It was great being with Dad again; I had thought that we weren’t ever going to be a family again. We talked almost non-stop on the ride home, about what we had both been through and how we missed each other and how we were happy to be back together again. I never told him about the abuse. I felt his being in jail for almost a year for something that he didn’t do, was punishment enough. We arrived in Arkansas and our home was a mobile home back in Harrison. Once at the trailer, I was introduced to Debbie. Debbie had been my mom’s cellmate and she and Dad had exchanged letters and it went from there. Debbie was Dad’s friend, or so he put it. I found out quickly she was more than a friend, as she thought she was going to replace my mom. From the start, she assumed that I would just call her mom. Nope. They say when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, and that is exactly what she was doing. I had one mom and she was certainly not it. Even though my mom did wrong, I still cared about her, and Debbie wasn’t going to move in on her turf. Debbie once even got mad at my Dad for not making me call her mom. She stormed out and walked across town to her ex sister in law’s house to pout. That’s when I met Jodi Turnbull and Billie Jo Turnbull. Jodi was a large woman, but very cool. She instantly made the impression that she was someone who was safe and who was a friend. Once I got to know her a little better I spent a lot of time at her house. Jodi had a daughter named Billie Jo. Billie Jo was a girl, and I was almost 11, and I knew all about girls. I did my best to get her attention, but to no avail. Billie was infatuated with a celebrity named Ricky Nelson. Ricky Nelson was dead and was a teen idol from the 50’s and 60’s. Rick Nelson wasn’t coming back from the dead any time soon, but that didn’t stop Billie from thinking he was the “stuff”.
Dad was good friends with Jodi’s husband Steve; so many weekends were spent at their house, playing cards, having barbecues and just loafing around. I spent my time trying to be cute and funny to get Billie’s attention, but for the longest time, she would have none of it. Billie thought I was cute, but that was as far as it would go for a while, anyway. I am very persistent, and once I put my mind on something, I have a way of getting what I want. Eventually we became boyfriend and girlfriend, although I had a different meaning of what those words meant than she did. One Saturday we went to the skating rink where I used to skate, and we were having a great time until the couple skate. Billie broke my heart that night, because she wouldn’t skate with me. I cried over that ordeal and everyone gave Billie a good ribbing for it. We stayed boyfriend and girlfriend though, for a long time. We never kissed; we never did anything more than hold hands, but it was comforting to have someone care about you, especially when I had been through all the abuse. Billie was a great friend, and though we never talked about the abuse, she was always there.
Dad and Debbie had a couple of friends, Dot and Jerry. Dot was short for Dorothy and Jerry was short for, Jerry. Dot and Jerry loved to have steak for almost every meal, and it was great to be over there because they would always make a big meal and treat you like an adult without taking advantage of you. Dot had an old newspaper article that had said that Dad, Debbie, Amanda and me were in a car accident and Amanda was the only survivor. It was a trip to read about your own demise in a newspaper. The paper was wrong, however, because I had died the first time that the Pastor touched me, was reborn when Pat and Johnny picked me up, and then died all over again the first time that they did it to me.
