Saturday, May 18, 2024


A few weeks ago I talked about playing D&D during the summer of 1981. I mentioned being disillusioned during the school year in the fall and failing my sophomore year of high school. In the summer of 1982, we moved. This for me, felt like the worst possible thing. 

I've talked about my struggles with school and with the young people that should have been, but weren't my peers, because I was a young disabled person in the public schools, but I haven't said much about my life at home. Prior to our life in Coulterville, we moved … a lot. My stepfather Chuck was a hard worker, but he had trouble keeping a job. He drank. 

Not "that" Chuck. 

My strongest memory from my childhood is the smell of beer. Chuck had a beer in hand from the time he got up in the morning until he went to bed at night. He was a rail thin man with bloodshot eyes who drank constantly but barely ate anything at all. He was rarely sober, but when he was, he was kind. Sadly, this was rare. 

We would move from place to place as Chuck moved from job to job. I believe that he loved us - his family, but I also believe that we were a terrible burden that he seemed to constantly fail. So, then too, were we a constant reminder of that failure. We brought resentment where there should have been joy, and this resentment manifested itself as mental and physical abuse focused on the source of that resentment. Oh, and of course, more and more drinking. 

My sister once told me whilst looking back on our childhood, how badly she felt for me. School, she told me, was a reprieve for her. She loved school because it was a safe place for her away from home, but it wasn't for me. I never had a safe place. I sought what solace I could in the pages of comic books. They were my escape. But, that was all in my head. Real life was always waiting just on the other side of my bedroom door. 

Having moved so much, never making friends, staying on the wrong side of everyone, even my teachers, meant that for the longest time, I didn't know that my world was wrong. I thought that what I was experiencing was the only thing available for me, but as I got older, I learned the truth about this world I was living in, and I decided to do something about it. 

I was 14. Chuck and mom were fighting. This wasn't unusual, but he hit her. I couldn't stand it and I charged into the room with the intention of putting myself between Chuck and my mom. I think she must have seen me coming because she reacted in a way that I didn't expect. She shoved Chuck backwards out the kitchen door and slammed it shut, quickly locking it, before running through the house to the front door and locking that one as well. I think she was trying to protect me, rather than herself. 

She told us (me and my sisters) not to worry, and to go to our rooms. I heard Chuck start the car and I thought for a moment that he might try to drive it into the house. He didn't. He drove off, almost certainly headed towards the closest bar. Once things had quieted down, mom started making excuses. "He's just drunk. He just needs to cool off." All the usual platitudes. 

I sat down with mom and told her that I wouldn't do this anymore. I told her that either she left Chuck, or I would walk out the door and she would never see me again. We left Chuck that night. We stayed with one of my mom's sisters (Aunt Janet or Aunt Darla … I can't remember) and within a few days we moved to Coulterville. 

I bring all of this up to emphasize how precious those few years in Coulterville were to me, and what a terrible step back suddenly moving again was. But, Mom had married again, and Fred (my new step dad) wanted to buy her a house… a new home. That new home was in a town called Cutler.

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