From Our vantage point; it’s September 14, 2019. Role Playing Games are going strong; either table top, live action or video; their popularity does not appear to be waning; quite the contrary, there are more and public events, such as game festivals; like the one going on right now, at the Ann Arbor District Library, near the heart of this sleepy mid-western city; we just so happen to find Ourselves in; at the moment.
Elsewhere, we have a President of Our Country; Donald J. Trump; the forty fifth Commander and Chief; of a country whose flag; fifty stars bound in a field of cerulean deep-sky-blue; held there fast, in the upstage right wing; offset by an ocean-foam-white boarder; whose area is bound by seven ruby rose red stripes; horizontally counterpoised; across its face; flies today; as it flew forty one years ago; when James Earl Carter was the thirty-ninth President; Dungeons and Dragons, the first official role playing game, was invented, marketed and sold; and life, for Our Young Black Man, his sister and his mother, on East Fox Hills Drive; after the divorce between his parents, had been finalized; was slipping slowly into the sultry steam; of the approaching season of summer.
At first, Our Boy had grown close to his mother; in spite of the fact that in addition the final divorce decree; Our Young Man also lost access to his father’s modest library of Harvard Classics; assorted College books on history, sociology, psychology and philosophy.
Yet and still, he drew closer to his mother; especially in those first few days; closer than say, the relationship his sister had with her; the often conflicts of will between the two headstrong females; like when it came to interfering (as their mother called it) in someone else’s family business; were a singular point of contention between mother and daughter, in those early days.
Noreen and Elaine’s Father, for instance, was fondling and molesting his daughters, frequently enough; as reported by them, to Our Young man’s Sister; that Noreen, out of fear of going back into her home to use the bathroom; after she and her sister had left earlier in the afternoon; ostensibly, to allow time enough for their father to drink himself to sleep; would pee on herself; scared that if he was still awake, he would make her stay indoors; basically in order for her to sleep with him.
Our Boy’s sister, along with Elaine, Noreen little sister, was adamant in finding and documenting evidence, against the two girls’ father; anything to get the right kind of attention, from the proper authorities; even if those authorities happened to be; from with in the family itself.
Our Young Man’s sister was convinced something could and had to be done; and there wasn’t any one who was going to stop her; once her mind had made up; that was it. It was a done deal. This attitude, to someone like Our Boy’s mother; who was used to keeping secrets, especially those of a familial nature; did nothing but make her bristle; and so, the air of adversarial give and take, between Our Kid’s mother and sister; continued, and took center stage; after the final divorce came down; near the beginning of that Bloomfield Hills Summer; of 1978.
Meanwhile, as We have said, at first Our Young Man had grown close his mother; spending more and more time with her; just the two of them, home together alone; confiding in her all the times, his father had sneaked women into the house when she wasn’t there; like when she was in the hospital, that time she had her hysterectomy, for example.
There were lighter moments, however; like when Our Boy’s Older Brother came to visit; bringing along with him a friend of his, named Joe; someone Our Young Man had secretly hoped, could comfort his mother; get her mind off of a subject; that for some reason, he felt she was spending far too much time, entertaining the possibility of doing; lighter moments that dimmed; as talk of seeing more and more of Joe waned; and as his mother (he was certain of it) began hoping against hope; to move herself, her children, all of their belongings; all their lives; hers, his sister’s and his; back down home; to her home; in Tulsa Oklahoma.
Let’s back up for a minute; looking a little more closely at the states of mind every one was in back then; Our Boy’s mother’s and sister’s for sure; but definitely his as well. As it turns out, the next couple of years would find three people; a single mother, newly divorced, and her two children; involved, as it were, in a family dynamic where unrecognized mental illness came face to face with deeply held family skeletons; where self medication took the place of simple plain dealing; and where distrust and fear; pushed love and mutual self respect; to the corners; out of sight; out of heart; and out of mind.
How did it get that way?
This writer, seeking in his own fashion; to understand, within a certain degree of probability; how it was; that he came to be; sitting today where he sat yesterday; where hopefully, he’ll sit tomorrow; and how ever many days it takes after that; until he traces the creation and subsequent evolution of his Other; of his hidden half; of his necessary and inevitable shadow; regardless of the main obstacle of his own self; as it were; getting in the way.
