Pretty Little Girl

A day in the life….

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Chasing the White Rabbit

The rest of my California adventure seems to be a blur with highlighted oddities. Early in the morning, Mother woke me up. It was time to go. We left with Bobby Riggs and Uncle Mike in Mike’s car. He drove us to a beautiful marina. Huntington Beach they told me. We went into a townhouse that was immaculate. It was on the marina with the water right out the back sliding glass door. The house was furnished with posh furniture, like I’d seen only on TV. I was told again here to stay away from the windows. The blinds were pulled shut on all the downstairs windows. Upstairs the blinds were tilted so that we could see out but no one could see in. I had a beautiful bedroom which I told would be all mine for the time being. Mother had another room. There were more people besides Bobby Riggs now. A man, whose name I cannot recall owned the property. His sister, Jody, I had met before when my uncle swooped into town. She was his mistress. Image

She was a shell of a woman. She always seemed happy and talked to me quite a bit. She told me about a son she had that her ex-husband had taken away from her. The sadness in her eyes was all consuming, but she said she felt better just being around me.  Besides this was her brother’s house, what could happen to us here? I was informed that Jody’s brother was also a bodyguard in the employ of my uncle. He was there to protect us. We couldn’t go outside or even near the windows. I spent the majority of my days here sleeping and watching TV.  I don’t know how long we were here, but one afternoon while everyone was gathered around in the living room laughing and talking, I went to sit down next Bobby Riggs. All of a sudden my mother yelled, “NO” and she grabbed me. I almost sat down on a gun…not just any gun but an uzi. Scared to death, I went upstairs to the bathroom to wash my face and kind of calm myself down. Image

The bathroom was elegant and had a full size mirrored closet. I opened the closet to find a hand towel or washcloth. To my surprise, this closet held an arsenal of guns that looked as if they were on display.  What the hell was I in the middle of??Image

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Further into the Looking Glass

It is still so surreal to recall this entire “adventure”.  Nothing about this Sunday in March of 1983 makes any sense. I woke up to a normal Sunday morning. I ended the day sitting in my Uncle Mike’s house in Long Beach. The black haired cowboy Bobby Riggs brought us to my uncle’s house but the house was pitch black. We waited in the truck in front of the house until my Uncle Mike drove up.  When he got out of the car, he came to the truck and carried me inside. Bobby and my mother followed. Ray was nowhere to be found. My uncle had taken him somewhere else. The bizarre events continued throughout the night. Bobby Riggs was our “bodyguard” as I am told. He is there to make sure no one hurts me or my mother.  Who is after us?  Why? It was just not making sense.  Once we entered the house, we were told not to turn on any lights other than the bathroom light which was on the innermost hallway in the house. Why? It’s not safe.

Being absolutely traumatized by all the craziness, I realized there was a missing element in this house.  Where were my cousins, my uncle’s 3 kids?  Where was my Aunt Dee? We are sitting in the dark with my mother, uncle and Bobby Riggs making small talk in a house in Long Beach. I didn’t change into my pajamas or brush my teeth; I was just taken to my cousin, David’s bedroom.  He was 2 years older than me and again, he wasn’t there. His room looked as if he had been there shortly before. The toys were out and things looked as if he was just in another room, but he wasn’t. No one was. My uncle had a housekeeper, a Mexican lady.  She wasn’t there. I was sitting on my cousin’s waterbed, thinking how awesome it was to be there because I’d never been on a waterbed. It was an experience, probably the only one that day that didn’t scare the hell out of me.

After I finished making waves in the bed and finally fell asleep, I woke up the next morning to a sort of panic. A realization of the insanity of the prior day. If all of that had happened in just one day, what was to expect of the next 24 hours?

Inside the Looking Glass

When people recollect about their past, it gives rise to all kinds of emotions.  Many of those emotions are thought to have dwindled on the vine, but in reality, they are just dormant, resting  and waiting for the sprinkle of acknowledgement that revives them instantaneously.  My California experience is no different. It could have been a dream with all the strange happenings and truly surrealist environment.

