Excerpt from Sisters of Moirai Chapter XI

Status

Once Rosemary believed she was off CPS’s radar, with the help from the friends she’d made on Capitol Hill, she applied to another housing project across town, the one where Father Divine promised her a place with their family.

Although a unit closer to the Family wasn’t available, as members had filled every inch of available space secured by Father Divine, there was a vacant single, free standing, unit next to the community center.

It was the summer of 69’. Rosemary was excited to move in with her children. The small unit sat across the street on the south of the community center and kitty corner from the mom and pop grocery and laundromat, a prime location for sure.

Soon after we’d settled in to our new home was a day I’ll never forget. Up early, Maggie and I ventured outside and sat on the curb of the driveway to take in our new surroundings.

There was a slight breeze and the morning sun was hot. It was quiet except for the conversations between neighbors and the maintenance workers lawn mowers.

After we watched the owner of the small store and the Laundromat unlock them for business, we ran to the backyard to play.

The grass was brown and sharp on my bare feet. There was a clothesline with two steel metal poles close to the house, and I climbed to the top of one and sat victoriously in the center of the “T”.

Assuring a good grip, I looked up at the house to see if Mommy was watching, but she wasn’t. Straddling the pole, holding on with one hand, I waved towards the living room window where I saw her talking on the phone, but she didn’t see me.

I wanted her to see what I could do, and I called for her two or three times more, but she still didn’t hear me.

I told Maggie to toss me her plastic duck and then I threw it as hard as I could at the window hoping to get her attention, and boy did it.

“Crash!”

Of the twelve window pane squares, one shattered upon impact from the duck. I had her attention all right, but not the way I wanted.

Before I knew it, Mommy’s hands were around the scrap of my neck, yanking me off the pole. I landed with a thud to the ground; she grabbed a handful of my hair and dragged me towards the house.

“I’m sorry Mommy!” I cried in terror; I’d never seen her so mad before.

Her eyes about bulged out of their sockets as she shook me and screamed into my face.

“Why do you hate me so much?”

Once inside the kitchen, switching the firm grip of my hair to that of my neck again, she grabbed a nearby broom close at hand, and reined its blue wooden handle down upon my head.

“Crack!”

The pain of her fingernails gouging deep into my neck met with the thudding ache of the broom as it collided with my skull.

Over and over again, she pummeled my head until I fell asleep. I awoke on the couch sometime later.

“Goddammit Lissie, see what you made me do,” she whispered while she wiped the blood from my aching forehead. “Mommy’s sorry baby, I won’t do it again.”

And she never did, I made sure of that, and remained out of her arms reach, just in case. I have a one-inch crevice in my skull from the part in my hairline to just above my right eye.

Then, not long after, I awoke one night to the smell of smoke; it wasn’t the usual smell of Mommy’s cigarettes but a putrid choking smoky smell.

I climbed out of bed and walked to Mommy’s room, but she wasn’t there. A green ashtray sat in the middle of her bed and a lit cigarette lay next to it. I watched in horror as the covers burst into flames.

I ran to my bedroom, shook my sister awake, and yelled for her to go outside. Maggie grabbed her dolly and toddled half-awake towards the front door.

The smoke was getting thicker, and I couldn’t see anything around me. I heard Mommy throwing up in the bathroom and followed the sounds. I burst open the door and shouted for her to get up.

“Mommy there’s a fire!”

Mommy waved me away and continued heaving over the toilet.

“Throw up outside Mommy we have to go!” I persisted.

Tugging and pulling on her arm I urged her to stand. Irritated, she stood and stumbled for the door.

“I gotta get my purse and glasses,” she mumbled as she walked back into her bedroom, now about engulfed in flames.

“No, Mommy!” I screamed and lunged for her legs, “We got to go outside!”

“Goddammit Lissie! Let go!” she protested, shaking me off, and disappearing into the smoky room.

“Mommy!” I hollered in counter protest and went in after her, but I lost her again.

“Mommy, where are you?” I yelled as I felt around the room.

I tripped over her lifeless body; she’d fallen asleep on the floor. I tugged her arms with all my four-year-old might.

