George and Michael
Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 27 Dec 2011
I need to write this down before I forget it, because I am pretty sure I will. In fact, it is entirely possible that I have already written this down and already forgotten. If I did, I don't know where it is. I've looked everywhere for it.
Sometimes I wonder if the slate isn't wiped clean, so that my life just gets better and better.
I know the slate is never wiped so clean that I completely forget, though, or it would never happen at all, so here is my story the best I can recall.
It all began when I was about three years old. I had just colored my mother's laundry room wall blue, lovely dark rich smurfy blue! I remember being very proud of all that work. It took forever to color that much wall with a tiny marker, but I did it because I wanted to surprise Mommy.
She was surprised all right and so was I when she grabbed me by the arm and swatted at my backside all the way to the kitchen. There she pulled down my little blue pants and my Underoos and got down to the real business of making her point with a large wooden spoon!
I remember dancing as far away from her as it was humanly possible to do as she played out her emotions on my bare bottom. Afterwards I was dumped unceremoniously and rather coldly into my bed while she went to scrub the wall. Instead of being awed by my work, she was incensed.
And I was crushed!
The sun began to set lower and lower in the sky as I cried my heart out behind the closed door of my bedroom. It was almost dark when I sensed some kind of movement behind me and thinking my mother might have come to comfort me I turned over and looked at the door.
I screamed for my mother, who did not come, and for once her lack of empathy truly was in my best interests. In the place where my primary caretaker should have stood, ready to take me into her arms and shower me with forgiveness, stood a sort of familiar man with soft green eyes and dark brown hair. For some reason, my first thought, after the shock of realizing he was not my mother, was that he was one of Santa's elves.
This caused me even more consternation since in my short life I had come to understand that life is more often a matter of retribution than rewards and I assumed Santa had sent his elf to spank me one more time for good measure!
“Who are you?” I wailed.
“I am the Master of Second Chances.” He peered at me with eyes I might have considered myopic had I known of the word back then and then he continued. “You, however don't look old enough to need second chances. Tell me. What have you done?”
Thinking this was just the lead in to further recriminations I cried even louder until he took a step closer. That silenced me almost instantly. I knew that when someone asked that question it was only a matter of time before I would be upended over a grown-up's lap and taught exactly how angry they were with whatever it was that I had done.
I scuttled up closer to my headboard and cowered there trying to think of anything else I might have done, but my masterpiece was all that came to mind! “I'm soooooorry!” I cried, shutting my eyes and curling up into a ball.
“For what?” He asked.
Since he had not leaped forward to begin my punishment, I dared to look out at him between scrunched up eyelids. To my astonishment he really seemed to be waiting for me to answer! Even at three I was no fool. I knew this was probably some kind of set up, but having no knowledge of how to circumvent it I answered with the only thing I could think of.
“I colored my mommy's laundry room wall in blue marker.” I wailed. “But I thought it was bootiful and she would love it. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I really am.”
I felt the tears blurring my vision, beginning to slip out of both eyes and run down my face and I frantically brushed them away; expecting this strange person to shout at me to stop crying.
Only he didn't.
Instead he sat down, cross-legged on the floor and looked up at me.
In order to see him I had to crawl over to the edge of my bed and it was there that my fear began to ease a bit. He just sat there until my sobs stopped and then he spoke again.
“What if you could go back and do it again, would that make you feel better?”
I suppose because I was only three this seemed like a plausible solution and I nodded. I felt myself calming down. In fact, I felt that curious quiet calmness that precedes almost total exhaustion after a traumatic event. It's the feeling you get after you've been to the doctor and gotten your shot and are going home, or after you skin your knee and your mother is through putting the burning medicine on your cut, or when you stop crying after a spanking.
“It's this way.” Said the man. “I can take you back and let you do it all over, only if you want to do it differently this time, you can! Do you want to do that?”
I did! In fact, I was so excited about the prospect of being able to atone for my sins by uncreating them that I leaped off the bed.
