Memorial Glenn was a poor apartment complex on the outskirts of the ever growing Humble, Texas. Humble is pronounced with a silent ‘H.’ I could always tell if someone was from around here or not, because if they weren’t, they’d pronounce it like it was in the Bible. The place was laid out like a horseshoe, and though we moved around a few times while we lived there, we eventually settled into a second story apartment in the center. There were lots of other kids there my age, always coming and going, coming and going. No one ever stayed there for long.
The place was poor, but we did have a swimming pool. It was only cleaned once or twice a year, at most. Come fall the water was a nice pine green, and only us kids would swim in it. But in the spring, when they first opened it up, it was as nice as any pool in Texas. It had a kiddie pool and a big pool, with a deep end that was a whopping five feet deep.
I met Pat at the pool. Pat was a tall skinny college age kid from Minnesota. He used to sit on the edge of the pool drinking beer with his friends and throw his keys in the deep end and let us kids dive in after them.
“Back in Minnesota,” he’d tell us, “nobody has a pool. It gets too cold.”
He said winter lasted most of the year and the lakes froze over and people actually played on the ice. He said he moved to Texas because he was sick of being cold. He liked to sit in the pool with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other, talking and laughing with his friends, with the other parents, with us kids, with anyone. I liked Pat right away. He wasn’t a kid, but he wasn’t quite a grown up either.
There wasn’t much around the apartments except a few fields, the woods, and a large bayou surrounding three sides of the property. At the entrance to the complex there was a convenience store and a gas station. Hop across a field, and there was a car wash. Across the street we had a Laundromat, or Washateria, as they’re called in Texas, and the Arcade. Two places filled with machines that took quarters. Only one was a lot more fun than the other.
At the center of this world was me, my mom, my dad, and my younger brother, Little Randy. He was Little Randy because my dad was big Randy.
I’m not sure how or why my dad’s leaving came about. I guess he and my mom just stopped being friends. Or maybe they never were. I remember hearing them arguing one night, shortly after we moved in there. Little Randy’s crib was in my room and the door was always open so they could hear him if he cried.
“You won’t even let me see you naked anymore!” my dad yelled.
To which my mom yelled back, “You don’t ever want to see me naked anymore!”
Next thing I know, he was out and it was just the three of us.
I found out later that he had tried to take my brother back with him to Arkansas, where he was from and where he’d met Mom, but she had no hard time convincing him that he couldn’t take care of a baby on his own. I also found out later that he wasn’t my real dad, that he had adopted me when I was two, after my real dad had abandoned mom and me, and I suppose that’s why he only tried to take Little Randy back with him. Anyway Big Randy went and Little Randy stayed, and, as Walter Kronkite was fond of saying back then, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”