Posts Tagged With: Stacey Roberts

Spotlight on Stacey Roberts – Author of “Trailer Trash with a Girl’s Name – Father Figures”

 Excerpt from Trailer Trash with a Girl’s Name – Father Figures

 

Tin Cup on Prison Bars

 

I had more sidebar conversations with law enforcement before the age of sixteen than a hustling middle-aged criminal attorney.

One of the high points was when I conferenced in our driveway with the federal marshals who had just arrested Ted the Drug Dealer in hopes of finding out where they were taking him and what he was being charged with. Layne the Favorite was too busy gloating over Ted’s downfall to worry about logistics, but I knew my mother would want to get her attorney on the case. Also, I had to get to school; I couldn’t spend my whole day on it.

Another was when I got hit by a car crossing the street near our trailer park. The ancient woman who had hit me had no recollection of doing so, even though my bike was pretzeled under the wheels of her Cadillac and there was a smear on her windshield where my face had hit. The police were quite sympathetic to my plight. I’m not so sure justice was served; I never got a new bike.

Then there was the time my Uncle George the Bastard had to come down to my Hebrew school after an unfortunate episode of bullying. He was a police lieutenant out of his jurisdiction, but he made quite an impression anyway. I like to think my involvement prevented some well-deserved police brutality against my oppressors.

Overall, I felt like I had a special connection with those sworn to protect and serve, a calming voice of reason amid the maelstrom of criminal happenings. Or it could be that in each case I was trying to keep my mother from getting involved.

Like the time Layne the Favorite clocked Steve the Rat Fink upside the head with a squeegee.

***

Steve the Rat Fink was fifth-generation trailer trash. His great-great grandfather had crossed the American plains in his Conestoga covered wagon and saw no reason to move out of it just because the group he was traveling with founded Sacramento and built houses without wheels. Steve’s tribe had no need for houses. Having a mobile home meant you could leave in a hurry when your neighbors came after you with pitchforks and torches. If Steve the Rat Fink’s ancestor was anything like him, the other members of his wagon train had likely tried to leave him in the desert or entice a marauding Indian tribe to engage in a pinpointed massacre of one.

It may have been wrong of me to think Steve the Rat Fink’s entire family tree was full of mean-spirited jerks, but I was twelve. Snap judgments are the hallmark of youth.

Also, apparently, of my mother. The first time she met Steve—he had slinked his way over to our Winnebago looking for food and things to steal—she made up her mind about him. She had been handing out titles like a medieval potentate trying to shore up support for her regime for as long as I could remember. It was how Uncle George became a Bastard and my father was anointed a Son of a Bitch. Steve was going to get his.

Mom: “That kid, Stan.”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said.”

Me: “He’s a real douchebag.”

Mom: “SSSSSSSSStace. You know what he is? He’s a rat fink.”

I had no idea what that was. I didn’t know it back in 1983, but what I really needed to do was invent some kind of globally interconnected network of computers that would have the sum total of human knowledge on it for easy and immediate recall. The modern equivalent of the lost Library of Alexandria, a world-spanning web of information. I’d call it the Webbernet. Or Interweb. Maybe Cybernet. Or, because it would be an international thing, the Infobahn. My mom would freak out if I used a German name. Better to let her name it. She liked naming things. Like Steve the Rat Fink.

Me: “What’s a rat fink?”

Mom: “SSSSStace. A rat fink! You know! A rat fink!”

Well, that explained it. Good thing the Department of Defense was already hard at work building that Cyberwebbernet thingy I wanted. Years later, I was able to use it to access urbandictionary.com and finally find out what rat fink meant:

Urbandictionary.com: “Rat fink: tattletale, stool pigeon, squealer, snitch, double-crosser, weasel.”

Steve the Rat Fink did look a bit like a weasel, but that didn’t tell the whole tale. Perhaps a more scientific definition:

Urbandictionary.com: “Rat fink: A bastard modifier. A person exhibiting especially abhorrent levels of bastardry is known as a “rat fink bastard.” Alternately, for a milder offense, the term “rat fink” can be used independently of bastard.”

That made more sense. Steve the Rat Fink did, at times, exhibit especially abhorrent levels of bastardry. I was getting there.

Urbandictionary.com: “Rat fink examples: Do you know where Louie is? Next time you see him, tell that rat fink bastard I’m going to tear out his scrotum for knocking up my sister.” Or: “Timmy’s the kind of lazy rat fink that leaves half a sheet of toilet paper on the roll just so he doesn’t have to replace it with a new one.”

 This Interwebobahn invention of mine was going to be a game changer. You’d never have to leave the house. Unless I invented some kind of portable device small enough to fit in your pocket that could access the Cybernetterweb from anywhere. That would be something.

Where was I? Right. Steve the Rat Fink. He was a real douchebag.

Mom: “SSSSSStace. I told you! That Sam, he’s a rat fink! A rat fink!”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said. He’s such a rat fink, that kid.”

***

Steve the Rat Fink looked like other trailer park kids I had known over the five years we had been trailer trash. He and I were both twelve but he was small; he was a full head shorter than me, and I come from a long line of short, stubby people. He was skinny and wiry, covered in ropy muscle and sinew. I never saw him wear a shirt, and the whole upper half of his body was burnished permanently brown from sun exposure. His blond hair was close-cropped and his light gray eyes squinted with a huckster’s conniving look. He moved furtively, like a rat, appearing one day at the inevitable grouping of trailer park kids that convened every day after school. We couldn’t stay inside the cramped boxes we lived in, so we stayed out until after dark. The trailer park had a lake at its center as a thin refuge against the possibility of all the bottled propane we used going up in a fiery maelstrom and igniting our stored sewage. We often hung around the shore, throwing rocks and looking for alligators.

