The Fridge

Narcissism [nar-siz-zem] n. a tendency to erotic self-love - morbid or excessive self-admiration.

A perfect memory

My brother Jack swinging me out

and up on to his shoulders

He was sixteen, I was three, when he died. Jack was hunting with Dad when it happened. Don't know if the hunter was ever found or charged. Also had a sister, Juanita. Dad told stories to explain our dark hair, of Viking ancestors sailing over to Spain and raping and pillaging the women. Funny pride.

Juanita drowned. Dad and Grampa Odinsen were supposed to be watching her. They were drinking instead. Don't remember her, my sister. Had to wonder for a long time if I was conceived because of her death. I wasn't. I was there.

Garry, now my big brother, did his best to stay uninvolved. The more that little girl held out her hand, love lost and confused, relativity pushed back. That little girl annoyed him. She never gave up.

Garry once told me, in a puzzling spasm of brotherly sharing, that Jack really loved me. Raised me. He said it was a funny thing about Jack, he'd managed to live an awful lot in those 16 years.

Mom hung in there, waited to get me legal, advised me earnestly to always paddle my own canoe, then reached out to the cancer. Dad raged and whined and drank, and at the end turned to me.

Me, I was so busy trying to figure out how to hold on to the Gawd damn paddle, I barely even noticed.

Having sold all courage, Dad took to dying a little at a time.

"How do you think it feels.

When you're speeding and lonely (come here baby)

How do you think it feels.

When all you can say is if only.

If only I had a little.

If only I had some change (come here baby)

If only, if only, if only.

How do you think it feels.

And when do you think it stops".

Lou ReedHow do you Think it Feels

Always liked junkie music. Like Hawkins and Debussy too.

Mom's Dad, Grandpa John was at one time a cop. The impression was he'd been corrupted and caught. Whatever it was, it made him mean. Likely he was mean before that. Mom gave me a button once from his old uniform. I kept it for a long time. It's gone now. My Mom's folks had a huge garden, all Grandpa's, all potatoes. A huge old dusty church type organ sat in their dimly lit narrow front room and an unused pristine fridge took centre stage in the kitchen. As a kid the fridge was not a curiosity. Kids are good that way. Before she died, after she'd embraced the cancer like an illicit lover and we all knew she was plotting final count down, Mom gave me its story.

Tired of the old ice box and all female, Gra'ma took to putting aside bits of her household allowance. Years. I can see my Gra'ma's pride, fussing around the moving men, pointing and laughing, triumphant; a display of what can be done with determination. That fridge never got plugged in. It never got sent back to the store. Instead it sat unused in their grubby kitchen, displayed for different reasons than intended. More years.

I know Gra'ma chose her escape before Mom hit her teens. Gra'ma'd tried the cancer too but she couldn't pull it off so she opted for shutdown. Early senility. She came to live with us when I was 9 or 10. Grandpa, having hung himself in their back shed, was no longer so righteously capable of shouldering the heavy responsibility of an invalid. Sometimes, after she'd come, she'd focus. Almost always late at night. Once she told me, sitting by her bed when I'd woken up and tried to stop her keening, of trapping pigeons in Hyde Park for food when she was young. Mostly to me as a teenager, she was a fixture. A tiny grey haired gnome sitting in the corner. Stymied by repression on occasion she'd piss through her long bulky underwear, down through her cheap and chosen because chair, yellow rage spreading across our kitchen floor. Even a self-absorbed teenager could see that last glint of "fuck you too" in her eyes before the chaos'd come down again.

Perfect memories.

We all have them.

Moments in time that don't seem to blur

but stay constant and real.

Just moments though,

a lightning's zig zag flash,

fusing the memory,

carved in the brain.