Biographical Non-Fiction posted September 28, 2022


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Until Next Time

All in the Past

by Cass Carlton

Parenthood: An indelible memory Contest Winner 
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
After a disasterous break in their marriage, my parents were showing signs of reconciliation.My father had returned from wherever it was he'd gone to and now sat in the main room  of the miserable tenement the S.A.Housing Trust had ungraciously provided for my mother and her five dependent children.
 
Mum was afraid of Dad.. Not only when he was drunk, but at different times he had been blind with anger over some slight or another, and lashed out and knocked her to the ground.
After many years of abuse, drunken arguments and marital misery Mum was ready to fly the coop. Dad had "gone" again. He'd found a position as a caretaker at a school in another state and without telling Mum, left his job at the factory where he was employed as a cleaner and caught the Melbourne Express.
 
He left a cryptic note saying that he'd "signed the big money over to you" and to "stay in the house because no-one can put you out" meaning, the house we were living in.
 
It had been my grandmother's house and Dad wanted to live in it and stay put for as long as possible.
 
Mum wasn't having any of that. As soon as she realized he was gone, she re-acted.We were  going to move .To where? Anywhere. As long as it was far away from where we were.
 
We went firstly to a holiday house up in the Adelaide Hills, but somehow that didn't suit and so my mother took a position as a housekeeper to a disabled man whose mother had recently died and left him without someone to look after him. Needless to say, that didn't work out either and so we came back down to Adelaide to couch surf and impose on anyone who might squeeze a couple of us into a spare bed for a night or two.
 
The six of us were like lost lambs and ended up being housed at different people's homes overnight until an unpleasant story in the afternoon newspaper forced the S.A.Housing Trust to provide a roof over our heads.
 
It was at this miserable hovel my father arrived one Saturday morning. I hadn't known of his coming until  a half an hour before, so it was a shock to see him standing there.
 
Instead of going up to him and kissing his cheek I stood where I was and said as politely as I could "Hello Dad".
 
He had a lady with him, a social worker, Miss Somebodyorother, who  it seemed was conducting the reconciliation.
 
Mum had put teacups out for the adults, but none for me. It was the usual putdown which I mentally shrugged off.
 
My mind was in a whirl. What would happen now? Surely Mum would go on with the legal separation she had initiated and end up being divorced.
 
 It was what she had talked about the whole time we had been moving from house to house.
 
 Then Dad started talking  He took all the blame for the marriage breakdown.
 
He had grown worse after his mother died. Finally orchestrating a suicide attempt by slashing his wrists and walking into a Police Station where he was charged with unlawfully endangering his life.
 
He spent some time at Kuitpo Colony, a rehab facility for detainees of Their Majesty's pleasure) (pre 1952) drying out and getting well again, but it didn't last.
 
He fell off the wagon, bigtime, and was just as hopeless, if not worse than he ever had been. 
 
I remembered about the "suicide". I had come home at lunch time for an exercise book I'd forgotten, to be met with the news.
 
Revisits back to that day remind me of the excited look on my mother's face as she told me, a child of 10, that my father was in hospital under Police guard.
 
When he spoke of this episode, my father tried unsuccessfully to  appear tearful.
 
But, he went on talking, telling Mum, "her troubles were over, there'll be nothing but blue skies and happy days from now on" He wasn't going to drink any more, he told her in front of Miss Somebodyorother. "No sirree, he was a changed man".
 
I was supposed to agree with everything that had passed in front of me, but in my heart of hearts I felt sick, not believing a word my father had uttered.
 
The social worker was all smiles as she took her leave, telling "us kids" we were going to have a "new life from now on."
 
I felt like bursting ito tears as she left. No-one could be that naive, surely.
I decided against Social work as a career path and remained in favour of nursing.
 
The next Saturday evening Dad came home from the races absolutely "plastered".He staggered in from some obliging person's car and stood there weaving from one side to the other. As I came in the door, he fixed me with an ugly stare and muttered, " You shut yer mouth, Bitch."
It was just as it had always been. My mother was nearly in tears as she said "What happened to the blue skies and happy days. I thought you said you'd changed. It was all now in the past. I believed you, so did Miss Somebodyorother".
 
He fixed her with a half open eye and grinned.
"Well" he said, his smirk twisting into a leer,"She wasn't gunna go until she 'ad what she'd come fer. So I give it to 'er. I 'ad ter tell 'er something, or she'd ha' been there till kingdom come.
I went out to the bathroom and was sick.


Writing Prompt
Describe a memory, a lesson taught or learned, or a moment shared that will stay with both parent and child forever.

Prose only. No minimum or maximun word count.

Parenthood: An indelible memory
Contest Winner


This is a true story. My father didn't like me very much because his tall stories were usually disprovable. I usually had the knowledge that tipped his words into a cocked hat. Killjoy! Party pooper! Nver let the truth get in the way of a good story was his Credo and I found as I grew older his penchant for macabre stories with himself as the central character had ranged far and wide. A cousin of his asked me if he really had been the executioner at Adelaide Gaol during his 15 years of service there. I explained to her in careful detail the requirements set out according to the Govern ment Gazette for anyone seeking such a position and left it to her to decide.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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© Copyright 2022. Cass Carlton All rights reserved.
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