My closest friend in the trailer park was Shawn the Black Belt. He lived alone with his father in a decent Airstream a few streets away from our Winnebago. He was lumpy and awkward, and his hair was always flopping all over the place. He had the limpid brown eyes of a nascent serial killer. I suspect his father got him into karate as a possible way to channel Shawn’s latent sideways tendencies, but it might have just made him a more effective killer later in life.

Shawn the Black Belt and I were standing in the shallows of the lake. I was alert, as ever, for the telltale yellow eyes of the gators. Shawn was talking about something, but I wasn’t listening. In my peripheral vision I saw Steve the Rat Fink scurry his way toward us. His head was cocked, his eyes narrowed; it occurred to me that even at his age he had the look of a smoker, but couldn’t get the cigarettes. Not because of age—they were just so expensive and precious to his chain-smoking parents that they wouldn’t share them.

Steve ignored me and glared at Shawn the Black Belt, who was taller than me. Shawn had turned to face the new kid; his arms hung lazily at his sides, but he had a dangerous look of capacity about him. The new kid really needed to tread lightly, make a good impression. That sort of thing.

Steve the Rat Fink: “What are you looking at, fuckstick?”

Two seconds later Steve the Rat Fink was face down in the sand, his right arm bent so far behind him that the backs of his fingers brushed his left ear. He squealed like a baby pig stuck in a blender.

Steve the Rat Fink: “I give! I give!”

Shawn the Black Belt looked over at me with his dead eyes.

Me: “I think you got him.”

Shawn the Black Belt got to his feet and glided backwards. Steve the Rat Fink got up slowly, covered in sand, his right arm held painfully away from his body. He glared at Shawn the Black Belt.

Steve the Rat Fink: “You got the drop on me that time, you fat fuck, but if I was ready—”

Shawn the Black Belt took an economical step forward and chopped Steve’s throat with the side of his left hand. Steve the Rat Fink’s pronouncement cut off with a harsh, choking bark. Shawn swept his right leg and Steve knelt in the sand just in time for Shawn’s knee to hit his nose and knock him flat. Steve the Rat Fink lay on his back, staring up at the sky, blood running down his cheeks. His eyes were wide and dazed. Shawn stood calmly, legs apart, arms up, waiting to see if Steve would get up.

After a minute or so Steve rolled over on his front and got to his feet, blood and snot dripping into the imprint of where his body had been in the sand. He limped away toward home, holding his head with his left hand. The right one hung numbly down at his side.

This was the picture we often had of Steve the Rat Fink—working his slow way home after someone beat the snot out of him.

***

We learned pretty quickly not to leave anything valuable outside our motor home; Steve was a conscienceless scavenger and had no problem taking whatever he wanted. Some of our neighbors who didn’t lock their doors started to complain about missing jewelry, cigarettes and food. After a while, everyone locked their doors.

We came home from school one day to find Steve the Rat Fink riding Layne the Favorite’s bike up and down the street in front of our Winnebago. He had to stand on the pedals because he was too short to reach them while sitting. He was going lightning fast, pedaling for all he was worth. He would suddenly slam the brakes, leaving scorch marks on the asphalt. Layne the Favorite was horrified—he treated his bike as if it had been made by the gods of Mount Olympus and presented to him by winged Mercury himself.

Layne the Favorite: “That’s my bike!”

Steve the Rat Fink skidded to a stop in front of us, smirking.

Steve the Rat Fink: “It’s mine now, shitbag, so shut the fuck up.” He took off on the bike. Layne the Favorite’s fists clenched at his sides and his face turned red.

Me: “When he comes back, let’s pull him off of it and beat his ass.” The two of us could surely take Steve down.

Layne the Favorite: “I’m telling mom.”

***

My mother got home right as it was getting dark. Layne the Favorite stood at the driver’s side of her car as she got out. I didn’t hear what was said, but she patted his cheek while glaring over his head at Steve the Rat Fink’s trailer, where Layne the Favorite’s stolen bike leaned brazenly against the hitch.

I had no skin in this game; my bike had been crushed by an old lady’s Cadillac a few months before and never replaced. There was no chance of me ever getting to use Layne the Favorite’s bike, either.

Mom: “SSSSSStace. That bike belongs to your brother. It’s important for him to have things that are just his.”

Me: “That does sound fun. Any chance I’ll get a bike soon?”

Mom: “SSSSStace. What do you need a bike for? Besides, walking is good for your ssssspleen.”

I was relegated to foot traffic for the foreseeable future. The problems of the bike-borne were above my humble station, but the confrontation between my mother and Steve’s parents promised high entertainment value. I followed my mother as she stalked across the street and pounded on the door of Rat Fink headquarters.

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “Just a minute! Jesus!”

The door opened and a blue cloud of marijuana smoke billowed out, revealing a hulking round woman with stringy brown hair dressed only in a shapeless muumuu. Her face was lumped with fat in occasional protrusions, like islands poking out of the surface of a lake. There was a cigarette in her mouth; she must have left the marijuana behind. My mother, her arms folded, her hair and makeup perfect, glared at her.

Mom: “Your sssssson stole my son’s bike.”

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “He ain’t my son.”

Mom: “Your hair’s so brittle. Disgusting. Don’t you use any product?”

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand:  “When’s your husband get home? We’re running low on weed.”

This was getting good. My mother was a world-class dispenser of non-sequiturs, and she had finally come across someone operating at her level. It also turned out that Ted the Drug Dealer was the Rat Fink Family’s pot supplier.

