Category: Child Abuse Stories



A reoccurring dream I had between about 6-1/2 to 8 years old.  By this time I was used to Boy in Darknightmares.  I knew nothing else – no wish fulfillment dreams, no happy party dreams, or any of those types of dreams I learned later most folks have.  They didn’t, as a child, suffer from dreams of loss, war, horror, guts, you name it.  Not too many monsters or all that – just war, and loss – and this one which has nagged at me for the past few months.  I don’t know why so I am writing it down.  Maybe that’ll shake the demon loose.)


The Dream

You are standing in a white corridor about 50 feet long and it is about 10, maybe 12 foot wide.  Interspersed down both walls of the corridor are door with small windows; all of them are painted white as well. The doorknobs glow silver from the only light which emanates from a large but basic wood framed window.  (I know the type – its just like the windows used in the old wooden World War II barracks the Army used to use on its bases.)

The floor is tiled with what appear to be large white linoleum squares, and the ceiling is pretty plain – or else I’m not too concerned with it – because I am staring at the tiles while voices and hands from behind urge me forward.

“Take your time,” they are saying, “But step carefully.  Some of those tiles are booby-trapped.”

The voices, I know, belong to short dark haired guys in lab coats, and they are behind me urging to go on.

I take a step, fighting between the sense of urgency those coaxing voices give and hesitation, having had this dream before, knowing that there are traps that lay within the floor, pausing, examining the tiles for some clues. There are none, so I make my way as best I can – by hunch and intuition – trying to avoid the tiles that ‘feel wrong’.  I just want to get to the end where the window is.  If only I could look get there . . . perhaps I’d know something, what this was for.

Inevitably it happens.  As time progresses and I have the dream again and again I know it will, but I keep on trying not to step on that treacherous tile that will send me down to “them“.

But inevitably catches up with me, always.  Somewhere between 1/4 to 2/3rds of the way down the hall I step on a and it gives way below me, the hinge behind, and drop me on a curved half-pipe stainless steel or chromed slide with black stained sides, as if a thick lacquer, though I think it was mold, had been spilled along its edges.

The transition from the white airy hallway into dark, damp, dank, humid darkness was extreme, and abrupt.  I’d see the square of light above me shrink as I slide down the slide’s spiral, then it would snap shut as I slid to the end – a straighter section about six to eight feet long, and it ended at, or near a table.

The room – how can I describe it?  Murky, dark, it felt like an earthen cave.  To this day I still can kind of sense how rough and tumble were the walls.

And there were witches there, or at least that’s how I understood, or perceived them – shadowy figures dressed on cowled cloaks, faces hidden in the darkness under their hoods.  Most of the conversation I couldn’t follow – it was in whispers – but they’d remove me from the slide – usually three on a side – and lay me on the table.  Then they’d undress me.

I know I was a bit frightened and scared, especially when they’d start laying food on and all around me on the table.  I figured I was the main course, and I didn’t relish being eaten.  The light was dim, diffuse, mostly around the table, but I don’t know where it came from.  The atmosphere was cold, clammy, damp, almost fetid, and I’d hear the rustling and the feet – on dirt, it sounded like – as they’d go about their business of setting up this ‘feast’ of theirs.  And then they’d start eating – not as a group, but each one coming forth from the dark corners of the room-seeming-cave, selecting just a few items, and retreating back into the dark to eat them.  Then another one or two would come forward.

Sometimes they touched me, and through the fear there was something inherently sexual about it – but mostly fear sometimes, especially when they’d start to nibble on me – mostly my feet, it seemed, but I’ve got some nightmares I’ve blocked out that features me being much more giving, and them demanding.

And then it would black out.
And I’d awake to my normal childhood.


 

 

 

I can not positively attribute the above dream to my mother, who was a practicing witch.   However, I cannot see where she would have had the resources to do this at that place and time.  We were right next to a major Army base; I know I often went there.  She wasn’t Wicca nor, to the best of my knowledge, practiced the dark arts or rituals in a classic sense of potions and formulas, or cauldrons and dancing in the woods naked.  However, there were many who swore she had “powers” (other than power over her children), and she did teach us kids quite a few things such as “throwing hexes” (which actually seemed to work a couple of times!), how to make voodoo dolls, and the like.  Indeed, I wonder if she actually believed in magic, though she claimed to be able to see auras around trees, bushes, animals, and persons.

“It’s not a matter of whether YOU believe it or not,” she told us.  “What matters is that THEY believe it – and that you can do it.”  And she explained that if we wanted to be the male version of witches – warlocks – all we had to do was “claim it” – that is, when something happens for good or bad, set things up or at least make a statement that you “willed” it to being.

As far as potions and words – she believes in some of the herbal remedies, but ritual and words are, in her words, “to help you focus intent!”.  And given the results of the two times I made a curse – “threw a hex” – the first as a child of 7 – the guy’s car gave him bad trouble when it came back from what he was doing.

The 2nd time, not so many years ago – about a decade – the man’s otherwise healthy mother died in his arms 2 hours later.

He blamed me for that one.

hex

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The Tinkertoy BoyTinkertoy Boy

The Tinkertoy Boy sits quietly playing with his toys.
The man walks in.
The boy falls into the parts his mind employs.

Part One slips into Tab A,

Part Two into the shadows,

Part Three is the one I call me,

Part Four becomes the gallows.

Toys.

The Tinkertoy Boy regathers himself,
broken parts and pieces,
slipping broken part A into torn slot B
putting them both into the gallows.
The rope is drawn, the fit is tight,
he can breath no air.
Part C struggles and
Part D can go nowhere.

The Tinkertoy Boy hangs himself surrounded by his toys.
Tab B tears free from Part C
hanging from the gallows.
Part D drops into the sea
of endless tears and sorrows.

And those parts swim to me,
deep within the shadows.
The Tinkertoy Boy sits amongst the shadows,
slipping parts together,
ripping apart the gallows.

What part fits where and why?
What part goes before?
And endless puzzle of parts and pieces behind a mind’s closed door.

Parts and pieces,
things in his mind
make him a Tinkertoy child.

Break him to pieces under the skin
and see what he’s compiled.

Fit Tab A to Slot B – oh – he’s meek and mild.
Put Part C in with D – he gets violent and wild.
Put Part A with G and E and you’ve got a fair and friendly child.
Put Part E with A and B – and see what a mess you’ve compiled.

The Tinkertoy Boy sits, waiting,
his eyes go round and round.
Inside brass gears are spinning
seamlessly without a sound.

Things go around in his mind.
Robot eyes watching,
A program stutters, finds it’s pace,
and stumbles across the earth.
Stiff legged joints stride clumsily,
unused to wider girth.

Change

comes in doses and waves

shattering parts to pieces

duly assigned to graves

and another one goes on . . .

Fitting parts to pieces

of a mind gone wrong.

Parts of pieces

that don’t fit or don’t belong

together

anymore.

Tinkertoy Parts

 


“13”: A Transient Alter’s Birth, Death, and Power

nuclearchild

Note:
It’s taken some 47 years, and an apparent fugue state lasting 10 weeks to realize that these “old” alters, some leftovers from childhood, still can have an enormous impact on my, or ‘our’ lives, costing friends, money, and trust of family.

But “I” – or rather a number of my own “selves”, figured out something about “our” system of alters, and alter ‘creation’ – that this always shifting system can literally drive us mad, depending on outside forces and internal ethics and drives, some of which are incompatible, others that make no sense, not in this world, or times.  (For example: at the end of this fugue state we found ourselves in a state run mental institution where, true to form, ALL rights and privileges as a human being are denied, including safety of self, and harm from other residents.)

It’s taken a lot of time to figure out WHY some alters have no names.  Instead we’ve always regarded them as ‘numbers’ which can roughly be translated as those alter’s “birth dates”.  They were never given a name because they were to be “transient alters”, or selves to ‘help’ us all over, or through, or under, a rough patch in our lives. Some still exist in a very “alive” and aware state; “Mikie” (an alter which “shields” the young real child) is one of them; so are “13” and “21” (who we suspect later ‘died’ at “24” and then another was ‘born’, but we’re not certain, and it’s getting ahead of my selves.)

“13” had a purpose, but never a name. Neither does 21. Each was created around “that age” to deal with the issues of the time, most notably loneliness, depression, dejection, a sense of being ‘lost’; massive amounts of depressions surrounding problems we were unable to dissolve (caste into forgetfulness) or resolve (figure a ‘nice’ of human way out of things).

Even as a small child ‘I’ was left to our own to deal with my own problems.  That was the BoyInLightform and nature of our house. Difficult emotions were not to be expressed, not even to family.  If you had a problem, YOU had to deal with it, mouth shut, eyes dry and chin up. Even facial expressions had to be controlled.  After all, a hard mouth or frown was considered rebellion, anger allowed, but controlled, and sadness?  Never.  Everything counted, and expressions and body language counted as much as words, if not more.

But I digress. The physical conditioning my parents and Army environment put me through, as well as the “good ol’ boy politics” and shut-mouth clan style abuse went hand in hand with me.  There was a good reason I told my father to stop hugging me when I was 8, though it had nothing to do with my father.  (My mother never hugged, nor ever embraced her own children.)  I was getting them from someone else, not in the nicest of environments, and not in the ways I wanted.  For me sex became an expression of “I love you / I want you as a friend”.  It was always about them, it seems, (a child’s voice/mind echoes in my head, remembering for me) with me doing the performing and them getting the pleasure.

But then again, this has nothing, and yet everything to do with “Thirteen”.


The Story of Thirteen.

By the time ‘I’ was 13 years old we’d come back from overseas, I’d lost all of my best friends, including one whom I’d treasured deeply, and for whom I’d literally would’ve done anything.  We arrived “back home, Stateside”AmericaTown to the same old redneck neighborhood deep in the boondocks where I’d spent my young years between 5 and 10 (with a year off to North Carolina) living in my abuser’s house (they were gone) right next to our old ex-home.  I hated living there.

Arriving late in the fall I was put in a school I hated, for it’s civilian and racist disorder was neither military nor disciplined.  They’d put me in totally the wrong classes – advanced trigonometry for a student who was failing basic math due to all those moves we made, and bookstackremedial reading despite me having tested and proven to have a Junior college reading comprehension and vocabulary level . . . totally twisted ‘me’, the junior rising student, around . . .

