Feeding The Habit

"I will go in this Way, Oh but I will find my own way out." -Dave Matthews

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Short Comings

When Johnny was three years old, he would lay on the dirt caked hardwood floor, exhausted over the rough day of play. He would lift his two little blackened feet over his head cutely and grab his toes looking at me. Generally he would miss one at first and it took a few tries before he could get a firm grasp on them both. “Look daddy, I have two!” he would exclaim. Kids. I just smiled at him and leaned in my chair, rocking it far back while I stared out the window over the cool Georgia Mountains. The soil wasn’t good there but there weren’t too many people around either and I liked that. Somehow, it’s what made me feel normal.

It seemed everyone in town loved Johnny just as much as me. They were always giving him free things and going on about “how cute.” All I had to do was roll into the hardware store and Mr. Johnson was already fishing about for his latest slingshot. Someone really should have told him a three year old has no business with a slingshot, but I just let it go. I’m still not really sure how he didn’t mind Johnny running all over the store but the old man ate it up. Sometimes even, on the few occasions he could get the boy’s attention, he would stand there hopping up and down making faces while Johnny rocked back and forth humming the star spangled banner off key. I think maybe Mr. Johnson didn’t feel quite so normal up here in the mountains and Johnny just reminded him of a better time. A time when he felt free. For what ever reasons though, I tolerated it. He was a beautiful boy.

By the time Johnny was turning four, I was glad. Kids have to be kids. They have to run wild overturning every rock they can come too. It's such a wide world of mystery, especially with the deep dark crevices of the mountains looming all around. I'll be the last one to hold them back. But really though, I had had enough. He was always running all over and out of control. He did it to taunt me I think. Because he knew I couldn’t catch him while he was dodging all over the place. He was a quick rascal, but he was old enough now to understand discipline. I just had to make it as easy for him as I could.

“Are we gonna have bifday cake tomorrow?” he said bouncing around. I smiled at him and nodded. His eyes lit up big. “And fer breakfass?” I could tell he loved me.

“Sure for breakfast,” I said. “And all day long if you like. Tomorrow is your special day.”

He curled up on the hard wood cot next to the tool cabinet and after a while was breathing heavy sighs. I hopped over as quietly as I could to the edge of his bed and looked down at his sleeping self. I took a moment to get steady because I knew balance would be important. In one smooth motion that made me proud I put a firm grasp on the axe from the cabinet and another on his ankle. I stretched his leg out and brought the axe down hard just above the knee-- Johnny's little face wrinkled in some torment that must have been horrible. I watched the blood poor out and smiled. Johnny didn’t even scream too long really before he passed out. It would be hard, but eventually he would understand. I went to work stopping the blood. For storage, Mr. Johnson had been kind enough to donate the clear crystal jar himself. It was the finest I had seen!