Tag Archive: military families


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”)

 

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.

Return To The Hood


GermanflagIt was a wet, rainy afternoon at the Frankfort International  Airport. I stood in front of the big wide windows looking at the big jets on the tarmac.  I had lost the required thirty-five pounds (in three months, no less) to get my dog shipped home with me; there was a piece of carry-on luggage, and my family behind me . . .

I was ready to go. I had lost my best friend ever, and was aware that I was going into a great unknown. Sure, my parents had told me we were ‘going home’ – but I just knew everything had changed. It had to . . .

After all, I had changed.  I was heavier – fatter – and I wore glasses now.  I had learned a little something of the world.  I had taken up smoking – a heavier smoker, now, though a pack would still last me a week or two or three . . .

and I’d heard (and met) my old compatriot from the U.S. Army back home – a kid up the street who’s family was Army as well.  They’d come over when we were two years into our tour, and weren’t going to be back home until much later . . .

and things had been in such an uproar when we’d left The Hood before . . . with the death of my best friend (and lover) and his abuser’s (and mine – sexually, that is) dad . . . their family breaking up, poor as dirt mice . . . all that was gone; had to be different, much different . . . but how?

I stared out at a jet, wondering if it was hijacked.  It had been sitting there a long time.  A lot of hijackings were happening about then (it was November, 1973, I am sure of it).  Wondering what lay ahead . . .

I can barely remember my family getting on.  But it was a Lufthansa jet.  Wonderful airline.  I can remember the dinner – filet mignon, chunked roast potatoes, some kind of cheese, and a nice fresh salad – and I gotta beer.  My parents allowed me – almost as a celebration of what we were leaving: Germany, going home, going to the Promised Land where we had been once before, a place where you could drink water out of faucets and there weren’t men peeing publicly (and sometimes the women as well) . . .

I didn’t think about it – and I guess I didn’t know . . . but what lay before me was a tremendous change:

AmericaTown

Going from military schools to civilian ones,
Getting away from the military bases, PX’s, cafeterias, AFEES & more . . .
No more sitting with the G.I.’s outside marching, or singing, while dinner went on . .
No more post theater, library system, reasonable source of transportation, or the rules and regulations that went along with living on a military base overseas during the Cold War – and a military base that dealt in secrets, and secret technology as well . .

Instead I would be arriving in a rural environment, just a few miles from Tobacco Road (of novelist & Southern fame – or infamy).  It was a poor area, poorer than most – even poorer than that of the Tobacco Road crowd – and far from everything – a dirt road last I met it, with a scattering of Craftsman style slab houses (plus a few old farmhouses, mostly falling down) – around it . . .

A place of dirt and poor, ignorance and poorly read, with nary a library – not even a store

Dirtroad

and all my old friends? None of them left?

How was I to know?

I don’t know.

So I ate my meal, my bag stored overhead – and enjoyed it.  It was quite good, and Lufthansa seemed to put on a special flight just for me – until the kid behind me threw up in his seat . . .

and so I had to ride with the smell of vomit in my nose, a decent steak setting in my abdomen, and the silver clouds drifting by below as the moonlight – the moon was riding full and bright – with the occasional dark glimpse of the ocean . . .

and we arrived.

I couldn’t tell you much about that – the brief kiss (custom) – when getting off the gangplank – where you get down on your knees and with much gratitude and love kiss the ground you are thankfully! – finally! – soundly!  on . . . then marching over to Customs to make your “I don’t declare anything” declarations, the open bags; the searching & rifling through, the hand passing you on . . .

gathering your things . . . into the airport, a new beginning, a rental car . . .

and we are going home.

In twenty-four hours my life had changed from what I’d known . . . into something new. Something alien and different again, only in a big way.

And I’d be living here for a very long time . . .

I sighed, shouldering my suitcase across my back, and heading for the taxi cab . . . hoping this ride would be fun . . . and filled with dread . . .

For we were going back to my old neighborhood . . . and would not be living in our old house.

Instead we were renting the house next door.

The house my abuser had lived in.  My friend, my lover and betrayer, and the one who had hurt me so much in the end . . .

Escape

The Temps


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHD5nd3QLTg

“Back in the U.S.S.R!”  But in my case it was “Back in the U.S. of A!”. For we were going home.  Finally and at last.

We’d moved into the “Temps” on the 5th floor of the German military (U.S. occupied) apartments that had been build for the German military back in “the War”.  These were a long string of single rooms, connected by a long hallway.  There were eight rooms on each side, each with it’s own door, and there were no doors on the end of the hallway.  They just ended there in the stairwell.  So while you were living there you were subject to have people walking through the ‘apartment’ that you lived in – whether you were taking a bath, cooking on a stove (in a separate kitchen, of course) – whatever you do.  Fortunately visitors – wanderers, actually – were rare.  Usually you’d just have a gang of kids pursuing one another – taking the forbidden fifth floor route instead of the one in the basement to cut from one long section of armored apartments to another.  We spent some time there – about one or two months, I reckon – living with those walls that sloped up (because you were near the roof) and with the dormer windows.

