April 24th. 1985
I climb out of the cab too tired to get home another way. As I enter the house after doing a double shift at the Pink Poodle; the sound of the hall was this chilling hush. Not quite as-if it’s that silence of when everybody’s asleep… but this feeling which comes back washing over me ‘Did they move without me again? Did they move to another apartment without telling me?’ It wouldn’t be for the first time; I’ve come before to the place which was called home only to find the two of them have had taken my baby and lock, stock, and barrel moved into a new home without warning me first; or, in fact, telling me anything at all… but I thought, no: he wouldn’t do that again, not now, not knowing I’m due for a cancer- surgery on the first Wednesday of June??? I’ve been giving, him , Dad extra money for all the expenses will need so I could take off the eight to twelve weeks from working the doctor said I would need for a good recovery.
I reach the door; the basement door is open but there’s no light on down there??? I had to unlock the door; this is weird it not often this lock’s on?! As the door slowly squeaks open there are lights on; I see furniture!? My Annamarie isn’t running around in the middle of the night with the nightlights on as she normally would be… the lights were on as if it was suppertime? I peek in to see if she was asleep inside with my son; my little boy was there; the prince of the manor on his full-sized bed; I close his door and as I did I turn and look towards the kitchen the only room having just the nightlight on and I could see his, Dad, door is particularly open and the big light is on… he’d never use the big lights??? He’d only have on his lamp next to his bed?! As I got closer I hear Annamarie making this mournful cry; I get to the door and there in the middle of, his room, his now empty room; my sister is on her hands and knees sweeping up Nothing of his remains; not a thing left behind of where he use to be... “Annamarie, where’s Dad?”
A gasping moan, “Daddy’s gone; Daddy’s gone.” Annamarie takes a wet cloth and begins gathering in the smallest of particles??? Repeating over and over “Daddy’s gone?!”
I walk to our bathroom and open the door; it’s empty, it’s not in here?! I went back into his room “Anna?!” In a harsh stern tone, “Where is your father? “Daddy’s gone; He’s gone.”
I recall in the hall how the basement door was open and dark;” Crap???”
I went out into the hall; standing top of the stairs. I look into its darkness; my mind reels and it, now, sets to motion of the reasons of why I’m here looking down?! Conjuring up images of could haves…
‘Found in bed?! No; he’d still be here in his room?! She’d never enter there; the room always off limits unless the door is open??? So, no…
He could have been in the bathroom? No, he’d still be sitting there???
Maybe… the two of them fought?! I don’t see anything broken??? Well, won’t know until I go down…
Switching the light on, I look down the steps; storage boxes, plastic wrapped items and all kinds of old furniture jam-packed from floor to ceiling… I get to the bottom where there are pathways throughout narrow paths created-walls built of all her storage?! She, as a packrat do, packs; I think, one day, someone will be in theses shoes seeking me out; from within a maze like this one and hoping not to find the proverbial cheese… third-way through, it dawns, the thought of down here is a trap??? ‘If they had fought…’ I grab a piece of metal and continue. Looking, fearing now, of what I think and thinking if right I may be a soon to follow. These boxes and stuff are always moving always changing directions I reach the boiler room at the back were plastic containers fresh ones are…
Sound comes from back along the path?!
“Dad?! Dad? … Is that you?”
“What’s going on?”, I spoke out sternly!
I hear her… she weeps from somewhere along the path.
“Annamarie! Where is your father!?”
A feeling of overwhelming dread! I draw on tone of voice; her mother’s, I bid for a response.
“You tell me, right now where Nelson is?!”
I move myself nearer towards the stairway “You tell him; I…, want to talk to him!”
“Ma! He left us?!” She stares at my hand… Theresa,… Daddy’s girlfriend was here… he’s gone???
“Anna lets go upstairs. You can tell me everything upstairs!”
I have had plenty of down in this pit of the ******; I want out!?
