Past is Past (edited version)
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                          (photo of author at Lumme Nation.  by Barbie Jackson, Warm Springs)

 

If I am not careful in my head, I can still get caught up in all that old crazy thinking and silent arguing I had with Him for years about the things that did not really matter, the horrific dead -end arguments that were way, way far away from the real point:  My children’s father.  I had wished Him dead for many years.

 

The past just won’t leave me alone. Past is past, yet it keeps coming back up and just Will. Not. Leave. Me. Alone.

 

Somehow -anti-miraculously - he had convinced the courts to continue the abuse; the courts gave my precious children to this crazy man to raise after the Divorce. Somehow my children grew up and we survived. Recently, he started up again, eleven years after I left Him.  He started up again with quiet stalking and insane jealous counting,  threatening me, trying to ruin my life again haunting me. I do not want these stories of these events to haunt my children, their future children and our descendants.

 

The past just doesn’t seem to ever stop. So I write this as fiction, calling it all lies so no one sues and no one dies.

 

                                                                                                 ♥   ♥   ♥

 

Maybe I am crazy. But I used to be crazy in love.           

 

The first time I saw Him, the only man I was ever to marry, I was in my copper ’67 Mustang as it crept up the hill of Quincy Street in North East D.C. 

 

It was a muggy hot Washington day and both of my car windows were rolled down. I was wearing  a halter-top and my favorite cut-offs. My long red hair was pulled back off my damp face and i had stuck a bluejay feather i had found into one of the thin braids mixed in my hair. I had thrown off my flipflops so I could work the clutch pedal and gas pedal with my small bare feet. The sun hidden in the hazy sky melted the white vinyl seats hot and sticky against the back of my thighs.  The old houses along both sides of the street were run down and I knew some cool people who lived in them on this part of my street. My house was a couple of blocks further up. I was the only student in our huge house full of former college students, and I was in no hurry to get home to finish studying for a class.  One street over was full of abandoned lots left after the buildings there had been burnt down during the riots a decade earlier. On the radio, Neil Young's whine "Looking for a Heart of Gold...." sudenly turned into   Steppenwolf motorized howl revving up to pound out in heartbeats,  " I. LIKE. TO. DREAM..."

 

I glanced over to the left - and saw Him. 

 

He was a beautiful, intense dark golden sight.  He was tall, very tall, way over six feet tall and powerful. Not just his full chest and his muscular tanned arms, which I could easily see because he was wearing an open button-down shirt with the arms ripped off. But His power radiated off of him with an intensity of spirit that I mistook for passion. He had long blonded hair, sun bleached, almost to his waist and a thick handlebar mustache , with high cheekbones, grey-blue slanted eyes under his glasses and a cleft in his strong,  square chin.  He was striding long-legged toward one of the huge old motorcycles crowded in the driveway, as I tried not to gawk, look stupid or drive into the curb.

 

He was a beautiful, beautiful man. I lost my breath. He had no awareness of his striking beauty, which made Him all the more magnetic to me. He was intent on the antique Norton motorcycle and his own thoughts, so he didn’t notice me.  But I noticed him and would never, ever forget.

 

 The night before, I had tried –again-  to break up with a sweet alcoholic boyfriend whose red Viking beard reached his belt buckle and whose drunken, heroic stories of biker brothers included mythic tales of this intense, tall man I just saw. I drove away, thinking how different my life could be if I ever was able to meet this giant god of a man.

 

Little did I know.

 

Our circles soon overlapped, at the neighborhood bar where I worked. He was well-known by all the respected old-timer bikers, but only known by His first name. No one knew his history except that He was from God’s Country, the far away mystical land of Oregon. This was before computers tracked everybody all the time, and he had no paper trail. His pay at the bar had always been in cash. He hated drugs and loved rum. Everyone knew that if you wanted to find Him, you could call the bar and leave word. He used to work there, years before I did, and some people always could put the word out. He’d then show up if someone was in trouble and needed help. I heard one wild story from my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend and from my bar buddies, and later I heard the same story from Him. So maybe it was mostly true.

 

Apparently, two Stupid Girls (he called them this, not me) who had only heard of Him had gotten caught up with some slimy porn makers. They expected a fun adventure, to become STARS in a porn film.  Only it wasn’t just porn, they found out.  They were going to be the stars of an actual SNUFF film, meaning they would be dead on film and in real life if they didn’t find a way to get away.

 

So the Stupid Girls were at this diner in DC, off 14th Street, which if you knew DC in the old days, was where sex of all kinds was for rent on the dark street. The diner was a long, silver railway car with one only door and it was at the far end. The slimy bad guys sat them at a table at the end away from the exit. Somehow, one Stupid Girl got smarter and was able to get to the payphone because it wasn’t at the end by the door. She called the bar, and asked for Him to come to help them escape. 

