Friday, April 13, 2012

Living With Lunatics (Ch. 5)

The same year I started school my mother started spending a lot of time with a man named Dudley.  He was a large, pale, white man with black greasy hair and a goofy disposition.  I liked him.  He was kind to me and never hurt me.  My mother met him through Rudy.  We went back and forth between living with Dudley and staying at Rudy's.  I liked it over at Dudley's because he had a huge movie collection and an entire room devoted to a Star Wars collection.  I thought it was awesome.  He had the figurines, the ships, costumes, masks, and these cool props they used in the movies.  Dudley use to let me go in his room and watch all the movies I wanted.  His bed sheets hadn't been washed in who knows how long, it was always damp with his sweat from the night before and was covered in crumbs, but I didn't mind about things like that when I was 7.  I preferred the Twilight Zone shows, but I also enjoyed Invasion of The Body Snatchers and The Blob.  He had lots of old classic Sci-Fi stuff.  (I still have a fondness for anything Sci-Fi to this day.) 

 Dudley also lived with this mysterious thin black woman, she was neat and always very grumpy.  I was afraid of her because whenever she was around my mother would say, "Shhh! She's here, don't say anything!"  Dudley's lady friend was never home and when she was she always stayed in her room.  I don't think she was supposed to know we were staying there.  I was a curious child.  I wanted to know about this lady.  My mother described her to a few of her friends as "straight and narrow minded."  She seemed normal to me.  Normal was something I wanted.  So, I use to spy on her.  I would follow her around with my eyes when she was in the room.  If she was in the kitchen, I made sure I had something to do in there.  She wouldn't speak to me, but sometimes I thought I saw a small smile on her face when she caught me looking at her.  Then she would go in her room and close the door.  I wanted desperately to go into her room with her.  It seemed so safe in there.  She always closed the door and left me standing outside of it with the crazies though.  Normal wasn't for me I guess.

Dudley was crazy.  I'm not sure if it was because he was on drugs, or because he had some kind of mental disorder. He use to say strange things to me like... "What did you just say???? You just said angels had 11 toes instead of 10!  Why did you say that??"  His eyes would get really big and he would look at me like I was a magical fairy revealing how to find the gold at the end of the rainbow.  He spoke too quickly and his words would mumble together.  He smiled a lot too.  He made me laugh..."Crazy Dudley!"  Sometimes he would scare me though.  He would talk about demons and "dark entities".  Once we were driving down the road at night and he jerked the car around in a U-turn and pointed down the road. "See that???  What is that?  That dark cloud we just went through.  It had eyes!"...  I wouldn't know what to say when he said things like that, so I just didn't say anything.  I was afraid the air between us was hidden with mines and if I spoke the words might trigger him to actually lose his mind.

Dudley took it upon himself once to take me to church.  We went to a black gospel church.  It was my first experience with religion.  I LOVED it.... at first.  The music was the most spectacular thing I had ever heard and the pastor spoke every word out of his mouth like it was the last sentence he would ever utter.  I was fascinated!  At the end of the service people were going up and getting a dot of oil on their head. I watched as each person went up, received the smear of oil from the pastor and then fell down shaking on the floor.  Dudley said it was the Holy Spirit in them.  I thought, "Scary, I hope the Holy Spirit isn't in me!"  Dudley wanted me to go and get oil on my head when it was our turn.  I didn't want to go, but he made me. 

I got up to the pulpit and the pastor dotted my head and took both of his hands and pushed my head back... hard.  I stumbled and then stood back up and just stared at him.  "Why did he push me like that!?"  I was in shock I think.  Then out from the side pews two ladies grabbed me and started saying prayers over me to get the evil out.  "We command you to leave this child demon! Let the Holy Spirit into her heart!"..... I was a smart kid and I gathered that they wanted that "Holy Spirit" Dudley was talking about to be in me like all the other people... So I decided the best thing to do was pretend.  Lights, Camera, Action!  I started shaking.....  I shook my little body like I was being electrocuted! I fell back on the floor and I rolled my eyes in the back of my head.  I even wiggled my tongue all around in my mouth and mumbled like some of others I saw were doing. (I was a very thorough child :).....  They were very pleased with themselves when it was all over.  I was too...    I felt like I was in an episode of one of the Twilight Zones... I was just missing the narrator......  I decided after that I didn't like church.

Dudley let me turn his Star Wars room into my baby doll nursery.  I had a "Baby So Real".  It ate real food and even peed and pooped!  I was very serious about taking care of my baby. In the mornings after I got myself ready for school I would wake my mom up before I left and tell her, "make sure you take care of my baby, don't let anyone get her."  I would worry about her all day, afraid that one of my mother's crack head friends would steal her.  That baby was the most important thing in my life.  I always came home to find her right where I left her.  I would be so relieved!  Then one day I came home and opened the door to the Star Wars room and knew right away that something horrible had happened. 

I felt my stomach drop and couldn't breath.  My baby wasn't in there.  Panic rose in my chest till it was an apple in my throat  causing my eyes to water.  I felt like collapsing right there on the floor and sobbing.  I knew my mom wasn't a normal mom, and I knew that meant I didn't get to be a normal kid.  So I was set on making sure my baby doll was going to have what I didn't.  I showed it love and attention, I fed it and cleaned it and kept it safe..... as safe as I could.  So I lost more than a baby doll when I couldn't find it. 

I ran looking for my mom and halted in my tracks when I got to the living room.  There on the sofa was my baby!  She was set up against a pillow with a coloring book on her lap and a crayon leaning on her hand.  I looked at my mom is disbelief.  You are playing with my baby? I went over and looked at the coloring book and at the top there was a heart with the word "Mommy" inside.  My baby had drawn me a picture!  My mother laughed when she saw the joy in my face and gave me a hug.  She said, "your baby just really missed you so I thought I would play with her till you got back."  I was speechless.  She continued... "Well, now your home and we could all play together if you want... unless you think it's time for a nap."... A nap!!  I thought that was hilarious!  I felt like jumping up and down, I wanted to clap my hands and rub them together and get down to business!  It was time to be 7 years old.  I can't remember being more happy in my entire life.  This is my single most treasured memory of my mother.

Most of my memories at Dudley's were of trying to convince my mom that she was hallucinating.  I was her "reality check".  She'd take a shower and hop out soaking wet saying, "Who is here!  What are they saying to you?"  I'd take a deep breath and explain to her for the third time that there weren't any people here at all...... There are no UFO's outside.  No, you are the only one who can see the man's face in the fire hydrant.  The room isn't any smaller than it was yesterday.  No, I can't hear the ringing.  There's no one outside.  She was captivated by mirrors and windows and could spend hours peeking outside.  She was worried about someone coming for some reason, so I was constantly being called to take a quick look and see if ..."the white car outside was the same one there five minutes ago, or if it was a new one."  Or something along those lines.   Sometimes I would get tired of her madness and  I would play cruel tricks on her.  "MOM!  Look, there's a man outside the window..... he said the man in the fire hydrant is talking about you!".....  A 7 year old only has so much patience when it comes to dealing with lunatics.  Night time was the worst.  I had monsters in my closet, and my mother was the only one who could see them.  I peed my pants a lot because I was too afraid to get up to go to the bathroom.... I always had a rash because of it.

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