Once in the hallway, she woke up again, got to her hands and knees and crawled towards the front door.

But she wasn’t going fast enough, so I pushed her from behind, she cursed at me all the way. Once we’d made it to the front door, we found Maggie waiting for us on the porch.

Mommy stood, gasped a breath of fresh air, and proceeded towards the curb at the end of the driveway. I helped Maggie down the stairs.

By the time the firemen arrived, there was nothing left, the house and everything in it, all gone. One fireman dropped a single charred and smoky chair abruptly on the lawn in front of Mommy.

She pulled me and Maggie into her arms and cried, squeezing me tighter and shaking, she slurred into my ear, “What are we gonna do now Lissie?”

 

Excerpt from Sisters of Moirai Chapter XVI

Status

One-night Mommy didn’t come home, nor did anyone come to take us to a babysitter’s.

“I’m hungry Lissie” five-year-old Maggie whimpered. “Me too,” I said just fourteen months older than she.

I couldn’t remember when Mommy left or when she was coming back and went to the pantry to find something for breakfast. There was a little bit of Puffs of Rice, so I looked in the refrigerator for milk, but there wasn’t any.

I poured the cereal into two bowls and stood on a kitchen chair to get water from the faucet when I saw something move. I blocked my sister’s view and picked out as many of the squirmy things as I could, focusing on the moving ones.

Darkness filled the house as evening set in; still no Mommy. The lights didn’t work, so Maggie and I hid in the bathroom just in case one of Mommy’s friends made a visit.

Crouched with our backs against the cold porcelain bathtub, we held each other tight and watched the darkness become blacker.

Too afraid to move in case a walker happened by, a stream of warm liquid seeped from beneath each of us, merging as one to form a large puddle in the middle of the floor.

Morning found us in pain, still hunkered against the tub. The ringing of the school bell startled us awake.

Not knowing if it was the for breakfast or for class—no longer afraid of a visitor—I found clothes for us, brushed both of our hair, grabbed Maggie’s hand, and ran out the door.

I was glad the school was almost in our back yard because we made it in the nick of time for the free hot breakfast. Maggie cried when they set a bowl before her.

I can’t say for certain what transpired next as there are many accounts of what happened that day; I only remember the details of what became of me and Maggie. This is one version of how they busted Father Divine and the Family.

Responding to allegations of child abuse, illegal drug distribution, and other related issues, dressed in military fatigues and armed to the teeth, ten S.W.A.T officers spread out within a two-block radius and surrounded the suspected commune homes where they knew a notorious cult lived.

Going by a hunch that the leader would be present that day, a team of FBI and DEA agents, along with Child Protective Services, quiet as mice, they surrounded the perimeter and two entrances of the low-income housing project.

Every window in a member’s house had their blinds drawn, making them easy to spot. With their guns drawn, the officers stealthily mounted the stairs and broke down the doors of each duplex; rushing inside, they rounded up anyone within, men, women, and children.

Working catlike from the outermost buildings inwards to the central home of the cult leader, they drove every single member out into the street.

They restrained those not strung out with zip tie handcuffs and made them sit and wait until the other buildings were empty and loaded anyone in an apparent drug stupor into an awaiting ambulance to take them to Harborview.

When they reached the cult leader’s dwelling, they saw it barred, and had to use a battering ram to get inside. They found the thin, long-bearded man sitting Indian style on a floor pillow and reading a Bible as if it were any other day.

As the officers restrained him and read him his rights, he cried out onto deaf ears, “We are not hurting anyone; we are a self-sufficient community, living by God’s principles!”

Shoved out into the street along with his followers, Father Divine assured his Family, “Be calm and have faith my brothers and sisters, God will see us through this trial.”

Police brought the restrained members to their feet and corralled them onto a waiting charter bus. Some of the women collapsed in protest in the stairway in a fit of tears and anguish as they witnessed their children being taken away.

EMTs from four ambulances, the local police and fire department, and neighboring looky-loos, filled the streets of the once sleepy community.

Just as quick as they’d arrived, a convoy of loaded ambulances sped away with their lights flashing and sirens wailing.

