So what's Janet like, *really*?
Janet? She's like her gran, but faster. I would say, "and better with a stick," but no, I think just faster. Up until now I was not a praying man, despite Granny Laird's best attempts, but I think now I will thank God that Granny Laird was never given a stick. Um.
And moving briefly out of the realm of anonymity, pameladean asks: If it's not too personal, why did your father give you away to Janet?
Huh? I don't know what you're talking about. My dad didn't give me shit. Didn't give me to shit. Didn't stick around long enough. As far as I'm concerned, Uncle Larry's my real dad, and the other guy is just the--I don't know. The raw material. And in case you're thinking this is one of the stories where the guy's dad comes back and they have this tearful reunion, you can get that out of your head. He died a long way from here, doing something stupid that had nothing to do with me. I was 19. And honestly it was kind of a relief, knowing I would never have him showing up slapping me on the back and going, "Heh heh, well, water under the bridge, right, kid?" Because that kind of water drowns people. It sure drowned my mom. Aw, hell. I don't want to talk about this.
Janet Laird: I think I know what you're talking about. I can get this one, Carter.
Carter's dad didn't give him to me, Pamela. My dad did.
Dad and Bobby and I were having dinner with Granny and Grampa Laird--Grampa was still alive then. And Granny said, "Nancy Mason's sister and her boy moved in with her and Larry."
"That's a real shame," said my dad, but Grampa shook his head.
"Barb never could look after herself, much less that boy," said Grampa, "and Terry Hall wasn't ever coming back to do it, even if he could. Nancy and Larry will make a home for him."
"Carter Hall?" I said. I knew Carter. He was in my first-grade class and my Sunday School, and most importantly we played hockey together. Carter was like Bobby and me, first on and last off the ice for open skates. It's not that big a town. We knew each other pretty well by then. I won't go so far as to say we liked each other, but we knew each other pretty well, and we'd pick each other first if we were choosing up teams. That much was already clear.
Now that I think back on it, we were still about the same size then.
Granny looked at me sharply. "Janny, you don't go talking about that boy's family troubles around school. He's got enough on his plate as it is."
I looked at Grampa. "Didn't sound like troubles."
"Not with Nance and Larry. No. He'll be all right." Grampa ruffled my hair, and I went back to my pork chop, content.
But my dad wasn't content. "Janet, you keep an eye on that boy."
"Dad!" I protested. On the ice was one thing, but off the ice, boys and girls were starting to go their separate ways, and Carter and girls were really starting to go their separate ways. And I did not want anybody saying that I liked Carter Hall.
"He's good on skates already, and he's likely to come out a big strong boy. Only thing Terry Hall ever gave him. And I can't be there in the first grade to keep him out of trouble."
"I can't keep him out of trouble."
Bobby finally, miraculously, spoke in my defense. "She totally can't, Dad. What's Janny going to do? She's only a first grader and a girl."
Almost in my defense. My brother's miracles generally left something to be desired unless they involved a puck.
Gran didn't blink. "The rest of us are having chocolate cake, but Bobby isn't having any, because it was baked by a girl."
"In my house you speak civil to all people, boy, or you pay the price, and this time the price is chocolate cake." Her eyes glinted. "Next time the price will be worse. Now. Janet. Nobody is asking that you make young Carter into an angel here on this earth."
"Good thing!" I said. Grampa grinned at me.
"But you can maybe keep an eye out for him, make sure he doesn't get in trouble too bad? For your dad?" said Gran. "He doesn't have a family like us, Janet."
I scowled around at them and thought that anybody who didn't have a family like my stupid big brother might be lucky. Then I thought how Carter's dad wasn't dead like my mom, he was just gone somewhere. "Okay. I guess. I'll do what I can." I figured it would mostly involve thwapping him in the ear when he screwed up.
I wasn't too far wrong.
And also non-anonymously, seagrit asks: Carter, do you cross train in the summer? Or is it just hockey, hockey, hockey year round?
Naw, can't be just hockey, hockey, hockey, that's the way to sprain something or tear something or whatever. I lift weights, and I run--although real runners like you would laugh at me--and sometimes I play pickup hoops or whatever with the guys. They like to change stuff up on us. One time Coach made us do yoga. I am not used to that shit. There are bits of you that are not supposed to bend that way. And then they tell you to breathe into your eye sockets or your elbow or whatever? and the weird thing is sometimes you get what they mean? I'm not so sure about that. I'm kind of hoping Coach doesn't get another notion that way. But I'll do it if he says to.