Angie and Figa, my hated siblings had front row seats as I was marched to the kitchen sink. My father, fat Remi held my arm securely as he led his cow to slaughter. He poured a long glass of water and set it upon the counter. He opened the plastic bottle of Bayer aspirin and set two down. He then unbuckled his black leather belt, wrapped it like a snake and placed it upon the counter as well. I could hear the hard, cold steal from the buckle click as it fell into place. He gave my mother the order to bring the tuna fish and mayo sandwich and placed it beside the aspirin and the water. My mother had the fear in her eyes and I could see tears lining her tired lashes…but she was speechless, exhausted from last night’s fight…drained, medicated, zoned out and so like a good zombie, she obeyed Remi’s every command. Fat Figa had her mouth full with ricotta pie, dropping her saliva soaked crumbs unto beautiful, petite Barbie who was seated quietly between her massive thighs…the poor goddamn doll…drowning in the rank sewer of Figa’s lap. Angie was on the edge of his seat. His thin, crooked and deceitful lips twitching in anticipation for what was about to occur to his hated brother Nardo. He hated me more than Hitler hated the Jews. It was no secret that I detested sandwiches of any kind…cold cuts, mayo, pickles, onions, ham, prociutto…all disgusting to me. Maybe my palette was spoiled but I preferred a warm breaded veal or chicken cutlet any day over a soggy, smelly, saran wrapped sandwich…I wanted to puke just staring at the tuna fish sandwich on the counter. The problem was that the whole family knew it and was rejoicing in my misery. Let’s not forget the pills…the pills were an item that seemed so foreign to me, so alien, repulsive in fact that I could never take one of the colorful babies into my mouth, therefore forcing my mother to crush all medication in pill form and mixing it with my food…mother’s are so damned dedicated to their children and you have to love them for that alone…if not more. The dictator, Remi looked out at his pathetic but fanatical loyalists, nodded his head acknowledging them, released a repulsive wave of gas and began his illustrious speech.
“Listen Remo, listen to me good. I came to this country poor, stupid and without a penny in my pocket. Did you hear me, poor and stupid? Well, I’m not poor anymore because I worked my ass off and wasn’t afraid to do the right thing…to fit in and be like everybody else.”
“You forgot to mention stupid…”
Remi, in lightening speed, grabbed the belt and rubbed it against my face. I could see the rage in his eyes. Angie and Figa were drooling, on the edge of their seats in glory.
“Don’t be so stupid,” said Remi. “You think you’re so smart but you’re nothing without me and my money. Did you hear me…nothing? Someday you’ll see. Why can’t you be more like your brother? Follow in his footsteps. That’s what you should be doing.”
At this moment, I couldn’t help but look at Angie. There was something about his mouth, his slimy smile…I was fixated on this distorted line and said, “I’d rather be dead.”
“See, listen to you,” as Remi fingered the belt. “ At fourteen, you know nothing about life. That’s all you do is hang out with bums and whores. You’re a fucking bum.”
I couldn’t hold back at the last statement and with my eyes still focused on Angie’s mouth said, “It takes one to know one…”
The black belt came down hard on my knees and I fell to the floor. Angie and Figa were certainly getting their monies worth at this display of cruelty against their younger sibling.
At this highpoint in the lecture, my mother tried to stop Remi but he pushed her back down in the chair and she began to cry. I loved my mother but she was so weak when I
needed her to bail me out.
Remi continued, “Well today is your special day. When I was young, I was lucky to get even a stale piece of bread, never mind a sandwich or be able to take pills if I was sick. We had no money for such luxuries.”
I was still steering at Angie, waiting for the right word to come out as Remi went on. I could see that Angie was getting nervous at my unstoppable gaze. As I stared at my adoring audience, it was sinking in that I was living in a real, bonafide madhouse.
“Today,” Remi went on, “you’re going to show me how much you appreciate my hard work by swallowing both the sandwich and the pills.”
I said, “No one has ever complained about my eating habits. Besides, I’m not hungry, nor am I sick.”
Remi looked at me, his shirt was off and sweat was streaming down his protruding gut. He looked like a pregnant whale. “Well, I’m complaining and so are your brother and sister. We don’t like that you are different. You’re an embarrassment to the DeNardo name. So toughen up, don’t be a baby and swallow the pills…now! Then eat that fresh tuna fish sandwich that Angie and Figa made just for you.” He leaned forward. “We want you to be just like us.”
As I lay there on my knees the word I was searching for came to mind, “Vagina!”
“What did you say, speak up,” said Remi.
“That’s it, that’s it all along, Angie’s mouth looks like a vagina…a vile, twisted, smelly, naked vagina.”
Remi looked at my mother, “What did he say? What’s this word? What does it mean?”
My mother shrugged it off and told me not to say the word but tried to assure Remi that the “V” word was appropriate. But all hell broke loose. Fat Figa jumped out of her seat and starting screaming that I said the “C” word as she covered Barbie’s ears. Remi looked at me and asked Figa if it really meant the “C” word. Figa screamed “YES” and Angie squealed along with her that he was called a “CV” That’s all Remi needed to hear. No one mentioned the “C” word in his house, except for him of course.
I was still on my knees and trying to explain to Remi that I didn’t say the “C” word but the damage was done and the rage came on in full force from all of the misfits…all at once. Angie stumbled forward and along with Figa grabbed my arms. Remi took the black, supple, leather belt and tied my hands behind my back. He grabbed the pink aspirin, forced my mouth open and shoved them down my throat, pouring the entire glass of water down my esophagus. But that was just the beginning of my torture, my humiliating experience in front of the maddening crowd. As my mother tried to pull me away, fruitlessly from my torturers, Angie and fat Figa grabbed the smelly tuna fish sandwich and smeared it all over my face, forcing its pasty remnants down my throat. The crowd was hysterical, insane, filled with emotional frenzy as they attacked me relentlessly. Remi was laughing with tears. Angie and Figa were laughing along with the dictator. My mother was on the floor drowning in her own tears and yours truly, Nardo himself, was gagging, choking on the hideous, foreign substances in his throat. I was about to faint and choke to death simultaneously during this carnival of hate and managed to mumble “no more, no more,” as I rose to my feat and vomited all over my dear siblings, Angie and Figa. It was the tuna fish special coming back at them. I won, I was saved…I survived the ongoing onslaught of evil, envy, and emotional lunacy that encapsulated my life each and every day in this psychotic household.