His great grandfather hopped around on the leg that wasn’t sawn off and thrown in the alley behind the hospital. The straps, buffalo hide and pigskin, and the buckles, brass and plated silver, kept the wooden one from coming loose and cracking in half. He was a brutal sadistic man. A man who’s nose bled when he got angry. He bullied his way through life taking out anyone who got in his way. He wished he could forget the screaming, his mamma pleading with his grandfather ‘for the love of God stop...you’ll kill the boy’, and the fear that kept him awake, a reminder that he was just another boy with a bleeding nose and a black eye, but he couldn’t; he wouldn’t let go.
Poldy walked out in the day, his airman’s cap pulled over the flimsy cartilage of his ears. You’ll never have ears like other people, normal ordinary ears. Yours will always stand out, my boy, like a car coming at you with both doors wide open. His grandfather had round fleshy ears that set him apart from other men. Some of the fin-splitters on the slaughterhouse floor made fun of his grandfather, calling him droopy and mule headed. His grandfather never stood them down, saying that a man who takes a beating when he could have run away is no man at all. He’d rather he took a good thrashing, get his face smashed in, that way he could have at least one memory of him getting what he deserved. Time and better evidence might tell a different story. 'No man is a violin' his grandfather would say, the tips of his moustache coming together and forming a perfect circle under his nose. Or an isthmus. Remember that my boy, remember that I said it. All he remembered was the screaming, then screaming and the pleading, and the look on his face when he swung the belt over his shoulder like a cow whip, his father flinching like a beaten dog.