Candy  was 19 and had two babies  perpetually  balanced on her hips  & was constantly pushing a vacuum cleaner round her tidy lil house… she had a trick for every kind of stain…her favorite saying seemed to be “oh a lil ____ will take that right out! fix it up good as new!!” .  I  was her “mothers helper” that summer… keeping the babies occupied while she rubbed spaghetti-o’s stains out of the table cloth with a lil dab of dawn dish soap.

she was the first person who didn’t treat me like a kid… we had grown up  conversations… mostly about General Hospital…

three times a week Candy would wait on the porch for her mother in law Carlene to pick her and the kids up and take ‘em all to church… mostly i knew Carlene from when i would ride with Candy to pick her up cause “daddy had been  a drinkin’ “

Candys husband Ray never went to church with her… neither did his daddy…who everyone just called Daddy…but Candy really liked going … she would make jello salad to take with her to almost every service… she taught me how to submerge it in hot water and  jiggle it out of the mold….

one Sunday my mamma agreed to let me tag along … i sat quietly (like i had been taught) and watched the service from my aisle seat… then i saw what i  thought was a woman, having a seizure… looking round i noticed that everyone had started swaying, stomping and  a few started talking (read: yelling) in “tongues” …i didn’t know what that meant  i just knew i didn’t understand them….or any of this…

and then they brought out the snakes…

i was terrified  … i cowered in my seat…but Candy put her arm round me… told me i didn’t have to worry… she pointed at the markings on the snakes and told me…”red on yellow, kills a fellow/ red on black, friend of jack” and she winked at me… i relaxed and tried to be a little more energetic in my hymn singing …just to blend in…

when i got home mamma asked how it was… i just said …‘oh it was fine“… i never told her about the service or the snakes…

the next night ……i woke up to the sound of my mamma downstairs…crying…& talking to 2 police officers

i never asked for the “whole” story…i was a kid nobody would have told me anyway…. but i pieced it together from the top of the stairs that night…

“well ma’am it looks like it started in the bed room”… “domestic case”  …  “do you know how many guns were in the house?”  “she crawled to the front porch before she died”… “can we bring the kids over here??”

The policemen brought the babies over to our house and a few hours later social workers came & took the babies right out of our arms… mamma begged them to let the babies stay with us…in a place they knew …with people they knew…together….

but they said no…

the next day…my friend Laurie  and i snuck over to the house… i pulled the spare key from a knot in a tree halfway up the driveway …like i had done a million times that summer… we lifted the yellow tape, let ourselves into the basement… and crept up the stairs… at the top of the stairs Laurie screamed and ran back outside … the brown stuff soaked into the carpet didnt look like blood but i was old enough now to know that it was….my first thought was…”this is gonna leave a real bad stain”…  i turned on my heel & ran back outside … i wrapped the spare key in a paper towel and put it in the  trash can..

i never went in that house again…and i never saw the babies again…

They caught Ray and he went to prison… some years later i heard he died there…  i was glad to know it…

every so often… i try to find the babies…but even in the age of the internet there are a lot of folks named Smith.

i would like to tell them about their mamma …maybe make them some jello salad…and show em how she taught me how to jiggle it out of the mold … tell  them how she taught me which snakes to be afraid of…

xoxo

About these ads