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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.

 

Skiing In the South


There’s not many days in my early childhood I can nail down to the date and time, but this is one of them.  I recalled the date not because I remembered it, but it was in the news, and made local history.  It was, as the Augusta Chronicle in Augusta Georgia reported:  “The largest-ever snowfall . . . a two-day event Feb. 9-10, 1973, with a combined accumulation of 14 inches.”   They even have a bunch of photos you can look at: http://chronicle.augusta.com/slideshow/2013-02-08/historic-photos-and-video-big-snow-1973#slide-1

I remember because it was soon after we’d come back from Germany.  We were prepared. We had snow suits, boots, gloves and mittens, sleds and skiing gear.  We even had ice skates! – but there was no pond around. I don’t think there was an ice rink in Georgia, unless you went to Omni in Atlanta,though I can’t be sure.

But there we were, surrounded by a “bunch of country hicks” as many might view them – friends of ours, left behind for a number of years, but some fast friends none the less.  They oohed and ahhhed over our equipment – tall blue skis outfitted with chrome clamps, the yellow lens glasses, the thick alpine gear.  We even broke our sled out – it was an old traditional German one, sturdy with wooden runners below a raised deck, and barely steerable.  But that was fine with our friends and all!  We let them borrow it, hauling it around – everyone was out tripping through the snow and throwing it around.  Meanwhile my brother and I got our skies on and began duckwalking up the shallow hill.  It was easy, far easier than some of the bunny hills I’d been on overseas, and I leaned on my poles, pushing forward – it was wet snow, unpacked, fresh as the day it’d been laid, with little to no crust at all – but my brother and I were determined to show them a little of what we’d done “over there”.

Like I said, it was an easy hill, but a lot of the residents gathered along the road as my brother and I slid down – assuming the correct position, though it was barely needed – bent kneed, leaning forward, poles tucked under the arms.  They applauded as we went by.  We got a lot of cheers despite our lack of talent or showmanship.  The fact was, we couldn’t get up enough speed for any slaloming or cutting fancy curves, throwing snow as high as our shoulder like we’d done in the Alpine resorts.  After all, it was a ‘fun’ neighborhood mostly, despite the fights that would occasionally break out, and a couple of neighbors getting drunk and punching their wives (or vis versa).  And we knew a lot of people there, even if we didn’t get along with all them.  We had changed. They had changed.  But a lot were our friends – old timers, people who’d been there from the very beginning.

But deep inside I knew.  It was like a dark forboding.  Our “Ice Age” was ending – no longer would we live in the Northern latitudes.  And “inside” an Ice Age was already beginning.  A sense of ‘separation’ within myself.  Again.  I could ‘feel’ an outside ‘me’ wry watching ‘me’ skiing, going down that hill, looking at the snow all around; feeling the heavy skies, the biting cold – and looking at my neighbors throwing snowballs around, listening to that sled creaking over the snow:

I knew it wouldn’t last. Not long. Not much longer than this snow.  A few of our friends joked that we’d brought a little Germany home, saying: “Hey! You returned and look what you brought back!  It’s good!”  I knew it was just stupid dumb luck, but I was glad to see it and glad to have it.

I knew it would be a long time before I’d have reason to be on skies again, if ever*.  That and all the snow gear we had.  But I was okay with that.  This it gave me a chance to say farewell to them, and embrace a new life again.  One in this ‘hood.  So I enjoyed it, but . . . it was a pathetic excuse for what I knew I’d miss.  That hill that wasn’t much of one . . . even for a bunny hill.


 

 

* It turned out I was wrong.  Later my parents would take me out to visit my Western relatives, who’d took us on a skiing trip to Colorado that year.

13. “Buried Alive”


I knew I had written this some time ago; just lost it. Now here it is in its proper place and time . . . back in the Hood long ago –

The Lost Journals

I remember when I was thirteen and we were almost buried alive.  Us and our friend, S.

Him and me had dug an underground fort, and this was was shaped like a grave.  It very nearly became one and I was 13, 13

13

14 or so.  (keep getting stuck on that; sorry folks; tried three times – erased deleted and done again…keep on going.. forcing this thing)

13

we were in the thing.

it was big – it was almost as big as I was; that is to say it was almost as tall as one.  And we couldn’t stand up in this thing, this friend and I.

