S. A.


By John W. Vander Velden

I had been in the program for more than six months. Sitting quietly I have listened to others speak, unready to share my own story…that is until tonight. Now it’s my turn, I move to the front of the room to take my place beside Art, our leader, and look down at the faces of the twenty some others I have joined week after week.

“I’m Greg and I have siblings.”

“Hi Greg,” the others chime.

Art gently places his hand upon my shoulder, “tell us about your siblings Greg?” I look around the room as if one of the other faces might help me find the place to begin.

Drawing a breath, “I guess, I should begin with the oldest, Eleanor. She’s alright I guess, or used to be anyway. Things changed when she fell in love.”

“How so Greg,” Art prodded.

I try to swallow but my mouth is as dry as cotton. “It was a Winchester 76, like the one on that James Stewart Movie, not the same one but one like it. It cost Eleanor her house and two dogs, but she had to have that gun. But it was only the beginning. She became a completive shooter, but I think it was only an excuse to get more guns. She goes to the range and practices three times a week. Says she could shoot the eye out of a possum at 385 yards. I’ll not say she can’t. I know better than to argue with Elanor. She has a temper, her former husband would tell you so, if he could.”

Art blinked, “Does she live nearby?”

“Eleanor moves around some. Lately she has been staying on Oak Street. You just can’t park and old Chevy van with five dogs, thirteen cats, and enough rifles and ammunition to take on Isis just anywhere. A homeowner on Van Buren called the police down on her one time, so she won’t go back there. She says, “Just because you live on a street named after a dead president there is no need to be snooty.” But if you notice a brown 1984 Chevy panel van with a novelty plate that says, “I’m Watching You,” I’d cross on the other side of the street.”

I begin to feel more comfortable. “Then there is Lawrence, my oldest brother. He’s done well. He works in the engineering department of Bling-Bling Axle and Wheel Hub. He has worked at Bling-Bling for more than twenty years. Lawrence must be good at what he does for the company sends him all over. Once he even went to Cleveland, imagine that. But he’s always telling us how to do our jobs, like he knows more than any of us. For pity sake, I own a business.”

Andy released my shoulder, “What would that be?”

“I have the hardware on Glimmer Street, maybe you’ve seen it, Greg’s Hardware. If you need lawn fertilizer I have a great special right now. Buy five bags for the price of six and get one free. I wouldn’t wait. I expect to sell out real quick.” Blinking, I trudge on. “I don’t tell Lawrence how to make wheel studs, so I don’t need him to tell how much lawn fertilizer to order. “

“I must admit it was pretty impressive when he convinced the higher ups to buy that new million dollar stud threader. The new-fangled machine saves the company a quarter cent per hundred studs. At a couple hundred thousand studs a year they should be rolling in the dough.”

Rocking back and forth I knew I needed to plunge onward. “Well I’m the one in the middle, and my sister Carma, that’s what she calls herself these days, is next in line. That is Carma with a C. Her husband Max works at Bling-Bling too. Not in engineering you understand, on the line. He’ll tell you, “those studs don’t press themselves in the hubs.” Which I expect is true. Maybe Lawrence will find a machine… Sorry this is about Josephine, I mean Carma. She’s the pastor at a church on E Street. Maybe you’ve heard of it? The Church of The Boss, the boss being Bruce Springsteen. She keeps asking me to join, I mean the folks there are nice enough…but. The greeters meet you at the door with their studded black leather jackets and hand out programs. They ask those they do not know, “if they are born in the U.S.A..” They’ve asked me three times. Hey, whose business is that anyway? I pay my taxes, always have. Anyway Carma gets all uptight because I won’t join her church.

By the look in the eyes and the gaping jaws of many of my fellow program members, I could tell I had them engaged. “My youngest brother, Max, is one of those people that believe they are the center of the universe. On my last visit he sat in the kitchen dressed like Nannuk of the North. All I heard was about how his furnace had quit, the water lines that broke, and how the toilet tank cracked and the water had destroyed the bathroom floor. Sheesh, like he was the only person to ever have heating trouble. I mean I haven’t, but I know someone that knew someone whose brother’s sister-in-law’s cousin didn’t have heat for an entire day. What’s the big deal? I didn’t come to complain how my supplier shipped 18 gross ½ by 4 inch class five bolts more than I ordered. I mean that is not like me. I just stopped by to ask if he needed some bolts. You know, make him a good deal. But he just went on and on about not having heat while the mist of his breath slowly filled the room.

Drawing another breath, I stopped having said my piece.

Art grins and holds out his hand, “thanks for sharing Greg. Do you feel better?”

“I do, I really do!”

“I’m so glad for you Greg. But remember, there are no easy fixes, there are no cures. Each day will have its struggles, because you will always have siblings.”

(1022 Words) 7-31-2015

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