Forth grade in Berks Christian Academy, my last year in this school. Honestly I only remember one image of the classroom. It was all about recess. It was about watching Heather play outside, It was about playing self made games like ghost-busters with my crew in between the buses. Tag, freeze tag, whatever else we thought of.Heather played quite a bit of 4 square, I hated the line, who the fuck has time to wait more than you play? It was about anything to get my mind off what was going on at home. Anything to take my mind off what I was.
So we move on to the end of the year. I was playing hide and go seek with my crew and I was counting against a tree. The principles son John was an unbelievable son of a bitch. He used to love to be chased by anybody, he’d like run up to you when you weren’t looking and push you or call you a name and run away so you could try and catch him. If he was caught he was oh so sorry, if he wasn’t he would continue to ridicule. So there I was counting away with my head bout a foot away from the tree facing it. He comes running out of nowhere, not even playing with us and pushes into my back in from what I was told a fifty foot full on sprint. When my head slammed into the tree the impact knocked me out cold. I think heather and someone else helped me up, the nurse spent the next half hour picking rocks out of my ear from hitting the ground so hard on the stony driveway. But something else was wrong. I couldn’t see right. I was seeing double and it wasn’t going away. I don’t remember to much of what the doctors did but I remember what it was. 6th ocular nerve palsy. They said something swelled up behind my left eye and crossed it. Had it burst I would have went blind.
I wore a patch over my good eye for the summer I think? To straighten out my bad eye. I looked like a cross between a pirate and a freak. No lawsuit, no apology. None needed during those years I suppose.Nowadays we sue everything and everyone it works for. It certainly wasn’t the first time I was injured with no retribution or amends. Would certainly not be my last.
A fear settled in me in that house. Not just of my stepfather, I started to believe the house was haunted. Something felt like it was behind me and I was terrified. It started to seem like in the dark corners of my room something was watching me. Something so sinister I dare not speak of it, ever. Not until now. I would smell sulfur. Putrid. Sometimes I used to go up to the attic, I had a few battery powered games and I didn’t want to sit in my room because when my stepfather got mad he would just barge in and drag me off to a whipping. A few times I’d hear the attic door open and slam shut. Sometimes he yelled me down sometimes he didn’t. But for some reason he never went up to me. So that’s where I felt safest. Even had a spare cot up there so I could sleep. So when I wasn’t rewarded by going outside on my half block, that was my refuge. Something just kind of became up there. Like it moved from the second floor to the third.
At first I thought it was just another voice in my head, like a new addition to my psycho table. I will never forget the first day I spoke an answer aloud, and I heard a response with my ears. As time would go by, we would discuss a great many things. For this year though, it was subtle, patient, non-aggressive. Not prevalent enough, but enough to wonder what is really happening to me. Everything from I’m crazy to maybe this is my guardian angel? You name it, it crossed my mind.
My night was still my safety and home, my peace. I slept usually facing the wall with my face almost to the wall, sometimes curled with a pillow. Something was about to happen this year. Something different. So here’s how the story begins. At the end of last year for Christmas I got an air hockey table. I assume from a yard sale but I used to love to play one when my parents used to take me to the Pottstown youth center.
This was one of those christian outreach control centers to brainwash children and family of all ages really. It could entail watching a Christian film of some kind, eating some pizza and play in their rec room. Air hockey, pool, billiards, snacky stuff a outdoor pool and a huge field to stomp around on.
We watched movies on how rock music was the work of Satan and the Apocalypse of the Christian bible. They also had the swimming pool open in the summer. My grandmother would take me from time to time on my mom’s side. She always bought me tater tots (Yankees call them potato rounds, don’t know why)for lunch. Had to wait 30 minutes before I could go back in the pool (what parents believed back in the day right?) but hell they were worth it. But sometime the PYC would open the pool for night swimming. It was so awesome. I sure miss swimming. So long and I mean crazy long since I swam. Although as of 2019, I finally rope swung in a creek in New York and had a blast. I found being on or in the water so peaceful. It would stick with me to this day at age 42.
The movies were boring mostly but I enjoyed the revelation/apocalypse movies. A thief in the night, A distant thunder, Image of the beast, and the prodigal planet. I enjoyed the survival aspect of it mostly. I could relate to the torture, the hopelessness the loss no matter what was done. The God that ignored you no matter how hard you begged and prayed. he was familiar to me. The rest never made sense.
So the original point was the pivotal moment my parents reminded me Jesus said to give to the less fortunate, so I’m like cool take a board game…. They weren’t staring at my board games, they were staring at my air hockey table. Honestly I think they set that shit up all along, I couldn’t get it through my head why they were being so nice to me in giving me this thing. Blew my mind actually. Thought for a hot minute I was special. Naw, A good Jesus manipulation and a few strokes of their magic wand and it was gone. It goes down to a youth center in downtown Baltimore Maryland. Another weird turn of events was Lamont coming from Baltimore to my house.
So out of the blue, a kid from Baltimore Maryland shows up for the summer. I got a brand new bunk bed and lucky for me I had the top. His name was Lamont, and he was the first black kid I ever had in my life on a regular basis. I lived in a diverse neighborhood, half was black the other half was Puerto Rican. I didn’t know anyone, I wasn’t allowed to. It all stopped cold then, the whippings. The whole summer was the greatest relief I ever had. We played outside all the time, I met everyone in the neighborhood and they all loved him. all the teenage kids, the bad seeds. They knew me now, and only because they liked Lamont. Nobody fucked with me either. Best summer I ever had. I don’t know why he was there but all I cared was he was. Such a great summer. I walked with a freedom I don’t think I ever had before. We’d talk for hours about anything kids do. He taught me style and individuality. Hip hop free-styling beat boxing and anything kids were doing back then I suppose. I still loved my do wop and Motown though.
Then just like that he was back home to Baltimore where I first met my stepfathers friend, the Christian evangelist Tom Dunn. He had the youth outreach center in Baltimore. I got to see the aquarium and that sewer they call the Baltimore harbor. Man what a shit hole.
It was around this time I had developed serious constipation problems. I just couldn’t go to the bathroom properly. I used to hold my shit in, force myself to not do a bowel movement until it was so bad I needed enemas to go. The doctor said my bowels were so enlarged I was going to have irritable bowel syndrome and a spastic colon for the rest of my life. He was right. My mother gave the treatments to me, sometimes she’d literally have to pull my shit out of me. Some days the contractions were so bad I had to scream in a pillow to hide the pain. It became painful to go, it was painful to not go. I don’t know if I was torturing myself in some kind of self flagellation like the monks from the diehard catholic sects used to do. Years later psychologists tell me this is normal for abused children.This would go on for years, I think it finally stopped when I was out of the house and away from my stepfather.
I can also remember the phone. Trying to find my dad. He was gone so long. I called my nanny (grandmother on my father’s side whenever I could sneak it in or was allowed.) maybe once or twice. I remember trying to tell them how bad it was, they stayed out of it. But at least they were taking good care of my dog Amy. That little dog wanted for nothing, and that was a happy thing.
So I spent my summer down by the schoolyard. I made a good julio I think.