Pretty Little Girl

A day in the life….

Archive for the tag “California”

Putting All the Lies Together

After the conversation with my brother, I spent the next year remembering every moment of my childhood. Every instance that now was a red flag. Encounters, conversations, interactions between everyone. I started asking people. I started with Patti Warren Lett. She was like a sister to me. Her mother, Jo Ann, was the woman who took care of me the first 2 months of my life as well as most of my childhood. Jo Ann was my babysitter  She was my surrogate mother. I loved her so much. Patti was leaving the nest when I spent the bulk of my time with Jo Ann. She was 10 years older than me and 2 years younger than John.

Patti told me that she knew Jim wasn’t my biological father. She remembers hearing him say that no one had the right to take me away. I was his little girl. The rumors had suggested that the man who contributed to my birth might have something to do with my PawPaw Ernest. She said somehow he was involved. It made sense since it was his brother Joe. She never saw Joe. Patti was able to corroborate the tale my brother told. So if Patti and her family knew who else knew?  I contacted Kim Aaron Lloyd. She had an Ancestry account with Ernest and Joe in it. She was part of their family. So in the most awkward email of my life, I told her my tale. She responded by putting me in touch with her aunt, Sonia Stephens. It seems Sonia worked with my mother while she was pregnant with me. She knew my mother and grandmother.

When I called Sonia, I was nervous.  This all seemed so unreal. Sonia talked about my mother, being young, pregnant, enamored with Joe Aaron when they worked at Lamar’s Drive In. She said my uncle Mike was always around and he smelled so good. None of the kids wore aftershave but he did and he smelled so good. There were 2 red flags in that statement. The fact Mike was there, when I know he was in California by the time I was born through pictures and stories and that none of the “kids” wore aftershave. My mother was 30 when I was born…this is not making any sense!!!!

Advertisements

Is this what Family Supposed to Be Like?

Image

So when my brother made that call the Monday after Mother’s Day in 2012 and told me that Joe Aaron was my father, he proceeded to tell me that my Uncle Mike had killed Joe in Pine Valley in 1983. This is when all the pieces fell into place. The man in the truck that Sunday morning attempted to kidnap me. The sneaking around different safe houses in California, the bodyguards. This was Joe.

My uncle had talked about one of his bodyguards killing someone; that was Joe?  My mind started racing and recalling all the weird events of my life and seeing everything through the truth rather than rose colored glasses. Despite my brother telling me about my biological dad and with all the secrets out in the open, he resumed his silence. He dropped this bomb on me and walked away. I had so many questions and everyone is dead. How could he leave me with this information? He is my brother. When I needed him, he was gone. This broke my heart almost as much as finding out my entire life was a staged event with everyone being the wiser but me. I simply could not wrap my mind around this?

The Stories Begin….

open-bible

Just as suddenly as we were whisked into chaos, we were returned to our normality with very little fanfare. Everything was the same as it was prior to the California turmoil. The only real explanation I ever got was that my Uncle Mike was running from some really bad people who were liable to lash out at his family and then another story was the FBI was after my uncle. Depending on who told the story, the reasonings were different. When I asked our neighbor, JoAnn what she was told it was a mixture of both stories. Again, yet another version of the same event.

I felt as if my life was “choose your own ending” phenomenon.  The only thaing that was for sure was that everything was being covered up. Maybe I was too young to understand. Maybe it was too outlandish for anyone to believe. Maybe it was just a cover for something completely different. I was 8 years old but I was far from naive to the ways of the Maddox family. Deceit, pathological lies, exaggerations & cruelty was par for the course. I became convinced that I would only find out what happened when the dust settled or until I was grown–whichever came first. I asked my dad because he would be straight with me.  It became clear that he was just as much out of the loop as I was. After all, we weren’t apart of the Maddox inner circle.

Roughly 30 years later, I finally was given some of the answers. It had all been about me.

Reflections from the Looking Glass

Image

Funny.  When I replay this amateur screenplay of chaos, Salvador Dali is the only thing that comes to mind. Surrealism, simply. Nobody has these kinds of things happen. No one has the bizarre juxtaposition of people who make up their lives, like I do, but I digress.

The next “safe house” my mother and I went to was a much better place. It was house on top of a mountain in Pine Valley, California. When Uncle Mike drove up there, he said the house was just like the Ponderosa, which happened to be the name of the road where the house was nestled. In the back of the house was a horse stable with horses.

