Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I promise never to do these things again

I just finished typing 300 column inches of Mother’s Day testimonials from kids and teens. My fingers have boo-boos. I need Mommy to kiss them and make them better.

(I should mention I had LOTS of help from Angie Toole, Linda Murchison, Dorothy Mullin and Destiny Sanders. And a HUGE thank you to Stephanie Caswell, who typed in a triple-shot.)

All those testimonials got me to feeling guilty and I have a need to confess, as I did recently about my dad, to all the rotten misdeeds I inflicted on Mom as a kid.

I remember only two, but on the Rotten Kid Scale they were Brat 5s.

One summer, Mom and Dad packed me and my sister into the car for a two-day trek to Michigan to visit my older sister and her husband, who were living in Dearborn.

Day Two took us across the Ohio-Michigan border, where we stopped at a welcome station. The day was radiant yet cool in that inimitable Yankee fashion, and I was drawn to a nearby flowerbed, which was thick with seductively colored roses. I confess to stealing a rose blossom from the state of Michigan and smuggling it into the car.

As we headed off down the interstate I discovered a shiny beetle crawling on a rose petal.

“Hey Mom, look at this,” I chirped. When she turned, I flicked it at her.

The beetle landed on her lip.

I doubled over with laughter – until she stopped spitting, that is. Because then she crawled over the seat and began whaling on me with a flat palm.

About that time we passed a Michigan state trooper, who roared in behind us with lights flashing. After Dad got back into the car he revealed the trooper had stopped him for doing 57 mph in a 55 mph zone.

“Nobody gets stopped for that,” Dad fumed. “He was trying to prevent a case of child abuse.”

Incident No. 2.

One evening, Mom and a neighbor took an after-dinner stroll to a boat ramp near our neighborhood. They sat on the shore, their feet in the water, and chatted as the sun settled at the western horizon.

Meanwhile, I was lurking in the background and made an interesting discovery. In fact, I collected my discovery, approached from behind, and carefully laid it around Mom’s neck.

A live snake.

Oh, settle down. The snake wasn’t poisonous. But it might as well have been.

It was like watching the stages of grief, compressed into a three-second time span. First, there was distracted and good-humored annoyance, that what-the-heck-has-that-kid-put-around-my-neck” reaction. Then, total disbelief. “That’s not what I think that is, is it?”

Finally, when this garland of slithering, reptilian undulance sprouted a tongue and hissed, Mom launched herself from the sand in an eruption of Darwinian horror and went right out into the water like the Marines un-storming the beach as the snake disappeared into the underbrush.

I’m laughing too hard to continue. All I can say is, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I promise to never do that again.

This column was originally published in the May 10, 2003 Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .


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