Teachers at the nearby elementary school kept the members’ school age children distracted until the entire circus had cleared. Once everything had quieted down and back-to-normal, several CPS workers took up posts alongside a known path to the nearby school and waited for the unsuspecting children’s arrival home.

The last bell rang announcing the end of the school day, Maggie and I crossed the street and climbed the small grassy hill behind our house.

Two strangers met us before we got to the door, a man, and a lady. They stood alongside a large white sedan parked in the driveway, beckoning for us in phony voices like one would call to a stray cat.

She’s done it, just like she said she would so many times before, we had finally gotten on her last nerve; Mommy had given us away.

The condition of the two little girls approaching them surprised both officers. They were so tiny, malnourished for sure, their faded, stained, and filthy shift dresses were at least one size too small, and their hair looked ragged and dirty.

The skin on their arms and legs looked tan at first, but as they got closer, they saw it was only caked-on dirt that gave them their Sunkist look. The scabs from unhealed wounds on their legs was more than they could take, and they made their move.

Fearing their intentions, I grabbed Maggie’s hand, bolted for the house, and cried out for Mommy, but she didn’t answer. The strangers followed us inside, cornering me and my sister.

They lunged for us with barbaric swiftness, capturing us like wild animals, and carried us kicking and screaming to their car, releasing us only when we were inside the security cage of the backseat.

Maggie and I held onto each other for dear life as the strangers got into the front seat. We drove for a long time and didn’t stop until we reached a great big brick building. The lady opened the back door, said our mom was inside, and to come with them.

They took us to a row of chairs and told us to sit and wait.

The frightening chaos surrounding us kept us distracted and entertained.

A bed with wheels, pushed by two policemen, a nurse, and a doctor, barreled through some swinging metal doors. Each one yelling instructions over the other about the man’s condition; he had a knife wound.

“BP’s 140 over 90, tachy at 160; minimal blood loss considering the chest laceration; gave him 300 cc’s of saline” Shouted the nurse to the doctor.

“God, it hurts!” yelled the man in the bed.

“Give him 60 of Toradol, don’t want to mix morphine with beer.” said the doctor.

As they rushed past us, a scruffy old man weaved his way up to a busy desk of ringing telephones and more people giving orders.

“My chest…” The man whispered.

A nurse yelled for someone to get a gurney and then rushed him away.

From somewhere down another hall the fearful vulgar screams of a hysterical woman interrupted my thoughts of where they may have taken the man.

Recognizing the cry, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Suddenly, the scary woman was before me, escorted on either side by two policemen.

Our eyes locked. “Lissie!” Mommy shrieked. “Help me!”

Her desperate pleas ricocheted off the walls. She kicked and screamed in a relentless, violent struggle for them to let her go.

With outstretched arms and tears streaming down her cheeks, her face contorted in agony, she cried out for me “Lissie!” “Lissie!”

The policemen held her firmly even when she hung limp by her elbows on purpose, fighting harder still to pry herself from the policemen’s hold.

I ran screaming and flailing toward the policemen, “MOMMY!” but a hospital staff intercepted me midflight.

As much as I twisted like a snake, kicked, howled, and screeched an earsplitting “Let me go! Let me go!”  I couldn’t break free from my captures.

Blinded by hot tears, I stretched my arms out to her as far as they would go for her to save me.

“MOMMY!” I screamed “MOMMY!” as the mean old policemen dragged Mommy away through a pair of metal swinging doors, just like the kind at the grocery store; the echoes of her cries etched forever in my memory.

 

Excerpt from Sisters of Moirai Chapter XXVIII

Status

To keep the strays at bay was exhausting. I figured Mommy got the hint and I could relax at last, but it wasn’t long before she brought another one home.

The summer before Junior high was the worst year of my life, when our snow globe illusion shattered into a million pieces. I awoke one morning to the smell of bacon and stumbled into the kitchen to see what was going on. Mommy was in her robe and slippers, frying eggs and bacon as if it were just another day.