We had built this thing deep; next to a shed – it was exactly about six foot long and three foot wide, and it didn’t have a top on it.  It was built into sandy soil; we knew the hazards of…

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Prince – Part Two


Very shortly after we’d moved back to the ‘hood, I was out walking my dog on a leash.  He was a “Cockapoo” – a mixture of Cockerspanial and Poodle.  A black dog with curly silken fur, he weighed about thirty-five pounds.  I know because that’s the amount of weight I was required to lose in order to keep him. It was part of my parent’s requirement to ship him home.  He’d been trained in apartments, was good, though nervous or anxious sometimes.  I’d read a few books on animal psychology, including – and specializing in dogs.  (To this day some in the family call me “the dog whisperer”, and dogs and I tend to get along.)

Anyway, as I am walking along, here comes my old Nemesis.

Prince.

German Sheppard

Prince had been the big dog that had torn me up in my youth.  He’d clawed me from face to navel while the grownups had stood around – feeding us kids to him one-by-one.  They were intending on us making ‘friends’ with him.  Instead he had clawed us all to pieces.  He’d been restrained on a chain around a great big old pine tree – but there was no escaping. If you hung back they’d push you into that circle, swept clean of pinestraw and debrie’ by his constant running . . .

It had hurt.

This time, though, Prince was loose.  He lived with the neighbors across the road – good friends of mine.  Usually he ignored me and I him.  But this time he’d seen my dog.

Prince was a German Sheppard.  He probably weighed upwards of fifty pounds, if not more.  I greatly outweighed him – but he was as long as my body –

I didn’t have time to react as my dog, sensing immediate attack, immediately began to mount me, climbing towards my head.  I could almost read the thoughts in his eyes:  “Master! Save me!” –

and as he’s climbing, Prince, drawing closer, increases his speed.  He knows me.  I’m the puny human he’s dealt with before . . .

But here’s the thing.

I’m older now, by three and a half years.  I’m heavier, too.  And I’ve been trained. During my time “over there” I’d been trained to take on – and/or take out – dogs like him.  Yeah, I’m only thirteen – but he doesn’t scare me now.  Not a bit.

As I help my dog hoist himself over my shoulder, claws scratching as he tries to climb on my head and perch there, Prince launches himself up, full height, his paws going for my shoulders.

As I stood there, I took the weight of him awhile – about a millisecond – and then I stepped into him, throwing him back and down with my forearm in his now surprised mouth. Then I dropped down on him, throwing my own dog aside, embracing his body with my own, wrapping my legs around him, one arm levering his mouth and head back as the other cleared his throat of front paws.

And then I bit him.  And I bit him hard.  Not hard enough to break the skin, but hard enough to let him know who’s boss.  I had him outstretched in my arms, his body under me, his fur in my mouth.  It was thick and dusty.  I clamped down harder, on his larynx now – I had shifted from the jugular, where I had taken my first clamp.  He was whining now, and struggling to be let go.  I bore my weight down even harder, shaking my head and growling, pulling and grinding the double lapped thick skin in my teeth.  He whined, then cried out.  I held him there for several moments – huffing through my cheeks, teeth white gripped in his downy fur and hair – shaking him.  Letting him know who’s boss.

When I got up and let go of him – wow!  He took off out of there, looking behind out over his shoulder as if I was a demon standing there.  My own dog stood shaking and shivering beside me, pressing his body against my calf.  I looked down and smiled.

“Come on buddy,” I said.  “I just saved your ass.”

The End

13


 

 

Notes:
This was written and produced by one of my ‘alters’, #13.  He is rather proud of it.  One of the things he kept wanting stated as a ‘fact’ he learned about dogs (for it is true: I am somewhat of a “dog whisperer” – and a lazy dog trainer, too).  “Dogs,” he sez, “is different.  Some of them got fur; some of them got hair.  The ones with hair hate the ones with fur and viz versa.  Same goes with cats & some kinds of other animals.  So you always gotta be careful when you introduce a dog with fur to one with hair.  Dogs, them gonna hate one another.  Unless you’ve raised one with pup, that’s the way.  Otherwise you might tend to have a little trouble.”
 
And by the way?  That German Sheppard never bothered us again.  In fact, if he saw me on the road, he’d take off for his house, and we’d find him cowering and slinking away out back.  He was scared of me . . . (grin)

 

School Sux


The new school sux.  It’s huge, it’s large, it’s empty, and crowded at the same time.  I don’t know anyone there, for I am a fresh arrival from overseas . . .

