Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The New Grill

Most people had never seen either parental figure at the Klecko household, though we all assumed that certainly one must have always been inside.  It never would have occurred to us that the boys were actually fending for themselves in the small suburban house.  That would have been something completely extraordinary, and nothing extraordinary had ever happened in our general area for all of recorded history.  So when we heard other parents make comments like “it’s like those boys have been raised by wolves”, we didn’t know how close to the truth that was, assuming you agreed that the family german shepherd Simba carried any authority in the home.  I saw the Dad every now and then.  He was a guy with a brush cut that always wore short sleeve dress shirts.  My image of him is of fishing a cigarette out of the pocket while threatening the boys.

The eldest brother Tom was a shadowy figure.  Tom had an acoustic guitar he continually plucked at while lying on his bed in his room.  Despite hours and hours of him plinking, he never improved and I do not believe he could play a song from beginning to end.  He did know the beginning of “Ziggy Stardust” though, and after a failed attempt at “Stairway To Heaven”, he would often retreat back to the comfortable chord changes of Ziggy.  Tom had long blonde hair and always wore a fringed leather jacket.  He liked to smoke cigarettes while leaning against the basketball pole, secure in his role as the elder statesman.  Tom had a beautiful girlfriend that broke up with him that May, and for most of the summer he wore that heartache like a bruise.  Whenever I saw Peter Fonda in a movie, it always made me think of Tom. 

Terry was a year younger than Tom.  At the time, it was popular to say that Terry “just wasn’t right”.  I overheard my elderly neighbors say once, “I think Terry is touched”.  The bottom line was Terry was fucking crazy.  Everyone was nervous when Terry was around, even Tom.  Terry had a short fuse, and the slightest thing would set him off.  He was generally suspended from school for fighting, so I didn’t see him there very often.  My policy with Terry was to avoid him at all costs so as to minimize the chance of him going crazy on me.  The last time I physically saw Terry was when he made a crying teenage boy jump off a train trestle 25 feet into a creek.  Somehow the boy’s parents got involved, which led to the police getting involved, which led to Terry enlisting in the Navy as a way to “straighten him out and give him some structure”.  Two years later I heard Terry punched his commanding officer in the face, jumped into the harbor in Manila and was AWOL.

I was friends with Joey, the youngest.  Joey was a tough kid, but he had some substance to him.  He was a 13 year old boy that had this leathery exterior with sadness in his eyes.  Joey was really bright, but would play down his intelligence.  I think Terry would beat him if Joey made him feel stupid, so Joey just kept quiet even when he knew the answers to things.  Joey was always very dodgy whenever I would ask about his parents.  My understanding was his father traveled a lot and his mother worked nights.  I remember seeing his father once in a while, but never his mother.  I stopped asking about her when he blew up on me one afternoon and punched me in the stomach.  As boys we were used to hitting each other, but this was far over the line over our wordlessly agreed violence level.  That was the end of that.

By the time I got to high school I didn’t spend much time at the Klecko house.  I was on the college prep plan, and Joey had fallen in with “the rats”, a.k.a. the kids that took shop class and went to tech classes.  We had been pretty close, but after a year in a new clique, we hardly even acknowledged each other any longer.  High school has strict rules after all.  One day I saw a “For Sale” sign in front of their house, and they moved out shortly afterwards.  An Indian family moved in with a girl in my class.  She and I never interacted once.  Her father had that bushy mustache Indian fathers always seemed to have, and would stare at us boys with crossed arms and an all-knowing expression as if he had just saved his chunky silent daughter from our ravenous sexual advances.    

The only reason I mention the Indian family at all is because during my second year of college they decided to put in a new patio.  When the workers dug up the area for the ultra-deluxe 50,000 btu Weber Grill station area, they were shocked to discover human remains.  The authorities later matched the dental records of the skull with that of Mrs. Klecko.  I remember reading the small print typed item from a USA Today clipping my father sent me to my dorm mailbox.   They found Mr. Klecko living in Galveston TX.  They arrested him, but I think he claimed Terry did it while he was away and he just couldn’t turn his son in.  He went to jail for a lot less time than you’d think.  They never found Terry.  When I heard about that whole thing, it sure explained a lot about that summer and about Joey.

The Indian family sold the house at a loss about a year later.  Someone named Garrison lives there now.  They seem nice.    


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