 

He soon showed up and silently filled the doorway. He stared down at the bad guys with slitty eyes. He intimidated them with his presence, no gun in sight. The bad guys froze at the sight of him, a Clint Eastwood who silently appeared in biker form. They just gave up without a word and stood aside so the girls could get up from the booth. So the two Stupid Girls walked out, just left the diner with Him slowly trailing them, watching their backs. An Arch-Angel in leathers. A Hero-Man.

 

I had loved that story. I had loved that man.  Years later,   I would eventually learn the hard way that his great intensity of spirit would become nothing but never-ending rage that would destroy the family we would have together, thousands of miles later, in God’s Country.

 

                                                                                       ♥   ♥   ♥

 

I remember when I finally began to tell the stories of my past in a healing way. Once, a few years before he passed over to the other side, Al HighHorse, Defender of Wounded Knee, Lakota Elder, my good friend,  called me up on my cell phone.

 

English was Al's second language, so  with his familiar formal stilted slang , he barked at me in his ancient accent “Hey, bring your truck around,  come pick me up. Another woman is in trouble and I need you to drive me. She maybe needs another woman there.” 

 

That turned out to be a very long night. Much later, we sat for hours out front of his apartment building in my black little SUV. Al’s tiny room was far upstairs and the truck’s engine ran to keep away the frigid winter air.  The evening had brought back bad memories for me and Al asked me a few questions. After years of silence, I factually began to recount the secret horror stories of my marriage I had escaped from.

 

Al listened to even more stories about the love that had escaped long before I was able to.  I was grateful that Al listened to me and believed me.

 

Al asked me a few more questions. Then Al confirmed what I had long and silently believed to be true:  “Another spirit came in to live in that man’s body, an evil spirit. That man you loved is gone.”

  

See, I don’t even want to write his name, my ex-husband’s name.  I am afraid to. My ex-husband told me that everyone has a secret spiritual name in addition to their birth name, warning me that if others say our secret names aloud, they can have spiritual power over us. He once trusted me enough to tell me his secret name. But he no longer trusts me. So I don’t even want to call Him by any name, not by his secret name, not even by his birth name. 

 

 It feels like if I do, I would be heard by the evil spirit now residing in Him,  and would call out a challenge to change direction, that it would cast a cold look my way again after all these years of assumed safety-  and the ancient spiritual attacks would start up again, those attacks I almost did not survive. 

 

And it did all start up again. Eleven years after I escaped the first time.

 

I almost can’t stand to think of the way he used to be, many, many years ago when I fell in love with Him. That man is so far gone, so long dead that my hot tears are even long gone.

 

I no longer recognize Him.

 

He cut off all his long gorgeous straight blond hair when his mother died. Eventually, He trimmed his moustache way too short, and, later, He even cut off ALL of his sideburns – way too high  above the arms of his broken glasses-  which just looks so crazy-weird.  He now wears raggedy, lumpy clothing that doesn’t fit, with a rolled belt pulled too tight cinching his smelly denim pants way above his natural waist.  His face has turned bright red, swollen and blotchy. He wears long sleeved, polyester snap front diesel-smelling fake denim shirts even when sweating, covering up his scabby arms. His hands are so stiff and calloused now, like big thick hams, that he has no feeling.

 

It isn’t the look of the tall, handsome biker he used to be, working on one of his antique English racing bikes, from his huge collection of Nortons, BSAs and Triumphs. It is the look of a spiritually, mentally , emotionally ill man who has felt so deeply, fixedly sorry for himself for so many years that it has become a soul wound. A soul wound so pervasive that he wears as his sole identity, scraping and cringing inside his shroud of protective self-pity.

 

And that’s just his looks.  

 

His eyes are so flat dead I m not sure he sees out of them, especially when he crashes through anything or anyone because it is in his pathway.  His walk is even unrecognizable to me. He slumps and walks like a broken-down farmer instead of commanding respect with the tall Marine stride he used to have years ago.  Even worse, his photographic memory and his genius mind are gone and so is his protective, loving spirit.

 

The first clue that something went very, very wrong was when he parked his true-love motorcycles forever. He sold most of his antique English racing motorcycle collection – almost twenty Nortons, Triumphs, and BSA’s - for almost nothing. He has only two or three left, hidden in a filthy garage, their insides gummy, their metal rusting away far away from the wind and the sunlight.

 

I always wish I had asked him for the short Triumph Bonneville chopper, the black one with the red flames, as my wedding gift. It was the perfect bike for me, the perfect size, and he would have given it to me back when he would have done anything for me, but it is also long gone.

 

Just like our marriage.

