Ramble On by Led Zeppelin 

“Leaves are fallin’ all around, it’s time I was on my way.” I’m singing along to this song, Ramble On by Led Zeppelin, on the album that Trish borrowed from her friend, Bryce Underwood. This is some really good stuff; I have to admit.

“Ramble on, I’m going around the world to find my girl. On my way.” I run into the kitchen and grab the broom. Now I’m Jimmy Page. Before long, an audience assembles, Trish and Wendy. They watch in amazement as I jump in the air and pluck out three different chords. Bristles from the broom fall to the floor. A few guitar solos later, the broom has met its untimely death. The last piece of wicker falls, leaving not much more than the broomstick.  Mother comes out of her bedroom and orders me to stop the nonsense and “Ricky,” she says, “You know that’s our only broom. Now it’s of no use. Boy, sometimes I really wonder about you. And turn that music off.”

I stop the turntable, remove the record and return it to its sleeve. I will listen to that record some other time, perhaps when Mother is in a better mood. The last two nights Dad hadn’t come home, and I believe because of this, Mother’s woven tightly at the edges. Every little thing seems to bother her.

I felt bad for Wendy, when yesterday, she’d asked Momma for a nickel so that she could buy a birthday card for her teacher, Mrs. Wilhelm. Mother went off on poor Wendy, screaming at her and telling her to get off it. I wished that I had a nickel to give Wendy, but I didn’t.

All I could do was hold her and tell her Mother didn’t mean it. Still, it took a good half-hour before Wendy stopped shaking and maybe fifteen minutes more, before she wiped the tears from her face. A long night last night was.

Lenny didn’t come home last night either. Spent the night at one of his friend’s, don’t know which one, Lenny doesn’t like to reveal too much. Before he left with his hair done in a ponytail and knapsack filled with, who knows what, he said, “See you all tomorrow, staying by a friend’s.” That was it. Trish did ask him which friend and Lenny replied, “It doesn’t matter.”  And off he went.

Mother had gone back to her room, making sure to lock the door. I don’t like the idea of her locking the door again, but what could I do. What can anybody do? Mother demands being left alone and for the time being, we must abide by her wishes and carry on without her. Trish and I will prepare breakfast while Wendy folds up the blankets and puts away our sleeping bags.

As I crack the final four eggs into the mixing bowl, I ask Trish: “Where do you think Dad’s been the last two nights.” I know this is a hard question, and the way Trish is swishing the oil around in the frying pan, she is pondering and preparing, perhaps a much softer answer.

She motions for me to pour the eggs into the pan, and in doing so, a sizzling eruption of grease spatters upon my bare chest, causing me to drop the bowl. The idea of scrambled eggs for breakfast lay gooey on the barren floor. Trish, not understanding as she usually is, yells at me and suggests that I’m worthless.

In her denouncements of me, she blurts out, “Dad is seeing another woman.” And then, she throws off the apron and runs off. I fall onto the floor and with egg on my face I lay there, almost wishing that I was dead.

Ten minutes later, I gather myself and clean the mess that I, irresponsibly, had created. I’m sorry and I will confess my remorse to Trish, if she’ll let me. I go into the living room to beg forgiveness but just as I clear the dividing line of hallway and living room, Trish, with Wendy in tow, scurries out the front door. And not too happily either. She slams the door so hard that, if I had a Richter scale, it would register, at least a six-point-o. The few unbroken knickknacks, assembled on the small shelf above the record player, crash onto the edge of the end table. Now, scattered below, clipped angel wings, decapitated elves and Santa’s sleigh, the latter being the only vestige of a happier Christmas — three Christmases ago if I remember right.

I will gather the broken pieces, salvage what I can, and reassemble the shelf to look almost like it did before. I will get Lenny’s model glue to do the mending, hope he doesn’t mind.

I’m shocked to find in Lenny’s car model box a wad of twenty-dollar bills. Where the heck did he get this kind of money, is my first thought. Second thought, why hasn’t he offered to help buy some groceries, help Mother out? Third thought, why don’t I just take a few of these twenties and go to the store myself and stock up the cabinets with jars of peanut butter, cans of tuna fish, boxes of macaroni noodles. Buy a few dozen eggs. Then, Trish won’t be mad at me anymore.

I reason that I’d reassemble the angel and stick the presents back on the sleigh before deciding on going to the store or not. With deftness of hand and steadiness of eye, I successfully complete the task of reassembly. I’m proud of myself.  I’m sure nobody will notice that these knickknacks were given a second chance at life with Lenny’s glue and my determination to keep some kind of order around here. Even the minor things, like a properly winged angel and a Santa’s sleigh with proportionately placed presents could mean the difference between feeling like a member of a real household and an orphan being left on another doorstep.

As soon as I put the glue bottle back in the box, Lenny comes rushing in, out of breath and looking like a rhinoceros just chased him home. I’ve never seen him this nervous before. He grabs the box and mumbles, “Don’t you ever go through my stuff again.”  He pulls out the money, stuffs it in his pants, and dashes out the door.

Stupid ideas, I have sometimes, huh? Borrowing a few twenties from Lenny’s cash box to buy groceries was probably one of the stupidest yet. I should have known better.