My eyes darted to the table where a barrel chested, hawkish looking older man with hairy grey eyebrows that seemed to have a life of their own sat in a white t-shirt puffing away on a cigarette, sipping on a cup of coffee without a care in the world.

“Hi Lissie,” Mommy greeted me, “This is my friend Doug from the club.”

I could feel heat as hot as bacon grease creeping up from my chest to my face. Without a word to either of them, I stomped back to my room, slammed the door as hard as I could, and flopped down on my bed.

I couldn’t believe it, not again. I buried my face into my pillow and cried. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why we were never enough. Everything had been so great; we were all so happy.

As if things couldn’t get worse, this one asked her to marry him and she said yes! I didn’t care if he had a good job and could take of us. He was not welcome. I did my best to chase him off, using my best tactics that had worked on others in the past, but he wasn’t having it. None of my efforts ruffled his few remaining grey feathers.

Dabbing his eternal dripping nose, MORON for short, he’d say, “I know a thing or two about raising spirited little girls,” as if he were an expert on me, “I have four of my own.,” his eldest was almost Mommy’s age.

Well, he had never met the likes of me; I wasn’t done with him yet. Gloves were off, I’d drawn the battle lines, and declared war upon his head.

I’d made Mommy so upset and worried when I ran off before that the Scorpion Man bailed, so I plotted another trip hoping to make the MORON leave too. This time I would set out to find my father if it was the last thing I ever did, and I was never coming back either.

Mommy once said Daddy lived in Toledo Ohio, so Ohio it was. While Mommy planned her wedding, right down to buying matching baby blue, full-length bridesmaids dresses with matching midnight-blue velvet boleros for me and Maggie, I planned my next move.

The MORON not only took away any chance I’d ever have Mommy to myself again, but he moved us two blocks south to another blue house, a bigger one with a large enough backyard to store his camper and boat.

On the main level to the left of the entry door was small a den and a flight of stairs which lead to the next level with two bedrooms on either side at the top, Maggie already claimed the one to the right, connected by a freakish crawl space, accessible by a little door in each room.

Down the stairs and to the left was the living room; nestled under the stairs was a bathroom and Mommy’s bedroom. Off the living room was a large kitchen and connected to that was an enclosed back porch. Then, beyond all creepiness, a cellar door lay carved into the floor of the sunroom which led to a sinister, cold, and musty smelling basement. There was one small, empty bedroom and a large family room where the MORON set up a ping pong table, as if he thought we’d be spending time down there. A door led to the backyard and to a flight of stairs back to the sunroom.

It was the largest place we’d ever lived in, our meager belongings didn’t quit fill up the colossal tomb, but I still wasn’t impressed. No longer across the street from Karen, we saw less and less of each other. I had never felt so alone in my life.

Worse of all, was the day when I headed out the door for my first day of junior high and got a glimpse of our neighbor. Our eyes locked for a moment. He sneered an evil grin. The acid in my stomach blazed a trail to my throat. It all came back. It was the man that took me for ice cream when I was little. I hoped he hadn’t recognized me, looked away quick, and made a beeline for school.

I couldn’t believe it. Was this some sort of sick joke or what? I didn’t sleep sound from then on, ever vigilant of my surroundings, always checking the doors and windows were secure and locked. And, whenever I left the house, I checked from my bedroom window to see if his car was there and then walked cat like through the backyard, into the alley, on to the main road and safety.

It was a prayer come true the day I saw a moving van parked outside his house. I caught up with the neighbor boy and asked him if he knew anything about it. He said he’d overheard his mom’s telephone conversation how the man’s car went off the side of the mountain on Steven’s Pass Highway this past weekend and he died. Good, I thought, I hope he rots in hell.

Mommy and the MORON’s gaggle of moth-eaten friends made their wedding a big to do about nothing. They married on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Like that day, this day too would go down in infamy.

Unsure of when my next meal would be, I gorged on the party food. While they were away for the night on their honeymoon, assuring Maggie was fast asleep, I crept into the living room and gathered my coat and backpack from behind the couch.

All ready to go, I opened the front door and stepped out onto the porch. It was as dark as a wolf’s mouth and raining. I hesitated, but told myself it was now or never, how it would only get worse, and Mommy needed to learn a lesson.

