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The Evanses

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

“Hurry up, Dave. Your grandparents are waiting in the car, and I’m already late for my shift” his mom said.

Dave wanted to be with his mother on the weekends, but every weekend, Friday to Sunday, he would head over to his grandparents so that his mom could work the graveyard shift at “Larry’s,” the only diner open all night for the truckers making their way to Chicago.

“Bye Dad,” Dave said to the picture of his father hanging in the hallway. The picture was of his dad dressed in his Marine Corps Blue Dress uniform, with a shiny plate at the bottom of the frame: “First Lieutenant David M. Evans.”

“Hey Slits,” his grandfather greeted him as he opened the back door.

“Hey Gramps. Hi Grams.”

His grandfather always called him Slits: “I love the way your eyelids narrow into slanted slits when you smile.”

“Don’t call him Slits,” his grandmother said for what seemed like the millionth time.

“It’s a term of endearment,” Gramps said.

Truth be told, Dave felt a tinge of discomfort at being called “Slits” because it reminded him too much of being teased as “Slanty-Eyes” at school, and there was something about his grandfather’s tone. He first picked up on this tone during the Fourth of July barbecue before his father’s deployment three years ago. While everyone was in the backyard, Dave walked into the kitchen unnoticed by his father and his grandfather who were having an animated discussion.

“You’re such a goddamned racist, Dad, you know that? Even to your own grandson. Don’t call him ‘Slits.’”

“I am no such thing. That’s a term of affection”

“You don’t even respect Dave’s mother. Janine’s Korean, not some Gook.”

“Actually, Gooks are Koreans.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Well, you see, when us Americans went over to Korea, the Gooks came running out onto the road yelling, ‘Megook’, which translates into ‘America.’ The dumb fucking GIs thought the Koreans were saying, ‘Me, Gook,’ like Tarzan saying, ‘Me, Tarzan.’”

“You’re so full of shit.”

“That’s the God-honest truth. My drill sergeant, who fought in the Korean War, said the grunts called the Koreans Gooks because to them they all looked like Chinks.

“There you go again.”

“What? I’m not racist. Remember that time you beat up that colored boy in high school? You got suspended for beating him so badly he was hospitalized for a week. When I heard about that, I was so ashamed of you. Do you remember, I made you come with me to talk to his parents. I even paid for their hospital bill, and then some.

“That had nothing to do with race. That kid deserved a beating. Anyways, all I’m saying, Dad, is if anything happens to me over there, you’ll look after my family, right? I know you don’t like Janine that much, but for me, watch out for her.”

“What’re you talking about? I like Janine just fine. Even your goddamned idiot brother made it back in one piece, maybe a screw loose in the head, so don’t talk such nonsense.”

“OK, OK. But promise me.”

“You’ve got my word.”

“And do you think you can tone down your remarks? For Dave? He gets enough grief at school.”

“I can handle myself,” Dave said, stepping out from behind the porch door.

“You heard all that?” his dad said.

“Thatta boy,” Gramps said.

“Let’s go get you a burger,” his father said, and steered him outside, arms on Dave’s shoulders.

A week later, his father was deployed to Afghanistan, and Dave would never see him again.

They pulled into a driveway in front of a large house with all of the interior and exterior lights on.

“Goddamnit. How many times do I have to tell Chris to turn off the lights he’s not using,” his gramps said.

Chris was Dave’s uncle, his father’s little brother. He had moved in with Dave’s family a couple of months ago after getting out of rehab. Dave liked Chris. Like his father, Chris had served a couple of tours in Afghanistan, but when he got back, he needed opioids to manage his injuries, his “war wounds” Dave’s grandfather called them.

Dave followed his grandparents into the house.

“Hi Dad,” Dave said to the picture of his father on the fireplace mantle. It was the same picture that hung in Dave’s hallway.

“Your dad’s a true American hero, just like I am,” his gramps said. “You know, both your father and I were awarded the Purple Heart? I got wounded, but you know how many gooks I killed?” Chris! Chris! Where the fuck are you? You’ve got the whole goddamned house lit up like a fair.”

