Seen and Heard

copper and nickel plated bb pellets

She was still asleep. No, she wasn’t.

She stood on one foot and scratched the back of her heel with the other. What was she doing up? Oh. Toilet.

She started to pull open the bedroom door, then stopped, realizing the Victorian decorations on the door frame, on the iron knob, were soft looking, out of focus. Glasses. Easier to find the way to the toilet while wearing glasses. As she took tiny, scooting, sleep-steps back to the bedside, she became aware that there was light leaking into the bedroom through the partially open door. She could hear her mother and stepfather talking, probably as they sat around the dining table. Absent-mindedly, she picked up her glasses and slipped them on, then walked quietly back to the door. An opportunity to eavesdrop on adults should never be bypassed.

“We just got here,” Danny was saying, “and we’re already out of money.”

“First and last on this place took most of it,” Mom replied.

“Ain’t been able to find work. Need to buy a job and I don’t wanna hustle for it.”

Mom laughed. “You don’t have the figure for it anymore, anyway.”

Danny didn’t laugh with her.

“Okay,” Mom said. A chair creaked and thumped as it moved back from the table. A cupboard was opened and closed. Something put down on the table.

“Shit,” Danny said, his voice resigned.

“Where do you want to do this?”

“San Pedro. Drunk sailors by Shanghai Red’s. I know the area good.” His soft Southern accent made the poor grammar sound somehow acceptable.

Her bladder reminded her with a sharp rebuke why she was awake in the first place, and she pulled open the door to stand in the lighted room beyond.

“Hey, kitten,” Danny said.

“What are you doing up, baby?” Mom asked.

“Bathroom,” she replied. “What are those?”

Danny was holding a nylon stocking open at the top and Mom was using a teacup to fill it with metal beads.

“BB pellets,” Danny told her. “They use them in BB guns.”

“We’re making a blackjack,” Mom said.

“What’s a blackjack?”

“If you hit somebody over the head with one,” Mom was still pouring BBs, “you can knock them out.”

She thought about this, decided she didn’t want to know anymore and walked away to the bathroom. When she came back, she didn’t look at the table, but went directly to the bedroom door.

“Want Mama to tuck you in?

“No, thanks.”

“Okay, sleep tight, baby.”

“Sleep good, kitten.”

She shut the bedroom door and took off her glasses. The room was once again out of focus and softer. It was too bad there wasn’t such a thing as glasses for your ears.


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