Chapter 4 cries of help at 3 a.m.

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Summary

A powerful and dramatic story about a child prodigy who overcame serious mental illness and schizophrenia to become one the youngest employees of the federal government.

Genre:
Drama
Author:
billyjr2
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
5.0 2 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

midnight visit

4

“What does he know of love who did not have to despise just what he loved?”

The extraordinary begins in the ordinary. The mother who has big dreams for her children. The father who is mediocre in his accomplishments and discovers his son is talented, so drives him all the harder. The mother who expects her daughter to realize her own frustrated dreams. The father who drinks too much then lashes out. The kid who is helpless to resist. The father who does not know how to express love. The mother who watches and tries to soften the blows. The wife who married the wrong husband and preserves herself and her children as best she can. The wife and mother who wish none of it had happened. All these are old, ordinary stories that have been told many times before.

Somehow Grandma Ollie knew that in the end few prodigies amount to much and that along with talent there must be an unusual adaptability, tremendous drive, a powerful sense of mission, toughness, courage, tenacity, ambition, fire in the belly, and other traits that can’t be taught. But grandma’s own set of traits didn’t include leadership, her lack of tact insulted people; she couldn’t stand to be contradicted, her unwavering belief that she could do no wrong and love of gossip earned her enemies she didn’t need, i.e. my dad. Grandma, like I would later become, was abrasive and deeply sensitive to any threat to her assumed authority. On the other hand, without the turmoil and confusion that the rape created and her desperate need to maintain her dignity, grandma would never have been impelled to define her beliefs in the depth she did.

Listen carefully!

Undaunted and not at all discouraged, it was 3 a.m. when grandma turned over dreamily; her mouth once again bent into an angle’s harp, murmured something pleasant and snored insouciantly. I sighed, scratched my head though it didn’t itch. My scratchy wool pajamas were soaked with sweat. My dad looked in the bedroom where grandma and I were sleeping. Stress, strain, and ambition darkened dad’s eyes and cracked his skin. He was shattered. Grandma’s house, which she called it The Sanctuary, was originally conceived as a way for her to help the community, but her guilty do-gooder conscience thought that people shouldn’t have to struggle for anything, jammed the logic of The Sanctuary beyond all recognition. Frustrated and depressed dad wanted a drink instead he looked bitterly over at a picture of grandma. In the grainy pictured as she was in life, Grandma Ollie was a commanding figure. The Polariod depicted her as strong-featured, high-browed, fleshy, and chucky. She had on a faux-fur vest and an elegant feathered hat. Her piercing eyes are fixed on the unsuspecting viewer. It is the picture of an imperious and intelligent woman, very determined. It is also a portrait of anguish and endurance. This was the statement Grandma Ollie, feeling herself near the end, wanted to leave posterity about her life. Every element of the picture forms a symbolic narrative. On the table to the viewer’s left lay a book; ’To Kill A Mocking Bird’ a story about rape and injustice. Looking up from the book, the viewer finds a pair of dark sun glasses falling from grandma’s eyes, the idea of darkening and concealing the truth. The falling dark glasses evoke her escape from the darkness that had enveloped her. With a decisive gesture Grandma’s arm emerges from her lap; the forefinger of her right hand points to the left hand, which is holding the glasses but also pointing to a quote. Here is the heart of the Polariods’ message. It says, ’What gifts you possess are owed to humanity’. This passage was the great shibboleth which opened for me a wide window into grandma’s thinking, personality and ideas. Looking at her picture I thought of all the frustrated hopes, collapsed dreams, friendships ruined, riches lost, and moral failures she had to endure to gain and to be able share her homilies with me. After looking at the Polariod I turned my gaze upwards! Most ordinary people go through similar shell-shocking experiences but few have the fiery imagination, nuance of passion and deep penetration that was granted to Grandma Ollie. The mob never understood her language.

“This place is an unmitigated disaster,” he groaned. Dad barked and whimpered through layers of grief. He mumbled unintelligibly of the sacrifices he had made on behalf of The Sanctuary and how even as a kid and 5,000 bottles of booze later his mother still hadn’t moved mountains or saved one soul. Dad fumed, agonized and cursed without the sedative effects of alcohol to lull his tartness. He damned grandma’s clients. God, the blessed-it-poor-in-need always in such a need, he said stubbornly.