Dad had been persistent as well, he was trying to keep the peace at home, so he finally got me to call Debbie mom. It wasn’t a way of me giving in to her; it was me doing what my Dad wanted me to do for him. Debbie also had four, that’s right, four other kids. Those kids were in Iowa with Debbie’s mom and dad. It seems that while Debbie was married, she and her husband rented a bunch of movies from a video store and didn’t return them, so they were arrested for stealing, and Debbie’s mom and dad took the kids to live with them in Mt. Ayr, Iowa. Mt. Ayr, Iowa was devoid of anything. If you were going to get away from it all, every bit of it, go to Mt. Ayr, Iowa, because, “it” wasn’t even going in that direction. In fact, Mt. Ayr, Iowa had only two things, day and night.J
I was introduced to the idea of her having kids by her and Dad talking about us hopping in the car and going to Iowa to see them. Seeing them was good for me, but when we got there it was a whole different ball game. Debbie’s kids were all aged between Amanda and mine. Pete was 2, Kristy was 4, Jason was 8 and Jennifer was 11. At first, everyone got along great. It was kind of cool having other people around. The whole brother and sister thing was good, but very territorial. Amanda and I were still outcasts, and now outnumbered. Whenever Debbie’s kids did something wrong, they would blame us and Debbie would go nuts. Dad always worked long hours and wasn’t home a whole lot, so Debbie was in charge. Jennifer would always get to do whatever she wanted, and I would have to tow the line. Jason was a crybaby who would always blame me when he got hurt or couldn’t do something. Kristy and Pete would always get into mischief and Amanda would always get the spanking for it. Debbie’s kids were from different fathers, except for Pete and Kristy. Jennifer’s dad was a trucker so he didn’t get to see her as much as she would have liked. Jason’s dad was about as worthless as a man could be. He denied Jason from the start, and when we would see him in town and Jason would try and talk to him, he would walk away. Pete and Kristy’s dad was, for lack of a better word, ignorant. He would come around and spend time with them and always try and get Debbie to get back together with him. I would be on his side, because if they got back together, Dad, Amanda and me could go back to Arkansas and be a family. Debbie’s mom and dad were old, and set in their ways. They would talk great about Dad and his kids to everyone when we were around, but when they didn’t think we were close enough to hear, they would belittle us. Dad was always good enough to go fishing and help fix things, but that was about it.
Debbie began physically abusing me around this time. She knew that tickling me was out of the question. Tickling, for me was pure torture. After a couple seconds of tickling, I would lose control of my bladder and I would pee on myself. Pat and Johnny used tickling as a show for their friends. I would get brought out for all to see, and then tickled until I peed all over. Debbie found out that I peed when tickled, and when she would have a reason to punish me, tickling became her favorite form. When she wasn’t tickle torturing me, she would hit me with a closed fist, or slaps to the face. Debbie wouldn’t need a reason, just anything to set her off, would get taken out on me.
Debbie’s daughter, Jennifer was very promiscuous. Jennifer would get with anyone who would give her attention and do whatever they wanted her to do. Several boys from my grade and hers would want to be her boyfriend only because they knew what they could get from her. Jennifer was jealous of me because I had my dad around all the time, so she would trade sexual favors to boys to get them to fight me. Debbie would encourage Jennifer to do this. Debbie wanted my Dad all to herself. Debbie would have been content if Dad had never picked Amanda and me up. There were days upon days when I would have to run home from school because three or four boys would want to beat me up. I could run very fast, so it almost always never happened. Jennifer didn’t like the fact that Billie Jo and I were boyfriend and girlfriend, so she wrote Billie a letter and told her that I had said some horrible things about her. Billie, of course, believed Jennifer and that was the end of that. Most days when I came home from school there was one reason or another for a beating. A beating would consist of closed fists to the face, kicking about the body. There would really have to be no solid reason for a beating, other than just the fact that she wanted to do it. There were several times when I tried to kill myself. I had a “survival” knife, which was a knife with a huge blade. The time that I had all the guts to do it, my Dad walked in and caught me, and stopped me. I had several nightmares about my mom as well. I would dream that she would pull up to my school to pick me up, and when I got to the car, she would tell me to go away, that she hated me. I would wake up balling my eyes out.
Dot and Jerry had moved to Iowa to be around us. At first they stayed with us, and then they moved way out into the country. I stayed the night at their house quite a bit and I wished, sometimes, that they would have just ran off with me. I think about them often and wonder where they are now, and if they ever had any kids of their own, or even if they live in Iowa anymore. I can’t locate them, though because I don’t remember their last name. Debbie was really jealous of Dot and Jerry, mainly because Jerry would hang out with Dad. Debbie never wanted Dad to have anyone but her. She would find fault in everyone he would be a friend with.