Gone were the apartments we had lived in below, with their long bay windows in the living room and balcony.  Man!  What can I say: those German soldiers lived nice compared to what I was used to.  And the walls – almost three foot thick, both to keep out the cold and exploding bombshells.  Everywhere: military. Everything green. O.D. was the color of my blood – or part of it.

The rest ran true red white and blue, though I had come to distrust some of the government.  I’d seen too much of it.  I’d lived under the burdens of this world.  I was looking forward to going back to the home of my childhood – if it still stood.

I’d had nightmares all my life, but I’d started to be plagued by this one.  In it I had gone back to the neighborhood, but everything had changed.  Everyone had changed in it; gone were some of the houses, and everyone would be looking at me strange.  As if I was an alien or Martian.  From another world.  Because it was another world, that rural world in Georgia, and this one . . . this all so foreign (and yet wonderfully strange; I wasn’t afraid to explore: I wanted to).  And the Army thing.

But I was ready to go. Gone past ready. It had to be November . . . that’s when dad always got his main orders (there were plenty of TDY’s, too.  And trips in the field.)  And this time we all were to go back home.

As I lay in my room staring at that sloped ceiling (when I wasn’t wandering the base, now stuck on foot, since almost everything we owned was packed up.  Luckily we were on a small one.  It was used to conduct spy missions on and over the border using Mohawks – planes like this one:

Mohawk w Electronics Pkg

They were used to spy on enemy and stuff.  I used to look at the photos some in the hangers.  There was a lot of neat stuff, but not my school.  THAT was over on/near Old Argonner, a base we used to live.  It was in Hanau, Germany, not real far (I think) from Stuttgart.  We wandered all over the place. Sometimes with the G.I.’s, sometimes in groups, sometimes with tours, often with our parents – or just alone.

We had spent a lot of time in the woods.  And in the bunkers doing military stuff.

but this last year had not been good.  First there’d been the fall of one good friend after another – falling away like leaves in the wind; there one day and gone in the next, until I was alone.  Nothing but new kids to play with; kids I didn’t wanna know.  I’d had enough. I was going home.  My last girlfriend has left 3 months ago.

I was ready, more than ready, to move on.

I’d had it with love and stuff.  I hurt inside.  I’d read a lot of grownup stuff.  I’d cruised the books in the libraries and read about everything I could get my hands on.  The administrators who gave tests all said I’d done really good, with a promising outlook.  One even called me a “lazy genius”.  I read and comprehended on a junior college level, and I wrote almost as well as I read, but I sucked in math.

I played the tuba and did art, but this year had been tough.  This year things were short – you won’t be there long enough’ – and they pulled me out some.  Early, it seems.  My heart wasn’t in it.

My heart wasn’t in anything anymore.

I felt burnt out.

And I lay on my bed and stared at the ceiling and wondered, had my doubts.

Everything is about to change which I’m afraid of, but I can’t stand this death I’m in.

The snow’s started.  It’s looking gray outside.  Inside I feel . . . cool.  Waiting and ready and nervous, and listening to the voices down the hall and staring at my room, with its blood red four square tiles, separated by mortar joints.

We’ll be outta here soon.

I hope and pray.

I look around at the bare room.

Its like my life.  Barren and empty except me.

Barren and empty like me.

13.

A Pause for Station Identification


We’ve taken a long pause on this, our blog of our childhood – and beyond. Perhaps this become another’s story; perhaps it is our own – though I know in reality they are intertwined, for ‘I’ am DID and there’s a lot in my life I don’t understand.

This is about “13”, our alter, who more or less took over from the time we left Germany until we came back to the USA – and beyond.  It wasn’t supposed to be that way it appears . . .

This is where “we’ve” been stuck, and is part of the reason for this blog: to work our alters out of our woodwork; to understand our own life, its arc and path – ‘who’ became ‘what’, the reasons why . . .

And that’s why ‘we’ have been stuck for such a long time. We’d sit down to work on this blog – and draw a blank on emotions, memories sometimes. Oh some of them would be there, like glimpses through a fog – snapshots only.

But a few weeks ago we started experiencing a disturbing emotion . . . and it turned out to be “13” – the key to moving on.

So we’re going over what we’ve wrote over the past week . . . documenting 13’s journey, and the steps we – he – ‘they’ took . . .

In many ways this is another alter’s story; not my own, not “Mikie’s”, nor the alter ‘he’ sprang from – an entirely different viewpoint, way of looking at the world . . .

for ’13’ was born when we were 13, and had only a few months left ‘in-country’ before we would go over the the “Good Ol’ U.S. of A.” which we had left a few years earlier.  Change was in the air; our best friend was gone, our girlfriend was fast becoming a thing of history, clouds were on the near horizon – gray ones, whirling and thick in my mind . .

