Up early. Not like the last five days drudging the sun beckoning school. Breakfast devoured. Not like the last five days of pasty oatmeal but tv commercial cereal. Chores checked. The last obstacle to the freedom of a Saturday morning of watching, yes you guessed it, CARTOONS! I remember it just like it was yesterday. It has haunted me in various venues of my life at various times. It has always been a draw as to what really happened but I can guarantee you here and now that my version, the one you are reading now, is the God’s honest truth. You couldn’t fabricate anything near as tragic as this.
Batman and Superman were the heroes to watch on Saturday morning. They saved everyone from everything. I was about seven or eight at the time and had to share tv time with a brother three years my junior. The trauma of that day has erased any other cartoon I may have ever been interested in at the time. All I can remember is leaving the room when the commercials started. I needed to go to the bathroom, there were cookies and milk to be had (in the kitchen of course, we don’t eat in the bedrooms), and get back before the cartoon was back on the boob tube.
Munching that last morsel of cookie I can hear the musical introduction to the cartoon’s return so I slug down my milk, slam the glass on the counter, and run down the hallway to the bedroom. Running was a problem for me. As a clutz it was clearly something I should not have ever engaged in but I couldn’t seem to help myself. I ran everywhere. You would think with all the running I would be able to keep myself out of trouble. I just seemed to get myself into trouble faster. Like the time I ran through a neighbor’s yard and misjudged the length of chain on the dog’s lead. My running was not fast enough to avoid getting knocked down in the ditch and bit on the ass. So why should this dash end any better?
The hallway was long and narrow with bedrooms on either side and the one lone bathroom. My destination was the last room on the left. Running at top speed, not wanting to miss a nanosecond of superhero justice, I ran and as I crossed the threshold of the doorway I jumped for the bed. Oddly, the space and time continuum became warped and convoluted. As I was rising in the air and moving toward the bed the distance closed faster than I expected. Now at seven or eight I was clueless as to what was going on. But freshly influenced by Marvel Comics and the wonders of super heroes and super powers one’s mind can jump leaps and bounds when trying to make sense of oddities. The bed was actually rising to meet me. What was happening? Was the bed becoming some magic carpet? Would I be able to fly off like the kids in the Disney movie Bednobs and Broomsticks? The answers to my questions all came too quickly and too loudly in one fell “SNAP” as the bed landed. Within those first seconds of silence, as the dust settled and my mom’s head swooped up in some other quadrant of the house, there began this ungodly wailing sound the likes of which I had never heard before in my life. First a flying bed and now a damn wailing monster under the bed. What the hell was going on here?
My mother, running down the hallway no less, arrives with a ‘what have you done’ look on her face. As I begin to tell her about the magic bed, the noise under the bed becomes identifiable and my stomach sinks. Unable to swallow I now know the monster under the bed is my younger brother. But why is he making such a racket? My mom drops to her knees and, face to the floor, peers under the bed to see what ails him. Soothing him is useless but she grabs his leg and drags him out. His eyes are wet and red. His nose is snotty and runny. His one arm is cradling his other arm. He is struggling to sit up. He is glaring at me through it all. My mother leaves the room, running again, and gets on the phone to call my dad at his job. He has to bring the car home so they can take brother to the emergency room. I hear this because I have slinked up behind her to find out what is going on. She turns to find me there and takes a muscle man grip of my shoulder and guides me to the kids’ rocking chair in the living room and sits me down with a ‘you stay put’ motion. She disappears to tend to brother and I sit–not daring to rock.
My father arrives and walks past me with a ‘what were you thinking’ look but says nothing. Moments later he comes back carrying brother, mother in tow, and they leave going right past me not saying a thing. I know not to move. By this time the elder brother and sisters have been clued in and are hanging on various cornices watching the mayhem unfold, also not daring to say a word, but stealing a sideways glance at me from time to time.
What did I do? I ran. I jumped. The bed met me. It just didn’t make any sense. I sat and I sat and I sat. I didn’t dare rock. I didn’t dare get up. My dad came home one time, walked right past me, went to the kitchen, got some Lucky Charms in a baggy, walked past me again, and left–all without saying a word. But the look was enough. I had really done it. And staying put was evidently what was expected of me. So I sat and I sat and I sat. I can’t remember a thing about lunch or dinner. I can’t remember what my other brother or sisters did for the rest of the day. I can remember the sun setting and the dark night rising and my parents coming home with my younger brother, arm in cast only to give him another bowl of cereal and put him to bed. And still I sat and I sat and I sat.
Eventually my parents ‘spoke’ to me about my indiscretion and my running. I was not to run any more any where any time was that clear? Yes I quietly acquiesced. While it was an accident, my brother had been hurt because I was running. The wheels in my head kept playing that bed rising to meet me. I was not to play any superhero character anymore, was that clear? Yes I answered not really thinking about it. The bed, rose to meet me. Wait a hot damn minute! He was playing the superhero character! He was playing Superman and he was lifting the bed just as I jumped! How was that my fault? Try as I may to explain all this it was still my fault because of, yes the curse, I was older and should have known better.
So, as the story goes and depending on who is telling it, I broke his arm because I was playing Wonder Woman and trying to fly through the air. Mind you an impossibility in 1970 as she was not a cartoon then. I maintain my innocence, except for the running, and I still hold to the truth that he was under the bed lifting it pretending to be Superman and how was I to know?