Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

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July 12th, 1969

Hannah arrived late for her babysitting appointment.

My folks rushed out as she came in.

She apologized to my mother, “Sorry I’m late Mrs. Crane! There was a…problem at the shop.”

Mother paused in her haste and frowned. “Nothing serious, I hope?”

“It’s fine now, thanks.”

“We gotta rush. You know where everything is?”

“Yeah, don’t worry. You folks get going!”

Mother handed her a piece of paper. Here’s the numbers at the restaurant, Roxy and Pierre’s.”

“Have a nice time!”

“Thank you!”

“Oh, I nearly forgot – Happy Anniversary!”

“Thank you!”

Hannah watched them drive off before locking the front door and sliding the chain into place.

She turned, instinctively knowing that I was waiting in the passage. Her lips pursed and her eyes became watery.

“I don’t want to do it tonight, Connie.” Then she walked past me into the living room and sat down on the sofa.

I moved in front of her and grimaced. “What? You always tell me you can’t wait to come over? I thought…”

“Please, Connie! Not tonight. Let’s just sit on the sofa and hold hands, okay.”

“No! Why?”

“I’m not feeling too good.”

“That’s okay. You can just lie down and relax and I’ll rub you real slow and gentle all over the way you like it. We can pretend we’re playing Doctor and Patient. You’ll love it. Come on you’ll see?”

“Next time, okay? I promise.”

“I made my voice sound like a hospital PA system. “Doctor Connie! Doctor Connie! We have a medical emergency in ward 8! Patient Hannah Marnowijk is in desperate need of her injection!” I looked her square in the eye and asked, “Wanna see Doctor Connie’s injection, little girl?” I pulled down the front of my pajama shorts. “Whoops,” I declared looking down. It would seem the good doctor is in need of a dose of medicine himself. That injection seems out of order.” I shouted towards the kitchen, “Nurse Ratchet, some Viagra and make it quick!”

Hannah started to giggle. “You always know how to make me laugh and feel good, Connie.”

“Ah, the patient’s feeling better already. Just the sight of Doctor Connie’s injection is enough to cure any ailment.” She started to laugh loudly, but then suddenly winced with pain. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she said too quickly.

“It would seem the patient has suddenly experienced a relapse.” I indicated towards my bedroom. “Off to bed with you, girl. Doctor Connie needs to make a thorough examination.” I clapped my hands twice. “Off you go!”

“Next time, Connie. I promise.”

“Tut, tut, doctor knows best! Off you go!”

“I really…”

“Uh-uh! The doctor has spoken.”

“Alright,” she finally, but strangely reluctantly agreed.

She was standing next to my bed when I got to the room.

I put on the light and she immediately said, “No! Put it off!”

Her expression was one of concern and embarrassment.

“What’s the matter? I thought you said you liked me to watch you naked? You said it makes you feel…free?”

“I do, Connie. Honestly.”

“Then stop this nonsense and take off your clothes.”

She sheepishly consented. “Okay.” She slipped off the shoulder straps and allowed her dress to fall around her ankles. Then she stood staring in absolute fear at the shocked expression on my face.

“Oh, my dear God, Hannah? Who did this to you?”

Her body was covered in bruises and abrasions. I was instantly reminded of the way my own body had looked after my father’s beating. But this was worse; far, far worse!

“I fell down the stairs. It was an accident.”

“Turn around!” I demanded. She obeyed. Her back was even worse than the front. “My God, Hannah! You didn’t fall down any stairs! Tell me the truth!” I watched as the fear in her eyes grew. “It was him? Wasn’t it?”

It pained me that she was suddenly frightened of me. Frightened of what I would do with the knowledge of the truth.

I wanted to hold her and tell her I cared, and that I wished I could do something to make it all better. But her fear had formed a barrier between us.

“Stop lying to me, Hannah! It was your father? Tell me the truth, now!”

“I was clumsy! I fell down the…”

“No! The truth?”

“Alright, I’ll tell you everything but you gotta promise me first!” I was surprised at the anger in her voice. It was something foreign to her personality. I found it…appealing.

“What?”

“You first promise me that you won’t tell another living soul…ever!”

“You have my word!”

“Promise?”

“I promise!”

“And you also promise me that you won’t say any more bad things about Poppa?”

“Then it was him who did this?”

“Promise?”

I unwillingly hissed, “Alright, I promise! Now tell me what happened? The truth? All of it?”

“Okay,” she whined and sat down on the side of my bed. She was wearing a white bra and panty. “I’ve had a terrible past two days, Connie. You can’t begin to imagine.”

“I’m all ears, Han,” I said sitting down next to her. “Go on?” I put my hand on her leg and her body gave a sudden shudder. “I’m your friend, Hannah. You don’t have to be frightened of me. I’ll never do anything to hurt you.”

