Those that know me, know that I spend the weekends with my dad at his house. I help out around the house, in the garden, and do whatever is asked of me. That has always been. I don’t ask him for anything. I don’t ask for money. I don’t ask for food. I don’t even ask him to respect me, but maybe I should.
Last Thursday, I drove up and he was working on his boat. I walked up and helped him fix the seat and put his tools up for him when we finished. My lazy stepbrother was inside (as usual) watching TV. He only came out because I was there. Dad told us both that he was going fishing with his father most of the day and the only thing we had to work on was cutting a new piece of plywood for the boat seat. We could do that when he got back.
Seeing as how it was going to be a four-day weekend, my stepbrother and I stayed up reading riddles and scary stories until 2 in the morning. Time just disappeared. We weren’t watching the clock. Hell, we didn’t have to! Or so we thought.
The next morning, I woke up after my usual 8 hours of sleep at 10. I got on my phone and started my morning ritual of checking Facebook for update, checking any email, and reading the news/weather. While I was doing that, I heard dad was back home. He was complaining to someone about me and my stepbrother sleeping “all god damned day.” First off, I only slept the normal amount. Second, it’s the weekend and he was supposed to be fishing all day. I didn’t want to deal with it, so I just busied myself on my phone until I heard him leave…. That was the plan anyway. He didn’t leave. He came back to the room where we were (I share my stepbrother’s room when I spend the night) and opens the door. He has a certain whistle that he uses to call his hunting dogs and jerked open the door whistling that rhythm and told us to get up. He had some garden work he wanted to do.
Now usually, he does work in his garden either in the morning or the afternoon when the sun isn’t so hot. When the trees shade the field. Also, he always tells us on any normal day to get us some breakfast before we start to work. He did NONE of that. He walked straight out after “waking” us. He woke my stepbrother up, not me, I’m proud to say (I have a point, bear with me).
So I get up while my stepbrother lazes around in the bed for a few minutes. I see my half-sister had just got in that morning and I chat with her a while. There is no breakfast cooked and she is hungry (she’s 11). She wanted something to eat and asks me to help her find the Raman Noodles. I find them and because she is too short, I get her a bowl out of the cabinet. I also go on the search for something to eat myself. I settle on a can of spaghetti. I don’t even warm it up. I just eat it out of the can. My stepbrother comes in and starts looking around also. He finds something in the fridge and we have a makeshift breakfast.
After that, my stepbrother goes to shower (he showers mornings) and I go and start some clothes because the washer was full. I check the dryer and it’s full too. My stepmom works two jobs right not and get about four hours of sleep. Seriously, she’s working 20 hours a day. I try to be nice and help her out. I fold the dried clothes, some of which are her uniforms that she needs. By the time I finish, my stepbrother is out of the shower and back in the living room watching TV. I take a load of towels back to the bathroom and take my stepsister her bundle of clothes and as I cross the living room to start sweeping, my stepmom gets home. We stop and talk to her for a minute, asking how she was – tired. She only had two and a half hours of sleep last night, so she goes straight to bed. Not long after she lays down, dad comes back in. Whenever he’s mad he has the ugliest “sourface” you’ve ever seen and he was wearing it when he walked in the door. He washes his hands and then starts to berate all of us. “I can’t believe not one of you lazy-asses don’t take an interest in what goes on around this place. I’ve been out on my tractor with Pops (his 80 y/o grandfather) helping me pour the soda in the hopper. He too old to be out there and how many of you helped? Not a damn one! This country’s coming to an end! There’s soon gonna be a day that you can’t go to the Piggly Wiggly and buy groceries, you’ll have to grow your own or starve. I try to teach you, but you don’t take an interest in it…”
I had had it. I snapped: “Well, if you weren’t such a shitty teacher I’d take more interest in it. I don’t like to be around you when I learn something new because it’s never OK to make mistakes.”
Now, it’s no secret that I don’t have a job right now and that’s the only thing he has against me. I have a golden reputation. You can’t throw mud at me because it won’t stick. So he used the only thing he could thing of: “What the do you do? You sleep your damn life away! Hell, I get more work out of *(name censored- my stepbrother)* than I do out of you!”
My stepsister heard us and came into the room, “I know you are not starting this today.” I turn to her and say, “Unfortunately, we are.” She has my back though. “(insert my name) might not have a job like everybody else, but he draws and fixes clocks for money and that’s somethin’!”
Dad starts in on her. She’s just turned a senior in high school, so you can guess that she still lives at home with her brother. “I’m getting tired of your smart mouth, always wantin’ something, never givin’ back! Who pays your cell phone bill? Me! That’s who!”
They argued over one another and I couldn’t tell what either said. By this time my stepmom comes out and yells at us all to shut up so she could sleep. But dad won’t let it go. He turns back to me and tells me “You ain’t gonna know how to survive when this world comes to an end. How you gonna take care of your family *if* you ever have one?” I told, “I guess I’ll starve happily because I never ask you for help.” I never ask him for anything. It’s true.
My stepmom says, “I can’t take it. I’m going back to work!” She goes and gets dressed while dad walks out. My stepbrother is a “frenemy” he loves to have the upper hand in things and when dad insulted me by saying he got more work out of my stepbrother than me, my stepbrother more or less rubbed it in my face all the next day.
I stayed the night, despite everything. My little half-sister and talked most of the day. Mostly about what had happened. I wondered if I should have just kept my mouth shut, but she thought I did the right thing in standing up for myself. She said she doesn’t even like to come down on the weekends anymore, she just does it because she feels sorry for dad (he and her mother are divorced). My stepbrother and stepsister left that afternoon and stayed gone until after ten at night.