I’d read “Run, Jane, run. Watch Spot chase the ball,” in one class while being tortured in band class (I played the sousaphone/tuba; had for a number of years in a concert band over in Germany) . . . the “weird” kid, the one who didn’t know anybody, while being totally lost in math class as well as many others (the students were too disruptive to learn much in any case), only to go home to a gutted neighborhood which possessed only long ago nightmares, and some which had come true . . .

Germanflag

For despite my coming home to my old neighborhood, all my nightmares about had come true.  Nothing was the same.  The sandy country lane was street paved, all good friends gone, remaining friends turned into strangers, or in their own cliche’s & cache’s of good friends running wild while we, the relatively ‘new’ old neighbors, were now considered new in town and having “weird” attitudes and stories these country hicks could not beleive.

To make matters worse, early spring my parents informed me we were moving again, for the umpteenth time in just a handful of years – about 17 in 4, I think it was, and while we staying there waiting for the house to close, it was time to say goodbye again to all our new-old and somewhat rejecting good friends, or at least the few that remained.  But they’d changed so much (or none at all, in some ways) while I’d gone through some experiences “they” (all the other kids in the neighborhood) could not even begin to understand.  SkierFrom skiing in the Alps to roaming through ancient and oft times forbidden Roman ruins; touring Europe, spending time learning war crafts and training with G.I.’s out in the field, sometimes for months at a time (but only during the day, and sometimes at night); seeing my first Blackhawk fly around (upside down, too – how useless that seemed) – learning to sit in the co-pilot seat of a Cobra helicopter and shoot and target the mini-gun . . . war, war, Huey Cobra Front and more war; the East German Wall, Berlin, shot up cars, tank battles, G.I.’s smoking & joking in the field while we made friends and spied on them; the heavy smell of O.D. green canvas giving off that unique Army scent that still says “You’re home . . . sorta.”

Missing that, having no friends, we were were transferred to a new school, and “graduated” to a “real house” – high class compared to the redneck lifestyle, living in a moderated and maintained middle class suburban neighborhood.

My parents had finally caught up with the Jones’s, and we were on our way ‘somewhere’, I reckon, but I was left guessing “what was the plan?” with no knowledge nor plan for the future . . .

ThinIce

Future.  If there was one, I didn’t know anything about it.  Things remained the same mysteries.  Six weeks of in-room restriction for every school infraction in school, including any “D’s” I had earned (no help on the homework, either, and tutoring was out of the question since I’d have to make my way home on my own) – the beatings continued, but were somewhat abated in length and frequency (probably due to the fear the neighbors would hear my brother whining and howling.  I, on the other hand, was a stupidly stubborn and stoic child who would refuse to scream . . . until my father had beat some out of me.)

I installed a wind-chime “alarm” 4 inches inside my bedroom door after being infrequently awakened “alarm style” for failing to get up in a proper manner, trusting in its gentle ring to wake me into rising before someone could grab me and beat the snot out of my sleeping ass . . . (pardon any cussing; 13 is quite a sassy child, in his own strong minded way, which is, I think, part of ‘our’ problem).

It only grew worse from there.

Ripped

How my heart felt at about that time.


 

I knew the moment I walked into the kitchen; I’d suspected something “other than normal” was up smelling the bacon and watching my mom work her way around the kitchen island, complete with counters above and below, forming a rectangular opening through which she’d sometimes throw crockery, dishes, and plates at us.  (We were always left to clean up her mess after a period of long expert ducking and weaving thrown and ofttimes hard objects at us, including some knives some of the times.)

“I’m going to need you boys to give me some more help around here,” she announced, setting a few slices of bacon on her plate.  Disappointment set in as I realized there was none for me and/or my brother, who was being his typically late own self at getting there.  She looked up at me, a fat and chubby kid wearing glasses and teenage zits.

“Your father isn’t going to be telling you what to do anymore,” she said, sitting.  And I knew, RIGHT THEN.

A divorce was coming.

I could smell it as clear as the bacon and my stomach grumbled.  I went around the counter and got my cereal bowl.

“He’s going to try to get you boys on HIS side,” she ‘gently’ explained in her matter-of-fact hard ass way.  “He doesn’t want you to get upset about anything he’s doing . . .”

“Okay mom,” I said, sitting down.  I really didn’t care any more at this point.  The rest would just be a matter of how things went down – form and function.  I knew nothing but this: a divorce was in the offing (though I had no reason to suspect one) and it would be long and ugly and useless.  For, looking up at her surreptitiously, and knowing my own dad too well for his own good as well as mine, (and I don’t mean in any sort of sexual way) – I knew:

This “divorce” would not, could not last.

After all – she was helpless without him, and he was just sort of a son-of-a-bitch and a closet sadist when he wasn’t ignoring us all to the best of his means, which usually meant “studying” – reading those long college books which he was busily marking up with things for me to read and study on my own.  (Psychology mostly, with a good bit on abnormal psych, hypnosis techniques and its limitations thereof, plus a good hit on the sociology side, which I was pretty familiar with by this time, courtesy of my traveling and training all the time.)

She shut up and I ate and went on my own way.   Because if I knew anything about my two torturing parents – one loved to torture the other, or us it seemed(s), all the time – I could sense the co-dependency of their abuse and abusive relationship they were in; their complete dependency on one another to keep feeding them (and taking some) that pain that only decades ago I realized made them (and still does make them) feel somewhat alive . . .

And I KNEW:  It wouldn’t last.  They couldn’t be happy without making each other miserable.  No one in their rational or right mind would put up with it, nor how they ignored, then crippled, their own children in SO many ways, and not only physical.

And so it would be.  About a year to the day after that costly breakfast their divorce was finalize, and on the day after that they were married again.  It was a JP wedding, and I wished for rocks to throw.  I still wish I’d had some.

Enough on that.  Needless to say it took a year, cost the family a lot of money – when the subject of “where do you kids want to go? Live with your father, or at the family home with your mom?” I simply told them: “Whoever my brother goes with? I’m going with the other.”  Because I knew how this would all break down, and I wanted to be a pain in BOTH their asses . . . but my father wouldn’t accept me (he had his own girlfriend and their, now about a year later, problems to deal with) – into his own apartment, and my brother, despite being older, but having such a juvenile mind, chose, as he’d been told to do, his own mother to live with . . .

Harlows Monkeys

Harlow’s Monkeys

So I was doomed to live with my mom while going to this new school I had to contend with – now on the furthest side of town (thank you to ‘busing’ us students all around); plus a whole lot of grief on that end where there were no new-old friends to encounter, and everything (civilian at least) seemed a bit strange, off, and out of kilter a bit.

I had often found my peers childish, and had no interest in their games, sexual or otherwise.  I still liked having fun, but spit balls and meaningless pranks or innuendos were just so much juvenile bullshit to me.

I’d already learned, or knew, more about sex than any of them, or as best I could learn – and I knew a LOT, having read non-fiction books on the subject by endless book – not just ‘sexual’ but about sex, while a younger child overseas, plus having experienced a lot of the stuff even earlier, and during my tour . . .

There was no way I was going to go through those childhood games again, knowing you only get hurt, that everyone leaves in a little while, and most of all they’re gonna betray you.  Everyone always goes, and they always do.  No phone calls, no feelings, and that was not just home – that was anywhere in my life any more . . .


The Machine Is Born

ThinkerI remember the day clearer than most, for it was “when I was born”, or rather gave birth to a new something.  For “I”, 13, or Thirteen, had decided after a long year of deciding that we’d had enough of loneliness and isolation and a life without any friends.  It had taken a whole year of thinking about it to arrive at a solution to our decision, but “I”<13> had finally come to one.

We’d been conversing with another student through “table top” graffiti; that is, communicating through the thick layers of other students’ writings on the ancient desks us students sat at.  Ancient things, relics of a long lost era, bolted to the floor with their ink wells showing through.  Each sat independent of each other.  There were no moving around, for your seat belonged to the student who sat behind you.

Thus is was on this wonderful spring day morning while “I” contemplated all our own life had yielded, and what it had led to.

Love, that was the problem I at once decided, looking around at Mister B’s classroom.  It was the science lab and my first home room class, and I looked forward to seeing Mr. B.  He was after all a first rate science teacher, or he should have.  But instead over the months at this new school – no friends, none at home to speak of either.  I’d been ‘hiding’ out in my room reading, mostly, and mostly despite my own parents objections, due to their own behavior.  They were about in the 5th month of their divorce game by now, and I’d had my share of 6 week restrictions due to my failing grades in pre-algebra from day one now.

But I’d had it by now. Kinda. Sorta.  I was still hanging onto this one last hope – that perhaps a rational man, one who had to have been kind hearted, seeing as he was a preacher and all . . . never mind that he was black, that made no difference in my mind at all.  (Due to that military influence, no doubt.)  Just his position in that school – 7th grade science teacher, and a wonderful (at least to me and my mind at the young age) science lab . . .

I was looking forward to talking to him, too.

But first I wanted to make up my mind about a serious issue which had been plaguing me ever since “we’d” all got home.

What to do with myself and the way I was feeling.

And, I decided, the very best thing was . . .

That’s when the teacher walked in.  I approached him later, but it was too late, and all too disappointingly familiar. Rather than deal with my problems (and a white boy no less, I only realized much later into my teens) he referred me and “my” problem (I told him about my parent’s getting divorced and pretended some confusion as to which way I should go: to live with my father, or mom).

Instead he sent me to a gay ass councelor who couldn’t keep his ass from swinging through the corridors all the way down to his office in the hall, which he kept dimly lit and smelling of suggestion.

That “I” and me and mine did not appreciate at all, and then we ALL knew how the solution went.

If one doesn’t feel anything, then there is no problem.  Go all intellect, and no emotion at all.

In short, become not like a machine, but BE a machine: cold in heart, intellect, and keeping all the “spirits” down.  Allow nothing out by allowing nothing in, nor inwards.

And so, sitting there in Mister B’s class on that wonderful spring morning, devoid, friendless, staring down at the blank words, I thought the thought and “killed” us all.

And damned if I didn’t do it again a time or two, even though 21 (through 24) fought us off. It works sometimes, dredging that old Machine and armor up, putting it ‘on’, drenching ourselves in cold feelings, and shoving all our love, hurts, hates, and emotions aside.

