A Difficult Childhood
I missed all of my fifth year of grade school because of an accident which left me with a pair of bum legs which didn't grow as well as they should have, so I'll never grow any taller than I am now at only five feet five. I don't remember much of anything before the accident, and not much for a long time after.
I walked with a noticeable limp then and still do a little bit. Other kids at school would laugh and poke fun at me which I reckon was the reason for my quick temper and sometimes aggressive behavior. I would get angry and retaliate whenever other guys would laugh and tease me by calling me names such as "Gimp" "Crip," "peg Leg," or "shorty" among others.
I had missed so much school after the accident that I was at least a year older than most of the guys in my classes in high school, and more muscular too... The jerks who laughed and called me names soon learned to avoid me.
It was a lonely time. I couldn't join in gym, baseball, track, or football of course, but I was still in good shape because I swam almost every day and walked just about everywhere I went around town.
There were so many pretty girls all around and I would fantasize about them sometimes at night while visions of green eyes and red hair danced in my mind's eye.
I had no real close friends, male or female during those years. No one with whom I could share my thoughts and learn how a guy should act around girls.. Except one, a guy named Bobby who lived a few houses up the street from me, and like me, he was shy around girls. We used to talk about them and what it would be like if we ever did manage to get a date with one. He was the only friend I ever had who was my age. But Bobby and his family moved out of state when we were fourteen years old. My only friend was gone.
It was rough at home too. My dad seemed to feel that I just didn't measure up. Up to what? Anything. Nothing I ever did was good enough for him. He was always harping about how hard he worked to provide for me and Mom and save for my college education, but I knew better. Sure, we never had any money problems, but it wasn't cause of anything he did. He had a job of sorts as a salesman for some mysterious company which he would never talk about.
My dad traveled a lot, but never said much about where to or for what reason. He also drank a lot and would sometimes order Mom around and shout at both of us for no reason. That made me glad he didn't spend much time at home. To this day I have no use for people who get loud and nasty when they drink.
I got a job working part time and summers at an auto parts store where they sold new and used parts. It wasn't much of a job if you think in terms of pay checks, but I didn't need much because I had no girlfriends to spend it on, or any other friends for that matter. I mostly stayed home when not at work or school, so each week I deposited most of my check into my savings account. The job also gave me access to my favorite passion.... Cars and pickup trucks. I love all things mechanical.
By the time I got through my last year of high school and was old enough to buy my own car, I'd saved enough money and then some. But the owner of the auto parts place, Mr. Jacobs, or JJ as everyone called him, was getting on toward retirement age and decided that instead of retiring and selling out, he'd like to find a partner who could handle the business for him. He and his wife wanted to buy a motor home and go traveling around the country to visit some of their family and favorite places while they were still young enough.
I heard him discussing it with his wife Sherry one day and waited till quitting time and asked him, "What would be required of that partner you're looking for JJ?"
"Well son," he said, "I need to find someone I can trust with the business and who can do all the stuff I've had to do all these years. And they'd have to come up with at least twenty five thousand dollars so I'd have enough to do what Cheryl and I have been dreaming about for so long."
"That sounds good JJ" I said. "Have you found anyone to take you up on it yet?"
"No, I guess it's just an old man's pipe dream. I've talked with so many people about it I've lost count. A few have been interested, but they weren't able to come up with the money."
"Would you give me a chance at it if I could come up with the money? I've been working here for about three years now and I know just about everything there is to know about this place."
"Sure I would." JJ said with a half-hearted smile. "You're the best worker I've ever had and I know I could trust you, but where on earth would you ever get that kind of money? I'd let you do it without the money, but that wouldn't help Sherry and me to do what we want."
"I've been saving most of my pay since I started working for you so have quite a bit I could put toward the twenty five grand." I said. "I've never asked my folks for anything and I know they are pretty well set, so I could ask them to help me out with a loan."
"Well... Do you really think your folks would go for it?" he asked.
"I don't know for sure JJ." I told him. "I've never tried to borrow from them before, but when I get home I'll talk with Dad about it and see what he says."
