Daily Archives: December 13, 2018

China Berry Tree

This is a revenge story. It had no plan. Things just happened to a young daughter of a mother who lost her husband. Her husband was badly wounded in WW1, a doughboy, who inhaled too much phosgene gas in the trenches in France. It melted his lung tissue and caused him to be very weak, so weak he could not work and find a job after returning to his small hometown in Georgia.

Despite this doughboy’s sickness the married a young woman in his small town. He was truly, deeply taken by her beauty and he pursued her and they married in the early 1920s. The damaged soldier loved her deeply and soon they had made a family of three children, two girls and a boy. The doughboy took his boy in his arms and rocked in the rocking chair with his beautiful wife and proudly shared his joy in having a handsome male baby and two older girls, who were beautiful and lively and loved their father and mother despite their father struggled for breath.

What happened that day blew up their family and marriage for the weak Doughboy, for he suddenly gasped and died from a stroke. He passed away instantly and fell forward with his little son. His last bit of life allowed him to toss his new child toward his oldest daughter who grabbed the young infant brother and saved  him from falling to the hardwood floor. All hell broke loose and everyone was crying with horrible pain and loss. Chaos stroke the family and no one could think what to do. They had no phone, and the oldest girl passed off her baby brother to her mother who was hysterical and being helped by two girls. Despite the madness of the moment, the girls found help in the neighborhood who were friendly with their mother and father…Madness and death like numbness struck the family as police and doctors came to take away their dead father.

A funeral followed in the next few days, a military army squad fired weapons at the burial. The oldest girl, about six, saw all the rituals fall to her and she did an amazing helping her distraught, mother who terrified knowing they had no money and she knew her future for children was bleak. Indeed, the shortage of money was like another sickness shadowing her mother. The time was the late 1920’s and within two weeks the national economy collapsed and suddenly the horror of a failed economy hit all people like a mass social killing.

The mother had no money and she took a job in a meat processing factory and she felt lucky to have the brutal work to feed her children and pay the rent. The Federal Government sent seven dollars to help the entire family with promises for additional support. No money came so again the mother was surviving as the banks and economy collapsed. The oldest girl ran the house and did the cleaning and made food while her mother did a 12 hour day shift in a cold demanding meat factory.

Time passed and oldest girl did her school work, cleaned the house and did everything her mother asked her to do. The middle daughter helped but without any real commitment. The baby boy spent most of his time in the care of his two sisters who loved him very much. He looked like their dead father and so he was a magical child who they worshipped in memory of their father and their mother’s loss and crippled love torn away from their mother. When she cried in the bed where her boy was born and where her sweet army soldier disappeared from this dark world and all that followed, the oldest girl wept in isolation from her mother’s fragile hopes and fractured life…”Why did this happen to me?” the mother would gasp and double over in pain and fear and deep misery.

Then a strange miracle happened. The oldest daughter saw her mother come home in an older man’s shiny car. He ate dinner with them and gave her mother money to help pay her bills and rent. Like that their problems evaporated. He seemed like a grandfather with graying hair, and soon the man with the car began to date her mother. They went to the movies and drove around the farming community and county and the miracle grandpa man became more and more a part of their life. He was sometimes sharp in his speech to her mother and gradually she came to worry about the way he ordered her mother around and sometimes say mean things about her mother’s way of dressing. He was jealous of having such a young girlfriend he talked rudely about any mention of younger men at the meat plant being near her mother. There were loud words but her mother kept the Miracle Man happy and then the oldest daughter smelled liquor on her mother when they went out and left them at home. When the Money Man hung around he always liked the oldest girl’s cooking and baking, especially pies with a touch of sweet cream…and he would arrive with a quart of ice cream and the Old Man began to touch her near the stove or rub against her when she set out food and plates and her mother saw this but she looked away. One night the Old rich man went to bed with her mother and stayed all night. She couldn’t sleep and broke into a fever flushed with anger. She wanted to drive him away but he was in charge.

