I Told Mama to Come Up

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I told Mama to come up. There was a pause. “Boy,” she said. I asked her why she had caged the elephant. “It done hurt me again.” There was a pause. “Didn’t hurt you none Ma. That’s just your mind.”



I Told Mama to Come Up


I told Mama to come up. There was a pause. “Boy,” she said. I asked her why she had caged the elephant. “It done hurt me again.” There was a pause.

“Didn’t hurt you none Ma. That’s just your mind.”

“No Boy,” she said. “It done hurt me.”

I walked up to the bedroom where Ma usually slept. I wanted to see the elephant.

I always thought Ma was joking about her killers: Two blonds. Male. Early twenties. Dad dead on the bed. They had bludgeoned him to death.

It hadn’t always been like this, you know. Dad had always been a difficult man but he was capable of understanding certain things even as he ignored the rest. I do believe that he tried to do his best for Ma in his own difficult way. I don’t know if he ever loved her. I don’t even know if it was she who was the pure reason for him turning away. Anyway, whatever Dad may have had in him before, it was not there anymore, and he had turned away to somewhere else. Either it had been too weak to stay or he had applied a lot of effort to draw it out of himself and keep it at bay.

In those things Dad was good: the darker things; the things that for other men would be difficult. And he probably ended up bludgeoned to death for it.

Then there was Dan. Dan was articulate. Dan got on well with Mama. Mama really liked Dan. He’d nudge her up sometimes with funny stories. Dad laughed at them too. It was like Mama came back for a while each time.

On an afternoon Dad and Dan were drinking beer on the porch. Dad went in to the house for something, probably for some cigarettes. Then Dan moved around to me and told me that Mama’s great grandmother had been a witch.

I asked Dad about it later. He said, “Yeah.” Then he paused for a minute. Then he said: “Did you know that Dan’s got one part Cherokee?”

I said I didn’t know about that. Then he turned his head away from me and drank his beer.

It doesn’t matter to me now. There’s an elephant in every room. I think that’s what Dan wanted to tell me.













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