by Kirby Wright
June’s excited about her wedding. It’s the same day as Paul’s electroshock therapy forty miles west in Worcester. She deals with her asylum uncle by pretending he was never born. It’s easier this way and sometimes her mother plays along. June avoids mentioning Paul to the groom. It would be awful if Harold found out her family was streaked with insanity, especially since he promised her a lifetime of paradise in his home state of Hawaii.
When June was twelve, she accompanied her mother to Worcester. Paul had loved to fish as a boy so they brought him the latest issue of Field & Stream. June watched orderlies strap her redheaded uncle into a floating chair roped to a steel beam. The chair turned clockwise. It turned faster and faster until Paul was spinning. The chair spun so fast he became a blur topped by a red cap. June snickered while her mother wept. She detested her mother’s brother, yet took comfort knowing his asylum was two counties away. She vowed to avoid Worcester like the plague.
After checking up on Paul, June and her mother bused to nearby Shrewsbury to visit a spinster aunt. The radio played “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” as the gals gossiped in the parlor. June wandered into the backyard, where she found trees loaded with fruit. She thought of Eve in the Garden of Eden. She pulled five peaches and gorged herself, ignoring the spinster waving from the porch. She hated blood relations, particularly the women who’d failed to marry and gave off an onion aroma. To June, being an old maid was a fate worse than death. The men in her family were losers too, from the tightwad father to the spinning uncle to the nitwit brother scouring Boston skies for UFOs. June plucked more peaches. She loved their warm fuzzy skin and how they smelled like security and comfort. She ate so many she developed a bad case of the skitters and had to remain behind while her mother took the bus home. Being sick and alone made June think of her uncle. She knew she’d never see him again but wanted him free from earthly pain. She prayed Paul would find happiness in the hereafter, hooking one devilfish after the other in the Lake of Fire.