Most people saw me as a happy-go-lucky kid who liked to have fun. And yeah, I guess I was that, but when I got a little older, I became angry and began to feel as if my life was spiraling out of control.
But I didn’t tell anyone why I was angry, and now looking back, I wish I had. Even now, 50 years later, I still don’t like to talk or think about it. But the thoughts do leak into my life and into my brain no matter what I do to try to suppress it.
It’s like one day I’m hanging out in the neighborhood with the gang which included me, my little brother Michael and little sister Jennifer, and David and Barry Hirrell, the two kids around the corner, and at least one of the six Solis boys who lived up the street — sometimes a couple of them. All six boys looked pretty much alike. Ricky Solis, who was the same age as my brother, hung out with us the most. Sometimes I could swear he practically lived with us. He often ate dinner with us and hung out until bedtime when Mom would stand outside and watch him walk up the street to his flat. He and my brother Michael were close friends, and they were about as different as night and day. Life was pretty good then — with daily adventures. Sometimes David Hirrell, the “leader” and boss of the neighborhood, and I would argue, but we’d always work it out. Sometimes we were best friends, and at other times we were enemies. I’d get mad at David, but not really angry and it never lasted too long. If it lasted more than two days, then that was a lot.
Then everything began to change starting with the day Mom and Dad said they were separating and Dad was moving out. What? I think I was more upset than anyone else. I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t know of anyone in our neighborhood whose parents had split up. Looking back, I now know that sort of thing happened all the time — but I didn’t know it then. I was devasted to see my Dad move out and worried that we wouldn’t see him anymore. But Dad kept showing up, pretty much every weekend, and he’d take us on an all day adventure someplace cool like, even far away, because he had a car, unlike my mother who didn’t even have a driver’s license back then.
We’d go to the Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk or Frontier Village in San Jose — or to the Zoo which was right across the street from where Dad worked in a little yellow building. On rainy days, we’d hang out at Dad’s workplace. We thought it was fun there with those swivel-chairs and linoleum floors. We could roll around all over the place in those chairs and call each other up on those phones with push buttons for various numbers in the office. Back then, we thought that was the coolest thing ever.
I wasn’t really angry then, although I was kind of mad at my mom for making my Dad leave. He even told us that. He said he didn’t want to leave and move out. He even told us he talked to a priest about it after he moved into a room in an older women’s house near the San Francisco Beach. The priest said to him, “since you can’t do anything about it, you have an opportunity to enjoy your life!” Looking back, I’m thinking — did a priest really tell my Dad that? My Dad swore it was true.
I didn’t start to become angry until Mom’s new boyfriend started to hang out at our place. I won’t describe him in detail because I don’t always like to even think about him. He was a large man filled with lies and evil. He was pure evil, but we didn’t know it at first, and Mom didn’t know until much later. He infiltrated into our family like a leech and slowly began to take over.
That’s when I became angry, seething constantly, like every day. And when he tried to manipulate me and scare me by saying he would kill my mom and our entire family if I told, then I became angrier and angrier. Sometimes I felt like I would burst. I’d run and run through the neighborhood and Golden Gate Park across the street. Running around was my salvation and kept me from going completely insane with anger, sometimes even fantasizing about how to kill the evil monster. I’d fantasize about eliciting the assistance of all the kids in the neighborhood. We’d use sticks to drive him to a cliff.
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