Creston, Iowa had an auction every Monday and Dad and Debbie always went. During the auction, we would find other kids and hang out and play. It was on our way home that I actually wrote my first song, Old Fashioned Love. The song was very stupid and not at all together.. “Did you hear the story of the 2 lovers, who dedicated their live to each other, but then one day something separated the 2, and baby I sure hope that doesn’t happen to me and u, because, I love u more than anything, I’ll give u the old fashioned love, with the old fashioned love u have got 2 care, cause if u don’t u’ll be livin’ out in the cold air”. I don’t remember the second verse or much else from the song, but you get the idea. After that, I began writing a lot. Most of the songs I composed were in my head. One “stand out” was “Rubber Cement”. “I said what I meant, have u ever been stuck by rubber cement.” Not very good, but very creative. J
Mt. Ayr Elementary had a very cool music teacher by the name of Mrs. Greene. Mrs. Greene would write down the top 20 songs on the charts, and she would let us sing very hip songs. Our big project every year was to do a music video. We would pick out one of the top 20 songs and learn it, and lip-synch the song while she filmed. The first year I “played” drums on “Hip to be Square” by Hewy Lewis and the News. The second year, I got to “sing” lead to “La Bamba”. It was cool, because I learned every word and ad lib to the song, so I sang it perfectly. The video wasn’t all that “produced” but everyone liked it because I had all of the song down pat. I also got into band during this time. I played the drums. Ok, I played the snare drum. Playing in the band was great because of my love for music, but I had one problem; I couldn’t read music. No matter how hard the teacher would try to teach my, I just couldn’t get it. I could play what he wanted me to play, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of the sheet music.
I even tried out for the wrestling team, but because of a bully on the team, I quit. I went to practice and he punched me a few times. This was because the girl that liked me was the girl that he liked and she didn’t like him. Petty as it was, I went home and said, “Forget it.”
I started going to a local church in Mt. Ayr. It was a Pentecostal church and had a great kids program called the Royal Rangers. Being a member of the Royal Rangers was cool because you could earn pins and ranking over the other kids. It was sort of like Boy Scouts, but more religious.
The leader of the Royal Rangers and his boys were really cool. They loved to have me around. We would hang out a lot, and after a while, the Royal Rangers had a camp out. The camp out wasn’t at a campground, though, it was at a church members house. The house was way out in the country and we set up tents in the front yard. Since I didn’t have my own tent, I had to share. During the night, our leader wakened me and he asked me to come out of the tent for a second. I shouldn’t have left the tent. I should’ve stayed asleep, or pretended to be. Stupid me, I got out of the tent, and went to see what he wanted. The past should’ve been a reminder of what men want when they ask a kid out late into the night. It started off with him showing me a dirty magazine. I was a boy, so that was cool. Then he started talking to me about masturbating. He said everyone did it, and asked if I did. I said “NO WAY!” and he just laughed. He told me that I could, and it wouldn’t be wrong. I was put off by this, and asked if I could just go back to my tent. He said that I could once I watched him. I hadn’t paid attention to what he was doing, but he was all ready touching himself. I stayed there for a second, and then got up to run, but he grabbed my leg. He pulled me down on the ground and raped me. We were in the backyard, so no one heard or seen anything. I did tell my Dad about this, and I guess my Dad said something to him. One day I was riding my bike and I carelessly went down their street, and he came out of his house running after me. His boys caught up with me on their bikes, and I think they were going to beat me up, but I started riding faster than them, and got away.
One night Dad and Debbie got into a huge fight over Amanda. Debbie had bought Pete a teddy bear of some sort, and Debbie was pissed that Dad bought Amanda one as well. Debbie was going after Amanda to spank her and Dad knocked the kitchen table down between them, and threw a glass at Debbie, and it broke her finger. I was actually happy that this had happened because I wanted us to leave. I wanted Dad to find any reason at all to get us and get the hell out of Iowa. Little did I know I would get my wish. I would get out of Iowa, but Debbie and her kids would be right there with us.
I was very much into writing stories also. I loved the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle and Nostradamus. I created a character named J. L. Heindrick. J.L. was an explorer and he would go places and solve the mysteries there. My teacher loved reading my stories almost as much as I loved writing them. I would write really small and take up the front and back of 10 pages or more. I would escape my bad place for a trip anywhere I wanted through the characters in my stories. It was a way for me to do all the things I felt like I missed out on and things I would never get to do. When you write, you get to do anything. The possibilities are endless. Reality in your story is whatever you want it to be. Somewhere down the line, I traded the stories for songs. It was around the time that I started my teenage years. Writing for me would become a solace for the next couple years, as we moved the place I would have my strength really tested, Green Forest, Arkansas.
