The Recharge

The Recharge

A Story by William R. Palacio

A story about drugs, a battery, and electricity.


The Recharge

            Bald tires spun in the loose gravel as the rusted out station wagon turned the corner and came to a sliding stop in front of the trailer. The manufactured home looked to be about twice its actual age. Long oxidized streaks flowed down its sides from the corroding rivets giving the yellow and white two tone paint job just a little bit of that white trash personality. One grime covered car door swung open; dad’s spit polished steel toed boots made crunching noises in the gravel as he exited the car.

“Get these groceries in the house,” my step father screamed.

            Mom jumped out of the vehicle and ran inside the house.  “I got to pee, I got to pee…”

            My brother Steve pulled the lever and released the hatchback. He’d been angry the whole trip home and the thought of lugging all the heavy bags in wasn’t helping his mood. With two plastic looped handles firmly in his hands he tugged carelessly. The receptacles gave way sending him stumbling backwards, tripping, and landing on his meat cushion. The contents of the bag where slung into the air. A one pound block of cheese thwacked my sister in her numbskull and a monstrous jar of dill pickles landed in a freshly laid pile of dog excrement. I stood holding my gut cackling like a duck - the pickles in the poop - just too funny for me to hold it back. My fathers hand against the back of my skull quickly extinguished the hilarity.

           Steve staggered to his feet. Tears started to form at the corners of his eyes and were coaxed further by dad’s smack.

             “What the hell are you doing you little b*****d?” Dad always knew how to brighten our day. “I swear to God, if I would have known then, what I know now, I would have worn a condom.” He was poet.

            My Step father was a large man; six feet tall, smelled of cigarette smoke, and was the spitting image of Charles Manson. But in my brother he had met his equal if not his match. Steve’s crying ended quickly. He stood straight with his chest pushed out and looked up into my dad’s evil eyes.

            “You said that when we went to the store you would buy me some batteries!” My brother said in a stern voice, well as stern as a nine year old boy could sound.

            “We didn’t have enough money.”

            Steve’s nose crinkled in anger.

             “What, but we had enough money for your stupid cigarettes?”

            Fearing another slap to the face I kept my laughter in this time.

            “Just shut your mouth and pick that stuff up before I give you something to be mad about”

            Steve stood for a moment, lip pushed out, eyes scrunched up, and his fingers clenched into tiny little fists; then he slowly, nonchalantly walked towards the jar of pickles. He quickly snatched it from the crater of vileness and then marched past my father. A short distance away he muttered, “You can eat all these s**t pickles!”

            I bit my lip hard.

            “What did you say?” my father demanded.

            “Nothing!” said Steve, and then under his breath, “Jerk wad.”

            Like a little soldier he marched up the stairs and threw the soiled jar of pickles on the counter. Loud stomps sounded down the length of the hall; the culmination of his fit came with the slamming of his bedroom door. “I hate you!”

            You couldn’t blame my brother for being angry after all my father had promised to buy him the batteries. But poor Steve was far too young to know that my dad was a liar and rarely kept his word. 

            The whole mess with the batteries had been going on nearly a year at this time. My brother had been given a remote control truck that Christmas. It was one of the nicest things any of us had ever received.

             We were after all a poor family. My parents only had a certain amount of money every month. And after buying the monthly allotment of marijuana there was barley enough cash left over for food let alone toys. My mother did have a job working at the local truck stop where she would skim the register, steal beef jerky, and cassette tapes; but currency was still pretty tight.

            So that Christmas was a real treat for Steve. I must admit my sister and me where pretty jealous of that truck. My grandparents went all out on that present and my father was clearly upset. Steve didn’t touch any of the things my mom and dad had bought him. He played with that truck from dusk til’ dawn. It was one of the happiest times I can remember for my brother. The next morning however, he found out a painful truth- batteries run out.

            My step father had promised to pick him up some the next time he went to the store. I knew it was a lie when it came out of his mouth. But it gave my brother something to look forward to. Every night my mother would get off work and Steve would be waiting to see what booty she had scored from the tuck stop. There were chips, soda, candy, and jerky but never batteries. It went on like this for almost a year. Now my brother sat in his room; long streaks ran down his cheeks where the tears had washed away the dirt. He pushed the dead little truck back and forth in his hands. Something changed in him that day.

            The next day was a cold, windy, Monday. My dad came through the front door. “Battery is dead on the van. You’re going to have to walk to the bus stop.”

            The bus stop was a half mile away and I was going to freeze my chubby butt off. My father removed his boots and sat on the couch. Since he didn’t have to take us to school he could get started on the day’s business. He pulled out a pack of zig zags and rolled up a hooter. After a few hits and a glass of orange juice he muttered, “Uncle Bob’s coming by with some car parts today; so I’ll have him give me a jump.”

