There was a boy... who smiled as a baby and wore a cowboy hat. He played cowboys with his friend. The boy loved his brother, sister and dog. Don Diego Zorro His father was a war hero. Everyone said his mother was beautiful. Sometimes she would hit. Her brother was killed in the war. She said her father died too. He was a naval captain. They lived in a house with flowers. Sherry lived next door. Her father had been a pilot in the war. Mark and Mary lived down the street. Dan was their older brother. Their dad drank a lot. The boy would ride with Mark. He would walk with Mary. The rectory was across the street. Poor kids lived down the block. The negroes came to school in buses. They would play with the white kids (but were never in our classes). Jeff and his brother Jim were great at baseball. Kirk and his sister Jill would play in the mud. Mark's cousins visited from far away. Stevie was always trouble. Curtis was trouble too. Larry had the best TV. We'd all lie around not really watching Wonderama. My friends caught frogs. Larry's Mom always went to mass. Everyone went to mass. We went to the other church. My brother was unhappy and difficult. So was I. My dad was easy to love. He gave me a rabbit. We worked by the stream. He told me about the war. When my father was wounded... The Japanese sniper did not kill him. Late at night where was my brother? Outside felt safer. The man came to his son at night. All my life… When I was incested… I would leave my body and go to a beautiful place. Where I would see the blue jay, The butterfly Satan The Angel of Death The Spirit of Innocence The gift of sight The Spirit of Transformation A few years later when I was 13 we were going to move to a rich town. a new beginning A year before Don had been hit by a car and died. Then Larry's Mom died of cancer. I just wanted to go. move on It was hard saying good bye to my friends. My older brother violated boys. This was no game. I was sick of it. I had a long way to go. It was hard to think and remember. My father molested my sister. I loved her. She was so pretty. She did not understand what was happening to her. Later she tried so hard to be okay. I could not protect her. My father molested my brother more than me. My brother was hurt. He was never okay. We tried to be normal. We weren't okay. Mom drank. She cried about her brother. We tried to talk sometimes. We were a mess. I had some luck. I was protected by a servant when I was a baby. I was born in the Middle East. My family lived there until I was two. All I remember is the Bedouin woman who loved me. My brother and sister were not protected. They were born in the USA. I could make friends. I spoke to the spirit of the Japanese sniper. He said that after sparing my father he was killed the next day on Iwo Jima. He told me his family mourned him. I knew he gave me my life and I thanked him. I needed a vacation. What a relief to get to a new school. I'd meet cool new friends. The past would be behind me. I'd be free. My brother and sister would be happy. Mom felt better and began to paint again. Dad was successful. I just wanted to get out. I'd go over to Steve's house. We'd smoke a lot of pot. The twins would come over too. We'd make out and smoke cigarettes. There was always beer in the refrigerator. After we left the maid would make the beds and clean the ashtrays. One night I sniffed glue at the carnival. My sister was scared I was so high. She cried. Then she got angry at me and told my brother. My brother was disgusted and slapped me. I beat him up. Then he told Mom I snuck out at night, smoked pot, stole her cigarettes and drank beer. She was really mad. Everyone was mad at me. I was grounded. I asked my sister why she was so mad at me. She said I always made the family look bad. I felt terrible. I was angry. I hated them. When I was grounded I spent the weekend with my parents. My Mom wanted to punish me more but my Dad didn't. My Dad said drugs would hurt me and he was right. My mother said I was a disgrace. My Dad was upset that I fought with my brother. They tried to help me. Later my Dad took me out to dinner and we had beers at the bar. When we got back late Mom was in a bad mood. Mom told me to throw out the Playboys she found. Late that night I just had to get away. I took matches, rolling papers, an old Boy Scout backpack, jack knife and a nickel bag of pot. The woods were spooky on the way over to Steve's house. Don Diego came out of the clearing. My best friend came back. Then Don went away again. I felt very safe when I got to Steve's house. Steve and his older brother were awake. They were burning plastic soldiers in their mother's bathtub. Dolores cooked us breakfast. Before school I told everybody that I ran away and I was on my own for good! Or so I thought. On my way to class my brother and sister wouldn't even talk to me. In math I started writing a play about the end of the world. After gym Mrs. King saw us put the rubber on the door knob. When I was suspended I found out my Dad's mother had