However, as 21-through-24 is bound & apt to tell us: it’s no solution at all, and one that’s gotten a good bit less viable as we’ve gotten older and aquired a family.

As “13” I still feel . . . left behind, unloved, unused, and yet I’m certain I am a ‘part’ of a strong family; however, there’s still “bits” of me (littler ones) left somewhat further behind, and those pains still have some healing – if they ever can be healed of their pain – before we can move on with this.

 


 

Endnote:

Adult alter here: It looks like we’re making some progress; some of those alters we “feel” are left trapped in Germany, and around the world.  People and parts of people – children, horribly disappointed, abused, forced to do things they don’t want, living in an insecure world which they’ve been told – no, they KNOW! – can be blown up in a nuclear explosion at any time, or else the East Germans might come over in their tanks & jets blowing everything up . . . being on the constant aware, prepared, and yet exploring a new country, sometimes several of them in a day, always changing, drifting like a leaf, but I found one, one friend whom I could stand beside (I was about 12 around then) – and then I lost him through no fault of mine, but rather the military and my dad . . .

It just gets more painful from then, and for that we can go to the top of this story.

But I think perhaps you, the reader, can get a feel for how a child can be broken down many a time and made not just into “something else” (for the Army to use if nothing else) but many something else’s, through a groundless friction, keeping them on the move all the time, denying them friends, making them self-sufficient, but aware enough to develop a sense of teamwork – to LEAD a team if it came down to it, killing Russians or whatever it took for them to survive, make it to the coast perhaps, perhaps coming home to America, knowing it would be a ruined land by that time . . .

How do you prepare a child for that kind of outcome while being kind to them all the time?  Most of the G.I.’s and soldiers were – very kind and generous to a fault. But we took advantage to them, and of them, as we were taught, and misdirected their leaders into making mistakes – as we were taught again, sometimes sowing confusion into the ranks . . . all the while playing the deceptive enemy, the children of fellow soldiers sometimes . . . while daring our lives at night on a sentry’s bullet not taking our heads off for stealing ammunition from the ammo dump . . . learning how the CIA reads maps, matching photo ones to topo arrangements . . . how to sow division and chaos amongst enemies and people in general, sabotage, and more . . .

No use; all that education ‘wasted’ and a civilian life?

It just seemed impossible; I had no friends, nor after the Machine wanted more.  I was done with them, everything.  If it was human I condamned it, shutting it aside, and condemning my own feelings until, within a day or so, we had it down.

The Machine had sprung to life.

It would remain, and all of us ‘trapped’ somewhat in it (while still experiencing all the normal feelings a childhood teen might have) until we reached 21 or so.

 

And that was the Birth, Death, and Life of “13” who still lives quite heartily within us at all times.  He is not in the Machine, but apparently not quite happy “here” with the life we lead, which is why, I and my more adult alters think he and 21 “ganged up” on all of us and shut the system down – so they could have a “party” with the body and mind – one which cost me, and us, a lot of thngs.

But I can feel it: they simply, and somewhat selfishly, do not care.

 


Soon after we’d moved into the rental back in the ‘hood it became rather apparent that the old house – a slab floored stick-frame clapboard construction, which was quite weird, given the former and now deceased owner had been a mason.  The toilets kept backing up, vomiting the contents of their bowels and ours across the loose linoleum floors like bad memories of meals once eaten.*

So my dad did what he does best: he called someone in.

And here they come in their big white truck with a tanker behind – and a long, long hose for sucking the sewage up . . .

They park it behind the house, and after poking around with some shovels (I could’ve told ’em where it was at) they found the septic tank.

Digging at it most carefully, they outline the profile; then bringing in a backhoe, they go at it awhile, their ancient machine puffing and chugging like a dinosaur or dragon with a sting tail – lifting buckets of dirt, dumping them aside . . .

And then, finishing the job with the shovels, the expose the concrete lid.  It wasn’t as far down as I expected – but there they were, the workmen (or country bumpkins, from the look of it) – hooking big rusty chains with big rusty hooks to the rusty steel loops set in the concrete . . . then to the backhoe’s bucket . . .

The workmen stood back, and I, who had wisely placed himself in the bedroom, stood looking along with my tiresome brother – protection from the stench which would appear as soon as they lifted the lid.  I was quite sure my protection was futile, given the shallow aluminum framed windows and condition of the house.

Then the lid came up, looming and awesome as the backhoe’s engine gave a big chug and belched smoke, choking down as they gave it the throttle . . .

And then there it stood! it all its awesome and hideous glory: the thing we had been waiting to see: the staring open eye of the pit . . . only instead of there being sewage on top . . .

there was this thick, pink, undulating skin.  Ugly, mottled, smooth, it heaved like a living thing.

Immediately the workmen standing beyond the pit began chuckling, some of them chortling and slapping their knees and giving knowing looks at the house where my parents stood in embarrassed confusion, then comprehension . . .

And as I stood looking at that milky pinky white cloud floating in the museum of past bowel movements and desire, I realized what I was looking at:

the entire pool of the septic tank was covered in a thick floating layer . . . of condoms!

Huge it was.  In more ways than one.

And the workmen apparently thought so, too.  My brother began gagging as the stench oozed into the house despite the closed windows (the seals were no good) – and ran from the room into the interior . . .

while I stood alone, thinking.

Thinking about what HE did and our times together.

He never used a condom for that! I recall thinking.  He always rode me ‘bareback’, down on the dirt, face down in the grit . . .

But there they were: obvious evidence of the previous owners.  Maybe after too many children and not enough family or dollars to support it, they’d gotten a clue.  ‘Or,’ (the thought had occurred to me) – ‘this was from renters before, though after we’d left.’  I don’t know why I a) found it so disgusting, b) it bothered me so much, or c) it kept disturbing ‘me’ (and still does to some extant) so much later on.

But they were certainly gone, and I was here.

As I stood looking – and looking up (I remember looking at the sky a lot – so refreshing, though it was more an overcast blue and gray.)  Smelling that stench.  Reflecting on my past and theirs while relishing somewhat my mid-Western and prudish parent’s embarrassment – yet knowing they the ones, for we had just gotten there.

And yet all those facts didn’t matter, because it didn’t change anything.  My parents were still there and so was my brother (shudder).  Nothing was different.  That’s what we dealt each other.  Outside lay other lives; ones we were imitating, but not quite perfect.  We tried – and tried again.

But it was no use.

It was like I was something foreign here.  Or had come to a foreign land.  Again.

I saw my old best friend once.  I was standing in the sand driveway of the home across the street when he came riding on a motorcycle.  He stopped in front of me and we stared at each other.  I had grown fat, wore glasses – not the kid he knew.  Not a good match for his memories.  And as for him – his curly hair was wild from the wind (he wasn’t wearing any helmet) and his eyes wilder.  Like a feral cat.***

And I knew as soon as I saw him we’d have nothing in common, nothing to do together. We were no longer friends. I no longer knew him, nor he me.  He gave me a long look, a few words, and took off . . .

I saw him again, some thirty years later.  He owns a shop. He’s poor and rash. And he has (or had) a young boy. One of several . . .

and he hangs with his brother, his bigger brother, the one who ‘did’ me (and his little sister when she was four – and he 14 or so).

That thought’s kinda scary . . . but kinda sad.

The End.

(’13’)


Host Notes:
* Some part of me kept trying to connect the ‘vomiting toilets’ with the memories I kept having, only ‘I’ refused to do it (it made the sentences too long) – and it wasn’t the ‘memories’ which were bothering ‘me’ at the age of 13, it was the emotions connected with them – that along with the problems at school
** As a matter-of-fact the description of Jeff’s eyes in the when Matthew first see’s him in the book “The Boy” from when I saw him.  Feral, like a wild cat.

I’ve seen the movie “Hunger Games”, me and my wife.  I wasn’t impressed.

I guess it’s hard to gain an impression of that lifestyle when you’ve lived one as a kid, courtesy of the United States Army and a few other folks.

I grew up in a wartime culture, as lot of my peers did: steeped in the consequences of Vietnam, our father’s fresh from the horror of Korea (and the PTSD symptoms that followed – at the time unrecognized, but visited upon their kids and immediate family sometimes).

I well remember the hunger games.  The real ones.  The ones that WE played – for real.

Kids, gathered or ganged, platooned or assigned, guardian and guerrilla – we came in all kinds, and all kinds of us had our own specialties.  We’d gather in squads or platoons in the woods under the guidance of some counselors, be they military men or civilian, it really didn’t matter.  I even had a Scout Master – Colonel R., from the time I was 14 or so until I grew up and went into the military myself.

We were all a bunch of Army kids – always ‘fighting’, often playing war.  Our Scouts skills consisted of learning a bunch of survival; our overseas training, even more.*

Often the ‘award’ from such a fight was a can of C-Rats – C-Rations, to you civilian folks.  The favorite was fruit cocktail, pound cake (in a can) fell behind as a distant second.

A stack of “Silver Bullets” co-offered by some counselor (gathered from us, of course!) – would be enough for a reward.

To the spoils goes the victor.

They would set the “goody” somewhere (perhaps), divide us into battle groups (divisions, platoons – squads).  Generally the ‘armies’ were divided evenly, but not always.  Sometimes the ‘smart’ kids would be given the little kids to fight with – and the other team would be a lot of big boys.

Very big boys indeed.

I remember laying curled face down in a ravine, knees against my chest as dozens of kids, charging, dove across the ravine, their heels hammering along my spine and ribs.  I served as kind of a footbridge for a lot of them, or so it seemed.  Not that I was there for that, mind you!  I was a spy, and these were my enemies.  They had come up the hill (stealthily, you know), but I had ‘a-spyed’ them, lurking through the bushes, taking little ‘rushes’ from cover to cover, and had sent my young ‘aid’ a runner, about an eight year old kid (I was 14) to go and fetch help, give warning, do something.  Assemble the troops or whatnot.  Set off the alarm.  For I wasn’t the commander – just an infiltrator into enemy territory seeking a few goals.

Often the rules were uneasy.  You were allowed to hurt other kids – but not too badly.  Nothing that needed first aid (and we’re talking here in the serious days, where a small burn or scratch would get you a look of contempt were you to bring it to their attention, much less whine about it.  Kids today are so ‘tender’ . . . but there again, I had such a high pain tolerance (gee, wonder where that came from?  LOL!)

