Everyone knew to stay away from 1200 Clover Street. Jehovah's Witnesses, vacuum salesmen, even the police seemed to turn away at the sight of the white Victorian missing the picket fence.
Those who dared visit were subject to mum's promiscuity; she'd answer the door in lingerie, that hollow look in her eyes, searching you for life, love, attention.
If pop answered, he'd spew out some Irish-twanged curses and likely clock your temple if you weren't already running towards the street at the second "fucker" drunkenly expelled in your direction.
The children ran wild, breaking neighbors' windows and picking on the weak just like pop.
Inside the dim house, mum and pop would kneel down at night and pray to God, taking sips of whiskey after each breath.
Come Sunday, if they remembered, they'd hop in the car and enter the hallowed grounds of Saint Mary's Catholic Church, asking for forgiveness, performing Hail Mary's, walking the walk and talking the talk. They'd leave with haste and return to their ways at home.
Little Kathy didn't understand the church and why her family transformed for a few hours a week. She didn't understand prayer when mum and pop just kept drinking and cursing. Of all things religious, she most hated mum's bedside figurine of Mother Mary, how she held Baby Jesus and looked so happy, so peaceful. What a juxtaposition to mum, kneeling in prayer, bra strap showing, bags under her eyes, shooing Kathy away, paying the whiskey bottle more attention. Kathy envied that little Baby Jesus, yet she yearned to break him to little pieces.
One dark night, she heard a car screech into the driveway and a haunting rat-tat-tat of gunfire. Mum didn't unbutton her shirt, dad didn't even curse, and no one answered the door. Pop and mum merely grabbed Kathy and her brothers and ran to the car to hopefully escape with their lives. it was a rare close moment that seemed to last forever, the family holding hands. The last thing Kathy remembered, etched into her skull, was Mother Mary, the figurine, her serene smile that was trying to tell Kathy something, something she could not decipher through the panic of the situation, something it seemed, everyone else already knew.
A fiction piece for the Speakeasy