Complicated.

Me: “The bike?”

Mom: “SSSSStace. What is wrong with you? You’re obsessed with bikes. I told you: walking is good for your gall bladder. What do you need a bike for?”

Me: “Well, Layne needs one.”

Mom: “Of course he does!”

Me: “And Steve stole it.”

Mom: “Right!” She pointed a long fingernail at the woman in the trailer.

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “Take it.” She flapped a hand at the picnic table nearby. It was covered with mismatched items – a lamp, a cigar box with toy cars in it, two bathrobes, and a gravy boat. It looked like a reluctant hoarder’s booth at a flea market.

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “If any of that shit’s yours, take it with you. That fuckin’ kid’s always takin’ people’s stuff.”

Steve the Rat Fink appeared behind her. Only his weasel’s head was visible. He squinted at my mother.

Mom: “You! You know what you are, Seth?”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said! A rat fink, Scott! You’re a rat fink!”

Steve and the woman looked at us quizzically. I really should start on inventing the Webberinternetwork–these episodes of uncomfortable ignorance could be avoided.

We took the bike and went home. My mother chained the bike to the hitch on our Winnebago and locked it. Live and learn.

I looked back to see Steve leaning against his trailer hitch where the bike had recently been. His not-mom sat at the picnic table full of Steve’s ill-gotten acquisitions. They were the enemy; our families were now at war. After years of trailer park living, I was a full-fledged trailer trash redneck. My family was now one side of a blood feud that promised to be as epic as the Hatfields and McCoys. That night, breathing in the residual marijuana smoke drifting in the air, I could imagine the day in 2183 when my great-great-great granddaughter shot Steve the Rat Fink’s great-great-great grandson down dead in the street with a laser beam, ending our world-famous feud. Bystanders would record it on the devices I had invented, the ones permanently connected to the Webbycybernet.

This was going to be great.

My mother marched past me toward Steve’s trailer, her citrusy perfume trailing behind her. She must have thought of some biting remark, some gauntlet to throw down that would fan the flames of multigenerational clan warfare. I tagged along.

She marched up to Steve the Rat Fink’s not-mom and handed her a bottle.

Mom: “Listen. Rub this into your scalp after you wash your hair. Make sure you get it down to the rootssssss. Then your hair won’t be so stringy and fragile.”

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “Thanks.”

I stood there, dumbfounded, as my mother turned on her heel and marched back to our Winnebago. I thought frantically of some witty barb, some cutting rejoinder that would remind all concerned that we had begun a centuries-long battle that would only end with the extermination of one of our family lines. Perhaps with a laser beam.

Me: “Your descendants are so screwed.”

Steve the Rat Fink’s not-mom was studying the bottle my mother had just given her. Steve glared at me and shrugged.

Steve the Rat Fink: “Fuck off, weirdo.”

2183 was going to be a great year.

***

Friday night, nine p.m.

I had been consigned to my bunk an hour before. My mother still cleaved to her notion that I needed more sleep than Layne the Favorite, as if two extra hours a night would round out my rough edges and correct my many flaws. All I got out of it was two hours of staring up at the ceiling while my mother and Layne the Favorite watched TV together. In a house that was only twenty-five feet long, there was no way anyone could sleep if the TV was blaring and the sound of self-satisfied popcorn munching was going on.

I closed my eyes and tried to achieve a Zen-like state of calm. Maybe that was the first step in becoming more like Layne the Favorite. In this way, finally, I might get a bicycle of my own.

I heard a metallic rattle coming from the back of the Winnebago, a disjointed clanging sound. It stopped. I listened harder and heard it again. Someone was at the back of the trailer we towed behind the Winnebago, where all our earthly possessions were stored. I got out of bed.

Mom: “What are you doing out of bed, Buster? I told you. You need your rest. Do you know what will happen to your pancreas if you don’t get enough sleep?”

Me: “Ted. I think someone’s trying to break into the trailer.”

***

Ted the Drug Dealer was sitting opposite my mother and Layne, not watching TV and probably trying to ignore them. He was engaged in his usual nightly inventory—the small tabletop in front of him was covered in cash, coins, and his arsenal of weapons. In addition to his .22 pistol and his switchblade, he had recently gotten a telescoping baton, like the kind the police used. It was about the size of a can of mace, but if you pushed the button on the hilt, it sprang to full size. He gazed at it blearily and belched. Dinner had been a paprika-showered chicken roasted with asparagus and prunes. My mother had found a cookbook at a yard sale and was now adding fruit to the mélange of horrors she dished up every night.

Her chicken with asparagus and prunes tasted like being picked last for dodgeball at recess.

Me: “Ted. We’re being robbed.”

Ted the Drug Dealer stood up, grabbed his telescoping baton and went silently out the door, leaving it open. I scurried out behind him.

Mom: “Get back in bed, Buster!”

Ted went left instead of right once he got outside, going around the side of the Winnebago opposite the picnic table and awning. He meant to sneak up on the intruder from the other side, where the water, sewage, electricity and propane hookups were. I followed. We made no noise. The sound of the clanking got louder as we rounded the corner of the trailer.

There was a skinny, shirtless man wearing a ball cap and dirty jeans with holes in them. He had a crowbar in one hand, prying at the padlock on the back of the trailer. There was a cigarette jammed in the corner of his mouth; his tiny eyes squinted through the smoke.

It was Steve’s dad, Merle—the paterfamilias of the Rat Fink clan. He looked askance at Ted the Drug Dealer, standing there with the small round hilt of the baton in his hand.

Merle the Ratterfamilias: “The fuck you lookin’ at, asswipe?”