We “played” hard for that little treat, that can of syrupy sweetness, all swathed in green . . . O.D. green, that is, the color of war and canvas.  (How I like the smell of fresh tinted canvas – that military ‘stuff’, thick, green, and sturdy . . . there’s something about it that says . . . something.  Like ‘welcome home’, somewhat . . .)

I remember (and now this was in my older days, when I was 16 and had learned a lot about survival – and torturing folks) – we caught a kid.

He was from the other team, and he knew where in these deep woods (bounded by a highway and stream on one side, a tremendous lake on the other, bordered by woods and mud, and cut-through with ravines like an old man’s face . . .)

So I had him – or rather my helpers – tie him up.

At the first they were amazed when I took his shoe laces and wrapped them tight around his thumbs.  I tied a noose-knot, one that wouldn’t come unbowed, and would tighten whenever he drew it.

And then I showed them how . . .

to tie him up (to a stump) – and then to torture him . . .

without ever leaving a mark.

(That’s kinda funny, seeing as his name INDEED was Mark; Mark T. is all I’ll say for his own protection here . . .)

He had been boggle eyed and incredulous when I had tied him by his thumbs, sneering and saying:  “I’ll get out in no time!”  He was sure of himself, and that he could break those shoe laces.

While he was struggling with his bounds, I turned to my ‘men’ and began telling them – rather, teaching them what to do.

“We’re gonna tickle him,” I said, glancing over my shoulder.  He was sweating now, and his thumbs were hurting – I could seem them turning blue.

He, overhearing that, stopped struggling (whilst I went over and loosen his thumb braces a bit there) – and laughed again.

“Tickle me?!!”  He barked a laugh again.  “That’ll never work!  You can’t hurt me, you know!  Not really.”  And he smiled with a show of self-satisfaction, and leaned back, confident.

I smiled grimly.

He knew little of what was coming.

Turning to my three or four young charges, I looked over my team and said:

“Like this.”

And we began.  We all took turns in tickling him – him bound against the rough bark of an old (and somewhat soggy) tree stump, and those kids taking turns tickling his ribs, and up under his chin – using every trick in the book, even leaves and soft branches.  We had his shoes off, so his foot soles were bared.  At first he couldn’t stop laughing.

Then he couldn’t stop crying.

Then he couldn’t stop himself from peeing himself.

While we all stood around laughing at him he gave us the information we need . . .

Such is the fate, and the victor’s spoils.

He was only a little younger than me, by a year or two.   After ‘extracting’ our information (and me having two swift young runners go back bearing the news, by different ways should one of them get caught) – we found their camp and made havoc on them, taking care not to snap any of their tent poles, but otherwise ‘destroying’ their tents, and pity he who left a bit of food laying out . . . we would take it, every last drop and crumb . . .

Hunger games.

Yeah.

I’ve played them.

.

.

*We were being ‘trained’ to be infiltrators and ‘helpful little hands’ (in some terms guerrillas) for NBC war.  Those skills included, but were not limited to, learning to fire the minigun from a Cobra’s co-pilot seat using a HUD.  Just in case too many Army pilots got wounded . . . during a nuclear war.

The Game


The two little boys stood, staring at each other, their faces firm – stern, hard, laced with anger.  Their fists raised before them – small bald hands with knuckles staring out of them.  One had his thumb tucked in his fist – that was the wrong thing to do.

I should know.  I was one of the boy’s fighting.

Often us boys would play a game – this was back in the days of the ‘hood.  I don’t know what to call it except simply choking.

It’s been on my mind for a bit of time, so I’m going to write about it.

 

The two boys stood – this was another time, same place.   The teenager stood nearby, the other kids a loose ring – about seven of them, ranging in age from 3 to 12 years old.  They were my ‘audience’ – or theirs, my teenager and his friends.  My best friend and I, facing off one more time.  It seems like we were always facing off and fighting, trying to prove who was tougher than the other.  I always won, time after time.  But not in this one.  Not always.  Or at least I don’t think so.  It’s hard to remember those kinds of things sometimes . . .

I grabbed him around the neck with both hands – I can still see his sandy curly locks as he threw his head back, tightly smiling, instinctively protecting his features – broad brimmed face with wild cat green eyes – it was as if there was something feral behind them and pinpoint pupils from the bright Georgia sun.  At the same time he was opening up his neck, I grabbed him double-handed, placing both thumbs on opposite sides of the slender arching bulge of his windpipe, taking care to at least place the first joint of my thumb beyond it.  At the same time he grabbed mine in a similar grip – and I let him.  This was what the teenager told us to do.  I was about eight years old.

He started squeezing tighter and tighter as I tightened my grip.  You weren’t allowed to do it all at once – you had to do it slowly.  It was important that the thumbs remained wrapped completely around the throat – on both sides of the windpipe.  We didn’t want to take the chance of crushing someone’s windpipe – we already knew the consequences.  At least one kid had faced disaster – his windpipe crushed in.  The thumb joints, properly aligned, were where one could crush, squashing the throat below the windpipe and in the esophagus region.  This insured no one was crushing someone else’s cartilage.

How I knew that I did not know.

We would stand there stiff legged – this happened several times; not once but many through my childhood – our fingers wrapped around each other’s throats, both of us tightly grinning – an evil grin and a vicious one, but without any real malice towards our friend – squeezing tighter and tighter until someone would pass out.

The first few times I got knocked out, or at least very blank and dizzy.  There comes a time when the darkness rushes in from the edges of your vision, narrowing it down.  Outside sound becomes muted; your heart beat a dull thud in your ears . . . one that seems to grow even slower and fainter and then even it disappears, and you lose all taste and vision . . .

and you wake up on the floor.  Or the ground.  Or wherever you ended up landing.  And hope you didn’t get hurt.  (Once I fell out on a paved road . . . and woke with road rash and bruises all over my knees, elbows and hands.  At least the body had tried to catch itself . . . I don’t remember a thing.)

I won’t go into the mental aspect of knowing you are dying.  That’s a different sort of thing.

Sometimes my friend and I played with nobody watching – ‘practicing’ out in the yard.  You weren’t supposed to do that – someone could get hurt, the teenager had warned us many a time, adding that someone could die from this thing.  But on the other hand he was the one who had set the Games up . . . one of several kinds.

I learned you could hyperventilate prior to this ‘event’ to prepare – filling your body with essential oxygen until your head was swimming from the stuff – and then going right into the ‘fighting’.  I could outlast many an opponent that way – strangling him while he strangled me until someone gave up or went down.

It was a hell of a game to play.

It went on until we were about ten or eleven – by that time we were getting a bit dangerous with it.  We would hang on even though we were dying, or passed out sometimes – our hands unconsciously locked down like claw vises.  Then the teenager would have to pry them apart . . .

It was a hell of a game.  In many ways.

 


Young Love

I first encountered him on the playground, on the domed top of the convoluted steel grid of monkey bars. This was back in the day when all playground equipment was steel, and the middle of the bars were polished like mirrors from so many hands over the years.

The sky was gray and overcast, it was late in the afternoon. It must have been near winter, for it was almost twilight but there was no snow. I remember a crescent moon rising in the gray skies – glimpsed between the clouds somewhere between fifteen and thirty degrees. I paid attention to things like that; my training had already begun, though I didn’t know it. Things, as always, seemed normal. As normal as they could be considering I was an abused country kid from the sticks come to live in West Germany – living the the military apartments – big buildings with thick bombproof walls, and narrow windows.

The playground sat adjacent to the airport. It was a military one – a small one, but so was the base we were on. A lot of the bases we were on were small – little installations given over to the properties of spying, like the planes and electronic gear that my dad worked on. Twin turbo-propped Mohawks took off, but they were rare; mostly it was the UH-1’s – the big Bell Huey helicopters with their distinctive “Whomp! Whomp!” sound.

We had been forbidden to go to any country in which the “Red Flag” was flying. That meant no Warsaw, Poland, no East German or Hungarian trips. That meant we often had to stay behind while our dad went on some “TDY” mission. Sometimes he would be gone for days, weeks at a time. If it wasn’t a NATO nation – we weren’t supposed to go in. We weren’t supposed to go to Berlin, though eventually we did. They said it was because we would have to cross East German soil, and there was some concern ‘the enemy’ might kidnap a child as leverage against my anyone who held a high security clearance, forcing them to become a spy against the US military or giving up all their electronics secrets – or against the US Government as a source of ransom and/or trade for their own spies. It was very ‘normal’ to ‘me’, the kid I was developing into, but in some ways I was still that sexually groomed kid from deep down South . . . trying to figure out things – where in the hell he was, who ‘we’ were, where we were living (it changed all the time – we moved more than a dozen times in a few years), and what we were doing there.

There were about seven or eight boys playing on the playground, and a half dozen of us were on the monkey bars. None of us knew the other; not really. None of us had been around long enough to know anyone, and chances are, no one did. Everyone was moving around too much – us kids just sliding past each other – a quick hello, some desperate attempts to form friendships, and then a few weeks later, goodbye – maybe.  Sometimes they just disappeared.  Sometimes we did.  We got to know this kind of life too well; so well it affected all our lives for the rest of our life. No “life long friends” – people who we are still friends with that you know from your early childhood.   I mean the good kind – the kind you see every few days or so – never a week goes by without one of them calling you. I don’t have that; we moved too much. Neither does my brother. Ditto my parents to a lesser degree – they lost touch with their families (and thus we with ours) by their late teens.  “Family” to me is just a weird joke, one I don’t get.   My mom once said she vowed to stop documenting moves after her fiftieth; we were still just babes when she stopped. I think it was during this particular trip overseas that broke that barrier. We moved so much! Even she can’t tell me where we were when. It was a kaleidoscope of landscapes; a blur of apartments and streets; German towns changing (but all the same) like drops of water sliding down a window pane. Fountains and fortresses, castles grand . . . castles in ruins, tanks in the woods. I don’t know as we settled down in one particular place for more than two, three months before the Army would uproot us and send us on to some other base where my dad’s skills were needed and we were not.

