“No! Mel that is not milk! Milk comes from a cow and cows go moo! This murky water is not milk.”
She dropped her head as if preparing to hear the guillotine chop, decapitating a great leader before mother superior reached the table. With lips gripping her teeth so tightly that they seem to disappear into the complexion of her yellow but turning red face, she slowly asked,
Luckily for the boy she interrupts him before he could reiterate the words that would have surely gotten him slapped to the ground.
“Bruce do you hear his mouth?”
Without turning his attention from the football game, and beyond annoyed by all the ruckus coming from the dining room table his father slowly sighs over his shoulder as if acting out a routine that he’d long grown tired of maintaining,
“Drink the god damn milk son; before I get up from this chair and beat your fucking brains out!”
“But dad it’s not milk. It doesn’t look like milk and it doesn’t taste like milk, because it’s not milk.” The boy hastily responds.
Again without turning his attention from the football game his father this time yells over his shoulder,
“That’s it God Damn It! Got to your room!”
Then while sitting in his recliner he slips off his belt never looking over his shoulder or loosing focus on the game. The boy looks over to his mother who’s shaking her head and motioning him to his room with a nod. The boy pauses while all that can be heard is the telecast from the football game, before pushing from the table to stand; shaking the bowls of milk to their tipping point.
“Whatever man!” He mumbles under his breath while shuffling his feet over the shag rug back toward his room; awaiting waiting for this mother to ask,
On queue the boy responds sarcastically as he always does to the expected routine questioning.
“Nothing Mother” and continues onto his room.
It’s not until he enters the room, closing the door behind him and plops down on the bed that he begins to remember the last whooping he got. Never concerning himself with the reason for the last whooping but remembering vividly with a wince the pain of the belt that seemed to sheer layers of skin with every slash. It’s during this reflection that his defiant confidence begins to melt away. His mumbling ‘whatever man’, transforms into a weaker whimper, then into a full blown crying session, as he realizes that in about 30 minutes the punisher will enter the execution room. But he’s been in this situation before and soon musters up enough resolve to begin thinking of a plan,
“Think Bud think! What can you do? What can you say?” he paces the room combing his mind for ideas that he’s used in the past to escape execution.
But nothing was is coming to mind; there was a direct order to eat the cereal and drink its milk,
“It was straight up too! I can’t even act like I didn’t understand it or didn’t hear it. How could you be so stupid?” he wept.
He then paced the room some more before noticing a half opened dresser drawer of socks. He pulled out one pair then another and began shoving the socks down the back side of his pants. After shoving about 20 pairs of mix matched socks down his pants, over the buttocks and around the thighs, he approached a mirror nailed to his bedroom door. He posed in the mirror looking over his shoulder to see if the 20 pairs of socks tightly shoved down the backside of his pants looked unusual. After twisting, turning and reposition the socks, he paced back and forth in front of the mirror assessing whether there was any possible way that his father would notice anything unusual.
With each passing pace in front of the mirror, he repositioned the socks and grew more concerned with the special effect. After about 10 minutes of reviewing and adjusting, he laugh while tears pour from his eyes, saying out loud,
“You look like a midget with a big butt.”
Shaking his head in defeat and smacking his lips he concludes out loud,
“This isn’t going to work”.
At that point he noticed the alarm clock on his dresser,
“Oh God no! Just 15 more minutes. What am I going to do? Think Bud think!”
He paced the room rubbing his hands together thinking of other ideas and contemplating just giving up to the inevitable. Then it hit him like an apple falling from a tree and he quickly blurts out the ingenious plan,
“I got it! Jump out the window and run away” he says.
He walked over to the open window, slid open the screen, stuck his head out and glanced down the two stories to the concrete jungle floor. Then shakes his head and sighs,
“That’s not going to work….I’ll either have a heart attack before I hit the ground or break both of my legs on impact!”
While contemplating that, he looked over at the alarm clock,
“Oh God no! Just 5 more minutes.”
He could hear the halftime show starting in the other room and his mother and father talking amongst each other. The boy threw up is hands, slumped down onto the front of the bed once more, pulled his knees to his chest and waited.
While sitting he felt the footsteps of the executioner as they grew louder, thumping over the floor toward the door. The boy saw the shadow casting from under the seal; before the door knob shook slightly then more violently. The shaking knob abruptly stopped and a silence filled the room, before his father yelled from the other side,
“Open this God damn door boy!”
That’s when the he realized that in his haste and frustration he locked the door on his way into his room. Knowing the locked door only infuriated his father more the boy whimpered “Oh God No!” before jumping up and rushing to open the door. The door was slowly opening while the boy started stuttering out an explanation for it being locked,
“I’m sorry dad I…I…I…”
“Shut up!” The man swiftly cut him off in the middle of his explanation and pushed his way into the room. He had grown beyond accustom to the boy’s the previous attempts to talk himself out of trouble. When he entered it was almost as if he made it a point to turn to shut the door a point that was intended to mean
‘’There’s going to be some noise coming from this bedroom that someone in their right mind most likely would consider disturbing. It’s for that reason I want to make sure the door is completely closed shut to impede the sound waves of distress that were sure to follow. Before the man could turn to face the boy he had already plopped down on the bed. The man stood just inside the door way, maybe a foot away from the closed door behind him while the boy sat on the bed; the two males stared at each other speechless. That’s when the boy remembered a lesson taught to him by his parents, ‘take the initiative in accepting your guilt’, so he rolled onto his stomach and whimpered
“What did you say boy?”
“My butt… It’s yours Pop… I know you want to beat me AND I know why there’s no reason for me to try to lie.”
