Tonight I was digging around through my shit looking for some tapes (cassette) that my spiritual advisor had sent me a long time ago. I finally bought a tape player and I wanted to hear some good old fashioned screaming from the pulpit. I found a tape marked with my dad's name and the year 1977. I listened to it. Somethings should just be left alone.
My dad was not much of a talker, but his friend sure was. The tape was 15 minutes of music taped from the radio and 45 minutes of a drunken discussion at our kitchen table.
The tape recorder was one of those old Panasonic doodads that you had to push 2 buttons to get it to record (in mono). There's a lot of back ground noise (some little girl) and lots of static, so it made it real hard to understand a lot of it. Like I said my dads friend really liked to talk so it was mostly him. At one point he's bitching about some land he's getting cheated out of and then my dad remarks "Well . He won't enjoy the land if he ain't here. Tell me what he looks like and I'll kill him for you."
Later on his friend is telling some lie about a race horse he used to own and how he turned down a $33,000.00 offer on the horse (the price was verified by his wife that he repeatedly referred to as MaMa) in Fredricksburg after a win. The "bookies" busted up his Jockey real bad so the next day a different jockey rode the horse and threw the race after a 15 length lead. After that his brother sold the horse for $600.00 because some fellers of the Italian persuasion made him an offer he couldn't refuse. At which point my dad said "That's just like all sports now days. They ain't sports no more, it's all business and it's controlled by the nigger mafia."
Finally his friend gets ready to leave and my dad says he wants to send some "elk" steaks with him. This is the only point where I hear my mother on the tape (she being the good obedient wife didn't dare open her mouth while the lord of the manor was holding court, but being a gracious hostess she did say goodbye after fetching some "elk" steaks and a beer for the road for the visitors). The kicker is the "elk" was really horse. One of my dads friends (Wayne) in San Angelo had fallen victim to the old "my refer unit broke down and I need to sell this beef cheap before it goes bad scam". Wayne had a walk in freezer in his ranch house and had bought several sides of "beef". When he showed it to my dad (one of the original scam artist) and told him the story my dad informed Wayne that he had not gotten a good deal on "beef" he in fact over paid for horse meat. Wayne owned several bars so he and my dad concocted a giant bar-b-que and charged people for the privilege of eating bar-b-qued elk. People talked about how great the "elk" was for years.
When my dad sent "elk" home with his friend, you can hear me on the tape.
Trash: "You gave your friend some of that horse meat?"
Original Trash: "That's not horse, it's elk."
Trash: "Wayne said it was horse."
Original Trash: "Don't listen to Wayne, you can't believe a word he says."
I knew better. As a child I had the ability to keep my mouth closed and my ears open. I listened to my dads conversations all the time. I heard them plan the bar-b-que.
What gets me is I was never surprised by anything my dad said on the tape. It didn't shock me to hear him offer to kill someone (it wouldn't have been the first or last time he took a life). I was unfazed by the nigger mafia remark (look up racist in the dictionary, you see that picture? that's my dad). I defiantly was not surprised by the fact he lied about the "elk" he had been doing that for quite some time.
Nope. What got me was the fact every time I heard his voice, I shrank a little. Until I was that scared 12 year old boy sitting quietly in the corner hoping to go unnoticed. Hoping he wouldn't look in my direction and if he did see me, hoping he was in a "good" mood. Waiting for him to suddenly turn angry over nothing. Friends, no friends. It didn't matter if anyone was there or not. If dear old dad decided you did something wrong then your ass belonged to him, until he either got tired or bored with you. It always started out with a verbal berating and if you were lucky it ended there, but there were lots of times it didn't. While I listened to that tape all I could do was pray, and hope this time God was listening.
Keep on keeping on.