 


I am 13 and I was born over in Germany but I was fairly prepared.  Gone were a lot of the emotions and outlooks I’d had.  I’d read many books and seen a lot of things, but sex with a girl was on my mind – not that I’d had any, tho’ I’d come close with a cousin once, and then with another girl.

I’d had sex over here but it didn’t take – friends were a thing of the past. I was way more into science and writing and stuff.  I played in the band.  I’d learned not to make friends.

I had learned racism over here, due to a few incidents with some blacks. That’s okay. I’ve very nearly gotten over it, but statistics don’t lie, and the black mobs over there were cruel. Unruly. And ran around in mobs.

That reminds me; I’m supposed to write about dealing with racism over here. (germany – host entry – he’s still a bit lost over ‘here’ in the real world)

Not that that has anything to do with this story. Racism plays a part in my life, but just a little one. We didn’t know nuthin’ as a kid about racism. All were the same in my little kid’s mind. ‘We’ learned better later on.

My host is reminding me it’s time to go on. “How should I write this” he is saying.  Should I do it from first person viewpoint or ‘yours’ (his).  I should be writing a question to my (intended) audience.  I could do it like stories like my Boss wants me, or just cut to the chase. I don’t want to do it either way.

But (sighing) I suppose I should fill in the racism blank. And a few other things over there.  But it was hard.

(Bosses Viewpoint):

Okay here I gotta step in (teen attending).  13 is a highly intelligent kid; apart somewhat from “the system”, although very important.  We’d always kind of ignored him – ‘he’ was like an engine running in the background, quiet, but doing his job . . .

then he began to ‘choke’ a bit last week.  Funny how what you took for granted can suddenly misbehave.  But that’s good. We’re gonna get some work done on this blog.

He’s all alone in his own way.  “We” had stripped him/it from certain aspects of ‘his’ personality.  He read.  He was well traveled.  He’d seen Berlin, Spain, whatnot . . . and plowed through every book he could get his hands on.  Fluent in English, he had gained a junior college vocabulary and reading comprehension skill level – he was tested for that – and wrote quite a bit (mostly poems).  And he was shy – painfully so. But at the same time big, quite strong, a bit flabby in the middle, but close mouthed and HARD.  He’d lie to you in a heartbeat, smoke a cigarette in the restroom – give a blowjob there – and go on to steal tank parts (or the bullets that go in them) at night.

He knew about nuclear bombs and nuclear missiles; about girls and boys – knew enough about the biology to make a woman happy; the seven erogenous zones (on a woman, anyway) – knew how to drink and hold it, used his bike like a car; was at home in a German atmosphere as the home one, tho’ sometimes ‘he’ would retreat inside while the child was being punished, sparing himself some pain . . .

He’d read “Everything a Boy Needs to Know About Sex” – and the girls version, too – just to be safe.  He’d seen a dog jacked off; done it on his own as his abuser had taught him to do, had loved and lost and loved again – and had lost

until he’d sworn off of it.

“Never again,” he was saying in the back of his mind. “No more pain.”

But ‘he’ didn’t know that, not yet . . .

that still laid ahead in his future . . .

and he was a pretty tough kid.

 


It was freezing night, a silver sliver of a moon showing through scattered rents in the racing clouds.  Streetlights threw yellow rays across slushy streets, and stark trees threw spidery silhouettes across the road.  We were walking the deserted streets from dependent’s housing section to the base’s amenities area, my family and I, surrounded by the impersonal military buildings, each with an identifying number, and some by symbols on the signs they wore.  We were on our way to see a movie.

What movie, I can’t recall.  It was on Fleigerhorst, a small military base.  It had it’s own little PX, an old theater, and a cafeteria for enlisted soldiers and people like me: dependents, brought with their father as part of his own army while he served the one we all worked for – in one way or another.  All part of earning a paycheck and doing duty to God, Country, and more . . . a tradition we’d been steeped in since I’d been born.

There wasn’t much to do – no internet, no TV, and only one radio station – but we still found things to do.  I ‘played’ with the G.I.’s, was in Scouts; we met in bunkers, and school dragged on, albeit on a different base.  I commuted on one of those old green shuttle buses, slugging through the crunch snow in the morning, coming back in slush in the afternoon . . . and god forbid you were too late for the last bus. It was a long walk from one base to another, though they had plenty of biking paths.

I had already gotten into trouble once about the theater by going to see “The Yellow Submarine”.  My parents had forbidden it.  They hated the  Beetles, didn’t like rock and roll, and were very conservative.  The only music they listened to was “Mystic Moods” (easy listening) and Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass Band.  I had gotten beaten for going to the movie but I didn’t care.  I’d been beaten so much it didn’t matter.  I was tough, used to them.  It was just another in a long string of ‘spankings’ – all my life.  It seemed normal.  I was used to having my ass pounded.  The trick was hiding it all.  My sense of self. The things I’d done – and was still doing.  And the crimes I’d committed, whatever they were (or were perceived to be) at the time.