Ted the Drug Dealer pushed the button on the baton. There was a barely audible click and the weapon sprang to full size. He reached out and tapped Merle’s right wrist; I heard a sharp crack as his wrist broke and a clang when the crowbar fell to the ground.

Merle the Ratterfamilias howled. He clutched his wrist and hopped up and down. The cigarette stayed glued to his lip.

Merle the Ratterfamilias: “You cocksucking nutsack! You broke my hand!”

He lunged at Ted, who calmly brought the baton down on Merle’s right shoulder. There was another cracking sound. Merle’s face squinched up and he hissed in a painful breath.

Merle the Ratterfamilias: “I give! I give!” He backed away toward his own trailer, his right arm hanging at his side. After a few backward steps he turned around and slunk away with the same halting gait his son used after one of his confrontations. Ted the Drug Dealer picked up the crowbar to add to his weapons cache.

Merle’s common law wife stood outside their trailer, watching his approach, her arms crossed. She stood under the street light, a silhouetted, shapeless behemoth. My mother and Layne came out of the Winnebago to watch, their half-empty bowl of popcorn held between them.

Mom: “Look at her hair. See how shiny it is? She used the product. I know what I’m talking about!”

Some blood feuds were better than others. Maybe we’d get it right over the next couple of centuries.

***

Steve the Rat Fink tried to defend his family’s honor and orthopedic injuries the next day. I was hanging out with Layne the Favorite and Shawn the Black Belt down by the lake. I found out years later that the lake was crawling with alligators and water moccasins. And to think my mother thought the greatest danger to us back then was white flour, red meat and refined sugar. Who knows: maybe her cooking made us unappetizing to the marauding swamp beasts we lived alongside.

Steve the Rat Fink scurried over to me and glared up at me with his squinty eyes. He had not bathed in days; no wetland creature would make a meal of him either.

Steve the Rat Fink: “Your dad broke my dad’s arm.”

Me: “He was trying to break into our trailer.”

Steve the Rat Fink: “He was out of weed, numbnuts! What’d you expect him to do?”

Me: “Buy it?”

Steve the Rat Fink: “We ain’t got no money, shit for brains! Lurleen’s disability don’t come in till the first!”

Me: “So breaking into our trailer was like buying on credit? What kind of—”

Shawn the Black Belt had tried more than once to teach me karate. One of the things his sensei had taught him was strategic silence–apparently a lot of people got punched in the face mid-sentence.

Steve the Rat Fink punched me in the face mid-sentence.

I didn’t feel the hit; I was just suddenly on the ground looking up at the sky. There was a ringing in my ears. Steve the Rat Fink’s face loomed large suddenly. His mouth twisted angrily; he was saying something, but I didn’t hear it. I remember thinking how great it would be if someone punched him in the face mid-sentence.

Layne the Favorite had taken a few steps forward when I got hit, but Shawn the Black Belt was faster. He was always poised and waiting for an opportunity; I think he needed to release some violence on a regular basis or something horrific would befall an innocent person. It occurred to me that perhaps it was time to move to a new trailer park.

Shawn the Black Belt slammed an open palm under Steve’s chin. His head snapped back and the rest of his body followed him to the ground. Shawn stood immobile, legs apart, knees bent, hands up.

I got to my feet and swayed. The world wobbled before sliding back into place. I nearly puked on my shoes.

Steve the Rat Fink got up and faced me. There was a lurid red welt on his chin where Shawn hit him.

Steve the Rat Fink: “That’s it? You gonna let the dough boy do your fighting for you?”

I looked over Steve’s right shoulder, a look of alarm on my face. He turned his head to look and I kicked him in the nuts. His eyes opened wide, his mouth a huge O of surprise. His face crumpled and he folded in on himself, spinning slowly down to the ground.

Steve the Rat Fink: “I give! I give!”

***

We got back to our Winnebago right as my mother was pulling a roast pan out of the oven in a hellish parody of demon birth. It was lamb with an applesauce glaze, black pepper, and mandarin oranges.

It tasted like the pointed, helpless shame one feels at being ostracized by one’s community.

Layne the Favorite: “He got in a fight!”

Mom: “With who?”

Layne the Favorite: “Steve!”

Mom: “SSSSSSStace. You need to stay away from Sylvester. He’s a rat fink!”

Me: “Stuart.” My head was still ringing.

Mom: “That’s what I said!”

Layne the Favorite: “I hate that kid.”

***

Layne the Favorite and I were outside later that evening, trying to escape the wretched fumes of fruity lamb, when Steve the Rat Fink came sauntering along. He walked disjointedly down the middle of the street, shirtless and barefoot, his bruised head turning from side to side, scoping out whatever unsecured baubles might have been left out. Pickings were slim; the villagers had learned the hard way.

Layne the Favorite: “I hate that kid.”

Me: “Give it a couple centuries. There’ll be laser beams. We can’t lose.”

Layne jumped off the picnic table and walked over to the bucket with the squeegee in it. It was sitting next to the back of the Winnebago, because I was supposed to be cleaning the camper’s windows. My mother had been put out by some of the comments I had made about Mandarin Applesauce Pepper Sheep, and this chore was my punishment:

  1. “Is it supposed to taste like an orchard fire?”
  2. “What disease killed this sheep, anyway?”
  3. “Does all lamb smell like sweat?”
  4. “Can I go outside?”
  5. “You know what would be good? A baloney sandwich. Or a bike.”

My head still hurt from my earlier run-in with Steve. I didn’t feel like cleaning windows that were permanently shuttered anyway; my mother kept the curtains drawn. Besides, there was no punishment worse than Mandarin Applesauce Pepper Sheep.