“I know that, Connie. I know that. You’re a real gentle guy. You couldn’t hurt a fly. It’s just that my nerves are all so jangled up ever since…ever since... I jump at any little thing now. It’s so stupid of me, really.”

“Ever since?”

“It all happened yesterday.”

“Go on.”

“Poppa sent me on an errand to fetch him the newspaper from Pop’s. But I took the long way round because I wanted to go by the pawn shop. I always do it to make sure the music box is still in the window. Only this time it wasn’t. So I quickly went inside and asked Mr. Fry the owner where it was. I thought maybe he might have put it somewhere else. Anyhow, he tells me some vacuum cleaner salesman from Boston come in and buy it. He also tells me he’s really sorry, because he knew how much I really wanted it, but business is business.”

“Yeah?”

“You know how much I wanted that music box, Connie. So don’t laugh when I tell you that I was so upset that I ran all the way home crying. I even forgot to buy Poppa’s paper.” She stopped for a moment gathering her thoughts.

“Carry on, I’m listening.”

“Well, when I got back to the shop, Momma’s in the front and she tells me Poppa wants to see me as soon as I get back. So I go to the back and there’s Poppa sitting by the big table with the music box in front of him.”

“Uh-huh?”

“Well, I was so happy I ran and put my arms around him and told him he’s the best Poppa in all the world. I told him that he just told Mr. Fry to tell me a fib because he wanted to surprise me.”

“And?”

“I’m feeling so happy, but then suddenly he pushed me away so hard that I fell down on the ground. And he starts shouting and yelling at me. For awhile I didn’t know what was going on. Then he says that the music box arrived, addressed to me, by special delivery while I was out. He says he immediately phoned Mr. Fry who told him the same thing. Only difference is that Mr. Fry said that the guy from Boston told him that he’s buying it for a filthy-mouthed kid that he met near the pawnshop, and who made him a proposition he couldn’t refuse.”

“What?” I choked.

She nodded. “He then says that he suddenly understands what happened. So he phoned the Train Stop Motel where the out-of-towners mostly stay when passing through. Sure enough, there was a vacuum salesman from Boston staying there, but he had to catch the early train.”

“Oh, God,” I said realizing where this was going. I felt the blood drain from my face.

“Then he told me that it don’t take much to figure out exactly what’s going on. When I asked, ‘What?’ he gives me a backhand that sends me flying across the room again. Then he starts beating me like he’s never done before. I never seen him so angry. At first I thought he had found out about us, but then he starts saying some really strange bad things. He even starts using the f-word. I ain’t never heard him use that word before. Not my Poppa.”

“What did he say?”

“He says that he knows I fu…did it with the guy from Boston, and that we can all be glad he took the morning train or else he would be guilty of murder. I didn’t know what was happening. He kept on beating me and calling me a…” She started to sob bitterly. “He called me a…he called me a…”

“What?”

“A whore!” She grabbed my pillow and buried her face in it. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed violently. “A cheap whore! A cheap whore who had sold her soul for a miserable stupid old music box.” She lowered the pillow. “He said I’m going straight down to hell when I die.”

I was having trouble to restrain myself. “You? He…he’s…” I remembered my promise and, with an incredible amount of self-restraint, said, “Carry on?”

“What?” she asked looking at me with tears streaming down her eyes. “That’s it. He just kept beating me, telling me he wasn’t going to stop till I admitted the truth.”

“And?”

“Finally, I thought it was the only way to get him to stop.”

“So you admitted to fucking some vacuum cleaner salesman from Boston in the Train Stop Motel?”

“Yes, I thought it would stop the beating, but he just started beating me even harder. Eventually my head started to spin, and I could feel myself passing out. Somewhere far away I heard my mother’s screaming as well. Then I must have passed out.”

“That must be the most awful thing I’ve ever heard. How can any…what then?”

“When I woke up I was in my bed. You know we live above the bakery right?” I nodded. “I woke up in my bed and Momma was crying next to me. She wanted to phone for a doctor but Poppa said she was just overreacting.”

“And?”

“I told her to stop crying. Poppa’s right. I’m fine. I’ll even make us all some tea. But she wouldn’t let me get up. So I just lay there running my fingers through her hair like I always love to do. She’s got long hair like I used to have, you know?” She suddenly held her hands out on the air. They shook terribly. “Look! I haven’t been able to stop shaking since.”

“The music box?” I asked, but already knew the answer.

She started sobbing bitterly again. “I found it in the trash. It was smashed into a hundred pieces. I wanted to keep the little ballerina, but Momma said it wasn’t a good idea. It might just set Poppa off again.”