Finally he tried to fondle her when her mother was still clinging to her factory money and “stay afloat” she shared with oldest daughter. The Miracle money man was a monster. She couldn’t get her breath when he was in the kitchen or on the porch and there was now not freedom to play with her little brother and sister who knew nothing about the Monster in her father’s house.

Then came the escape miracle for the oldest daughter. The Miracle Money man brought home a big bag of fresh black berries and ordered her to make a dessert of berries and he smiled and grabbed her under her dress and squeezed her sex gently and said, “Never say anything about this or I’ll hurt your Mama…I’m in charge now, sweetie, and you better do what I say or I’ll marry you mother and leave you right here and put you and your brother in an orphanage and you’ll never see your mother again. Your Daddy’s never coming back. He’s dead and gone. I don’t need you kids. I’m looking for a woman like your mom and I want you to help your mother to like what I’m doing and she’ll let me have all I want when I want. Make a big black berry pie… and we’ll get along just fine. Your Mama is a juicy woman and I like eating her juicy pies. One day you may be lucky enough to enjoy the same dessert…I’m not your real daddy…so it don’t really matter what I do to you. I’m your Daddy forever… your my little playmate. You know you look a lot like your mother. Behave yourself and we’ll have some good times. This is between you and me…our secret, miss princess!”

Miss Princess..his little playmate…second choice after her Mother…all this was like a war, as bad as her dear father ever faced and she slept a dream where her father came to her and said, from his death rocking chair, his face bright red, his lungs burning his body…he whispered, now sweetie, my old grandmother told me there’s one pie to take care of trouble makers. He pulled her close and whispered in her ear…do this for yourself and for your mother and for me… And sweetie to make you forever strong…”

“Yes, Daddy, what will make me strong…?”

“A powerful pie recipe, sweetie. My old granny told me for you to do this…Go into the front yard and you climb up the big old China Berry tree and gather a sack of those yellow berry that have those waxy round balls. Crush those waxy China Berrie and mix the waxy stuff into the black berries and soak them in milk or cream. My old granny always said that’ll teach a bad man to leave good people alone. You do this and she says you’ll have no more troubles with him or anything bad for your Mama.”

“A powerful pie recipe, sweetie. My old granny told me for you to do this…Go into the front yard and you climb up the big old China Berry tree and gather a sack of those yellow berry that have those waxy round balls. Crush those waxy China Berrie and mix the waxy stuff into the black berries and soak them in milk or cream. My old granny always said that’ll teach a bad man to leave good people alone. You do this and she says you’ll have no more troubles with him or anything bad for your Mama or yourself. Do this for all of us, sweetie. Don’t eat this recipe. It’s for chasing off the devil and other bad folk.” Then her father faded away.

Miss Princess did as she was told and she prepared the Chinaberry Black Berry recipe soaked in a cool layer of cream which was consumed greedily by the Old man and over the night he complained of pains and he couldn’t breathe and sat bent over and writhing like a poisonous snake and in twelve hours he staggered out of her mother’s bedroom, and collapsed in the dirt front yard under the China Berry tree and died in a vicious howling death.

Nobody discovered anything. One policemen said something about too much to eat. Things suddenly got better for the whole family and soon nobody talked about the Old Man who tried to steal away the
The Sacred Mother and the Father Lost in a Nasty War…still, there was struggle and Everyone came to a better place despite the bizarre odds.

[This is a spontaneous first, uneven draft and much revision lies ahead despite the standard storytelling habits…So for now, at least the lethal poison in China Berry trees carries onward with its global poisonous trek. Beware those waxy yellow spheres. Gluttons and sex perverts, their fates are shaky futures.] 

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There comes a time…

Irrespective of fame

When error highlighted

Should bring shame.

But in your boldness

Cut from full cloth

You stride the boards

And circle light like a moth.

Does my heart sink

When you appear?

Or does the world end

Impaled on your deadly spear?

Never you mind thespian

Your tale will never end,

For heroes are a dime a dozen

The lesser gods always anoint.

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