The other kids avoid me like the plague. They don’t know me and I don’t know them.  I don’t like them, either. They are mean to me.

I am in the band.  I play a sousaphone.  I played one last year, only it was over in Germany and it was for an orchestra band.  This one is shitty, but at least it’s fiberglass.  I’m gonna be glad of that when I march in a parade.  Only the parades here suck. Their people are so undisciplined. They throw trash in my horn.

I am marching for miles.  A long parade – Easter down in Augusta, Georgia.  The weather is cold and damp and there’s a cold mist blowing.  We march over a bridge.

I haven’t seen so many black faces in my lives.  There are so many of them.  They throw trash as I march by.  Every once and awhile I dip my huge sousaphone, dumping it out.

They are scum.  So is my life.

I am a quite bitter child.  And I understand this.

I hate my life and I am at school.  I work in the lunchroom for chow, saving my cents for purchases of “Ludens Throat Lozenges” – Wild Cherry Flavored – when I have time and walk by the little room they have in a hallway for just this sort of thing and school supplies . . .

I palm my 3 or 4 salisbury steaks under my tray after working the line. They serve them on Tuesday. They are my favorite food here, but they are dry and breaded and thin.  I can feel my fat growing and wish I was thin.

There is a boy in my Sociology class.  He is a boor.  He’s black and he walks around like he’s proud, and he’s the class clown. He’s obnoxious and loud and disrupts everything.  The teach cannot control him; she is afraid and she knows it.  He snatches up my book for no reason, my notes – everything.

I spend my time studying him, making notes of my own.  My dad has started me on my psychology lessons, on big books about Freud and Maslow and more.  Abnormal psych is ahead, as well as some sociology lessons on my own, of my own.  This boy – this ‘class clown’ – is one of them.

I hate him and express it in my notes there.

I hate this class and I hate this school.  Despite testing out with college level reading & comprehension skills, I’ve been placed in a remedial class.  “Dick runs.  See Jane.” That kinda shit.  When I’ve been reading adult level material now for three or four years, including my favorite novel of all time, the “Lord of the Flies”.

How I began to wish I was on that Island.  And I would, one day . . .

tho’ it was just in my mind.

They’ve also put me into advanced math class.  Me! – who cannot divide a fraction to save his life, who doesn’t know anything – I’m missing “math” from the 5th grade on and now they are wanting me to do calculus . . . I’m serious; I can NOT turn a fraction into a decimal or go the other way . . .

My parents suck.

So much was lost during delivery, too – that’s when our “goods” came in: all the stuff we’d entrusted the Army to put into storage during the three years we were gone.  So much is missing!  Most all of my toys, my mom’s Corningware – that kind of stuff.  Even now the adult in me misses my G.I. Joes and the original Apollo ship I’d stole during my North Carolina visit up North . . .

they’d be worth so much money.

My mom says such stuff happens; movers stealing stuff.  But it ain’t right and I don’t like it.

I’m all alone.

Coming in in the middle of school always sux.  But this one is different.

I’ve been going to the Army schools the last three years of my life.  These are much less successful, much more riotous.  Their crowds are so unruly, and they have “teams” and everything – and a gym!  The only one I’d known was on post, and it was open to the G.I.’s.  But this ones different.  For one thing, they have no weight room.  And they have no known organization.  Once a month or so they gather there for something called a “Pep Rally”.  I find it noisy, needless, confusing, a useless waste of time.

I wanna go to the library but they keep kids outta there.  And since so I am so new I’m not allowed to check out books.  Nor later.

But the book mobile comes by our neighborhood every 30 days or so.

That sux, too.

This school sucks

and

my clearest memory of the whole thing is standing outside that great big gray brick building, in the field down low on the hill, staring up; the building surrounded by gray twilight and swirling clouds, and a few students scuttling about

and I hate it.

and I can hate it so thoroughly I want to throw up.

and I hate my life as well.

(back then . . . news from “13”)

 


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.

Back In the ‘Hood . . .


So we’d finally come back from my dad’s overseas tour with the military, arriving in our new (old) neighborhood in style.  We were the envy of the ‘town’ – albeit it be just the dozen or so houses that made up the majority of “the ‘hood” – because we were fresh arrivals from a place that was all but unknown – a figure on a map, a name in their geography books.  Yet we lived in a house that was poor as dirt, and the living conditions weren’t a lot better – not what I’d been used to ‘over there’ (meaning in Germany and the adjacent countries).

