March 28th, 1969
Today my father arrived home minutes ahead of the two pickup trucks and started blowing the hooter.
“Guess what?” he had beamed at me and my mother after we went out to see what all the ruckus was about. “Santa came a little early this year!” He opened the back door of the Buick and lifted a large gift-wrapped parcel off the seat. There was a smaller one on top of the bigger. He handed the large one to my mother and the smaller to me. “You’re gonna love yours!” he said ruffling my hair. “You’ve been going on about it long enough.”
We enthusiastically tore off the wrapping paper. My mother’s present was the latest Kenwood Chef, mine a Timex wristwatch.
“Wow!” I exclaimed in delight. “You’re right! I love it!” I gave him a hug. “And I love you too.”
At that moment the trucks pulled into our drive.
“What’s this, Claude? What’s going on?” my mother asked with an uncertain and uneasy smile.
“That, my dear Elizabeth, is the cake under the cherry.”
“Don’t you mean…”
“Uh-uh, come an’ look!” he said moving towards the trucks. One had ten rose bushes and a couple of sacks of special rose fertilizer. The other had a brand new fridge, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and four-piece living room set. “I would definitely say ‘The cake under the cherry!”
“Oh my, Claude? How?” Then she clapped her hands together. “You got the promotion?”
After a slight hesitation he said, “Uh, no. Not yet, honey. But that’s still coming. That’s gonna happen any day now.”
“I decided to use the money in a more practical way. I also got myself some new tools and paid off the car.”
“That’s right!” he said patting the roof of the Buick. “She’s all ours now, every last nut, bolt, rattle and backfire. And you know what else?”
“We even have enough left over to afford ourselves a really decent vacation this year. How does Miami sound?” Then he turned to me. “You hear that, Con? Next summer we’re all off to Miami.”
Mother was ecstatic – I, understandably, was furious. Words cannot describe the rage that was boiling up inside of me.
At first I had just stood there flabbergasted, feeling the bile and anger rising in my throat. When I finally erupted, it was ugly and uncontrolled.
“You…idiot! You…stupid shifty deceiving asshole.
You miserable fucking lying bastard. Do you have any idea what I went through to get that money? I could have helped you to help this family. How you always manage to screw things up is beyond me?
“You earn a ridiculous salary working for a boss you despise; doing a menial job that you hate even more.
“Day after day you eat up Sallinger’s shit - and for what? I’ll tell you what? So you can brag to us what a great provider you are. Yeah, no matter how tough things get you always put enough food on the table. Well, that’s not going to be the case when Sallinger gives the promotion to Fred Waring.
“Did you think you were doing us a favor when you killed yourself? How stupid can one man be? Not only were you an idiot, but a coward as well. You left us to suffer, not only the pain of your loss, but also that of the many years of struggle to climb out of the hole of poverty that you buried us in! Don’t you know that insurance companies don’t pay out in the case of suicide? Couldn’t you have driven off a cliff or stepped in front of a bus? Yeah, something a bit more spectacular than shoving a piece of hose up the Buick’s exhaust and gassing yourself. No! Because that’s just like you. No imagination! No vision! And no fucking backbone!”
My mother and the four guys who had arrived in the pickups all stood there with their jaws hanging on the ground. They stared at me, then at my father, who had been stunned into temporary silence himself.
“Wh…what? What did you say? Wh…what did you just call me?”
“You heard me you sorry excuse for a human being. You heard every last fucking word I said you miserable lying insect. I wish I could squash you like a bug under my shoe!”
“Get to your room!”
“Get to your room! You’re grounded for life, young man! Don’t think for one instant that because you’ve got a high I.Q. and attend some fancy special class that it gives you the right to talk to me that way. I’m your father, and I’m telling you to go to your room! Now!”
“Get to your room! Go now or you’re going to get the beating of your life.”
“What’s that gonna help? It still won’t change the fact that you’re a lying, deceitful arsehole!”
“No! You go to your room! You’re the one who did wrong – not me!” I threw the watch at him. “And while you’re there, you can shove that up your arse.” He swiftly removed his belt and brought it forcibly against my backside with a loud thwack. It stung like hell, but I just sneered at him and said, “What was that? My grandmother can hit harder than you.” There was another thwack. “You happy now?” And another. “Please sir, may I have some more?” And another, much harder this time. “Please sir, may I have some more?” Another hard one. “Is this making you feel any better, yet? Or do you want to see blood first” Three swift thwacks. “Go on! Because blood is the only thing you’re gonna get outta me today. I won’t cry a single tear for the likes of you!” And I didn’t.
It is with much pain, both mentally and physically that I am now writing these words.
Hopefully to my father’s delight, I have finally gone to my room, although this occurred only after my mother’s urging as well.
[(Note: The last paragraphs in this March 28, 1969 entry are being added on this day of October 23, 1969 as I have suddenly had some recollections of other events that occurred on that…this terrible day.
As can be expected, I was in a rather heightened emotional state and not thinking too rationally at the time of the initial entry. )
Since my father’s second death, I’ve felt urged to read through my memoirs to hopefully gain a better perspective of my second life.
March 28th, 1969 would be the last time that my father would ever punish me. It may have been the hatred, instead of fear, that he saw in my eyes, or perhaps the fact that I never cried out once or shed a single tear.
If not for my mother intervening, I cannot say how long the beating would have continued. My whole body was blackened by the bruises that I would carry for weeks thereafter. They were a constant reminder to us all of my father’s shame.
I recall now that something strange happened that night. I heard my parents arguing in their bedroom. Later I heard my father sobbing whilst my mother tried to console him.
What a pathetic excuse of a human being he was. How my mother ever fell in love with him remains a total mystery.
I would say that the only one really good thing that he ever managed to accomplish in his useless lifetime was the son that he sired - me!
Oh, yeah –thank God that little Claudia was having her nap at the time of the incident and saw none of her father’s brutality. I hope she turns out to be a better adult and parent than he ever was – it shouldn’t be too difficult.]