just died so I went back home. I never knew my father's mother was even alive. My brother said my father's mother died in a mental hospital. When I asked my father about his mother he walked out of the room. Mom said I hurt Dad a lot and made him cry. I did not trust her. The next day Mom spoke to me a long time. She said her Dad hit her. She said her Dad drank. She said her Dad was drunk when his ship was torpedoed. She said he was disgraced. I appreciated what she told me. She told me about Dad's mother. She said that when my father was six she had a breakdown and accidentally abandoned him on the streets of Paris. She said my grandfather committed her to a mental institution and took her money. She said he went to boarding schools. I realized my father had been molested too. Later that night my Dad talked to me. He told me nothing about his parents. Instead he tried to tell me as best he could about what happen He landed on Iwo Jima in the third wave. His squad was killed on the beach. My father rested in a fox hole. He picked up a flame thrower. He burned enemy men. He carried a wounded man. Some things he could not remember. He told me a sniper heard him. The sniper walked over to my Dad. He left my father alive and climbed higher in the rocks. I could see him in my mind's eye. He was killed the next day. He was bulldozed into a grave. My father told me he earned medals. My Dad cried after he told us about the war. I tried to think. I could sense there was more to my parent's stories. I wanted to know who molested him. I wanted to know why he molested us. But I didn't ask him. I already knew why. It's too simple. My father was raped and violated and he raped and violated me. The only man who had every reason to hurt my Dad gave him his life. I was going to grow up to be decent like that Japanese guy. Only I was going to live I began to spend more and more time at Molly's house. Molly's older brother tripped out on acid. Their mother had electro shock therapy many times. Molly kept a picture of her Dad in her room. He was really rich and lived in Southern California with another family. Molly's older sister, Liz was beautiful. Molly's younger brother Chris had a German helmet, a BMW motorcycle, two dogs and a .22 rifle. I liked being with Molly's family. Molly's Mom saw spirits the same way I did, only she was frightened and tried to push them away. When she screamed at the spirits, Jim would calm her down. Sometimes there was nothing anyone could do to help her. Molly and I tried to ignore all the things that upset us. I loved Molly. But we bickered about the holidays. She said I was hostile to my brother. She thought my father was cute. She found my mother really charming. I wanted to warn her about them. But I didn't. I didn't want to hurt them. I began to spend a lot of time with Victor. Victor and his girlfriend Terri were dangerous. I wanted her. Victor sold Terri to rich guys. He forced his pretty maid to have sex with him. He wanted to see me have sex with other guys. I didn't. Terry's friend and I tried to convince her to leave Victor. I sensed that Terri and Victor had been molested too. A week later Victor was killed in a car crash. Terri killed herself soon after. I could have grown up like that; a pervert, a prostitute, a suicide. But I didn't. I didn't. Steve Rice, a boy in my math class was murdered along with his mother and sister by his older brother. That spring I went over to Molly's one night. We all dropped acid and went to the New Canaan graveyard. I thought of Steve's smile the last time I saw him. I couldn't tell if the girl I saw was old or young. Was she the spirit of Terri, my sister, or Mary Mount? I saw what my grandfather would have become if he wasn't a drunk. I saw what my uncle would have been if he had lived. The next day I rested with some school friends at the old tank in the war memorial park. By evening I was alone. I had nowhere to go so I went back to the house. I was dozing in the guest room. I told him 'no'. He said he was sorry. Then he just looked at me. I told him to give me a ride to Interstate 95. He asked me not to go. He gave me two hundred dollars and I got out of the car. I felt sad but relieved to finally be old enough to get away from my family. I just kept hitchhiking west. I slept when I could. A college professor bought me a really good steak dinner. At first I thought he was going to do something really weird. All he wanted to do was talk. He told me about his wife who died of cancer. I listened. He was concerned about me and wanted to know what I was doing so far from home. I couldn't tell him the truth. The truth was too scary. When we stopped for gas. I ran from him and hid in back. I heard him call out my name. I wanted to go back to him but I couldn't. It was a relief to hear his car drive off. I cried for a while. Then I thought about everything. But I didn't want to think. First I had to survive. Wynonna and Todd were alone when I saw them outside of Chicago. When their Mom, Mona came back