“And the sycophants among mama’s clients are flattering you and making you a mascot of St. Francis,” he said of me. Dad nodded and blinked. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I just don’t know. And then there’s her snake like homilies, always moving unpredictably, darting through labyrinths, restlessly subverting the established order. Mama wants me to see that the consumer goods, the TV’s, the radios, the eight-track tapes, and other gizmos I enjoy will soon become passé, but she can’t see that she’s trapped in the Sisyphean quest as well, of acquiring something else new to satisfy her degraded longings, her something new is helping someone new. It’s the same hellish fate! The fantasy world of material well-being promised by every new-must-have-thing is the Hell of fulfillment; the promise of eternal newness and unlimited happiness encoded in the next gizmo is an endless mythic repetition like endless giving to the needy. I guess since I couldn’t define myself through my work and the life of a brain-numbing, spirit-crushing, soul-destroying wage slave did not offer me self-fulfillment, I unwittingly picked a grim alternative – wanting the next new thingamabob, call it shopping – was being born. If I couldn’t find self-expression in the factory perhaps I thought I could do it through alcohol, then shopping and now gambling. None of them is creative or productive rather they are receptive, passive and nothing but a gigantic workhouse.”

How in the hell do you expect to pave the way to this Never Land paradise away from eternal boredom? Ah, this fool, this big damn bird who can’t take flight because of the bulk of his wings, this Orpheus, Narcissus and Dionysius, the epitome of joy and fulfillment, can’t make his job into a transcendent category of activity and is bitter! Shit, Marx and Adam Smith both are rounding over in their grave! My Prometheus dad, the would be culture-hero, the trickster and suffering rebel against the gods, wants to creates a new culture at the price of perpetual pain. Good Grief, it is tempting to despair understanding grandma and dad!To be sure, it was their abject failures which they tried to airbrush from their success narratives that drew my attention. Blasting out of their failures (i.e. maintaining their triumphalist narrative of success) was to be a kind of shock therapy aimed at reforming my consciousness. So, in a sense they wanted to be my redeemer, freeing me from hell. Well, the reception is mixed so far! Somehow they believed I had an overwhelming but uninteresting desire for things and helping people – they imagined that I could find happiness and fulfillment in helping people or in the next new thing. It was their great hope that if I remembered old desires for now obsolete things, I might liberate myself from my current uninteresting desire for new things and from my delusive belief that things can give me fulfillment and happiness. By meditating on past disappointments, I might free myself from future disappointments. That liberation would involve sandblasting my consciousness from delusive beliefs. Well, grandma and dad both will be disappointed. I have no intentions of entering the socially stratified cages designed to keep out the undesirables, un-moneyed, and riff-raff or join the rest of the herd in their exclusive spaces clamoring for their must-have iPhone. Too much banal clarity, about as interesting as Ariadne unwinding her threads! I wanted to find Nirvana through the intellect and the soul. I wanted to take my pleasures in activities of the mind and soul.

Dad wanted those salty chips on the table to distract his attention, but the doctor warned him repeatedly about his weight and blood pressure. Life wasn’t fun anymore. On top of it all, he had a paranoid suspicion that I, like his mother, was becoming too infatuated with the hundreds of souls in the community yet to be saved. He tried to convince himself that if he could alter my axis by a few degrees that it would totally change the trajectory of my life. But so far, according to him, my imagination only wanted to be Saint Billy like Grandma Ollie.

Dad started violently cursing fate, made harsher by fact that he didn’t want to engage in irresponsible speculation; however, he suspected that I wasn’t a genius, and somehow his only son wanted to be Saint Billy instead of an engineer. He shuddered and the Southern Comforted beckoned him again, the call was especially strong when he remembered the various names grandma was called behind her back, ’The Saint’, ’Miracle Worker’, ’Ollie the Baptist,” and so on.

Dad shuddered again his mother had given me a distinctly new personality. The core of which was the idea of becoming a savior like her.

“And, after you’ve grown up, what would you like to be called, an engineer, or ‘St. Billy’ or ’St. Francis?”

Then dad asked me what I dreamed about and I told him, “Samuel Gompers….” I thought a little harder, and came up with “Karl Marx, and Gandhi.”

“What?”

Almost in tears, he asked me if he ever appeared in my dreams. I thought for moment, scratched my ears and said, ’No, I don’t dream of you dad but I do dream of the Sermon on the Mount and then sometimes I dream about mom’s friend Maria and…and then I my pajamas are wet.”