But it didn’t matter.  During the “Yellow Submarine” the theater had caught fire.  It was a matinee so the G.I’s weren’t there – they were at work, which is how I managed to get there without my father knowing.  Us kids were sitting there in the semi-darkness when smoke began to billowing out from the bottom corner of the screen, and there were low red flickers behind it.  Us kids shifted restlessly; we were waiting for the movie.  Then a voice came on the PA saying “Stay in your seats! There is no cause for alarm.  The theater is on fire and we have it under control.”

I wasn’t dumb.  I sat there thinking this is a classic nightmare (I’d read enough books to know) – where the theater actually was on fire! – and here all us kids were just calmly sitting eating our popcorn and watching the smoke pour around the screen while the red glow grew brighter.  No panic, no popcorn throwing – just rows of quiet kids watching the scene.  Only in the Army would you see that.  In the civilian world there’d been a riot, people trampling each other as they raced to the doors . . .

But not us.  We were Army kids. We wanted our seventy-five cents worth.  We wouldn’t run until we saw the flames were higher than us.  But . . . true to their word they got the fire put out, we watched the Beetle movie, smelling acrid smoke.  I was happy, but puzzled.  I could not figure out why this movie was forbidden.  It didn’t make sense – the ban, not the cartoon, though the cartoon made little sense either.  However, I came home smelling of smoke and talking about the fire. Bad news: my parents knew what was showing, so I got my beaten and restricted again.  Another few days in my room. (sighing)

But this time it was an ‘approved’ movie.  The whole family was going.

We trudged through the snow and slush to the theater . . . saw some movie . . . and then when we came out I rushed over to the cafeteria and spent some of my own hard earned money for an ice cream.  Walking out to the sidewalk in front of the cafeteria I encountered my dad.  He stood there staring at me.  Then he walked up and with a scornful look snatched the cone from me and dashed it into the trash.

“If you can’t buy enough for everyone you can’t have one,” he said as I looked with horror at the pristine, brand new ice cream planted upside down in the garbage.

And I broke down and cried.

Because here’s the thing:

I had been taught and trained – it had been enforced and beaten into me over and over again: you don’t waste food. Not ever! – not a single crumb.  It’s an issue still for me, big time.  I have a hard time controlling myself when someone wastes food.  Why?

Well, when dad went to Vietnam, or overseas, or TDY, we’d go from thick to thin in a hurry.  Food was . . . hard to come by.  Hunger was an issue.  Money was thin.  I had to work for every dime I had, hauling trash and such.  Why?  Because he would give all his money away! – to missionaries to look good, and whores when he thought they weren’t looking.  With the former he was trying to feed his ego; with the second his selfish self wants – while we went without and he knew it.  Lord knows my mom knew how to complain (and we got the brunt of it, him not being there).  We were not with him.  We were a thousand miles, if not half a world away and more.

Why should he care? Except in a most superficial, distant way . . . the way he often cared for us when he was home – or not ‘disciplining’ us according to his needs . . .

As a result my mom always – always – fought to make ends meat, and barely succeeded. He would fight about her getting more education, fought about it when she had a job.  He wasted money at every turn of a dime.  It go so bad when he was away that sometimes our neighbors would come just to make sure we had food.

Meanwhile dad ate steaks – sometimes in front of us – and ate good.  He never knew a day of hunger and he kept his sweet tooth fed.  Sometimes he would eat steak while the rest of us had plain boiled hotdogs. No buns. Boiled in thin tomato soup, served up on noodles.

And that night that was cold as a freezing moon I ‘felt’ something ‘in me’ change . . . harden a little bit more.

The Omph-Pah Band


I had a choice of an elective, one of the few choices I had, being a twelve year old Army brat stationed on a base overseas.  “Home Eck”, ‘something sports’, or join the band.   However, as I said, choices were limited and even those were whittled down by the parents, peers, and doctors I had.

“You can’t play basketball – you might fall,” my parents had said, based upon an Army doctor’s advice.  Nor could I play football – or even climb trees! – or run, jump, or do anything but walk and swim.  Walking – I’d done a lot of that! – going on 20 kilometer marches, sometimes with a backpack, and climbing trees?  I still did it as best I could.  But the doctors had forbidden me any decent physical activity a boy of twelve or thirteen might have.

It was my knees, of course – those worrisome, troublesome things that hurt and ached and swelled up like grapefruit at times.  The doctors were so interested in them that they kept x-raying them every month or so.  It’s a wonder they don’t glow.  It took them six months to diagnose the problem, and there was a bone tumor as well.  They had to ship the x-rays overseas – back to the USA – then wait for a reply afterwards.   And then they proclaimed their ban.

