FALLING APART AT THE SEAMS
Falling apart at the seams,
So loud! So loud!
My fist pound!
Angry from the inside out.
I want to rip and tear
pull out my hair again.
I’m so lost and so angry
with nobody to take it out on but me.
Don’t you see??
Come on don’t you see?
But all you see is a smile,
like la de da
just been down for a little while.
Can you hear what I’m not saying,
this tape ini my head that been playing?
This angst this anger about to erupt,
This life is fucked,
wanna give up.
But you see me smile,
and that’s all you need.
All is good.
And I’ll keep on going
cause that’s what I do.
You’ve seen scary?
I’ve seen scarier.
You see a mountain,
I just hurdled that barrier.
This is who I am,
I have crossed over.
Once I was wounded,
now I’m a warrior.
….Chuck looked the same. He still wore the same style hat, the same style clothing, only now I found him without his mustache. I always hated mustaches…they always reminded me of him…
“Hi, Chuck. How have you been?” I asked. I could feel my spine straighten. I could feel my posture expand. I crossed my arms over my chest and stared him straight in the eye. He wasn’t scary anymore. When I was little, after he started cornering me I began wetting the bed and for a long ‘lil while my parents didn’t understand the change in my behavior…when I was 8 years old I started washing my hands until they bled because I couldn’t get clean…to say that this man’s sexualizing of my youth didn’t directly affect my life, my depressions, my anxieties, my relationships….and there he was right in front of me after years of thinking I could outrun confrontation.
I couldn’t. It was inevitable.
“Well, Emma…I…you know I’ve been OK.” He said. He was obviously uncomfortable. “How are you?”
“I’d be better if it hadn’t recently been brought to my attention that you still have a problem when it comes to little girls, and having a hard time keeping your hands and eyes off them…I thought maybe you and I should talk about that a little bit…I’d like to give you a few options…Maybe I can help with your problem.” The words spilled out of my mouth without pause or hesitation. Suddenly I was hyper aware that all the eyes on the sidewalk, those of his buddies and others walking in and out of stores, turned to listen. He squirmed, recognizing the same thing…But I wanted to use my words like graffiti…I wanted to draw something that people would be ignorant to ignore or choose not to look at. Sometimes the truth is ugly, but pretending we don’t see it only ever did me a disservice.
“Emma it’s been twenty years…” He started to say.
“What was that? Twenty years since you last molested a child?” I reiterated.
“I am sorry Emma, if I ever did anything to hurt you, it has been a long time since I’ve done that…”
“That’s the problem.” I corrected him. “I just spoke to someone who doesn’t like the attentions you were giving her little girls…and with your history…it leads me to believe you never really got the help you needed…You belong nowhere near any little kids, and the fact that you are, and you continue to make them uncomfortable? Something is not right…There’s many ways we can handle this. One of the ways we could deal with this is that we could go down to the police station right now, and we can see what types of programs or help they have available for child molesters….”
The more I spoke, the smaller he became. I almost felt pity for him. He was frightened of me, I could see it in his eyes. I have seen someone fearful of me before…I don’t like that look or feeling. Everything flashed through my head…everything. My fear. I remember my fear. I remember there being nowhere to turn. I remember him, that soft gentle lover of the little girl…I remember the confusion, and the gross knot that plagued me…
“I don’t think that will be necessary…” He started to say. He was shaking, and I could feel his eyes wanting to drift over his shoulder at the sidewalk. If he was able to see the faces of his friends, he would have seen open mouths.
“Another way we could handle it.” I started to say, the words rattling out of my mouth, unscripted, “Is that I could gather with the 15 or 16 victims of yours that I AM AWARE OF…I sort of lost count to be honest with you…we could all have t-shirts made and we could call the news and gather on your front lawn and start a much-needed dialogue on pedophilia….”
The color drained from his face. The entire sidewalk was silent…everyone was listening.
“Chuck I know you were a victim in this too.” I validated. The truth of what happened in Eglon is a much larger more sinister story than just a serial child predator. “I know how the pastor in Eglon let you babysit his daughters and then blackmailed you to get reduced price or free construction work out of you when the church owned and operated their home building business. I know you were blackmailed. I know this all happened…but I also know two people are dead … and I think I was almost the third.”
He looked like he was going to vomit.
“I know your son couldn’t stand you when he found out what you did to his sister, and he turned to alcohol because he was forced to work with you and couldn’t stand it…your son probably never would have died in that accident….and my babysitter L…I think about her often. Did you know she was my babysitter? That’s generations you have molested… I didn’t even know she was a victim until a couple years ago when I ran into her mom by chance in Seattle while I was working on the ambulance…did you know that before she died of her heroine overdose it was clear how haunted she was…she would say, ‘If we don’t do something about Chuck, how do we know he’s not hurting someone else?” And she died thinking that…and the truth is: had the community dealt with you back then, I never would have happened, your daughter, and F*** and S*** and all the others that came after….probably more than I am aware of…So you see how important it is to confront these things….people died haunted because of their inaction….And I can’t die haunted because of my own.”
He didn’t say anything. His face was ghostly and I imagine his stomach was in the same kind of knots mine used to get tied in.
“I’m sorry Emma…God if I could go back….I don’t know what made me that way…I…”
“You’re dad made you that way, Chuck, let’s not play pretend. I know about your dad… like a torch that you can choose to pass to your kids or not….let’s stop passing it. I don’t hate you.” I said. “In fact I’ll always have love for you, you were a father figure…it’s confusing…but…I need to know that I am no longer the one responsible for protecting you with silence…a lot of people have protected you with silence…I can’t do that anymore, it made living with myself challenging, because like L…I always knew in my gut you were still on the loose doing whatever it is you wanted….”
I paused or a moment, and he stood there in front of me looking pathetic. “I won’t lie…I have this overwhelming desire right now…It would feel so good to just punch you right in the kidneys….” I said.
I uncrossed my arms, clenched my fists, stared him straight in the eye and then slowly let a mock punch demonstrate…. “For whatever reason, it would feel so good to me, to just drop you with a kidney punch…and that’s something you taught me, Chuck….” I squinted my eyes, stared directly into his, and said “Do you want to know what I learned from you? Do you want to know what you taught me when I was little, besides how to throw the football? You taught me it can’t be bad if it feels good….and right now? God, it would feel SO GOOD for me to punch you in the kidneys…so tell me….were you right? If that would feel good to me? Would it feel good to you? Or would that feel bad?”
He started to choke on his own spit…he tried to speak but he couldn’t, and then he raised his hand and excused himself….
AND I WALKED AWAY.