Daddy has two ways of saying my name. The first is like it’s the punch line to a joke that only he understands, a joke that jiggles him up tall almost all the way out of his shiny black shoes. He looks at me with his gray eyes sparkling like a silver spoon with all the tarnish wiped off. When he’s happy like that, he calls me “Shimp,” which he says is shrimp and imp put together, or he says “Laura Fadora Fadoo.” He stretches that doo out real long like the last note of a song, and then Kathy and Mary Ruth turn it into “Laura Kapora Kapoo.” They stretch the poo out just as long, and just like that, all the fun of having him say my name is gone.
The second way Daddy says my name is like a ball he’s thrown really hard to get my attention because he wants me to stop doing whatever it is I’m doing. When he says my name this way his face looks harder than the sides of Gramma’s building, and the last thing I want is to scrape up against him. The second is the way he says my name most often. And that makes me mad, but I’m not supposed to ever get mad at Daddy.
Now when Daddy’s around, which isn’t all that often, and when he’s not stretched out asleep with his dark hair mixing in with the tatters of Gramma’s soft green couch, he’s making a commotion. He’s like pots and pans falling from Gramma’s kitchen cupboards, knocking against the stove and table and chairs and banging hard on the wooden patches in the floor where the old linoleum is worn clear off. He echoes all through the building like thunder. But Daddy all the time tells me, “Laura, be quiet! Laura, settle down! Be a good girl now, Laura!” He has to throw my name around a lot to hammer this idea home; it’s about as hard to be quiet as it is to keep my Cracker Jacks from falling out of the box when I open it and turn it upside down looking for the charm hidden inside.
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