“This is weird.”
“I mean our mother used to ride this thing.”
“We’re probably breathing the same air she breathed.”
Lucas shook his head and chuckled. “Where do you get this stuff?”
“It’s true, her molecules are still here.”
Lucas and Grinder’s mother Millie walked out on her family one day long ago. Both of her sons were affected in different ways, neither have made peace with it nor do they know the entire story. Out of the blue, they receive news that their mother has died and her effects are waiting for them, the most important being Paul. Who the heck is Paul? They don’t know, until they hit the road and make their way to Pittsburgh, that Paul is an African Grey parrot and a mouthy one at that. The bird is more distraught than Millie’s sons, having shared her life while her own children were abandoned. What in the heck are they supposed to do with a scrappy bird? One who insists that their mother Millie ‘needs a joint.’ A joint? Sad that a bird feels more grief than Millie’s grown sons, but who can blame them, they barely knew her. The confusion of their hearts are buried deep, the damage of her disappearing act not something they talk about.
With the bird pecking at their old wounds, their memories become more clear, including the Christmas she left and Pop’s behavior after. Pop, the old drunk, has found Jesus! He may provide a few facts of his own about why their mother never came back, or did she? The birds utterances at times are like having their mother in the room. Maybe she did miss her boys, maybe she had her reasons for leaving. Grinder and Lucas are on a path of healing, letting go after decades of silence from their mother, all thanks to her feathered friend. Maybe they can finally build a solid mother out of the remaining scraps, seeing the life she lived. Maybe Grinder really just needs a pack of white sweat socks!
The novel is short, about everyday folks. Martha and Lucas’s relationship is a tangle, Grinder is the ‘weird one’, Pop is a ‘nutcase’ and their mother’s friend may have been her drug dealer? The bird may be the smartest of the bunch! It’s a strange journey the boys take, and nothing is resolved completely, which makes it all the more realistic. The brothers spending time together, confronting the past, and breaching the distance between them may just be the heart of the novel. Sometimes you can’t have all of the answers, and often everyone is to blame and no one.
Black Rose Writing