We like it when baby boomers write books. We like it even better when those books are about the early years of our generation. That’s the case with David Robbins‘ “The Tu-Tone DeSoto.” This is an excerpt from the first chapter.
Connie grips the two aluminum tubes of the porch swing’s arm and imagines them as the twin barrels of her father’s twelve-gauge shotgun. Through the open front door and windows behind her she had heard the predictable slow muffled crash from the kitchen. Her mother, drunk again, has fallen from her chair to the floor. She then tightens her grip on the gritty tubes of the porch swing’s arm as desperately as her sixteen-year-old grasp would allow.
“God dammit, Jake!” she hears her mother rasp, blaming her drunkenness on the chair. “When’re you ever gonna fix this goddamned chair?”
Coalescing into the warm light of the porch where Connie sits is the soft pale glow from the 17-inch Dumont console television where her father is watching television in the living room. Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy debate one another for the United States presidency as Howard K. Smith moderates.
She concentrates on listening to the distant voices from the TV. “Uh, I believe that Vice President Nixon is only paying lip service to the increase of the minimum wage to a dollah an houah,” Kennedy drolls on in his distinct Massachusetts accent. Connie knows that Massachusetts is a place she will never see because she feels doomed to be trapped in an ordinary life here in Hanson, Iowa–at least once she is freed from the dysfunctions of her parents.
From inside the house the wood frame of the over-used living room couch creaks annoyingly as her father quietly and routinely rises to attend to his drunken wife. “I’m coming, Vera, dammit,” her father groans as he makes his way toward the kitchen. “Just hold your horses.”
It has been getting worse between her parents. Her father’s attentions directed toward his deteriorating wife have left Connie free from her fear of his threatening desires toward her as she has grown into adolescence. The cold comfort of her father’s ignoring her has left her gratefully invisible to him. But she knows it is only a matter of time, as she has seen the wanton glances he has leveled at her from within the darkness of his libido. When she is around him, she feels as helpless as prey for a hidden tiger ready to spring.
Feeling only a little safer now that her father distanced himself in the kitchen, Connie relaxes her grip on the dry naked tubes of the chair arm. She picks up her glass of orangeade from the chipped paint metal end table and vacantly sips as she directs her gaze down the street toward the homes where more normal families live.
Learn more online. The 1956 DeSoto Firedome pictured on the book cover of “The Tu-tone DeSoto” and on this site is courtesy of Brad and Howard Miller of Simsbury, CT.