The following is a scene I had left out from “Tortured and Tormented – creating a school shooter.” It was omitted because I ended up taking out the grandmother role in the final text.
Next I had intended to use it in, “Is Suicide Painless.” It would have taken place when the narrator was telling Sunny about his past. However, I decided to stick with only hinting at another traumatic incident, so I again ended up on the cutting room floor.
I think it is still pretty powerful and may use it in a future work..
I hope you find it compelling.
I was probably four years old when we moved into the house across the street from my grandmother. She was the matriarch of our family, she was known to all as Mamma.
It was great being so close to my Italian grandmother. Many days I would stop by her house after school. She would always have a treat. Often we would watch television together or just chat. It was my brief stop before going home to do homework.
I vividly remember every Christmas I would go to her house and set up the aluminum table top tree, then put up a simple string of Christmas lights around the front door. It wasn’t the Christmas season until I hung the small ornaments on her little tree.
I admit to being a spoiled, Italian mamma’s boy. Being so close to Mamma I was doubly spoiled. I spent much time with Mamma. She didn’t drive, so we took her everywhere she needed to go. On the occasions when my parents would say no to buying me something, a quick trip across the street would get me my way. Mamma was the only grandparent I knew, her husband, Pappa, passed away before my mother was married and my father’s parents lived in Sicily. She was part of my everyday life.
She was also the glue that held my entire family tightly together. Frequently my aunts, uncles and cousins would all gather at her home to share in huge Italian feasts. My immediate family was not limited to my parents and sisters, my extended family was immediate. My aunts and uncles were extra parents. My mother was the youngest of nine and my cousins were big brothers and sisters.
I was secure.
I was loved.
I was well-adjusted.
I was still in elementary school, so I don’t recall exactly how old I was when my grandmother first took ill. Today the diagnosis would be Alzheimer’s disease; however, back in the mid 70’s it was just called senility. Whichever label you chose to give it, Mamma started to fade away. Some days, on my stops by her home, she would not open the door, she didn’t recognize me.
My young heart would sink.
My excitement would dissipate.
My time with Mamma wouldn’t be on that day.
Eventually, Mamma’s children deemed that my family would move across the street and live with Mamma. All my Aunts and Uncles had excuses as to why they could not “disrupt” their homes, yet they had no problem stealing my childhood. My closest cousin in age was four years older than I and most were in college, yet my parents with two young children, were mandated to move in and watch over Mamma. Watching over soon became taking care of. Mamma rapidly deteriorated. Some days her mind devolved into a younger persona. She would often claim to be pregnant.
Much of those years have faded with time, however, certain incidents stand out, forever burned in my memory.
I came home from school to find my mother in the kitchen. She told me Mama was up watching television, she was having a good day.
I was so happy it was a good day, we would get to have a visit like before she took ill. I rushed into Mamma’s room. I gave her a kiss.
It wasn’t a good day.
Mamma took hold of my wrists in a vice grip. I told her she was hurting me, but she wouldn’t let go. She whispered in my ear. “That woman in the kitchen, she is going to take you in the cellar. She is going to chain you down there. Then, she is going to kill you.” I started to cry. Mamma shushed me. She repeated her warning. Finally, my mother heard me crying. She came into the room and tried to reason with Mamma. There was no reasoning. After several tries, she couldn’t loosen her hold. She called my father at work. For some reason, he was the only one who could calm her when she was like this.
My father, as he had done many times, left his job and came home. He soon calmed her down and she released her grasp. My hands were numb, the circulation had been cut off. I was trembling. Although I knew Mamma was sick, I wasn’t sure if she was telling the truth. That night, when everyone was asleep, I went down to the cellar — I had to be sure. To this day, all these years later, once a week I dream about this day. I dream of the day Mamma told me my mother was going to kill me.
Sunny kissed my cheek.
A tear ran down her face.
Silently, we sobbed.