"That sounds like a plan Scott. Run it by him and let me know what he says tomorrow, OK?"
"Sure thing JJ. See you tomorrow." I said as I headed for the door.
"What the HELL are you thinking Scott?" My dad yelled when I told what I had in mind. I hadn't even gotten close to the point of asking about a loan.
He interrupted me. "But nothing!" Dad yelled again. "I've been saving for years to send you to college and make sure you get a good education. To make sure you'll be able to earn a decent living. Now you're telling me you wanna throw it all away on some stupid junkyard. You are gonna go to college, and that's the last I wanna hear about buying into anything but an education."
"OK Dad, the gig's up." I said as my temper flared. "I've never asked you for anything before. Now I'm bound to tell you this. I don't ever wanna hear how you slaved so hard to give me everything you never had as a kid. It's bullshit and you know it. You've always tried to hide from me the fact that I was awarded over five million dollars in the insurance settlement after I got hurt. I know that we have been living off the interest of that settlement all these years..."
Dad interrupted me. "Just where did you hear that bullshit? There was a settlement but nothing like what you're talking abou..." I interrupted him.
"It won't work anymore Dad. It's over. I got a letter from the lawyer a while back. In a few days I turn twenty one and the lawyer says he wants to see me in his office as soon as possible. I'm sorry Dad, but the game is up."
To say that Dad was flabbergasted would be a gross understatement. His face turned all red and his mouth started working, opening and closing like he was trying to speak, but there was only a wheezing sound. He grabbed at his chest and slumped over in his chair. I hurried across the room, grabbed up the phone and dialed 911 just as Mom came into the room. She ran to Dad and yelled his name, but he didn't respond. I pushed her aside, inhaled deeply, grabbed his cheeks and blew into his mouth as best I could. I waited a few seconds and tried again as I heard a siren in the distance. A few more deep breaths then somebody grabbed my arm and yanked me back as a paramedic pressed an oxygen mask to Dad's face and started doing chest compressions on him.
When I turned to see who had a hold of my arm, I found myself staring into the most beautiful pair of green eyes on Planet Earth, and she had a mane of fiery red hair that was gathered into a pony tail which fell past her shoulders and on down behind her back. The name tag on her chest read "Jerrie".
She let go of my arm and turned to help her partner with my dad. They worked on him a few minutes then loaded him into the ambulance. That was the last time I ever saw him alive...Or otherwise.
Mom and I tried to follow the ambulance to the hospital, but of course they got there way ahead of us and when we asked about Dad in the emergency admitting area, the nurse in charge told us that we'd have to wait because they were still working on him. Finally, someone whom I presumed was a doctor came out and told us that it was just too late. A massive heart attack. He was gone before he got to the hospital. They'd tried everything but Dad couldn't be revived.
It seemed kind of strange, sitting there by Mom and watching her face as the doctor spoke, I saw a single tear slide down her cheek. She hadn't cried at all at home nor in the car, and she didn't say a word on the ride back home.
When we got home, Mom called Dad's brother George to tell him about Dad.
In my mind, George seems to be a vile, vain person who thinks his shit doesn't stink, that he and his family are better than anyone else. He told Mom to not worry about any funeral arrangements, he would be here to claim Dad's body as soon as he could catch the next flight. I still don't know where they buried him. I wonder if I should even care? I think he was a lot like George anyway.
I didn't sleep very well that night, but it wasn't because of what happened to my dad as one might expect. It was the vivid images of beautiful green eyes, flaming red hair, and a name tag that read Jerrie.
I called in to work early next morning and told JJ about Dad and asked if I could have the day off. He told me to take off as long as I needed and not to worry about things at work.
I had coffee ready and was sipping on a cup by the Mom came into the kitchen. I poured her a cup as she settled onto a chair at the table. When I got reseated I said, "Mom we need to talk."
"Yes, we do son," she said, " I guess you think it's strange the way I reacted when Greg died last night, don't you?"