Image

My Aunt Dee was there with my cousins, David, Curt and Anna. For this brief spell, we were a family. My mother & Dee giggled like school girls and seemed to be always fascinated by each other.  I was able to play with my cousins. I could PLAY for the first time since this all started. I felt like things were going to be alright. There were even plans made to talk to my Daddy!  I was so excited. I felt less like a prisoner and more like a kid. We played with very little toys but back then you didn’t really need stuff to play. The imagination of a child can take you to so many places.

My little cousin, Anna, was a scamp. She was devious for a 5 year old. I remember her pinching me and then pinching herself. She’d holler for her mother to say I was hurting her. At the age of 5, REALLY?? This was foreshadowing for the future in a very storybook way. She was the only girl.  My boy cousins did their own things that I had no interest in.

156504_1711110975752_566141_n

Curt was a little younger than me–a few months. He and I were the most alike. Tender hearts. We did not meet the Maddox standard of brazen & deceitful.  My cousin David was like a kid version of my Uncle Mike. He was a schemer, leading us into trouble, allowing anyone to take the blame for his “brilliant” ideas.  Anna was Anna–enough said. But Curt wasn’t wired like them, he was more like me. He was sensitive and I worried about that. My uncle’s rages were so monstrous. I didn’t know how Curt dealt with it. I couldn’t have.

154697_1711095615368_4196064_n

I remember going to Swanson’s for ice cream down in the little town of El Cajon. I remember brushing the horses with Anna. I remember my Mother driving Aunt Dee’s “fire engine red” Camaro over a flooded bridge trying to get to the general store. My cousin David orchestrated that one. My mother couldn’t remember how to go the “back way” off the mountain to the town below. These were the high points of the trip. This was the last time we were a family.

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

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.”

223447_1995112035601_8324228_n

So It Begins; A Reflection

Image

The  funny thing is I think I look a lot my uncle. As I look through pictures, I want to understand why he was the way he was. I see strength and uniqueness in this “beast” of a man. I don’t know what it is that makes his life so intriguing but I have to keep delving into the unknown abyss.

I just found something I wrote a while back.  It’s the beginning of a story that is giant portion of my recollection of my uncle. 

“Hey pretty girl, won’t you look my way, 

you can bet you’ll make this ol’ boy’s day, 

hey pretty girl, won’t you look my way”

I heard this song and a flood of memories came over me.  The low husky voice, those words..

 Image

March 1983

Cahaba Heights

A Sunday morning 8 am, to a 8 year old is THE most boring time. All my friends were in church.  My Grandma spent the night with me while Mama was out and  there was no way in hell Grandma was going to a church.  The closest she ever got was watching Jimmy Swaggart.  That was her religion.

 I was bored.  I went outside and kicked the gravel in the driveway.  I was pretty disturbed.  I missed my Daddy so much.  He worked out of town and came home every other weekend. A old truck rolls down Cypress Drive. This is odd because all the neighbors were in church.  Our street was out of the way for somebody to just be passing by. A dark haired man was hanging out the passenger side window.  They slowed down at the driveway.  So I started to walk towards them.  The man asked if my Daddy was home.  I said, “No sir, he is working in South Carolina”.   He asked me if I was alone.  I said, “ No sir, my Grandma was inside the house.”  He nodded and the truck drove on.   A few minutes later, the truck came back the other way.  This time the man was driving.  He stopped in front of the house again.  Again I walked up to him.  He said smiling “Hey pretty girl, you wanna come home with me?”  

 

I said, “No sir, I was just waiting on my Mama. She should be home soon.”  I thought maybe he was friend of Daddy’s.  He was more interested in knowing about him than anything.  Something about the man looked familiar but I didn’t know why.  

The old truck drove away. I went back inside.  I told Grandma that Daddy’s friends were asking about him.  And she asked me if I told them he was out of town and I said “Yes, m’am I told them he’s working out of South Carolina”.  She looked out the kitchen window and the truck was driving by again.  She told me to go play in my room.  I didn’t have anything better to do. She got on the phone and was talking.  Then the phone rang and she was yapping some more.  It was a little unusual.  Grandma wasn’t the social butterfly that talked on the phone very much.  I think I fell asleep on my bed.  The next thing I remember Grandma was talking to Uncle Mike in California.  That was just odd. Then all of a sudden my mother flies in the door.  She grabs me and tells me to get a couple of toys that we were going to California……that’s where the weird got even weirder…….

Post Navigation