Home Ec – “Home Ick” to us boys – was a girl sport, one which I or any boy would have been horrified to be in.  Plus my mom had already taught me how to sew and cook a bit; I made up my room, cleaned – the whole bit.  Not to mention my father would have been as horrified – if not more – than the little boys my age, had I shown such a desire to sign up for such a course.

So there was only one thing left: the school band.  Military schools – even army ones run by civilian principles and guarded by some really weird teachers – had those.  Or at least most did.  While the schools were consistent, the courses weren’t – some ahead or way behind, some far, some near . . .

You could find me tripping (knees made me unsteady) reading a book in one hand while navigating between classes; a book on the table while I ate, or a book neatly tucked into another book so I could pretend to read one thing while reading something else.  I was an avid reader, gobbling novels down.  I used to go to the base libraries (when I could) and rob them –  huge stacks at a time.  That’s where my love of reading really blossomed and grew.  By the time I was 17 I had read every science fiction book I could get my hands on.  Anywhere.  So I had to give them up.

“What instrument do you want to play?” my parents asked when I announced my decision (such as it was).  It wasn’t the first time I’d played an instrument (besides those little recorders  in elementary school – though the teacher usually handed me the tiny cymbals nobody wanted.  She didn’t want me, too.).   I thought about it for a moment – just a moment – then I said:

“I wanna play the tuba.”

(Now, at a later date, I wish I’d been much smarter and gone with a violin – or flute – or harmonica instead.  Something I could haul in my back pocket rather than this big old brass tube I’d have to hang around my head!)

“The tuba?  Why?” they asked quizzically.  After all, it’s not the most ‘normal’ instrument to want to play.  But I had my heart set on it.  I loved those big bass tones, that thumbling subsonic under-roar that accompanied most bands.  That deep bass tone drew me like a charm.  To my credit, I also liked the kettle drums – but imagine hauling those around!  At least with a tuba I could play in a marching band . . . something I was to discover later on.

And so I got it – and as I found out, it was easier to play than say, a trumpet or French horn.  The mouth piece was huge by comparison, and suited my misjoined lip from an accident I’d had.  The French horn was tight – you had to pinch your lips together so hard! – and my lip made it difficult to operate the reed on a woodwind (or so I was told).

All would have been wonderful, had it not been for one lad – a black boy, my age, who hated whites with a passion – and who had been there for some time, and resented this white interloper who sat in the class beside him.  He, too, played the “Sousaphone” as the marching band version of a tuba is known – and made my life torture in that class.  Our teacher, too, was black, but I didn’t mind.  He was a good guy.  But that boy taught me all about racism, that’s for sure.  However, that  for another story about how racism can be taught by those who are prejudiced against you, because it was never an issue in my own home.  Not even back then.  We were all Army and the only color was green.

And so it was that I joined the Omp-Pah! band, and the school?  They gave me a Sousaphone to take home to practice on.  This in military apartments.  And truth be told, I loved making “Chicken Heart” sounds from an old Bill Cosby story (about a  “Chicken Heart”, of course).  How our apartment neighbors stood it! – the “OOOMMMMPPP! . . . . PPPPPAAAAAAA!!!!” rattling their walls . . . but then again those old World War Two German barracks had some mighty thick walls . . . .

Time went on – I stayed in this school almost all year (joining late) – Mz. McManus would become a steady threat – I became more  bewildered – and then hateful towards my fellow tuba partner – and I joined the symphony band – playing concerts for the G.I.’s late at night (yes, a real tuba, sitting in my lap and all) – enjoying the show their kids put on . . .

Big Red


Big Red

It stood before me in the dank basement storeroom, its chromed edges glittering in bare bulb’s dim yellow light.  It was huge – an American Schwinn bicycle – fire engine red with a thick padded seat.  I stared at it, my heart pounding with excitement.  To me, a twelve year old boy trapped on an Army base in Germany, it represented freedom.

It was Christmas and my first bike – ever.  We’d had a bike before in the old neighborhood, but it was my brother’s more than mine.  It had been cobbled together from parts of old bikes us kids had found.  We were the only kids in the neighborhood without a bike and it had taken a long time to gather the required parts.  It had been my brother’s pride for awhile until a year or two later when I learned to ride the thing.  I still have a scar from trying once when I had decided to try to ride it before I knew how.

But this one was MINE!  All mine.  I stood, admiring the thing.

I looked the bike over.  It was larger and heavier framed than the German bikes I was used to seeing.  Its frame spoke of American strength and steel, and its handlebars were curved boldly back – unlike the many of the German bikes which had just straight bars, and ended in thick black grips, ones that would have saved me once upon a time.

