The Pines Family of Glass Shard Beach, NJ
As seen from the perspective of their mother
A Gravity Falls Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
One hour. She got one lousy hour of sleep, the first in the last twenty, before the baby started crying again. "I am too old for this crap and too young for it at the same damn time," Maud groaned, rolled over and noticed that she had crawled into bed without taking her jewelry or makeup off. Just as she was finally about to get her last two kids out of the house, she became a Grandma. Maud heaved a heavy sigh, put on her robe and trudged to the basinet. "Good thing I love you, you little shit." She picked the screaming infant up and was about to check his diaper when she realized he'd been awakened by a commotion coming from the livingroom. Maud rubbed her eyes, and went to see what was going on.
The sight she was greeted with was not one that surprised her, but nevertheless upsetting. Filbrick had a fist full of Stanley's shirt and was growling at him. "You did what, you knuckle head?"
"Stanley?" she asked warily. "What's goin' on in here?" Maud knew better than to get involved, especially if Filbrick had already engaged him physically.
Stanley cowered and held his hands up instinctively. "Wait, no I can explain, it was a mistake!"
Maud cringed. "Whaddaya done to upset your father this time?" she moaned.
"I was just…"
"I heard ya. Horsin' around. With Stanford's future!" Filbrick shouted and boxed his ear.
Stanley blocked, but the hit still rang his bell a bit. He stumbled, a foot caught in the couch, and fell, catching the corner of the coffee table as he went down and knocking a teacup and saucer and a small transistor radio onto the shag carpet.
"Pack it up, you good for nothin' sack a crap. I've had enough!"
"ENOUGH!" Filbrick screamed. "You got five minutes."
Stanley's twin brother Stanford stood silhouetted by the flickering glow of the television. His expression was one of mute shock and he stood frozen in place. Maud desperately tried to make eye contact with him—tried to will him into action, into saying something. When she realized he wasn't going to come to his brother's defense, her heart sank. "Fil, I'm sure it ain't as bad as all that…" she said softly, clutched the baby to her and thanked God that he'd stopped crying. She wasn't surprised that Filbrick ignored her, but was grateful that he did.
Stanley glanced at Stanford, then at his mother, but Filbrick was hot and lunged at him again, so rather than protest, he ran to his room.
Stanford turned and went to the window that overlooked the street and folded his arms around himself. Filbrick sat down on the couch and watched the news. Maud trembled as she walked slowly toward the twins' room. It was half-lit from the hall light and she stood in the doorway and watched her special son scramble to do what his father told him to. Into a small duffle bag he used when he went to the gym to box he threw socks and underwear, a few shirts, jeans, a bottle of cologne, a handful of paper bills he kept in a jar, and lastly, his boxing trunks and gloves.
He looked up when he heard her try to stifle a sob. "Ma," he said, surprised. "Whaddaya doin'?"
"Just watchin' ya," she said. "Ya woke up the baby."
"Sorry, Ma." he said, zipped up the bag and squeezed his eyes shut. "I won't do it again."
They both looked up as they heard Filbrick and Stanford talking, their voices bassy and angry from the living room: Filbrick's offensive jabbing, accusatory tone and Stanford's whinging reply.
"You better get out there an' apologize for whatever you done this time, Stanley."
"I did, Ma! He ain't listening to me no more." Stanley stood and picked up the bag.
"Do it again. Make it good! None a this 'it was a mistake' crap or he won't let it go."
"I know that, Ma. I…"
"FIVE MINUTES!" Filbrick shouted. They both jumped. The baby started to cry again, so Maud hung back as Stanley pushed past her and hurried to his father.
"Shhhhhh," Maud whispered at her grandson. "Come on, Alexander, shush now. He's on a tear, your Grampa is. He never did like screamin' babies, an' now ain't a good time to be screamin'. But he'll get over it. He always does. When he's done. And if ya keep a low profile like Stanford and your daddy done, you don't even get hit." Maud bounced him lightly and he quieted. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she patted them dry with the sleeve of her bathrobe. "An' if ya cry, just say it's make up in your eye. Oh, that ain't gonna work for you, though, huh?" The sound of feet pounding down the stairs roused her and Maud ventured into the livingroom. Stanford kept his post at the window, looking down at the street. Filbrick's voice, shouting once more, filtered up from the stairwell. She looked down from the top of the landing and saw her husband push her free-spirited son to the concrete sidewalk. Maud winced and hugged the baby closer to her.
"You ignoramus! Your brother was gonna be our ticket outta this dump! All you ever do is lie and cheat and ride on your brother's coattails. Well this time you cost our family potential millions! And until you make us a fortune, you're not welcome in this household!" He threw Stanley's duffle bag at him.
"What?!" Stanley cried, finally realizing what Maud had feared. This time, Filbrick couldn't be swayed or calmed. This time, he was going all the way with his threat. This time was the last time. Stanley looked to the second floor window and pleaded with his twin. "Stanford! Tell him he's bein' crazy!"
Every other time his father had threatened to kick him out, had raised his hand (or foot) to him, had verbally abused him, Stanford had been there to talk him down. Stanford, who worked so hard to assuage his father's temper and save his twin from his abuse now stood silent. From where she stood, Maud glanced to her right and watched Stanford hang his head and pull the blinds shut. "Stanford?" Stanley asked plaintively. "Don't leave me hangin'…High six?"
