A Short Story by George Beavis, PWA Participant Artist & Veteran
Truth and Lies are both secrets.
The heat makes the black sticky stuff in the streets into little bubbles that I can pop with my finger. Sometimes the black stuff sticks to my finger. I wipe it on the grass or my pants. I was helpin’ my daddy fix our car.
Daddy says it is a “Model A.” I like watching him work on our car. I know what a letter “A” looks like, but the car doesn’t look like that. It is black like the sticky stuff.
I know my colors now.
It has a crank in front just like in the cartoons.
Our car is the only one on my block that has a crank. Daddy says we don’t need the crank anymore because he added a battery. Not sure what that is, but Daddy showed it to me. It is under some boards by the front seat. Daddy lets me lift up the boards when we are drivin’ so I can watch the road go by. It is fun to kneel on the floor in front of the seat an look at the road. In the cartoons, people stick their feet down the hole to make the car stop, but their feet smoke an burn up. Daddy said never to do that.
He showed me once how he could start it usin’ the crank, but he said he was afraid it would break his arm. I am really lucky because nobody else has a car like that or a Daddy that can do that.
I like to ride with Daddy in the car. He lets me stand on the seat next to him. If we have to stop suddenly, he reaches out with his arm to keep me from fallin’. I like that.
He is all warm and smells like dirt an pipe tobacco. He smells good.
When we work on the car, Daddy lets me hold our hammer and other tools. He works on our car a lot when he is home. I can see the engine. Daddy tells me the names of all the parts.
The “fuel filter” is the most fun to look at. It is glass an has liquid in it. Daddy said it was “gas.” If I climb up, I can see it. It is yellow, sort’a.
I like to sit next to Daddy on the floor in the kitchen too. He smears black stuff on his boots an rubs it with a cloth until it is shiny. He spits on his shoe! I am not allowed to spit! But Daddy can. He said it was for work so his boots will be shiny.
While we were sittin’ on the floor, I could see a pretty red bottle. Daddy took one of his pencils out of his pocket an drew a very tiny line on the bottle an said “secret,” puttin’ his finger to his lips. It made me feel like a special big kid ‘cause Daddy told me a secret.
Daddy had never told me a secret before.
I was sittin’ on the kitchen floor the next day when Mommy was gettin’ the red bottle out. I said “secret” an pointed to the line on the bottle. I was so proud to know a secret. I had never known a secret before. Mommy an Daddy talked about secrets sometimes but I never knew one.
Mommy laughed an said, “So your father thinks he is clever.” She filled the bottle with water so it was back even with the line. Mom laughs about a lot of things I don’t understand. They weren’t funny like in the cartoons.
It made me feel funny. I don’t know if Mommy is laughin’ at me or Daddy or what?
We have a game where there is a plastic pot on a swivel. Daddy told me about swivels and showed me how they work. Daddy told me the idea is for each person to put a bean in the pot until the pot was full. The pot is black like our car.
Each bean I added makes the pot want to tip over an dump everythin’ out. I liked playin’ the game with Daddy, but Mommy never has time to play, even durin’ the day.
Daddy helped me know where I could put my bean so that I wouldn’t make the pot tip over an dump everythin’ out. My hands were small an shaky, so it was hard for me.
When the pot tips over you yell “you spilled the beans.” “Spilling the beans” means you lost the game.
Most of the time Daddy has to go to work an isn’t home. I can walk up to the mailbox to meet Daddy when he is comin’ home… if Mommy says it is ok.
The mailbox is across from my daddy’s bus stop. I can’t leave the block or cross the big street to the bus stop because I am too small, but I can go to the mailbox. When I start school, I can walk by myself off the block to go school, but right now I can’t.
When Daddy walks to the store I go with him an he lets me cross the big street if I hold his hand. I always like to hold Daddy’s hand even though I am sort’a a big boy. I like it. His hands are big an nice.
Tom comes by my house durin’ the day. He doesn’t like to play any games like Daddy does. He likes to talk with Mommy.
