Eight-year old Jesse Hall and his pregnant mother move to the “Eden of America,” a small rural town in Ohio, to escape an abusive father addicted to gambling and alcohol.
There, Jesse is bullied by the most popular school kid, denied a church experience by a self-righteous preacher, and threatened with foster care by a well-meaning social worker.
Can Jesse fulfill his dream of a normal family with his own parents and brothers and sisters? See a childhood romance grow with Lynn, a fatherless eight-year old girl Watch what he learns from the lovely Five and Dime clerk. How does this all relate to a mummified corpse? Read and you will find out.
Jesse Hall’s Home in Chapter Two of Jesse Sings. Here is an excerpt:
I picked out another [piano] roll from the cabinet, The Man I Love. Just as I started pedaling, I looked over and saw Mom standing at the bottom of the cellar steps next to the piano. An instant later, gravel hit the cellar window. Mom and I jumped at the sound as Dad’s Buick sped off.
“Keep playing, Jesse.” She sat down next to me on the bench. Her hand was trembling. I started pumping the pedals.
She knew all the words. “Someday he’ll come along, the man I love.” I loved her voice. She was better than Patti Page, better than any of the radio stars. She smiled when she sang, like she was behind a microphone, singing to someone special. “And he’ll be big and strong, the man I love.” Then, she grabbed the bicep of my left arm, and I leaned into her. When the song was over, she lit a cigarette. She wasn’t shaking anymore.
“I’m going to miss this,” she said, placing one hand on the piano keys.
“Where did Dad go?”
“He thinks he’s going to win back the rent.”
She inhaled on her cigarette and searched around with her eyes. I handed her a Mason jar lid and she tapped her ashes into it.
“Did you mean what you said to Dad?” I asked.
She buttoned her sweater. “Put something else in. It’s time for bed.”
“What are you going to do?” I remembered the last words she yelled at Dad about being dead.
“I’ll stay down here a while.” She leaned over and gave me a long hug. “Don’t ever forget I love you.” The day-old perfume combined with her body odor made her hug feel different. Less assuring. Less loving. Maybe desperate. I still loved her.
Cigarette smoke followed me up the steps. Even upstairs, I could hear her singing Lady be Good.