Let me start in on my stepbrother for just a second. I think you need to know more about his character. He like to bath compulsively. When he first wakes up, he showers, dresses, and sprays AXE across his chest and crotch (yes. he does). He has long hair that’s cut about like a mop. It’s all the same length. His mom cuts it for him and she just trims the ends so they don’t past his shoulders. He keeps it pulled down over his forehead and sweeps it across his forehead so he can see. Even in summer, he wears a beanie and (because he is a self-identified Goth) he wears mostly black. He as the typical rubber bracelets, one with his hair scuncii on it (he likes to wear ponytails now). Every time that he has to do something in the morning, he is always late to get up and he won’t work until he has his shower. After he gets all sweaty, he’ll go and take another shower. I see. I’m pretty sure you see it. But he sees no flaw in that logic.
The whole time that we work he complains. He won’t do it while the other adults are around, but he will around me. He hates picking peas and why does my dad plant all this if he doesn’t eat it, why doesn’t dad plant stuff that my stepbrother likes, “I’m sweaty! I hate it when it gets in my eyes!,” “These dad-gum flies are getting’ on my nerves!” I’m like a Zen master. I don’t complain when I work. You want fresh peas? This is how you get them. You want pea-picking money? ($40 for 2 hrs time) This is what you have to deal with. Suck it up. I’ve told him to his face that he complains too much. Just accept the fact that you are going to get hot and the bugs are going to fly. That pisses him off.
So anyway, it’s Friday now and I didn’t sleep too well. That really irked me yesterday. I get up around 8 and my stepbrother is still asleep. I can hear dad in the living room again talking about us “sleeping all damn day.” He complains about feeding the four horses that no one rides, but he went that morning to buy a new one. I think he’s irrational. I know it to be so. Has to be. He leaves to do that and I start to move around, waking up my stepbrother in the process. He wakes up and looks outside. Dad’s truck is gone. I thought it odd that was the first thing he looked for. He asked me what time I got up, I said about eight. “I was up at 7:30,” he said with an air of superiority. I didn’t respond. I don’t think it counts if you go back to sleep. I just get up and find my way to the living room again. There was some breakfast on the stove, but I didn’t eat any. I didn’t eat or drink anything until I left around 1.pm that day.
When dad got back with the horse, my stepbrother brownnosed him all day. Even my half-sister noticed it and said he got on her nerves sometimes. Every little thing he’d want to do. You want me to do that? What else can I do? Now how do I do that? Dad just ate him up. I let him too. I was so far beyond the point of pissed-off, no good could have come from me. Dad told him to scrub out the horse’s water bucket, but my stepbrother only cleaned the algae out of the very bottom. The sides were still green and slimy. I didn’t say a word. I wanted dad to see it. I wanted him to say something, but he never did.
We had to get some hay for the horses too. We had to take the disks off the tractor and change to the hay forks. My stepbrother tried to run the show, using hand signals to help dad back up, never mind that the tractor has an open back. Dad saw exactly where he was going. My stepbrother tried to be all tough kick the 3-point hitch off with his feet. I asked for the hammer (they keep on the tractor for this purpose) “Just use your feet, it’s faster,” he said. I took a few hits and my hitch came off while he still struggled with his. I handed him the hammer. In retrospect, I should have said, “Here use this. It’s faster.” But I was too busy thinking, “You’re such a show-off today…)
When we got over to the barn where the hay is, a big pecan tree grows right in front of the door to the hay trailer and you have to drive very close to it to get the hay out. I usually back the truck up because my stepbrother is too candy-ass to do it. You guessed it, he wanted to back the truck up today. He also wanted to pull the trailer out, which is something we always left to dad because he knows how to do it without hitting anything. Well, much to my sadistic pleasure, when my stepbrother pulled the trailer out, the scrubbed up against the door frame on his way out. It wasn’t enough to break anything, but the trailer tires had really rough spirals on the walls. If that had been me, I’d have been bitched at for almost popping the tires, but because it was dad’s star worker he just laughed. “He almost moved the wall over a few feet, hahaha.” I said nothing and helped get the hay off the trailer.
We were done with chores after that, but my stepbrother found other ways to try and bully me. Keep in mind: I’m 29 and he’s 18.
When we get back home my stepsister and half-sister are out in the yard and we stop to chat with them about the new horse. “Why did he get it? He complains about the ones he has?” They ask. As we talked, my stepbrother interrupts: He starts picking at my hair. “You got a lot of gray in there,” he said overenthusiastically. “We need to get you some hair dye.” I ignore him and keep talking. Not having the desired effect, he tries it again. He interrupts, “Wait, wait, wait… This just bothers me. You have so much gray hair!” He points to the stubble on my jaw. “There’s a gray one in there.”
My stepsister says, “Leave him alone, *******, he’s goin’ gray cause his dad worries him so much.”
He points back to my jaw, “! Can I pull it?” I turn my head away. “No.” I know good an well I don’t have any gray whiskers. I only have a few on my temples and for someone almost 30, that’s normal. To be truthful, I know he’s jealous of my youthful appearance. People tell me often that I still look 19 instead of 29. My stepbrother is 18, but people tell him if it wasn’t for his teenager clothes they’d think he was almost thirty. I see his disappointment mix with jealousy every time they tell him that.
I’m so glad to be away from that place. I really don’t want to go back there anymore. My dad left my mom for another woman back when my sister and I were 13 and 12 respectively. He and I didn’t have anything do with one another until about 2012 and I’ll tell you what I tell everyone that asks me why I do it. It’s simple. “If I died today, no one could say I didn’t try. If our relationship doesn’t work out, it won’t be because I didn’t try. It’ll be because he didn’t meet me halfway.”
Stay tuned for some more random musings and memories from my life. I have a few that are pretty dark. I want to share them, to get rid of those secrets. They really do eat at you from the inside.
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