ROCK guides LittleMe up, up, up and OUT! The sky although fairly clear is exposing, threatening, a violation of her fear. Hesitant ROCK pushes her into the light and shows her what real fear is. There, the children with swollen bellies and caved in eyes; There the fish floating dead on the polluted waters; There the Roma, nomadic woman forced on the street corner to beg for money; There the child abandoned because his mother was infiltrated by addictions she could not escape; People broken by loveless fathers, families and lovers. Look! Are you alone? Are you sufferring in self pity or is your hurt, your worth, your being more worthy? It’s the question of philospher’s for thousands of years, nothing one woman or man can answer. Bow to your pain, repent. LittleMe wants to hide, not know anymore than she does and Life is like that tiny shift an old house makes year after year until one day someone says, this house is not level. It is crooked and bent and needs so much work. Work that costs money, time, passion, drive, and it will take a very unique person to take on this mess, unveil it’s beauty, release it’s memories, embrace it’s dream.
AngryEyes and I finally found BaD DaD who’d apparently been too busy to answer my calls. Why did he ask me to come if he wasn’t planning on spending time with me. Insert a sad face. “He” immediatly disliked AngryEyes, but, big BUT, he needed AngryEyes to over hear french conversations as he was always trés paranoid. That’s what happens when people are lying and denying, they are always using their frontliners and know we are needed. “He” had met a french young woman, younger than me, at a perfume shop. He wanted us to go out with them to a disco and then later in the week it would be her birthday and she had invited us all to her party. Strange I thought, why would this young woman not even my age invite him to a party; but hey a party sounded cool at the time. AngryEyes is happy BaD DaD is buying all the booze and his eyes are perhaps, for that short time, twinkling with amusement. BaD Dad was quite the entertainer; I was so skilled at following his different personas that I just ignored his game of playing the role of a filthy rich and ever so distinguished, tall American man now. The rented convertible porsche and staying at The Carlton (or whatever the biggest and most expensive hotel in Cannes was) seemed perplexing since he’d moved five times in under two years. I was to be staying with him there and he’d dumped me in the California strong woman’s hotel room. Could it be he was using me? Gee, back home he had a piece of plywood covered with a white table cloth to eat off of. He had just kicked out or been left by a bitter chinese puerto rican woman who wouldn’t allow me to wash my clothes or open the refridgerator door myself. How did he weasel himself into Cannes? I stopped caring as part of me still had hope he would become more stable mentally. I had to watch out for him around my little sister often. I cooked her food so he wouldn’t take her out to eat, get drunk and drive back with her in the car. He did that with me and I would not let him do it with her. Yet, he did, sometimes anyway.
We meet the french woman and she was exactly his type, short dark hair, dark eyes (preferably) and she had a handsome beauty, almost a boyish charm. Her skin was brown and warm just like AngryEyes. She was thin and I did love her big smile as well as the way she laughed immediatly. The eve of her party AngryEyes and I went along with BaD DaD in his cool car down the boulevard along the sea to find the party. We, that is AngryEyes and I, were quick to feel outrageously uncomfortable as we were into the artsy punk scene, “The Cure” and a “Peter Gabriel” kind of world. Our parties did not play french disco tunes. Yikes. In all black we sat drinking wine and cutting off huge chunks of cheese while the main party gathered around her and stood grilling outside. She had on a very strikingly 80’s pastel dress that had ballon like shoulders and BaD DaD followed her around like a hound dog on a hunt for rabbits.
Then, Bad DaD appears before us where we have sunk into a very soft sofa and whispers something in my ear. “Can you and your friend go listen to see if they are talking about me? I think they are.” Ah-ha, there’s the real reason he asked us to go along; clear as a bell. He needed ears and a back-up plan. We glided through the laughter and stood by the grill. “What are they saying?”; BaD DaD looked like he would start with one of his manic attacks so we tried to inch in closer to people we didn’t know. The handsome young woman was talking with a very beautiful man and the man kept looking over her shoulder at BaD DaD. Finally near her and this man we hear that the steaks should be ready in about fifteen more minutes and it appeared he was looking back at BaD Dad because he’d been staring him down in a odd manner. I think the man felt as uncomfortable as we did. We relayed the information back and BaD DaD was relieved. He told us that he would drive us back to the California woman’s hotel and that the next morning at 10 a.m. he would pick us up and we would all drive to Nice where he would catch his flight back to the states. He said we could use the car for another week. That did sound fun! It was all paid for and we just needed to drop it off and catch our train back north.
