Sneak Peek Into My Work in Progress

HAZEL STREET – From Chapter One of the memoir The Cobbler’s Daughter

Click. I wake to the sound of the light switch. I sit up, look out the hallway windows and see it’s still dark.

“Come on, kids,” my father says, standing by our bed. His black hair is combed back from his face. “We’re going bowling.”

“What time is it?” my brother Tony asks, rubbing his eyes.

My father smiles. “What are you, a cop?”

Tony and I crawl out of bed. We pull on T-shirts and jeans. I don’t remember if we brush our teeth or wash our faces. I doubt we brush our hair.

We drive across town to Brandywine Bowl where a bunch of my father’s friends are already waiting. Inside the walls are cream-colored, the lanes are wood, and everything else is harvest gold. The carpet is a vast ocean of blue.

Before my father joins his friends, he hands Tony a wad of dollar bills and says “Go get something to eat.” We run to the snack shop. It’s like a dream: Wise potato chips, Slim Jims, City Chicken (Turkey on a Stick), French fries, Cokes. We even have enough left over for the pinball machine.

High on soda, Tony and I chase each other back and forth through the nearly empty building. If we bother my father, he throws us more money. We eat and play to our hearts’ delight. We stay until the Pepsi clock reads 1:00 a.m. My father hands back his shoes. Drops his ball in his bag and we leave.

I squeeze in between him and Tony in the front seat of his 1965 red Chrysler Corvair convertible. My hair blows in the wind—free and loose.

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A Torn Raincheck and Definition of Love

Last night, after working a thirteen-hour day, I tucked myself in bed between my lab/newfie and lab/pitbull. My 22-year-old daughter had been kind enough to look after my nine-year-old son for the evening and had just gone home. “Vinny” was showered and in his pajamas, but was suffering from a meltdown because I wouldn’t let him bring his computer game to bed. It was past his bed time.

“You said we could read a bedtime story,” he yelled.

“But you were playing Minecraft,” I said. “And now it’s time for bed. How about a raincheck?”

“What’s a raincheck?”

“It means I’ll make good on the deal tomorrow night.”

He came in my room and gave me a big hug. “OK.”

I started playing Words with Friends, so happy to see the day come to an end. Then I heard Vinny crying from his bedroom.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I’m sad.”

“Why?”

“Because I really want a bedtime story tonight.”

I sighed and thought of my father. Not once during my childhood did I ever get a bedtime story. My brother and I were told “go to bed.” We tucked our selves in. My father blared music, threw parties, had women over. Our childhood was chaotic at best. But how can I listen to those sniffles and not be moved?

“Pick out a book!”

Vinny brings in The Five Chinese Brothers, one of my all-time favorites.

I am not happy. But I tear up the raincheck and read him the book. After we finish, he kisses me. He says, Thank You. He tells me Good Night. I am too tired to play Words with Friends. I tell myself this is Love.