The next day their ‘confused’ mother flew off in a tiny plane to, “help your father”, leaving them in the care of Auntie Jax. The plane was still gaining altitude when Jacqueline introduced the children to ‘Uncle Jack’.

“Now children, listen to me. This,” she stated, plopping down a large glass bottle of golden liquid, “is Uncle Jack. Now I know your mama doesn’t like to drink alcohol. That’s fine, I don’t like to judge. But me and Uncle Jack go way back. He comes from Tennessee, just like your mama and me. Uncle Jack and I get reacquainted after eight each night. When ya’ll older, I will introduce you to Uncle Jack properly, but for now, you just need to leave him alone. In the meantime, my little pups, if you got anything you need done in a responsible manner, speak up before eight in the evening. Okay?”

Ida nodded. A good girl, only five. Piet and Jacobus, seven and eight, looked more sceptical. Sweet kids, but Jacqueline never understood what the heck her sister was thinking with the names.

“What do you mean they’re from his culture? Whadda ’bout yours? Now, I still own a Bible – oh don’t you laugh, yes I do – and I gotta tell you, Maddy, it’s P-e-t-e, short for Peter, and then Jacob, who pulled a fast one on his poor brother Esau – I’ve checked.”

Madeline had hung up that time. But Jacqueline got her own back, keeping the line engaged for an hour, since she had made the call. Worth every damn cent, too. She’d always made the call. Even at the height of the dumb husband’s price-fixing scheme at the brick business, he’d been tight-fisted when it came to his wife.

“Do ya’ll have any questions?” Auntie Jax said, staring at her nephews and niece.

Jacobus cleared his throat.

“Come on, out with it. I don’t bite. Well, at least, not anymore. Reckon I did bite your mama once, but I was smaller than Ida back then. What the heck did I know? So come on, ask me. I got nothin’ to hide.”

“Uh … Auntie Jax, is my mother going to leave my daddy?” Jacobus asked.

Jacqueline knelt down and met each child’s eye in turn. “I doubt it, honeys. Your mama is too much of a saint, God bless her. But whatever happens, don’t you worry, things are gonna be fine.”


Tell us: What do you think of Auntie Jax so far?