Not Just Any Old Butter Knife

By Paul Beckman

Don’t let life get in the way of living; my father would say when he didn’t know what else to say which was more often than not. How the hell would you know my mother would fire back—never at a loss for words especially negative ones and especially for my father?

My father should’ve spoken up to her but he was a coward, which only made my mother more of a bully, which she used on everyone from the butcher to our pediatrician. The one person who couldn’t or wouldn’t be bullied by my mother became her lover and even my coward father knew his brother was sleeping with his wife which only made them both treat him more like dirt each passing day.

My uncle’s wife was clueless about her husband’s long-standing affair with my mother not that my mother would’ve cared because she bullied my uncle’s wife so badly the poor woman shook when she was in my mothers company which was as infrequently as my aunt could make it.

We three kids were bullied by my mother until my older sister told her off one day and right in front of her told me and our younger brother that if my mother started in on us again to tell her and that she would gouge her eyes out with a butter knife and most likely the one she was flipping in her hand.

Somehow that kept mom off our case for a while but my sister never missed an opportunity to play with the butter knife in front of my mother. It never hurts to remind that woman my sixteen-year old sister said and then my mother slipped up big time in front of the whole family by picking on our little brother for fidgeting and he started crying and wet his pants, which a ten-year old shouldn’t do and my sister sat at the table tapping the butter knife for the rest of the meal. My mother had been giving him the look which only made his fidgeting worse, and now, smelly and humiliated he ran from the table just as my sister started with the butter knife.

That night after dinner, my sister who had just gotten her driver’s license took my uncle out for a ride and they had sex in the back seat of the car. He never went back to my mother and my sister made sure my mother knew the why of it. And from then on whenever mom and sis were around each other they both walked around with butter knives.

Last week my aunt went to my father’s workplace and told him what was going on. My uncle had come home late and drunk and laughed at his wife for being so stupid over the years. He told her everything. My father, now publicly humiliated, finished off the day, went home, and without warning blackened both my mother’s eyes before packing his bag and moving to the Y. Later that day he drove over to his brother’s house to teach him a lesson. The first thing he did when he got there was to smash my uncle’s windshield with his tire iron and then stand in front of the house yelling for his brother to come out and take his medicine.

My uncle walked out onto his porch, looked at his windshield and his brother with the tire iron in his hand and slowly walked down the stairs towards him. He then proceeded to beat the crap out of my father.

That night my aunt threw my uncle out of the house and he also went to live at the Y—two doors down from my father. My sister dropped my uncle and went back to being a virgin.

My mother, no longer able to pick on my father or love my uncle turned to the liquor cabinet, crawled in, and stayed until she was rotting from the inside out. This only took a few months and none of us kids ever asked about her after the ambulance hauled her away.

My father moved back home and a short while later my aunt started coming over and cooking supper for us.

Paul Beckman’s latest flash collection, Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press) was a finalist for the 2019/2020 Indie Book Awards. Some of his stories appeared in Spelk, Connotation Press, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, WINK, Jellyfish Review, and The Lost Balloon. He had a story selected for the 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology Lineup and was short listed in the Strands International Flash Fiction Competition. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly in KGB’s Red Room (Currently Virtual).

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