“Who will suck my dick?” one boy cried out. He was an older one, and I shot him a contemptuous glance.  I had experience, I missed my friend – my lover (or lovers) back home – but I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it so casually – I had to love (or at least like a lot) the person.  It didn’t matter if it was girl or boy – I was bisexual before I was four – and I found this type of sexual innuendo deeply disturbing. Scalding memories of what the teenager had done to me – his touch, then the ultimate betrayal – were still fresh in me and hurt. I didn’t trust anyone not to betray me the way he had done, so I hung back when it came to making relationships – especially sexual ones. I had been burnt – and burnt BAD – I wasn’t going to open myself to that flame again! And yet the phrase caught my attention (the boy was just coarsely joking around – half-serious, half not, as young boys sometimes do). I looked at him from beneath hooded eyebrows – I can still see him, my head dropped to some degree, looking up at him both cautiously and with anger, though he had not done anything to me; he was just a ‘normal’ kid, crude, but normal.

“I will!” I heard a small voice pipe up. It was a little kid on the opposite side of the monkey bars. We had a game where we were trying to throw each other down through the bars, hurting someone – but we weren’t playing aggressively. The big boys were too rough – they’d win (perhaps), though none had tried their tactics on me of grabbing a boy and holding him over one of the squared opening, punching him down and through – where he’d bounce and jolt through the steel bars – hopefully breaking a bone! – before landing on the tough turf where short sparse grass grew.

“I love sucking dick!” the little boy continued, drawing my attention. This was almost the exact phrase the teenager had used when he outed me: that I loved sucking dick – “He’ll suck anyone!” the teenager had told his friends, stinging me.  While true to a point (which makes a good point about the truth stings the worst, for it stings the heart, mind, and soul). But I had to love or at least like a kid real to have sex with him; this one didn’t. He apparently didn’t even demand they be a friend – though that might have been his way of making one. He was making offers to strangers, which seemed odd and dangerous to me. I can still feel that ‘dark turning’ I felt when looking at him, hearing him make his ‘offer’. It was the same sensation you get when seeing someone dart into a busy street without looking, knowing they might get run down – and wondering whether to shout and stop them or just look away before the disaster happens.  Especially if you know you are probably powerless to prevent it.

The other kids started laughing; ridiculing him and asking questions. Would he really do it? An older kid, one about fourteen, asked him, to which he eagerly agreed. “Yeah! I like it. I love sucking dick.” My eyes narrowed as I took him in and evaluated him.

He was young, a few years younger than me. A big eight, an average nine, or a underdeveloped ten. He was short with a broad beaming face and curly brown hair. My hair was regulation short – a crisp barrage of hair standing on end in a traditional crew cut, with the sides shaved nice and close – a “high and tight”.

But his face – something about his eyes I think it was. They were brown; as I type this I can ‘see’ more and more clearly (and now the next day editing, even clearer.) – and I felt something within me as he and they got to talking about it. A sadness or a sympathy or empathy or pity or feeling sorry for him – and wanting him to be my friend – and I was interested in accepting his offer – open sex night, no strings involved. But maybe it was something about his face and eyes. Yeah – I think it was the eyes. There’s a ‘look’, you know – that ‘thousand yard stare’ kinda thing soldiers are known to get – only in kids it may more hidden, way back in the eyes. Like ghosts or clouds underneath all those emotions they are expressing – happiness, excited joy, running and playing. It makes a kid’s eyes ‘timeless’, and can make them look old. In the eyes of course. Everywhere else they look normal. Except perhaps a few scars.  I had those.  And I had “that look” I suppose.  (I know I did; I can see it in the mirror.)

I could feel it – that he was like me. More than a bit; almost exactly. The sex is what tipped me off. I wanted to go off and have sex with him right then. Let him know I was the same way – and I wouldn’t use him or mock him for doing it or wanting to do it. The other kids would. I just knew that, could sense their attitudes in their behaviors, their play, and what some of them were saying. Something about him spoke to me. I suppose now, looking back, it would have said “I’ve been abused somewhat, shown sex; I’ve learned to love it too early, and now I will do it with anyone – anyone! – simply to recapture that feeling.” Of course, that may have just been me, projecting my feelings upon him.

So I spoke up. Of all those that were there – and the only ones left who were talking to him – I think there were about three – the others having gotten disgusted by him, or repulsed by what he had said – mocking him and deriding him as they climbed down – and one of them was a teenager who I could tell was quite cruel – he’d been sort of picking on us kids, mostly verbally, while the others ran around, and now he was trying to lure the little kid in using some kind of bait.

“Yeah, we can go over to my apartment,” he was saying – but he had been one of the cruelest mockers and deriders when this thing had first started, and the kid was saying no to him; shaking his head, and the teenager suddenly got fed up and disgusted and climbed down by himself while another couple of kids climbed on.

“I’ll let you do it,” I finally said, keeping my voice kinda low and hopeful and just between me and him. “I’ll do you, too, if you do it to me,” and then I think I said (even lower): “I like doing it, too.” I had missed that feeling – that feeling of someone ‘doing it’ to me, and me doing it to them – plus this little kid had such an open air about him – open and trusting, and yet guarded in some ways. Like I said – it was kinda like de ja vu’ I was feeling – thing is, it was not. It was merely seeing a kind of reflection of the kid I am/was. And you have to remember: I had been having sex for years, nearly on a daily basis during the summer of the last three of them. Not just with boys, but with girls. You gotta remember my cousin, with whom I had fell in love with.

Just then my momma called me.

“Dinnertime!” she said, calling from the communal door of the apartment building. There were two stairwells, one on each end, and we lived on the second floor; inside one, right hand. Up two turns and you’re in the middle kind of thing. They were four stories tall, in case you were wondering, with 8 to 16 room ‘attic’ apartments above. They called them ‘transits’ because that’s where all the ‘transitory people’ lived – people who were going someplace and the Army needed their apartments because someone new was coming in – or people who were going someplace – like back overseas. We lived in ‘transits’ once that I remember; maybe twice. It was really cool.

And so ended the beginning of my very first friendship over there. The dinner bell was ringing and it was time to ‘go in’ – and eat dinner with my miserable family who never got along.

So I said “bye” to him regretfully and left him alone with two of the others. He had just started to go along with me – following me down the bars. I think he, like me, could sense something of himself in me; that’s why he wanted to be friends. So we parted there on good terms, almost beneath the monkey bars, with the helicopters thundering off and on . . . gray clouds . . . and I grew depressed . . . slogging in instead of at my usual run, head down, sad and thinking of him . . . this boy I had just met.

It was the next summer I met him. We had moved to a different base – to run across a kid you knew from before was very unusual. Unheard of for me. The rotisserie of kids and schools and bases were beginning to become familiar  – and yet not. It seems I kept changing – or something. That might explain some of these holes in my head and my memories from ‘over there’.

I’m not sure if it was at the pool (outdoors) or a playground, but I remember we took off where we had began – at the beginning, with him looking at me and me looking, puzzled at this kid, feeling the faint stirrings of memory.

“You’re him,” I think I said, or something very much like it. “We met at that other base . . .”

“Yeah,” he said, beaming and smiling. “You still want to do it?”

And simple as that, we became friends. Of course we had sex after our first encounter – nothing major, just the oral thing – him doing me, me encouraging him – ‘showing him how’ somewhat because he still needed some skills in his technique – and me ‘doing him’ just for the pleasure of making my new friend feel good, welcome, needed, and happy – which he was doing for me.

We wandered that base during those hot summer months – or at least they felt hot to me. I had acclimated to the German weather, so I felt the heat when they did, and not so much the cold as I had when we first arrived. I’d gotten used to the winter regime of clothing – and even more layers of clothing – and the summer felt so free! I could wander up to the pool in my swim shorts and a towel – flip flops flapping, though for the most part I ran around as I had in the  ‘hood back in the States – barefoot and almost . . . but not nearly enough – carefree. I wasn’t the child I am sometimes inside; I wasn’t ‘he’. I wasn’t the boy who’d left the States – though that part of me seemed to go into hiding sometimes, staring from my eyes in wonder at the castles and the land. In a way I was a jumble of ‘parts’ in me – and I could feel it. I didn’t think in terms of “I” and “me” so much as ‘us’ and ‘them’. I sometimes found myself interjecting the word “we” sometimes – and becoming confused because I meant just one: me. But it wasn’t ‘me’ all the time. There were ‘other parts’ forming – I could ‘feel’ them in my dreams, feel them taking over ‘parts’ of me: certain emotional states and emotions. I could feel myself ‘slipping away’ when one part would ‘take control’ – leading me into some kind of temptation (laughing).

And this boy and I . . .

We fell in love, we did. With him, even though he was a bit younger than me – he became more like a little brother. He shared his secrets with me and I with him – how our parents beat us (his were much worse some of the time, mine had quit the worst of the abuse – the beatings – when we had arrived in Germany – and those damned apartments where everyone would have to be so damned quiet – even if we WERE getting beaten. You couldn’t let the neighbors know those things – how ‘bad’ us kids had become; how ‘awful’ we are/were (for those were my thoughts in the day.) I knew what me and the boy were doing was ‘wrong’ by some crowd’s notice; but on the other hand – he was my ‘best friend’ at the time, and the only one I had.

I remember us going from here to there – stopping for sex once and awhile, either in the bushes or the PX bathroom one time. (I didn’t like going there; I felt cheap while I ‘did him’ with him standing on the toilet seat.) I treated him to some movies once and awhile – I was earning money from my first job.  And bought us both treats at the PX and club – ice cream perhaps, some chips to eat – nothing fancy, and he asked for nothing, ever. Just for the chance to ‘do me’ sometimes and make me feel good, be my friend.

I don’t recall ever going over to his apartment, nor him coming to mine, though he might of. I remember us mostly meeting in the parking lot by the playground, and then going together to do something. Sometimes that ‘something’ was walking the fence line – the fence that separated us from our outside neighbors, the Germans. We’d pause here and there sometimes – dropping into the grass or near some bushes – and ‘make love’ in our own kind of way, each encouraging the other. We’d hold hands, give hugs – cheek to cheek sometimes, just holding one another, eyes closed, breath coming softly in my ear while I hugged him – feeling that warm body under that skin and enjoying it. Often it would take me back to past times – times with the teenager and/or my friends back home. Then we would rise and dust ourselves off – pulling up our shorts if we needed to – and go wandering on, looking for something to do, something to keep our interests until ‘the next time’.

