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A Time of Dying: Chapter 7-Telling Stories

I don’t go see the stupid fat guy anymore.

Daddy laughed when I told him I called him that. He didn’t like that guy much either. Mama said it was “disrespectful” but Daddy and I still thought it was funny. I mean the guy tried to get me to say that Daddy hit me, for pete’s sake! Daddy wouldn’t do that. Even when I was giving him the “Silent Treatment” he would never hit or hurt me at all.

by Kevin Bailey

Catch up on what you missed:
Previous Chapter: “The Mess
First Chapter: “The Dead One

I don’t go see the stupid fat guy anymore.

Daddy laughed when I told him I called him that. He didn’t like that guy much either. Mama said it was “disrespectful” but Daddy and I still thought it was funny. I mean the guy tried to get me to say that Daddy hit me, for pete’s sake! Daddy wouldn’t do that. Even when I was giving him the “Silent Treatment” he would never hit or hurt me at all.

Now spankings I get sometimes. But those don’t seem like “hitting” to me. The main reason is because Daddy talks so much about why he does it.

Like this one time, I told a story about how Mrs. Canasta’s dog had gotten a… well… haircut. (That’s what I call my fibs sometimes: “telling a story.”) The Canastas had the nicest, hairiest dog I had ever seen! And being only about seven at the time, I didn’t know he was supposed to be that hairy. He was a special dog that wins prizes and stuff.

Well, the Canastas kept Alexander (What a funny name for a dog!) in their house, but they also let him play in a cage beside their house during the day. All the kids would come play with him. He was the best-liked dog in the neighborhood.

But no one liked him as much as me!

He liked me too. I always gave him special treats from the table. Once, Mama caught me doing that and told me not to, but I did it anyway. I wasn’t trying to be bad; I just liked Big Al. (That’s what I called him. I think he liked it better than Alexander.)

One day, just after Mama took us for haircuts, I had an idea. I knew Big Al had never gotten a haircut, and his hair was much too long–or at least I thought it was! So when we got back from the beauty shop, I gathered up my mom’s spray bottle, her sewing scissors, and a bottle of shampoo. I put them in my backpack and headed out.

I planned to make Big Al look handsome!

At the Canasta’s house, I rang the bell to ask Mrs. Canasta if I could play with “Alexander.” (She makes me call him that, even though he likes “Big Al” better.) She said I could, and let me go out through the side door that leads to his pen. Nikki was already there; so were two boys named Jimmy and Matt.

It was a big cage, with lots of room to play with Big Al, and when I came in the boys were playing Frisbee with him. Nikki was watching, because they weren’t letting her join in their game. I was never scared of the boys in our neighborhood, so I said, “It’s our turn to play with Big Al now.”

Jimmy, the oldest boy (I think he was 9), said, “Yeah right, Micki! We were here first!”

I didn’t get mad, but I put my backpack down and said again, “It’s our turn.”

“Nope.”

This time it was Matt, and he was only a little bit bigger than me. I went right over to him, and said calmly, “Nikki and me are going to play with Big Al now. Or maybe I can get Garrett…”

That was enough. You see Garrett’s not just a great big brother; he’s like my personal bodyguard. Not that I really need one, though.

Without saying anymore, Jimmy and Matt left.

“Whatcha’ got in your bag?” Nikki knew me well, and could always tell when I was up to something.

“You’ll see.”

I went over to Big Al, who was still huffing and puffing from playing with the boys. I led him to the shade where I dropped my bag. Nikki was really getting curious.

“Micki—”

“Shh…”

I took the spray bottle out of the bag, and sprayed water all over Big Al. It didn’t make him very wet, and it sure didn’t make cutting his hair with mama’s sewing scissors easier! I then saw the answer to my problem: the garden hose.

“Get the hose and turn the water on real low.”

“Mick—”

“Just do it!”

She was starting to get on my nerves.

Nikki went to the side of the house that made one edge of Big Al’s pen and brought me the hose. She turned it on just the right amount. I let the water flow over Big Al’s hairy body. He liked it, because it was really hot and he was so hairy. After I had completely doused him in water, I refilled Mama’s spray bottle, and started the task of giving my friend his first (I thought) haircut.

It didn’t go well.

First I tried to give him layers like I had back then. That didn’t work at all. His hair was pretty clumpy and gross after it got wet.