Sometimes Mommy gives me “workbooks” an a fat pencil to “keep me busy.” Mommy said I can’t have a pencil like Daddy’s skinny pencil until I am older, but I don’t know when that will be.
I like the ones in the workbook where you are a mouse, an you try to find the cheese without crossin’ the lines. It is called a “puzzle.” Mommy likes for me to do a lot of work in the books. I sit on the floor where Daddy an I sit when we are makin’ his boots shiny. They have dot-to-dot things too, but I don’t always know the next right order to connect them.
Tom drives a yellow truck for work. It has all kinds of doors on it. I like to open all the doors an see what is inside. Some have wires of different colors. Some have other things that I don’t know yet. I liked to look through them just to see. Some wires are black. Some are green. Red wires too. It is excitin’ to see all the things in the truck cupboards. The truck is brand new an doesn’t have a crank at all.
Tom told me if I was a good boy that I could go outside an spend as much time as I wanted lookin’ at the things behind the doors in the back of his truck. The doors each had a lock on it, but Tom unlocked them all before he went inside my house.
Tom came over to my house almost every day while Daddy was at work an I could play in his truck. Sometimes if I tried to go back into the house, the door was locked.
One time Tom forgot to open all the little doors, so I went back into the house. The front door wasn’t locked that time, so I went in. I couldn’t find them until I went in Mommy’s room.
Mommy got really upset and yelled at me. She said to go outside. Tom left with his truck.
I don’t remember what I had said to Daddy.
Daddy an Mommy started yellin’. It seemed like I had done somethin’ wrong. Daddy left the house an drove away.
Mommy said I had “spilled the beans,” she is very upset with me an yellin’ at me an cryin’. I hadn’t been playin’ that game so I couldn’t see how that could be. I thought maybe she wanted to play it, so I ran an got it out an set it up. Mommy kicked the game!
Mommy just kept cryin’ an repeatin’ somethin’ about “spilling the beans” an it bein’ my fault Daddy had left.
The next thing I remember was starin’ at the game. I was very confused.
I piled beans up until they dumped over. I said, “I spilled the beans.”
I piled beans up again part way an dumped them over, sayin’, “I spilled the beans.”
Again I piled beans up an dumped them over, sayin’, “I spilled the beans.”
I did that again an again. All I could see was the game. I knew I had done somethin’ very very wrong to do with the game an Mommy an Daddy. I couldn’t see anything except the game or hear anything except Mommy saying, “It’s your fault. You spilled the beans.”
I kept doin’ it anyway still sayin’, “I spilled the beans” over and over.
Mommy is layin’ on the bed cryin’, kickin’ her feet, and yellin’ at me to shut up. I just kept heapin’ the beans up until they spilled an sayin’, “I spilled the beans.”
Maybe she is angry because I lost the game, but no one is even playin’ with me.
Mommy came in an’ grabbed the game and threw it in the trash.
I don’t understand.
Mommy is really mad at me. She says it is all my fault, but I don’t know what is my fault.
Mommy said Daddy left. An’ Mommy says that I have to go find him. She screams not to come home until I find him. The last thing I remember before leavin’ the house was Mommy layin’ face down on the bed an cryin’.
I walk up an’ down the block but didn’t see Daddy. I’m not allowed to go past the corner by myself. Daddy says I am too young an not in school yet like the big boys. I keep goin’ anyway because Mom said.
I walk to the grocery store. I have walked there with Mom before, an up to the liquor store. I have walked there with Mom before too. I think I know which way Daddy’s bus goes to work, so I start that way. I don’t know what Daddy’s work looks like.
I don’t know where I am or how to get home anymore. I have never been this far by myself. I would feel like a big boy, but I can’t stop cryin’, and I don’t know how to find Daddy. I wish I could go home, but I don’t know where home is, an Mom said not to come home until I found Daddy.
I stand still cryin’. A stranger tries to talk to me, but Daddy said never talk to strangers, so I run.
I don’t know which way to go because I don’t know where I am.
I don’t know where the grocery store is anymore, or the liquor store, or even the mailbox.
I start walkin’, but I don’t know where I am goin’.