“Please spare me the details, son.” dad felt defeated, he threw up his hands in utter despair.

He suspected that grandma’s wires were crossed. Her interest was almost always in the oppressed, odd-balls and the poor sections of the town.

“Vultures,” he moaned. “God knows we don’t have enough. Too much wouldn’t be enough.” There was a real lump in his throat.

And once again, agonizingly, the Southern Comfort called. I followed him to the pantry; I could see he was trying mightily to resist the call. The foul little pantry seemed to be having a tough night as well. It was crammed with tax forms, canned corn, powered milk, first aid kits, dry beans, vitamins, weight lost pills, menstrual cramps remedies and hemorrhoid salves and laxatives and sedatives. Grandma used them all regularly, but they weren’t for her alone. They were for all the vaguely ill people who came to see her. Haircuts, love and understanding and a little money were not enough for her clients. They wanted medicine, creams, ointments, dry beans, tax forms and first aid kids. Papers were stacked everywhere—tax forms, WIC forms, Domestic Abuse handbooks, Restraining Order filings, Social Security forms, parole forms. Stacks had toppled here and there, forming dunes. And between the stacks and dunes lay paper cups and squashed cigarette butts. Thumbtacked to the walls were Buddhist Wisdom quotes

The lives grandma tried saving were pointless, paltry, lacking in subtlety, wisdom, wit and everything wasn’t enough to help them; nor was compassion, enlightenment, art and science.

The phone rang hellishly.

“Another blessed it Poor in Spirits,” dad said grimly, writhing in a masochistic fantasy of unplugging the phone. He picked up the receiver off a pile of Jet Magazines. “Sanctuary let us help you!” The response was automatic, even as kid dad was forced to answer the phone with this salutation.

There was a long pause.

“Yeah, this Hold-it-Down and I saw your number in the bus shelter,” the man on the other end fretted. Dad put the speaker on so I could hear the conversation.

He bit his lip. Hold-it-Down was so drunk that I almost smell the alcohol on his breath through the phone.

Drink me,” the Southern Comfort seemed called out to dad.

“I’m nothing sir, nothing at all,” Hold-it-Down said sadly. “My life has come to nothing! But I gave up alcohol ten minutes ago. Hold on a minute.”

“Well God made a mistake,” Dad mumbled.

“Maybe I’ve bought my grievances to the wrong place,” the man on the other end said tauntingly. “What kind of place is this? Anyway, child support payments should come on a card like food stamps, and should be restricted to buying baby stuff, not hair weave, fake nails and wigs! I’m broke because of hair weaves and fake nails.”

“Sir, I want you to take a good look at yourself,” dad said bitterly, frowning and lifting his glasses with his nose.

“I’m looking,” Hold-it-Down said humbly.

“Now ask yourself, ‘How did I ever get into such a disreputable condition?’

Again dutifully, and without a trace of whimsicality, Hold-it-Down asked himself how he had gotten into such a disreputable condition.

“Well? What is your answer?” dad sighed.

A long train of thought began, which led Hold-it-Down to say something completely unexpected, “Shit, if I know what got me here, alcohol, pills, weed, take your pick! You tell me, Billy Mac? I called you for help! But, damn Joe, I like living in artificial paradise! There is no point in work, unless it absorbs you. If it doesn’t absorb you, if it ain’t any fun, don’t do it. When I go out to work Billy I’m alive like a tree in spring, I’m living, breathing and thinking, not merely working. That’s the kind of work blissfully celebrated by D.H. Lawrence; it is precisely the kind of work denied to me when I worked in that factory. I was alienated from my work – from what I made, and from myself too. Billy, that kind of work is an antidote to passive consumerism, alcoholism and it subdues the spirit. It’s a collective mass delusion that I thought was normal!”

“Come back from Abstract Land! Yeah, yeah, yeah and the human head weights eight pounds and The Second Commandment preached by Jesus (Mark 12: 31) was preached by the Buddha six years before Him, and it must have been hoary and blind with age when the Buddha made it the center of his beliefs. And the Ten Commandments of Exodus and Deuteronomy, well they were thousands of years old when the Jewish scribes reduced them to writing. And Plotinus, he lifted the concept of Intelligence and morality as the supreme beauty out of the stream of time …whatever, whatever, so on and so forth and stop calling me Joe! Look, Hold-it-Down, life is about striving and that brings torment, then blows, then terror, then fearful astonishment, then wonderment, then envy, then admiration, then elevation, then joy, then cheerfulness, then laughter, then derision, then mockery, then ridicule and then the whole catalogue of them repeat themselves over and over again,” Dad choked.