Instead of landing on my rug with the pretend streets and parks on it, I found myself back in the laundry room. In my left hand was a box of bright primary markers. In my right was the blue one and I contemplated making my mommy a picture to brighten up her day. She had been so sad that morning.
But as the thought of doing that passed through my mind, some part of me said, “Don't do it, Mikey. Don't do it! No matter how wonderful it seems it's a bad idea! A very bad idea!”
I put the marker back in the box and walked into the kitchen were my mother was busily washing down the refrigerator with a bowl and sponge. I started to tell her about the funny little man who kept me from drawing on her walls and thought better of it. Instead I hurried back to my bedroom to find him and thank him.
Somewhere along the way I was distracted by my toys and forgot all about him until I was almost six years old.
It was summer time and I was playing in my cousin's wading pool when the ball we were playing with flew right over my head and I jumped up to chase it. My mother, aunt and uncle were sitting in lawn chairs nearby, too busy talking to really notice what was going on and the ball just wouldn't stop.
It rolled right past them and under the fence and across the sidewalk and out into the street with me in close pursuit all the way! It wasn't until I picked it up and heard the screech of tires that I was even aware of where I was.
There was the terrible sound of a horn honking and metal crunching and people screaming that totally discombobulated me. The next thing I knew my mother had grabbed me by the arm and was dragging me out of the street yelling at me, asking me questions I could barely understand and shaking me so hard I couldn't have answered her if I had tried.
But I was trying as she shoved me towards my uncle shrieking. “See what I have to deal with? See? You take him! You deal with him!”
And my uncle turned me around, jerked down my swimming trunks and bent me over right there on the front boulevard with everyone watching and spanked my bare bottom! I remember struggling, frantic that everyone was seeing me get spanked and then forgetting that in the pain that followed as he just kept going and going and going. I didn't think he would ever stop!
My bottom stung and burned and then I tried to get away and when I couldn't? I bit his leg, right where his swimming suit stopped and that stopped him!
For a minute he let go of me and I jumped up, pulling up my swimming trunks as I did and running towards the house as fast as I could. I don't know what I was thinking. I think I just wanted to get away, but it was useless, because if he had been angry before, now he was a million times madder and his legs being much longer than my six year old ones allowed him to catch me as soon as I stepped into the hallway.
Now he had me by the arm and was dragging me towards his bedroom. I knew what happened to my cousins when he did that and I began to scream even louder, calling for help and begging him not to spank me any more. I pleaded with him, promising never to run into the street again, never to bite him again. I apologized for both and yet he never even hesitated.
Like my mother, when my uncle was mad he seemed to zero in on what he was going to do and nothing and no one was gonna change that.
He shut the door to the bedroom, dragged me over to his night table and pulled out his hairbrush. It was big and had an oval back on it and I knew he wasn't going to brush my hair! I tried to pull away, but it was useless.
He sat down, pulled my trunks down with one hand and turned me upside down over his knees in seconds. Before I could even look down at the rug below me that brush snapped down on my damp bottom and I heard myself scream!
The sting was horrible! I tried to tell him again how sorry I was that I had bitten him, but the words couldn't get between my cries, so it was hopeless. He smacked both sides and then he smacked me lower down and that even hurt worse. I didn't believe that was possible, but it was happening and I once more began the frantic struggle to escape. A few more swats with that brush and I forgot anything except how badly it hurt.
I didn't even hear the door open before I heard my aunt's voice tell him to stop and he did! In that moment I was so grateful to my aunt I would have done anything for her, but I had no chance to say or do anything at all. My uncle stood up and dumped me on his bed saying, “Stay here until I tell you you can get up!”
I remember lying there crying, my bottom stinging so fiercely and feeling sorry for myself. I didn't mean to run into the street and I really didn't mean to bite my uncle either. Sobbing, I barely noticed it when a shadow passed between me and the window. I suppose hope springs eternal, because, once more, I thought it must be my mother coming to comfort me.