Green Forest, Arkansas was almost as dead as Mt. Ayr. There was a Tyson chicken plant there, and most of the adults worked there or at the school. The town had an arcade which doubled as a dance hall for teens, and that was about the extent of the fun. If you wanted any other type of stimulation you had to be imaginative and creative. Jodi and Steve had moved there and Steve got my Dad a job at Tyson’s. Dad would be working all hours and Debbie was once again in charge. We lived in a house that was right next to the school. The house was creepy to me, because my room was going to be in the basement, where a well was in the middle of the basement, and a hollow cube shaped brick “thing” was built. The neighbor kids said that someone had drowned in that well, and that someone had built that brick enclosure around the body. I started to sleep down there the first night, and heard too many creepy noises, and I moved upstairs. This house definitely had a presence to it. I woke up one night to use the rest room, and I sat down in the living room for a second. The hall closet opened up and closed shut all by itself. Coincidence, wind, whatever, I couldn’t find an explanation for it. Well, it did this about 3 times in a row! I was so scared that I slept under the bed that night. I had several nightmares in that house. The nightmares centered around me being in the 1920’s and running through a field being chased by a car full of angry men. Once captured, I was lit on fire. I would wake up in a complete sweat. Dad thought maybe I was wetting the bed, but it was all sweat. We got 3 dogs while we lived at this house. 2 of the dogs were little and they were called; Cuddles and Bear. The third dog was part Australian Sheppard and part German Sheppard. Her name was Matilda. Matilda was the best dog I had. Matilda wouldn’t bark if I asked her not to bark. She would watch over me when I slept in a tent outside, barking only if someone came around that wasn’t supposed to be there.
One night, Dad, Debbie and a few of their friends went out. I was left in charge of their kids. We kept an iron bar across the door that led to the basement because it also led outside through the garage. Before Dad left, all the doors were locked and I told Matilda to let me know if anyone was outside. About an hour after they left, there was a loud banging on our sliding door to the outside. Matilda hadn’t barked at all, and we couldn’t see anyone out there. A couple minutes later, the banging was coming from the other side of the basement door. No one could get in because of that bar, but it sure seemed like they were going to. I called Jodi, and told her what was happening, and she called the cops. The cops showed up and looked everywhere and there was no one to be found. Not long after they left it started up again. I called Jodi again, and she had even heard it through the phone. Once again, she called the police and they showed up to investigate. The cops made me walk with them and show them where I heard the banging, we went through the garage, down into the basement, outside the house, and no one was there. They told me not to call them again, and that playing pranks could get my parents thrown in jail. The cops no sooner than got out of the driveway and it started again, but I didn’t get them back in the house. I just waited it out, and eventually it stopped. Dad checked all around the house and never found anything or any indication that there was anyone in the house. I personally think it was a ghost of some sort. That is just my opinion, and if it’s not yours I don’t care, because you weren’t there, and you weren’t terrified for your life. There were several kids that hung around our house, and most of them were friends of Jennifer’s. They would be there before school and after school and on weekends. I had a few friends too, but they all lived way out in the country, so they were never really around other than when I was in school. Most of the guys who hung around were getting attention from Jennifer, so that made them against me from the start. If they didn’t get the opportunity to jump me before school, they would just do it at school.
Debbie was also entertaining some of these guys. They would come in when my Dad was at work. While they were in the house, they were nice to me, but the deal was, if Debbie did them a “favor”, they would have to do her a “favor. One day before school, one of the boys tried to get me to come outside so he could jump me, but my Dad was at home, and he went outside and told him that if he wanted to fight “ so god-damned much” that he would fight him. That guy left and I don’t think that he ever bothered me again.
Dad worked a lot of hours so he wasn’t home except for an occasional day off, and to sleep. Wrestling was a way out for me and I would watch it on Monday nights, and I collected the action figures and magazines. I would sometimes wake myself up when I knew that Dad would be home from work, to ask him for a couple dollars to get a magazine. Whether he had it to spare or not, it seemed like he always gave it to me. Knowing what I know now, I am sure he skipped his share of lunches or cigarettes for me to have a magazine.
One day Dad bought us a Nintendo. That was a great time for me. All of my friends had one, and I played it with them, but having one of your own is a whole different situation. I would immerse myself into Super Mario Brothers or Pro Wrestling and play for hours. I soon knew all the secrets and how to beat the games. Neighborhood kids would come over just to see if they could figure out how to do the tricks that I could do on those games. We would always challenge each other to see who could do better than you. Most of the time, I would win on those 2 games. The main problem though with the Nintendo, is that it would wear down after a while and you had to blow on the games, and put them in just right to get it to work, and that was annoying and frustrating at the same time.