she had a big smile for me. Todd told me his mom had gone to get some smokes. When I changed the tire she asked all about me. I told her I was running away. She said she was running away too. Todd showed me his pet frog. Wynonna and I played Barbie and Ken. Todd laughed at me because I smelled. Wynonna reported that Todd still had to wear a diaper. Mona pulled over and began to cry that her husband was a POW. I wanted to run away from Mona, her family and my whole life. I would try to stay. I could see Mona's husband, the haunting of Molly's mom and the spirit of a dead drummer boy as I washed alone in a gas station bathroom. I have always been haunted and have felt more curious and mystified than scared. My life was scary. My father was pathetic. Alone is scary. Incest is alone. Ghosts aren't scary. The past, present and future were scary. We slept under the stars. When the kids were asleep Mona touched me. I felt afraid. I got up and walked around. I sat under a willow. I thought I was going to break. But I didn't. Todd followed me. He said his dad was captured and he asked me not to go away. I went back. The next morning Mona told me how the women at the base stopped talking to her after her husband was captured. Even her brother was snubbed. She said she was looking for a new way. So was I. We drank Coors at bars. When is got cold we bickered about where to sleep. We were not arguing about a room. We were arguing about us, other guys, her husband and the kids. I wasn't going to be her lover. I was too young and I was still the other guy. I ran away and looked for love. I found a family but it wasn't working. Todd and Wynonna got into a screaming match after Mona went off somewhere and left me to get them breakfast. She would always run away. I got them ice cream sodas. Todd said he had to go to the bathroom like a big boy. Wynonna said he didn't know how. I was terrified to leave Wynonna alone outside the restroom. She could be kidnapped and killed. But I was more scared to leave Todd alone. Todd was so proud and I was proud of him too. When Mona came back and was watching the kids, I just had to get out and get some air. I wandered around the parking lot feeling sick. I started to feel numb like I did not exist. Rape is like non existence. My Dad hurt me. It's called post traumatic stress. How could I be so fearless and full of fear? In Reno Mona began to date and stay out most nights. It was time to go. I tried to explain. Wynonna stared. Todd told me I could stay and be their older brother. I told him that older brothers had to grow up and leave home. Wynonna said their father was going to die. Todd said he wasn't. I left after I got them to sleep. I was upset and took a ride with a scary guy at dawn. I knew I shouldn't have gone with him but I did. He got really weird and propositioned me. I told him 'no' and he dropped me off in the desert. It was a relief walking back to the highway alone. I could have been killed by that guy. I felt safe outside. People frightened me. I wish I could have stayed on the desert forever. When I got back to the highway I got picked up right away. I should have said no to the ride but I didn't. That beer tasted good. He told me he was dodging the draft. Jackie had just left a rehab in Utah. I came too in a ditch by the road. I had been drugged and they took my boots. I felt sick that I could have been raped. I could feel in my body that I hadn't been raped. My money was still hidden in my underwear. I wanted to die. They left a joint in my shirt pocket. When I took drugs, color left the landscape, feeling settled away from my heart and the spirits abandoned me. I felt terrible when the marijuana wore off. I was angry. I climbed back onto the highway. I sensed the drummer boy and his brother. He told me there were worse things than being molested. There were worse things than being robbed. Then he drummed me along my way. A biker named Frank drove me the last few miles into California. Frank was happy for a high draft number. I was happy to be out of Nevada. We ate good steak and corn from the garbage that was thrown away from a Nights of Columbus picnic. Frank listened carefully. He said that many men get raped in jail and being raped doesn't make anyone less of a man. I realized Frank was talking about himself. Thank you, Frank. What you said to me that night helped me make it through. I felt safe enough to think. I thought of Terri that last time I saw her. I thought of Victor and my brother. I tried to make sense of everything. But I couldn't make sense of everything. I missed my sister. I thought about her with my father. Thinking and imagining was scary. I couldn't save my sister. I couldn't save anybody. I couldn't even save my dog. We gave our father our bodies and it did not save him. I gave my brother my body and it did not save him. All my life when my father was alone with my sister I would just run away. She never forgave me for being so damaged. I'm his sister and I haven't spoken to him for thirty years