I don't know why I thought that. I can't remember a time when she ever did come in to comfort me after a spanking, but I knew my friends said their parents did that. I always just figured what I did was worse than what they did to make her so mad.
But I looked up and it took my breath away. There was that man I thought I'd dreamed about so long ago! I remember that first I dreamed I got spanked for coloring on the wall and then I dreamed he took it all back.
I wondered. Was I dreaming now? I kind of blinked my eyes a little and finally I sat up. “Are you real?”
“Real as you are.” He crossed his arms and smiled gently at me.
“How come you're here again?” I could not imagine my uncle letting him come back into the bedroom.
“I'm here for you.” He said. “Want to go back and keep yourself from chasing that ball?”
My bottom still stung so badly, but even more than that, I just felt bad. His offer brightened up my day immensely. I nodded.
And boom. I realized I was in the pool and the ball was flying over my head and I started to get up and chase it. Almost immediately I realized my bottom was NOT sore and I stopped.
That was when I was little. He came many times, always when I was most upset and he always offered me the chance to redo what had just happened.
By the time I was twelve, Mom married my step dad and things got worse. She decided he should be the one to punish me since I was a boy. That was okay if he wasn't drinking, but otherwise he was a hundred times worse than she ever was!
I remember lying in my bed, sleeping on my stomach for days at a time because the welts on my back were still too tender to roll over on. Of course by then I was old enough to get out of the house more and the man with the green eyes stopped coming. I wrote him off as an imaginary friend from my childhood and began hanging out with a bunch of guys skateboarding, kids who took risks. Bad boys!
One night when my stepfather came after me with an electrical cord, screaming at me and telling me how bad I was I knew he must be right. I was just one of those kids born to be bad. I began taking chances no one should take, confident that I was tough enough to do anything!
Except sometimes I came down really hard on myself. For some strange reason I always made good grades, but I thought I could do better. I got a B on a paper and spent days punishing myself by making little cuts on my arm with my knife.
“That'll teach me not to skimp on my homework.” I thought, taking a tiny slice at my arm. “Do you want to end up working at a dead end job forty hours a week for the rest of your life doing something you hate?” I'd make another cut.
Sixteen found me old enough to drive and racing my car down the Mt. Auburn road just to see how quickly I could hit a hundred. Then I would go home and contemplate how awful I was, how it would hurt my mother if I killed myself and remorse would drive me to burn myself. Just a bit, but I needed to make up for how bad I was.
Then one night my step dad came in and caught me playing video games after I was supposed to be in bed asleep. It wasn't that late, but he'd been drinking since he got home and had only stopped because he went to bed twenty minutes earlier. If only I had waited a little longer I would not have been caught.
I'll never forget sitting there, totally engrossed in the game when his big meaty hand fell on my shoulder! My stomach still turns over when I think about it. I could smell his breath without even turning around and I knew it was going to be bad!
My first thought was my mother. She would be so upset, so I turned off the machine as quickly as possible and turned to try and get him to go out to the garage, but he wasn't listening.
His fingers dug into my shoulder, down into that place where it is so agonizing you have to do whatever he wants. He pushed me towards the stairs and leaning forward, balancing against my back, shoved me upwards. I didn't put up any resistance. I wanted to be in my room with the door closed.
I stripped and lay over my bed while he got one of my belts out of the closet and the first swipe landed squarely across the middle of my bottom. It hurt, but I told myself I was old enough to take it. The next few landed close by and the sting turned into a burn. Then he hit me across the back. Dear god, it felt like he had a two by four in his hands. Why did it hurt so much when he hit my back? I couldn't help it, I moaned and that seemed to set him off.
It seemed like an eternity as he brought that belt down again and again, from my shoulders to my knees I was nothing but a ball of pain. In spite of the death grip I had on my comforter and the clenching of my teeth, I heard someone crying and then begging him to stop. The only thing good about it was that with my stomach flat on the bed that belt couldn't wrap around me any farther than my sides. At least I would come out of it with my manhood intact as long as I stayed down. And I did stay down until he tossed the belt down on top of me and slammed out the door!