Filbrick slammed the door, turned and stomped up the stairs and Maud scrambled to get out of his way. "Fil," she started. "You don't really mean…"
"Can it, Maud. He's eighteen. That loser ain't my burden no more."
She pressed her back to the wall and did her best to stay on her feet.
"And shut that kid up!" he barked and headed for the liquor cabinet to make himself a scotch and soda. From the street, the sound of Stanley's Cadillac peeling out and scattering some metal trash cans echoed like a scream.
"Sure, Fil," Maud said quietly. Once more, she tried to meet her son Stanford's eye, but he was looking down intently at the brochure from that fancy school he would now never attend. "Stanford?" she whispered, as Filbrick was only just out of earshot. When he raised his head, the look of devastation on his face made her bite the inside of her bottom lip to keep from gasping. "Good night," she practically mouthed while shushing her grandson, cooing and bouncing him lightly as she walked back to the room she'd been sleeping in.
Three days after Stanley left, Maud was starting to feel the effects of extreme sleep-deprivation when a long-awaited call came in. Filbrick answered, grunted back in agreement and hung up without saying good-bye. "Stanford," he barked at his son who was eating breakfast at the table and trying not to pay attention to his nephew's mewling as Maud tried to give him his bottle. "Go pick Linda up."
Maud lifted her face and beamed at her husband. "She's clear for launch?" she shouted and baby Alexander made to start crying so she stuffed the bottle in his mouth. "Hot damn! You hear that, Peanut, your mama's comin' home!"
Linda, Maud's eldest son Sherman Pines' young wife, was a slight girl of twenty. Passingly pretty with auburn hair and freckles, she looked too young to be married. She was nearly killed in childbirth and after two weeks in the hospital, she was pale and thin and unsteady on her feet, but she did her best to hurry up the stairs, eager to hold her son in her arms again. Maud gave her a hug and a kiss in greeting and promptly went to bed.
Linda and Sherman were married the night before he left for boot camp. Filbrick was not impressed when his son told them that they had eloped and the turned around asked them to take care of her until he got back. Her parents were divorced, her mother moved to Boca and her father was a bookie and a lout, he said. She needed good people to watch out for her. She was a good girl, he said. She had a baby boy only six months later.
After a good night's sleep, Maud woke in her own bed the following day almost right. The warm, Indian summer of a few days ago was gone and a cool, relaxing breeze blew through the apartment. Filbrick had already gone downstairs to open the shop and Linda and the baby were sleeping in their room. It was a perfect, lazy Saturday. Stanford trudged out of his room and made for the fridge without so much as a how-do-you-do and she opened her mouth to chastise him then closed it tightly. It was so quiet without Stanley. She teased her nerdy son about his bed-head and joked around as if everything was fine.
Around noon she made Filbrick his favorite Dutch loaf on white with yellow mustard and took it down to him at the shop. All the pleasantries she'd prepared were washed away in an instant when he handed her the mail. "Got mail from 'Nam," he said, bruskly. There were two letters, one to Linda Pines and one to Maud and Filbrick Pines-the latter had already been opened. Maud snatched them and rushed upstairs. She gave Linda hers and whipped hers open with trembling hands.
Dear Ma and Pop,
Coming home pretty soon, Ma. Going to quit flying soon, too much for me now. I have flown 1500 hours now, and in those hours I could tell you a lifetime story. I have been put in for a medal again, but this time I have seen far beyond of what ever you will see. That is why I'm going to quit flying. I dream of Linda's hand touching mine telling me to come home; but I wake up, and it's some sergeant telling me I have to fly. Today I am 25, far away but coming home older.
Maud's heart soared and she went immediately to the secretary and wrote a reply. As she sat down to write a chill ran down her spine so hard it knocked the pen out of her hand. Maud jumped and stared at it as it spun a little before slowing to a stop. "No," she whispered. "It's nothing. It's nothing."
Things are going great at the old homestead. Linda, as you will know by her letter I'm sure, is very well and my grandson is an absolute angel. I had the funniest caller the other day Shermy he said he wanted to know the lotto results, so I told him they'd be 1-2-3-4-5 and he bought it! When they say there's a sucker born every minute they are not lying. Stanford won a big prize at the school science fair the other day. $50 cash prize! Hot damn! He's applying for school now and we just know he'll get a full ride somewhere he's so smart. Not like us huh? Haha. Where does he get it from? Stanley is off on his own now, so it's a little quiet around here. Finally. Ha. Miss you and love you and can't wait to see your face again.
Love, Your Ma
Less than twenty four hours later, a notification officer entered Pines Pawns and broke the news to the man of the house. Filbrick waited until that evening at dinner to tell his wife, remaining son, and daughter-in-law that his eldest son Sherman Pines' assault helicopter company came under fire from Charlie and he was killed in action outside of Da Nang the day after writing his last letter home. Linda screamed and fainted, Stanford sat ashen and stared at the far wall as if catatonic, and Maud lowered her eyes, excused herself, went to her room, and stayed there for three days.
Sherman's letter is based on a letter from Larry Jackson from September, 1969 written on the day before he was killed, slightly edited to fit the story. .