I told you before about how my dad was struggling financially after a few years of living on the farm. He had used up his inheritance from his father, and no matter what he did, he couldn’t make a profit off the farm.
After the day he came back from town with a smile on his face and a carton of ice cream in his hands, everything changed.
The next morning a man came over that I had never met before. Dad didn’t have many friends, so we rarely had visitors. This man smelled funny, and I remember being scared of him. He was dirty, and his smile revealed he was missing some teeth. I thought only babies and old people were losing their teeth, so seeing the gaps in the front his mouth confused me.
Dad introduced me to him briefly but then quickly ushered the man into the basement. They kept going back and forth from the truck the man drove, bringing in some kind of machinery and mysterious boxes. I sat at the kitchen table quietly doing my schoolwork and watching them.
The smelly man with the missing teeth came over every day that week, and he and my father spent hours and hours in the basement when he was there. I was curious what they were doing down there, but when I asked my dad if I could see, all he said was, “Why don’t you go play upstairs JJ? We can work on your schoolwork later. We can call it a vacation!” I didn’t like the man, so I was perfectly happy to play upstairs in my room whenever he came over.
I still had a niggling curiosity though about what was going on in the basement. So one day when the man wasn’t over, but dad was working down there, I opened the door and tiptoed quietly down the stairs.
I saw my dad wearing goggles like a scientist. He had a bunch of very scientific looking equipment set up on a table, a hot plate, and a bunch of other stuff that I didn’t recognize. There were also a few bags of white powder and pretty crystals. I snuck up behind my dad and reached for one of the blue rocks, but then my dad noticed me.
He was furious, screaming at me to go back upstairs, and even smacked my hand. He had never spanked me or anything like that before, and almost never yelled. I never went back down into the basement after that.