The boy pulled a pillow over his head waited for the lashes. However; from under the pillow he could hear his dad chuckling and a glimmer of hope rushed over his body as he thought ‘this might be working’
“Sit up son” the man emphatically demands.
The boy sat up and wiped his eyes; while the man watched. Then his son face was complete clear of the tears before sighed on,
“What’s wrong with you boy? Didn’t your mother tell you to drink your milk? You had to know if you disobeyed her she was going to tell me to come in here and beat the shit out of you. Right?” Still standing just feet from the closed door the man took his focus off the boy, looked at the floor shook his head. “After all the beatings one would think you’d smarter than this by now”
The man looked up at the boy who didn’t respond but instead sat with a perplexed facial expression; wondering whether his father questioning was rhetorical or if he was actually being allowed to provide an explanation. The man began pacing the room,
“I stopped hitting you in the head as I considered that was making you dumb. I’ve tried restricting you from your video games and banishing you to your room. I’ve tried washing your mouth out with soap. I’ve tried making you sit in a corner. However; the only thing that seems to work a little bit is beating the hell out of you.” The man finished going down the laundry list of the disciplinary actions he had exhausted after finishing his third complete pace across the 8×12 bedroom floor. He was now standing a foot from the window seal. The man shook his head once more gazing out the window and while in a daydream like trance as he internalized with great agony what had to be done. He asked,
“What do you think I should do?”
The boy wasted no time other options and promptly responded,
“Put me on restriction?” never waiting a second
The man frowned at such a sagacious attempt to play on the man’s psyche, then slowly responds
“Make me sit in a corner” The boy again promptly responds as if this idea sounded more original than the first.
The man didn’t frown this time. Instead while blinking his eyes in frustration responds just as promptly as the boy,
“I know dad. Put me on restriction.” The boy tries again with even a greater tone of enthusiasm and optimism than before.
The man didn’t respond; instead shook his head no. More reluctantly and slowly as if running out of fresh ideas the boy tried another,
“Wash my mouth out with soap?”
“Nope! I’ve tried all of that before and you still…you still…”
The man sighed before the boy interrupted him with the only resolution he saw fit based on what he had learned and experienced in the past.
“Just beat me dad… Let’s face it I’m never going to learn. I’m just going to keep doing bad stuff and you’re going have to keep whooping me for it. I’m just a boy but I know you’re trying to raising me into a respectable young man. And when I become that young man I’ll forgive you for every last time you whooped me.”
The boy dropped his head as if succumbing to the inevitable the continued on somberly,
“The facts are the facts. I’m hard headed. I have no way of controlling it and there’s nothing you can really do about it.”
His dad chuckled a little more shaking his head in confusion; which provided the boy with a glimmer of hope that brought about a desire to smile. But he made a point not to reveal that he was thinking ‘I might be able to get out of this without a whooping at all’. Inspired by the possibility the boy continues on,
“But before you whoop me; I ask that that you let me explain.”
The man didn’t respond either way, a sign the the boy took as meaning he was being provided an opportunity to keep talking he did.
“All I was trying do was tell mom that she meant to say ‘eat our cereal and she’s serious’ not ‘eat our cereal and she’s cereal’ and those are not ‘Captain Flakes they’re Corn Flakes’. That’s all I was trying to say, dad.”
The man chuckled some more,
“Yeah I caught that part. But what about the milk?”
Without cracking a smile; maintaining the expression of worry or diplomacy, which ever you prefer to imagine he continued on,
“Well dad that’s not milk and you know it. It’s gross. But I’ve drunk it before. All I was trying to do was explain to Mel that milk normally comes out the titty of a cow like you and mom told me. I was going to drink it; I just wanted an explanation of what it was. That’s all…”
His dad stood expressionless for a few seconds after the boy’s final rebuttal. He then responded rather sarcastically as if he could sense the glimmer of hope that was festering behind the boy’s poker face of diplomacy,
“That all sounds good son but the facts of the matter are; when I told you to drink it, you should have drunk it. Now hold out your hand!”
All hope of a complete exoneration escaped from the palm of the boy’s hand. When he extended his arm and uncurled the fist attached to it, until the white meat of the palm lay open and exposed. His eyes were closed tight and while he aguishly remembered the pain from previous lashes of a similar type; which seemed to fillet flesh of the palm to the bone. The memory was so vivid that without being hit the boy could sense the pain to come and tears began to roll form the corner of his eyes. He started weeping in anticipation of the belt but sucked in the noise and which caused his lips to slap together while he listed to what he knew was the belt cutting through the air in the direction of its target.
However; when the object made contact it felt not like the slap of the belt, and more like, the reassuring Five that his dad would give him after scoring a touchdown or bringing home a 100% on a spelling test. The boy slowly opened one eye to make sure he wasn’t dreaming then the other before regaining his focus on his tall 6’2 father standing with a smirk on his face. The boy jumped into his dad’s arm hugging and kissing him
“Thank you dad… thank you… I knew you would understand… I’ll never talk back again”
His dad shrugged him off “Okay okay that’s enough! Now you lay down while I go work out everything with your mother” then pivoted to leave the room.
“Okay, okay, okay I’m cool.” The boy responded whipping his eyes.
When the man left the room closing the door behind him; the boy rushed over and placed his ear on the door. He couldn’t hear the entire conversation between the two parents but what he did hear was
“Did you get em’ Bruce?”
Then he heard his father’s recliner squeak as he returned back to his thrown. The volume on the TV increased and he could tell the game had been turned up. Over the blasting telecast starting the 3rd quarter the boy could hear his mother,
“I hope you didn’t beat him too bad. I told you that you’re hitting the boy to hard.”
“He’ll be alright I got to make em’ tough. Besides, he’ll thank me for it later.”