Annamarire starts cleaning and I follow her around; she tells me of how Joanie, his old girlfriend has been back in contact with him; apparently the two of them made their plans to move down to Florida together?! He decided since his plans did not include us our knowing was way-more than unimportant?! Long after the sun’s been up she hands me a kitchen-tall garbage-bag?! She says tearfully,” Daddy told me to give this to you?!”
Inside, were all the papers which pertain to the house, bills, records and one big manila envelope??? And behold it’s completely empty; it was the envelope I’ve been filling up for the last eight months; it’s all of money which he was holding for us, in his room that was there to make sure none of us would be having a need for anything after my surgery.?! That envelope would mean we’d have all we need ‘til I was ready to go back to work.
Not a goodbye, not a sorry but I need this money more than you or even I deserve this money more than you; not a single thing?!
Well, maybe that’s what leaving the empty envelope is about?!
He hadn’t even say goodbye to Little Joey? To him, he says, “See you in the morning, Monkey!” Not
Just a here’s a bag full of how much all of you are worth to me?!
And, a simple, “Here give this to your sister!”
It is undoubtedly his idea of a perfect plan???
Then, as I search further through all the stuff… all the bills show he stopped making any payments on them months ago?! Nothing but a handful of final notices and he’s gone?!
Tears in his daughter eyes and a grandchild both which he showered with affection? He left them without a care?
A “See you in the morning!”
No justification …, No reason of why, ever?!
Only one good thing comes about from his leaving; Joe begins coming inside the house. A good thing…? He has known of… but not about my family; how is this going to be? His Norman Rockwell, My Picasso may shatter the glass doorway to our wonderland relationship? Joe is about to learn more than I would ever wish; much more than I believe in his abilities to handle knowing?!
Joe considers my father absolutely vile for leaving in the way he had without even a Goodbye and his not paying those months of bills though he knew, full well, about my having surgery and all; Joe is unaware of the true depth my condition; no one other than the old man knew and he only did because the medication I’m taken needs to be kept in his room and he help me during those times I was required to stay in an isolation’s protocol.
After surgery I go right back to work; removal on June 5th. And on June 15th I sporting a scarf hiding my discolored neck with these freshly removed sutures still looking raw; into the club I go and if and when some guy there would ask, “Why the scarf? I laugh saying, “The boss got mad at me! Look at what the hell he did!” After I did that?! He was…
Joe’s mad about my going off and returning to work too soon; he says I’m setting myself up for a nasty scar infected?! He doesn’t consider …without a drop of a dime on how I couldn’t allow myself to need him in the way of any kind of finances?! He, I think, believes I don’t trust him to be there for me…I do more than he could ever comprehend; but for me, a sense of freedom in doing on my own stops keeps from feeling trapped?! In my heart I belong to him… to be financially bonded to him in any way would make me bought and sold to him and if…, in doing that my being with him would no longer be “…If you want?”
He was correct!? I have a raging infection in the scar and I now have to have so much medication I’m walking around here beyond loopy! He’s angry at me and he’s not talking to me…
Until I call him on September 10th
When my sister screws up: While still loopy on too much medication … I ask my sister to go up to the school and get me the paperwork to have Joe enroll into school;… instead of bringing me home all the forms she fills the papers out on her own?! Yeah, if stupid comes with awards I would without a shadow of a doubt own top honors???
Little Joe is having the worst first school year ever; this coming from one actually kicked out of kindergarten?! That’s a different story; and it was the right thing, for them, to do back then. This is in no way right? What they are doing to my child; a boy who was already able to read and to write and he wrote in both print and script?! I’ll grant you my Joey does have impediments when it come with his interactions with others and he is electively mute; but, this is because since from the time he came back home to me after being kidnapped… we were very overly protective with him?!
This year is his first time being in any kind of school setting!? He has had no idea there were so many others his size in the world And, in three days this school changes his class four times??? You’re saying to me the child, my child, doesn’t have any ability to learn and he should be institutionalized?! And I have every reason to believe they’re going to work hard in taking my child away from me?! What the hell do I do???
I call Joe; I cry to him on the phone. “I don’t know what to do?”