Yet I managed to get along just fine – and yet not.  All my old friends were gone.  I was okay with them not being there, yet I longed for my old friend, B.W.  I had my homosexual urges; I took them out on the boy next door.  That was okay, too, for awhile, then he grew tired of me.  That was okay, too . . .

Yet the house I lived in seemed haunted – haunted by ghosts gone past, years gone past.  There was always a particular ‘haunting’ in the room I had – the ‘guest’ room in days gone past, and Sarge’s room, too, I’d rather suspect – but he was killed, dead, by a wheelbarrow coming into the back of his head at high speed.  “Broken neck,” is what they say killed him.

At the very least the house was ‘haunted’ by Mr. M.  And his father, the fat man, who had such great arms he could gather four or five of us kids in his one embrace and lift us all to the ceiling.  A great big fat rolling man, he earned his living laying bricks & building block. His son (Mr. M. I’m gonna keep on calling him) had been my ‘abuser’ at one time, teaching us boys of the ‘hood about sex and things.  I still find it quite shocking he was doing ‘it’ with his younger sister; she was only about four at the time – the time I met her and could have “did it”, too, but didn’t.

But don’t get the wrong idea.  “He” (Mr. M) was about – I dunno – 14? 15? – when we met him the first time.  13 maybe.  But he was our babysitter at one time – I was about 7?  More than once, actually.  He took care of a lot of the kids in the ‘hood.  In more ways than one, if you know what I’m meaning (wink! wink!). Ugh.

We had just moved in and everything was going fine.  (Okay, not school, but I’m saving that for a very different kind of story.)  The house was falling apart – slab floors, the linoleum tiles loosening from the floor every here and there and you had to watch where you stepped or suddenly you’d find yourself scooting on a loose one and sliding across the floor – taking you down with it.  The house was clammy and cold, and it was ‘fall’ – or late fall in the South.  There were baseboard heaters and that was it.

It was weird, looking out the back window into the next yard.  “Mine” I kept on thinking, looking at it.  We had lived there, in that redwood house, for so long, but it was no longer ours.  Now we were renting our neighbors (for that’s how I kept thinking of them – and it).  And I was living in it.  And the house was falling apart – like the neighborhood I’d lived in for so long seemed to be doing.

There across the now-paved once pristine white sandy road lay my ‘friends’ house.  Only there were several of my ‘friends’ living over there, as well as one awesome mother.  She was to be ‘my best friend’ for life; still is.  Just hear from her now and again; not much.  But she’s changed, too . . .

As have her kids.  The youngest one – he’s quite a bit of a daredevil.  The other one, more my age, is built like a brick mansion.  His arms are strong and he lifts weights all day long . . . and apparently he’s begun smoking (or at least his parents – and my mom – are saying so) – and they want me, who is smoking right now (but I’m only 13) – clandestine, of course, but they know – they want me to go and advise him on quitting!

Can you imagine that one.

So I go over there, talk to him one night while he’s lifting weights out in the yard, and he starts – we start – arguing.  He doesn’t believe I’ve been smoking for over a year now, and he isn’t smoking anyway – and he’s angry at me.

We make back up, but there’s always that ‘thing’, some distance between us, as if we’d discovered some deep division between us – a cliff that had formed.  His stepdad was very abusive; I know that hurt and haunted him; their entire family suffered.

I got to watch that, too.

~ 13

Homecoming


Home.  “Home is where the heart is,” they say.

But what if you have no heart? What if it’s dead and buried?

Ripped

“Home is where you are at; wherever you stand.”

That’s I learned moving around so much.  Home is where you hang your hat – whether it be a tent, a house, apartment, or truck.  ‘Home’ is where your stuff is.

Home.

It was early winter, 1973.  We’d finally arrived.  ‘Home’.  Back in the Good Ol’ U.S. of A.  Coming down the gangway stair from the jet to terra firma, solid ground, and not the four thousand miles of ocean we’d just covered . . .

