20090212

Laurie Was Kinda My Friend

by Pamila Payne

Six years old, new in the neighborhood, keen to make friends, I wheeled up on my tricycle and watched the girl, bigger than me, maybe a year older, as she wrapped a rope around a big metal mailbox atop a pole out in front of the trailer where she lived. "You want to play jump rope?" I asked. "Nope," she said, wrapping the other end around her neck several times, "I'm having a sue-side, stand back." I realized what she was trying to do then, having watched a fair amount of black and white westerns on TV with my grampa, and didn't hesitate to give her the reaction she must have been hoping for, "NO," I cried, "don't do it!" I didn't see her mother, dressed in her pink truck stop waitress uniform, standing on the porch with her arms folded and a cigarette dangling off her lip, until the the girl jumped up once and came down as if doing a cannonball into a pool, her weight pulling tight against the rope for a second, before the mailbox pole and its glob of cement in the sand pulled up and tipped forward to set her down hard on her rump, her mother clapping her hands like an unimpressed spectator. The girl began to cry and her mother stomped over to unwrap the rope, the cigarette bobbing on her lip as she spoke faster than anybody I'd ever heard, "Oh for god's sake, you're all right, stupid as you are," she swiped her on the butt and gave her shoulders a shake as she went on, "now stop that, you know I gotta go to work, why don't you ask this little girl here to come inside and have some lunch with you, watch some cartoons, come on, make a friend," and not pausing as she dragged her daughter up the stairs, she looked over her shoulder at me, "You like grilled cheese?"

6S

Pamila Payne writes fiction fueled by personal details and distorted through the lens of an imperfect memory. (Click here to make a donation to Pamila, half of which will support 6S.)

18 comments:

Paul Brazill said...

This is wonderful. I can get more from your 6's thank i can from many novels.

Absolutely*Kate said...

Cheese oh man, this isn't a mere grilled six -- It's a life pausing in mid-happen. And oh, how dialog and the character of characters dust off their rumps in this one.

Great write, Pamila. I heard the mailbox drop.

~ Absolutely*Kate

Jodi MacArthur said...

Written like it happened everyday and oh, so mundane as a grilled cheese sandwich. The startling truth is how real this is. No matter how bizzare the situation your characters always shine of truth, Pamila. Well done.

Melody said...

Excellent six, I love the detail and dialogue. If I read this as an introduction to a novel I would most definitely take it home and read it. Well done!

Glen Binger said...

The dialogue makes this six what it is. Good job!

Rohan said...

Very nicely done, Pamila. This one will stay with me, congratulations.

Pamila Payne said...

Thanks for reading and commenting - this was written from memory just as it happened. And yeah, my friendship with that poor kid was troubled.

Cormac Brown said...

Gripping dysfunction.

Kevin Michaels said...

Phenomenal. Deep and vividly descriptive with a nice touch of pain/angst and little kid confusion mixed in. The dialogue is dead solid perfect. Excellent six!

Harry said...

Pamila you always impress me! Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

This takes me back many years. I was able to slip right into your POV character. (you?)It is so vivid. I really wish there was more of this 6. Could we have a 12?

Jeanette Cheezum

Laurita said...

Excellent. The dysfunction of the situation as seen through a child's eyes is gripping. I want to know more about this friendship, as I'm sure it would be filled with many more miserable/fascinating events.

austere said...

More, please.

David H. said...

Wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Pamila..This peace is unbelievably good. Just Wonderful. I wish I could read more about these two friends.

Kathleen Gilbert

Madam Z said...

This is so REAL, that I KNEW that it was real, as I was reading it. I'm pretty sure that I knew you both. Did it happen in Los Angeles?

Pamila Payne said...

Madame Z, this happened in Santa Clarita, the bastard desert suburb of Los Angeles. If you knew me when I was a kid, you were probably mean to me. ; )

Madam Z said...

I hope I wouldn't have been mean to you. When *I* was a kid, I was always the recipient of the meanness. But some of my tormenters were also tormented by kids higher on the social totem pole, so who knows? If there had ever been a kid even lower on the pole than I was, maybe I would have been mean to him or her. Shit rolls downhill, as they say.

But I prefer to think that I would have been nice to you, and hope you would have been nice to me. :)