Layne grabbed the squeegee and walked over to Steve the Rat Fink. Steve was preoccupied with his nightly scavenger hunt and didn’t notice Layne standing there until he nearly ran into him.

Steve the Rat Fink: “Holy shit, turdface. Why you sneakin’ up on me?”

Layne swung the squeegee. Steve jerked back, but the scraper edge sliced his forehead open. He spun around and landed flat on his face. I saw blood starting to pool in the street.

Maybe we wouldn’t have to wait two hundred years for the feud to come to an end.

***

One thing about trailer park living: you never knew who it was who called the cops. By the time the flashing lights arrived, everyone was out in the street standing around and affecting a dewy-eyed innocence. No one ever wanted to take the heat for bringing the police into our community. In such ways are blood feuds begun.

I suspect one of Steve’s larceny victims had watched him stagger toward home with his whole face and torso covered in blood and figured the rat fink had finally committed a crime that would get him sent away for good.

Layne the Favorite was sitting on top of our picnic table, the bloody squeegee held in his hand. He glared over at Rat Fink headquarters, where Steve sat at their picnic table. Lurleen held a bandanna to his bleeding head, a cigarette dangling from her lips. Merle the Ratterfamilias, shirtless, his arm in a makeshift sling, chain-smoked and gazed over at us. It was one of the few times I wanted Ted the Drug Dealer to be home; it looked like we were going to need better weapons than window cleaners. I wondered briefly if we could somehow force-feed the Rat Fink clan some Mandarin Apple Pepper Sheep, but there was no nobility in that. It was probably best if I just sat quietly and stayed out of it; I had recently been punched in the face.

The trailer park manager, predictably, showed up in his trusty golf cart.  He was in his fifties, enormous, balding, and sweaty. He always wore an incongruous short-sleeved button-down shirt with a tie. The top half of him looked like a third-rate accountant or substitute teacher. The bottom half of him was a golf cart, canted down toward the driver’s side. He had to weigh four hundred pounds. Despite the wet Florida heat, he kept a tan blanket over his lower half, so his shapeless body ended where the golf cart began.

He was the one we called when the water or electricity stopped working or the machines in the laundry room ate our quarters. He didn’t actually do anything – his right hand man was a mute, nameless Guatemalan, thin as a rail, bespectacled, a genius with mechanical things. The last time I had seen this team in action was when a sewer line across the street broke. The trailer park manager sat in his cantilevered cart while his silent manservant fixed the line, covering himself in unspeakable brown goo.

There was nothing to fix this time, so the trailer park manager showed up alone. His cart zoomed to a stop in the midst of the assembled villagers. He looked over at bloodstained Steve and then at me, sitting on top of our picnic table. He and I had had run-ins before—I was the last man standing at an unfortunate broken window incident, and he had been on the scene when I got hit by a car, which he thought was an appropriate karmic comeuppance for my backsass. His eyes lit up when he saw me. I had no interest in sparring with him today. My head hurt.

Trailer Park Manager: “What’d you do now?”

I was saved from answering by the arrival of a policeman. Interestingly enough, I recognized him. I had dealt with this cop before.

***

The officer was Patrolman 1, who had helped me out after I got hit by the Cadillac. I had served as translator for the ancient driver’s stream of old country invective. Angry Jewish women had been flinging intemperate Yiddish around me since I was a toddler, so it was easy to decipher her ranting.

Patrolman 1 quickly assessed the situation and walked over to where the Rat Fink family sat tending their wounds. Between Steve’s blood-soaked face and chest and his father’s broken bones, they looked like they had been on the business end of a nasty car wreck. Steve’s not-mom kept pointing over to our Winnebago.

Her hair was perfect.

Patrolman 1 headed over. He saw me sitting there and winked.

Patrolman 1: “So. This situation’s kind of facochta.”

Me: “Also a good bit of meshuga going on.”

My mother glared at Patrolman 1.

Mom: “You don’t look Jewish. How do you know Yiddish?”

Patrolman 1: “Your son taught me a few words. It’s come in pretty handy. There are a lot of crabby Jews on the wrong side of the law.”

Mom: “Jews don’t break the law, Lieutenant!”

Patrolman 1: “Sergeant.”

Mom: “That’s what I said! Jews are oppressed! We don’t ever do anything wrong. It’s always the goyim.

Patrolman 1: “It looks like your son hit that boy upside the head with a squeegee.”

Mom: “He was defending himself!”

Patrolman 1: “A couple of witnesses told me your son just swung at him for no reason.”

Mom: “He had a reason! Simon is always picking on him!”

Patrolman 1: “Who?”

Mom: “Stewart! Sheldon! Shane! You know—Spencer!”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said!”

Patrolman 1: “Even if they have a history, it’s irrelevant if your son just hits him without provocation. And because he used a weapon, it’s a serious crime.”

Mom: “It’s a squeegee! It’s not a weapon!”

Patrolman 1 gave up on her and walked over to where Layne sat, twirling the bloody squeegee. The officer drew himself up to his full height. All the leather he had—shoes, gun belt, holster—creaked as he walked. He stood in front of Layne the Favorite, his arms folded over his broad chest.

Patrolman 1: “You hit that boy. With a weapon. Unprovoked.”

Layne the Favorite: “I hate that kid. I’d like to hit him again.” He gripped the handle of the squeegee tighter. Patrolman 1 took it out of his hands.

Patrolman 1: “I’m going to have to take you in, son.”

My mother squawked and flew at him, pushing her way between Patrolman 1 and her son.