As per custom and sworn duty, I got on my knees and kissed the dirty white tarmac, then looked up, wiping sand from my lips and spitting grit out.  My mom and dad scolded me for doing that as they attempted to herd us toward Customs in a low white hanger.  There wasn’t much – just long white stretches of concrete lined by pine forest, burned jet fuel’s acrid stench wrinkling your nostrils; the shrill scream then thunder of the distant jets laboring airborne, burning off precious gallons of fuel in dark swirls and leaving acrid  haze behind them . . .

My brother and I struggled across the open tarmac towards the building with our carry-on bags, our parents in embracing us like brackets.  I was 13; we’d just arrived from Germany, and the future was a big blank – just like the blank white wall in front me with the man-door.  The straggling line weaved towards it,  passengers in bunches and gathers, separated by social graces and grim tired faces – making a rather unsteady beeline for . . .

CUSTOMS” it said in plain black block letters over the door in English on a white sign.  Like everything military in which I’d spent the last three years of my life . . .

Customs.

Customs were about to change, that was for sure.  My whole world was about to get different. And I knew it.

I had been briefed going in.  We weren’t going to be living in our own house anymore.  That had been sold. Rather, we were going to be living in our next door neighbor’s house – now a rental, and the one . . .

the one . . .

even then my mind had stumbled.  Those last days were a daze in the ‘hood – Mister W gone: dead. Sarge, his trusty sidekick and companion: gone, dead as well.  My entire family, life, and childhood had been upset in a rapid series of transitions.  Things that had gone wrong.  It has been like shock therapy to my mind.  Then the move . . . nearly four years gone . . .

The Hood.

Our car was waiting for us. A family friend – the people who lived across the street from us – had gone to pick it up from Customs.  She squealed her delight and gave me a good hug, Southern style.  She had always been like a second or third ‘mom’, only much more loving and kinder than my own – and also a lot more sympathetic.  Towards everything.

Then:  The Drive . . .

The change in scenery: we had been in winter, here it was like fall. The Southern pines were green and tall, the grass visible, though splotched brown.

Where was the snow?

I was calm, but also upset.  I had had this Dream . . .

The Hood.

The miles rolled under the tires like a tolling bell.  Not many, for the airport off Tobacco Road, not far from our former home.  The sand hills rolled by, decorated in scrub and barrens.  I saw the run down clapboard houses with shingle and metal roofs, a hunkering trailer park, roads lined with trash and weeds . . .

Not at all like the Germany where I’d been twenty-four hours before.

The Hood – the neighborhood I associate with my childhood (between 5 and 10). When I left, it was a single dirt road lined with a few tract houses sheathed in clapboard or siding, or, as with our former house, redwood. Only one had brick, and it was the envy the neighborhood. It was across from ours and belonged to the family which had befriended ours so many years ago.

As we made the turn, our family friend still chatting about the changes ahead, I tried to access what I knew.

Most of my friends (or former friends, anyway) were gone. The army family up the road – friends I had known for years – had followed us overseas, coming to visit us while on duty. They were still gone, would be for another two years. They were the “other Army family” in the ‘hood. The rest were civilian, having lived civilian lives, and would continue to live them for as long as they lived. Others were gone, teens grown up, moved out . . . scattered to the winds.

My best “childhood friend” was gone – they’d moved soon after we’d left.  Their father was dead and I’d heard their mom had gotten a new husband soon after, and they’d went to live somewhere over in South Carolina.  We were going to be living in their house, renting it next door to our old one.   As we pulled in – on a paved road – I could see it.  Gone was the barn where my girlfriend and I had cuddled and kissed after getting ‘married‘ one day. Gone were the relationships. Gone were the ditches where we used to sink in cool sand while water ran in clear sheets around our knees. . .

So the isolation would remain.  The nearest store – a 7/11 – had been built about five miles away. There was a book mobile which would come around about once a month, but it was slim pickings compared to what I was used to – a real library, PX, and a whole lot of freedom.  Gone were the bus and train.  The only ones left – the only ones I played with as a former child – were the kids across the road.

Worst of all:

We were in HIS house – the same house – as the guy who had groomed and sexually abused us kids.  Sure, he was gone . . . but I remembered, him and his little brother,  my former best friend . . . still I didn’t know it was ‘abuse’, but the pain of his final rejection and betrayals still stung, that whole mess  near the end . . .

Gone – but unresolved.  It was still there.  Fresh, like a wound that bleeds that you can’t see.  And it was affecting everything I was, everything I felt, along with everything else I’d experienced.  As it would for years . . . all of it.