The sight of Hannah’s bruised and battered body had been like a cold shower. My sexual appetite was now replaced with a bottled rage that sought escape…retribution…justice!!!

I suddenly had an urge to have a really stiff drink.

“Fuck it, why not?” I said and walked towards the door.

“Where you going, Connie?”

“Sit tight, Han! I’ll be back soon!”

My father seldom drinks, but he keeps a bottle of whisky in the pantry for those odd occasions whenever his folks come round for a visit. Both Grampa and Nanna love to have a shot of whisky before a meal. Nanna has hers, to the constant dismay of my grandfather, with apple juice. He has his straight up on the rocks.

I got the bottle from the pantry, two glasses from the cabinet in the living room, and checked the refrigerator. Great, there was apple juice.

The whisky bottle was about two thirds full. I ran my fingernail along the label marking the level. Then I poured a couple of tots into each glass, added apple juice to one, water to the other, and filled both with ice. Then I added water to the whisky bottle till it reached the mark. I returned the bottle to the pantry, and I returned to Hannah.

She hadn’t budged from the spot where she had been sitting on the side of the bed.

“Here,” I said handing her the glass with the apple juice. This will take away the shakes.

“What is it?”

“Doctor Connie’s Shakes-away Snake Oil.”

She took a sip. “This tastes great!”

“Yeah, my grandmother loves it too.”

She took a bigger sip. “Hey, does this have alcohol in it? Have you been raiding your folks drink cupboard?” She pulled my hand closer and sniffed the contents of my glass. “Yaa! Connie! Your mother will kill me when she finds out what you been up to.”

“She ain’t gonna find out.”

“My Poppa don’t like me drinking either. He once allowed me to have half a glass of wine, and he said it made me act all silly – giggling and laughing at nothing.”

“He ain’t gonna find out either.” I went to my bedside table and pulled out a roll of mints. “Here, make sure you suck one of these before you talk to anybody important, okay?”

She took the roll and smiled mischievously. “Okay!”

A half hour later we were both giggling and laughing at nothing.

“Whee!” she shouted bouncing on the bed. “I don’t feel so sore anymore. It’s so great to be here with you again, Connie.”

“It’s great to have you here, Han.”

“My Poppa didn’t want me to come over.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, he said I should be locked in my room for forever for what I did.”

“What happened?”

“Momma said that we already promised the Crane’s, and that they had been looking forward all week to going out on their anniversary. Poppa still wasn’t happy, but Momma said there’s no way I’d do anything bad again after such a beating. He only agreed to let me go if I told people I was feeling sore because I fell down the stairs. He says I shouldn’t worry about them believing me either because everyone knows what a stupid klutz I am.” She laughed. “I tripped last week while I was carrying this big cream cake. Momma tried to catch me and it ended up all over her chest. I thought she was gonna be mad, but she laughed and said she looks like one of those guys out of those old Keystone movies.” She started to giggle. “Then she took some of the cake and threw it right in my face. She laughed at me and said I should go look in the mirror. I looked so funny. We laughed and laughed.” She became serious again. “Poppa didn’t think it was funny at all. He took five dollars from my savings. He says it’s a sin to waste or play with food.”

“What are you going to do with your savings now?”

“I don’t know. Momma says I mustn’t think of getting another music box like that one – ever! It’ll just remind us all of…” She smiled and held out her empty glass towards me, “Can I get some more snake oil?”

I got us each a small refill. “Here’s some more medicine for the patient,” I said handing her the glass.

She took it and frowned at me. “What’s Viagra?”

For a moment I was surprised that she remembered. “It’s a little blue pill that men take to remove their wives’ blues.”

“That sounds silly! How can the husband take a pill, but the wife feels better?”

“Because it helps the man to be much better at making love.”

“Oh,” she said and then, “Oh!” We both laughed for the longest time. This time her tears were of joy. Then she suddenly held her hands on the air. They were steady as a rock. “Look,” she said excitedly. “The shakes are gone!”

“Didn’t I tell you my snake oil would do the job?”

“You’re so clever, Connie. You always know what’s best!”

For a fleeting moment I relapsed into my former somberness. “You’re right, Han! And don’t you ever forget it. I know exactly what is best for you...what will be best for you. And I’m gonna make sure you get it.”

It is both tragic and wonderful that this innocent loving person can continue to love and forgive her father even after all he has done to her.

I decided then and there that I would hate him for the both of us. And at this particular moment it is the easiest thing in the world for me to do!

She had once called me a ‘Perfect Angel.’ Well, that is what I’ll be then – her perfect Guardian Angel.

“Can you play poker?” I had asked.

“Cards?”

“Yeah!”

“Nah! I only know rummy.”

“Get dressed, I’ll teach you.”

“Don’t you wanna make love?”

