When choosing between a conspiracy of lies or one of silence, it's better you should choose silence.
Two months before Dad went to Nam, Dwayne ran a table leg through my bedroom door.
He was chasing me down the hall, and I managed to get my door closed before he could make contact. The leg drove right through the wood like a spear.
The story was that Dwayne was simply walking down the hall carrying a table leg, and tripped over something on the floor right in front of my bedroom door, which caused him to twist around just I happen to be closing my door.
Well, we all got the belt for lying, and just two days before we moved to Sacramento, Dad repaired my bedroom door. The inspectors from Base Housing never knew.
We lived in Sacramento for a year waiting for Dad to come home from Nam.
And he wasn't back 2 weeks when my youngest brother, Hugh, kicked in the bottom panel of our bathroom door.
Patrick had done something to piss Hugh off, and when he ducked into the bathroom to escape harm, it pissed off Hugh even more.
After we got over how cosmically spooky it was that we should be dealing with another door, we went into action. We knew that no story whatsoever would convince Dad this was an accident. So, taking a page out of Dad's book, we decided to keep our mouths shut, and repair the door.
Mom and Dad were spending the day house-hunting back up near where we lived before, and they weren't due back for another 8 or 9 hours.
We didn't have any wood, and quite frankly, no one had exactly stood around to watch Dad repairing the first door, though he did tell us more than once the particulars of his brilliance in hiding Dwayne's crime from the inspectors. Something about making diamond-shaped biscuits, one for each side of the door...fitting them in, and sanding it all even...then re-painting. We had no idea how to duplicate his process, so we decided that tape might do the same trick...give us something to paint over.
There was plenty of matching paint. The entire interior, including all the doors, had been painted just before we moved in, and there were still 2 gallons in the garage. And there was never a shortage of masking tape in our house. Mom used it for everything. Mom was always refinishing or painting something.
So we carefully removed the splinters and sanded the panel and wiped it clean. Then, strip by strip, we taped from one end of the panel to the other, overlapping the tape by the just an eighth of an inch. It was a group effort. Hugh pulled the tape, and Patrick measured 24 inch sections, and then Hugh cut the tape, and handed it to me.
The panel was 20 inches tall, and the masking tape was a little more than an inch wide. It took me over an hour just to apply it. There were many fuck ups that could not just be undone...I couldn't remove just one strip of tape. Each time a mistake was made, I had to remove everything, and start over again. And every noise outside convinced me that Mom and Dad were about to burst in and catch us.
Dwayne had a delicate hand so he painted a fine coat over the taped panel, and we took turns holding the hose from Mom's hairdryer to blow heat on it. And still Dwayne waited an extra hour before he would risk painting another coat...and with that coat, he also painted the entire door.
While I'd been taping, Dwayne vacuumed the living room and the hallway. While Dwayne painted I cleaned and rewaxed the kitchen floor. Hugh and Patrick spent most of the time arguing while they cleaned their bedroom, putting away all toys, and re-making their beds.
The house reeked of paint. So we got the idea to repaint the other 3 doors in the hall, and what the hell, why not the one to the garage? We had the perfect cover. After all, we'd be moving soon...weren't we gonna hafta paint those doors, anyway? Such helpful children no two parents should be so lucky to have.
5 hours after we finished painting and cleaning, Mom and Dad came home.
As soon as they smelled paint Mom went looking in the kitchen cupboards for missing dishes, and Dad made a quick inspection of our rooms looking closely at all the windows. (oops. that reminds me of another story for another time.) They both checked for broken furniture and carpet stains.
Obviously they were suspicious. Obviously, we were obvious. I mean, everyone knows rule number one: if you know you're in trouble, clean your room, do the dishes, and paint the house.
We moved back to Beale 3 months later, and on that last day in the-house-we-lived-in-while-dad-was-in-nam, each of us kids must have looked at that panel a half a dozen times.
Dad never knew.