Satan is Real
from Beautiful Mountain a memoir by Cindy Marabito
Daddy had come crawling back and had quit the drinking. They remarried and we all moved to Nacogdoches where Daddy was enrolled at Stephen F. Austin University. The memories from there were rather fuzzy, but I do remember my room in the college apartments for married families where we lived. It was neat and sparse and they had my bed pulled out so I could watch late night tv until I fell asleep. I still have a photo of myself in that room sorting through hair ribbons.
I spent a lot of time with Mother during those days. She’d take me to the park where I’d play. She gave me pill bottles to fill up with sand. Once, I found a bright red one that looked just like an M & M candy. I ate it, but it was incredibly bitter and not soft or sweet like the treat.
We went to a lot of movies in between Mother auditing college classes. I recollect once her holding my hand as we hurried to a daytime matinee. She always took me to exciting films like Duel in the Sun. Gregory Peck drug Jennifer Jones across that dirt floor while she was ganging on his leg was something unforgettable to me. I was excited and wondered what show she was taking us to when a car drove up, a Galaxy 500 with a man driving. He pulled over and struck up a conversation with my mother.
I couldn’t understand what they were saying and kept tugging on her arm like kids do. She was short tempered with me and brushed me off. We got into the car with the man and drove to a house I’d never been to. She sat me in the living room and they disappeared. I recall it being a real long time as I waited with nothing to do. They’d turned on the tv for me, but it went off in the middle of the show Queen for a Day and only showed snow and a loud static noise. I was bored and mad.
She didn’t talk for a long time after we left and we never did make it to the movie. Finally, she said, “Your daddy has always had a 27 inch waistline. How in the world can he stay so trim and eat whatever he wants?”
I didn’t think she was in the market for an answer, so I didn’t say anything. Daddy worked for a guy named Clyde who owned a Sinclair station and also helped him around his property on weekends for extra money. Clyde had a machine that made potato chips in his backyard and Daddy would bring home big brown paper bags of hot potato chips with big grease marks. She was right. Daddy could eat all he wanted and he never got fat.
Mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she had two specialties. One was boxed Chef Boyardee pizza which she never altered, but made according to the directions on the outside of the package. It came with an envelope of powder you added water to make the crust. A can of sauce and another packet of parmesan cheese. You could smell her pizza up and down the block.
Her other dish was homemade strawberry ice cream she made with condensed milk and frozen strawberries in the freezer. She used an ice tray so the servings were shaped like little squares. She always made these up when Daddy would lose his temper after church and whip me on the side of the road.
I remember once trying to stop the car with my house shoe. It was dark red and had little elastic pieces on the sides to slip on your foot. Before the car stopped, I’d worn my right shoe completely through. Daddy had me swinging in the air holding me with one arm and beating me with the other.
But, those days were gone. Mother was in the hospital and it was just me and Daddy. I could smell the starch in my dress as we rode along the highway. I could feel the country air, fresh and cold on my face in the dark morning. It was still before light broke and I thought about cows I’d seen down the road at the auction barn. Their horns had been sawed off and they were herded in long lines between the old board stalls. Dried brown blood ran down their heads.