The story so far:
June 20, 1983
After dinner...macaroni and cheese, I sat on the floor of the living room trying to write in my journal. It was just another day, back to old routines. We like our routines. Dad sat in his chair and read the newspaper. Mom was in the kitchen complaining that...well...complaining that she was in the kitchen.
"This is not 1883, folks. It's 1983. I am not the kitchen help!" Mom doesn't like coming back from vacation. It usually means that there's a bunch of work waiting for her.
"Is the laundry done, Dear?" asked Dad as he turned the page.
"Are you reading the obituaries?" Mom asked loudly from the kitchen.
"How did you know?" Dad answered. "I'm looking for my father's name...Damn...Don't see it."
"You had better get off your lazy butt and help clean up," warned Mom. "Or tomorrow I'll be reading your name."
Dad hopped out of his living room chair. He headed to the kitchen mumbling, "Gotta get busy...she threw down the gauntlet."
I'm not sure what that means. What's a gauntlet? Just then Shelby walked up and plopped herself down on the floor next to me.
"Do you want to arm-wrestle?" she challenged.
For the record, I have never beaten my little sister in arm-wrestling. It's a fact that I am not proud of. I avoid it when I can.
"I don't want to hurt you," I replied.
"Is that the real reason?"
"No," I said. "I'd rather barf than hold your hand."
"I don't do girl push-ups," I reminded both her and myself.
Shelby stiffened her arms and stretched her body out straight as a board. She knocked off five perfect push-ups. Then five turned into ten. Dad walked back in from the kitchen and saw her on the floor. Ten push-ups then effortlessly turned into fifty.
"Nice military push-ups," complimented Dad. His face was proud but there was something in his eyes that said to me, 'Sorry kid that I gave you a little sister that can kick your butt.'
My eyes looked back at him and asked why he wasn't still in the kitchen getting his butt kicked by Mom. As though we understood all that was unsaid...he said, "I don't know why she was complaining, your Mother had everything cleaned up."
Shelby got up off the floor. She was not one bit out of breath...unless she was faking being in better shape than me...and all my friends, just to get my goat.
I don't think she was faking.
She walked up to Dad and asked, "Did we get a call from Bela?"
Dad looked less than happy about any phone call from anybody named Bela. "Not yet, little girl...not yet."
Who is Bela?