It was equipped like all German bikes – a reflector, rear light, head light, generator, and bell.  It was required by law.   It also had a basket, which, while not required, was handy since bikes were more or less the universal method of transportation – both on base and off base, by Germans, boys, and grownups alike.

Everyone used a bike or had one.  I already had been here a year.  Unlike my brother I was dependent upon the Army shuttle buses – converted Bluebirds painted green – to get around.  It seemed we were always on the little satellite bases surround some main base where you would find the commissary, PX and public goods.  We lived for a while on Old Argonner, then after a few months moved to “New Argonner”, which was virtually identical to the old except it had the school there – before moving to Fleigerhorst, which was some distance away.   I’d had to walk home from time to time) from the school, doing the forbidden hitchhiking thing only once – a good five miles.  This was while we were in the Hanau area.

I looked at the bike.  I pushed it a bit.  There was no way I could get this big thing up the stairs were my parents were.  We had received our swords upstairs on the third floor – me a big old broad sword made in Toledo, Spain – famous for its steel – and my brother a  rapier with a cupped hand guard – which I learned to my dismay was much faster and easier to lunge with.  I still have those swords – the broad sword, its guards broken; the rapier with huge creases in its black hand bell.  Both the blades are heavily nicked, but the ends are still sharp enough to run you through.   Then my parents had sent me down to the basement to our storage room – always empty – with the vague excuse about getting some boxes.

Unable to get the bike out and being a little kid – and a little boy – I did what came most naturally.

I took the bike apart.

I took it down to the last bearing and wheel.  Then I put it back together, lubing the parts and studying how it worked.  A few round bearings were all that were left over.  While a bit stiffer in the pedals, it still rode proud and tall among the lithe German bikes.  Its padded seat was comfortable compared to some of the lean machines I had seen – not racing bikes, mind you, just ‘normal’ bikes the Germans used.  And boy, did the Germans ever use them!

That’s one of the things I loved over there: the transportation system was built with bicycles in mind.  There were racks and lanes, paths made for them.  Everyone respected them, and everyone rode them, from the big old fat German ladies (some who would look ridiculously funny, their buns hanging down along the sides, dwarfing the bicycle under them) – to the boys who would come rocketing by.  Everyone was polite.  You were expected to obey the rules of the road, and ring the bell (a thumb operated affair) whenever you came up behind someone to give them warning.  At dusk you’d throw the little lever on the generator, engaging its rough splined wheel against the tire’s sidewall so the light would come on.  The faster you went, the brighter the light would shine – slow down, and it would dim.  Stop and it would die entirely.

And then five or six months later someone stole Big Red, as I had taken to calling the thing.

It happened at a German pool we used to go to near a lake where the tanks would swim (and we would skate on thin ice some of the time).   I know we were still living on Old Argonner (this was before I moved – again) because the pool and lake were near there.  As soon as the weather permitted – usually June – the Germans would open the swimming poo.  It cost fifty phennings to get in – you parked your bike in the long racks, locked it up, paid your dues, went through the turnstile and went in.

When I came out one day – it was still early in the season – my bike was gone.  I circled the racks several times, but there was no denying the sheered cable on the ground.  I was dismayed, mad somewhat, and I glumly walked home, wondering how I would explain to my parents.  You took care of your stuff or it was gone.  I had taken care of my bike – and yet it was gone.  I knew I wouldn’t be getting another one; not from them.  But while I was walking – it was a long walk ‘home’ – I made up my mind.  I would get another one.  Somehow, some way.

I didn’t get into trouble – my parents were stern – but to them (and us, now) it was fairly apparent that some German had been envious of Big Red – so unlike the German machines, it screamed “American!” whenever one looked at it.  It stood above the other bikes – quite literally! – and since I took such good care of it, it had been practically new.

We moved.  I worked hard.  It took a lot of saving at twenty-cents a job, but I finally was able to afford a used one – eighteen dollars from some G.I. rotating home.  It was a German brand.  It rode easily but had the straight bar handles I didn’t like, and was worn out.  Even the paint was worn – a sheer gray.  But the wear made it pedal easily and it coasted well.  The bearings where all but rattling in its hubs, and the steering was a tad loose – something I fixed with my previous experience from disassembling Big Red the first time.  It was all I could afford between my allowance and the work I did.  It takes a long time to save when you work for low wages (or none),  plus I had my own expenses: snacks from the roach coach, models from the PX – tanks and planes – and the Testor’s paint, glue, and brushes needed to assemble them.  And sometimes I had to take German buses – because I’d lost my bike!  It took months, weeks to find – but when I finally got it – I breathed a sigh of freedom.  With my bike I could truly wander and roam, get into things.  I could join my ‘friends’ (casual classroom or playground acquaintances, changing like the wind) – on long rides through the woods, or along German roads.  It was so ratty nobody wanted it – and once again, I owned the poorest bike in the neighborhood.  Not that it bothered me any.  I was just glad to have a bike to ride.