Mom: “No way, Buster! I won’t let you take my son to jail, you jakbooted tag.

Me: “Jackbooted thug.”

Patrolman 1: “Ah.”

Mom: “My son is innocent! This is not his fault! It’s that gneyvish ganev , az kleyn shtekhn!” Me: “Sneaky thief, that little prick.” My mother glared at me:

Mom: “SSSSSSStace! What is wrong with you? Why are you talking to this beyz khzir?”

Me: “Evil pig.”

Patrolman 1: “I knew ‘pig.’ I’ve been called that one before. Your people really don’t like them.”

Me: “It’s because we don’t know how to cook, and we’re afraid of trichinosis.”

Mom: “And God!”

Me: “Also, apparently, God.”

Mom: “Stop it! He wants to take your brother to jail!”

Patrolman 1: “Ma’am. He assaulted that boy with a weapon. I have to take him in.”

Mom: “Then you’ll have to take me too! You’ll have to lock me up with him!”

Layne the Favorite sat calmly. He seemed to accept the consequences of clocking Steve the Rat Fink upside the head. I liked to think he, at least, understood the gravity of a blood feud. Sacrifices had to be made. Although him and my mother sharing a cell at the Hollywood police station, mom sliding a cup across the bars, shrieking “Attica!” was a bit much. Dignity was a hallmark of the really good blood feuds.  I walked over to Patrolman 1.

Me: “Can I talk to you in private?”

Mom: “What for?  Why do you want to talk to this narish pots?”

Me: “Stupid dick.”

Mom: “Stop telling him what I’m saying! You’re making it worse! He’ll lock us up and throw away the key!”

Patrolman 1 led me over to his squad car. The trailer park manager, half man, half golf cart, grinned.

Trailer Park Manager: “Lock him up too, Officer!”

Patrolman 1: “I see you’re still winning people over wherever you go.”

Me: “It’s a gift.”

Patrolman 1: “You know I’m just trying to put a scare into your brother. And those lowlifes—” he jerked his head over at the clustered Rat Fink family. “—want to press charges.”

Me: “They won’t press charges. Just tell them you’ll need to step inside their trailer to take their statements in private. They’ll fall all over themselves to send you away.”

He grinned.

Patrolman 1: “And why is that? Do they not want me in their trailer for some reason?”

Me: “They do not.”

Patrolman 1: “Interesting. Tell me. Is your brother a danger to himself or others?”

Me: “Probably not. But my mother will be a danger to you if you take them to jail. Can you whip up some sort of hideous kosher meal for them? Will they get to watch TV together? And just wait till her lawyer shows up. She’ll sue you and the city for a hundred million dollars.”

Patrolman 1: “For what?”

Me: “Does it matter? Do we all want to be on the news, for God’s sake?”

Patrolman 1: “Probably not.”

Me: “Besides, if you haul Layne and his mother off to the big house, I’ll be left here alone. My stepfather’s working, and I’m a helpless minor.”

Patrolman 1 (chuckling): “You poor thing.”

Mom: “SSSSSStace! Quit talking to that Nazi!”

Patrolman 1: “I think she wants to go to jail.”

Me: “By now she does. She and her son are going to martyr themselves for the cause.”

Patrolman 1: “What cause is that?”

Me: “No one knows. But they can’t stop now or all will be lost.”

Patrolman 1: “That actually makes some kind of sense.”

Me: “We’ll make a Jew out of you yet. Can I come to your Bar Mitzvah?”

Patrolman 1: “As long as you bring a gift.”

Me: “That’s the spirit.”

I followed him back to where my mother and Layne sat side by side, waiting to be handcuffed, beaten with sticks, and shoved into the back of a patrol car.

Me: “Take them away, Officer.”

My mother glared at me.

Mom: “You’re just like your father, that son of a bitch.”

Patrolman 1: “Ma’am, I’m not taking your son in.”

Mom: “Because he’s innocent! I told you!”

Patrolman 1: “It would leave your other son here by himself.”

Mom: “Oh, him. He’ll be fine, that one.”

Me: “Do you want to go to jail?”

Patrolman 1 looked at Layne the Favorite.

Patrolman 1: “I’m going to let you off with a warning. Never pick up a weapon if you get in a fight. Unless you’re defending yourself.”

Layne the Favorite nodded.  Patrolman 1 walked over to the Rat Fink family, his arms folded. He said something to them. Merle the Ratterfamilias ripped the ball cap off his head with his one good arm and flung it on the ground. I could hear his voice raised as he yelled at Patrolman 1, but not what he was saying. Patrolman 1 gestured at their motor home and took a step toward it. Merle the Ratterfamilias got in front of him, his hand out, a toothless grin on his face. Patrolman 1 shrugged and walked back to his car. The crowd gazed at him expectantly. The trailer park manager kept looking between me and the cop. His face fell when Patrolman 1 got in his car and drove away.

Me: “Better luck next time.”

The trailer park manager glared at me and zoomed away, nearly clipping some of our neighbors with his golf cart. The crowd dispersed after that. The Rat Fink family retreated to their trailer, looking like survivors of a vicious animal attack.  It felt like we were winning this blood feud. We had them on the ropes.

Mom: “Her hair really does look good. I’m going to go ask her to come down to the salon for a conditioner treatment.”  I sighed. Hopefully my descendants would do better.

You can buy Trailer Trash With A Girl’s Name: Father Figures on Amazon.com.  Follow Stacey Roberts on Facebook and Twitter

Bio

Stacey Roberts spent his childhood traveling the country in his family’s Winnebago. They eventually settled in Florida, where he attended Florida State University and the University of Miami. To his mother’s consternation, he pursued a major in English literature instead of finance. He rebelled further by receiving his master’s degree in early-modern European history from the University of Cincinnati. He can now both impress and frustrate the room with obscure references to Roman emperors and English monarchs.