I lay there trying not to cry and sobbing my heart out. I just felt so helpless and worthless and angry! Something moved and I panicked trying to pull the comforter over me. That is when I heard the voice.
Familiar and yet no one I knew, a gentle, quiet voice of sanity in a crazy world. “Hey Mikey, remember me?”
Turning my head I thought I had finally gone over the edge. I was seeing imaginary people and I wasn't really a kid any more. It was terrifying. I tried shutting my eyes and taking a breath then looking again, but he was still there.
He came over and sat down on the edge of the bed and I froze. What if he touched me! How crazy was I? I buried my face in the comforter and prayed he'd go away. Instead I felt soft fingers stroking my hair then gently soothing the welts on my back.
I must have fallen asleep. Maybe I was even dreaming it all, but when I woke up I was up on my bed and covered up. The sense of futility that had overwhelmed me the night before was gone and I thought, I can do this. I'm almost old enough to go to college. If I can just be good for another year or so...
Of course I could never be good enough. There were other situations and other nights when I felt like I couldn't go on in the world the way I was. Sometimes I even wondered if I should quit, but before those feelings ever really took hold, I would remember the Master of Second Chances with his green eyes and gentle touch. Even if I was crazy enough to imagine him, at least he was a very good kind of craziness.
I finally went off to college and after talking with a counselor and rethinking some of my actions, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't really a bad kid after all. I was just a kid, really a kid and I needed to be loved and parented like the good kid I was. That helped a lot, but I was still shackled to that childhood and every so often it caught up with me and enveloped me in its darkness.
It wasn't until I met George that life really improved though. There is nothing like unconditional love to raise your self-esteem and heal the scars of such a chaotic past. Today, George and I were driving home from our annual Christmas with the family and I was texting my best friend on the phone. I found myself telling him how I'd like to go back and just tell my younger self, it's not as important as you think. You aren't bad and you aren't crazy and you will be all right!
Maybe it was a dream, but I don't know. George tucked me in like he always does and when he turned out the light I sensed someone in the room. It was too dark to see, but I recognized that voice! It was a voice from my past, the Master of Second Chances!
“Don't turn on the light Mikey.” He said in his eerily familiar voice, which I still couldn't place. “Just listen to me. Would you really like to go back and talk to that little Mikey?”
Wondering what had brought on a return of this psychosis I nodded into the darkness.
“Then come with me.”
I felt a hand slip into mine and then I was standing in my bedroom looking at the three year old me! My heart ached for that little boy, but I remembered how scared he'd been when I came in, so I sat down on the floor and waited until he noticed me. I told him how I knew he didn't mean to color those walls and eventually he crawled off the bed and into my lap.
I told him he could take it back and everything would be okay, then I just held him until he fell asleep before I tucked him back into bed.
Almost immediately I was in my uncle's bedroom and once more saw myself, a well-meaning little boy who had only reacted out of fear. This time I didn't even hesitate. I just scooped him and snuggled him close until I felt his heartbeat calming and sobs abating. I whispered how much I loved him and how good he was into his ear before I found myself in the room with sixteen year old me.
My heart twisted when I saw him, saw the welts on that back, the fragility of his blooming manhood sobbing into that comforter. I sat there for hours telling him how good he was, how wonderful he was, how good life was going to be for him if he just hung in there. When he finally fell asleep, I picked him up too and tucked him into bed. You're never too old to be loved.
The last thing I remember is seeing myself as a young adult and then seeing George coming down that path towards me. In that moment I knew I'd made it and the next thing I knew I woke up here, all tucked into bed and feeling so calm and full of love that I feel like my heart might just burst.
I am the Master of my life and George is here to help me remember it, but I want to write this all down so I don't forget.
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