by J. Scott Bugher
There’s a crack at the bottom of the basement door. At the top step, I watch Mom’s bare feet moving with a straw broom sweeping the floor, big-band playing on the radio. A door slams. Brown and white, wing-tipped shoes. My Pops. Mom asks what’s wrong and Pops shuts off the kitchen lights. I could see red and blue swirling on the white kitchen floor like a movie in color.
The cops had escorted Buggs to our house after finding him stumbling along River Road. He t-boned a Nash Deluxe in his father’s company truck, so his parents gave him the boot. That’s what Pops said. These kids are all wet, he continued. All wet. He asks where I am. Mom tells him I’m in the basement. I keep quiet, crawling down the stairs, making it before Pops opens the door for Buggs.
You think we’re happy to entertain this horse hockey, Buggs? Pops says. Buggs says he’s sorry, sounding sober while walking down the stairs until the door shut. He is drunk again when he sees me. Sawdust, what’s the good word, baby? Buggs asks. I could smell him sweating and breathing red wine.
Buggs asks if I have any hooch or perhaps a spliff. I have neither. He tells me the same story I heard Pops tell Mom. The company truck, parents lettin’ him loose, but he adds the part about the heat. He says I should have seen him, Marshal Lacy. All sorts of pissed off. He says the Marshal called him a paint bucket of applesauce. That’s when Buggs collapsed onto the beanbag.
With Buggs conked out, I go back upstairs and sit at the top step. Pops tells Mom he is going to call Buggs’s parents, that he doesn’t care how late in the evening it is. Mom speaks back, asking if they could handle it in the morning.
I hear Pops pick up the telephone. Mom’s feet disappear and the big-band gets a little louder. I watch a brown and white, wing-tipped shoe tapping to the beat. Mom comes back and steps closer to Pops. I hear her say, Remember that time in your father’s car? The dandelion wine and my foot kicking off the rearview mirror? Go easy on Buggs, would ya?
With that, Pops hangs up the phone.