One person who hung around a lot was a guy named Damon. Damon was an on again off again boyfriend of Jennifer’s. When they were “together” Damon was pretty much an asshole. When they were not “together” he was ok to be around. Damon would be a good friend one day, and then the next day want to fight for no reason at all. There were days when he would walk up to me and sucker punch me in the face, and I wouldn’t even know what was wrong. Thankfully, my jaw is pretty strong and I’ve never been hit there and had it hurt.
I would make sure to have the radio on every Sunday night to listen to the top 40 countdown with “Shadow” Stephens. I would record all of the songs I liked off of the radio so I could listen to them over and over again. Some of the songs that were my favorites were; Here with Me by REO Speedwagon, Waiting for a Star to Fall by Boy Meets Girl, Girl You Know it’s True by Milli Vanilli, Wild Thing by Tone Loc, Don’t be Cruel by Bobby Brown and Batdance by Prince. I would listen to Here with Me and cry thinking about my Mom and Dad getting back together and us being a family again.
Wal-Mart was a big hang out too. It was a weekend trip to Berryville or Harrison to shop. At the Berryville Wal-Mart, I met a girl named Vicky Snow. I was playing one of the demonstration Nintendos and Pro Wrestling was the game. I was beating everyone and then Vicky and her brother showed up. I pretty much lost on purpose so that her brother could play and so I could talk to Vicky. We talked for what seemed like hours, though in reality it was only an hour or so. I thought I would never see her again when I Wal-Mart that night, but as luck would have it, I would. Vicky’s cousin; Jae Leah went to school with me and that Monday, Jae Leah asked me if I had met someone named Vicky at Wal-Mart. I said I did, and she told me that Vicky was her cousin and wanted her to give me her phone number. I couldn’t wait to get home from school that day so I could call her. Once I got home, we talked on the phone for hours. We met at the Berryville carnival and rode rides together, and decided we would be “going out”. Everyday we would talk on the phone and exchange notes through Jae Leah. I thought this was great, and everything came together for a school dance we had at our school. Jae Leah told me that Vicky was going to go there, so I asked her to go with me and she agreed. Once there, however, Vicky paid no attention to me at all. It was like I wasn’t even there. Once again, Chris got shot down. I left the dance early and went home and cried again. It was starting to seem that if any one thing went good, it was going to be followed by two more things going way way wrong. Vicky apologized the next day on the phone but it was pretty much the end of anything. I had been used to people hurting me and I wasn’t going to set myself up for that again. Getting heart-broken by Vicky was pretty tough, but it did make Jae Leah and I friends and I wasn’t just “that Chris guy”. I was actually someone that the popular kids knew and a lot of them liked.
The next fiasco I would find myself a part of, was a girl named Jennifer Norman. Jennifer had gone to Green Forest in elementary school, but had moved away. She came back in Junior High, and immediately I liked her and she liked me. There was a problem, though from the outset. I wasn’t rich. Her parents didn’t like her associating with someone of a lower economic class. We couldn’t go to the movies together, but we talked on the phone every night and we exchanged notes several times a day at school. It went pretty good for a while until Jennifer had lost a library book, and I wouldn’t take the fall for her. I knew my Dad didn’t have the money to replace a library book, so I couldn’t say I lost it. Jennifer pretty much kicked me to the curb after that. I took that one in stride; there were no tears shed on that. I would do almost anything to please someone, but I wasn’t going to cost my Dad money we didn’t have.
