Scene One – REAL MAN – Mequon, Wisconsin, April 1960
Strings screech, hum, and sing with never intended song. Gold and black-varnished maple, the color of sunlight in our windowless garage attic breaks over Dad’s knee. Splinters, like dead autumn leaves, drop to the floor.
Scene One – LONE WOLF – Bobby’s home, Mequon, Wisconsin, November 1957
“He’s my hero.” I thread 16mm black-and-white movie film around sprockets and behind the lens of dad’s Keystone home movie projector.
“Who is, Bobby?” Jeannie lifts a cardboard box. “This Castle Films label says Hopalong Cassidy in Lone Wolf. Is Hoppy your hero?”
“Na. I like the Lone Wolf.” I turn toward the basement wall switch to dim the lights. He’s cool. He robs trains and doesn’t need anyone to tell him what to do–”
Scene One – DOESN’T SEEM RIGHT – Ace Diner, Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 1951
I sit on a stool at a lunch counter between Dad and Uncle Larry. My feet dangle above the floor like tetherballs at the end of skinny ropes that swing in the wind at my playground. Dad and Uncle Larry dunk ends of one-half of their cake donuts into brown-stained, white steaming mugs of coffee. Hills Brother’s Coffee, a neon sign on the wall, glows in the early morning light. I dunk one-half of a glazed donut into a glass of milk just like a man.
Scene One – WHAT SHOULD I DO? – Bobby’s back yard, Mequon, Wisconsin, May 1959, Sunday
“Davy, I need brass knuckles and maybe a blackjack.” I reach for Davy’s pack of Camels lying on the cedar picnic table.
“Brass knuckles?” Davy blows an oval smoke ring in the still afternoon air between us. “What the hell for?”
“For John VA.” I light my smoke.
Scene One – PISONYA – West Allis, Wisconsin, June 1949
“Momma, who’s that man in the jungle?” I point to a black and white photograph in our red, leather bound, family album.
Mother walks to my side and places her hand on my shoulder. “Why, Bobby, that’s your Uncle Larry in Burma.”
“Is it hot in Burma?” I try to reconcile the photograph of a shirtless teenager in olive green fatigue pants with my new knowledge that there are more people in my life than mother and father.
About the Author
Richard Wilberg writes fiction, creative non-fiction, self-development, and career counseling articles. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.