I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head, tied it underneath my chin, and slipped my arms into my backpack. As I stepped off the last stair, I tripped over a tiny black kitten who appeared from out of nowhere. I scooped it up. It meowed at me plaintively and purred.

Great, now what do I do? I thought, and I tucked him into my coat. Then, we were off to find my dad. I walked fast the half block to the bus stop just in time to catch the last one for the night. I avoided eye contact with the driver and cruised with purpose to the back of the bus and got off at the last stop in Burien. The wind and rain bit at my cheeks as I roamed in search of a pay phone. I saw a light for a grocery store in the distance and made my way towards it. The kitten didn’t stir, he seemed content within the confines of my warm and dry coat.

I dialed MB’s house. Not disclosing my near whereabouts or my plans to find my dad, I asked her if I could come back to her house. She said there were other children living with them and there wasn’t room for anymore.

Daunted but undefeated I headed back out to the road. I stared at my feet as they crunched over the gravel, and my heart beat in cadence with my steps. My chin quivered, and hot tears splashed off my cheeks. I had hoped MB would have come and got me, but now I had to find my dad; there was no going back.

I crossed a large intersection with the walk signal. There were no cars; it was dead; everyone must have been in bed. I walked a little further, away from the streetlights, and turned to face the traffic. With blind faith, I stuck my thumb out every time a car passed.

After about a dozen, a man in a blue mustang pulled over. He reached over and opened the passenger side door.

“How far you are going?” he asked.

“I’m going to find my dad in Ohio,” I yelled over the din of the howling rain, “How far can you take me,” I asked while climbing into the passenger seat.

He looked like one of the Bee Gee brothers with a beard and everything. He seemed nice enough, so I stayed.

“It’s getting late and the weather’s bad; how about we get a fresh start in the morning; I just got off work and am bushed. I’ve got an extra bedroom at my place if you’d like to stay.”

“Okay,” I agreed.

I told him that my mom had died, and I was staying in a foster home and how my dad said he was coming to get me, but hadn’t yet, and how they said they haven’t been able to reach him, and how I was tired of waiting, and going to find him myself.

At that moment, the kitten popped his little head out from my buttoned-up jacket.

“Whoa, whatcha got there?” He laughed.

“He was a gift from the foster mom.” I said.

“What’s his name?”

“Midnight,” I said off the bat.

“Well, I have a cat too; so, Midnight can have a snack along with us.”

We drove on the freeway for a short while then exited and continued down a long dirt road. It reminded me of the road to Dusty and Kelly’s house. We pulled up to a big yellow house that sat sideways to the road. There were no other houses nearby and a dimly lit, solitary street light flickered over it.

Something didn’t feel right as I followed him into the house. He took Midnight to his cat’s litter box and food dish in a room with a laundry machine and fixed us a plate of cheese and crackers with a glass of milk. When we finished, he showed Midnight and me to the guest room.

I turned off the light, tucked Midnight into my jacket, and sat on the edge of the bed. I watched the clock on the night table until an hour had passed and the house was silent; then, I tiptoed to the window and looked out.

The room was over the garage and its roof was even with the road, just like one at the laundromat. I slid the window open as quiet as I could, put my backpack out first, and then made my escape, the second in just one night.

The Stellar Jay

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Mark’s judgment day probably went something like this. God said, “Your minor transgressions will be redeemed if and only if you bring Elise and her children to salvation.” Mark probably laughed, “Ha, but how am I to do that? You know how stubborn she is. She doesn’t believe in you and never will.” God probably replied, “Unless you want to remain in this in-between world for all eternity, you will find a way .” Mark most certainly would not. Because he knew the only way to reach her was through animals, banking on the stories he’d told her about animal spirituality, he sent a Stellar Jay to watch over her for the rest of her days.  A witnessed phenomenon, this spirit bird watches over her vigilantly, no matter where she moves, come rain or shine, he is always nearby. This is just one of many amazing stories of how Mark has worked from the other side to prove that God exists and that led her and her children to their family baptism, Easter 2004.

 

 

 

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