Roberts founded his own computer consulting firm in 1994. He lives in Northern Kentucky with his wife, Nikki, and their Goldendoodle, Augustus.

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

Advertisements
Categories: book reviews and excerpts | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here is my interview with Paul De Lancey (From Fiona Mcvie’s Authorsinterviews

authorsinterviews

51M-YQmbjCL._UX250_

Name Paul De Lancey

Age 57

Where are you from Poway, California

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc

Me: I obtained my Doctorate in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. My thesis, “Official Reserve Management and Forecasts of Official Reserves,” disappears from bookstore shelves so quickly that most would-be purchasers can never find it in stock.

I am a direct descendant of the great French Emperor Napoleon. Actually, that explains a lot of things. I ran for President of the United Statesin 2012! Woo hoo! On the Bacon & Chocolate ticket.  El Candidato also lost a contentious campaign to be El Presidente of Venezuela. In late 2013, Chef Paul participated in the International Bento Competition.

I make my home, with my wonderful wife and two sons, in Poway, California. I divide my time between being awake and asleep.

 

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

View original post 2,710 more words

Categories: humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trailer Trash with a Girl’s Name” by Stacey Roberts – Book Review

StaceyPicStacey Roberts is an amazing writer. He has taken a horrifying childhood and made it a funny adventure. Stacey has transformed a dysfunctional family into one we love toTrailerCov follow. Indeed, he has performed an immense public service. Stacey’s hilarious descriptions of his mother’s red-onion-and-ginger meals pushed the memory of eating lutefisk out of my mind. Well, almost. This book was so good it got the coveted “I’m reading it while in the bathtub” status.

 Trailer Trash with a Girl’s Name is available on amazon.com

Check out his author page on amazon.com

– Paul R. De Lancey, reviewer

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spotlight on Stacey Roberts, author of “Trailer Trash with a Girl’s Name”

Stacey Roberts

Chapter Two: A Bastard’s Thanksgiving…With a Side of Gravy

Uncle George was a bastard. I knew this because my mother always called him one, and she was specific with titles. My Uncle Stuart was a drinker, her business partner was a schmuck, and my father was a son of a bitch. Her business partner was never a son of a bitch, and my father was never a drinker, even when he drank. I could never aspire to be a schmuck, no matter how hard I tried. Uncle George was pigeonholed: once a bastard, always a bastard.

I even asked my mother: “Why can’t Daddy be a bastard?”

Mom: “Because he’s a son of a bitch.” Done. She was the FDA of human frailty – whatever was wrong with you, she knew it, and gave you a label.

Me: “So what am I?”

Mom: “You’re just like your father.”

Me: “So I’m a son of a bitch?”

Mom: “Go to bed.”

Uncle George the Bastard wasn’t a dictionary definition bastard – his parents were married – they were Irish Catholic and probably promised to each other at age five. He was the other kind of bastard, the colloquial kind, who despised bitches, niggers, spics, dogs, cats, kids, hebes, and my grandma.

He spoke only after long silences and thought good parenting was striking any misbehaving kid with whatever he could lay his hands on. You didn’t pee in his pool and you didn’t sit in his chair. You didn’t think for one second that your favorite TV show could possibly preempt whatever he was watching. You rode in the back seat of whatever he drove and when he told you to go fetch that thing over there and bring it back to him, you didn’t ask him, “Which thing over where?” unless you wanted to wake up sixty seconds later on the ground; you brought over all you could carry as fast as you could.

He had been a police sergeant when my father was on the force, back in the 1950’s, a decade and a half before they each met and married Jewish sisters. Uncle George the Bastard was the one who packed up my father’s shit when my mother threw him out of the house.

My mother had called her sister in a rage.

Mom: “Sis, that son of a bitch. Send George over here to pack up his shit and put it out on the curb. Sssssssssssssssss.”

She added a long hissing sibilant to the end of her words so you knew she was mad or making a point.

At this point, my Aunt Maxine (Sissy to everyone) did not do a number of things: She did not ask what Fred had done this time. She did not protest that George and Fred had been best friends since the Second World War. She did not say that George was busy eating, watching TV, beating one of his kids, degrading my grandmother, or complaining about Gerald Ford. She put down her quilting and pressed the phone to her breast.

Aunt Sissy (looking at Uncle George the Bastard): “George. Carol wants you to put Fred’s shit out on the curb.”

He looked back at her, his watery Irish blue eyes cold, falling into one of his deadly silences like an archer pulling back the drawstring on a bow. Sissy stared at him with coal black eyes and an implacable face only two generations removed from icy Polish farmland.

Aunt Sissy: “George. Just go now.”

I don’t know how Uncle George the Bastard felt about siding with family over his best friend, but he must have gone. My father’s shit did indeed hit the curb in 1976. I watched from the window, my mother standing behind me, her arms folded, her lips pursed.

Me: “Mom, what’s Uncle George doing?”

Mom: “Putting your father’s shit out on the curb. That son of a bitch.”

Me: “Why is his shit going out to the curb?”

Mom: “Because I’m not having it in this house anymore.”

My mother never answered the question being asked – she made it sound like we were out of room to store things or that my father’s golf clubs and underpants were toxic and slowly killing us all.

I asked “why the curb” because the back porch was closer, which would have made the job easier on Uncle George the Bastard. Apparently the use of the curb was part of some kind of 1970’s divorce ritual as stringent as leaning left at Passover or the wine-to-bread ratio of a Catholic mass. There was a system:

Step 1: Put the offender’s belongings on the curb.

