The Clap

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.