“Not tonight! Next time, okay?”

“Okaaay.”

“Tonight we’ll pretend to be cowboys in a saloon. I’ll fix us each one last drink and we’ll play some poker at the kitchen table.”

“That sounds like great fun! Let’s go!”

The game of poker had turned into rummy. And the rummy had later turned into a game of snap.

We had great fun until her energetic enthusiasm caused her to wince once more in pain.

After cleaning up, I decided it was time to watch some TV.

We had been watching for about a half hour when the phone rang. Hannah jerked and I looked at the clock. It was way past my expected bedtime.

“You better get that,” I said.

She answered the phone with, “Hannah Marnowijk! Crane residence! Hello?” She waited a moment before repeating. “Hello? Hello? Hello!” I heard the dial tone as the caller disconnected. She spoke to me. “Probably just a wrong number?”

“Okay!” I said, but I knew it was her father checking up on her. “We’ve been getting a lot of those lately. I think there’s a crossed line somewhere.”

“O…kay!” She returned to the sofa.

She eventually fell asleep with her head on my lap while I was stroking her short hair.

I retired to my room to write this entry. It is now a quarter to midnight.

Things have gone dreadfully awry. Once again, trying to do good, I only ended up making things worse; far worse this time!

Maybe an opportunity will arise for me to make amends. But will any further action on my part right the wrongs, or will they only further aggravate an already insufferable situation?

Only Time will tell!!!

I thought I had completed my entry for today, but something has just occurred that requires an additional entry.

Although it is already 01h35 I feel this entry belongs here with the other one of July 5th.

I know that my folks always go to Pierre’s after the movies. The shop is just around the corner from the Roxy, and stays open especially to cater for the late crowd coming from the flicks who want coffee, cake or a nightcap.

My folks don’t drink too often, but they enjoy an Irish coffee on special occasions. Tonight was one of those special occasions, so Hannah and I were also reasonably safe about being, literally, sniffed out!

They got back home a little after 01h00.

By then Hannah had, as I already mentioned, fallen asleep on the sofa. I had occasionally heard her snoring whilst I was busy writing my previous entry into this thick, hardcover notebook that I recently purchased, especially for this purpose. It’s good not to have a hundred loose sheets of paper floating around all over the show. One day I’ll file them away properly, but for now I’ll keep them in the back of this large, fat notebook.

Anyhow, my folks woke Hannah, and my father took about 15 minutes to drop her off at home and return back here.

Now, in my first life, I had never once, by accident, seen or even heard my parents making love.

I did, though, have a couple of schoolmates who had seen and/or heard theirs.

One, an Italian pal, even told me that his folks had absolutely no qualms about vocalizing their pleasure in a most extended, vociferous and highly enthusiastic manner - and rather frequently too. He and his three brothers, who shared a room, had even gotten into the habit of sleeping under their pillows when circumstance required.

One cannot be sure, but I may have disturbed my folks accidently on one of those occasions when I had run to their room during a bad thunderstorm or after a bad dream. And perhaps I had been too young, too naive or simply too scared to notice that I had interrupted their nocturnal frolics as they hastily and embarrassingly covered themselves. But, after what I witnessed tonight, I seriously doubt that it did ever happen!

Tonight, I guess under the circumstances, what with it being their anniversary, my folks were feeling somewhat charged up and amorous, especially after having consumed a little alcohol as well.

On the other hand, the whiskey I had consumed had given me a rather voracious thirst, and I had gone down to the kitchen for a glass of cold water. On the way back, passing my folks closed door, I was suddenly aware of sounds that could only mean one thing.

I know it was wrong, but my curiosity had gotten the better of me. I carefully turned their bedroom door knob and pushed the door slightly ajar. I couldn’t see directly, but I had a pretty good view of them in the dressing table mirror. By the light of a single bedside lamp, I watched my father’s pale naked buttocks bouncing up and down between my mother’s knees. She had her head back and her eyes closed. They both made grunts and groans of pleasure with each thrust.

I found the sight more humorous than erotic. I held a hand over my mouth to prevent myself from laughing out loud.

I was watching for about a two minutes when my father’s tone increased a couple of octaves.

“Wait,” said my mother suddenly opening her eyes and staring at him. “Not yet.”

“It’s too late to stop now, honey.” After another two octaves, he collapsed on top of her. Shortly thereafter he rolled over onto his side of the bed. “Sorry, honey.”

I decided it was time to close the door and make a hasty departure.

A short while later the hall light came on and his shadow passed beneath my bedroom door. I heard him washing himself in the bathroom.

Useless bastard, I had thought whilst reaching inside my mattress for my notebook to update my memoirs.

I wonder if I’m also the product of premature ejaculation?

Most probably!!!

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