Before you read this excerpt, here’s a quick announcement. The project this comes from is my Camp NaNoWriMo projected called “The Tallboy,” a biographical fiction based loosely on one of my family members. I am including other writing projects I’m currently working on into the word count goal because I’m not sure I can reach it on this story alone, and because I can’t say no to the ideas in my head. For this same reason, I’ve also started a second blog featuring various works of manga. Check it out!
I grew up in a little house by a lake. I would probably venture to say that many houses in the area were by a lake. Minnesota is known as the land of a thousand lakes after all. So, no matter where you built, you were guaranteed to be not far from a lake, be it big or small.
I think saying it was a little house would be a bit of a misnomer as well. It probably felt small to me because by the time I arrived, it was pretty much packed full. When I was born, I gained the title ‘baby’ of the family, and ended up holding on to it because I ended up being the last child that my parents would pop out. By the time my first memories started forming, my two older brothers and two older sisters were already ‘big kids’ as you might say. So, there we all were, in that little house by a lake.
My father, Lawrence, was a working man. As a kid, that meant to me that he was always leaving the house going to work. He managed a movie theater there in the little town where we lived. Until a certain age though, I never saw it. My mother, Marinda, was always at home without a doubt, taking care of my siblings and I. However, she never had enough time to devote to each of us, especially when it was just here trying to run around after all five of us.
My two brothers, Randy and Perry, were the trouble makers. I can remember my mother running around after them the most, trying to keep them from hurting themselves or others. My two sisters, Sarah and Ilene, were the oldest siblings. I remember them being the ones who often were taking care of me; preparing meals, getting me dressed. They probably ended up changing my diapers a few times too.
By the time I was old enough to go to school, I was also helping out my father at the theater. It was almost like my playground where I could go to hang out after school. I was often forced to help, though. My father would spend most of his time fiddling with the two projectors; feeding the reels, checking sound, alignment, ordering new films. Then he would run around to the front and take the nickels for the ticket price and let people in.
At least one of my siblings was coming in if something came up with one of the part time workers couldn’t make it. They would often get stuck either making the popcorn for the guests, or cleaning it up after they had left. I don’t think they liked it very much.
My favorite job was always concession. Candy was always delivered in big boxes, holding what seemed like endless packages of candy and bars of chocolate. My first time seeing it was like I had stepped into heaven itself. One day while my father was busy, the candy got the better of me. I was stocking the glass case at the front of the concession stand, and the bright orange wrapper (yes, they were orange back then, not blue) of the Almond Joy bars caught my attention like no other. After I had filled up the case the best I could, I took the spare bars and snuck them back to the storage room.
I can’t remember how many of those I ate, but my stomach was full to the point where I had lost all hope of getting up and out of the room to hide the evidence. When it did seem that I was able to move again, my first few steps out the door started a chain reaction in my eight year old stomach to send the chocolate and coconut flying out of my mouth and all over the floor behind the concession stand. Even worse were the people who had been waiting to be served, by myself no less. As soon as they caught sight of this kid vomiting all over the bags of kernels they might be consuming, they quickly turned tail.
Not only did my father have to refund their tickets, but he had to clean up a good part of the mess and throw out the food that had been soiled by my half-digested confections. I had never seen my father so angry. My father had yelled at both my mother and my siblings many times by then. I had thought I had become used to it, but upon my first time experiencing it myself, it sent me into a violet crying fit that lasted until my mother came and picked me up.
I can’t remember if my father ever apologized for yelling and screaming and cussing like he did. I also can’t remember if I returned to work at the theater much, either.