But my next idea was what really got me in trouble. I decided to cut Big Al’s hair like Garrett’s, but there was one big problem:

Garrett gets all his hair cut off.

To make a long story short, I tried to do with Mama’s sewing scissors what took the barber a fancy shaver to do.

It was not pretty.

There were huge clumps and piles of hair around us as we tried to make Big Al look his best. He wagged his hairy tail (we somehow forgot to trim that) and looked at us like we were his best friends. We were having a grand time when the house door opened.

“Would you girls like some cookies and mil—OH MY GOD!!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ALEXANDER?!?” For an older lady, Mrs. Canasta sure could yell.

She could cuss some, too.

I didn’t know that Big Al was supposed to go to a big dog show the next month, and that he was supposed to have really long fur. But that didn’t matter to me. I just thought he was too hairy, and that he needed a haircut.

I don’t think I have to tell you that I didn’t get to play with Big Al anymore. Nobody did, in fact. The Canastas didn’t let any kids come play with him after that.

So you see, the time I blew up the ant pile was not the first time Mrs. Canasta had been mad at me.

When Mama found out about the “haircut”, she was not happy. In fact, she was so mad she didn’t spank me herself. Mama and Daddy have a rule about that. They never spank us when they’re mad. I’m not sure why.

The main reason she was angry is that I had told her Mrs. Canasta said it was okay, when she knew it wasn’t true. I even told her Mrs. Canasta had helped me cut his hair! I don’t know why. I mean, she knew the truth. I just can’t help myself sometimes.

Mama hates when I tell stories like that.

When Daddy got home, I was in my room, and I was scared.

I knew that Daddy was going to spank me.

He was downstairs for about five minutes, talking to Mama. I heard the low murmur of his voice on the phone. He must have been calling Mrs. Canasta.

Sitting on the corner of my bed, I waited for him. When he came in, he didn’t say much. He just looked at me with eyes that looked kind of sad.

“Michal, why? Why would you do that?”

I kept looking at my soccer-player pillow.

“Did you know that Alexander won’t be in his competition now?”

That made me sad.

“I didn’t mean to hurt him, Daddy.”

“You didn’t hurt him, but what you did was wrong, and I think you knew it was wrong when you did it. And then you lied to Mama about it.”

He was right about that. I didn’t think it should be wrong to cut a dog’s hair, but I knew Mrs. Canasta would be mad if I did. I just hoped he would look so great I wouldn’t get in trouble. And then I told a story to try to—I don’t know—make it better… or something.

“You know what I have to do now, right Angel?”

I hated this part. He always treated me so gently before swatting me.

Daddy stepped through the door.

“Daddy?” It was Colton.

“What’s up Bub? I’m talking with Micki about some things.”

“Daddy, doh-n’t spank huh. Pwease.” (He was only 4, and didn’t talk that well when he was upset.)

“Colton, I don’t want to, but Micki did a bad thing.”

Colton’s tears were real.

Daddy called to Mama, then. After she picked Colton up, he didn’t yell and scream like some kids do, but I could hear him crying as she carried him down the stairs.

Crying for me.

Daddy came over to my bed and sat on the edge, putting me on his lap. He talked some more about how he didn’t want to do this, but he just had to so I would become a better girl. I won’t tell you about the spanking, except to say that it hurt.

But those talks–they were the hardest part. And after, he would always be real kind, talking to me about how special I was, and how he just wanted me to grow up and be a good girl. He said telling stories that weren’t true was okay when you weren’t doing it to keep from getting in trouble, or you were trying to make people laugh. But using them to get out of trouble was bad.

I don’t tell stories much anymore. Once in awhile I will tell make-believe stories to Kayleigh, but she liked them more when Colton was here.

I think that’s why I wrote this story down.

Sometimes it helps to remember how much he loved me. In the story I just wrote, most of it was not even about Colton, but the part I remember most is my baby brother crying for me.

Telling stories isn’t much fun without him.

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About Kevin Bailey (34 Articles)
Born and raised in Kansas, Kevin now lives in North Carolina, working at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte as an Academic Advisor. He has extensive experience as a writer, beginning with his work as an opinion columnist for his college newspaper, and extending through time working as the primary film critic for GoWilkes.com and its affiliated sites. He now serves as a film and television critic for EatPrayVote, and dabbles in writing about politics for EPV as well.

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