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VeraCity: the unauthorized story of Vera Scarves as told by a studio insider

 




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Early Lessons
Vera Studio
MacMurray College



Updated October 24, 2013 | By Bob Fugett

Early Lessons

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The gun was not actually pressed against her temple.

It merely hovered near as if following the slow spinning housefly careening around the room on the other side of her head.

A cool crisp bright spring-morning air flowed through the screen door and under the half open window spreading into the darker interior.

I was a diminutive three-year-old with toy in hand, standing off to the right of my dad, away from the main scene, looking up disinterestedly as my fifteen year old sister Hazel gasped.

The slight mustiness of our aging house did little to impact the fragile freshness drifting in from outside.

We were home and just two doors down from our family's truck stop restaurant (open 24/7) where eighteen wheelers always stood beaconed around the large neon clock and parked down both sides of U.S. Route 40 in tiny Lafayette, Ohio, attracted by some of the best food, talk, and coffee found the length of this main commercial conduit which spanned America coast to coast.

In 1953 and 20 miles west of Columbus the world moved slowly enough for truckers to turn off their engines when stopped, so it was quiet outside.

Plus it was a special time of year: Easter morning.

My father gripped his immaculately cleaned World War II .38 Special far too tightly, and his voice quavered as he struggled to force a silencer onto the intent of his hateful words.

Late the night before and a few feet from my head, just outside my open bedroom window, an east bound trucker fired-up his rig waking me to the typical churning activity of yet another cool deep starry night lightly peppered with the vintage warm-hued street, automobile, and restaurant lights, plus a distant mercury vapor lamp in one direction and the inviting glow of the Red Brick Tavern the other.

I curled my tiny back against my mother's side as I reached to touch the cracked and valleyed grimy paint layered on the window's sill while I took an extra long breath of one of my favorite smells—the rarified scent of stale burnt diesel exhaust.

Sounds like a joke, but I believe there is no word for that smell.

I am not talking about the very common heavy odor of liquid diesel fuel, a foul stench that permeates and stays on everything it touches, nor the choking blast of ugly undercooked fumes hastily purged through an exhaust pipe.

This fragrance is aged, and it is much different: ethereal, temporal, and hidden beneath.

From time to time I still catch a whiff of it, usually coming from a tour bus accelerating away from a longer than usual stoplight.

I have never come closer to being able to describe it than exactly the way I did at three, "Smells like...makes me want to eat dirt."

In any case, I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and closeness of the busy highway until finally falling back to sleep—nightmares and all, it was a state I often wished permanent—and by morning everything was dead quiet.

Since my dad's gun was in his right hand, his left was free to firmly vice my sister's throat as he mashed her up on her toes and flat backed against the barren, poorly plastered and dirty white wall.

His muffled shout was a growl, "If you don't watch your mouth, you'll find out what happens."

I was transfixed by the contorted look on Hazel's face which held an extravagant combination of retreating fear and forward defiance.

As for myself, any fear I might have had was shunted through the insulation of youth, plus the assured thought that she was probably getting exactly what she deserved for blurting some unknown slight, while I, on the other hand, had solidly learned to keep my mouth shut around people, and only observe them... very carefully.

It was clear to me that I was smarter than my sister, but I could still not understand why she would just not learn.

"Maybe this will be the moment."

That thought remained in my head a little while later, as I squatted outdoors in the sun under my too mature brimmed hat, uncomfortably bound in my new gray Sunday suit.

My mother's excited voice prodded again from back in the house, "Go on Bobby, see what's there."

My eyes widened as I squatted more deeply.

For right there, out from the severely warped back door, beyond the end of the short dark dug-by-hand stairwell that led back and down into the horrid black of the tiniest and most often flooded of all possible half-height fully spidered overly shelved canning-jarred dirt floor basements, yes, further out than that, and even further than the outhouse (and well past the garden), a little ways more than where the tiny hill bottomed, precisely at the base of a specifically gnarled fence post, the one leaning most against the few rusted barbwire strands straining to separate our backyard from the slightly rolling (acceptably stoned) adequately grazed cow pasture that was open all the way out to the thin tree line almost as far away as the eye could see, precariously distant from all human contact, and quietly nestled in an inconsequential little tuft of grass... right there at my feet, the early morning sun glinted sparks off a small vibrant cluster of one blue, one purple, a kelly, and a yellow—dazzling pastel eggs.

I stood upright.

Thinking to myself, but in my own little-kid way without words, "I knew I should've never let them trick me into coming all the way out here. Look at that! Jeweled eggs from nowhere. If stuff like this can happen, what on earth can not happen?! How will I ever get past the cellar and back inside? That's it, I've had it. I'm running... and I'm running... and I'm ru..."

"Oh Bobby! You're s'posed t' bring 'em back... "

What a magical world I was born to.
 



 



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Copyright © 2010 Bob Fugett, all rights reserved, hands off
this page created: 08/21/2010
last updated:
10/24/2013 08:17:16 PM

 


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