Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Vicious Chiffonier Part II

This is part II of a story that happened almost 100 years ago in Transylvania.
Don't start here.
Start with Part I

Ted: So this day he didn’t go very far, he left the gun at home. When he left his home he had a chiffonier. And in there he locked up the bread and locked up any other stuff the kids might take. And his gun. So he forgot to lock it this time.

When I first listened to the tape, I had no idea what a chiffonier was, so I had no idea what Ted was saying. But I knew it was a container of some sort, so I got out a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus and went to the section on containers and read through the list until I found it. So anyway…

We have a loaded chiffonier, and three kids: Armon, Ted and Ed. It’s not certain that my grandfather was in the room at the time, and Jean was with their mother and father, wherever that was. A total of seven.

Ted: I went to the Chiffonier. It was open so I went to get the bread. If it was locked we couldn’t get the bread, but if they left the key open, we’d go in and look for bread.

Martin: Something to nibble on

Ted: Yeah, so we found a gun in there. We didn’t know what the hell it was. I thought it was a plaything. Armon was older than I and I don’t know if he knew what it was. But he wanted…he took it away from me…And showed it to me. And then Eddie got it, and he was looking at it. He thought it was something to whistle in because the barrel was there, and if you blew your breath in there you could whistle.

So Ed does it. He tries to use the gun as a whistle.

Ted: Yeah, he held it up against his mouth like that and suddenly the damn thing went off and it went through his upper jaw and through his nose. It came out thorough his nose.

But Ed isn’t the one who dies.

Ted: Eddie, Luckily he wasn’t hurt much…He always had a spot around his nose where it came out…He didn’t take the thing in his mouth, he just pointed it this way where you’d blow into it…If he had shot himself in the mouth…when Mother came home he was bleeding a lot but they took care of that.

It's hard for me to imagine how much blood there probably was. Nor can I imagine my great-grandparents' reactions when they returned home. There was probably a lot of yelling and screaming. Probably focused a lot on Armon, the eldest child who was supposed to be 'in charge' of his younger brothers. Even though he was only seven or eight.

Ted: So he got scared because Ed was bleeding and there was no doctor around there to take care of it. Nobody knew what to do. Anyhow, after awhile, Dad and Mother blamed him, and he got scared and he got depressed that he was to blame for the entire thing…He was depressed in every way. He wouldn’t eat right. Finally about a month later he passed away…He was just scared. He was just scared stiff.

Martin: He died of fear or something like that.

Martin mentions a memory of a coffin in the house, and Ted confirms there was one, and that Armon was buried in a cemetery not far from the home – about the equivalent of two blocks. My mother visited the town a few years ago, and looked in the cemetery, but the inscriptions were so worn, even if they had been able too afford a marker for the grave, it was unfindable.


Miriam Robbins said...

How incredibly tragic.

When I was girl in Southeast Alaska, a girl my age (about 8 or 9) accidentally shot and killed her younger cousin. She was being raised by her aunt and uncle because her mother probably wasn't fit to raise her, or didn't want to. They were playing with the gun, and she pointed it at her cousin and told him she was going to shoot him if he didn't do what she asked. Of course, she had no idea what she was doing; it was a horrible accident; the adults' fault for leaving a loaded gun lying around. She was sent away to live with other relatives for a while, then returned to our town. I still think of her and how awful life must be to have to carry that burden around.

Janice said...


Sometimes the true-life stories are scarier than the legends. A very sad story certainly. Guilt and sadness do kill.