Jack, finally, got his wish. He emigrated from Poland to the USA, with a young Bruno.
His brother-in-law, Stan Bobek, informed him a year earlier, ‘a job’s waiting for you on the same rig in Texas’.
“I fired him,” were the words Jack heard from Roy, the rig’s owner. “He was always fucking drunk!”
Jack wanted to hear some good news, not bad, after travelling nearly six thousand miles with Bruno. Stan, like Jack, lived to drink, but his inebriation had caused a decline in production at Roy’s rig.
Subsequently, he received his marching orders.
Jack and Bruno lived in a rundown motley trailer that sat on a rough rock-strewn piece of ground not far from Austin, but an easy drive to the rig. Although Roy had taken pity on him, his concern was more for the boy. Jack was given a rigger’s job, and allowed to rent the old trailer.
For Bruno, the nearest high school was a lengthy bus ride away, and as well as finding the learning of a new language difficult he was also being ridiculed and named called by some students. Fighting his tormentors was his initial response, but, even though he was young, he knew the consequences of such an action.
He would have to contend with Jack.
At the end of each working day, Jack had a ritual. He would return to the trailer, and Bruno, only via a bar, dirty, and always in a violent drunken stupor.
Bruno knew he was in a difficult situation, for not only was he unable to read or write his new language, his teachers would by-pass him in their classes. A slow learner, they said. Loneliness and rebellion were setting in, and it had unintended consequences.
His desires were to; learn the language, get a job, buy a car, and own a house. That’s not too much to ask, he thought, as he sat on the top step of the trailer.
Jack’s a drunk … and my mother … who cares? I’ll show them. One day I’ll have everythin’ I’ve ever wanted.
His almost daily punishment, passed to his father by his father, was ritual. Bruno’s culture dictated raising one’s hands in anger, against a parent, forbidden.
Even though Jack cared for Bruno, in his own way, his low intellect refuse to reason how harmful his violence was to his captive son.
While the assaults were slowly disfiguring Bruno’s face, his mind was displaying signs with comparisons to that of a psychopath. Albeit, unbeknownst to him.
Jack, though, was oblivious to the wrongs of his actions. He blamed his wife. She made me the way I am; she deserted me.
Rather than attending school, Bruno would do the odd job or two around the rig, but kept to himself. It also brought in a few extra dollars. Asking Jack for money was taking a risk. If there was food in the fridge and tank water, Jack thought of himself as a good provider. “If you’re not hungry, don’t complain.” The expression was his way of easing his conscience.
It had taken a young lifetime of learning, but as years passed, Bruno developed the nous at avoiding his father’s incessant brutality. Convincing Jack to buy their own home proved difficult, but Bruno was persistent. To have any discussion it meant Bruno’s timing had to be impeccable. Jack had to be near sober.
Eventually, he agreed. They managed to scrape together enough cash, some earned, some borrowed, but later repaid, to have what was now their home; the trailer.
Not long after, Jack came to realise just how vulnerable they were. At the first available opportunity Jack, and Bruno, became American citizens. For Jack, the thought of having to return to Poland was unthinkable.
The sun was a faint glow, but still behind the skyline. Bruno was already awake and making coffee for Jack and himself before they set out for the rig. Jack’s alcohol-induced death-rattling snoring was absent on that particular morning, which Bruno thought unusual. The humming of car and truck tires gripping the highway, as they sped along, he could hear, but not Jack. Sliding open the door to the single bedroom, an empty bed showed.
He stood with his back to the trailer’s door having walked down its three steps. His eyes searched the immediate area, then the surrounding hillsides, but no evidence of Jack. Not even his truck. He was perplexed. Bruno concluded that his father had slept at a crony’s place after a heavy night of drinking. He could be in jail, Bruno thought. He knew Roy disapproved of those who were late, so, Jack or no Jack, he decided to leave.
As his truck travelled down the gravel dusty drive, the sun was just peeking over the hills in the distance, casting long shadows across some parts of the dry plains.
The early morning was his favourite time of day. The not-quite silence was welcoming, before mayhem beckoned at the rig.
Driving onto the highway a crumpled dirty mass lying in the large drainage ditch, which ran parallel to the highway’s apron, grabbed his attention. Instinctively, he stopped. Having alighted from his truck, he was unprepared for the scene lying to the side of the road. Although the shirt was torn, and open wide, the body was covered in the same clothing Jack wore prior to his driving to one of the hangout bars late Sunday afternoon.
Bruno scrambled into the ditch and cradled Jack’s head in his lap.
“Fuck! What did you get yourself into?”
Trance-like, he stared, not able to take his eyes from the mangled unconscious form. Tied behind his back were his hands, in turn to his ankles. With buttons torn free, the open shirt revealed deep knife wounds to his grey-haired chest. Bruno was silently thankful Jack was still alive. With Jack’s battered face and body in need of urgent surgery, Bruno pulled his cell phone from his shirt pocket and rang 911 for an ambulance, then waited.
As the transporting of Jack to hospital occurred, Bruno followed in his truck. He thought of the sorry sight lying on the stretcher, and of him trying to avert the situation.
He’d been fuckin’ ambushed … and he’d be blind drunk. He’d fight anyone who looked at him the wrong way.
After questioning Bruno, a police officer said, “Don’t think about trying to take revenge or the law into your own hands. We’ll investigate Jack’s movements, and follow up on any leads.”
Bruno had heard whispers at the rig Jack was fucking another rigger’s wife, but one not associated with their fellow workers. That made her fair game … but one rule mattered.
Do not get caught!