The next morning we are all packed and I say goodbye to the sunny California woman and thank her for letting us stay in her room. She says, “just so you know, the room was put in your father’s name after he left me no choice. It’s his bill to pay.” I called the concierge at BaD DaD’s hotel and he said that he had checked out and there was an envelope for me. Now what. Shit, shit, shit. More McFuckery to deal with. AngryEyes sits with the suitcases and I walk down to the sea, down the boulevard and into The Carlton. I asked for the envelope. I opened it and began to cry and lose my breath. It read, “Running late, Love D.O.D.”, his signature for Dear Ole Dad. We had no money to pay for the hotel! He’d conned his own daughter AGAIN! He was gone. He knew that we would not catch on to his scheming; this was the game all along. I slowly walk back up to the other hotel and tell AngryEyes. His response was, “Putain”.
Somehow AngryEyes had a friend wire him money to pay a 900 US dollar hotel bill; a bill that wasn’t ours to pay. BaD DaD invited us there and knew we had no money for such a place. I had to pay for it by getting more hostility from AngryEyes, he refused to buy us tickets back. He said we would hitch hike back to Nantes from Cannes. And that’s what we did. He made us sleep under bushes by the highway and live outside and refused to speak to me. He repeated over and over “I want my money back from that asshole”. What kind of a person does this to anyone, much less their own daughter? I had no self esteem and was scared. I needed AngryEyes. My own father set me up, used me again and he had NO regrets. I will tell more about the Real Life confrontation when I am able.
Inside Me with ROCK
ROCK says, “Enough!”. Too many bad memories will make “little me” sick again. Thank you ROCK. I feel like dirt. Dirt feels better probably. I am a piece of lousy, wet, trash blown up aganst a metal fence, behind some weeds and trees by the highway. I am cold and it’s not the first time BaD DaD did such a thing. I slither up against my inner wall; I’ve fallen down a few flights of stairs and must hide and brood for awhile now.
After staying two or so nights with the sunny California strong woman, she tells me she is moving into a colleague’s room as my french male friend had now arrived to meet my BaD DaD. I will refer to this person as “AngryEyes”. AngryEyes was indeed very angry at himself, his THEN, his PAST and deep sexuality conflicts; AngryEyes was full of hate and love toward me and even said why, I was not a gay man, ( he came out to me after I slept with him in Paris after a Laurie Anderson performance). He was in love with me and hated me for it. He was even angrier at the dysfunctional sad world from which he came. Raised by his father, a bigoted, stammering alcoholic who was unable to love him or his mother and sisters, he had never fully shined. None of his childhood friends knew he was gay nor did his family. His mother was an overworked, red cheeked, Catholic who sought no way out of their farming village which was about an hour outside of Nantes. She wore dowdy dresses over her short and stout build and everyday, wearily clad in handsewn aprons, she did chores sun up to sun down. The washing machine was outside under a wobbly semi tin roof that covered the open aired space and only could wash with cold water. She’d hang her muttering husband’s navy blue work jumpsuits out on a rope strung line near the peach trees. With wooden pegged pins she neatly hung rows of men’s checkered boxers, her own large white cotton under garments and lots of black socks. She wore one of two proper dresses to mass twice weekly, came home and dutifully rinsed out her knee high nylons by hand and hung them over a metal towel rung in the tiny bathroom. She would hang carefully her church clothes beside a pea green wool coat covered in plastic. In her closet were two pair of shoes, brown leather flats that tied just at the bend of her forefoot and ankle and a slippery, shiny, white pair of slip ons. The laundry told a story in it’s simplicity. It fluttered in the wind and the neighbors could see, she may be poor and married to a nasty man, but she was God fearing and clean. There were no frilly blouses or pretty colors, just the plain daily wear of plain lonely people. No one came by her doorway to visit very often except a young woman who was going back to school to be a nurse. I knew her as Gigi. She confided that once she finished her studies she would leave her husband who only thought of football and spent most nights drinking beer in the village pub. I saw mutual desperation in each of their eyes yet nothing more was spoken about. I liked Gigi who’d grown up with AngryEyes and along with other farming family friends from this idyllic countryside. We’d sit with wine, make fires and gather to share nonsense mostly. Gigi had a much loved black dog, a hapless breed that followed her everywhere. Across from her lived Madame Vinget who was the matron of this portion of the village. Madame Vinget lost her husband when young and never had children. She did have a dachsund she called Chou-pete but when she had had a little too much of her homemade