Brother and Sisters

Marshall was the oldest of us three, Cathy was the middle child, and I was the youngest with my little red curls and fat cheeks. We lived in a 1970's style house on Franklin Street in Spring Hill, Ks surrounded by blocks and rows of other 1970's houses that all looked pretty much the same. Ours stood out with its strange and hideous paint job of split pea soup color and white shutters beside the front living room windows.

Marshall's room faced the street, and was full of Star Wars posters and figurines strewn around our curly, flat patchy brown carpet which covered the entire floor of the top level of the house, excepting the kitchen where a sickening yellowish patterned vinyl floor stretched out menacingly, poorly reflecting the light coming through our back door.

Being the oldest, Marshall had certain rights. He had his own room--although his closet was filled with all of Mom's cocktail dresses from her times as a United Airlines ticket agent in New York. The record player was in his vicinity, plus most of the library of books and records that all of us kids wanted access to. Needless to say, being caught in his room was not a good thing. Quietly placing a disc upon the old turntable, I'd sit back to relax and listen to the same old story of Hansel and Gretel making their way through a dark forest until morning when a beautiful candy covered gingerbread house appeared, and just as the cackling witch popped into view, so did my brother--leaning into the room, just like the witch leaned out of her front candy cane adorned doorway. Cackle, "What are you doing in my room!"

"I, uh . . ."

"Get out!"

"Mom said I could come in here." A lie. Mom was at work and had not made her morning call yet.

Physical violence was usually next with a quick pinch of the neck and a drag through the toy and dirty, socked filled floor space. "Ow! I'm calling Mom!"

"Go ahead!"

That retort meant that I actually had to go through with the call, which would make me a tattle-tale and probably bring no results other than breaking up the painful arm twist for a few seconds while the call commenced. Rushing down to the green rotary phone which hung next to the back kitchen door, I began to dial Mom's work number at Spring Hill's little library on historical Main Street.

"Hello?" Her warbling and alarmed voice already knew who was calling, I could tell.

"Mom. Marshall won't let me listen to records in his room!"

There is a pause, then the sound of her putting something away--probably a half-read paperback or package of Mrs. Smith's cookies from old man Kuhn's store across the street. "Tell him I said you could stay in there and listen. Did you clean your room today? Don't forget to set the hamburger out, and make sure you don't watch TV today, I want you to help each other clean out the basement." Oh no! All of a sudden it had turned into a lecture. Darn that Marshall.

"Okay Mom. I love you."

"Love you too." Her phone clicked ten blocks up across town leaving me alone to deal with HIM.

"Mom told me to tell you that you are being bad and she is going to take away your army set unless you let me listen to records."

"She did not."

"Yes she did--ow!" Another neck pinch. Time to employ Cathy, who was in the living room painting her nails and watching Gilligan's Island reruns. "Cathy, help!"

She looked up at us and then back at the flickering screen. "I'm busy."

"Thanks."

An evil laugh slid out of Marshall's mouth, throwing my defensive thoughts into a helpless spin. He had won. I would not get to find out if Hansel and Gretel ever escaped the mean old witch and made it back home with pockets full of candy and gold. Never mind the fact that someone should have called CPS on their rotten parents . . . The only thing I had left to do was show that my dignity was still intact, despite my own personal failure against age and size and gender.

"Well, I'll get you back!" A threat--possibly a bad move which could only bring a preemptive measure of instant pain and or duct tape. Marshall just stood there and laughed, then made his way up to his room with an obvious click of the door, which meant I'd be locked out all day with no hope of entering or chance of retaliation. The only thing left to do was go grab some carrots and join Cathy for the last few minutes of Gillian trying to figure out how to escape a gorilla protected cave.



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