2. THE EDGAR ALLAN POE NIGHTMARE
[In Part I of this story I told you how my brat brother played an evil joke on my Mother, and for this he was thrown into the root cellar and the cellar door shut tight…]
And so, now as I write this, I wonder. ‘What would today’s psychologists say about a child that would play that kind of nasty trick with a rope tied to a rock in the well? And would root-cellar-discipline head the discussions for weeks, even months on prime television?’
If there were to be any media discussion, it should be no more than three minutes. After all, Brat Brother got no physical beating. He simply got modern-day sanctioned time-out. And boy, did he get time out. I’m certain sure he would have preferred a good thrashing. I know I would have.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I did not have to press my ear to the cellar door to hear the muffled cries and sobs from that cold chilly ethereal pit of hell. My brother was trapped in an Edgar-Allan-Poe-nightmare with only darkness and the beat of his heart. And I was glad, so very glad, it wasn’t me.
But still, I couldn’t in my wildest imagination think how scared my brother must be. And although I so often told him that I hoped some day he would be so far removed from me that it would cost a thousand dollars to mail a letter, I did feel truly sorry for him and begged for his release.
But Mother was adamant that he would remain there for a time (long enough I guess for remorse to set in because remorse is important). But, of course how could he even for one New-York-second consider the weight of his actions in a place that so seriously threatened survival. Was there sufficient air? And I know he was thinking, ‘If I mold and die in here, they’ll be sorry.’
And so after hopeless raking and clawing at the root-cellar lid, and screaming until he could scream no more, and crying until his face was thorough soaked, he moved to the more dire thought of what would he eat. The eating part, to Brat Brother, was the most fundamental of survival. To survive one must eat, one must eat much, and one must eat often.
And if the experts are right, that eating is a remedy for other distresses, Brat Brother’s distresses at the moment were overwhelming, and so his next clear conviction was no matter what else, he must eat.
And so he felt around in the blackness of the cellar and had one flash of relief when he found a tin can with a lid. He managed to pull the lid off. He felt the stuff. It felt like jam. He tasted it. It seemed to have a weak sweetness. It was hard to know for sure what it was by taste, but because it was stored in the cellar, it could only be one of two things – pork lard or jam. And though questionable which it was, that weak bit of sweetness convinced him it must be jam.
And so, he commenced dipping and licking his fingers. Taste was of little matter. One MUST eat.
Now I expect my brother was probably in that cellar no longer than ten minutes but I’m sure, and quite understand, how to him it must have felt like many long hours. He was in survival mode and so he was eating jam. Unfortunately when the cellar door was eventually cast back and he was released, he found to his dismay, the meal he had partaken of was in fact, finger servings of, what was called in those days, axle grease.
So this is where we’ll leave this story, but now as I watch Court TV, and see so many suspects of child murder and abduction refusing to talk, I am so dismayed. Seems to me that within the Geneva Convention and the Fifth, the authorities have no way to force confessions, and no way to get to the truth – though that truth might redeem an innocent child.
But wait, maybe there are acceptable ways of making people talk. And it is not by locking them in cellar-holding cells in Remand Centers with painted walls, air-conditioning and concrete floors. These conditions are totally false misappropriations of what a cellar is.
The Geneva Convention and the Fifth (which admittedly I know little about) must be upheld, even when childrens lives are in danger. But, at the same time, society accepts without protest or qualm the new discipline of Time-Out.
So for those who refuse to talk, why not time-out in a damp, fusty, funereal, black-mold-lined, dirt-excavated cubbyhole five feet square and four feet high, piled with rotting carrots, potatoes, and turnips, inhabited by fungi of all slimy convictions, and misty demon-like poltergeists...crowded into a darkness as thick as black-strap molasses?
And if that be not enough to make them talk…
Dry bread and axle-grease for dinner!