Grandma Is A Beatnik!



Grandma Is A Beatnik!

by

Brian Moloney




            "Hurry up Bonehead, I don't know how long she's gonna be gone."

            "I'm going as fast as I can.  This thing's been sealed over with paint about a thousand times."

            "Paulie, Grandma's gonna have a total snit fit when she sees the mess you've made."

            "You're in this too, Pewee...consider it our mess."

            So spoke twelve year old Paulie Patterson to his little sister - by three years - Eileen.  He was struggling, at the time, tying to keep his best friend, Bernie Mulligan, from toppling off his increasingly sagging shoulders, while Bernie pushed and pried at the little opening in the ceiling of Grandma's bedroom closet. 

            "I think it's coming," Bernie said.  "When's the last time anybody opened this thing, anyway?"

            "I don't know, my Grandmother's not too adventurous," Paulie answered.  "But that's the point...she's so out of it, there could be all kinds of cool things up there...and she'd never know it."

            "Yeah, maybe even some old dead bodies."

            "What do ya think, our Grandma's some kind of an ax murderer," Eileen sassed.

Craaaaaaaack!

            "Got it!" exclaimed Bernie.  "We're in!"

            This was it; the day Paulie had dreamed about his entire life.  The day he entered the secret room. 

            Today, it all came together.  Grandma and Aunt Daisy decided to go into town to get their hair done up in that puffy, blue thing that they did.

            "I suppose that two big boys like you can watch your sister for a while," Grandma said. 

             Paulie couldn't believe it.  Just like that, they hopped into Aunt Daisy's old Impala, and off they went.  Two little silver heads, barely visible over the front seat back.

            "Hoist me up," Bernie said, sliding the small hatch covering to the side.  "I'll take a lookie look."

            "No way," Paulie said, finally dropping his load on the floor.  This is my Grandmother's house...and I'll do the Armstrong thing."

            "Ooooh!  First man to walk in the attic!  How exciting is that?" mocked Leenie, although, inside, she was doing backflips of anticipation.

            "The what thing?" Bernie asked

            Paulie pulled over a chair and jumped up.  Grabbing hold of the edge, he hoisted himself through the hole, with a bit of a boost from Bernie.

            "What'da ya see, Neil? Leenie asked.

            "Whose Neil?" Bernie said.

            "Not much.  Just some old left over linoleum and some ratty boxes.  I need a light.  Leenie go get that flashlight in Grandma's drawer.

            "Why do I always have to be the Gofer," Leenie complained.

            "Cuz you’re the biggest weasel here...now go."

            Leenie huffed, then ran off to retrieve the light.

            "I didn't know Gophers were weasels," Bernie said.

            "I don't know either...it just sounded good.  Come on, I'll pull you up."

            Leenie scampered back with the light.  "Hey, don't think you're leaving me behind."

            "Your too small too reach up here.  Just give me the light."

            "No way, I'll tell Grandma everything."

            "Alright, alright."

            Paulie leaned out, while Bernie held onto his legs, and pulled his sister up through the opening.

            "Wow, this is so awesome," Leenie said, flipping on the flashlight.

            "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

            They were immediately greeted by an old dressmaker's dummy with a big floppy hat draped over the top. 

            "Cool...your grandma really is an ax murderer," Bernie said.  And the three laughed hysterically.

            Leenie jumped up and instantly put the hat on her head, then wrapped what looked like some sort of dead animal around her neck.  "Look at me...I'm off to Bridge club...ta, ta."

           "Hey, look at this," Bernie said.  He held up an old Life Magazine.  "First photos from the Moon," he trumpeted.  "Hey this is probably worth something."  He picked up an old-yellowed newspaper, "Say goodbye to dem bums.  Hey, what's a bum? " 
     
            "I think some sort of homeless person," Leenie said.

            "Well, why don't they just say so...and where are they goin, anyway?"

            "I think it was some old baseball team that left town a million years ago," Paulie said.  He was rummaging through an old dusty trunk.  "Hey, look at this stuff...I don't believe this."

            "What ya find, buried treasure or something?" Bernie said.

            " No—hey Leenie, look at this picture...is that Grandma sitting on the roof of that car?"
            Leenie examined the old photograph and saw a group of old time, young people.  Three scruffy looking guys, shirts unbuttoned, exposing bare chests, stood around a very old car, with a big round roof.  On the roof was a pretty young woman, dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt.  From her lips, dangled a stubby cigarette.  Sprawled on the hood of the car, her butt sticking out towards the camera, was another pretty young girl.

            "Your nuts...these babes can't be your grandma.  Look at them."

            "It is grandma, cried Leenie.  "And the other one is Aunt Daisy...I recognize the eyes...and their smiles...it is them."

            "Far out," Paulie said.  "Look, somebody signed it...it's hard to read.  Ink's mostly faded."

            Leenie turned the photo every which way and read:  "To Katie - that's Grandmas old nickname...- Life "is" worth living, if only we knew how.  Love always, Jack."
                           

            "What kind of a thing is that to write?  Bernie asked.

            "Beats me,” Paulie answered.

            "Look, there's more," Leenie said.

            "Just some old clothes and stuff," Bernie said.

            Paulie picked out an old pair of black jeans and a white T-shirt.  "I think these are the clothes Grandma's wearing in that picture."

            "There's a book here..like a note book."

Leenie opened her Grandma's old journal.  "There's some poems and stuff.  Listen to this...."

            The trio sat entranced for the better part of an hour while Leenie read from strange, yet fascinating, poetry.  It was about lost people, life and the world...and how none of it would ever fit. 

            Leenie read some entries from the journal, dated "Summer 49", and heard her Grandma's youthful voice declare, "Jack is right.  The world has gone crazy, and our generation is lost, and can never be found.  We are the Beat generation...beat and forgotten.  It's the hipsters of the world who survive...and the world is not round, but square."

            "Grandma knew some guy named Karaoke," Leenie said in awe.

            "Cool," Bernie said...the guy who invented the singing machine."

            "No, Bozo," Paulie said.  "I've heard something about this guy, Jack Kerouac.  He wrote a book about traveling around the country and stuff.  He invented the Beatniks or something."

            "Beat who?" asked Bernie.

            "You know, early hippies, before even the Beat-les." Leenie answered. "Like that Maynard G. Krebs guy, on Nick at Nite."

            "The one who never wants to work...WORK!"

            "Yeah, that's the guy,"

            "Awesome," Paulie said, studying the photograph and the lost, yet hopeful faces within.  "Grandma is a Beatnik."



            Later, the threesome sat in the kitchen slurping cold sodas when Grandma and Aunt Daisy returned, fully puffed and blued. 

            "Well, I see you children managed just fine without these two old ladies," Grandma teased.

            "Cool, Grandma, real cool" Leenie said with a giggle.

            Paulie gawked at his Grandmother, flushed with a newfound admiration and respect.

            "What's the matter, Paulie?  Are you feeling alright...you look a little flushed, dear."

            "I'm fine Grandma-- Hey, do you think, some day, you and Aunt Daisy could tell us some stories about the old days...you know, when you were young?"

            "Why Paulie," Grandma said, a bit taken aback by the question.  "I didn't think you believed your Grandma was ever young."

            Paulie's blush bloomed, and Grandma and Aunt Daisy smiled and walked into the living room.

            "We could tell them some stories they'd never forget," Aunt Daisy whispered.

            "You said it, girlfriend," Grandma replied.



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