Here is another installment of memoir posts. Helter Skelter, Snakes, Ghosts, Spiders and Little boys investigating Metal Sticks in the ground = plenty of drama inside my little boy brain. This snapshot is the earliest memory of how my fear-based worldview began.
Danger Lurked Everywhere… Sorta…
Before moving back to Tennessee in 1976 to be with our “kin”, we lived in Carrollton Texas. It was in this townhome where I first learned about the concept of death by a serial killer. I remember seeing something on television about the Charles Manson, Helter Skelter, murders. I was terrified and convinced that there were horrible serial killers in the neighborhood. I obsessively kept looking out the window into the deepening evening shadows, and every movement was full of maniacal eyes, blood, and long knives.
It was such a rush; I hated it. I remember it very clearly. I became aware of danger for the first time, and it seemed that in that town-home there was always danger.
- My life-long war with Big Ass Spiders started here.
HUMONGoussnakes, poisonous and non.
- Mom’s Anger – and non-stop nose-bleeds that eventually had to have surgery to stop.
- Drunk Bio-Dad showed up to terrify us a few times.
- Plus, all those ghosts in the house! I had a very active imagination. Well, that and they are real. 😉
But there was also the community swimming pool that my brother, at the age of two, ran straight toward the deep end of the adult pool and jumped in. Mom hated the water and didn’t know how to swim. A teenage boy pulled him out. Jimmy (my brother) was scared; I was jealous of the attention, Mom was scared and furious. It seemed when my brother and I were imagining our drama, we sure knew how to create it.
What Are Those Things? We Must Yank Them Out Of The Ground At Once!
Speaking of little boys doing mischievous things, we destroyed the sprinkler system around our Townhome. We didn’t know that it was a sprinkler system at the time. They were just long metal rods sticking up out of the ground (a long time before they had automated sprinkler heads that popped up out of the ground).
These were about a foot long skinny metal pipes. I remember seeing it and quite naturally wanting to own and destroy it. I went to yank on the pipe, and of course, it was connected underneath. I had no idea why it was so tough to pull out of the ground so I yanked, pulled, twisted, recruited others, and eventually, it broke. I had my pipe!
My brother was now, of course, demanding he gets one too. Then all the little boys wanted their own, and that is how we destroyed the water sprinkler system. Not sure why but the damage wasn’t immediately noticed. Meaning, there wasn’t any flooding water from the broken pipes underground.
However, when one of the teenage girls came by and saw what we had done, she said nonchalantly, “Oh … you are going to get it now.” Then she explained what those pipes were and the growing horror on my face told the story. The other boys dropped their pipes and ran. My brother and I took them and ours to the little square brick water fountain in the yard to the east of our corner townhome, and I dropped the pipes into the fountain warning my brother never to tell anyone.
Of course, I couldn’t live with myself. I think I confessed everything when I was little. I have a huge unrelenting conscience on just about everything still. I ended up telling my Mom what I had done. I don’t think I ratted out Jimmy, but she was furious, absolutely beside herself. Got a whipping and she stormed out of the house saying she was going to run away and never come back.
She was angry and
Looking up with
As we turned to go back to the house, she rounded the corner and was coming back, “What were you doing?” asking about why I was out of the house at the neighbors. I said, “I thought you were running away!” All I remember is that she looked exasperated and marched us back inside.
I don’t remember getting a talking to about the consequences of what we had done. Only that it was going to cause my Mom a lot of expense, that our neighbors weren’t concerned enough to assure us, and that the threat of being abandoned was now always on the table. In my young mind I thought, “Why wouldn’t she, Daddy already has.” Given that I was a sensitive and already fearful child, it was at this Townhome I began to believe that there was *always* something to fear and it would be my job to fend for myself.
Like Mother like son, I can be a bit overly dramatic and hyperbolic. Even so, I really believed it as I cowered under the sheets at night almost positive I heard hissing and saw the shadow of a knife on the wall…
Stay tuned for more from Chapter 1! To read other installments, check out the