Lisa Lynn Biggar
Alex Jr. came to live on my grandparents’ farm for a while when his mom couldn’t handle him anymore. He was only a few years older than me, my uncle Alec’s youngest son of three. My uncle was living on the farm then too, between divorces, driving truck for a living, so he wasn’t there much, but when he was he’d get drunk at night and whip Alex Jr. with his belt in front of the milk house. When we were there in the summer, my mom and I’d watch out the window of one of the upstairs bedrooms in the farmhouse. Alex Jr. would yell, but that only made my uncle strike him harder. It seemed to be an unspoken rule that each of my dad’s brothers did what they wanted to with their kids—no one dared interfere.
Once my parents invited Alex Jr. to go on a daytrip to the Poconos with us. The two of us in the backseat. I think I was around eleven then, and I thought he was cute with his tousled blonde hair that fell over his blue eyes and his mischievous grin. I remember I had on red shorts and a striped tube top. It was a hot summer day and my dad’s Buick didn’t have air conditioning, so we had all of the windows down, my long brown hair flying all around. Alex Jr. had on shorts too and our thighs were sticking to the back seat. We kept peeling them off the seat to cool ourselves, but when I put mine back down they splayed out more than his, and he started making fun of this, calling me chubby thighs. My parents lost in their own conversation.
At the Poconos we went to a petting zoo. I remember being surrounded by animals that wanted the dry food we bought from the dispensers. There were ponies and goats, donkeys and deer, a pot-bellied pig, chickens, ducks… Alex Jr. pinched the skin between my tube top and shorts and said I must be related to the pig. I kicked him and said he looked like the donkey. Then I said something I wish I’d never said. I told him he had a fat ass, that I’d seen it from the bedroom window when his father was beating him. “And bet you deserved it!” I yelled. By then the animals were wandering away from us. They didn’t want any more of what we had to give.
Alex Jr. didn’t say much on the way home, and not long after that he moved back into the trailer with his mother. I’d hear things now and then about the trouble he’d get into. About the times he ran away. The times he got caught stealing. The times he went to jail. His life wasn’t going anywhere, so it wasn’t much of a tragedy when a lady, a drunk driver, swerved her car off the road on a foggy night and hit him. He shouldn’t have been walking on the side of the road at night in a fog. He shouldn’t have been wearing black. He probably shouldn’t have been born some people even said. He was a bad seed. Guess he deserved to die at seventeen. And nothing ever happened to the lady, a friend of the judge in town, who just drove away and said later she thought she’d hit a deer.
Lisa Lynn Biggar received her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is currently marketing a short story cycle set on the eastern shore of Maryland. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals including Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review, The Delmarva Review and Superstition Review. She’s the fiction editor for Little Patuxent Review and co-owns and operates a cut flower farm in Maryland with her husband and three cats. writinglisa.com; twitter.com/lislafleur