“Did you hear what I just said? Oh, well more blah, blah, blah! Look, Joe, the ad said to call the Sanctuary if you need help with drugs or alcohol, call, we offer hope. I need help! Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I got a monkey on my back.”

“I see,” dad grumbled, he was livid. “You’re pissing me off! Damn it, Hold-It-Down, even the tiniest step on the road toward free expression and individually invites spiritual and mental peril. The best of us, when we break out passionately and drive above the herd conscience, invariable wreck the self-confidence of the community, and its faith in itself. Then we are tarred and feathered. Anything that elevates the individual above the herd is slandered. But conformity gains the respect and admiration of the lamb and sheep.”

“Listen to this blind man talk about color. Joe, you just added a second stupid to the first!!” Hold-It-Down said under his breath, adding sarcastically, “You know what you get if you mix Holy Water with Vodka?”

“No, please widen my angle of vision,” dad muttered stubbornly.

“A Holy Spirit!”

“Look, buddy, my whole life is going to pieces too!”

The man replied, “And it shows!”

“Have you tried AA, friend,” dad responded, savagely changing the topic.

“I been trying to get in AA for months, and that nasty Rosie woman keeps telling me that they are full and that my name is on the waiting list,” Hold-It-Down said vaguely.

Dad struggled to remain quiet.

“But I keep seeing this eyeball staring at me from the bottom of my Vodka bottle! I think it’s my conscience.”

Still dad struggled to remain outwardly peaceful.

“Who the hell is this?” dad finally asked the man on the phone furiously.

“They call me Hold-It-Down! I need about $20 dollars. You still selling a piece of black ass for $20, as advertised? The liquors stores are closed and I need Uber money to get to my bootlegger first.”

“No,” dad squirmed shaking his head in a whisper. “Jesus, no! This isn’t my life! This is tickling the perverted tastes of the loonies!” There were thick dark circles under his weary eyes.

“No, no!” dad repeated and laid the phone down. He sat his 225-pound gone-to-fat body down and scratched his head. “God-damn poor in spirits!” dad swore out loud.

Grandma argued that dad was hysterically indifferent to the troubles of those less fortunate, and that she was trying to help the descendants of slaves who, generations past had picked cotton, breast fed white babies, and formed the backbone of America. Dad however knew that the people who leaned on his mother were a lot weaker than the African slaves who burned with the fire of freedom. When it came time for work many, for instance, mysteriously contracted gout, headaches and constipation! Those who were strong, as a matter of pride, avoided grandma’s uncritical love! But not Hold-It-Down!

“Feast of vultures!” dad lay down on the sofa and cursed. “I am not good enough or equal to this; I’m not strong enough, he despaired and picked up Thus Spoke Zarathustra in resignation.

What is difficult? Asks the spirit that would bear much to kneel down like a camel wanting to be well loaded. What is most difficult, O heroes, asks the spirit that would bear much that I may take it upon myself and exult in my strength?

--- Friedrich Nietzsche

“In her heart,” dad soliloquized, cracking his knuckles, “Mama doesn’t care about those unfortunate people any more than I do. If she knew a little history, she would see that only a system of beliefs that gives them hope in another world can help them. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: only by giving the-blessed-poor-in spirits a belief system that promises paradise in the next world can mama ease their suffering in this one. This is basically a problem of faith, and if she would instead give them religion, domination of the next world, it would shut off some of their suffering. For now, though, I have to find an oubliette to imprison her compassionate conscience so that she doesn’t hear the howls of the misfortunate and bankrupt us.”

Dad was having a hell of a night, not only with the telephone but with people stopping by, most of them drunk.

He hung up the phone and looked over a cumbersome spread sheet that grandma kept, it was pages and pages of doom and gloom. It contained all the people who visited the house, their pain, their sorrows and what was done to help them.

There was a frantic knock on the door. Dad realized it was Sadie, and she was dead drunk too.

“Sadie, what did I say to you the last time you got drunk?” dad asked. “Have you forgotten what I said back then?”

