Cemetery Street (Chapter 6, page 1 of 21)


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Chapter 6

"WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS?" my mother screamed, jarring me from sleep. "Not again," I mumbled into my pillow. Her voice sent shivers down my spine. Between my mother's shouts, I couldn't hear my father's composed voice.

"EVERY TIME JOE! EVERY TIME YOU DO THIS! WHY? WHY? CAN'T YOU TELL ME WHY?"

I strained to hear his reply.

"DON'T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME! GET BACK HERE THIS INSTANT!

My father climbed the steps. "YOU BASTARD! YOU INSENSITIVE PRICK!" she yelled after him. He knocked on my door. "James. Get up. If you want to go to the airport, you have ten minutes." I was ready in five.

"Why do you and Mom always fight?" I asked as we battled traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway.

"We don't fight. I refuse to," he answered.

"What do you call this morning?"

"Your mother had a tantrum."

"You had to do something to piss her off." He starred at the traffic. "When she throws a seven at me, I've pissed her off."

"If anybody should be pissed off, it's me," he sighed. I pictured him floating in a lifeboat across the Sea of Mary; exhausted, lying on his back; hands dragging in shark infested waters. I changed the subject: "What time is his flight coming in?"

His mood lightened as we made our way to the terminal. Philadelphia International Airport, despite perpetual construction seemed ghetto. When I mentioned this to Shannie, she said I sound like a true Negadelphian. "Whatever, that airport still sucks," I replied.

We watched incoming flights and bet on which was his. We were both wrong. We grabbed seats in the front row of his arrival gate and were talking about the Forty-Niner's chances when I asked: "Dad, why are you still with her?"

He looked like I punched him in the stomach. He stared at Grandfather's airplane. "Good question, I don't know."

Bullshit, I thought watching the plane taxi to the gate.

"You know, for better or for worse," he said.

I got up and walked to the ramp. Father followed and placed his arm around me. I fought back tears. I took a deep breath and composed myself. I rested my head against his side.

"There he is," I ran to the top of the ramp. Grandfather stepped from the jetway. "Hey Punk," he howled extending his arms. Weaving in and out of the unloading passengers, I ran towards him. My grandfather looked more like a forty-something hippie than a sixty-something retiree. His long silver hair was pulled back in a ponytail framing a pair of granny glasses resting atop a once broken nose. He wore an army jacket. On its right shoulder was a screaming eagle patch, telling anyone who cared he was a combat veteran.

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