SATUR DAY 02
Gone fishin’ ain’t for the faint of heart. Nor underwear either.
“Hatcher, get your boney bones movin’. Ya’ breakfast is freezin’ over!” Ma’s voice vibrated against the I-can-hear-you-thin-walls of my room.
“I’m up, ma!”
Tick, tick, tick, tick.
My head, meet pillow.
Then blackness again.
The door swung open: enter girl. Her hair was long and red. It matched her ruby red cheeks and red-hot lips. It floated in the clouds on a windy wind day. It was like the color of the sun’s reflection against the bayou waters of late October. Only it wasn’t October. It was June.
She leaned over and stroked my hair. Yes, she actually ran her fingers through my mom-cut, bowl-cut hair. Her head tilted back. Her eyelids rolled shut. And her lips puckered and searched for, longed for, yearned for mine.
When suddenly, I got whiff of the foulest rotten stench. Like the kind of smell you get from leaving an egg under someone’s doormat in the middle of a sticky-hot Louisiana summer just waiting for a crackin’ smash.
I peeled my eyes open to the sight of two googly eyes hovering over me. The googly eyes of my four-year-old pain in the foot brother, Harper.
I said pain in the foot because he was always standing right behind me, under my feet. He gets trampled on at least five, six times a day. You’d think sooner or later he’d learn his lesson.
“Hatch’a. Ma said ge’up, Hatch’a.”
“Get outta here, Harper.”
“Ma said, ge’up!”
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, fire! The first pillow missed Harper by a foot.
My room, actually us Hampton boys’ room, was ten feet by ten feet – for all three of us. And I’m not really that bad of a shot either. You get my point? But should I actually ever hit Harper with a pillow, my life would be over in less than three, two, pow!
However, you see, it’s the fear of the pillow that kept Harper in his place.
I know this first hand, of course, because it’s the same fear my older brother used on me. Well, actually, he still uses.
It’s a technique passed down for generations starting with the Neanderthals. Neanderthals were cavemen in case you hadn’t paid attention in Science. They’ve been extinct for about 10,000 years. Except for my Grampa’s Grampa. I heard Ma once talking on the phone about how Grampa’s Grampa was King of Neanderthals.
Of course, Kings don’t come into existence for thousands of years. Obviously, Ma hadn’t paid much attention in school. And I really don’t get her King of Neanderthals reference either. It’s mixing metaphors. Not that I know what a metaphor is. I’m only eleven, remember? But what I do know is, does anyone ever get their Ma?
Now back to my brothers. There’s my younger brother, Harper.
Harper Hampton Bio: An egg-breath, pillow-dodger, pain in the foot brother. A 4-year-old terror still suffering from the terrible twos. A terror that only a mother could love.
Then there’s my older bro, Hunter.
Hunter Hampton Bio: A fifteen-year-old track superstar, who worked after school cleanin’ fish and shuckin’ oystas to help Ma put food on the table. The superkid I’d want to be if I died and came back.
He’s the coolest.
One year, he rode the whole way to school with his head hanging out of the bus window. He could even spit in the air and catch it, too.
Ice age cool.
Plus, he could drive.
“Race ya’,” said Hunter, waiting for Ma to finish scraping the last batch of scrambled eggs out of a ting-tinging pan. “Betcha’ I can eat my eggs faster than you?”
“You’re on, Hatch-boy”
As soon as the eggs hit my plate, I shoveled them into my pie hole as fast as a cockroach frenzy at flashlight light.
One gulp, two gulps, three gulps, four.
“Finis. I waaaan,” I said, gloating with a completely full mouth and completely bare plate.
Only Hunter hadn’t eaten more than a nibble of his eggs.
That’s when it hit me.
“Suck-aaa,” whispered Hunter, taunting me in a deep shallow voice. “Yow, baby, yow.” He flicked his fingers and snickered. “Heh, heh.”
My eggs were gone. And now I had to sit and watch Hunter enjoy his breakfast. He licked his lips with every bite, savoring his morning meal.
“Live and learn, Hatch-boy.” He spent extra time swirling the last speck of egg in ketchup. He swirled his fork, round and round, tempting my hypnotic eyes. Then he rocked his shoulders side to side. “Choo-choo-choo-choo, says Mr. Fork to Mr. Mouth.”
Then the eggs were gone.
“Mmm-mmm-mmm.” He puckered his lips, patted his mouth with a napkin and dropped his fork onto his plate. “Live and learn.”
He was totally right. That’s why he’ll always be the ice man in my book.
Not that I have something called a “my book.” Diaries and journals are for kids who get dumped into garbage cans – after lunch. Yick. It’s just a figure of speech used to remind you that this (my life-changing essay) will be 10,000 words no less and absolutely no more.
Ten minutes later, now it was my turn.
“Ma, more melk? More melk, Ma!” Harper whined.
“Hold your horses, Harper” said Ma.
Oh, yes. There’s Ma-ma Leia Hampton.
Ma Hampton Bio: A Ma, three times as old and much prettier than any of us kids. It’s been said by one of our teachers that she’s a real piece of work. Kind of like a Picasso painting with distorted pictures everywhere. Or in her defense, in our family doctor’s words, she suffers from SMOSK (Single Mom of Stressful Kids).
“You’ll have to split the last bit of milk with Hatch, ba-boo.” said Ma, emptying the carton.
“No ba-boo. No Hatch. My melk.”
Ha, ha. Oh boy, this is gonna be great.
“But just so your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach,” said Ma, handing Harper an old cartoon sippy cup, “you’re not leaving this table ‘til your milk’s done. Waste not, want not.”
Grown ups always had to ruin the moment with some type of a lesson. Like we had to learn something every tooth-brushing minute.
Waste not, want not.
There’s starving children in Africa.
Good things come to those who wait.
You’re gonna get an infection if you keep picking that.
“I’m-a-na drink it. I’m-a am.”
Harper had no idea what was coming.
“Harper,” I whispered, “betcha’ I can drink my milk faster than you?”
Of course, I waited until Ma cleared the room.
“Three, two, one, go.”
One fake gulp, two fake gulps, three fake gulps, four.
“Yow, baby, yow,” I said to Harper and flicked my fingers one at a time.
Only he was still on his first sip.
This is gonna be the longest breakfast ever.
Life with the Hamptons. Bet it’s not quite the life-changing essay you were expecting.
Me, if you haven’t figured out by now, I’m Hatcher.
Hatcher Hampton Bio: I’m the eleven-year-old, about to be twelve, middle-kid dealing with a serious case of PMS. Poor me syndrome.