Cold Feelings
by Richard L. Levesque

I couldn’t live with my father. He moaned and shouted in his sleep, occasionally drowning out the Van Halen and AC/DC blaring from the jukebox in the bar below his apartment. So when my mother got us evicted from her place, I moved with her and my sisters to a one bedroom unit not far away. We took what we could fit into the back of a pickup truck. We left everything else behind.

In the truck bed, I sat across from my Uncle Edward. We glared at each other. A few months earlier, I had charged at him with a baseball bat. He was one of many who leaned on my mother when times were tough. But the extra bodies never seemed to translate into extra income. And all of these people felt they had the right to tell me what to do. I disagreed. I snapped. I came through the dining room swinging. Edward tackled me to the ground, pulled my hair, and knocked my head on the hardwood floor repeatedly. He gave up only when I told him to keep going. I didn’t care anymore.

Eventually, the cops came and drove me to my part-time job at Burger King. I called my mother from the phone closest to the drive-thru window. “It’s him or me,” I whispered. She told me he was already gone. I hadn’t seen him again until he showed up to help us move.

The new apartment was really small and had a bad mouse problem. My youngest sister slept with my mother in the living room. My oldest sister, the bedroom. I took the enclosed back porch. There was no insulation or heat back there. I slept with five blankets on my bed for years.

I had nowhere else to go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This is me in my frozen tundra of a porch bedroom in Amesbury, Massachusetts, probably around 1988 or ’89. I was 21 or 22 at the time. (I was in my senior year of high school when the events of the story took place.) The bedroom was just big enough to get two dressers, two bookcases, my bed, and a stereo in. To get power and cable to my little black and white television, I had to run cords through a window that led to my sister’s room.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I used this prompt to see how much fat I could trim off a particular memory and still have it read like a story. For the most part, I think I did okay. The one detail I had to cut was of a neighborhood bully yelling out, “Look! A junk sale!” as we drove by on our way to the new place. On a more positive note, because it was always cold and filled with horror memorabilia in there, none of my family ever ventured into my room. Which always worked in my favor if I had a girlfriend over.

levesque3 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard L. Levesque has been writing and publishing poetry since 1991. He is the author of two chapbooks, Bone-Break Psychobilly Stew and Fetal Graceland. He is currently working on a third chapbook, Carriagetown Frogs, about his life growing up in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife Lorrie.