There’s a lesson in that, I suppose – one that I learned early on.  Something about being content with what you’ve got – it’s working – and not needing the latest nor flashiest thing.  About being happy with what you’ve got in live . . . and not wanting much more than you need to survive.

It can make you happy some of the time.

I know I was – despite my crappy bike and all.  Happy some of the time.

Nightmares CAN Come True


Nightmares CAN Come True

As a kid I was used to having nightmares. I had nightmares all the time. I never even knew what a ‘wish fulfillment’ dream was until I was about fourteen and read up on them – part of the psychology training that my dad was giving me.

Every dream I’ve ever had was a nightmare in some way, up until I was about forty-eight or so. Every last one featured the same old things: death, wars, loss. Loss of one’s loved ones, mostly – after I’d gotten to where I loved them. “The Boy” comes from a dream like that – and in a way you can say it really happened. A ‘life long’ dream that finally came true. I can finally love my inner child, my ‘selves’, that ‘stuff’.

But one in particular stands out. It was the first major reoccurring dream I had. I’ve had several reoccurring dreams – one three nights in a row! You know what that means: it’s supposed to come true. But it didn’t, fortunately. It was one in which I was trapped . . . in an underground stone maze with a friend, and we kept getting killed by these Spaniards dressed in ancient armor. And we’d ‘sit’ and watch our bodies decompose . . . completely down to bone – and then we’d build it back again – and the chase was one. Over and over again, on through the night . . .

I almost felt comfortable with it in the end, feeling myself die at pike’s end – sinking to the mouldering floor, my friend perhaps besides me, or sometimes fighting on . . .

We’d wander those halls, looking for a way out. And there was never one. But it was beautiful in some ways – those old mossy stones – round cutouts above to let the golden white light in, until we’d stumble across the Spaniards, or they would come pursuing us. And then the race was on.

We always lost in the end.

Three times running we had that dream – it was when I was about sixteen. Weird thing it was.

But sometimes dreams – and even nightmares – come true. I’ve had several of them.

The very first one was when I was a kid living over in Germany. We’d been there a total of two years, with another year of running from base to base – meeting kids, abandoning them – or them abandoning us as the Army orders came in; mixing with various societies and cultures . . .

It led to a lot of . . . I don’t know.

Things, I call them.

And one of them was this dream.

In it we had come back to the ‘hood – the object of my hidden desire: to be once again where my true friends did not change, where the neighborhood and everything in it would remain the same. The same dirt road with the same people living up and down it, pretty much as I had left it . . .

But I guess inside my mind ‘someone’ knew . . .

We are standing on the dirt road, looking uphill towards the horizon. It is jagged and pointed with the tops of pine trees, their individual forms hidden in darkness. Our friend comes riding down the road – and lo and behold, it’s our very best friend from when we were a child!

We open our arms to him (feeling somewhat confused now; he’s bigger and his face is broader, and he’s riding a motorcycle, not a bicycle). He stops and looks at me.

He knows who I am – but does not care. He is not the same kid anymore. He doesn’t even live here (and he won’t; they moved soon after us due to a death in their family). He stares. I say “Hey.” He says “Hey,” back.

We are two total strangers.

Same dream, different time: the houses have all changed. Some of them have been built up into huger houses. The road is paved. Everything and everyone I know is gone. Everything seems busy, the yards are all fenced. You can’t walk on the road for the traffic. Crime is high.

In every one I feel that overwhelming sense of loss. “Here” keeps on changing – and I’m sure it will (‘here’ being Germany when I was thirteen), and yet there seems so unstable in my mind . . .

Could it really be true? I started wondering. (This is “13” here.) I could feel my inner child; the inner one: Little Michael & Little Mikie – moving in me, wondering, too, at the dreams I was having.

I went and asked my dad.

He said don’t worry about them. And I didn’t. Or at least I tried not to.

A few days later – or it might have been a few weeks later – I asked my mom.

“Sure,” she said. She was in the kitchen looking around for something, I think it was lunchtime or so. “Everything changes.” She turned around looking at me directly. There was a firmness in her mouth; the lines.

“You mean it won’t all be the same?” I could hear my inner child asking me and so I asked.

“No, of course not,” she replied, turning back to the counter messing with something. There was a large transformer on the counter. It powered the skillet from the German electricity voltage, which was set too high for our appliances. It started to give a big hum. I knew if you lifted it and dropped it a bit – not much! -it would stop humming. Usually. I ignored it and turned back to my mom and my ‘stuff’.