Misty Sims would be the next and last girlfriend in Green Forest for me. We moved out into the country into a bigger house and I had to ride the bus to and from school. I met a couple of people I knew from school, but never knew that well. Billy Gerard and Misty Sims. Billy was a nice kid who never got a break. Misty was a shy laid back girl who played on the basketball team. The three of us became friends and then inseparable. Billy would come over all the time after school, and I would go to his house in the morning before school and help him get his chores done so we would have time to hang out after school. When I wasn’t hanging with Billy, I was at Misty’s house. Her parents owned a farm and a few head of cattle. I would go over there and help them feed the cows, and then we would play Nintendo and just talk. Though we were very close I still hadn’t told anyone about the abuse that was in the past or the abuse that was ongoing. Misty and I sat together on the bus and wrote notes back and forth throughout the day. We always could find something or someone to talk about. Misty’s friends were jealous of the relationship so they would make up stuff, and I would have to defend myself, and sometimes I would like someone else, so I would break up with her. It was a roller coaster, but I knew I could count on her as she could me. The coolest thing at the time was watching her play basketball. I was on the band and I thought it was cool, but it wasn’t like playing a sport. Green Forest even had shirts made for the team with their names on them, and I had one with her name on it. It’s too cute, I know, but it’s how it was. One day riding home on the bus, there was some bickering between one of Misty’s friends and I. I said some pretty nasty things back to her and the bus driver sent me to the office. The principal was ready to paddle me or suspend me, but Billy Gerard went in and told the principal that it was he who had said the inappropriate words. Billy took the rap for me and got a paddling out of it. I tried to think him, but how do you repay someone who gets his ass beat for something he didn’t do? The Home we lived in had several acres of wooded area, and a huge hill behind it. Billy and I would explore the land and talk about life and where we wanted to be when we grew up. I always wanted to get away from Debbie and Arkansas. Billy was just one of those guys who wasn’t going to leave. When I was alone, I would walk the land, thinking, and singing to myself. I always had dreams of just walking and walking until I got away from there, but it was just a dream.
One day, out of the blue, Aunt Charlene’s son and his wife showed up for a visit. James was married and had no kids. James’ wife wasn’t real pretty but she had a great personality. She also cut hair and liked the same music that I did. While they were here, James and Jennifer spent a lot of time alone together, and James’ wife would hang out with me. James’ wife lied a lot though. She claimed that she wrote the Def Leppard hit, “Love Bites”, and the Bon Jovi song “Livin’ on a Prayer”. One night while cutting my hair, she kept pushing her chest into my face. Being precocious, I said “ If you don’t get those outta my face, I’m gonna bite ‘em.” She said go ahead, and then took her shirt and her bra off. We were in the bathroom at the time, with everyone else in the other room, so I was scared to do anything. I just let her cut my hair and when we were done, I got out of there. Later, I told a friend about what had happened, and he ended up telling James. James tried to make a big deal out of it, but when we brought up the fact that he and Jennifer were always alone together, he quickly got defensive and left it alone. James was having an affair with Jennifer and his wife knew it, and I think that is why she was so eager to do something with me. I don’t remember her name for the life of me, so that is why I refer to her as James’ wife. She and James aren’t together anymore as far as I know.
It should be noted that during all of this time, my mom was writing letters to me. I would write back and that was all of our contact, except for the one time I was taken to the prison in Little Rock, Arkansas to see her. While we were in Green Forest, Arkansas Debbie actually wrote my mom a letter asking her to quit writing me because it was too much stress on me. I never knew this happened. I just came home one day and the letters had stopped. Being a kid, I had so many things and emotions going on that I didn’t even notice at first. After a while it did start bothering me that I wasn’t getting any letters, but I had no idea it was Debbie’s fault.
That summer, Debbie’s parents invited her kids to come up to Iowa for the summer. Debbie suggested that they invite me as well. Begrudgingly they did, and begrudgingly I accepted. I wanted to see some of the friends I had made up there, and hang out in the old neighborhood, but Glenn and Jean had other plans for us. First, they said that we were up there to see them, and not “friends”. They said that we wouldn’t be leaving their yard. Glenn and Jean loved to fish, and almost every Sunday we got up at the crack of dawn to go fishing. Glenn taught us how to bass fish. Bass fishing is fun, because you don’t have to just stand still and wait for a bite. You keep casting out and reeling in slowly. Jean made the best pancakes also. Her pancakes were very thin. I don’t know how she mastered it, but her pancakes were no thicker than a sheet of notebook paper. Glenn also liked to watch wrestling, so Saturday nights and Sundays were good for that. Jean loved game shows, so during the weekdays we had to watch all of the repeats. Jean would get irate if u solved a puzzle quicker than she did, so she was mad at me almost all the time. It wasn’t that I was showing off, I was just trying to solve the puzzle. We finally got under her skin, so she let us wonder around town. I would immediately go across the street to Damien Hurmence’s home.
