In my family of “Mixed Nuts” Cousin Corwin was the winner, hands down. When he was about twelve, he and his twin Kelvin got in a little “dust up” with the police, so it seemed like a good time to get out of town. Aunt Essie called Daddy, asking if the twins could come spend a few days. Now if the image “twins” brings to mind thoughts of “barefoot boys with cheeks of tan,” think again. Kelvin to all intents and purposes, could have passed for normal, but Corwin was nuts. At five foot eight and two hundred and sixty pounds, he was physically intimidating. His pale blue eyes blazed with madness. He ripped through a fried chicken like a chain saw. Mother had to double the amount she cooked, just to feed the family, the minute he arrived.
Aunt Essie’s call for relief was well-timed. Mother and Daddy were just about to leave on vacation. Though Mother could only hear Daddy’s end of the conversation, it was clear he was assuring Aunt Essie “taking the boys will be no problem. I’ll straighten them out. We’ll come get them as soon as we get back. They can stay as long as they want. They’ll always have a home with us.” He hung up, turning to Mother. She was murderous! Like any right thinking human with twelve years’ experience with Corwin, she despised him. She’d spent most of those years defending her girls from his attacks.
“Are you crazy? I don’t want that maniac out here! He is not coming!”
“Yes, he is! I’ve already told Essie we’ll come get them as soon as we get back from vacation. I’m going to bring those boys out here, put ‘em to work and straighten ‘em out. There’s not a kid in the world I can’t conquer!”
“You can’t straighten them out. You deserve what you get! Go get them whenever you want to. We’re not going on vacation!”
Conceding that point, Daddy left, returning several hours later returning with two sullen, hostile boys. Since neither Mother nor the girls had anything to say to him either, it was a quiet house except for chicken bones crunching when Corwin ate.
Corwin was exhausted after his big supper and brush with the police so Mother showed him to his bed right after supper. As soon as she cleaned up the kitchen, she went on to bed, leaving Daddy up by himself. He was horrified to find Corwin in his bed when he got ready to turn in. He went to find Mother. She was bunking in with the girls. “Corwin’s in my bed!”
“Yep. You may as well go ahead and get started straightening him out tonight.” She turned over, the bed shaking with her giggling. Daddy knew when he was whipped.
He got up, blasting the boys out of bed the next morning about six. They were sullen, rubbing their eyes. He was full of false cheer, enjoying the prospect of teaching them to work, turning them into productive humans. They dragged away from the table, out into the dawn’s early light. They were back at noon, to eat and rest a couple of hours. The boys were unhappy. I don’t think their morning had gone well. Daddy was trying to force a good mood on everybody. After an hour and a half’s rest, he had them back at it. They ate, bathed, and fell in bed that night. The next morning, he had to drag them out of bed, openly hostile. They took potshots at him at breakfasts before he dragged them off. By noon, things clearly had heated up.
By the fifth day, Daddy was sick of them, but stuck in the nightmare he’d created. He had alienated everybody. In one camp, Mother and the girls hated him. In the other, he was spending his vacation trying “straighten out” two juvenile delinquents who openly despised him and made his life a misery on every turn, as well as having work like a dog trying to teach them to work. He slept snuggled up to the corpulent, malodorous, psychopathic Corwin at night. The final insult came when the putrid scent of feces drifted from the general area of his closet. He investigated, finding that Corwin had suffered digestive issues and soiled his undies, concealing them in Daddy’s closet, rather than bringing them out to be washed, then sought out Daddy’s underwear, which he also soiled and concealed. Daddy had had enough. He made Corwin take the disgusting mess outdoors and wash them. To everyone’s relief, Corwin called Aunt Essie, begging to go home. That saga had ended with Daddy finding a kid he couldn’t conquer.