The Worst Step-Father EVER, part 3
The raw emotions everyone was left with after the baby’s death were never dealt with. After a while things seemed to be back to our cracked normal and life went on.
I was still adjusting to a step- brother who was physically my size but four years younger. The night came when we had an ugly incident and things got physical…
We had been blithely going through our day to day ignoring the elephant in the room. Step-brother knew his father fairly well. I was trying to ignore everyone, deal with school and enjoy my respite from responsibility.
One Friday night mom and Les were going out and leaving me in charge. It had been quite a while since the summer ugliness and I honestly felt mom deserved a night out.
I settled in to watch TV and step-brother changed the channel. The gauntlet was thrown. (I was 5’2” and weighed about 90lb. soaking wet, he was a bit shorter but beefy.) I told him to change it back and he said, “Make me.”
Somehow in the back of my head I had anticipated this for months. We weren’t close. In fact I don’t believe we ever had an honest one on one discussion about anything since he’d arrived.
The craziness that was July had been swept under the rug and all of us had unresolved issues. We were living the lie, as opposed to living the dream, so to speak.
With all the pent up anxiety it didn’t take long for this to turn very ugly. He punched me and it was on. I went to my room, got the heaviest belt I owned, and proceeded to show him who was in charge. I’m not proud of it but boundaries needed to be established.
To my amazement he never said a word to anyone. Somehow in a heated, physical battle between two kids trying to make sense of the insanity they were living in came understanding… even a bond. It was as if we had taken out all our frustrations on each other and came to a mutual respect. In a way we became allies in our strange world.
Shortly after school started, my junior year in high school, Les threw us another curve. Just as he had taken it upon himself to announce our move to the house we were in he decided to take it a step further.
In the middle of dinner on a night he had come in whistling, a night we were relaxed… defenses down… he announced he’d bought a house. We were moving to another state.
No one was more surprised than my mother. She asked, “Why? We’re all very happy here.”
“It was time to buy a house and you will all be happy in it.” He said. Then got up, left the table and all the gaping mouths behind him.
The next day he came home in a new station wagon. Apparently he was intending to become a true suburbanite. He took my mother up to see the new house, leaving the rest of us to wonder. She came home very excited.
“Barb, I am telling you this is the nicest house you’ve ever seen!” she said.
Somehow I knew the physical house couldn’t make the fractured souls living in it whole. Like lipstick on a pig, as they say. Within weeks we were crossing the state line and moving this train wreck.
It was, in fact, a brand new, contemporary ranch house. It had a cathedral ceiling in the living room, large eat-in kitchen, one full and one half bath with a new washer and dryer in it. There were three bedrooms on one side of the house. I had the front corner between the older boys’ room and the master bedroom. There was a small study on the other side of the house they turned into a bedroom for my baby brother who was almost two when we moved in.
Mom was in her glory! You’ve never seen a more devoted domestic diva in your life. She had a big kitchen to cook and bake in, she was washing and ironing daily, she started gardening… it was overkill.
Everyone settled into their respective schools. Life seemed calm. We had lived with the psychological abuse for over a year but the only physical abuse had been on his return from the honeymoon for one so, I think, we were lulled into a false sense of security.
One evening, as we sat having dinner together, Les seemed stranger than usual. He never seemed normal to me, but this was different. Then step-brother reached for a second pork chop and all hell broke loose.
Les jumped up, grabbed the kid by his shirt and slammed him into the wall. When he crumpled to the floor Les kicked him then dragged him into his bedroom and continued beating him. We had no idea what the hell brought it on, nor did we dare to interfere.
My little brother was clinging to the back of his chair looking completely terrified, which we all were. I disliked Les and never trusted him before that day but hadn’t physically feared him. Now the fear in that house was so palpable you had to force your way through it.