Damien was a new student in my 6th grade class, in Mt. Ayr. Damien and I hit it off right away, and we were pretty good friends. Damien and I would play Nintendo, and flag football all day long. Other kids from the neighborhood would stop by and we would have a pretty good game. Damien also had a sister who was a year younger than we were. Her name was Laura. Laura was really cute, and I had a crush on her for a while. Laura didn’t like me no matter what I would do. One day when I went over looking for Damien, Laura came out and talked to me for a long time. I thought we had a good time, but it was just a good time. We talked; I acted funny to make her laugh, and probably told stupid jokes. When you have gone through as much as I had by this time, you start to think that when a girl gives you attention, she must like you. Well, Laura liked me, as a friend, at best. Another good friend was Clint Caraway.
Clint was someone who wasn’t very nice to me when I lived in Mt. Ayr, but this summer he was really cool. I was hanging out at the schoolyard playing, and he showed up. We began playing basketball and talking and a friendship came from it. Clint’s mom worked at a local store called “Places”. Places was like Dollar General. Places was where everyone went to buy anything other than groceries. Clint and I would go to Places and get candy and Garbage Pail Kid cards. Clint and I also made fun of his sister, Sally. Sally had frizzy red hair, glasses and braces. We called her “Salamander Sally”. Sally hated both of us for doing that, but we had fun. The sleeping arrangements in Glenn and Jean’s house were cramped. We slept upstairs. There were three of us crammed into two rooms. One night, while we were supposed to be sleeping, I over heard Glenn and Jean talking downstairs. They were saying how much they hated me, and they hated my Dad. They said how they wished their daughter would leave and get back to her senses. For the most part, I agreed with them, but I was stuck in their home for the rest of the summer and I was scared of what might happen. We wrote letters home about once a week. I found out that Glenn and Jean were reading my letters before they went out. I stopped writing home after that.
Soon summer was coming to a close and we packed up and went on the long drive back to Arkansas. I had said all my good-byes before I left and was too happy to be home. For the first time in my life, I think I was actually happy to be in Arkansas. Once home, I went to Billy’s house and got him and we hung out for a bit, then I went to Misty’s house and we spent the rest of the day together. Glenn and Jean talked down about me to Dad and Debbie, and when Dad defended me, Glenn and Jean headed on back to Iowa. That was the last time I would see them. Good riddance to bad rubbish, as far as I was concerned. Debbie thought that Jennifer and I needed jobs. She took us to Eureka Springs and had us put in applications. I was only 13 but she told us to lie on our applications. I got a job at a fast food place. I worked there for about 3 weeks and got 1 paycheck before I was caught. The boss was actually very nice and she told me that I could get into a lot of trouble for falsifying information on my application, but she wasn’t going to say anything, she even told me to come back once I was really 16 and wanted a job. I didn’t really meet anyone memorable there; I know they played Cher on the jukebox over and over again. Every night, it was “If I Could Turn Back Time”. I didn’t really dislike Cher, but I didn’t really like her either, but hearing that song all the time made me like it a little. Now, whenever I hear that song, I think back to those 3 weeks, and I have to laugh because I was a pretty convincing 16 year old.