Our fantastic excursion continues as we arrive in LAX late at night.  My mother tells Ray that my uncle will be picking us up in a “MACK” truck.  Ray stopped and just looked at my mother. He was just as surprised as I was.  I didn’t know what a MACK truck was. We walked outside to the pickup and drop-off outside the airport. When, out of nowhere, my Uncle Mike came running from the passenger side of an 18 wheeler. He ran towards us and grabbed me as he ran. My mother and Ray followed behind. We circled back around to the truck, where he tossed me into the cab as he grabbed my mother and helped her in. He closed the door and we drove off leaving him and Ray on the curb.  I scraped my ankle as I got into the truck. It wasn’t bleeding but  sure did hurt.

The driver of the truck looked over and introduced himself as Bobby Riggs. He had a black cowboy hat, scraggly long jet black beard and he was wearing dark tinted glasses. His shirt was a black country-western shirt with white pearl buttons.  He made small talk with Mother about the plane and the ride. The only thing I remember him saying was “now you are safe, little one.” I suddenly became concerned about my Uncle and Ray. Where they safe? I asked my mother about them. She said something I would always remember. She said ” Don’t you worry about your Uncle Mike. He can handle anything.”

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“My Baby”

When I tell  people about my family, I have to remember who my family is. People can’t wrap their heads around the reality of my family.  Every single relative has a chemical dependency problem. How do you make that normal or coherent for somebody? On our spontaneous jaunt to California, I realized for the first time how unconventional and off the chart my family was as a whole. A stranger skulking our house early on a Sunday morning. I heard my grandmother feverishly making phone calls to what seems like random people. My Uncle Mike in California was screaming through the phone. My mother was recovering from a drunken bender the night before at a friend’s house. This wasn’t the most odd Sunday but it wouldn’t be a typical day in the life of any of my friends.

It was a crisp Sunday morning. What the hell was going on? By the end of the day with virtually no clothes or possessions we were on a plane L.A.X. Before we boarded the plane, an older man with kind face walked up to my mother and hugged her. He said it had been a long time. He was trying to calm my manic mother. They discussed what my uncle wanted us all to do. She finally introduced me to him.  “This is Ray. He’s Ernest’s brother.”

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Ernest was my Paw Paw. Even the mention of his name, made me smile. He died when I was 3 years old, but I remember him being the source of continuous laughter and him being a clown all the time. It wasn’t until I was older that I was told he was just “a damn old drunk”.  He couldn’t hold a job; he sponged off my grandmother who worked midnights at Waffle House-esque diner known as the “Steak and Eggs”. But to me, he was my crazy Paw Paw telling jokes, pulling the chair out from under my mother or taking me to the little general store to buy me whatever kind of candy I wanted.

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Ernest wasn’t biologically related to me. He had been my grandmother’s last husband many years after the death of my grandfather, Curt. He was younger than my grandmother by about 8-9 years. He died abruptly in 1977. I remember the night clearly. I was a sleep on the couch in our living room on Cypress drive. It was odd because my mother wasn’t there; it was just me and my Daddy.  My mother didn’t drive and I don’t know where she went. My normal routine was to sit down with my Daddy and watch TV after my bath. Daddy would carry me to bed, but this wasn’t what happened this night. Daddy said we had to go see Paw Paw. We drove up to their apartment. There were flashing lights everywhere. People were walking all around. It was the middle of the night or at least it seemed like it to me. I’d never seen people at their apartment before–not even the neighbors. My daddy and I sat down on the stairs amid all the chaos. He had a look on his face. It almost looked like anger. He was a mild man. He didn’t throw fits or anything. He would look at you with this look of disappointment and restrained words.  It wasn’t a scary look; it was a look that always made guilt well up in my chest. I remember asking where Paw Paw and Grandma were. He said Paw Paw was sick and Grandma and Mother had gone to see how Paw Paw was doing.

None of those words meant anything to me really. I never realized I’d never see my Paw Paw again. I was “his baby” as he’d always say. He came to our house all the time. I knew my Daddy didn’t like him or my Grandma for that matter. Daddy had never taken me to see them before. It was unusual but I couldn’t comprehend the truth of it all. My Paw Paw had died. Grandma had found him when she came home. Mother was at the hospital with her.

Now 5 years later we sit in an airport terminal with a brother of his, on the spur of the moment. I had school Monday morning. What had happened now?

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