The Family Hammer
by Bert Rock
In the garage of my sixth childhood home, there was the green tackle box Grandpa Johnny gave me before he died. Countless times I opened it, looking through the little compartments, using my small fingers to fish for a lure, a weight, or one more memory of him.
There was the compound bow my father never used, a barbell thick with dust, and his unopened toolbox. Mother’s station wagon sagged, homely and tired. My father’s Porsche, with its perpetual shine, hid a bottle of bourbon under the hood.
A naked Barbie doll lay motionless. In a corner, my brother’s GI Joe was trapped in cobwebs, resigned to his fate. The axe and the orange lawnmower had handles worn smooth by my eight-year-old hands. Next to them, the empty space where my stolen bike should have been.
In my hand, there was a blue-handled hammer. I used it to strike the walls late at night when the cars were gone, as if I could bring the whole house down on us all.