            Uncle Bob wasn’t really our uncle; he was a big fat, hairy, biker. He beat his wife and was the main drug dealer in the little town where we lived. And by car parts my father meant that Bob was due to drop off his monthly pound of weed. It was always delivered in some kind of auto parts box. My parents thought we were oblivious but we knew what was going on.

            “Dad, the battery’s dead?” Steve asked.

            “Eat your breakfast.”

            “What’s a jump?”

            “Shut up and eat your breakfast you’re going to be late for school.”

            “What’s a jump dad?”

            My father had no choice but to give in. “Bob’s going to hook his battery up to ours with jumper cables and charge it up.”

            “What’s a jumper cable?”

            “Long wires! Now eat your breakfast.”

            After an eventful day of learning how to be humiliated by the other kids at school (One of the perks of being a white trash family in a very small town.) we were finally dropped off at the bus stop. My father wasn’t there to pick us up.

            “Go play!” Dad yelled as we walked through the door and in front of the TV. Not, “How was your day?” Or, “Do you have any homework?”  He was a very involved parent.

            Steve threw his backpack on the floor, ran down the hall, and slammed his door. When he didn’t come out for the cartoon hour I knew something was going on. Our father was sucking down bong hits so it was up to me to investigate.

            I crept down the hallway. Very slowly, stealthy, like a ninja, I opened the door a crack. (To be honest I wasn’t as concerned about his safety as I was about getting him in trouble.) Steve sat crossed legged and in-between was his beloved truck. In one hand was a pair of pliers and in the other a half unwound metal coat hanger. The trucks battery pack was laid out on the floor in front of him. To one side of it a twelve inch piece of metal wire had been attached with duct tape.

            “What are you doing?” I asked with a smirk.

            Steve jumped up startled by my sudden entrance and threw the pliers in the closet.

            “Get out of my room! I’m not doing anything.”

            “I’m telling dad.” The smirk on my face turned to a wide mouth grin. I lived for this stuff.

            “No you’re not” Steve jumped up, ran, and slammed the door. He stretched his arms across the exit. The worry on his face slowly turned to an evil smile. He leaned forward towards me and lifted one eyebrow. “I’ll tell dad that you look at his dirty magazines and wack-off!”

            The little sucker had me and he knew it. The pervert must have been watching me.

            “You’re going to get hurt or start a fire.” I tried to reason with him.

            “No I won’t. I know what I’m doing. I’m going to give my truck a jump.”

            “You’re going to die.”

            “Shut up.”

            I had to think this through for minute. I knew that if my father found out that I’d been raiding his massive porn library; I’d get one hell of a beating. But worse than that, it would be a topic of discussion whenever one of his burnt out, pot smoking, buddies was over. I’d never hear the end of it.

            “Fine do whatever you want.”

            “You have to stay here,” Steve said with a suspicious voice. “I don’t trust you.”

            He quickly got back to the business at hand. After connecting the second wire and securing everything with one final layer of duct tape he was ready to begin. He held both wires up the holes in the electrical socket. I had always known the kid was a little bit off but even he had to know this was stupid. Steve looked up at me and shot me a satisfied grin.

            You’re going to get hurt.” I gave one more warning.

            “Go wack-off!”

            I was looking forward to seeing the little b*****d twitch. He plunged the wires into the socket. There was a second where nothing seemed to happen then his face began to change. The smile on his face got wider and wider until his teeth were fully exposed. Then his eyebrows rose, and his sockets opened larger than I’d ever seen before and his eyes sort of popped out a little. All the hair on his arms and head stood on end and he just sat there shaking. I always wanted to see a psychopath getting shock therapy. The battery started to smoke and Steve pissed his pants. Finally the circuit breaker popped. He sat there for a moment with that dumb grin burned into his face. And then his teeth started to chatter. Steve glanced down at the smoking battery, threw it across the room, and started to cry.

            I started to snicker, then giggle, then my sides split and I was roaring with laughter. “You’re so stupid!” I managed to spit the words out through the uncontrollable horselaughs.

            The doors swung open and there stood my father with the dreaded belt stretched taught between his fists. “What the hells going on back here!”

            “I tried to stop him.” I yelled, trying to choke back the laughter.

            My father hit fast and hard. Nothing was funny now. A little bit of blood dripped from the side of my mouth. My brother screamed as my father gave him four hard swats with the half inch thick leather strap. Dad let go of his arm and Steve settled to the ground whimpering. Then without warning between the heavy breaths and crying I heard my brother scream. “Bill wacks-off to your dirty magazines!”

            Did I mention how much I hate my little brother?

© 2010 William R. Palacio

Author's Note

William R. Palacio
Please be honest and give specifics. I want to learn what I'm doing wrong and improve.

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Added on October 11, 2010
Last Updated on October 11, 2010


William R. Palacio
William R. Palacio

Prescott, AZ

I'm new to writing. When I was younger I won many writing and poetry awards but I fell away from it and went more towards fine art. I was a freelance artist for many years but due to an injury am unab.. more..