First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 21
Sometimes I wasn’t allowed to listen in, but I was good at eavesdropping. This was also the advantage of that short cord. When they began discussing why Grandma left Grandpa, I hovered near the kitchen door more than once, simply trying to find out. If Mom said, “Hang on a minute, Marie,” I scampered to my room, grabbed a book, and looked up innocently when she appeared in the doorway.
“What’re you reading?”
“Have you put your clean clothes away?”
She went back to the phone, and I crept back to my listening spot. I learned Grandpa had a love for moonshine, what he called “Sneaky Pete. (if you read THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, Sneaky Pete makes an appearance) When we visited, I often saw him get a jar down, (yes, in a paper bag like I wrote about in DIXIE) take a swig or two when it was only the middle of the afternoon. He certainly didn’t hide it, yet, I never saw him stumble, slur his words, or act in any way like he was drinking.
It must have been bad enough, though. Grandma was a quiet, gentle soul. She called my grandfather, “Chili,” when she wasn’t upset with him. When she left, she went to stay with my Aunt Suzy. She got a job. It wasn’t the same for quite some time, no weekly visits, no playing with the cousins in her backyard. It was like she’d disappeared. I “heard” Grandpa went to his daughter’s house every day, begging Grandma to come home. She eventually did go back, and it was over with. Maybe he wooed her. Maybe he simply wore her down.
I think all children are attuned to the adults around them, always picking up on cues, verbal and/or non-verbal. I think body language is as powerful as the words we speak, and Sonny is keenly aware of Mr. Fowler’s every move, not only from what he says, but his peculiar mannerisms as well. She takes careful note of her mother’s reactions to his presence, such that the slightest deviation from the usual is enough to raise her suspicions.
Mama was quiet the next day and it also didn’t go unnoticed Mr. Fowler didn’t show up first thing either.