the hell!” Chris responds with his eyes closed “A miracle happened today.” Stanley short tempered “What the hell!” Chris sits upright in the chair looking Stanley in his eyes “Don’t cuss in my house boy! Those two made up, let them be, give it a chance!” Stanley grunts and goes upstairs to shower.

Stanley comes downstairs from his shower, finds everyone is sitting around the table. He sits opposite of Rose. After blessing was said, they start eating. Stanley in a calm voice. “If you ever say anything like that to JB again, it’s over. Do you understand me. This is the only time I am going to say this!” Rose looks at him “We are going to counseling next week, your mother is helping us set it up with someone she knows.” Stanley nods “Fine” The five of them finish eating dinner. JB helps Beth clear the table, Chris goes to the living room to watch the news. Rose and Stanley head upstairs to talk. A half hour later the two of them walk down, into the kitchen hand in hand. Stan “JB would you like to go home?” JB asks “Can I stay here one more night with grandpa and grandma?” Rose hesitantly “Only if they say it’s ok, then it’s fine with me” Stan nods.

The last day of school, Stanley and Rose are waiting in the parking lot for Jb and Dirk. When the two of them run out of school to race each other home, they see the big white panel van with a camper behind it. JB and Dirk stare at each other with excitement. They run to the van and jump in through the sliding door. Stanley turns around “Ok, we are going to Uncle George’s and Aunt Alice’s house in Arizona.” Dirk and JB start wrestling each other in excitement and in good fun. Stanley “No fighting or I am turning this around and we going home!” Dirk “we aren’t fighting dad this is us being excited” Rose smiles, and Stanley puts the vehicle into drive. Rose turns around “Dirk, you’re responsible for keeping an eye on Smokey, let us know if he needs to go potty ok.” Dirk smiles “yes mom.” JB “Did you pack my comic books?” Rose chuckles, “Yes dear, they are in the green hand bag, and you share them if your brother wants to read them.” JB scrambles for the bag “Yes mom. Thanks mom.” After finding the bag the two of them flop back on the bed in the back of the van. JB puts the pile of comics between them and picks one. Leans back and starts reading Conan the Barbarian. Dirk picks Batman and Robin. Smokey jumps up on the bed and flops in between them causing a ruckus of laughter. Rose looks at Stan and smiles.

Three weeks later, they are pulling into the driveway. Anne and Jewels come walking out of the light blue house next door. Anne looks white as a ghost “Stan, you need to come with me!” Stanley is detaching the camper from the back of the van, the boys are taking smokey for a much needed walk. Rose looks at Anne “What’s wrong? You look pale.” as she starts to grab the suitcases. Anne blurts “Stan, it’s our father!” Stanley drops the camper with a loud metallic thunk, stands up straight “What about dad?” Anne looks at him, “he’s in the hospital” Stanley looks as if he was just shot in the chest, he slumps against the back of the van and slides down till he rests upon the bumper. Almost a whisper “What happened?” Anne choking up “Just come with me you stubborn git!” Rose puts the suitcases down, walks around the back of the van, assists Stan to his feet and pushes him towards Anne and Jewels “GO! …the boys and I will be down there shortly after we unpack!” Rose looks to Anne “Ramsay right?” Anne nods “room 315”

Stanley walks next door, a few minutes later Bill, Anne, Jewels, and Stanley are walking out to the woody station-wagon. They all clamber in and drive off to the hospital in a hurry. JB and Dirk come running back with the dog. “Where’s dad going?” Dirk asks. Rose replies “Help me get this van unpacked, we need to leave.” The three of them unpack everything into the garage, and put the dog in the house. Rose jumps into the van and starts it up. Dirk jumps into the front seat, JB jumps in back and closes the sliding door and drive to the hospital.

Stanley runs up the stairs to the room, He walks in to see Beth sitting there holding Chris’ hand. “Mom, what happened?” Beth hooshes Stanley, “He’s sleeping right now.” Stanley whispers “Is he ok?” Beth nods. Stanley responds “what happened?” Beth “He and I were going to go see the new movie in town, -A Bridge Too Far-, on the way to the car he fell over and tumbled off the deck. I called the ambulance, and we’ve been here for two days now. The doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with him.”

Stanley sits in the chair staring at his father, Beth is reading a magazine, both of them are waiting patiently. Chris stirs in his bed, Stanley perks up in his chair, however chris was only adjusting and sleeping. The doctor walks into the room, Beth puts the magazine down. Doctor “Mam, we got the test results back.” Beth looks at him with intent. Doctor “It shows that your husband has Lou Gehrig’s disease, and he’s suffering from the common flu.” Beth respond “What is Lou Gehrig’s disease?” The doctor puts the clipboard down on the edge of the bed and walks around and kneels next to her, grabbing her hand and holding it,. “Your husband has what we refer to as the wasting disease, his body is slowly dying, his muscles and nerves are deteriorating. He will have more and more episodes like he experienced, and he will be prone to common ailments.” Stanely in a state of shock mumbles out “He’s Dying?” Doctor “I am afraid that is exactly what is happening.”

Stanley jerks out of his chair and rushes out of the room. Beth is choking up, “What now…?” Doctor “you husband is dying mam, we don’t know how long, or how severe it is until he is up and about when we can assess the progress of the disease.” Beth trying to hold back her tears “What do we do?” Doctor replies “as I said, it is too soon to tell atm, we need to wait until the flu passes and he’s able to get up and walk around.” Beth jerks her hand away from the doctor “Please leave!” The doctor gets up and leaves, grabbing his clipboard on the way out, closing the door behind him.

Stanley is out in the waiting room with Rose and the boys, talking to her about what is happening. Rose is quietly crying while Stanley comforts her. JB is standing by the big bay window looking out it in shock knowing full well what is happening, Dirk is playing with his tonka toy on the floor contently. JB disappears down the hall without his parents knowing, walks into the room, climbs up on the bed, and lays down next to his grandpa putting an arm and a leg over him as if trying to full body hug him. Beth watches through tears making it even more difficult, she can not control her heaving sobs. JB says in a low voice “Grandpa, everything is going to be ok, I love you.” JB closes his eyes and falls asleep next to Chris.

Few hours later Chris wakes up in his bed with JB is on him sound asleep, Beth is crying, her face is red and swollen. “What’s going on here?” JB stirs, Chris wraps one arm around his shoulders turning JB on his side to free himself, pulls the blanket up to his shoulders and pecks him on the head. Beth “My dear god, you’re ok!” Chris respons “It was just a spell, I’m fine now.” He gets out of bed and walks to the bathroom, noticing every muscle in his body is screaming with relentless pain as he walks, he tries to hide the grimaces with a fake smile. After exiting the bathroom he walks back to the bed and lays back down in it, and snuggles JB. “Beth could you get me some pop or ice water please.” Beth gets up from the chair and walks out of the room. Few minutes later she comes back with a can of 7up and a glass, trailed by Stanley, Rose, and Dirk. The four of them see that Chris fell back asleep snuggling JB. Stanley sadly “Mom, I’m taking Rose and Dirk home, it looks like JB is in good hands, I’ll be back in a few hours.” Beth nods. The three leave the room.

Beth sets the 7up on the table with the glass, and leaves the room, she heads down to the cafeteria to order food. JB wakes up to find that Chris had already been awake, and tries to get out from under the covers. Chris wakes up from the movement, smiling Chris kisses JB’s forehead “I love you boy!” JB rolls around and hugs Chris hard enough to make the old man complain “You’re hurting me.” JB chuckling “I’m sorry.”

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