Non Fiction, Based on True Story
I started drafting the missing first half of my autobiography June 1, 2014. Knowing there are 60,000 words already written for the last half of my story, finishing the first half is not so daunting.
Thankfully I had compiled a lot of notes for this part of my story, intending to incorporate it into a fiction murder mystery, that book is permanently dismantled.
I am using Microsoft OneNote to keep my story organized.
As of today, I have just about finished dictating all my notes, and listing and categorizing scenes, there are 30 so far and my word count is 15,000.
I have developed some scenes per my muse’s persistence.
Here is an unedited sneak peek for today:
Mommy was different and I didn’t like to be around her anymore and certainly not around her new friends. In fact, after the fire, I don’t remember her being with us for the remainder of my childhood, even though she was present, I don’t remember actually seeing her. Perhaps it was because I made every effort to make myself invisible. After school and on weekends I’d disappear for most of the day. Come rain or shine, I’d wander around the projects until it was nearly dark in search of something to do. I knew the north end of the projects so well that I could have walked it backwards, not bad for a first grader. I knew who lived in what house, if they had pets, a cat or dog, what kind of toys they had, when they ate dinner and what they ate, what kind of car they had if they had one, if they had a mom and a dad and if they had fights. I knew these things by playing around the different houses, climbing on their garbage enclosures, and pretending that I was invisible just to watch the family that lived inside. Sometimes I invited myself in for a snack and Hanna Barbara cartoons. Every family was different, but none were like mine.
Sometimes I’d stop at the rec center to play on the monkey bars and to fish out an empty bottle from the garbage can to use to catch a pollywog in the pond across from the school. If I couldn’t find a bottle I would just chase the pollywogs and skeeter bugs until I grew bored. Once in a while a school friend would join me. Other times I’d stop at the Laundromat and hop around on the money machines until a coin popped out and then take it next door to the little store and buy as much candy as my coin would allow. Sometimes I’d sneak under the fence around the back of the little store and climb onto the roof of the Laundromat, the edge of the roof was nearly equal to the ground which allowed me to easily step onto it. I liked being on the roof and could have stayed there all day.
Some days, after the project workers had gone home, I’d go to one of the houses they had been fixing and climb up on the pallets of wood they had left behind. The wood was a pretty yellow color, like my hair, it felt soft beneath my feet and smelled really good. On rainy days, if there was plastic covering the wood, I’d take it off and make a fort with it. If there were new windows put on the house there was sure to be fresh clay to play with. That day I’d take some and make a clay family to play with inside of the fort. Of all the things I found to do, my most favorite was to pop tar bubbles on warm summer days. The biggest and gooiest were the ones closest to the curbside. While trekking through the projects, I’d search high and low for that illusive monster tar bubble. And once I found one, I’d cuddle up nice and close to the curb so a car would hit me and work at it until it popped a black sticky ooze, it was almost as gratifying as picking off a stubborn scab, I knew a thing or two about scabs, I had lots of them, or getting a big booger unstuck from my nose, always had some of those to keep me busy too if I didn’t have the other things to pop or pick at.
I never got lost, except for the one time we went with Mommy and her friend to her house in Ballard. This lady was meaner than the slipper lady. She was as round as she was tall with short red hair and meaty freckled fists. She had no tolerance for back talk and with only a brief warning by an evil eye, if you were within reach, out would come one of her meaty fists and POW she’d haul off and smack you right in the kisser before you even knew what had hit you. In addition to Mommy, I also learned to stay out of her reach. It was inevitable though that she’d catch me and my smart mouth eventually. Not paying attention one day, I accidently happened to cross her path, faster than a frog’s tongue, out came one of her meaty claws and she snatched me by the roots of my hair and smacked me with her other meaty fist; and boy you better not cry or she’d sure give you something else to cry about. Yeah, I learned to be ever vigilant when she was around. I especially didn’t like how she was always giving Mommy advice about how to control her heathens. I didn’t know what one was, but coming from her I figured it probably wasn’t something good. I hoped Mommy wasn’t listening because I definitely didn’t want her to make Mommy as mean as she was
The mean red haired lady’s boys were no angels either. One time they talked my sister and me into going to the beach with them while our mothers visited. Janey and I walked alongside them as they rode their bikes, peddling slowly they kept time with our steps , that is until we got to the busy street, and then they took off suddenly as fast as their bikes could take them, leaving Janey and I alone, stunned and afraid. It was hot. There was no shade. The sun beat down on our heads. A hot dry wind blew over us as cars zoomed back and forth in front of us. Janey began to cry. I took her hand and we walked back towards the way we came, but the streets and houses all looked the same. I looked Janey in the eyes, “If we are ever going to get home sister we are going to have to find someone to help us. I will walk on this side of the street and you walk on that side and knock on every door until someone answers. Tell them we are lost and our mother is at the house of the fat lady with red hair and two mean boys.” Janey nodded and proceeded across the quiet little street to the first house. It seemed as if no one was home that day. Tears welled in my eyes as I approached the last house. Thankfully, a nice old lady answered and invited me in. She called the police. When they arrived they had me sit in the back of their car as they searched for my sister. Apparently, Janey had found a ride with a mailman who knew of the lady she had described. The policemen put two and two together and were able to get me to the right house as well. I don’t need to describe the punishment that ensued after they left, just to say that my legs and butt stung for a long time afterward. As far as I know, the boys were never punished.
On summer nights Mommy’s friends took us along for car rides. Although they were long rides and often included many stops, we knew we would eventually end up at Alki beach for a bon fire. When summoned for a car ride I’d excitedly flip the front seat forward, hop in onto the big long back seat, and, if it were just my sister and me, stretch out on the cold leather to watch the passing street lights twinkle like stars as we drove, getting lost in the music that played on the radio, the song City of New Orleans and The Night Chicago Died were among my favorites. But when other kids went along for the ride, it wasn’t as fun, it was too crowded to lie down or hear the music. Because it was hot, we usually wore nothing more than shorts or panties so everyone in the crowded back seat was hot and sticky, a sure fire mix for a few heated arguments of “Stop touching me!” When we became really unruly the adults would flip their beer bottle tops with pictures on them to the back seat, inviting a ritualistic banging of heads as we’d all dive at once to be the first to grab one. And just when one of us started crying and a smack down was about to begin, another flying bottle cap would magically appear; sometimes we’d fake it just to get more caps. The bottle cap picture puzzles kept our young illiterate minds entertained while the adults made their stops. After being confined to the backseat, which sometimes seemed forever, the beach was always our ultimate reward. The adults made huge bon fires in which they’d sit around drinking beer, singing and laughing. A portable radio blared folk music and someone always strummed along on a guitar. Hot dogs and marshmallows were roasted and we kids would run amuck totally unsupervised until we were corralled into the backseat of the car once again to head for home. Stuffed and exhausted, we’d sleep the entire drive only to awaken in the morning with most of the menu still on our faces.
If we weren’t going to the beach after a long car ride, we’d go to the drive in. Once we arrived and were let loose we’d descend upon the playground like a plague; I’m sure our wild cacophony was disturbing to some. I didn’t like the drive in movies, they were always scary. I remember one that had a giant spider that some people got lost in and another one that had monsters. Ignoring the movies, there was always a friend to be found to play on the teeter totter with and who would share their hot dog or popcorn and whose mom was nice and would give us chips and Kool-Aid. Like the beach, we were not summoned until we were corralled into the backseat of the car. Although we were with adults, it always seemed as if we were alone; the trips to the beach are of my favorite childhood memories.