Thus, he can only guess about those years; so many years ago.
He remembers that right after the final divorce of his parents; he, his mother and sister, gathered a few of their things together, hopped a cab to the Pontiac Greyhound Station and caught a bus bound for Tulsa, Oklahoma; but what he most likely will forget; to divulge; is that unbeknownst to their mother (or if she did know; she never let on) both he and his sister; had brought along enough mescaline (probably two or three tabs) to last; on the trip down, the few days they would be there; and the trip back.
So We will take the opportunity, at this point, to mention that fact. Perhaps it will help us to understand Our Young Black Kid’s intentions; during a time, many of us, from Our contemporary view, would call: traumatic. We won’t say that the divorce had no affect on either Our Boy, his sister or his mother. In fact, the best we can do is lay out all the most probable events; letting the reader, of course; judge for themselves.
Yeah, you’re right.
That is an awful lot of mescaline; especially for someone, his sister couldn’t help but liken; to some kind of Cop; if not by default; then most certainly by some accident of birth.
Let’s back up again.
Our Boy’s sister sold him only one hit of mescaline; keeping the rest for herself; instructing him to take it at the right time; assuring him he would know it, when he felt it; secretly thinking he may have actually been crazy; kind of hoping he would really screw up and have a bad trip; so she could get a room all to herself; in the two-bedroom apartment they were set to move into; upon returning from their trip; and he, her crazy middle brother, would get his own room; at the County Loony Bin.
Now that’s more like it; a couple of steps closer to how it all went down; that early summer of 1978; on a trip to the southwest; back to his mother’s home town; Tulsa, Oklahoma; mother, sister and brother; So Very not on their way; to Cedar Point.
The trip down was comfortable; if not uneventful. They all had brought enough changes of clothes for a two or three night stay; where they would probably spend some time as Aunt Connie’s (his mother’s oldest sister) and Uncle Jim’s (her husband)’s guest.
They would be reunited with their cousins: Monica, Jo Rita, Bobby and Jerry; all of whom they were familiar with; from previous visits and meetings; over the years. They would also spend some time with Grandma Maxine; his mother’s mother.
On the surface, nothing appeared out of the ordinary. The trip would be a way to rest and relax after the stress and strain, the whole family felt; before during and after the final divorce.
One can imagine, the Boy’s father actually being as relieved as his mother; probably because both felt betrayed by the other; or, perhaps both felt the pressure of trying to live up to some kind of expectation of familial ties; some kind of role; neither was willing or able to summon the strength to keep up; what became at the end; a veiled and mere; appearance for; appearance sake; and now, there they were; pulling into the Grey Hound Bus Terminal; at South Detroit Street and East Fourth; on a sunny early Summer’s Tuesday; late in the morning.
Our Young Black Kid, casually glancing over at his younger sister; positive she was stoned; then shrugging his shoulders; as if to say: “so what.”
That’s when he noticed someone standing on the platform as the Bus was about to dock. She was older; her skin wizened and honey brown hued. The scarf she wore; a calico red, yellow and powder blue; flowered print bandanna; tied snugly underneath her slight, but resilient chin; played well off the pinkish rose patterned; not tight fitting; but flattering cotton, knee length; short sleeve tea dress; that made her not seem as rail thin; as she was.
She had lips as red and as full as he remembers his mother having; years ago, when they all lived together; father, brother, sister and mother; reunited after the first separation; after Chicago; for a short time; in Tulsa; where his father had landed a position as patrol officer with the Tulsa Police Department.
There was something about her, that felt familiar; something Our Boy couldn’t quite put his finger on; and then she looked up at him; or he thought she did. His mother was sitting right there, next to him; seeing what he must have saw; all of which confused him; when he looked over at her; as if to ask: “who is she; do we know her?”
His mother, acting as if she had seen nothing; or no one of any importance; looked away; biting her bottom lip; before her face; gradually turned to stone; and stayed that way; until Aunt Connie was called and came to take them to hers’ and their Uncle Jim’s home; somewhere near North Peoria and Jasper.
(to be continued)