When I woke this morning my mom was standing there like she’d been watching me sleep. When she saw my eyes open she clucked her tongue, the way she always had, and smoothed my hair back off my forehead.
She smiled, “Sally, you made it. We weren’t sure if you would for awhile, there was some heated debates going on.”
“What are you talking about, Ma?”
“We wasn’t sure they was gonna let you in, but looks like they did, allright. Did you really kill all those people on that bridge?”
I knew immediately what she was talking about, but I was confused. “That was wartime, Ma. How’d you find out about that? Wait a minute… what are you doing here? You passed on years ago. Where am I?” I looked over her shoulder and saw my dad’s mother, Gramma Nonie; my dad, and my sister Carmella. “You guys? None of you can be here either. What’s going on?”
Carmella leaned forward, “This is heaven, Sal,” she snapped her gum, “this is heaven and we’re all here ‘cause we’re dead. You’re dead too.”
“Dead – No, I’m not dead. I don’t feel any different. I’d feel different if I was dead.”
My mother just looked at me nodding her head. “Yeah, we all thought that too. We doan though, and despite what your sister says, I’m not sure that this is heaven either. I mean, your father is here with his mother. Your Uncle Vinnie’s here too. That doan seem like heaven to me. I never liked those people… Well, maybe your father for a year or two. I shoulda left him, but the family, ya know, and the church; I was stuck.”
“Ma, I don’t want to hear this. I can’t be dead, what…”
My father interrupted me, waving his hands, “Course you’re dead Sally. What’s the last thing ya ‘member?”
Everybody turned to look at me.
“Me and a couple of the guys were doing a job on the hill. I opened the safe, and got the cash in a bag. We were getting ready to leave when I saw the red lights flashing through the window. I hightailed it out the back with the bag in hand. I don’t know what happened after that.”
“You was prolly shot by the cops while you was tryin’ to ‘scape,” Dad said, “at least that’s what it’ll say in the report.” He pointed his finger at me and he grinned that lopsided grin that everyone loved so much, specially the ladies, which was why my mom and dad hadn’t gotten along real well.
I sat up in the bed and my Gramma Nonie came around and took my hand, “You just need a little time to adjust, Sally,” she said. “Let me make you somethin’ to eat. What can I get you?”
“I’m not hungry Nonie, thanks. Who else is here?”
“Family, it’s all family,” Ma butted in, “unfortunately, it’s all his family.” She made an obscene hand gesture towards my father.
My dad frowned, “Enough of that shit, Rosie. Knock it off, and all of youse get the hell outa here. I gotta talk to Sally.” Everybody started mumbling and turned away, shuffled off. Dad watched ‘em till they were out of earshot then he turned back to me. “I told you not to work for Jimmy. I told you that years ago, but you wouldn’t listen. Dangerous work, I said. Working for Jimmy’ll get ya killed, I said, but you wouldn’ listen to me. Nooooo, you only saw easy money, booze, and broads. That’s what you wanted; and I hate to say I tole ya so, but I tole ya so.” He slapped the back of my head like he had done when I was a kid.
“Hey, shit. Dad?”
He smacked the back of my head again, “watch yer fuckin’ mouth. Yer mother’s right over there.”
“OK, OK sorry, but what difference does it make now?”
“Listen Sally, yer mother’s right. I don’t know where we are but it doan seem like heaven to me. Me an Vinny, we’re plannin’ to get outta here, but it ain’t easy. Now doan point and doan look but you see that hill over my shoulder? The one with the single tree growin’ on the top.”
“There’s a fence just the other side o’ that tree, youse caint see it from here. Bob wire. We just need to get to the other side o’ that fence an we’ll be home free. We go tonight after yer mother and sister get ta sleep.”
Everything worked smoothly till we were walking down the backside of the hill and heard my Ma’s mother, Gramma Rosie; after whom my mother was named. She was cackling and hollering, “Well, look who’s come ‘a callin’,” she shouted.
This week’s prompts are:
- I don’t feel any different
- Life in flip flops
- Go easy on the cayenne