“You know the next door neighbors have left,” she pointed out. “Their momma got remarried not long after we left. And the Smiths are here in Germany.” They were the ‘other’ military family in the hood. There were just the two of us: us and them. The rest had regular dads that came home lots of times; ours didn’t. Sometimes he’d be gone for a loonngg time and we’d have to write letters to him. Sometimes those letters took six weeks to arrive, and just as long to get back. It was the same thing ‘overseas’ – all those letters we’d written took six weeks to ‘get there’ – and get sorted out – and then another six weeks for them to be sent ‘slow ship’ back. Even airmail was slow back then. And phone home? Just forget it. One phone for thousands of people – you had to schedule that stuff.

I wondered about it, what it would be like back home – if we did come back and find it all changed. I wondered a lot as the time grew closer – as November moved in and we were in our last year and ‘stuff’. Having just lost our best friend . . .

In our mind’s eye we started seeing: this was a dream that could come true, this nightmare and ‘stuff’ – meaning the feelings and horrid emotions that went with loss, grief, anguish, loneliness – and this staring-you-in-the-face despair that no matter what you do you will flounder in loss.

And yet our inner child held onto that dream – still does; I can see it in his shining face with his memories of sunshine and running into the wind across the white sand, the cloud puffed sky blue, the sun warm on his back, and the excited calling of his friends ahead; bare feet pounding on the road . . .

He had hoped and hoped that when ‘we’ came back and he came back he could get rid of this thing: all of these ‘false feelings’ and things which did not belong in the ‘hood. That he could shed those parts; shed those feelings – go back.

But as the old saying goes: There is no going back home. It’s never the same as you left it. It always has changed – gotten smaller, or more dismal, or even more depressing. Or it may be that it’s been built up so that you can hardly recognize the thing – all the old houses may even be gone, or so built up and altered you can’t tell a thing: you have to find your address by the number, and not the appearance of the yard and house.

The house may even be gone, and you find yourself staring at an empty field – one that’s soon to become a parking lot and a shopping outlet . . .

We’ve faced those kinds of things. All too many times in our lives. Moving is good: it changes your experiences, expands your mind, develops different outlooks, understanding, and tolerance. You make new friends (but you also might lose old ones), you find new jobs, new hobbies, new occupations . . .

But meanwhile a part of you in the heart of you keeps on calling for his forgotten childhood.

The one you left behind.


Some notes here; things ‘I’ (my adult sides) find interesting.

(Part 1 of what you could call a ‘Dream Journal’. 

I know my nightmares started early with the 2nd dream I ever remember having.  I couldn’t have been more than four years old.  That’s assuming my 1st dream was a dream not a religious experience.

This dream did come true, by the way.  When we got back ALL my best friends were gone.  There remained only the four kids from ‘next door’ across the road, and one was a very young daughter who, with three rough boys around, was a tiny terror to begin with.  (She’s still quite high spirited.)  The road had been paved. No longer the sand ditches to stand in and wade during the middle of summer, pumping our legs up and down in the cool sand until we sank, knee deep in the stuff. Parents and kids would get a laugh driving by – there’d be four or five us ‘standing’ in the sand like dwarfs, smiling and waving.

All that was gone.  The PEOPLE were gone.  Our friends, the Smiths, were still overseas – and wouldn’t be back for years.  People no longer leisurely drove by and waved.  “Our House” was ‘gone‘, my parents having sold it while we were overseas – and so we moved into my molester’s house – where the septic tank had to be drained before they could use it.  When they pulled the lid it was full of pink condoms, a thick skin, so much that the sewer men were laughing and pointing and giving knowing winks to my parents.  My parents were embarrassed, and I stared out the window (to avoid the stink), also embarrassed, because I had learned about this thing, ‘condoms’, while we’d been gone, and what they were used for – and thinking about ‘him’ and what he did . . . that love, that betrayal.  And where he had gone, my best friend, his younger brother . . . the all of them.  Gone.

And the future to be was dim at best.  At times I could see it turning dark as hell.  A thunderstorm was approaching, approaching in my mind. . . .

And yes, I did see my friend – and it was almost exactly as my mind had said.  Almost down to the last detail.  Except the sky was cloudy, gray.  And he drove off . . . sputtering away, then roaring on that old dirt bike of his, engine roaring . . . I never saw him again until much, much later.

Somehow a part of my mind – I don’t know. Was it trying to prepare me for this? Warning me – or trying to warn – the inner child? (again, I am “13”, or at least a part of me is; part of the adults are doing the typing; though I’ve learned since 7th grade . . . sighing).  We had just lost our best friend; gotta girlfriend, knowing we were going to dump her in a while, within a period of a few months (overseas).  She knew it and so did I.  The relationship was formed because we were bored, I guess . . . just a last something to do, and try to assuage the hurting in my heart . . .

Yeah, I’m depressed. I (“13”) am still sorta ‘stuck’ on this thing – and “the Teen” I built with the alternate personality “The Machine” (tough armor) around him. But it kept him “too much inside” shielded against his own emotions . . .

However, that changed the day The Machine Broke Down.

I’ll save that story for another day.


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.