Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Step-father fun times

I know I said I was going to talk about the old man this time around, buy I am changing the plan.
Today, I am gonna write about my mother's second husband. I will name him, as he is now dead. His name was Bill.
Bill came around, if I am remembering correctly, when I was in, maybe fourth or fifth grade.
He was a big guy, 6'5" or so, and probably 250lbs. Ostensibly, he was from Kirkwood. However, when my mom met and started dating him, he was residing in St. Clair, MO. Cracker central.
He drove a large, Ford F-150 that was his pride and joy. It also went to show that he knew his own product. See, Bill worked for Chrysler in Fenton, and refused to DRIVE a Chrysler product. Telling, eh?
He was a good ol' boy. Buy American. Vote republican. Listen to country music. Wear cowboy hats and boots. Wear trucker hats.
And he was a charmer. There is no doubt about that. I often wonder what he could've made of himself had he had some general idea of how to focus that charm and a fair amount of native wit and street smarts.
He won us over fairly well, though as kids, you always thing, "it's not the same as my real father." He made us laugh, he made us dinner, he made our mother happy.
They dated for quite a while, then got married. Small service at my grandparent's house.
He had a dark side. A very dark side. And despite the fact that he and I had a bit in common, we both loved the outdoors, sports, etc, he really started to not like me all that much. He showed that dislike with his hands.
He would choke me, hit me, twist my ear, he even kicked me once. All in good fun, or to teach the boy a lesson he might've said.
I remember one time, we were at his house in St. Clair. He had fallen asleep in his chair, as he always did. I grabbed a bat. I was determined to end his abuse. I stood behind him, while he slept on, trying to work up the nerve to do it. I couldn't. I slunk back into the bedroom and tried to sleep. Sleep didn't come.
Now, I have had people say to me, "Why didn't you tell someone?" I thought about it. There were a lot of people I could've told. But I talked myself out of it. If I had told my mother, she would've killed him. Flat out. No if, ands, or buts about it. My grandfather, I could've told him. He intimidates just about everyone he meets. To this day. But I also feared he wouldn't just tell Bill to get the fuck out, he would kill him. My own father. Now, there was something. But when you can't find a guy, you can't really tell him, now can you. Plus, there was also the old cliche hanging around. "If you tell anyone, I'll kill you." Good deterrent for a little kid.
It continued right on through seventh grade, when we lived for part of the year in Alabama. Decatur. Don't go.
Then, one day, it all became clear to my mother what was happening. I had done something wrong, or something Bill thought was wrong, and he was gonna take me to the tool shed. Literally. He was gonna wail on my ass, literally, with his bill ol' cowboy belt. I went out there, determined not to let him see me cry. Not anymore. And I waited, and waited, and waited. And finally mom called me back in. I came to find out years later that she told him that he couldn't. And if he tried, as I mentioned before, she said she would kill him. Her words: "You have to sleep sometime you son of a bitch."
We moved back to St. Louis to live at my grandparent's house. I never really opened up about what happened for years.
Finally I told mom and my brother about it. Their response was, of course, "You should've told us." Hindsight.
My mom had had a daughter with Bill, and while he wasn't the most...around...father, there would be spastic periods of him calling, or whatnot. Something happened in that time. I went from a kid of 5'3" to, within a few years, a kid that topped out at 6'1". I added muscle. I began to lose my fear of him. I felt that if he ever tried anything again, I would be physically able to kick his ass. I found out, long after, that he never threatened to kick my ass again. He threatened to kill me. He had guns. My mother took out a restraining order on my behalf.
He would call sometimes, and this was before we had caller ID. I would answer. He would try to be nice, but then resort to the old ways. "I'll kill you one of these days, boy." "Whatever," I would respond. "Leave your guns at home and come fight me. See what happens now."
As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to have a terrible temper. I would fly off the handle, and it would sometimes border on violent. I put my fist through the wall more than once. I believe, more so than anything else, it was resultant of Bill. His favorite place to grab me for a beat down, was the back of my neck. To this day, I can't handle anyone touching my neck.
I worked hard on my temper, as I said, I got it under control.
I finally got to the point where I could talk about it. Which was healthy, and still is. I don't talk about it daily. But I can if need be.
Bill died about five years ago, and I was actually able to muster some pity for him.
So that is the story of my ex-step father in short form.
Next, I will tackle my pops. I swear.

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