She interrupted me. "No Scott. Please let me try to explain. I'm sure you're aware that your father and I have barely been civil with each other for years. He was hardly ever home and maybe I should be ashamed, but when he was gone, that was when I was happiest. We just didn't get along when he was here.
"Did he really have a job Mom?" I asked.
"No son, that was just a front he tried to fool everyone with. He hasn't had a job since shortly after the accident that hurt your legs. Truth is, It's your money we've been living on all these years. It's from the insurance settlement that was awarded to you. Your dad tried to hide it from you and threatened me not to tell you. Oh God. I feel so ashamed of that. I didn't have the courage to stand up to him."
That's when the tears started. She sobbed as if her heart was breaking. It was unnerving to see, and I had no idea what to do, so I just went to her and wrapped my arms around her. She cried into my shoulder till my shirt was soaked with her tears. I don't know how long I held onto her and let her cry, but for a while it seemed like the tears would never stop.
After a while the tears and sobs slowly diminished and finally came to an end. She got up and excused herself said she needed to go freshen up a bit.
With no idea what else to do, I said "Sure Mom. I'll freshen up our coffee while you're gone."
I got us both fresh cup and sat at the table waiting for her to return, and when she did I thought she looked much better, younger somehow, as if a heavy burden had been removed from her.
"You look better now Mom." I said,"Relieved maybe. Lighter, brighter somehow."
"I hope so." she said. "Thanks for the shoulder and the coffee, but I'm not finished yet son, I want you to know the whole truth about Greg, and I want you to know it now."
"It's not necessary Mom," I said "I already know enough."
"No." she pleaded. "I've felt so guilty and ashamed for too long. I need to get it off my chest, confess if you will, whatever you want to call it, I don't care. I just feel I need to tell you everything. I've wanted to for years but just never had the courage. Now I don't care what they do or say, I'm going to tell you the truth. Like they say in court...The whole truth and nothing but the truth."
"He wasn't really my father, was he?" I asked quietly.
"No son, he wasn't." she replied. "And he knew it, it was never a secret. He knew before we married. He said at the time that it wouldn't matter, that he would love you anyway. But he never did, I could tell."
"Why did you stay with him Mom?"
"Lord knows I didn't want to, but I thought I didn't have a choice. Greg's family is well respected and powerful back in our home town. Greg's father is the mayor. George is well respected and the top man on the city council, and his brother Grant is the pastor of the biggest church in the county. They are all married to well respected, high profile wives and can't afford to have any negative publicity or rumors spread about them."
"I don't get it Mom. Couldn't you have just left?"
"No son, it wasn't that simple. I had no money, my family was and still are in pretty much the same shape and I couldn't burden them with my problems."
"I still don't understand. What could they have done to you if you left. How could they force you to stay?
"Hold on a minute Scott. Hold your questions and let me start at the beginning so you'll understand the whole mess. OK?"
"OK Mom. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to push, I'm just confused."
"Well, here goes," she said. "It all started when I was fifteen. I was walking home from church one Sunday night after services when Grant Jr, the pastor's eighteen son and one of his buddies named Mike drove up and offered me a ride. I turned them down. They jumped out of the car and forced me to go with them, took me to a place down by a lake in some woods where they took turns raping me. It hurt...It hurt worse than any pain I'd ever known. They left me there, alone with my clothes all ripped, dirty, and bloody. Crying and feeling filthy, I put my clothes back together as best I could and started toward home. When I got there my dad took one look and called the sheriff.
The sheriff said 'Oh lordy what's happened here? You say she's been raped?'
Before my dad had a chance to answer, a deputy knocked on the door and yelled for the sheriff. He went outside with the deputy, then came back in after a few minutes. Dad started telling him what had happened. When he said that one of the boys was Grant Jr, the sheriff looked at me for a minute or so and said, 'This don't look like any rape to me. This girl's got you hoodwinked, trying to pull a fast one on you. Got herself in trouble and trying to lie her way out of it. You'd best just learn to keep your kids at home and they won't be getting into this kinda trouble.'