“It’s the little guy, its Joey’s school; their saying his not capable of learning, they’re saying I’m a drug addict and they say I don’t want or care about him? Help me???”
“I’ll meet you up at the house; but, I have work so I can’t stay very long!” Joe was there in no time. We take ride, going around the block and we park in the Carvel’s parking lot; I hand over and show him all these papers… and when I say all these papers; I mean a pile the better part of an inch thick?!
It took Joe a good ten moments just to get a handle on what’s what in these… and he starts blowing a conniption!
“This is your sister; your sister says you’re an addict and she’s raising him on her own because you don’t want him?!” he starts calling her every kind of name!? We sit there and go through all these papers and talk for another forty-five minutes until he has no other choice but to go; he’s running late for work! I am, now, so much calmer and Joe leaves pitching a fit! The next so many weeks of hell with the school-board and, which seem to be endless, search for a right placement for the little guy… Big Joe’s right there the whole time and I know, believe-you-me, I know if Joe wasn’t here at this time… this would’ve destroyed me and l would be somewhere, babbling in a straight-jacket and they would have taken my Joe as well! And, I know my sister would keep her promise she made on May 17th. 1980 when she first moved in... Every last place we look through is a no.
Joe drives us to see two to four schools in a day…trying to find the right placement; and, he did this with my sister sitting there, near enough for him to take a swing at…, she’s right there in the backseat of car??? Joe has, without a shadow of a doubt, the patience of a saint! I know, I look back and I’m lucky he hadn’t killed us both…me and my sister! You know there isn’t a judge or jury who wouldn’t come back with a full acquittal for this man.
Finally, on this day, we’re all going to this place PS23Q Joe gets off the highway, he turns onto Union Turnpike and now he turns left onto Commonwealth Blvd. in Bellerose; I am so nervous! There are two in this car who are perfectly fine with what’s going on but here there are also two others who should have their names’ changed to Brook for all their babbling?!
Annamarie has no wants whatsoever to see this child being anywhere other than at home; all I want is a best outcome?! I want my son to only have the very best; with Big Joe here helping?! I know, that’s what will happen!
My two Joes’, they walk ahead and go into the building on their own; they’re hand in hand as nice as you please! Watching them with one another… they are so good with each other; they are … But; Joe doesn’t understand… He couldn’t; he has no idea what Annamarie is all about!? He’s unaware of the way she might react… I fear her actions; I fear if this isn’t handled just right she’ll hurt herself or do something way worse??? He doesn’t realize the circumstances for me; I am completely responsible for everything in regards of her. She’s a child, of a fragile state; a child who could, all of a sudden, become highly volatile!? She could never be left to her own devices??? If it’s at all something could be avoided; I wish to avoid Joe ever becoming fully aware of the threat she could pose; if it could ever be possible?! As long as I can maintain her stability through this and get home. It will be a real feat?!
I get her inside; it’s a hard looking at things… Joe and I go down the halls looking at everything “Joe will have everything he needs here to help him; this place is the best place we have seen?!” All one would need do is to look and see big Joe’s face and you know there wouldn’t be better; but to Annamarie’s reactions??? She stands there looking into this lovely enclosure… an indoor play-area; and she looks so angry, it seems as-if she believes we’re trying to place the boy into the center of all nine circles hell or something?! Joe over at the desk talking to the guide sees me just staring at her… he walks to me; and, he angrily says,” Stop looking at her! This place has everything this kid needs; … you know this is what’s best!” He turns to the staff worker, “Go get those the papers ready for her to sign!” Joe knows, he sees it in me, if he was to give me a smidge more time I would have sided with her and I would’ve said no this place wasn’t right, as I had… times before?!
We return home; “Twenty-three moments by highway; not bad!” This could have never ended so well without him being here; Annamarie enters the house, seething … if looks could… both of them whenever they not eye to eye.
“You make mountains out of molehills!” Joe has said these words to me on more than one occasion; and how, Joe was for little Joe today… Yeah, I will guess he is right?! That is if the mole is larger than the largest Godzilla, with red-hair.