but I've heard what he's saying about our father and it's not true, he nev I'm sorry that I hurt you. I'm sorry I'm damaged. I'm sorry I let you be hurt. I hope you're okay. That night in California as well as during my whole life I've always sensed that there's more to our lives than what we can understand. The drummer boy laughed. He said I could only save myself. The Japanese man saved my father but he couldn't save himself. I was saved. And I was going to survive. I just wanted to save myself. But I went back for the drummer boy. I woke up refreshed. Frank wanted to go to Mexico and score weed. That was a bad idea. I was getting nowhere hitchhiking around like this. Frank went south and I hitched my next ride with Lorraine. It felt good to be with her. I imagined we'd go to a cabin in the mountains. We'd swim in a stream, make love and get married. And I'd never have to go home again. She gave me lunch and said good bye. I was nowhere. I didn't want to back home. I began walking around in circles thinking and planning. When I came home my brother and sister just stared at me. Then my sister gave me such a nice smile. My brother said he was glad I was okay. Mom smiled when she saw me. Dad was relieved, I could tell. Mom said I put the family through hell. My brother agreed. My sister gave me scrambled eggs. As I ate Dad watched me quietly taking in how awful I looked. I got beat up pretty badly on my way back. Then the next day two cops chased me out onto the desert and shot into the bushes near where I was hiding. Getting beat up once and shot at was not like surviving Iwo Jima. But I still felt I was ready to handle my father. I had no idea how savage we were going to get. Mom talked a lot about how she quit smoking. Dad was really proud of Mom for stopping the cigarettes. I felt shocked to see he truly loved her. I felt icy cold. Everyone got so sullen and sour when I lit a smoke. My smoking bothered him a lot. He said smoking would ruin my health. And he was right. He loved me. And I could hurt him by hurting myself. I started drinking when they went to bed and left me alone. Three hours later I was arrested screaming drunk and naked in the middle of my father's pretty town. My mother felt publicly shamed. Then she started smoking even more. He never forgave me she started smoking again. My brother was thrilled I was arrested. My sister was so angry and scared she just cried. I could fight them with the power of drugs and win. But I lost myself. When I was sober the spirits returned. I didn't like what they were telling me. I had a premonition that my father had three years to live. I told him he was going to lose his money and kill himself. I begged him to fix it. He just stared at me. Then Mom lectured me how I hurt his feelings. I was trying to save his life. I could drink and drug the ghosts away. It was easy for my family to call me crazy. The spirit of Kirk told me he had been molested. He wanted my guidance and forgiveness when I couldn't even save my father. The drummer boy showed me my spirit guides from when I died in my past life trying to save him. Mom wanted me out of the house and she asked Dad to find a place for me. I was sent away to Windsor Mountain School in Lenox Massachusetts. I hitchhiked up there early that fall. They shipped my trunk later. When I got to school some kids were playing in front. They told me to go see the headmaster, Heinz Bondy. I first saw Heinz outside his office. He told me to produce a lot of plays with big casts at school. Then he went away I let the drugs wear off. I lay down on my dorm room bed and began to feel icy cold again. This time I'd stay in my body and face what I felt. I was raped by my father and it felt like icy cold rage in the center of my soul. I could rescue myself from my own hate by accepting love. I hated my brother like corrosion. I suffered for my sister like acid in my heart. My love for my father was like spinning in circles at the edge of a cliff. To try to face any feeling I had about my mother made me want to start up with the drugs and alcohol all over again. Windsor was a place where damaged people like me were dumped to survive or not. Dan killed himself my first semester. Linda was a heroin overdose. John was drunk and died in a motorcycle accident. Mike made it. He got a scholarship at MIT. After all the losses in the German Resistance, what were a few more civilian casualties to Heinz? Matt was dead by senior year. Jeff became an attorney. I don't know what happened to Sandy and Crystal. Beth became an editor of a big magazine. I still miss my vulnerable and intellectual lover, Julie. I had to let her go. When her Dad died junior year she slid into drug addiction and mental illness. Good bye Carol and Sam. I miss you. I'm sorry you're dead. I dream of you often. I don't know why I survived. I'd say I made it through because of luck and love. But I don't really know. At the end of Windsor my Dad came up and helped me with college applications. Then we went out and got drunk.