I loved the Barriers; ALL of them. From bitchy Lauren (the Oldest daughter) to Tate (the young son.) and everyone in between. Danielle the most probably, she was my first: love, kiss, relationship, and reason for my best friends to hate me. They were good to me and treated me as such.
Van Barrier was always a kind man to me, but he was also the man I watched yell “I’LL THROW IT TO YOU UNDERHANDED IF YOU’LL PUT ON ONE OF YOUR SISTERS SUN-DRESSES!!! Now, choke up on that bat, and get ready for the pitch!” to his eight year old son. I respected both him, and the fear he put into me.
We got home later than we probably should have been out. My license said I couldn’t drive after midnight, but since Danielle lived in my neighborhood everything was ok. We pulled into the driveway and I noticed everyone had gone to bed. So, I walked her up to her room and tucked her in. All the while being my quietest to avoid waking up Van, Tate, and the other Barriers, but mostly Van. Van worked the graveyard shift at a gas company and WAS NOT TO BE DISTURBED!!!
I made it out of the house, locking the doors behind me, as I closed their garage door I noticed all the kittens laying in their bed. Ms. Skittles had recently given birth, and you couldn’t leave the garage door open. I snuck into my parents Ford Expedition (A MONSTER) and lightly closed the door. Their driveway was not the easiest to maneuver so a lot of times I would pull up into the grass to provide a better angle. I had a straight shot lined up and I took flight. Back two tires went BUMP BUMP back onto the pavement and the front two tires went BUMP BUMP BUMP CRACK HOWL/SCREAM!!! My body went cold. I put it back into park and got out to inspect the cries coming from around me. I looked all around and then under my car. It was Ms. Skittles. I had somehow forgotten to check for her in the garage to make sure if she was in for the night. SHIT!!! Racing through my mind was , “Don’t just leave. I couldn’t. Oh, someone must have RANDOMLY drove DEEP into your driveway, run over your family cat, now mother to a litter, and then just driven away…ONLY SOMEONE HORRIBLE COULD DO THAT!!!” I kept replaying the outcome in my head. She leaves you, the family that has been so good to you now hates you, and Van wakes up, comes down here and returns the favor for waking him up, BY WHIPPING YOU WITH A CAR ANTENNA. “Please god no!” was the last, and most important thought.
I went back in the garage. lightly tapped on the door leading to the kitchen. Danette or Mrs. Barrier(If you’re classy) came to the door looking more confused than I had seen her. Holding the door open in one hand and her bathrobe closed in another. “Buck, are you ok? Is Danielle ok? What? I don’t understand. What’s happening?” She said as she stepped out into the garage. “I’M SO SORRY!!! Mrs. Danette, I ran over Ms Skittles and I think she’s dead…I’M SO SORRY!!!” I was SO disappointed with myself. She gave me a hug as Mrs. Danette often did. Held me tight, and began to cry. “It’s ok, baby. It’s ok. I know you would never do that on purpose. Accidents happen.” She said through a light trail of tears. This made me feel worse, until…
Lauren came downstairs and into the garage. “Why are y’all huggin? Buck it’s late. Don’t you live at another house than this one?” Lauren said affectionately rubbing her eyes. Danette, always my champion, came to my rescue. “Buck ran over Ms. Skittles and I’m helping calm him down.” “WHAT THE FUCK BUCK?!?!?!” not so clever, but called for. Ms. Skittles was Laurens’ cat and had been in the family longer than their younger brother. Lauren gave Danette a hug and began to cry. they are both crying now, and all I can think is: Please don’t wake up Van (He is going to have my ass for this. HE’S GOING TO BURN ME ALIVE!!!)
Then Danielle walks downs stairs…”Buck? What are you doing here? Is everything ok?” “Danielle, I’m sorry, but I ran over Ms. Skittles and she’s dead.” HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO REPEAT THIS?!?!?! They are ALL crying now. Danielle gives me a hug to reassure I’m still a factor in her life, but I have made her SO SAD that now I’m contemplating leaving for her good. Everyone is crying as the now orphaned kittens start to meow and call at us. THE HITS KEEP COMING!!! It’s going to be a long one for ole Buck. I’ve lost sight of what is now important and I’m just holding Danielle, Danette, and Lauren as we cry and apologize to each other.
Tate walks down the stairs and into the garage. “No.” I think. I just can’t take this…”Hey BUCK A SAURS!!!” He was smiling through a yawn. “Hey Tate-MONSTER!!!” He ran up and gave me a hug, and said “It’s late. ARE YOU SPENDING THE NIGHT?!?!?” “No, I’m sorry Tate, but I ran over Ms. Skittles, and she’s dead.” It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do, and without a breath he interrupted with “NOOOOO!!! Buck, I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS!!!” He is now cry yelling. I have to look at Eight year old Tate Barrier as lines of snot and tears stream down his face. My heart broke instantly. I had hit a new low. I wanted to shut down and die…Then Van walked into the garage.
“What the HELL is all of this about? Y’all havin an episode of Maury out here? Buck, son tell me what’s happ’nin.” He put his arm around my shoulder and we left the garage. His arm felt comforting, but it was also well enough placed to grab my throat and induce an ass whoopin’. I walked him around to the car and told him “I ran over Ms. Skittles and now she’s dead. I’m sorry Mr. Van. I really am.”All while telling me “Shit, son. This cat had gone crazier than a football bat after havin’ that litter. She was too old to have kittens, but they wouldn’t listen to me. She has post partum depression or some shit. She kept trying to sleep in the engine of my truck. It was going to be either you or me, but it was going to happen.” He looked under the car, grabbed the cat by its’ legs, took it to the water spout, hosed it off, walked to the edge of their yard and the woods, and then swung his arm around three times, Olympic Hammer Throw style, and THREW THE CAT THIRTY YARDS INTO THE WOODS. Not just into, but over the beginning tree line. It was not new or old to him judging by his form.
More Often than Not,
P.S. But always first, I love you Mom. Keep on prayin’.