“Watch your language, you son of a bitch,” his grandmother said. “Want another scotch and soda?”

Dave bounded up the stairs, almost bumping into Chris, who was coming out of the bathroom.

“Hey champ,” Chris said.

“Hey Uncle Chris. How you doin?” Dave broke into a grin.

“Good, little man. How about you?”

“Gramps wants you to turn off some lights.”

“Goddamned Scrooge. Doesn’t he just piss you off sometimes?”

“He’s OK.”

“How’s your mom?”

“Okay, I guess.”

“Say hi to her for me.”

“Why don’t you say hi to her yourself? Come over sometime. It’s been ages since you’ve come over.”

“Yeah, when I’m ready that’s the first thing I’ll do.”

“Gotta go. See you later,” Dave said, and made his way to his room.

“Alright, little man. You know, despite your grandfather’s outdated, politically incorrect shit he’s always spouting, he loves you, man. Mom said he cried more when you were born than he did for either of his own two sons. Gramps is a funny man. How would you have been born if your dad didn’t marry your mom? We live in the twenty-first century where even gay marriages are legal, let alone interracial ones. How he manages to untangle his illogical reasonings in his head I’ll never understand.”

Phones started ringing from several rooms.

“Get the phone Sheila,” he heard his gramps yell from downstairs.

“Get it yourself,” his grandmother yelled from her room upstairs.

The phone stopped ringing, and he heard his gramps mumbling away downstairs. His grandparents would sit as far away from each other throughout the house as possible, but always within reaching distance of a phone. Whenever there was a call, they would yell at each other to get it. Gramps usually ended up answering calls because grams secretly hated her friends.

“Goddamned witches. Or rather, I should say, bees with itches,” she would tell Dave whenever talking about her friends, and they would laugh together.

This call, however, was different. Gramps seemed agitated, and he was yelling. Even Grams knew something was wrong, for she came out of her room and stood at the top of the stairs. Dave and Chris joined her, and when gramps hung up, she asked what was wrong as the three of them went downstairs.

“Who was that, Howard?” Grams said.

“It was Goddamn Larry, that’s who it was,” Gramps said.

Dave began to worry. “Is Mom OK?”

“She’s fine.”

“What’d he want?” Grams said.

“That spineless bastard fired Janine,” Gramps said.

“What? Why?” Grams said.

“Remember that trucker I told you about?”

“No. What trucker?”

“Remember about two weeks ago when we went to Larry’s for bridge, I told you?”


“That’s because you never listen. Larry told me about a trucker who was showing Janine some attention. I told him it was about time that Janine began dating. Larry said that Janine had complained about the guy. I told him not to worry, it’s nothing to worry about. Just to keep an eye on it.”

“Oh no. So why’d she get fired?” Grams said.

“Well, she poured a cup of coffee on his head.”

“Good for her. She should have poured the whole pot on the bastard,” Chris said.

“Will you shut up, man,” Gramps said. “This is serious.”

“Sorry,” Chris said, still grinning.

“The trucker is threatening legal action unless Larry fires Janine. Get your coats on, we’re going down there. I’m not going to take this shit. Nobody messes with my family. Apparently the bastard’s still there. Let’s go. Hurry up”

“Can I bring my gun, pa?” Chris said in a hillbilly accent.

“Yeah,” Gramps said.

“Don’t be stupid you two. Let’s go,” Grams said.

“Come on Dave, let’s go and show that bastard no one messes with the Evanses,” Gramps said, putting his arms around Dave’s shoulders and squeezing.

The four of them piled into the car, and the doors slammed shut.

“Nobody fucks with the Evanses,” Gramps said.

“We should put that on our family crest, pa,” Chris said in the hillbilly accent.

Dave looked at Chris, and they grinned at each other. Dave felt happy. He felt safe and secure like when his dad was there. He felt everything would be alright.


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