My father’s brother. The Devil. Same person. He was 59 when I was brought to his house to live. I was about six years old and in the first grade. I don’t remember the first time he touched me and I don’t remember the last. He was a World War II naval veteran – sent home from Iwo Jima with a broken neck that he sustained when a suicide bomber hit his boat; I guess he was one of the lucky ones. He collected disability for the rest of his life but when he wanted to, when he wasn’t too drunk, he could catch me. I wouldn’t call that disabled. His $410 check was huge back then; 60% disabled.
He wore a white wife-beater undershirt with khaki pants almost all of the time and hid bottles of liquor every where he could around the house and yard – under the boat, in the fork of the grapefruit trees, behind the porch steps, in the trunk of his car, under the seat of his car, in his inner suit-coat pocket in the closet but that was usually the only one in the house. If Mrs. Devil, his wife, found the bottles, she would pour them out. Sacrilege!
I can remember his brown hands, fingers so stern and strong; God forbid if he caught you with those hands. His grip was powerful. I was afraid of him and hid constantly from him. I usually don’t like to remember very much about him, ever, at all.