Before my parents divorced, my dad, whom I loved for his weakness and vulnerability, held a gun to my mother’s head. This followed the beating during which he’d choked her so hard she’d had to wear a turtleneck in July.
The divorce didn’t trouble the younger kids much, but we three big kids talked about it quite a lot. We couldn’t make sense of it. The beatings were, to us, a normal part of life. I took it for granted that all families had beatings. I thought all daddies threw the Thanksgiving groceries 50 feet up in the air when mommies took too long to return with the car.
My mother packed all of us kids up, in our jammies. She drove all through the night to my grandparents’ house, far away from the life that was familiar to us. We found our own house in a genetically deprived, little town. Our mother went directly to work supporting us.
One morning I got up extra early to see her before the other kids were awake. When I shuffled into the kitchen, my pretty mommy was crying at the table. “Why are you crying, Mommy?” She told me not to worry, she was just a little bit lonely because she missed all our old friends and she didn’t have any new ones. I hugged her. “Don’t worry, I’ll be your friend.”
In time, she became parched by an unquenchable thirst. Inevitably, Gram found out and she initiated an investigation. The investigation concentrated mainly on Rachel and me. She conducted cookie fueled interrogations. Rachel was especially ethical. She had high expectations of parental behavior. She sang like a canary.
I worked as a double agent. In an effort to gain my mother’s confidence and maintain most favored status, I repeated all Gram’s questions to us. My mother became increasingly agitated, chain smoking Tareytons, until she finally erupted and called my grandmother to yell about “pumping little kids for information.”
My father was completely absent during this time. It was during the 70s. He was into EST, along with any other collective movement, where he could be surrounded by people with personality disorders and deficiencies similar to his. Eventually, he remarried and had two new children thereby eliminating his need to think of, or support, us.