I was in the band at Green Forest Junior High. I played drums, and still didn’t know how to read music. There were a couple of jerks there, but there were more nice people in there. I really looked up to one of the senior guys, and now I can’t remember his name, but he really helped me along. My regular circle of friends was in band also, and the bandleader was really cool too. Whenever we would travel to other towns for games, we could take whatever we wanted on the bus. Someone would always bring a radio and the latest music, and we would all sing along. I had a crush on an older girl, but she didn’t have time to like me, because she liked the senior guy who was so cool to me. He was taken, so he couldn’t return her affections, but that didn’t detour her. She was convinced that she had a chance, and because of that, I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. The flag girls rode our bus as well. When we went to competition it was cool because if you went to the bus at the right time, you could hide and watch them change clothes. For a teenage boy, it was awesome. One of the best friends I had there was a guy named Justin. Justin was a laid back guy who went with the flow. We got along great and hung out whenever possible outside of school. Problem was, that Justin, like most other kids, lived in the country several miles from school and anyone else. I spent the night at Justin’s one time, and it was scary but cool. His house was way up on a hill, and they had no running water. They had an outhouse where you went to the rest room, if you were brave enough to go. I think I held mine in until the morning and then went when it was daylight. There wasn’t much to do at Justin’s because his parents didn’t want you roaming the land. Justin’s parents had a leather shop in Green Forest, and right before I left, Justin had made me a wallet. I don’t have it anymore, but I wish that I did. It was hard leaving all those friends behind, but I was used to moving from place to place. Another of my friends was Shawn and Stephon. Shawn and Stephon were brothers. We shared a love for pro wrestling and when I would spend the night at their house, we would make a ring outside and wrestle for hours. We would pretend to
be whomever we liked on TV and we would do all of their moves, trying to win, but trying also not to hurt each other. It was fun, and hard, but we had great times at it. When Justin and Kenny would spend the night there also, we would have tag team matches and make someone be the referee and we would have tournaments. I won some, and I lost some, but had fun nonetheless. My favorite wrestler of the time was Sting. I would do Sting’s moves and make them submit with his “Scorpion Death Lock”. Back to Kenny, now. Kenny Gibson was my absolute best friend there. Kenny and I had several classes together and we would horseplay our way through them and draw all over everything. I only stayed the night one time at Kenny’s because it was just Kenny and his mom and sister. His mom didn’t like having company because she worked a lot. One of our other friends was a guy names Mike Maybe. His name was the fodder of many jokes and good times. Mike was a cool guy too though. He lived with his mom, and loved music like I love music, so we would trade tapes and walk around town with a radio playing Tone Loc and Meatloaf.
One night, Dad and Debbie had gone out and all of the kids were at Jodi’s house except for me. Debbie knew I would be there alone. They hadn’t been gone very long, when I sensed something wrong. There was someone out there. Matilda was going nuts, and so were Cuddles and Bear. I thought I could hear someone talking outside. I was terrified! I called Jodi, and she assured me that there was no one out there. I locked all the doors, but I was so afraid that someone was going to hurt me. I called up Misty’s house and she had her Dad come get me. I stayed there the whole night and once morning got here, I had to help with the chores before I went home. Dad said I was just being paranoid and that there was no one out there. I am convinced though, that Debbie had someone out there who was going to hurt me. I hope that hurt was all they were planning, because with Debbie, I am not sure. It wasn’t long after that, my life changed forever. This time for a good way.
The phone rang and it was my mom on the other end. She was out of jail now, and she was ready to have her family back. I was excited to talk to her, but Debbie was trying to make it as impossible as she could. I took the call in the bedroom and talked to her for a long time. Dad was home and he talked to her too. Mom said she wanted her family back with her in Illinois. Dad told me the news when Debbie was asleep. He came into my room and told me that we would soon be going to Illinois. We were going to pack only what we needed and we were going to be picked up by my Uncle Dave. I told one friend at school and he told someone else and soon Jennifer had got the news and told Debbie. For the days leading up to our big leave, my room was destroyed, my stuff broken, my tapes ruined and my magazines burnt. Dad tried to talk sense into Debbie but she wasn’t having it. She told my Dad that he could let me go back there, and he and Amanda could stay with her. She openly and honestly admitted she hated me, and that she would be glad to get rid of me, but she wanted Dad and Amanda to stay. Dad said he was going wherever I was going, and Debbie flipped her lid. The night we were to leave, Debbie stormed off with her kids in tow, to Jodi’s house. Dad and I got our things together and waited out in the driveway for Uncle Dave to arrive. It was really late when they got here, but we loaded up as much as we could. A lot of the tapes that I had got left behind but we were finally on our way. I was never so happy to see anyone in my life. I hardly slept on the way home. We stopped and got breakfast and talked and were back on the road again. Once we started seeing familiar sites like the Arch and then the Roxana sign, I got giddy like a schoolgirl. The only thing I hated was having to leave my friends behind. Misty had written me a letter and it was probably as hard for her to write it as it was for me to read it. She was upset that I was leaving and leaving her behind. She said she understood me wanting to be with my mom but couldn’t understand why it couldn’t be here. I thought everything was going to be great again, and in ways it was.