(writing group prompt about families and a child ‘coming out’, light-hearted.
my setting: 1960 America)
Me? I’m in my usual place in the kitchen. Them? Yeah, they’re sitting in their usual places too. Billy’s curdling his chocolate milk with a look to kill; sixteen and something on his mind to spit out. Connie’s fingering her beehive more than her sparse buttered toast; fourteen and no idea her teachers are gonna roast her for the hair style before her cotton socked feet touch the classroom floor. Pa’s striking up a Lucky as he pours a coffee darker than the dark side of the Moon; forty and a butt shaped like his Buick car seat from too many hours hood to trunk crawling on a highway to Hades. Ma’s admiring her new acquired Betty Crocker 2-slice toaster as it singes sliced bread condemned by the counterculture but glorious gold for her; thirtysomething and the happiest housewife this side of the Appalachians.
Billy’s got an itch to scratch but he can’t get the words past his Adam’s apple. Ever since he found his eyes following the quarterback’s butt and not the spiralling football angling with perfection towards the fleet-footed Freddy Schwarzkoff. No, it had been Curt Reyna who Billy’s eyeballs had stared at. He remembered shaking his head, hands ruffling through his neat clipped Ivy League-style locks, wondering why, then being jostled as everyone leapt up to applaud and whoop as Freddy high stepped over the end zone to win the game.
Billy’s head had shook the same three days later in the changing room when Curt had stripped off his top and Billy’s sidekick couldn’t understand why his friend had lost interest in the creased torn out page which showed Jane Russell strewn on a straw bale. Curt’s eyes had met Billy’s with a fleeting flicker, a quick smile showing white gloss teeth which reflected the overhead lights. Billy had nodded quick, looked away as if dismissing these jocks as below his grade of classroom nerd. But his tummy was tingling. Holy Moses, Batman, he thought, why?
The milk’s gone, Billy knows he’s got to leave the kitchen table or say something. Connie’s nibbling her toast edge in that annoying way, avoiding the burnt pieces where Ma mis-set Betty’s hot machine. Jeez, he wanted to mess up that thing on his sister’s head. Ma was singing soft Elvis’ ‘Stuck On You’ – shucks, she shouldn’t invade teenagers’ territory, that was his song. Billy has seen Elvis on the Frank Sinatra ‘Welcome Home Elvis’ Show, dressed in a suit his Pa might wear, but swinging those hips side to side. Billy had been mesmerized.
He kicked back his stool.
‘Ma, Pa, I got something to say.’
Connie chipped away at her toast, imagining what Brenda and Peggy would say about her beehive; Pa inhaled deep, daydreaming out the kitchen window of his Indian Scout motorcycle; Ma stroked the yellow and black handle of the her gleaming chrome kettle.
‘I think I like boys. Like boys, you know, not girls.’
Connie sucked her buttered fingers.
‘That’s only ‘cos you’re so ugly no girl wants to go necking with you.’
Pa gazed, circled by smoke.
‘Least you might get to keep your bike, boy.’
Ma sighed as the Big Chill refrigerator hummed on.
‘Mommy loves you anyways, cookie cheeks. Be good at school today.’
Billy exited, silently screaming.
Me? I’m just a pastel pink Hoover Deluxe 652 vacuum cleaner standing in the corner. You can tell me by the way I walk.*
*apologies to Peter Gabriel for playing around with one of the best lyrics in popular music.