Like I said: we grew to be close friends, closer than even brothers in some ways. We each commiserated in each others misery and pain; we shared our loneliness by sharing in our ‘game’ – a shameful game to the world, perhaps, but not to us. To us it was a simple thing – a joy. We couldn’t understand why all the other kids and grownups seemed so dead hard set against this sort of thing, but we knew to keep it a secret between us.

Eventually the game came to an end. The time came when I went out to the parking lot looking for him; on the playground, all our usual stomping spots, and then all our usual stopping spots – and then I went to his apartment, heart sinking, sick to heart from suspicion, thinking I knew what happened. Knocking on his door, I braced myself to prepare for his parents. I had heard they were quite mean.

The face that greeted me when the door opened was a younger woman – a short one, almost my height – and she said something that was to change my life.  Bring that sudden realization a little closer to my heart like the sharp knife it was.

“He isn’t here anymore. They moved on.”

And that’s when I began to realize: No one is permanent. Nothing remains the same. My friends would just keep on being yanked away – every time I made one it would happen as sure as night follows day. Time and time and time again – as soon as I would hold out my hands for love, they would get slapped away, or else the people I was craving would turn their backs and reject me. That little boy – he had no friends, none besides me. I think that was because of his sexual orientation and the way he advertised so honestly his willingness. I think now, looking back, that it was only in desperation that he would do those things – offering a blow job first, friendship later. I wasn’t like that – too shy, too self-inhibited, and demanding from my own self that I love them (or at least like them) first.  And even that – that had taken a hit, some damage, from what the teenager had done.  To this day, I find it hard to trust anyone with my love, especially the sexual kind.  They always hurt me.  Always.

But it saddened me – hit me hard, hurt me hard, to see that neighbor open the door and it wasn’t who I had expected. To find your friend – your lover – is gone, yanked right out from under you, and you hadn’t even had a chance to say goodbye. You never saw it coming. And so like a fist in the face, a blow to the head (and heart) . . . I stumbled away, thanking the girl, and trying to stop the tears from coming into my eyes . . .

Lonely again, wandering another base without a friend, I soon made another. He was mean and bullying, older than me – and he simply used me as I used him. Under buildings, behind bushes – it wasn’t even about being friends. It was about a part of me mourning and separating from ‘him’, trying to recapture that hidden feeling, which I never did. Not with him, anyway. And so slowly, a part of me went into hiding and died.

For a long long time afterwards.

And I think that part was ‘little Michael’ or ‘little Mikie’ . . . the boy ‘he’ wanted to be.


Changes In Behavior:

Living With The Folks Overseas

When I was little, we gotten beaten a lot. I won’t go into everything – the moral crushing words, the ego scathing attacks. Beatings usually consisted of us going into our bedroom – or just one of us – waiting for a half hour or so, which is why I have the phrase “Waiting is painful, too.” I credit those waits for allowing me to prepare myself for what was to come – waiting on those footsteps to approach, the closed door opening, my father coming in. Tapping his belt on the palm of his hand. Gently explaining what we had done wrong. And then the punishment.

My brother says he could hear me scream and scream from his bedroom room with both doors shut and two walls. I don’t know for certain. You reach a certain phase when you are getting beaten where you just sort of blank out. I would sit there waiting . . . waiting . . . fading away inside of myself, hardening; preparing for what was to come. I hated crying; I couldn’t stand it, especially among myself. Or Selves, if that’s the way you want to put it.

Then the old man would have us stand and bend over, grabbing our ankles. Of course our pants would be pulled down – or our shorts – though later I learned (rather quickly I imagine!) to take them off. They just would trip you when you started dancing, and that would be seen as an attempt to escape – falling on the floor – which would be punished even more harshly.

I learned early on to face the bed, too. That first shot would often launch you – and the best launch was onto something with a soft surface. It was best to have all your toys picked up, or at least nudged out of the way so you wouldn’t end up dancing on them, too.

My dad had a favorite question to ask (I think). “Have you learned your lesson yet?” And no matter what the answer was, it was wrong. A yes or no would earn you more of a beating. I think he just asked it to see if you lied or not. Or not, most likely. Maybe. I don’t know.

I do know that I was stupid sometimes. I would not cry. And my dad liked crying children – he loved to hear you scream; see ‘the dance’. Sometimes he would take you by the hand and whirl you around – you are running in circles, the belt or something else pursuing you – going ’round and ’round his towering legs with tears streaming down your face as you ran. Those kinds of things hurt; sometimes the blows kinda went wild. It was unusual to get hit about the hips and shoulders; or on the arms.

We always ate on a regular schedule – the Army one. Breakfast (if not served before leaving for school and whatnot) was served at eight. Lunch at twelve. Supper (or dinner, if you prefer) at five-thirty pm. Meals were usually fairly simple, and at school I ate with the lunch crowd – getting my tray and food from the school. Later on I would start brown-bagging it, but this was early on. And days were fairly quite easy.

The morning would begin in the ‘hood – I get up, get dressed (usually just a pair of shorts and underwear) and go out into the kitchen. There my mom would often be cooking breakfast (eggs, toast, bacon, milk – orange juice or some other kind of juice if she would afford them – the frozen kind; made from concentrate). Then if not to school, then outside. We’d spend the entire day outside from morning to noon – and then we’d hear that big old triangle ring, and we’d come home for some bologna sandwiches, peanut butter & jellies – something like that – and milk to drink. I remember we used to get milk in those long cartons the PX sold – dark green with white lettering, and a heavy wax coating on them. They were very valuable to me, those cartons! With them I could make boats and toys to play with, either in the tub or out of it. Those heavy waxed cartons would last a long while – several floatings in the tub – until after about a week later the edges would get soft and fuzzy and we’d have to throw them away. Many a G.I. Joe took a ride in those boats – all naked (just like me) in the tub, swimming his way to freedom when the boat sunk.

But things changed when we got overseas. It was like the physical abuse suddenly just stopped. I seem to recall my mom telling us: “You’re too old for anymore whippings. From now on we’re gonna be punishing you different. With restriction and such. Taking away your privileges.” I wish it had been like that. The truth is – they still continued to beat us from time to time – with as much frenzy and hatred as before – and they would impose these new rules on us. But overall the beatings diminished. LOL, I guess the moral of the crew improved or something. But the fact is: we were getting beaten with a lot less frequency than before, when we were young children.

However, the restrictions started to get a lot longer and more frequent. That’s not to say we made bad grades – we didn’t. We generally managed to keep it between a C and an A. However, those few times we made an F or a D were bad. (I made my first F in 5th grade, failing math because I had gotten caught up and lost in the system. Somewhere between North Carolina and the ‘hood decimals got lost. Or rather, the ability to change them from one thing to another (say fractions or percents) got skipped over. I can only assume that in North Carolina the military school was behind while in Georgia the civilian school (I am talking about Windsor Springs Elementary here) was ahead. As a result there was a gap in my education that the teach failed to detect – or correct – or she just didn’t have enough time to do it. Promising students weren’t granted any special considerations and favors back then; not like today with their “Magnet Schools” and schools for accelerated children. So I was just left to thrash along on my own – without any success at the thing. My father’s explanations were confusing, and my moms? She always sent me to my dad.

A ‘D’ or an ‘F’ would mean restriction to your room. How long depended on ‘you’. However, while we were overseas there was so much to do – my parents were constantly touring and we were moving around – that restrictions were usually of a shorter duration – may a few weeks or more, but sometimes just a couple of days (depending upon our behavior during the restriction time). Asking to be ‘let off’ or ‘get out’ would buy you a week or more, so you had to be careful about asking. You had to catch them in a good mood. And even then you’d better come bearing some proof you were doing better – a string of A’s, I presume. I rarely got off restriction early, however. Often we would come back from some ‘vacation’ touring over there only to find I was still on restriction, still confined to my room.

The belt fell out of favor except for with my dad – my mom preferred a wooden spoon. She had a wide bladed one with a thick handle that she used to beat us with – and you stood, just stood there taking it. Fighting back, it was understood, was forbidden. My brother tried ONE time. After that he never tried again. Reaching behind him he grabbed the belt from her hand – and when she got the gun he realized: that was the wrong thing to do. So she beat him with the belt in one hand, gun in the other until he was singing his tune and dancing, too. I think he was about fifteen, sixteen years old at the time. He never challenged her again.

As for me? Always the stoic person, I might have complained from time to time – did my crying when I’d get beaten – but I just sort of lumped it up; ‘forgot’ about it – rubbed my ass and went on. I had learned crying did no good. Indeed, depending on who was beating you, it could actually be bad. My dad would give up beating on you once he’d gotten his thrill. My mom, on the other hand, would be encouraged by your crying and whining to beat you some more – for crying and whining! – and then you would be sent to your room to finish it off. My dad? It always started in the room to begin with, so we left it there. (The pain & anguish I assume. “We” left ‘something’ – or someone – there to ‘take it’, deal with it, be done with it, et all.)

I assume that’s where my ‘high pain tolerance’ came from – all those beatings and all that waiting. Because that waiting gets you ready for the pain. You learn to control it – how to ‘turn it one’ (that pain tolerance), and ‘turn it off’. There’s a difference in sensation when I – and ‘we’ – do that. It’s like someone else is sucking up the pain for us. Little Mikie, I assume – since he was one of the ones built to do that. As a result ‘he’ has a lot of pain built up on the inside. On the other hand – ‘he’ is one of the sweetest human child(ren) I’ve ever met. There’s a little bit of artificiality to him there, too – which is what led me to suspect ‘he’ was a creation of Little Michael, the ‘real’ boy inside – the one who made all the decisions about who was to ‘come out’ at what time; who was to ‘do’ what, when and how – a whole lot of other things.

Anyway . . . just another story about how things ‘changed’ when we went overseas. How the discipline changed. I don’t know if that’s because we had new neighbors all around, or they were afraid of thin doors (what the neighbors may hear). I don’t know for certain it was our age at all. I certainly suspect it had more to do with other people being around – living so close to them, jowl to jowl, cheek to cheek so to speak – that they didn’t want anybody staring at them when they went to the commissary or PX, or simply stepped out the door. Noise levels were to be kept down in the apartments – in the houses it didn’t matter. So I reckon I’ll never know. Perhaps it was a combination – the parents realizing their children had gotten a little old for their ‘beatings’ – coupled with the instinctive knowledge they may be heard.