“No, no, Billy. How could I forget what you told me,” Sadie paused to hiccup then she lit a broken cigarette. “I could never forget what you said that awful day? I know what is what and I know that it is not right to get drunk. All I want is a word or two with Ollie so she can give me a long-winded sermon on the benefits of Marx, Henry James, Garvey, Virgil, Kant, and that other fellow Adam Smith and Bill Buckley and… shit, if I can remember all those damn people Ollie bores the hell out of me with.”

“Not tonight, Sadie, it 3 a.m. in the morning! This behavior of yours is unbecoming of someone who reads Pascal, unworthy also of a man who loves his son.” She puffed her cigarette while collecting her thoughts for a moment. It was emphatically clear that Sadie didn’t have the wherewithal to grapple with dad; Sadie simply couldn’t tackle dad’s line of reasoning. Heavily influenced by Grandma Ollie, dad was no match for Sadie, his argument confounded then demoralized her. She scratched her ear in confusion, and said, “Damn, I can’t understand what you’re saying but are you a professor or a stay-at-home cloistered philosopher with a great gift for gabbing, who knows everything, having seen nothing at all? Stop frowning, Billy!”

Surprised and angered at being out witted, dad tried pushing her out the door.

“Don’t shoo’ me away! Stop trying to get me to leave, I have a voice. You have accumulated a large store of musty ehno…ethno…crap I can’t remember what that woman called you. Oh, shit, a large stock of musty ethnological ideas which you are always unburdening yourself on other folks in what you evidently intent as advice.” She hiccups and dropped her cigarette. She stooped to pick it up and dad tried to slyly close the door. “Stop trying to push me away. You’re always insulting me, and I can’t complain about it. Why shouldn’t you not insult me if I deserve it?”

“This is a fine time of morning to be knocking on my door!”

“Excuse me! Ahem, corrections, don’t you mean your mama’s door, not yours!” She wagged her finger close to his face. “Be fair, Billy! Be fair!”

Dad’s nostrils flared open and sweat buds formed on the tip of his nose. The signs were clear, dad was pissed off.

“The, the, the, got damn gun – dad stuttered angrily, he meant sun instead of gun - sun hasn’t come up yet. This isn’t a hotel! It’s three-thirty in the fucking morning!”

“God damn-it, professor, be kind! I have lost my way!”

Dad shook his head.

“Sadie a lot of things have broken my heart but fixed my vision; for example, look at what the educational system in this county has produced. No knowledge of the fact that you come from a glorious people that fell like the Greeks, the Romans and the Persians, and at some point, the U.S. We readily accept the assumption, because our educational system informs us, that we are anything but inferior; that’s what is expected of us from an educational and cultural system where we are taught that we are inferior, and the message is re-enforced in daily doses. Sadie you are not a moral failure, it is a failure of the system.”

Sadie was wearing a gown of some color, a bad hair piece, and had wrapped her neck in something stiff.

“How can I help you, Ms. Sadie?” dad asked trying to be more understanding.

“I cannot sleep. I have this pain in my middle, and my legs, from the ankles upwards….”

“That will pass, that will pass. You must pay no attention to it. Everything is the will of God, Sadie,” said dad with a pronounced sigh.

“Let me have a drink, please, I got such a bad headache, bad breath, bad eyes, bad hearing, bad feet, and my son doesn’t love me, my dog ran away, and my daughter won’t let me see my grandkids. My life is a hot mess! I need a drink!”

“Sadie, all the possession of wealth, cars, boats, shoes and clothes, even alcohol have very little influence on personal happiness. In fact, excess wealth and alcohol disturbs happiness because the preservation of property and drunkenness entails many anxieties. The effects wear off then you will need another and another, and still another. It’s the same with things and alcohol. And still you and so many others are a thousand times more intent on becoming rich or drunk than acquiring culture, even though riches and alcohol contribute nothing to long term happiness. The highest and lasting pleasures are those of the intellect and moral beauty, and yet, you are trying in vain to replace this with fleeting pleasures of the senses that last only briefly and at a tremendous cost. What a person has inside is, then, the chief element of their happiness. Because most people as a rule have very little on the inside, most of those who don’t have to struggle are as unhappy and guilt ridden as those who struggle. Drunks and the wealthy minds’ are vacant, their imagination dull, their spirits poor, and so they are driven to the company of those like them, similis simili gaudet. They all want the same thing, entertainment, distraction, religion and fleeting sensual pleasures, and amusements of every kind. When Socrates saw various articles of luxury spread out for sale, he said: How much there is in the world that I do not want.”