 

But I think He still has the Laverda, the one we rode together soon after our first child was born. I loved how he had gotten the Laverda, the big green racing bike he had to lie down on top of in order to ride, arms stretched straightforward above his head.  He had been so well-known as an East Coast collector that a guy just put his first name and a message in the Washington Post motorcycle classified ads: “Hey remember the Laverda you wanted to buy off of me 10 years ago? Well I am now in New Jersey and I am finally ready to sell it to you. Call me at this number”

 

I know this almost old story is true because I saw the ad when he showed it to me back then, with his warm laughing grin, just before he called the guy. It was the last bike he ever bought, just a few brief years before he changed forever.  Nowadays, I hear the forest green Laverda is in his garage, all rusty and gummed up with oil that has sat in it for twenty-some years now.

 

Stalking. We were together for 19 years increasingly evil years, divorced for eleven when he began stalking me.  

.....XXXXX.....

That car is an old 1980’s old man’s Buick. I used to love the cool, sleek new 1960’s Buicks my parents had when I was growing up. I was always proud to ride in my parents’ shimmery brown-and-champagne-colored Buick station wagon with the comfortable third back seat and sepia-tinted windows. Its huge engine would hum up the freeway with little effort on the gas pedal.

 

 

But this one: Ugh.  My ex-husband’s Buick has a unique throttled-throat sound left over from the road rage incident when the car was shoved off the road to slam its enormous hood into a violent hug around telephone pole.  The Buick still has a telephone pole shaped open space a yard deep into the chipped midnight blue hood. Somehow it still runs, loudly,  At least the Buick doesn’t have duct tape holding the back window glass into the back window like his last beater car, did, with extra lengths of shredding  grey tape that flapped loose in the wind or  limply hung all the way down to the wheel wells for no reason except to look more pitiful.

 

...XXXX....

 

Counting.

....XXX...

 

Thirty years ago, when I had fallen in love with the vastly-different man he had been then, that growl in his voice had been a smooth-gravel Sam Elliott sound of white knight biker manliness. Now, though, whenever I hear that growl, I get shivers of fear.

 

....XXXX....

But I no longer confront Him with my fruitless thoughts: “The Willy’s was MY truck! I was the one who drove it for the last ten years of the marriage and I was the one who was forced to leave it behind when I escaped with my life!  You could have given it back to me instead of giving it to the city after you were told to move it or lose it! And my new property and my new life are none of your business!

,,,,XXXX... 

 

I had wanted to give my children a good life. Sometimes  I think, maybe I should  just never ever talk about my life’s  weird, horrible and amazing miracles I have struggled through in order just to  stay alive for my children. Keeping quiet helped keep my alive but imprisoned in the marriage. I want to have the sort of life nobody has tears about. Or the kind of life nobody accusingly looks at me like I am a liar when I mention something in passing about what happened to us. But after I had spent too many years staying silent, I almost blew out sideways the first few times I finally had to talk about it. 

 

So now I talk.

 

I always tried to be careful to talk only about me, not involving my children’s own stories, wanting to give them their space and privacy do their own healing.

 

.....XXXXX...

 

Now when I tell my story, it is always for good reason, to spread healing,  and never, ever with any identifying information. I now volunteer in the men’s prison near the airport, the one they call the Kindergarten Prison because it is where the short-timers go before being released. Alot of times, men who have to be moved around to lots of different prisons because they are too influential if they stay put in one prison too long, sometimes these men end up here, too.

 

When I tell my story there at the prison, the story  of what happened to me and to my family, I have seen men get tears in their eyes,  men who are career criminals, gang leaders and murderers, convicts who live by the Code that says it is wrong to hurt women and children. One second-generation gang leader, a good-souled young man covered in intricate blue prison tats, told me he cried after hearing my story and that they never, ever cry in prison.

 

There have been times when I have told my story outside of the prison and I received surreptitious offers. I remember the first time when I got an offer to have Him, my ex-husband, taken out. I said no.

 

The man who made the offer was a friend whose family had been one of the families who had hidden me and my children when I escaped from my marriage. This friend  was an old biker, a real one-percenter whose old SO CA riding partner was still called the Undertaker “for good reason.”  Though my friend  was a tough old respected citizen in his newer life, his wife, my close friend, confirmed to me that he had always kept his eye on the back door to his old life,” just in case.”  Her husband made me the offer after I lost my children in divorce court, and a week later while bow hunting, my friend died in the forest of a bee sting in the mouth. 

 

Really.  So I always shut down a conversation fast and say no when I start to get an offer like that.   I need the mercy myself.  Past is past and somehow my children and I will thrive in spite of it all. We will find ways turn to the evil events that had happened to us into healing paths.  I do not want to be responsible for anyone’s death and I hear that even the bees die when they sting someone to death.

 

I want a life nobody cries about anymore. I want that for my children, now grown and for their children and for seven generations ahead.  

 

Remember, these are all lies so no one sues and no one dies.

 

                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                   (C) 2011. Kelly Fitzpatrick

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  • Kate Comings

    Your strength is truly inspiring. So glad your son is beginning to thrive now; your story brings tears, but also hope.