On another of my rummaging expeditions when I was alone in the house, I found in Alex’s drawer a collection of coins from England and France. Also a Zippo with the enameled insignia of the US Army Signal Corps. Most interesting was a Nazi Officer’s dagger, with a Swastika and spread-winged eagle on the hand guard, along with a long cord of woven silver.
Earlier I saw a TV commercial for a fabulous hunter’s knife that was so strong and sharp that it could pierce a half dollar. I figured the great German Wehrmacht’s version was capable of doing the same, so I put a half dollar on the carpeted floor, and drove the blade into it.
To my astonishment, the tip of the dagger didn’t penetrate the coin at all, but glanced off dangerously, leaving only a pitiful scratch. The tip of the Waffen-SS blade was bent. BENT! How could that be?
This was still another of my serious miscalculations, which seemed to be occurring more and more frequently. Yes, the hunting knife on TV actually did easily penetrate a coin, but this dagger obviously could not. Why? And what will happen if Alex suddenly decides one day to examine his war trophy? He’d know immediately who ruined it.
Later I was awakened, as usual, in the middle of the night. Chester and Alex were mumbling on the front porch, having a hard time getting the key into the lock. But finally they got in, and stumbled through the living room, toward the kitchen.
It was quiet for a while and I dozed off. I was startled awake by their shouting. I crept to the head of the stairs to hear more clearly what was going on.
“You gotta fuckin’ help me out at the bar more,” Chester shouted in a thick slurring of words. “Like work, you know? A little bartending once in a while ain’t gonna kill you. You can’t just sit there all fuckin’ night long drinkin’ up my profits. You know? It ain’t right.”
“Your profits? YOUR profits? Hey, I own half that place. So get off that shit.”
“Okay, you’re drinkin’ up HALF the fuckin’ profits. Don’t come running to me next time you need money.”
“Hey, Chet, fuck you. Hear me? Fuck you.”
Back and forth, back and forth.
Then BANG! A chair was knocked off its legs. They grappled, threw punches, banged against the wall, and fell to the floor. They got up, overturned the other chairs. I cringed at the sound of fists hitting flesh, at their hateful angry curses, their shouts, grunts and groans.
What will happen, I wondered, if they came up here? Would they burst open my door, and come into my room, and bleed all over the floor and the bed, or whatever?
Next morning I looked in my father’s bedroom. There was darkened blood on his yellow-stained pillow, right next to his tangled head of jet-black hair. I looked in Alex’s room, but it was empty. Apparently he’d left after the fight. At least he was still capable of walking.
I went downstairs. The kitchen was a wreck. I picked up the chairs, put them back at the table. I gathered up the salt and pepper shakers, and the sugar bowl, and put them back on the tray where they belonged. I swept up the shards of a broken coffee cup, dumped them in the trash bin. I looked at the numerous drops of blood on the floor, little dark red discs, a bunch of them, and at the jagged smears on the wall.
I decided I wasn’t going to clean any of that. Maybe Aunt Jane would come over, and get out her bucket, and mop it all up with soapy water, just like the last time her brothers shed blood.