pear or peach liquer she called him inside with a slur that sounded like “Tu-petes” which means in english, “You fart”. Madame Vignet called me in more than once to taste her strong liquer and always pointed out that she had indeed been many places other than the village, Le Bois Jahan. One night after a ridiculous game of hide and seek in complete darkness AngryEyes and I jumped a fence and heard some loud snorts; we were near some large angry bulls. We warned Gigi not to come for us as we were knee deep in cow dung and decided to bolt for the lone asphalt road that led to the church and town center. Gigi’s dog barked and chased alongside the fence seperating us from them and just as we came to the road we saw headlights flash, the sound of a horn and then a painful cry from Gigi. Her sweet dog had been hit by a car and she began screaming in that deep, remourseful way that some people do when they lose someone they love suddenly. Without much thought I scooped the bloody critter into my arms and we rushed to AngryEyes parent’s teeny stone house. I laid the loyal canine on the freshly mopped floor and gave him first aid by covering both his nose and his mug with my mouth. He began to breathe and opened his eyes and Gigi cried happily for just under three minutes as she held him close. Her joyful tears turned to those of grief once more as he coughed up blood and died in her arms. She ran to her husband who never hung around any of us and he blamed her for being a stupid bitch; what did she expect to happen if running along the road in complete darkness? AngryEyes could also show tremendous sensitivity; while the husband slammed the door in his wife’s face, AngryEyes went for a shovel then returned to the unhappy couple’s backyard and dug a hole. The husband never came out or ever acknowledged any of it. With newspaper wrapped around Gigi’s dog AngryEyes gently took the dog and placed him in his grave. There was love in the village after all and an understanding that most people were rarely happy.
Outside AngryEyes parent’s little white stone house chickens ran amuck and wild cats begged for food. The once smiling bride with warm dark hair milked cows, sheared sheep, and more than once I saw her grab a chicken by the neck and swing it around fiercely only to casually drop it by the kitchen door to be plucked later. Cats would be scared off by the stomping of her feet inside black rubber boots. The fowl’s feathers would blow about the grassless, meek courtyard signaling to others what their next meal would be. In time she worked her way back to the stone house doorway where she often would sit with coffee or in this case, to pluck the unlucky Clucker. Perhaps this would be her only rest of the day. I eyed her taking a pause now and then and she’d hold her face up into the sunlight, eyes closed and seemed somewhat peaceful. The stone doorway led directly into the tiny sparce kitchen. A wooden oblong table sat in the middle of the perhaps 50 square meter room. A gas stove, white porcelain sink and a small mustard colored refrigerator were lined up against the back wall. There was a small sideboard for her to chop and knead and pummel out meal after meal. Her hands were plump and chafed, her brown eyes gentle and subservient, rarely caught mine. She spoke in a whisper and at each meal she placed a large decanter of red wine in the middle of the table and a pitcher of water. The other staples, a baguette or two with strong cheeses and butter, endive salad with blood red vinegar and olive oil, and potatoes boiled in their skin were carefully arranged. The chicken was butchered into smaller pieces and sat in the same pan it was baked in, at the exact same place where the main course would always be, that is, directly in front of her husband’s plate. Meals were interchanged with hearty portions such as pork cutlets, an unknown large fish with the head still on, a pot of stew with undetectable ingredients or a souffle. She then did all the washing up and swept the bread crumbs in one swift move of her hand onto the kitchen floor where she would then sweep briskly and then wet mop every night. Her husband left immediatly after every meal to stand by the barn in one of his blue jumpsuits, in black clogs and a dirty gray wool hat with a small rim to smoke hand rolled cigarettes and drink until bedtime. Once, when AngryEyes and I were poking around in his father’s corner of the barn we found on top of a tall cupboard stacks of magazines with naked women spreading their legs wide apart and AngryEyes shouted, “Putain” and continued to rummage through each one surprised by his belligerent father’s stash. I was not at all surprised; my own BaD DaD had heaps of porn he never bothered to hide from me; “He” kept stacks of Hustler and Playboy sitting on the back of his and my former and beloved stepmother’s toilet tank. (Yes, in time we will get to those days says “little me”). Somewhere between my life with BaD DaD and AngryEyes haunting solemn stare he held while he sat across from his drunken father, we understood each other’s pain and the dark memories of our youth that were yet to be explored. In time these memories would envelope us.
