Short Cuts: Foreclosure



Even now, nearly thirty years later, I don't know exactly why we lost the house except that it had something to do with medical bills. Perhaps if my father were a drunk, he'd have gotten loose-tongued enough at some point over the years to spill it. But he's not, and we never talk about that dark time when the four of us lived in a camping trailer loaned to us by someone from church. We were eventually able (somehow) to get the house back, to stay on the sandhill field-and-pasture land on which my father had grown up, on which his dreams of having a herd of his own cows never materialized, so I guess it's a moot point now.

Still, there are things from that time that haunt me like dreams of a past life I can't be sure I lived: my eleven-year old sister having a friend's mom drop her off at the house and walking half a mile through the woods in the dark to where we really lived, the logistics of four people living in a camping trailer, the frustration of wanting to tell people all about it in conflict with not wanting anyone to know. But the one image that remains in video-perfect focus is my father's eyes when he rounded the corner of the garage to confront the man stabbing For Sale signs in the grass the day we were moving out. It was a mix of embarrassment and rage I saw there, the distillation of a failure he must have counted as his own. I don't think he even believed what he was screaming at that man, threatening to beat his ass as my mother pleaded that it was only his job. 

"Well, he's got a piss-poor goddamn job, then" my dad said, the anger flooding out of him, leaving something more like sorrow. 

He has never been more right.What a piss-poor goddamn job, putting working families out of their homes in service of a bank. I don't remember exactly what I did. I think I put myself between my dad and the man who represented all the forces of the world lined up against us. Maybe I was silent, maybe I joined my mom in pleading with him to just go back inside. I don't know. But I do know that if I had it to do over again, if I could go back in time, I would punch that guy right in the face so my dad wouldn't have to. 

Author's note: Short Cuts is planned series of flash-length creative non-fiction. The idea is to write fast and hard with not much revision about things I've never gotten around to writing about. This is the first installment. 

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