My dad was furious. He told the sheriff that anybody with half a brain could see that I had been raped. Then the sheriff got mad and told my dad 'You'd best watch what you say and who you say it to. Now I gotta go, I've got other things to tend to.' With that he started out the door again. My dad asked, 'What about my daughter? I intend to press charges against those boys.'
The sheriff said 'There'll be no charges. You can punish you girl however you want. That's none of my business, but there'll be no charges.' That was the last time I saw the sheriff.
The next day someone threw a rock through our front window with a note attached. It said simply, "You talk, your house burns." I felt terrible. I felt ashamed, and I felt angry, but there was nothing I could do. So we let it go and tried to get on with our lives. I never went anywhere alone after that and still to this day I don't like to walk any where by myself.
I missed my period. Then a month later I missed the next one and told my parents. Dad went to see the pastor. Grant made Jr face my dad. Jr denied any wrong doing, said I went willingly.
About three months later those same two boys wrecked their car drag racing. It was bad, real bad. According to the boys they were racing against, they had been going over a hundred miles an hour when the car blew a tire. They left the road, bounced off a big boulder, and crashed sideways into an oak tree. Jr died in the crash. Mike was taken to the hospital where they told him they weren't sure he would live.
A priest was allowed to visit with him to administer last rites. He begged the priest to make sure that me and my family were told about his confession, that he was sorry for what he and Jr had done to me. The priest called in two nurses and wrote everything down and had them witness the boy's feeble signature.
Dad got a visit from the pastor Grant a few days later. Grant told Dad he would pay me ten thousand dollars if I'd get an abortion or go away to have the baby and give it up for adoption.
When my dad told me what Grant had said, I was at a total loss. I didn't know what to do. I asked my dad and mom what I should do. They said that they didn't believe in it abortion, but it was my decision because I would be the one who'd have to live with it. They said they would stand by me no matter what.
I cried and prayed. I prayed and cried. I was a wreck. If I stayed and had the baby everyone would know about it. I would be branded an unwed mother, and worse.
If I took Grant's money, went off somewhere and gave the baby up for adoption, I'd have to be gone for a few months, then come back home. Everyone would know anyway. They'd think I had gotten myself pregnant and gotten rid of the baby. That's just the way it is in a small town.
As time moved on I started getting bigger. My clothes were getting tighter. I knew I had to make a decision, and soon. I began wondering what my baby would look like, how it would feel to hold him or her in my arms. I wondered how it would feel to be a mother.
Then suddenly one day the solution was thrust upon me. It was not a choice I would've made on my own, but it was a way out of my dilemma.
Grant had a brother named Greg who lived in another state. He had his own home and had been divorced and living alone for a few years, but had recently lost his job. Grant told Greg all about the situation with me and the baby and how he desperately wanted to keep it quiet but that I wasn't cooperating. He offered Greg twice the money he was prepared to pay me if Greg were to marry me and take me home with him.
When Grant came to see me he brought Greg along. Greg seemed nice enough even though he was quite a few years older, he was a good looking man and seemed serious about wanting to help us all out of a bad situation.
I thought it over for a while and decided to let Greg take me out on a date. Dinner and a movie, then sipping coffle in a little restaurant. Greg seemed intelligent, enjoyed good music and we even danced a couple times. On the way back to my house I went straight to the point, 'Greg, what do you think about this whole mess? Would you really want to marry me?'
'To be honest with you I'm kind of in a jam myself. You see, when my wife and I got divorced it cost me lots of money. That was OK at the time because I had a good job and everything was going just great. Then last year the firm I worked for informed me that they no longer needed me.
The way I see our situation is like a business deal. You need a solution to your problem, I can provide that for you. I need money to keep from loosing my home. If we get married, both our problems are solved and Grant's happy so everybody wins.'
That sounded pretty reasonable. An answer to everyone's problem, all in one nice little wedding.
I asked Greg to come over next day when both my parents would be home so we all could discuss it together. After alI, I was still only a fifteen year old girl who needed parental consent no matter what I chose to do. Dad said he didn't like it much, but it did seem like the best solution available, so if I wanted to and Mom agreed, then I should go ahead.