After all, you don’t want your neighbors to know you’ve been beating your kid. None of them.

(shhhh!!!)

Secrets have been told.

(big smile).


The Last Days of the Hood

My last days as a child in the ‘hood were a time of chaotic confusion laced with grief, horror, and sorrow, and tremendous changes which would sweep me and my family into a strange land of isolation and filled with new experiences which would profoundly affect my life for the next four years – and beyond. Some of the changes were to be in God’s hands – or fate, or karma, or whatever you want to call it. One change I saw coming, but could not control. I suppose I could have controlled my response to those other changes, and in doing so have made wiser choices, but I was young, having just turned eleven. I did not know – could not know – the effects of my choices. In some respects I wonder if I really had a choice in my reactions; or perhaps my reactions were the only reactions a child could have. Looking back, I can see where I went wrong in some cases, but in other respects I realize: wrong or right, how I responded to those changes was to determine who I am today.

The changes started with an announcement by my mom late in the fall – mid-October, to be precise. It was simple and direct, as most of her announcements were. She was never one to beat around the bush, or break things to us boys gently. She just sat us down at the table and stated things as they were.

“You’re dad got orders. We’re leaving in thirty days. We’re going to Germany for four years. I’m going to need you boys help to get ready . . .”

We had just returned from North Carolina the year before, so the idea of moving wasn’t alien. After asking my mom some questions about Germany (yes, Michael, it snows there; you were born there) – I was a bit enthused about the idea. Moving was exciting, though we had only moved twice in the past five or so years – up to North Carolina and then back. The moves of the past – before we’d arrived at the ‘hood – were forgotten memories. For me the ‘hood was my childhood, my home – and while deep down I felt a dark foreshadowing of the loneliness and grief I would feel at leaving my friends and the neighborhood where I had spent so much of my childhood, the prospect of seeing snow (so rare in Georgia!) was foremost in my mind. Little did I know. And four years. How can a child conceive of four years? I figured it would be just like before: go away, come back, and it would be as if nothing had ever happened, nothing ever changed. As far as I was concerned, it would simply be another jaunt to someplace else; nothing major. Boy, was I wrong!

I remember standing in the sand alongside the road, talking to my best friend, the boy next door, telling him we were going to Germany.

“It snows this deep!” I exclaimed, holding my hand half-way up to my shins. (Little did I know: it got much deeper than that, going over my head in drifts sometimes.)

“No!” he exclaimed in disbelief. “It never gets that deep!” Him,being born and raised in the south, and knowing no other place in than the ‘hood, could not conceive of snow deeper than our ankles. We argued about it for awhile, and then put our argument aside – still unresolved – and went off to play. If I’d only known what was going to happen next, I would of hugged him tightly – maybe even kissed him on the cheek – and done the same for the rest of his family. Because what happened next – what happened next is what shook our end of the ‘hood to it’s foundations.

It happened just a few nights, maybe a week before Halloween, late in the evening. Before I go on, let me explain a few things.

Next door, where the teenager lived (if you’ve read some of my stories, you know more about him than you’d probably like to know) – was the poorest family in the ‘hood. Make do and do without – that was their name, their lifestyle. The father, a hard working construction worker, was a huge, rotund man – strong as an ox from lifting brick and masonry all day, he always had a huge smile for us kids, and would lift four of us up at one time on his thick, brawny brown arms. He was quick to laugh – a huge laugh, as big as the man himself. We will call him “Mr. C.” His “help” was a man he’d rescued from a ditch years and years before – an Army retiree who’d been mugged and left for dead. That man – old and stinky with his cigars, would sit in an ancient lazy chair on the porch while us kids wheeled around him, begging for abuse by taunting him. We will call him “Mr. S.” I remember my best friend “loaded” one of his cigars one day; the look of amazement on his face when it exploded – his bushy eyebrows arching up towards his balding pate, and his thick fingers clamping down on the shredded remains as he peered over his glasses at us kids, looking for the guilty one – remains with me to this day. We all kept our distance from this man – if you got too close, he would catch you in a head lock and thump you on the noggin’ with his thumb, leaving a knot on your head. And the wife of the construction worker – another ‘second’ mom to me – meek and mild; hard working yet never complaining, running herd on a passel of rough and tumble kids. Even when she was scolding she was soft spoken, and the words were spoken with love. So much unlike my mom, whose words were often harsh and loud, and full of spiteful hate and vengefulness. It was to these folks that disaster was to fall – and disaster of the worst kind.

It was night, and we were getting our last drinks of water before going to bed when my mom came in through the kitchen door. She was pale and shaken, and we could tell right away something was wrong – bad wrong.

“Mr. C. (the construction worker) has been in a wreck,” she said. I guess she told us kids because – well, because they lived right next door, and I guess she needed someone to talk to. “Mr. S. (the old cigar smoking fellow) – is dead. The teenager got hurt, too. He was driving . . .”

And so the story came out – how they were coming home that evening from a job in Mr. C’s old pickup truck, the teenager driving (he was old enough) and Mr. S. riding in back with the shovels and equipment. Apparently the truck hit something or someone hit them, and a wheelbarrow hit Mr. S., breaking his neck and killing him instantly. Mr. C. had a hole in his leg – “big enough to put your fist through”, according to my mom. He had been rushed to a hospital. The teenager was “fine”, but pretty badly bumped and bruised. This had all happened a long way from our home and theirs – a long night’s drive away – and Mr. C. was in a small hick town hospital.

“I’m going to leave you two boys here,” she said. “Mrs. C. needs me.” Shaken, my brother and I could only nod our heads and agree. Mr. S. dead? Mr. S. dead?? That thought rocked my socks off. I had only played with him (or around him) the day before. And I liked the old man. While he didn’t put up with any of us kid’s nonsense, you knew – just knew – he was fond of us all the same. And that fondness was returned – in our own way. Just as he would thump our heads for ‘bothering’ him (and then let us go) – you could tell that if you didn’t ‘bother’ him, he would get sad. Mr. C’s being injured didn’t bother me as much at the time – I had been hurt before, and was convinced that the doctors could fix anything. And my friend, the teenager – well, I’d started having mixed feelings about him after the things he had done. But my best friend – the son of Mr. C – I almost panicked about him. I knew he had to be really upset.

Every day after that when we’d get home, my mom would fill us in. I don’t know whether it was because we asked, or if she just knew we were concerned. My best friend would still come out to play – but the family was subdued, as were our playtimes.

Three days later – on Halloween night – came the news.

“Mr. C. is dead,” my mom said as we prepared our Halloween costumes. “When you go out trick-or-treating with them tonight, don’t tell them. The kids don’t know yet, and we don’t want them to know. We want them to enjoy tonight without knowing their father is dead. Okay?”

And thus began the worst Halloween I can ever remember.

It had been a week of shocks. A month of shocks. First going to Germany – and soon. Then Mr. S. – our precious friend! – dead. The wreck. And now this. On Halloween.

I think my brother and I must have been in shock – shock after shock hitting us. But Halloween was upon us, and it was evening. All around us the ‘hood was coming to life – little kids wandering around, parents here and there – and us. I felt like someone had punched me; like a zombie, mindless. My thoughts were only about four things: Mr. S. being dead, and Mr. C. now dead – and my best friend – and this terrible secret we were suddenly burdened with keeping.

I remember us going out into the front yard. It was already dark. We waited awhile, then my best friend and his big brother, the teenager, came over. The teenager was the one who was going to take us on our rounds. Odd, now that I think of it, here, now, writing this. My mom had always accompanied us before on our Halloween rounds. This was the first time ever that she didn’t. Looking back, I can think of only one thing: she’d gone next door to Mrs. C’s house to comfort the poor wretched woman, and perhaps take care of the trick-or-treaters coming to Mrs. C’s door. After all – I imagine Mrs. C. was in no condition to do that herself. It would have been just too much, too tragic – to have to see a bunch of happy kids staring at her, some in death costumes – when her husband had just died – and her with no job, no income, probably no savings or life insurance – and four hungry mouths to feed.

We left the yard, the teenager being kind of quiet and curt with us – he seemed almost distracted. We had not even crossed the other next door neighbor’s yard when we saw the thing – something which still sticks out in my mind to this day, as graphic as if I had it sitting in front of me. I even gave it a name.

Flat cat. That is the name I gave it. For there, in the neighbor’s driveway, was a kitten, almost fully grown – smashed flat as a pancake by a car. It was laying on its back, and the only thing that stuck out were its eyes – huge and bulging, staring up at the night sky. I suppose at any other time it might have been comical, but on this night – Halloween night – with my best friend’s father suddenly dead – it was a horror.

Things get fuzzy from here.

I don’t know who said it, when it was said – and I’m almost certain I’m the one who said it – but somehow it came out.

“Your daddy’s dead.”

“I know,” the teenager said, his eyes rising to the midnight horizon. It was if he had suddenly forgotten we were there. I could feel my best friend flinch next to me.

“No he’s not! He’s not dead!” My best friend’s protests cut me to the quick.

I don’t recall exactly what happened next. I can only remember turmoil. When I was talking to a shrink about this (she laughed at the picture I drew of the flat cat, thinking it was funny – and really angering me) – all I could say is that I remember people running around. But it was Halloween, which would make sense. But in my heart I think what happened was this:

My best friend ran to his house, crying.

The teenager watched him go, looking real sad, but took us on our rounds to collect candy anyway. I don’t remember being happy, not happy at all. All I could feel was a deep upset and a sadness which wouldn’t go away. If I had to put it into words, it was the sensation of wanting to rip one’s heart out, to somehow go back in time – but as a child I hadn’t the words nor the concepts, only the feeling that lay within.

When we got home we told my mom: we spilled the beans. My mom was not happy about that, but I don’t think she did anything to us except tell us that we should of kept it to ourselves.

It was not a happy night.

