from Notes from a Good Little Sister
A year after the Divorce when I was nine Dad pulled up to the house on South Hill
Road in a brand new rented olive green station wagon with automatic windows and locks to
take us to the movies. After his series of faded V.W. bugs with bad heating and holes in the
floor under the back seat so you could look down and see the highway pavement blurring to a
solid gray beneath you the implications were unsettling.
We sat in the driveway—Mom Dad my brother and me—and they explained that
there was a house in town they were thinking of buying so we could all four live together
again as a family. They’d still be Divorced, but at least we’d be together. I tried to ask a
clarifying question in order to determine whether or not they would have separate bedrooms
in the new house. Dad replied with downcast eyes that it was still in the proposal stage they
hadn’t worked out the details.
The movie was about a single mom in Nova Scotia with a teenaged son who belonged
to a club of boys that did things like steal dirty magazines and sneak out at night to look at
them in an abandoned woodshed. In a rowboat they wrapped a firecracker in bread and
tossed it to a seagull who caught the bread in its mouth so its head exploded and it fell out of
the sky into the ocean. In a greenhouse they mixed anesthetic with milk and forced a cat to
drink it so they could dissect it while it was still alive.
The boy’s mother met a sailor who was Kris Kristofferson and the boy got caught
watching them have sex through a peephole in his bedroom closet. Kris Kristofferson
discovered him and beat him while his mother screamed.
In the end the boy invited the sailor to a picnic with his friends. They served coffee
from a canteen which put him to sleep and gathered round to dissect him on the grassy knoll.