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A STRANGER IN PRISON





          Mom was really upset.  Her father had been incarcerated in Montana.  She had a lot of superstitions.  She started screaming when a bird got into the house.
          “A bird in a house means someone is going to die!”
          To make things worse the bird didn’t make it.  It was hurt as everyone was trying to get it out of the house.
          “I just know Daddy is going to die!” Mom kept saying,
          Our whole house was in an uproar.  The following morning I went to school with out Mom.  During the day Deryl called me at school. I could tell he had been drinking.  I could hear Mom the background.
          “Do you want me to come and get you from school?”
          “No.  I’m staying all day.” I said emphatically.
          I wasn’t sure what was happening but school seemed like a better choice.
          When Bronco and I arrived at home from school, Uncle Darin was at our house.  Uncle Darin was Mom’s youngest brother.  He lived in Albuquerque. He was tall with dark curly hair and deep brown eyes.  When I was younger I enjoyed being around him.  He played the guitar and I would make up songs and give them to him to play.  But unfortunately he was an alcoholic.  Mom blamed his drinking on a failed marriage and that he had a broken heart.  As the years passed, he was no longer the uncle I looked forward to being around.  He was becoming more belligerent and when he drank he was mean.
          Mom, Deryl and Darin had been drinking together.         
          “We’ve been waiting for you to get home,” Mom said. “We’re leaving for Montana.”
           We drove straight through.  The adults took turns driving. When we passed through Wyoming, the fog was so thick the car was crawling.  Eventually Bronco and I fell asleep.
          It was strange entering the old, massive prison building.  Stranger yet, was the sight of the older man, talking to Mom, Darin and Deryl through a small barred window: and knowing he was my grandfather. 
        I didn’t listen to the conversation.  Bronco and I wondered around the room investigating the old pictures fastened to the stonewalls.  The man behind the window was a stranger to me. I barely remembered him.  This was only the third and the last time I would see him. Later in the car, Mom made a comment:   "After daddy gets out of prison he might live with us".
         (I was wondering where I could live if I left home.)
          Some time later I heard one of my Aunts comments: “I don’t know why Wanda cares anything about him and how she can be so good to him.  She was the one he abused the most." 
          Mom never returned to high school.  She had lost her determination to get her diploma. 
          Deryl was home less and there definitely was tension in the air.  Money was short and we ate a lot of eggs and toast.  I should have known change was in the air.

(Mom's dad never came to live us.)


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