“Please, professor, don’t lecture me! I can’t do those high-mind things! How can I ever hope to live like that, huh?”

“It’s easy! Quite simply, change the way you look at the world. Happiness has more to do with how you view the world than what you have. Most people’s mind is empty and void and bored with existence.”

“But I like beer? I scarcely understand what you mean. Am I to give up my fake diamond rings and counterfeit bags? What about my wig?”

Dad could see that Sadie was out at sea, and that he must explain the matter in simpler, more accessible terms.

“Your life will be richer and your horizon broader if you live for inward pleasures!”

“Huh, inward pleasures? I don’t know but you said riches will make me unhappy,” Sadie exclaimed, staring at him with her eyes distended and scratching the rag on her head. “But for now, all I can think about is a drink of something!”

“Outward riches, I mean. You store up your riches inside, not the outward riches. Now do you understand? Is that clear enough?”

“Yes — but I do not know,” she said diffidently. “You see, I have never been rich.”

“Quite so!” dad replied angrily. “It would be a surprising thing if you ever were rich. She’s truly an obstinate old woman!” was dad’s inward comment. “Look here, woman,” he added aloud. “People can be outward rich but poor inside, and their vain endeavor is to make their external riches compensate for their inner poverty, by trying to obtain everything from without. The one who is inwardly poor comes to be poor outwardly soon or later.”

“Oh, professor, do not speak of it! I’m too poor to get a drink and smokes,” Sadie cried, growing more and more irritated. “Shit,” she mumbled to herself, “I’ve listen to nonsense enough. I wish he’d give a shot of something. I hate these long-winded lectures!” But outwardly she, said, “Three weeks ago, I had to get my son out of jail, and my husband needed glasses, and —”

“Then you see how it is, do you not? Remember that, happiness is in how you see the world. Do you understand at all?”

However, Sadie still communed with herself. She could see that dad was passionate about something, yet it was too new for her and bedsides, it was over her head.

“I wish you would raise yourself up before me,” she despaired shaking her head, now desperate for a drink of anything, “so that I needn’t feel utterly sorry for you, Billy. How in world can I ever respect you if you keep making yourself smaller and smaller like a vengeful little school boy? It’s very small of you, Billy to insult me,” she slurred tentatively.

“Blockhead of a creature!” dad cried, pissed off. “Bless her heart; I’m going back to bed. She has thrown me into a mental sweat, the cursed shrew old hag.” Dad admitted finally.

He took a rag from his pocket and wiped the perspiration from his head. Yet he need not have flown into such a passion. Once a blockhead gets an idea into their head, there is no getting it out of them— you may drill them with daylight-clear arguments, yet they will remain stubbornly ignorant and defiant. Nevertheless, wiping away the perspiration, dad resolved to try to bring her back to the road by another path. “Sadie,” he said, “either you are declining to understand what I’m saying, or you are talking for the mere sake of talking. The life of a fool is worse than death. People are not influenced by things but by their thoughts about things.”

“What? I’m not a fool!”

“Never mind! How often have I heard the same confession from people so limited that they hadn’t even the ingenuity to invent a new lie.”

Then dad lost all patience, kicked a chair, and told Sadie go to hell.

“Do not speak of hell, I beg of you!” she cried, turning pale. “Last night was the third night in a row that I dreamed of the devil and he has appeared every night since. You see, after saying my prayers, I thought God must have sent him as a punishment!”

“It’s a wonder you don’t see a shit load of devils in your dreams. It’s your only significance just like the wage slave, their only significance is their labor and the more they produce the poorer they become. It’s the same with religion. The more we put into God, the less we retains for ourselves.” dad replied, wiping his forehead, where three separate streams of perspiration were trickling down his face. He slammed the door and sat thinking of Southern Comfort.

“God forgive me, Christ died for Sadie as well.”

At about seven a.m., dad went to the bathroom. He walked past gloves, scarfs, a blouse, cotton underwear, woolen underwear, first aid kits, blankets, raincoats, bibles, and a prophylactic kit containing two lambskin condoms (For Preventing Pregnancies Only), and a pamphlet entitled, ‘Surviving the Streets,’ and another entitled ‘There is hope!’ On the hallway wall was a framed prayer which expressed grandma’s hope for her clients.

GOD GRANT ME

THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT

THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE,

THE COURAGE,

TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN,

AND WISDOM TO KNOW

THE DIFFERENCE.

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