We went to the funeral. I recall being dressed in my Sunday best. I could not understand why Mr. C. had died – it had only been a leg wound. How could a leg wound kill anyone? I didn’t understand; didn’t want to understand, but I wanted to know. Why was my best friend’s father – a man who I really had liked – dead? (And I loved Mr. S. I almost hate to say it, but I loved that grumpy old man.) She explained it thus:

“He got a blood clot and it killed him. The hospital he was in wouldn’t treat it. He didn’t have any insurance to pay . . .”

I don’t know why, but there and then I hated the insurance company – without even really knowing what such a thing was – only that they could have saved Mr. C. – but because he didn’t have enough money, they let him die. I was angry at them, but too confused to express my anger. How could they let him die?, I remember wondering over and over again. How could they do that? To this day I feel anger about that, and don’t have much more love for insurance companies than I did at that moment.

The funeral was like any Southern funeral. There was a nice church – we sat in back – and there were lots and lots of flowers. We never saw Mr. S. again. I guess no one went to his funeral, or (more than likely) – he was given a military funeral somewhere else and we didn’t go. I was sad – but I couldn’t cry. I just couldn’t. I remember feeling really guilty about that, and somewhere during the preaching in the church, I managed to force one tear. One single tear for the men who had died, a father I had known, and one of few grownups I knew and liked. Nothing more.

I’ve never been able to cry much since, except for one time, and that would come a few years later. I feel grief, but cannot cry. I don’t know why that is. I’ve been told that it’s a bad thing, but I think it’s just the way society views us men; the way I was raised. Big boys don’t cry, and men – never. It’s just “the rules”. And even many women, who in today’s society say that men should be “more sensitive” profess that the sight of a man crying bothers them, disturbs them, and makes them think less of the man.

I remember us going down to the passport building at the local fort to get our passport photos made. I remember that small building well; could even take you out there and show you where it is (or was). A squat wood planked building set high on blocks to thwart the termites, the white paint a dozen or more coats thick; four by eight paned windows, their panes like dots on dice – all the buildings were like that – their dull monotony even worse than blades of grass – and having to sit on my momma’s lap while the photo was taken. I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t have my “own” passport, but they said I was too young. My mom still has that passport – I’ve seen the photo since then. Black and white it shows a smiling young woman and a somewhat doubtful blond headed boy. She is looking at the camera; I’m looking slightly to the edge, because I was watching the photographer, and not the lens. I’ve always been that way: unable to directly meet people’s eyes without feeling disturbed, and unwilling to look into a camera lens. That’s caused problems in the past (people think I’m lying) – but it goes back to my past and psychology. You didn’t look my parents in the eyes when you were answering them. To do so was to make them angry – they saw it as a challenge. So I don’t like doing that unless I am challenging a person. Otherwise I’m taking in the details – the things around me. I’m very detail orientated like that, which I guess is part of the reason I remember all the little details of things (like that we were facing WEST in the room; the building’s door faced SOUTH, you walked to the RIGHT to sit in the chair, the floors were green linoleum, there was a clock on the wall with a black edged frame and a bubble glass front, the chair was a green or gray metal, the pads on it green vinyl, the windows wood framed, white painted, with four rows of panes across, four rows up, double hung; there was an office in the building facing the room you came in; there was glass in front of the office, and a chipped brown board under the window to rest your arms while you talked to the person inside, the door to the office was to the LEFT as you faced it . . . little things like that.)

We got our shots about the same time. I remember the pediatric clinic well: faded and chipped children’s pictures painted on the walls, the same type of hard framed metal chairs lining the middle; wooden benches like church pews along the walls. There were always people smoking – looking bored, reading newspapers, flipping through well worn and oft times ripped magazines. My brother – crying and wailing before they even came to get him; me sitting there watching the other little kids, my mom beside me, her black purse pressed against my side . . . . a yellow manila folder in her hand. Watching in fascination as the doctor stuck needles in my arms; how sore it made my arms for a few days afterward.

We left the hood a few weeks later. I have a ‘snapshot memory’ of us packing – my mom showing us how to pack glasses (“stuff them full of paper, then wrap them in paper. If you don’t stuff them with paper, they’ll break.”) Most of our stuff was going into “storage”, where the Army would keep it for the years we were gone. When we came back, most of it was missing, especially my toys. Those old G.I. Joes would’ve been worth a fortune by now. And my mom’s Corningware – something she still gets angry about ‘losing’ to this day. I guess storage isn’t as well guarded as we’d been told, despite being an “Army” institution.

And then, boarding the big jet plane in Charleston – we were “outta here” – away from the States – and everything I knew.

Life as I knew it would never be the same.


Warning:  This Story may contain ‘triggers’ for child abuse / molestation survivors.
Be Safe.


Backfire

It was shortly after “he” had betrayed me, telling the whole ‘hood (or at least all the teenagers and my closest friends) that I “sucked cock”, “liked sucking cock” and would suck off anyone (which I wouldn’t – I had to love them or at least like them first). I don’t know what was wrong with me – I can feel the child’s rage that was growing within me; a simmering subconscious anger, a smoldering burn. In retrospect I can understand the source of this sea of anger, but at the time I did not know what to do with it, where it had come from. Like a rogue wave which hints of a storm over the horizon, I would feel that wave of anger wash over me, flushing my face, tightening my child’s fists, filling me with electric tension. It was a strange anger because it was not “anger” so much as a hidden rage – a raging inside I could not ‘feel’, but it was there. I knew it was there – constantly, an ever-present demon – and it was a rage at HIM. For telling, for “outing” me – making me feel ashamed. For there being a bit of truth in his words: I would suck dick; I loved giving pleasure, and feeling pleasure. I especially loved that feeling of ‘control’ it gave me over him – ‘controlling’ by controlling the pleasure I gave to him. It was the only sense of control I knew, come to think about it – awesome as a little kid – but entirely wrong, and I knew that, too. I could not put my finger on the causes of all these mixed emotions, or else as a child I would of tried to solve it. I was used to solving things on my own. But being of a calm demeanor and a normally pleasant attitude, I would sometimes stand frozen in a state of anger and rage, wondering what was bothering me. Perhaps that is what led me to do what I did.

One autumn day, not long after that betrayal, I was standing by the side of the house, along the outside wall of the laundry room which abutted the open carport. I don’t know if it was premeditated – but it there was a pencil in my hand – one of those big fat children’s pencils with the thick lead. This is one of the areas where my brain goes faulty – I must of went into the house, gotten the pencil, planning this thing – and yet I have no memory of that. All I know – all I can remember – is that suddenly I was standing there next to the house, staring at the redwood siding.

An electric meter was mounted there, a round glass blister that gleamed in the sun. I can see this fairly well – the events after I got the pencil seemed to be etched into my mind. The little wheel was turning, the round eyes of the dial staring out at me. And going up to the meter, I began to write the same word, over and over again all around the meter.

I wrote it large and small, pressing the pencil into the soft grain of the siding. Why I wrote it – well I can only suspect. Perhaps it was the reason for my anger, the source of my anger: what the word meant to me. After all, if you’ve read my stories, you know what was happening to me.

“FUCK.” I wrote. “FUCK” and “FUCK” again. I could feel my anger and rage against the teenager burning in me; flowing out through those words. “FUCK” (with a silent exclamation point behind each one). Over and over again I wrote it. I can see it now – the words tilted at angles, the letters running across the grain. The redwood siding was hard to write on – the letters didn’t show up good, and the grain kept throwing my pencil off, making my writing jagged and spiky. I wrote ‘fuck’ a dozen times, maybe more, retracing the letters, pressing hard. It was hard writing on that wood. And all the while the white hot anger burned, with me not knowing why.

Later that afternoon – perhaps it was the next day – my mother and father came bursting into my bedroom.

“Did you write on the wall?” they demanded. “Did you write those nasty words?”

I felt a cold fear.

“No,” I lied. “What words?”

They stood staring at me for a long moment, then jerking me up by one arm, they trotted me outside.

“That!” my mom hissed, her voice angry and bitter. “Those words? Do you see them?”

I looked at the wall, trying to bring it into focus. I didn’t want to see those words I wrote. Finally I lied again.

“No,” I said. “HE wrote them.” ‘He’ was the teenager. He was the one who had taught us not only the meaning of the word, but had been performing it on us, with us sometimes – and having us (the other little kids of the neighborhood) do the same thing to each other.

My parents looked at me sternly, doubtful, angry, and highly suspicious. Seeing it now, in my own mind, I don’t blame them. The words were scrawled in a childish scrawl, with none of the finesse’ a teenager might give them. They led me back to my room.

“You stay here,” they commanded, leaving the room.

I sat there motionless for what seemed hours, though I’m sure it didn’t take that long. Of course I know there is no way to for me to know exactly what transpired, but being a parent myself, I can suspect. My parents probably went over to the neighbor’s house, where the teenager lived, and asked him about it. They probably went out and looked at the words. They may even had the teenager write the word, and compare what was on the wall against his own handwriting. At any rate they came back into my bedroom later, their minds made up, conviction held.

“Did you write those words on the wall, Michael?” I remember them asking me. Writhing with misery, I denied it again.

They kept on pressuring me. I kept on denying it. Finally they either broke me down, or decided that they had had enough.

“We know you wrote those words on the wall,” they firmly declared. “And you are going to remove them.”

I don’t recall much of what happened after that, so I think the beating came first. A good first rate pounding – not just for writing those words, but knowing them at all. I reckon they wanted to beat the knowledge out of me – and I doubt they knew how much I knew about the function of the word: fuck. Not as in just cussing but having sex. Nor did they know about that thing: us fucking each other all the time.

But I do remember in the end standing at that wall, my backside hurting – hurting all over, from thigh to shoulder – scrubbing at those words with an eraser – but the words wouldn’t come off. I’d bore down too hard, sinking the end of the pencil into the redwood siding. Try as I might, I kept seeing those words. There’s almost something symbolic in that thing: those words were burned into my soul, like those dark nights we’d kept silent about; like those days we kept silent – like those times we’d come in limping and go to the bathroom, cleaning ourself off. I kept on scrubbing at those words until late in the evening, until my hands were sore and blistered and I finally gave up. No matter what I could do, nothing would erase them; like the effects of the molestation, humiliation and rejection, they were there to stay. In a sense I was being punished – abused – for having given in; for having been molested – so often a tale told by childhood abuse survivors.

And in my heart a fear and an anger began to blossom. In mind’s eye I saw the gun.

What would the teenager do.