By Sharon M. Kennedy
The day Teddy threatened to kill my mother was the day I realized how dysfunctional our family was. I was upstairs when Teddy pulled his 1958 Oldsmobile into our front yard. Mom and Dad were in the kitchen. Usually I would have listened to their conversation by standing near the stovepipe that ran from the kitchen through the spare room above it, but not that day. Teddy was yelling so loud his voice carried up the stairs. He was drunk—his normal state of being—and shouting “I’ll kill you” to Mom. “Get out,” he said. “Get out before I kill you with my bare hands.” I looked out my bedroom window and saw Mom running towards the wellhouse. My heart pounded. There was a lock on the wellhouse door, but not on my bedroom. If Mom escaped, was Teddy going to come after me? Was I going to die at thirteen?
My cousin was twenty years my senior and as far as I knew had been a drunk all his life. I heard his roar of laughter. “Got her good that time,” he said to Dad. “Next time I’ll break her legs. We’ll see how fast she runs then.” I don’t know if Dad said anything or if he just sat at his place at the table and nodded. Dad wasn’t much of a talker unless he was drunk enough to tell his children he knew they didn’t love him. This wasn’t true, but in our house nobody showed anybody their emotions. They were kept under a tighter lid than a sealed Mason jar of pickled beets so how could Dad possibly know we loved him and how could we know we were loved by him?
I waited for Teddy’s step on the stairs, but his rage must have been spent. Either that or he didn’t know I was home. No sounds were coming from the kitchen so he could have passed out. I watched from my open window as Dad walked towards the wellhouse. I was afraid to go downstairs. Teddy’s car was still in the yard. I hated that convertible and I hated him. Whatever possessed him to threaten to kill Mom was beyond me. As a child, he had been her favorite nephew. All I could think was he should have been drown at birth. He would have saved everyone a lot of trouble.