I was standing ankle deep in garbage and amid a choking effluvia of carcinogens. The gaggle of hobo's squawked and smoked various weeds. He sat behind the desk at the shelter staring at me with the toothless grin of a deranged pedophile. His misshapen head was shaved. Stubble on an inverted chin. Pot belly and beady eyes behind grimy large framed glasses. I stood aloof as always puffing with heightened anxiety on that cigarette.
"Don't I know you?" He finally stated, pointing a gnarled finger casually in my direction.
In a weary monotone drone I said, "No. I don't believe so. I am bad with names, but I never forget a face."
"You ever been to Columbus, Georgia? Brooks Road?"
My mind spun in confusion and I asked in arrogance, "What's your name?"
"Jessie," he smiled that toothless smile again.
A flashbulb of nostalgia popped in my mind. A cascade of images washed over my vibrating mind. Too many to describe. I pointed at him, "Jessie Everette?"
"Yup!" He cackled.
When I was ten years old or so, my family suddenly uprooted from that town and relocated to Los Angeles. Before then, I had two best friends who I loved dearly. Jessie Everette and Albert King. This gnarled old man who sat before me was Jessie? Good God. A spew of mumbled what-ever-happened-to-so-and-so's shot back and forth between us. I had buried those memories for decades and suddenly they burst out from way deep down. I explained to him that I had found out a year or so before my mother's death that she confided in me that we had left Columbus because she found out about Harry Frank. Frank was the resident pedophile who seduced both my friends frequently among others in our neighborhood. I explained to my mother the truth that though he had tried, I never succumbed to his nefarious advances. "Besides," I had told her, "every neighborhood has one. Even in the place we'd moved to. But, I never once did anything." Truth was, I was too busy sowing my preteen oats with both Jessie and Albert down in our hidden fort we had built in the nearby woods. I had stated on several occasions on this blog that I loathe pedophiles. You do not steal a boy's childhood like that.
Which brings me to my father. He asked how he was. I vehemently spat that we do not talk. I remember what torturous barbarism he inflicted on me and my sisters and I will never ever forgive him for that. I mentioned to Jessie that I spent a horrible, anxiety-ridden two weeks up at my parent's house a few years ago and as my father dropped me off at the bus station - he had evicted me from his house strictly out of self-arrogance - the last words we spoke were:
"This problem between us. Is this all my fault?" He asked.
"Yes." Was all I said before I grabbed my gear and exited the car. I had meant it. At that moment, I knew I never wanted to associate with him or any family member again.
The man is a monster and I really want nothing to do with him or any of my family. I have recently added a nephew to my facebook and even that leaves me with a certain dread...they do not understand that I am nothing like they remember me. And them? I see them as simply arrogant, vindictive strangers and nothing more. I don't understand why they wish to contact me. I don't hold any desire to contact them.
Anyway, Jessie and I chatted a bit. Sun drenched images of bike riding, hoarse play, hanging out, images of a happy childhood as far as my friends were concerned. At the time, they alleviated the hostile living conditions I was subjugated to at home. I stated to Jessie we really must talk - though I didn't actually want to - and said goodnight nice to see you again blah blah. It was time for me to do my assigned chore of mopping the kitchen before laying my mat down to sleep. And sleep I did. Troublesome dreams and sordid nightmares. And yet, I continue...