When I was six I could shred the shit out of a guitar. My old man had one from when he was a kid, a cherry red Suprosonic 30. He couldn’t play it to save his life but he kept it anyway, big surprise, and when we moved in here, he shoved it in the attic with all his other trash, bigger surprise. We lived under a sagging roof because he thought everything he touched needed to be saved. He took his belt off so fast when he caught me with the guitar that he tore some loops off his pants before he laid in to me. I was four. I didn’t care.
I climbed up the next day and got it down again. There was no amp, but I strummed it with a quarter so that he could hear it all the way in the kitchen. I could hear him throw down the paper and clomp down the hall. When he came in, I was going to swing it across his knees and bring his ass down, but he stopped outside the door and didn’t come in.
We were living in his girlfriend’s house, and I thought maybe she told him not to come in. She hated our noises : laughs, cries, whispers, yawns, chews, burps, farts, swallows — it all made her apeshit. So if he was going to make us cry, she’d tell him to do it later when she wasn’t home. But she was at work, so it couldn’t be her. I just kept playing as hard as I could, and he never came in our room. My sister was three. She killed our mom when she was born, so when she woke up and told me to stop playing I told her she killed our mom so shut up. I always told her that.
The next day, the old man didn’t say anything about the guitar. He knew I was already kicking ass. That baby was mine from now on. He gave me an amp when his cousin died and everybody got some of her stuff. My sister would sing really loud whenever I practiced. Sierra sang so good sometimes I played just to listen to her.
We played parties. We played at the the U‑Wash Doggie because the owner was Sierra’s teacher’s husband. We played on the news. Whenever people clapped for us, Sierra would start laughing and shaking. She would say, “I love the clap.” The old man thought that was hilarious. He called us V+D and made up posters. We didn’t understand since my name doesn’t start with D but we didn’t care either. Later when we were a little older and I figured it out, I didn’t tell Vera. She liked to say getting the clap was the best part about singing. That was funny as hell. Now we’re older, and we don’t play or sing anymore. I think she’s still pissed at me for never telling her what the clap meant, but she can go to hell. She killed our mom.