Here I sit sadly looking down the twisting stairwell; I can see where I have been, which steps are broken and in between I also see new ones, ones that I have repaired and are my work to be proud of.
As far down as I can see “He”stands; he is holding me in his arms and the beautiful lady, my mother, is there. It is the only non-traumatic memory of us. I am looking into a tank of water and there are lobsters; I want to take one and remove the black band around it’s helpless claws. I don’t know why the bands are on their claws but I understand that I don’t like it.
On the next step is a hole, a hole in my heart and my mother’s; I will never know if “He” felt hurt or desperate. There is a door with a chain lock, it is opened and I am in my mother’s arms; I am crying, screaming, ” Daddy”. She won’t let him in. I see his face, his blue eyes and dark rimmed glasses and he is begging to come back. The door closes. It stays closed and locked for a very long time. My mother keeps me close and she is crying, too.
The permanently stained inner step is as vivid now as it was over 50 years ago. It is my birthday and I am in a hospital stairwell with “His” mother, the nurse, she is giving me a watch with Cinderella on it and I am so happy. I love her and call her “Nanny”. She takes my tiny hand and we go down the hospital stairwell; it is cold and the minty green walls and steel handrails I can still feel. She opens the big door to a parking lot where I quickly hear my mother screaming and crying. “He” came to wish me a happy birthday with some strange woman. The woman was really just a teen girl with white puffy hair and my mother had a good hold on it. “He”did nothing but stand there watching them fight, nothing. Nanny scurried across the car lot to them with me in tow. I was crying and shaking and calling for my mother, “Mommy, Mommy!”.
NOW. On my own top step I have the Truths and I cling to them. “He” was to meet my mother and sign divorce papers and wish me a happy birthday. “He” brought the young girl with him and she had a beautiful diamond ring on her finger; my mother never got a ring from him. “He” never had the money or a job long enough to save for one. I was her ring.
We are Now. Them, Then, Him you must put aside so we can be present and mindful of ROCK.
ROCK doesn’t crumble, there are so many rough edges though. Run the softest part of your face, your lips, your palms, and feel. Look again. Some of ROCK rubs you in a way that challenges you. As these words bleed from the deepest part of my “Self” I remind you that they will hurt, not comfort you. Truth is rising, like a poisonous indulgence, it warms in my throat, swelling and ready to cause my quiet secrets to froth. Not like the salty froth along the sandy shoreline, more like the foaming which slides down to the chin, pauses, then drips slowly and steadily. A sickness caused by an intruder of my soul, my trust stolen and choked out of my gut. Every Truth was once denied to surface and then ROCK said, “We are ready.” We, me, ROCK are one and what is real is rising, rising, higher than any tower, any universe. Truth is on the top shelf and taken out with care. Hold it. It stings, it is time to let it go. Next, ROCK said, “Speak”.
Little me especially sensitive with a mountainous heart. Little me loved them, worshiped them and attached to “him” fiercely. He was bigger than heaven and earth and when he left I learned to crawl into my inner house. Four stone walls with baby blue painted cement. I loved baby blue and it was safe and soothing. Inside my house I hid from the Truth which wrapped around my sturdy walls and I was so protected, the Truth couldn’t reach me. I stayed with it and emerged when it was not looking. I took all the wicked, ugly, sick things that I didn’t like and shut them in. ROCK said, “You are ready to open the door, go on.” I looked around me and realised that the bad “him” couldn’t hurt me anymore and slowly began to breathe with such peace as a woman; I would not be his victim. I will not hide. Every pebble of my being will be accounted for and I will not suffer more. THEN. HIM. SGT. BILKO. FATHER. LIAR. DRUNK. TONGUE. FRAUD. SHOWER. HIDING. CON ARTIST. ABUSER. I. SEE. YOU.
The stone is silent, not mute. It was buried deep within my being, awaiting it’s truth to be heard and seen. I am ROCK solid. The one some cast away at sea or try to hide. I carry Truth. Truth that is gritty makes some turn away. Are you strong enough to stay?