Turn On The Faucet


I can’t remember who said it now, but somebody famous once said, “The water doesn’t flow until the faucet is turned on.” Well, folks, I am the faucet right now and I guarantee you that I am not “Turned On” as it were …. I haven’t been turned on about much of anything for a long long time now. It seems sometimes that when a person has everything there is to have and has been everywhere there is to go, Life takes a turn for the duller until the instinct for survival kicks in and then things might liven up a little.

A writing prompt suggested that I write something about my youth.

I would ….. and I still might …. but my youth was a hodge podge of negative, sometimes nasty memories about poverty, loneliness and abusiveness ….. about a lot of people who looked and acted like mindless ogres sometimes …. drunks ….sloppy, slovenly, lipstick-smeared bitches always wanting to cuddle me and fondle me …cigarette smoke, booze flowing like water ….stinking cats pissing all over the ramshackle bungalow house we lived in ….the older kid across the street who took me into the attic of an old abandoned garage his family owned to teach me the birds and the bees.

I still remember that filthy-mouthed little faggot. He was about three years older than me and he loved to throw gravel rocks at me from the gravel road in front of our mutual dwellings. He always vacillated between wanting to play nice with me and causing me to stick my finger into a live electric plug in the dark stairwell of his house.

I remember the night he came over to our house because he had nothing better to do and we started throwing darts at a target on the wall. I threw a dart just about the time he jumped in front of the target and the dart graved past his ear, nearly hitting him in the head. My old man (Dad) (Father) flew into one of his rages at that point and beat my ass almost blue with his belt and I thought it was unfair because I knew the little bastard had done it on purpose just to get me into trouble, But asshole that he was, he was a human being of sorts and I needed companionship and besides my dog, he came in handy to fill some lonely hours even if those hours were fraught with danger.

It was he who taught me to smoke cigarettes and to drink whiskey that he had stolen from his alcoholic big brother. It was he who invited me one day to play with the detonator from a bomb that was being built in a munitions factory in an adjacent village —- This was during World War II.

The detonator was supposed to be unloaded with any explosives and it had been brought home by my friend’s also alcoholic father as a toy for his son, my friend. It had a propeller on the front and metal wings in the back … just like bombs of the day … but other than that, it was open and supposedly empty — nothing but a metal frame with a propeller. It was something my friend and I could play “War Games” with.

We took turns throwing the device up into the air, pretending we were bombing enemies.

On one of the “Throws,” the device came down with a thud, hitting the concrete porch of my friend’s house.

The next thing I remember was lying on the ground with my ears ringing and with my Mother standing over me and with my friend screaming in anguish from the shrapnel in his legs from the exploded device. I never got a scratch. I was just knocked unconscious. The bomb casing with no explosives inside of it managed to break windows in houses for many blocks and I later came to be thankful that neither of us had been killed or maimed too badly.

I think that bomb blast happened in about the same year that my friend’s drunken father went into the garage and blew his brains out with a shotgun.

It seemed like every family in that neighborhood was dysfunctional in one manner or another.

We all managed to eat … to stay clean … to be clothed .. to have a roof over our heads … but none of had a pot to piss in really …. we survived by growing vegetables in gardens, by stretching food as far as we could, by having dinners consisting of nothing but bread and milk gravy or biscuits and potatoes … or other odd combinations of whatever was available. We borrowed sugar from our neighbors and they borrowed bread from us. Once a week, we went to the grocery store and bought what we could with the pitifully meager wages from my Dad’s “Nothing” job and from my Mom taking in clothes washing and ironing for the wealthier people in the “Hood.”

Mom finally got a job at the same munitions factory that bomb had come from and she earned Seven dollars a week before taxes and that allowed us to live a little higher on the hog.

Yes, my nasty-minded friend, whom I shall now identify as “Jimmy” taught me a lot of things. One of the things he taught me … a lesson that I learned quickly and only participated in one time… was how to catch and cook wild birds … birds like Robin Red Breasts. I think this was one of the most disgusting things I ever tried in my entire life. But that is how “Jimmy” was. He loved to sass and curse his mother and she loved to slap the shit out of him whenever he did. I always loved to watch as “Jimmy” got his ass whipped by his Mom. It was strangely satisfying.

Jimmy finally grew into a fine specimen of manhood and joined the Marines and served honorably. Once his military service was finished, he returned to civilian life and, like his older brother, drank himself to death at a young age. By that time, I had long since moved away from that neighborhood and was living somewhere else.

Well, I guess I did get a blog post out of this after all … such as it is.

5 thoughts on “Turn On The Faucet

  1. Funny that no matter where you live, there is always a Jimmy. They prey on the younger kids becasue those their own age know they are creepy. You had a lucky escape with that detonator. When we used to play on old bomb sites in London, a boy older than me (he was about 12, I was 7)) found a wartime 20mm machine gun bullet from a shot-down aircraft. He poked it in a hole in a plank of wood, and hit the end of the cartridge with a metal bar a few times until it fired. But he forgot his other hand was the other side of the plank, and the big bullet went straight through his left hand. The rest of us ran away and left him there, in case we got into trouble.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • It is hard to imagine that some of us are still living who had experiences related to WW2 but I guess we are here. I cannot believe that I was born in 1938 sometimes.

      • That incident I refer to happened in 1959, John. Many parts of London still had unrepaired bomb damage, and we played on the sites and in the craters. We once found the instrument casing from a German bomber’s cockpit. One of the boys sold it to a scrap dealer for a few pennies.

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