Alec was working in the early morning, every morning after sunrise, trying to make a little money for himself. That morning there was actually frost on people’s lawns, even though it was only mid-August. God is amazing, Alec thought. He does the most awesome things. The boy was a believer, always had been. The work was important work for a guy just starting out in his early teens.
If the young fella worked hard enough, Alec was going to have a bank account.
He was the only one in the family who had a job. He had two older brothers, and the family paper route had ended up in Alec’s hands. He was going to make the best of it, too. Alec was tossing papers onto tiny porches for a living, and happy to do it. Alec wasn’t a kid. He was a working man with a job at the age of 13. The boy felt like a prince, to be in a position like he was.
This was the best the young fellow had ever had it in his whole, early life so far.
Now and then the old man would restrict the kid to his bed room after a whipping that didn’t make sense. The man would beat the boy with his belt, for no good reason whatsoever. That’s why Alec had done his disappearing act all his life. He didn’t want to learn violent ways. He wanted to live a life of tranquility. The youngster wasn’t being reprimanded, he was submitting to abuse.
That’s just the way Alec saw it, though he could not have said so in 1964.
The old man realized the only way to keep Alec home was to restrict him in his room. Alec had been a chronic runaway since the age of five, trying to avoid the monster he knew his dad to be. Alec would sit in his bedroom and soak up the tranquility in the room. Alec was a harmless boy, and would remain harmless. Around the towns where he was a child, the young man learned passivity.
Alec’s dad was a Methodist preacher during most of the boy’s early. The very reverend madman. The entire family would be uprooted and forced to move to a different town, a different house, every year of the boy’s childhood. Finally, the boy heard the old man got fired. That was a laugh. What preacher ever gets fired? The boy rebelliously came and went around the house.
Alec would listen to an old radio by the day, doing time for the old man, while sitting obediently on his bed in his room, for two weeks time, but it did not “teach” the young man to be on time for supper, which was the problem, as far as the old man was concerned. The guy could never see beyond his own ego. “He disobeyed me,” was the old man’s articulation, while Alec was being abused again.
Alec would do his time, and as soon as the restriction was finished, Alec would wax rebellious once again. He was not going to cooperate with his father, and that was all there was to it. Listening to the radio, the memorable artists in 1964, were Roger Miller and the Eberly Brothers. He’d sit there ad nausium, wishing the clock around, and hope for those recording artists to play on the radio again.
He was only thirteen years old, doing a two week restriction in the middle of his summer. It felt like hard time to the young man. The old man kept making all these noble statements, and striking all these noble poses, but the fact of the matter was that the man was utterly incapable of making money, while mother struggled to put food on the table and clothes on our backs.
The son didn’t understand the situation for awhile, but he began to.
Alec would go lay out in the tall grass behind the defunct old one-room schoolhouse of the town, and he would lay there, inexplicably weeping. He could not have said what was wrong, even though there were many wrongs he might have chosen. The boy didn’t know where to start. Having a full-sized paper route meant that Alec would have money of his own, to do with as he pleased.
No more denied requests for money from broke parents.
There was one, ungainly-looking, old green car in the town that Alec was wary of. It was 1964, late summer. Alec’s father drove that car. Unknowns about the driver of that car were immense. Alec realized he feared his father more than any other human being. The old man was a monster, no doubt about it. He’d proved it time and again. Just yesterday the old man had attacked the boy’s mother.
The boys looked on in horror as the man twisted their mother’s arm behind her back, over a set of car keys of all things. Then, there was a loud Pop, as one of the bones in mother’s arm gave way. How barbaric can one get? But the next morning, the boy was blithely delivering newspapers. He had already promised himself he would never, ever be violent toward the ladies. He wasn’t, either.
The situation didn’t make sense to Alec. There was no reason for the old man to have behaved like that. Alec and his brothers were still only boys at the time. They would have been no match for a monster. They stood there agape, while their father hurt their mother. That familiar, dreaded, ’55 Chevy pulled up at the cross street from where Alec was delivering papers.
Alec understood the driver was none other than his old man, well before he could visually see the driver behind the wheel. Alec had good eyes, but they weren’t that good. Furthermore, he could ID that green car anywhere. Alec understood that he could very easily get a very irrational beating from this man, by just getting close enough, but he opened the passenger door anyway, and got in.
Ever thereafter, Alec would see all the glorification’s of the ’55 Chevy in the media, and wonder what all the fuss was about. That old, green Chevy only meant one thing: trouble. The entire time his father drove that car, he was nothing but trouble. The old man may have had an ordination, but he was a monster. No glory there, from Alec’s point of view.
All those car enthusiasts must be crazy, he thought.
The man was not trustworthy. The man hurts people for no reason whatsoever, but when Alec arrived at the passenger door of the green car, he did not hesitate to get into the car.
This was one of those serious moments in life.
The boy’s father had something to say, and Alec was going to listen, though he was putting himself in mortal danger to do it.
The old man was going to Florida immediately.
Maybe he’d invite his family to come visit him sometime.
“Would you take me with you, Dad?” Alec couldn’t believe himself.
Alec got out of the car, picked up his papers and went back to work.