Step 2: Change the locks.

Step 3: Leave a note:

Fred,

Your shit is on the curb.

You’re a real son of a bitch.

Carol

Step 4: Reassure the children.

Mom: “Layner, I’ve put your father’s shit on the curb.”

Step 5: Turn the children against the missing parent.

Layne the Favorite: “That son of a bitch.”

As a practical matter, it meant my father had to drive up our long driveway, go to the back porch, try his key, curse, read the note, hurl more expletives, drive back down to the street, collect his shit, swear eternal vengeance upon my mother, and depart.

Our street was a busy two lane road, so he had to park along the curb with his emergency flashers on so cars would detour around him while he packed up his shit. I’m sure more than one man driving by that scene felt some sympathy for him:

Anonymous New Jersey Man: “Oh, hell. His shit’s on the curb. That poor son of a bitch.”

***

Uncle George the Bastard was the king of Thanksgiving in 1980. He had retired after twenty years on the force and moved his family from Cranford, New Jersey, a mile from my house, to a farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, which was four hours away. That year was the first Thanksgiving we spent with them. Not sure why we couldn’t do it when the drive didn’t require pee stops, but I wasn’t in charge of anything at all until the early nineties, and then for maybe three days before I got married.

That Thanksgiving was the first time I ever had gravy. Can a good gravy change your life? This one did. Jews should reconsider gravy. We don’t use it for anything. It’s made from meat drippings and a thickening agent. It’s something you would normally throw away that instead gets resurrected and used. If we Jews had put gravy on trial before we pitched it out, it would be Jesus. In the genteel cold war between our religion and that of the Goyim, gravy is Easter.  It is nowhere close to what God had in mind when He freed us from slavery in Egypt to wander the desert, eat flat crackers, and wait a dozen centuries for the Cossacks to storm down from the hills and pee in our wells.

My mother can’t cook, and knows God is okay with that. If He thought His Chosen could prepare food properly, why all the dietary restrictions? Instead of saying, “Undercooked pork can kill you, so do it right,” He ordered, “No pork.” It implies a lack of confidence in our culinary talents. He could have said, “Cook two cubits of pork over a dry fire for five minutes.” Whatever a cubit is.

So, no pork. My mother is food obsessed, and believes herself to be a great Talmudic scholar in pursuit of the Lord’s plan. At my wedding, she ruled that there must be a kosher meal. The wedding planner offered fish. My mother agreed. All fish is kosher, she informed me, so we were good.

During my first Thanksgiving on the farm, I noticed my cousins passing around a weird porcelain boat.

Me: “What’s that?”

Cousin David: “Gravy.”

Me: “What do you put it on?”

Cousin David: (dreamily) “Everything.”

I took the gravy boat.

Mom (catching my eye): “SSSSSSSSSSStace. Don’t eat that crap.”

Me: “But it has its own special dish!”

We Jews love that sort of thing. Passover has its own segmented dish. Wine goes in special cups at Bar Mitzvahs. This gravy boat must have been a relic of one of the lost tribes of Israel, so I brought it back into the fold, covering turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn, and cranberry sauce with it.

My brother, Layne the Favorite, obediently choked his food down dry. I was so covered in gravy I needed a bath when I was done. I asked my Aunt Sissy, who I now believed to be the world’s best cook, what was in her spectacular stuffing, which was so unlike any I had ever had.

Her face got bright red.

Aunt Sissy (through clenched teeth): “Nothing special.”

My mother, who never ate stuffing, looked at me wide-eyed.

Mom: “SSSSSStace. It’s stuffing. It’s bread. What’s wrong with you?”

My aunt hustled me from the table to scrub the gravy from my hair and shoes.

Aunt Sissy (whispering): “There’s pork sausage in the stuffing. If your mother knew she would just kill me. Or give me a title. Sissy the Corrupter. Something like that. You know how she is.”

Me: “It’s got a nice ring to it. I think I’ve got gravy in my belly button.”

Aunt Sissy: “I’m not gonna risk it over a side dish.” She wiped away a glob of gravy from the back of my left knee.

Me (also whispering and horrified): “But Grandma eats the stuffing. She loves it.” Grandma was very religious.

Aunt Sissy: “Grandma eats lobster too.”

Everything I knew about the book of Exodus hit me like a brick made from Nile river mud.

Me: “Lobster’s not kosher…”

Aunt Sissy: (shrugging) “Nope. How did you get gravy in your ears?”

Me: “You ARE a corrupter! Can you teach my mother to cook?”

Aunt Sissy: “No. No one can.”

Aunt Sissy: “Why are you crying? It’s just a little spilled gravy.”

 

About the AuthorStaceyPic

Stacey Roberts was born in a smoky hospital in New Jersey in 1971. Nine years later, he and his family moved into a Winnebago and traveled across the country. After several near-death experiences, they settled first in California and then Florida.

He attended college at Florida State University and University of Miami, where he received his B.A. in English Literature instead of Finance, which was a great disappointment to his mother.

He went on to get a Master’s degree in Early Modern European History at the University of Cincinnati, to which his mother said, “SSSStace. History? What do you need that for? What is wrong with you?”

His mother was right. He didn’t need it for anything, except to make arcane references about the Roman Empire or Henry VIII that no one else understands.

He founded a computer consulting firm outside of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1994, and resides in Northern Kentucky with his two brilliant daughters and their less than brilliant yellow dog Sophie.

TRAILER TRASH, WITH A GIRL’S NAME is his first novel.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: