Thursday, January 31, 2008

'The Man' Tales - A small diversion

I am taking you now to the first chapter of The Wailings - my book in progress - as it is easier to use this to describe the upcoming events in my life and it also helps define some quotes I will be using in later posts. Please note that this will be done in two different parts as it is a little long. Also, please note that the event I first describe has not happened. It is fiction.

The Wailings

She sat there quietly staring at the jumble of paperwork on the desk in front of her. Her attention was elsewhere, her eyes distant and shuttered. To the people who browsed through the multicolored apparel displayed in the showroom that fronted on her office, it was a day like all the rest in their lives. But to the woman who sat at the desk, it was a day she had long expected and dreaded.

The phone sprang into life and jerked her back to her position at the desk.

“Fashion Gallery,” she answered.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” hissed a voice into her ear.

“I already told you that I wouldn’t be there,” she replied quietly.

The voice coming through the phone was a strange mixture of sorrow and ice.

“I’ve been saying for a long time now that there’s something wrong with you, and look what you’re doing to prove it!”

There was a moment’s hesitation as the woman at the desk pictured in her mind the person on the other end of the line. For as long as she could remember, her mother had always looked the same. She was barely five feet tall and quite stout. Her hair was a silvery white and fine, like her own. She had blue eyes that seemed suited to a kindly grandmother and belied the nerve and fervor with which she had conducted her life. She hid those traits behind large glasses that had become a part of her face in her early years. At nearly 70, her mother was a small immovable mountain.

“Look Mom. Jerome-or-Dad--he died for me a long time ago and I buried him then. I won’t be there today to watch him be buried again.”

“Well I hope you’re happy with the way you’re acting! You’re just like you’re father you know!”

Guilt resonated in her ear and Ani’s mouth tightened as she put down the phone. She glared at the myriad pieces of paper thumb tacked to the wall in front of her and strewn across her desk. With a sigh, she picked up a stack of invoices and removed the bull-clip that held them together at the top. With a practiced eye she skimmed each detailed item for receiving and costs as she quickly double-checked figures against her own calculator’s printout. The steady click of the keys and turning pages came to a sudden halt as Ani stared at the ink scrawled across the purchase order in front of her. Angrily she seized the stack of invoices and flung them into the air, watching as they floated like large white petals to the green carpet. From the floor, her father’s signature stared up at her accusingly.

“Will I never be free of that man?” she screamed.

A distinct hush fell over the salesclerks and shoppers in the showroom as everyone waited for something to follow. When it was obvious that no further entertainment was forthcoming, they turned away; some faces betraying their acute disappointment. In the silence Ani could feel them out there; like spectators at a car race, waiting for the big crash. They just want some juicy gossip to take home with them, she thought. At that moment, one of the clerks came through the small door between the office and the showroom. Ani’s back stiffened slightly as the salesgirl came over and gently touched her shoulder.

“You okay Ani?” Mare asked softly.

“Just a momentary slip--that’s all,” Ani answered back. A look of steely determination crossed her face as she turned to gather the papers up. Mare crouched quickly to pick up the remaining invoices scattered on the floor. Straightening them into a neat pile, she stood and handed them to Ani.

“Why don’t you go home?” she asked quietly.

Slowly Ani swiveled in her chair and stared at the now self-conscious salesclerk.

“What for?” she questioned coolly.

Mare refused to back down from the ice she saw in the green eyes before her. Her fingers involuntarily started to count the pearl buttons that edged the cuffs of the black shirtwaist she had neatly tucked into a matching skirt. Her mourning outfit set off the red shoulder length hair that now swung over her face as she briefly ducked the look in Ani’s eyes. If her boss had any hint of how scared Mare was, she didn’t show it. Nothing moved on Ani’s pale face. Her eyes were the only indication of her own life, and they glittered now like frozen emeralds.

Ani’s “Well?” stopped Mare short of what she was about to say.

Glancing away from the look on Ani’s face she silently begged to come away unscathed. She had already experienced a few confrontations with her boss and she didn’t want to antagonize her today. She liked her job, although working for a family business such as this one was demanding both mentally and emotionally. Still, she liked Ani. Her boss was not like anyone she knew.

Known for her untraditional manner, Ani stood out from Mare’s crowd, and most, for that matter, like a sore thumb. Her traditional attire was black; accentuated by silver everywhere. It wound around her throat and peeked out of her blonde hair. Silver rings covered every finger on each hand except one. Silver laced up her arm in bracelets piled one atop the other, another of her untraditional marks. Although of average height and build, at 40 Ani’s presence caught your eye and lingered even after she was gone. Mare could not pinpoint what it was about her employer that affected people so much. Ani was certainly not on the list of “beautiful” people. In fact, she was still single and drew only a scattering of male admirers.

Maybe she scares them off too, Mare thought quickly. Whatever it was, Ani wasn’t someone to take lightly. Refusing to back down from the ice she saw in the green eyes before her, she took a deep breath and blurted out, “Most people go to their father’s funeral Ani.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she knew she had overstepped the line that Ani kept drawn tightly around herself.

“I’m not most people Mare,” Ani said smoothly into the empty space between them, then turned back to her desk. The stricken salesclerk raised a trembling hand to her own mouth, and then hurried back to the showroom, rebuking herself for what she had just done.

When her shift ended at five o’clock, Mare collected her purse and coat and started past Ani working silently at her desk. She had almost reached the showroom door when Ani’s quiet “Mare” stopped her short. Slowly she turned to face her employer, a look of fear starting to cross her pretty face.

“I won’t keep you long Mare.”

Mare searched the other’s face. It was tight with concentration and something undefinable. She tensed, certain now that she was about to be fired. Ani’s “I’m sorry,” didn’t even register the first time around. Mare heard her the second time when her boss reached out and touched her hand.

“I’m sorry for this afternoon Mare. I know you were just trying to help.”
Mare blinked. Too astonished for words, she stood staring at Ani.

“It’s okay,” she blurted, and immediately felt like a fool. Ani’s father had just died and here she was apologizing to her. She wanted to hug the woman, but her arms hung loosely at her sides, memories of earlier confrontations racing through her mind. Instead, she smiled and quietly bade Ani goodnight.

Ani sat for a minute after Mare had left, staring straight ahead. She didn’t notice the garments hanging silently around her in the stockroom where her desk sat wedged into a corner. A screen flickered beside her as the camera recorded the salesgirl’s departure out the front door of the store. In a backroom beyond the stockroom, sewing machines and mannequins sat stationary; the workers having left an hour earlier.

Gathering her personal belongings, she rose then and made her way through the small door and into the showroom. Winding her way past garment racks and the main counter, she quickly checked the day’s tallies and that the cash register was open and empty, ready for the next day’s business. Then she made her way to the front of the store, turning out the lights as she went, leaving only the chandeliers burning behind her. Without thinking, she automatically set the alarm and locked the door.

As she glanced briefly up at the store name over the door, the neon lights reflected off her eyes and flashed a brilliant green. Then she turned abruptly and strode into the night.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Real Life in Comparison

In the real world my friends scoffed at my online life and my mother rolled her eyes as I sat at my desk chattering away about what had happened the night before in the Parlor. She sneered openly when I received a tape cassette from Yak and glared at me when I ran to put it on the tape player. As the sounds of The Phantom Of The Opera eased out into the back workroom of the store – she turned away and pursed her lips. She tried to find out what was written on the card he had sent along, but I tucked it away and refused to speak about it. I knew it was hopeless, but somewhere down deep inside me I dreamed of the impossible.

My mother’s scorn for my lonely life knew no bounds. Every day I took my nephew to school and arrived at the store at 8:20. I then worked throughout the day without a proper lunch or coffee break. I never left the store unless it was on business. Many nights I worked until 11pm and then hurried home so I could find a friend in the chat room. My nephew would catch a ride with his grandma and look after himself once he was home. I didn’t have to baby-sit him and I was grateful. I tried everything I could to please my Mom – and nothing worked. It was never good enough.

I met the men who responded to my ad in the Companions section of the newspaper in the mall. I figured that I was safe with a multitude of shoppers wandering around and that I could always feign a need to return to work immediately if I didn’t like the person. Even though I never was gone for more than 10 minutes, these meetings made my mother furious. I was wasting her money when she signed my paycheck – out gallivanting around the mall like a hussy. She was much like my father in that respect. She just didn’t want to see me with anyone. One day during a vehement argument, she raised her hand and drew it back as if to strike me. I looked her in the eyes and said “It wouldn’t be the first time, would it Mom.” She lowered her hand and turned away, unaware of the horrified stares of the staff. I was so embarrassed by the whole event that I wanted to sink through the floor.

I was not even in the running when it came to being a ‘good’ child. My brother took this category hands down, and I never blamed him. He was good to everyone – no matter what. He had remained living on the farm so he could help our father out with the work, and be there for our mother in all those lonely months when Dad wasn’t speaking to her. Granted – I thought he had it good in many ways. No mortgage, no living expenses, a cook. I also knew it wasn’t any picnic dealing with our parents on a day-to-day basis and I didn’t envy his choice in living there.

Still, the other two siblings rated so high on the ‘good’ scale that my own rating could not even been seen when compared to theirs. Both of the sisters were very religious, and my mother loved this. It did not matter one iota that their actions in no way represented their beliefs. When they quoted the bible to her she simply beamed! I on the other hand was known for flying off at the mouth and saying words that she considered evil. I had worked so long in the bar that foul language came just as easily out of my mouth as did everything else. I toned it down for work, but once I got angry, I often forgot. I tried to live my life in the manner that I believed in. With honesty. I didn’t fake bible quotations and then not go to church. I wasn’t on the look-out for my 3rd husband. I didn’t lie. It just isn’t in me. There was so much bad history between the three girls that we held an uneasy truce just to get through the days. I seemed to have always been battling constantly with everyone in my family, just to hold my own ground. Everyone that is, except my brother.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Meet Yak

Before I move on with my story, I would like to thank Potty Mummy for the wonderful award she gave me and for her own upbeat and hilarious recounting of daily life. The award looks very nice underneath my roaring lion and I am grateful.

I went back to reading conversations for another couple of evenings before I dared to venture another comment. This time, instead of logging in as *A* - I logged in as Ani. I liked my character’s name and I felt emboldened by using it in a chat room. And, instead of just posting a comment, I made an entrance that made a statement.

“Ani descended the long curving stairway as the light from the chandelier reflected from her red sequined dress. She walked slowly across the room and sat at the bar where she ordered ‘the usual’ from the bartender. Her open-toed shoe hung seductively from her painted toenails as she crossed her legs and took a sip. Turning slowly, she surveyed the Parlor with her emerald green eyes. And waited.”

It became my signature entrance and I never went unnoticed again.

While I recovered from the fourth hernia repair I visited the chat room everyday. I was beginning to recognize the other visitors and got swept off my feet by Yak. Yak wined and dined me and twirled me around the dance floor, giving me that long seductive kiss as he gently bent me in our last dip. Every night, just as I logged on, I would put Michael Bolton on the cd player and advance it quickly to my favorite song. “I said I loved you but I Lied (‘cause this is so much more I feel inside)”. Ani would make her entrance and Yak would approach the bar, ask for my hand in the next dance, and twirl me across the dance floor. Behind me Michael crooned on – every word seeming to enhance Yak’s whisperings in my ear. Sometimes we went to a private room although in reality everyone just averted their eyes, or didn’t. Yak didn’t care who was watching or commenting. We were caught up in a world of our own.

As the nights progressed, Yak and I became closer and I ended up emailing him my phone number. The wind was blowing gusts of rain against the window on the afternoon he called and surprised me. The telephone call stopped me in my tracks and I sank into my chair as I heard the voice that went with my midnight dancer. We talked about our online personae for a bit before Yak got to the real reason for his call. In my ears I heard the story of a man going through a midlife crisis and inside I listened to my heart breaking once more. My tears were like the rain on the window, coming in furious bursts, leaving trails on my face. I tried to hide it from him but he heard my little sobs as they broke into our conversation. He said it didn’t change much for him, he loved our midnight meetings, but he loved his wife and children and would never leave them.

The next night Michael Bolton screamed in fury behind me as I tentatively entered the Parlor. I didn’t know if I really wanted to be there but I couldn’t help myself. Yak led me out onto the dance floor again and we danced slowly and silently, looking into each other’s eyes as we watched the tears seep down each other’s face. The world and the Parlor were a million miles away as we circled around and around. I felt like little pieces of me were flying off as we danced, and in my bedroom, sitting alone and staring at a white screen, I sobbed uncontrollably.

Monday, January 28, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Go Unnoticed

My brother only smiled when I asked him how he had come across ‘Bianca’s Smut Shack’. I supposed then that what I didn’t know didn’t hurt me and I didn’t push it. When 11pm rolled around, I logged on and went to the chat room for a look around. I had never been in a ‘chat room’ and I had no idea what to expect. I found different kinds of rooms, some interesting, some just too smutty for me. Over the next couple of nights I spent some time reading ‘chats’ in the different rooms and finally settled on the Parlor.

At first I just read the different conversations that were going on and tried to understand how the whole system worked. I could see there were people who seemed to know one another and had obviously been visiting this chat room for a long time. I was loath to offer a comment as I had the ridiculous idea that people could see me and would know it was me. I blushed furiously when I first commented and waited with baited breath to see what would be the reply. I was ignored completely. Everyone chatted on as if I didn’t exist. Mortification added to my embarrassment and I just wanted to sink through the floor. No one wanted to chat with me.

This seemed to be the story of my life. I had been single for so long that I believed I would never find anyone. Even with Cid as my best friend – I was still lonely. I had taken out an ad in the big city paper in the ‘Companions’ section in the hopes I would meet a man. The first man who answered my ad was (unbeknownst to me) cheating on his wife. What we soon discovered after a few dates (according to him) was that he was allergic to me and any exchange of body fluids gave him a rash. I kept looking.

The second man I met was extremely good-looking and I was impressed. One evening I invited him home and showed him around my house. He was very interested in my closets and paid an enormous amount of attention to my clothes. He would take an outfit off the rod and hold it up as if viewing it against me before returning it and selecting another. He went through my entire closet as I sat on the bed and chatted with him. The next thing he wanted to know was if I owned stockings and garters. What woman doesn’t at one time? I showed him my drawer full of different lingerie and he picked up my stockings and ran them across his cheek. I began to wonder if he wanted me to dress up for him. When he sat beside me on the bed and admitted he was a cross-dresser – I was floored! He wasn’t interested in me – he was interested in my clothes.
I was terribly hurt and cried for days about not finding anyone.

The next fellow I met was a virginal Jehovah’s Witness looking for an escape from his religion. He was attractive and I dated him a couple of times before I realized his intent. I didn’t want the church elders to come looking for me with pitchforks and I let him run.

Cid and I spent nearly every Saturday together. At least the ones he wasn’t spending with his mother. When I tried to ‘make a date’ out of our time together he acted like he didn’t know what I was doing. At the end of the day he would kiss me good-bye and drive back to Edmonton. I was heartbroken. To give you an idea what Cid looked like I will offer up this description. One day my girlfriend got in my car and noticed a cd sitting on the console. “What is Cid doing on the cover of this cd?” she asked me. I smiled when I picked up the jewel case and pointed at the name on the front – Andrea Bocelli. “He looks just like Cid!” she said and I started to cry.

So when they ignored me in the chat room – I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. I seemed to be fading into the background of life. Unnoticed and unloved.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just a few (humble) words before I get on with the story. This weekend has been one of open-mouthed wonder for me. Sailing through blogland, I discovered three different people have been talking about me. And I am truly overwhelmed with their words.

My first discovery came when I clicked on ColoursofDawn’s comment in my own comment section. My mouth fell open when I read her post about confessions for January 25, 2008. I was speechless when I finally recognized that she was talking about me.

Then I went over to check on what is happening over at A Spot of T and this is what I found. (go here) I couldn’t believe what was being said.

My next stop was at Confessions of a Rotten Correspondent and she said this and gave me this incredible award! It now adorns my sidebar with much splendor underneath another powerful lion in his own right.

Thank you all – ever so much – for these words and this award.

And thank you to The Man for helping me with all this computer stuff.

Friday, January 25, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Meet Alcide

The big blue barn sits on what is considered a double lot. It is situated at the back of the lot so it is not easily seen from the street, and as shown in the pictures there are many large coniferous trees about. The original farmhouse is next door. The two houses were the original farm the town was built around. They are located two blocks from our ‘downtown’ and are flanked by the United Church on the southeast corner and by the Church of the Nazarene on the southwest corner. Everyone in town knows the big blue barn and the farmhouse. The farmhouse use to be a way station between Calgary and Edmonton. Weary travelers would stop at the farmhouse and rent a room overnight before journeying on. They put up their horses in the barn which was built a few years after the farmhouse. I believe it was built in the 1890’s. After the way station – the farmhouse belonged to a doctor. The barn was converted in 1914 and belonged to a veterinarian. Later it was made into two apartments and the first floor was a garage. I was told there use to be a dumbwaiter that went from the first to the third floor but I have never found any indication of that existing. I have lived here for 13 years.

Once the wiring was complete and the bank released the rest of the mortgage, I set about with the first of the renovations. I needed to insulate the entire house and I decided to do that from the inside out. That entailed pulling off all the cedar shingle. Under one of them I found a check for $23,000.00. It was over 10 years old – so there was no way I could cash it. I had heard the eccentric alcoholic who lived here was wealthy. In fact, the mall where our store was located was named after his family. The mall was located on what had been their large farm and they had made their money from selling portions of their land to the city. The mall and the store were in the big city – a 20-minute drive north of the little town where I live. Not wanting to take my nephew out of the good high school he was in – and because I worked in the big city anyway – we drove it every day of the week – and for me more, as I worked 6 days a week and sometimes 7.

Once we removed the cedar shingle we had to pull down the plaster and lathe underneath. We stripped every wall in the house to the outside wall or to the inside wall studs, and I learned how to drywall myself. The main floor and the third floor were insulated first. Last year we finally finished insulating the first floor. Every single wall and ceiling in this house has been redone. I have lived in a house that was under construction in some way since I bought it. Always dusty and dirty with new wood or old wood lying about amid the tools, insulation, and paint. I could only do what I could afford and that was not much at one time. But I persevered and I loved it. There is a huge amount of satisfaction gained when you have done it yourself.

During this time I had gone through a gallbladder operation, plus two hernia operations. The hernia happened during The Beater years and I needed four operations to get it fixed. Sounds strange – but I had a nerve cluster that kept regrowing and causing problems and they finally put in a mesh and told me it would take at least five years for the pain to subside. I also met Alcide.

Alcide was a lawyer in Edmonton. He called to inquire about white-water rafting and we struck up a friendship on the phone. He was often traveling past the little town where I live and asked me if we could meet for coffee. We were in the middle of a major renovation push and I left my brother and nephew working madly away while I slipped off for a cup of tea with this stranger. I knew him as soon as I walked into the restaurant. Because of his bad eyesight he was squinting at me as I approached the table, and I looked at him as if he was strange. Once he opened his mouth and that beautiful soft voice came out – well that was a different story. ‘Call me Cid’ he said – everyone does – and I did from then on out. Cid and I became the best of friends and I loved him madly. After a year of talking and chatting I began to wonder why we never went any further. His mother lived 4 hours south of me and he always stopped when he was going back and forth. But that was it – we were friends. He had been engaged to a girl and it had fallen through and he talked about that quite a bit. I once suggested he ask her again and she told him ‘not at this time’. Cid and I talked umpteen times a day – all long distance. After 2 years of friendship I believed it would always be this way. He was born in Trieste, Italy and had never been married. His soft-spoken nature was divine and I loved everything about him. He didn’t much like to hear about my dates and I didn’t talk about them much, just like he didn’t talk about his. When I needed another hernia operation I went to Calgary. After the surgery I was lying on my bed and Cid walked in. He had driven from Edmonton, a three hour drive, to come and see me. I wept.

When I returned home to recuperate, my brother brought his computer and set it up in my bedroom. He forwarded the calls from his office to my home and I answered the rafting phone and made bookings while I recuperated. I didn’t know much about computers back then and my brother showed me how to input the bookings. Because I was using dial-up I couldn’t use the computer and answer the phone at the same time. With that in mind, he showed me some sites to look at after the phone bookings were done for the day. “11pm – shut it down – that’s late enough”. One of the sites was a chat room. “You might find this site interesting” was all he said and left me to it.

It was a very interesting site indeed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

'The Man' Tales - That First Year

For everything that was wrong with my family, it was more than right with my brother. We have had a friendship that goes beyond brother and sister. We are closer than close. There is only one person who sits higher than my brother in my mind and that is ‘The Man’.

The day following the initial viewing of the barn I was back with my brother in tow. We went from room to room discussing what would need to be done and how we could do it. During our search we came across a board on the furnace room floor. When you lifted it there was a hole with a ladder in it and it went under the foundation. My brother took a flashlight and went down the ladder. He discovered a room built of cinder blocks with an air vent. This was right around the time of the notorious killings by Bernardo and Homolka and it was all I could think about when I envisioned the room my brother described. Needless to say – I have never been in it.

After we examined the entire house, we went to a restaurant with the real estate agent and I put in an offer. My brother sat across the table as the paperwork was being completed. When it came time to say how much I would be offering as a down payment he calmly stated he would be lending me the 25% that would cinch the deal. I could have kissed him, but he hates being touched or hugged. I spent an anxious day when we heard that miraculously – after four years – another offer had been presented at the same time as mine. I jumped with joy when I finally got the word that it was mine.

On moving day the entire family showed up to help! We packed every vehicle and truck we could find and moved it into the first floor of the barn. (barns don’t have basements)
My mother took one look at my happy face and told me there were ghosts in this old building and they probably said ‘Moo’.

When everyone had gone, my nephew and I got out our sleeping bags and set up camp in the dining room. It was the only room without that dirty shag carpeting and we slept there for a couple of weeks. My brother owns a white-water rafting business and he brought all of his guides over the next weekend. They spent the day pulling up all the rugs. This brought about the discovery that the previous owner had a dog, a cat, and a rabbit – and all had used the shag carpet as a litter box. My mother sent one of the staff out for the day and the two of us cleaned for eight hours. Then I sat on a step and cried myself silly, wondering what I had got myself into.

Before the banks final approval of my mortgage, I had to complete the kitchen, rebuild the deck and some other bits and pieces. They withheld $5,000 and requested that it be completed in three months. My poor brother moved in with us and spent his days rewiring the entire house. We found an unbelievable mess from the previous owner who had died of a GI bleed from alcohol at the ripe old age of 44. Thankfully he did not die in the house. I’d come home from work and my brother would be waiting patiently for me to give him a hand. He would be on the third floor and would jiggle a bit of wiring and I would be on the first, trying to discover which one it was. The neighbors once complained that we worked until 1am every morning.

I was pressed with the necessity of completing the first project for the mortgage and being out of money. Lawyer’s bills, unexpected and vital repairs, my nephew’s school supplies and clothes – it all had drained me. Without a word, my brother handed me his credit card and told me to keep a running tab. We had an inspection right before the time limit was up and we passed with flying colors and my brother went back home.

In return I have worked for my brother for free for many years now. I give up my summer and take my little trailer and go out and live at his place. I am his receptionist and cook and everything else. When you walk into the building for a day of white-water rafting – I am the first smiling person you meet. At the end of the day – I am the one who locks the front door after a final check that everything is prepared for the following day. Luckily it is only for 4 months of the year – as it is exhausting.

When the winter came around that year I discovered the cost of heating this huge barn. When we were rewiring we discovered there wasn’t any insulation in the entire building. My nephew and I spent every evening in front of the fireplace as it was too cold to spend it anywhere else in the house. We played chess or read – or wrote. I could hardly afford food and we existed on tuna melts on rice cakes and popcorn. I was bound and determined not to lose the house or to ask for assistance. We lost a lot of weight that first year here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Find The Barn

Together, my nephew and I proved the rest of the family wrong. He was mostly an A student and won awards in high school. When he realized how much I was struggling to support the both of us, he got a job after school to help with the finances. We are the best of friends.

Living in the big city proved beneficial to the store and to my parents. When the alarm was triggered at the store – I was only 10 minutes away. Here, the police make the contact person go into the business first when there is an alarm ringing. They follow bravely behind with their guns and their handcuffs. Our store was highly sensored because of the fur coats and sometimes anyone walking in the mall would set it off. I hated those calls.

One day I got the call that we had been robbed. When I arrived I found a trail of fur coats that went from inside our store and out into the mall and then through the store next to us. I had noticed two suspicious looking males in the store during the previous week and had asked them point-blank what they wanted. 32 fur coats later – I knew. While I was at the police station giving them a description – my mother was having a heart attack. I kept calling her to see how she was doing and became suspicious of her actions. After leaving the police station, I raced out to the farm with my cousin and nephew and found her collapsed. My father was angry with her at the time and hadn’t spoken to her in three months, so he was ignoring her and had gone out to the fields. We took her into the hospital where she remained for a week. My father was angry with me for living with my cousin and he wasn’t talking to me either – but I called him from the hospital and let him know what I thought of his actions. It didn’t help our situation but he didn’t leave my mother’s side while she was in the hospital.

When the end of my first year’s rent was approaching, I decided I had had enough of paying a stranger’s mortgage. Working for a family business often means you do it out of love instead of financial gain. My wages were the just above the bare minimum and I was putting my growing nephew through high school. The cousin had gone off to live with a girlfriend and I was scraping by paying the last couple months of rent. However, I was determined to find something to call my own again. I paid a visit to the real estate agent located in the mall and gave them an outline of what I was looking for. In a couple of days they came back with a stack of listings and I eagerly went through them with my Mom. At the end of the work day, my mother and I would grab my nephew and off we would go to drive around and look at the houses. I had narrowed it down to what I could afford and it took us outside the big city. I just couldn’t afford to pay the asking price and the taxes that went with big city living.

We drove north and looked in the next town at some lovely old houses and then south to look at what I considered being typical prairie homes. Then I went looking for an agent to take us through the homes I wanted to look at. When I presented him with the listing for the barn he laughed and told me I didn’t want to see in it – it was for hippies or druggies. I went looking for another agent. This turned out to be one of our regular customers and we hit it off right away. We looked through the home in the town to the north and it just didn’t do it for me. Then we headed south and looked through some incredibly small and ratty houses and I was getting discouraged. But when we pulled into the driveway of the barn – I heaved a big sigh.

The picture I show here on the blog is the picture that was on the real estate listing. My agent had done some research and found the barn had sat empty for four years as it needed an enormous amount of work and it scared everyone off. With that in mind, the four of us entered with a fair amount of trepidation. What we found would have scared off anyone in their normal state of mind. What my mother said was ‘You can do this – I know you can.’ Every wall inside the house was covered in cedar shingle. The ceiling was falling down in the main living room and there wasn’t a kitchen. The appliances sat in the middle of the bare pressboard floor and there was not a cupboard to be found. Shag carpeting covered every floor except for the dining room. There was a sign on the patio doors that led out onto the second floor deck that said – Do not open – deck unsafe. It was dirty and smelled.

I stood and looked out through the patio doors at the giant pine trees and thought of our fishing lodge in northern Ontario. I looked past the enormous amount of work and saw the uniqueness of the building – and I knew I had to have it. What I was going to do with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms was beyond me. I didn’t have furniture to fill 3,000 sq. ft. But I didn’t care. I wanted to live here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Starting a New LIfe

You would think all would be well in my life after finally getting away from The Beater. However, that was just not the way it was to be. I lived on my parent’s farm in an old mobile home I had bought and had moved onto their property. I connected it with an old mobile home they had lived in while they built their home that looked out across the plains of Alberta and to the majestic Rockies. I spent my first few months renovating and getting things to work, trying to make sure there wasn’t a leak where the homes joined.

That first summer I worked for the government at a dam as an interpreter and a receptionist. When that job ended I moved on to a cashier’s job in a local grocery store. That came to an abrupt end when my mother became ill and I was asked to help out in the family business. I was reluctant to do this, as my younger sister – who already worked there - had made it obvious that she would not be happy with that arrangement. Working with family can be a two-edged sword – you either get along well because you know how the other works – or you don’t get along at all. Just plain old sibling rivalry.
My sister tried to get my mother to fire me numerous times and when that didn’t work she finally quit herself. That eased tensions in the business and with my mother as well.

Back on the farm, my father was friendly enough with me until I started dating. When I did, he immediately stopped speaking to me and would ignore me if I were in the room. I learned to live with this, and would force him into a conversation when I was feeling on top of the world. Usually I came away from these trials feeling much lower than when I went in, but I would congratulate myself on making him talk to me.

I dated a number of different men, and usually for all the wrong reasons. I ended up with my heart broken over and over – always wondering what was wrong with me. At work I put in hours and hours, trying to help the business and trying for parental approval. Sometimes I was still working at midnight, only to come in a little late the next morning and endure being berated by my mother for not getting to work on time. I believe my mother was torn between loving and hating me. As for my father – well…

One winter day my brother had lent me his truck when my car wouldn’t start. I had gone into town for some grocery shopping and on the way home had hit some black ice and slid into the ditch. I was walking along the road when my mother drove up. Rolling down the window she asked me if my brother was okay. I told her yes, he was at the farm, and she rolled up her window and drove on, leaving me to walk to the nearest farm and ask for help.

My older sister had two boys by separate fathers. Whenever they came to visit I always sensed that something was wrong. My sister was on her third husband, and he was not the father to either of my nephews. The boys told me that they were beaten by both parents and I told them if they ever needed me – they were just to call. One day that call came through. My youngest nephew was in a group home in Vancouver. He had left because he couldn’t take any more beatings from his parents. When he told me that his roommate wanted to teach him how to do B & E’s..I lost it. I got in touch with the supervisor and demanded that they put him on a bus to me. When my own parents learned that he was coming to live with me – they told me that I had to move off the farm. They were not going to have their ‘bad’ grandchild living on their farm. They had listened to my older sister’s version of what had happened and believed it. So I packed up everything I owned and moved into the big city, leaving behind the mobile home I had bought and renovated

Friday, January 18, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Move West

In 1996 my parents were in Toronto and they ran into the bartender. My mother described the meeting ‘like talking to an old friend’. I shuddered when she told me that. The bartender had married the best friend (a stripper) of his second wife (also a stripper). When Mom told me – I immediately thought of that movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’. In the movie Sally flung herself on her bed and cried out “What about me? Why didn’t he marry me?” I didn’t fling myself on my bed – but I did think that – briefly. I have often wondered if she tamed his brutal ways – if he is still the same – or if he got it out of his system after me. I know they own a coffee shop in Toronto but I heard that he doesn’t spend much time working there – she does most of it. Of course. That sounds familiar to me.

During the entire writing of this back-story I have called him ‘the bartender’. In my daily life I actually always refer to him as ‘The Beater’. But that would have given everything away if I had started the story with that. Writing this has been extremely hard for me – even though it is 20 years later. I have spent sleepless nights with anxiety filled days. When I wrote the final post to this story, ‘The Man’ looked at me and said – “You look much happier – not stressed at all - what has happened?” He then hugged me long and hard. Bless him.

I live with a daily reminder of those beatings with the chronic back pain I now have. The discs in the lower half of my spine have disintegrated and are collapsing outwards, pressing on the stuff that encircles the spine. Just this year they discovered that at sometime I had broken a rib. I wouldn’t have noticed with everything that was going on back then. Some days, like today, the pain is so intense that I can’t seem to get away from it or take a deep breath. The pain will only increase as I age and my body breaks down further, and I am thankful for the discovery of painkillers.

But there is little help for the mental pain. I know I will have to go through it once more when I get around to writing those chapters in The Wailings, but I think (hoping) blogging about it will take that stress away. Thank you for your kind words and support and for going through it with me. Not only was it upsetting to read but at times it was downright distasteful and horrifying. I have at times been totally ashamed of what I was writing, but that was my life back then. We all make stupid dumb choices. And then (hopefully) we move on.

It didn’t take me long to find a buyer for my little wool store. One of my customers heard I was thinking of selling – and that was it. I always dreamed that my vision of a wool store would continue – much like having a child I guess – but that never happened. I heard from my girlfriend that the woman never opened the store after she took over. In fact, she just packed it all up and disappeared. Sigh. It is so hard to find a good wool store these days.

I packed up my meager belongings and rented the smallest U-Haul you could find at that time. After the heartbreaking goodbyes (driving away from my girlfriend was the absolute worst!) I headed west with my cat and a car full of plants - my U-Haul in my rearview mirror. It was December, and I owned a car without a block heater in it. I took the southern crossing – which meant I drove part of the way through the United States. Crossing the border was easier than I thought it would be – they just put a sticker on the U-Haul and away I went. As the temperatures plummeted I started to get a little nervous. I had made that crossing by myself 6 times. It’s a three-day drive, and that is driving for 12 hours for two of them.

Somewhere in North Dakota, I woke up to find my car had frozen solid overnight. Fortunately I had taken my plants (and cat) into the hotel room when I stopped the night before. I had to have my car towed to a gas station where they took it inside to get it warmed up. The radio stations were warning people to stay off the roads, but I couldn’t afford to keep paying for hotel rooms and I had to keep moving. I called my parents to tell them of my predicament and my father advised me to get a candle, some food and make sure I had clothing and blankets inside the car. I was often the only car on the road for long periods of time and I tried hard to ignore that fact. I listened to the radio and sang along, or I listened to the car. When I learned I was driving at -80F with the wind-chill factor – I was worried.

I arrived at my parent’s farm on December 23rd. The next day my mother and I went into town to buy Christmas groceries. When we came home again, we discovered that my father had been in an accident and they had raced him off to emergency. A pressure tank had blown up in his face and he was still alive. We raced back into town and found that they were transferring him by ambulance to the bigger hospital in the nearby city. We followed the ambulance and spent that night and all of Christmas day sitting beside his bed in the burn unit. He had pieces of metal embedded in his face and his hand was badly burned. A steel rod had gone straight through his knee and he had gone through the surgery to have it removed. While he spent 6 weeks in the burn unit the temperatures stayed at -40F and my car was frozen solid. What a welcome to my new home and my new life!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

'The Man' Tales - He Got His

My uncle had built me a one-bedroom apartment. It contained a small fridge and a hotplate and I had my own bathroom with a shower in the laundry room. I was on cloud nine. He didn’t ask me to pay rent for the first two months while I got myself settled and physically recovered. Then he charged me $140 a month. He saved my life.

My aunt and uncle welcomed me into their home and I spent many happy evenings upstairs visiting with them as well as enjoying my own apartment. We developed a routine where we would all go for a walk after our suppers. Most of the time it was just my uncle and myself, but sometimes my aunt joined in. My uncle and I talked of everything under the sun, and eventually, over many walks, he learned of my six years of abuse with the bartender. How my uncle wished that I had told him sooner, but I had always thought the bartender would go back to being that romantic and kind person he had been in the first few months.

One day I got a call from the bartender’s father and he asked me to join him that evening for supper if I didn’t have any other plans. I was quite nervous when I met up with him at his favorite restaurant, but that soon vanished as he put me at my ease. We chatted throughout the meal and for a short time afterwards, and he asked if I would mind if he called me again. I told him I would be delighted to be his dinner partner any time he wanted. We went out for supper many times while he was in town on business and one night he offered me $5,000 to have sex with him. I was flattered and offended and I got up the nerve and told him so. I also told him how disappointed I was that he would think of me like that. Having had the son was more than enough. He apologized and explained how attractive I was to him, and then we moved on.

The next time we went out for supper, we finally brought up the subject of his son. I broke down and cried and told him about all the beatings. He was horrified and angry and I felt better. I then told him about the episode when his son had raved about the father ‘spending his inheritance’. His father set down his utensils and looked at me in silence for a long time. “Really!” he said as he cocked his head to the side and thought about it. And that was all he said at that time.

In the beginning I got a couple of angry calls from the bartender. The first one he accused me of giving him Chlamydia. I laughed at his accusation and hung up and made a call to my new doctor. I never went back to my former doctor – I was too ashamed of lying to him and knowing he knew that I hadn’t been kicked by accident. My new doctor was a woman and she was not impressed with the accusations. I had not slept with the bartender for a number of months before I left, and I figured his new little stripper had given him the STD. I was right – and I still laugh about it.

The other calls came from him and his sister! They didn’t want me going out for supper with their father! I told them I would do what I wanted and that their father was a big boy. I could never figure out what this was all about, but they were quite angry that the father and I had become such good friends.

The bartender dropped by my uncle’s house one evening and I went outside and talked to him as he sat in his van. He had been on a trip ‘to find himself’ and he had bought me a necklace. I thanked him for it and listened to a brief tale of his journey. I don’t know what he really wanted from me that evening, but he didn’t get anything. When I went back inside, my uncle heaved a sigh of relief that I was alone. He had nothing to worry about – I was well on my way to getting him out of my system.

In 1989 I sold my business and said a heartbreaking goodbye to my girlfriend and my aunt and uncle and moved to Alberta. I lived for a while on my parent’s farm in a mobile home before I eventually bought this big blue barn. In 1991 I learned of the death of the bartender’s father. I had kept in touch with the father and step-mother through the years and she had kept me up to date on what was happening. After I had left Ontario, the father had given $250,000 to each of his three children. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the children took him to every top clinic they heard of in an effort to beat the inevitable. He was dead within 3 months. When he died he was worth over 10 million dollars. He left all of his money to his second wife. He did not leave his children one cent. The children took the will to court – and lost! The bartender had always told me he would be a millionaire when his father died. But his father had said that one word that night during supper. “Really.”

Monday, January 14, 2008

'The Man' Tales - And Finally

The growing pains that go with a growing business can be harsh and need immediate attention or they take the business down. The bartender’s mother lent me money to help during one particularly rough time. His father lent me even more when I thought I had nowhere to turn. I paid them both back and with interest, although his father waived the interest part away like a small fly. It had taken a long time, but his father and I had become friends. I don’t think it had anything to do with the skinny-dipping that followed the use of his sauna, but it might have been what swayed him my way. Everyone knew the family’s island retreats were based on a clothing optional basis – except for me. A round of applause went up the day I finally threw caution to the wind along with my shyness and left my bathing suit behind.

However, in the sixth year of the relationship, I was so involved with my business and trying to get ahead that I spent little time at the cottage. I heard about the different ‘female’ visitors the bartender had over the summer months, but I tried my best to ignore it. When fall came around again – so did the beatings. He again took up residence in the spare room and we avoided each other as much as we could. One day – after a particularly silent meal he asked me why I was still living there. I told him it was because he had asked me to marry him. He said “I don’t remember doing that.” I thought his denials were the last thing I could handle but there was more to come.

One evening I returned home and heard voices coming from the spare room. I stood in the doorway and listened to the high giggles and the low laughter that seeped out under the door and felt a huge pang in my heart. I could tell from the sounds what was going on. The sounds stopped momentarily when I slammed the door, but they took up again as I rummaged in my bedroom for a few necessities before I left again. I slept on a bed of wool in my store that night and my hands shook uncontrollably all through the following day. When I returned to the apartment that evening, a girlfriend of ours was sitting at the table. She had been a stripper at the hotel and we had become friends. She lived a few blocks away and I had keys to her apartment so I could look after her cat while she did the circuit. She sat now with her crossed legs up on our dining room table like she belonged and she greeted me guiltily when I entered. She had always been a little ‘different’ – perhaps a little rebellious – certainly quite disdainful of the male species. As I stood there I instantly recalled her on stage during one of her sets while a posse of the other strippers stood at the end of the runway and threw razor blades on the stage. “Shave those legs!” they yelled.

I couldn’t move as I stood in the doorway and she gathered her belongings and slipped past me and down the stairs. I didn’t care as I watched the color drain from his face and he turned his fury on me. Screaming that this was ‘his’ apartment and that I had no right to judge who he had there or what he did with them – he then attacked. He kicked and punched and slapped. He threw me about the apartment. I fought back but I was no match for him and never had been. He fought me from one end of the apartment and back until he grabbed me by the hair and opened the front door and with one heave – threw me down the stairs and slammed the door. When I could manage, I crawled along the hallway and down the next 22 steps until I reached the bottom. Once I could gather enough strength, I walked across to the parking lot and eased myself into my car. I drove out of the city and on to a back road that I knew led to the highway. When I reached the bridge that crossed the six lane highway, I parked my car and got out. I stood on the bridge for a long time and watched the cars as they sped by below me. I thought of how easy it would be to end it then and there and I tried to get up on the railing, but the metal was slippery and I couldn’t get a grip. That brought me out of my daze and I stood there for another hour as I decided what to do with my life. I spent that night in my store again.

The next day my uncle came in for a visit. He took one look at me and asked me what was going on. His kindness broke down my walls and I burst into tears and told him the whole story. When he asked why I hadn’t moved out a long time ago I explained that I never had enough money for the first and last month’s rent that was required. I had put everything I made back into the store and there wasn’t enough for me. He asked me if I thought I could hang in with the bartender for a little while longer. When I told him that I thought I probably could, he told me he was going to build an apartment in his basement for me. I cried and cried on his shoulder and he patted me gingerly in an effort to comfort – as I was bruised from head to toe.

When I returned to the apartment I found a note that the bartender had gone to the cottage ‘for a little while’. I spent the next three weeks on tenterhooks thinking he would return at any moment, but I was spared that. On the day my uncle called to let me know my new apartment was ready, my girlfriend and her man helped me move. We raced up and down those steps for the little bit I owned, all of us fearful he would show up. When we had everything, I took one last look at the picture of his wife’s legs, threw the key on the table and left without looking back – and without leaving a note.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

'The Man' Tales - A Little Bit More To Tell

I worked hard in my little store, trying to pay the rent to my uncles and the rent I had to pay to the bartender. I refused to ask him for any money. Every day I would walk home enjoying the sights of that beautiful city – the old buildings, the train underpass I had to use twice a day, the memories of my youth here. When I climbed all those stairs I would invariably find that supper had not been made nor had any housework been done. I would find the bartender on the couch with the remote in one hand and his cigarette in the other. He never asked me how my day went but would launch into the world’s problems and then add his own rants and ravings. I didn’t have time to pay attention to what went on outside my own little space and I was dubbed a ‘dummy’ – or someone ‘he just couldn’t talk to’. Of course it was then up to me to do the ‘little woman’ stuff and I would spend my evenings cooking then cleaning.

As I look back through my journals I see the beatings continued regularly. All I had to do was look at him the wrong way – or get that ‘look’ on my face – and he would beat me. I also note that as that year progressed I started to use the word ‘hate’ when I wrote about him. The love words were fewer and farther inbetween. Yet still I stayed and wished for romance and love. I wrote the following –

“Go away. Leave me to float in these feelings. Waves of pain crash in amid the shoals of unhappiness. Somewhere in the debris along the bottom, my love tries desperately to swim to the top. Gasping for air, the weeds of insecurity trap my love and drag it under the surface again. Oh to break free of all that entangles and suffocates, and float in the sunshine of trust, sharing, happiness and your smile. Give me the breath of life and love with your lips. Fill my lungs and body with the warmth of you. Pump the stale waters of uncertainty out of my body and take my hand and walk with me into a land of peace. Forever.”

One day, as I climbed those last 18 steps, I could hear him screaming and stomping about the apartment. I opened the door and he threw the newspaper at me and turned his face to the ceiling and let out a scream of anguish.

“He’s spending my inheritance!” he screamed as he stomped from one end of the apartment to the other. “It’s mine! He has no right to spend it. Especially without talking to me first! I had to find out through the damn newspaper!”

I was shaken and scared that his anger would suddenly focus on me, but he seemed oblivious to my presence. While he stomped and raged back and forth, I put down my purse and sat at the kitchen table and read the ‘offending’ article. His father had sold some of his shares of the company to pay his gambling debts and to build an aviary for his second wife who was going to begin breeding parrots. The sale of the shares totaled about three million dollars.

I spent the entire night watching him rave and storm around, pulling at his hair and beating his thighs as he cursed his father. I was relieved when the sun rose and I could escape to my store, unbeaten.

He spent five months at the cottage that year while I worked happily away in my little store. When his birthday rolled around in September, his father gave him a check for $50,000. Immediately following that, he told me that he didn’t want to spend another 5 years in this kind of relationship. Everything that was wrong with it was my fault. The wrinkles and gray hair he was getting were my fault. His inability to write was my fault.
When he lost nearly all of the money in the stock market crash on October 19th – that was all my fault too. Never mind the fact that he knew nothing about the stock market.

On the other hand, my store was beginning to do well and I decided to move it to a strip-mall. It was located just three blocks from the apartment – so easily within walking distance as well. It took us a month to build and again we got on well. My mother came to help me set up the new store and my father lent me some money to help buy left-over stock from a wool store that was going out of business in Toronto. My mother wasn’t too keen on the bartender, but my father thought he was wonderful. He even offered him the hand of friendship should our relationship not succeed. This was the one and only man he had ever approved of – and I should have paid attention to that.

I spent twelve and sixteen hour days trying to grow my business which took away from my time spent with the bartender. It helped me get back some of the self-esteem he had destroyed and I felt like a real person again. However it caused things to disintegrate on the home front. He no longer had his slave to do all the cooking and cleaning and to baby him through all his troubles. His anger and resentment became almost daily beatings for me. One evening I came home and found that he had set up a futon in the spare room. He claimed he could no longer share a bed with me and that he needed ‘space’. When I questioned it he beat me so badly that I bled from my vagina. This scared me so badly that I went to the doctor to see what kind of damage had been done. While he examined me he asked what I had been doing that had caused this. I told him the bartender and I had been playing soccer and he had kicked me in the stomach by accident. With my feet in the stirrups, he raised his head from between my legs and looked in my face and raised his eyebrows. I looked away. Fortunately no serious damage was done and the bleeding eventually stopped and the bruises faded.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

'The Man' Tales - A Friend For Life

My little battle with cancer had not been the first time the bartender had endured a major illness with me. During the first year of our relationship I had to have a hysterectomy. He did not spend much time with me during that either, and it is only now that I am wondering what he had been doing during that time.

As the year of doing nothing slowly ticked away, so did my bank balance. With the bartender’s memory problem that had set in as soon as I acquired the money, it was easily spent. No wallet - could I pay for the gas for his car? No wallet - could I pay for the meal. No wallet - and here we are out shopping for a gift for his family! He’ll pay me back – sure.

Before I sold my house I had bought a knitting machine and had fallen head over heels in love with it. I loved all kinds of knitting, and anything to do with wool. However, the one thing I couldn’t find was coned yarn to go with the knitting machine. With that in mind, and with the need to work looming over my head, I went to the bank and asked the loans manager for some money to help me set up a wool store. One thing I learned – when the loans manager asks you if you think you are asking for enough money – say no. It is never enough. Don’t be humble and shy – it doesn’t help in the long run. Money does.

I then approached my uncles who owned the building where my Grandfather’s office was once located. His office sat empty and I could still envision what it looked like as a coal office, but better yet, I could imagine what it would look like as a wool store. They agreed to rent it to me cheaply and we set about building a store. I have no idea why, but the bartender and I were happy together during the building period. He had some good tools for working with wood and between the two of us we turned the small space into my first wool store. If I stood at the front door and looked across the tracks, I could see the hotel where I worked and watch my former customers go in and out. On the day I hung up the “Now Open” sign – I hoped and prayed for a different life entirely.

One Saturday, after the end of a long and tiring week, I was keeping my eye on the clock in the hopes that watching it would make the day end faster. Dressed in a pale blue knit dress and fuchsia heels, I turned wearily towards the door as it opened and another customer came in towing her young son behind her. I chatted pleasantly with her and listened attentively as her son told me he was going to become a truck driver. She browsed the yarn and the machines, looked through some patterns and examined the coned wool. We chatted about knitting machines and I listened patiently as she told me how many she had. But! I just wanted to go home and my feet were killing me. The shoes were gorgeous, but it had been a long week. I heaved a sigh of relief when I locked the door behind them and shut off the lights.

The next Saturday, she was back. And the next Saturday and the next! She claims I was quite hoity-toity when she first came in and she vowed she was going to wear me down and become friends. Twenty-two years later – we still are – the best of friends. Something great came out of that horrible period of my life and I treasure her. I still have the shoes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Life as I Once Knew It..

His brother arrived the next day and that helped with my wish to keep my distance from the stranger who had returned. They spent most of their days and all of their nights getting high with one drug or another. His brother (another aspiring coke addict) approached me before his departure and told me I had no right to be upset with the bartender’s actions while he was away. I smiled sweetly and silently prayed he would fall down the steps when he left.

With the apartment to ourselves, the bartender decided it was time to get some action again and suggested I get into my lingerie and lie on the bed. I ran through all my options and realized that this was the best one. If I agreed, he’d be easier to deal with if he was happy. He tied me to the bed and threw a sheet over me and left the apartment. When he came back, he came into the bedroom and pulled the sheet off me and stood staring at me before leaving again. I could hear him at the other end of the apartment and I almost jumped out of my skin when the phone rang. He chatted for almost an hour before he came back into the room. After he had his way with me, he put on his housecoat and went into the next room and watched tv. I was cold and wet and needed to pee, but the scarf he had tied around my mouth kept me quiet. He made something to eat and afterwards I could smell the pungent aroma of marijuana. Then he was back. I kept my eyes focused on his chain as it swung back and forth over my head and tried not to imagine his month in Amsterdam. Afterwards he put on his jeans and stood looking at me before sneering and leaving the room.

I squealed into the gag when the knock sounded on the front door and my eyes widened with disbelief when he half-closed the bedroom door before letting in his best friend. They sat and talked in the living room for half an hour before the door was pushed open and his friend came into the room. He looked at me for a long time before he sat down beside me and removed the gag.

“Everything okay?” he asked as he stroked my hair and looked at the straps that tied me to the bed.

“Ya – right,” I croaked.

“He says you’re a little upset with his trip to Amsterdam.”

All I could do was close my eyes and wait. I didn’t know if I was on offer to anyone who wanted to drop by, but it felt like it. His eyes burned my skin as they traveled back and forth over my body and I trembled with the tension in the apartment. When he rose and wished me luck, I thanked God that this guy loved his wife. He took the bartender off to the kitchen for another long talk and called a good-bye when he finally left. Sometime in the early morning, after a couple more rounds, the bartender finally untied me so I could visit the bathroom. When I returned he was asleep and I didn’t have the energy to do anything else but join him.

I had made $20,000 on the sale of my house. I felt like I had a little nest-egg and didn’t have to make any decisions about life for a while. He lived in a spacious ramshackle apartment on main street that cost $200.00 a month. Life roared by three floors below us as we struggled with time and each other. Our closest neighbor was an eighty year old man who was almost deaf and lived on the second floor. He shared that floor with a driving school, while below that was a shoe store. The first flight of stairs consisted of 22 steps until you reached the first landing. The next 18 steps deposited you at our front door. It was a far cry from my little house in the suburbs.

The bartender didn’t like to haul groceries up all those stairs regularly and much preferred catching a meal in one of the restaurants on the main street. I never commented on how quickly his memory was failing when he never had his wallet with him - he didn’t like to hear about his age. We fought constantly and he never held back with his fists or his tongue, but there was no one to hear us. Once a week I lugged the laundry to a Laundromat and sat for a couple of hours and enjoyed my solitude. His sister would drop in when she was home from her travels around the world and they would get high together and sneer in my direction. When his father bought him a new car for his birthday, he complained that now he had to pay the insurance on it.

Life came to a screeching halt for me when I started peeing chunks of blood. The pain was agonizing and I at first thought it was a result of all the beatings. When it became imperative that I go to emergency, he dropped me off at the front door and told me to call him when I was ready to come home. I lay on a gurney in a hallway for several hours while I waited for some relief. One nurse thought I should pee into a meshed cone in case I was passing a kidney stone, and another laid my chart on my chest before she hurried off. A passing doctor took one look at me and I was suddenly being prepped for surgery, and I was relieved when they injected those drugs that wipe out the pain and the world. When I awoke, the doctor told me he had done a bladder scrape. They sent me home the next day and I was sitting having a cigarette when the telephone rang.

“You need to come to the hospital. We have you booked for surgery in the morning. You have bladder cancer.”

When I heard the word ‘cancer’ – I stubbed out the cigarette and I’ve never had another. I didn’t see much of the bartender during the week I spent in the hospital. He claimed to be busy as he was running to Toronto nearly every day. They let me go home on Christmas Eve with my little bag of drugs.The bartender was more interested in my Percodan than in me, and he kept insisting that I share it with him so that he could get high. I was still recovering when I found out he had been in Toronto with another man’s wife during this entire time. He only mentioned the fact when she kept calling to see if I was well enough to engage in a three-some. I was so sick and so scared of the cancer that my mind never even boggled or warped when he covered the mouthpiece of the phone to ask me that question. I just turned my face away and shut down.

The pain took a long time to go away and during my recovery I often passed globs of blood when I urinated. This not only was incredibly painful, but it had me convinced that they hadn’t got all the cancer cells, even with two operations. The bartender, in his infinite wisdom thought that all I needed to get over this was to get high. I reminded him that I had quit when I gave up the cocaine, but he refused to listen. He wanted me to smoke some hashish with him, and when I pointed out that I had quit smoking, he decided I would eat it instead. I fought him, but I was too weak and he forced the chunk into my mouth and made me swallow. I came back to reality three days later. I also came back to one very scared bartender. He was convinced that he had fried my brains with his little stunt. But it didn’t change anything.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Go Back

I picked up the phone and my fingers automatically dialed his number.

“What is this?” I asked as I riffled through all the notes I had gathered.

“I came to the realization that I can’t live without you,” he said quietly with a catch in his voice.

I let the silence swell to a tumultuous roar between us as I thought about all the beatings I had already suffered at the hands of this person. I listened to his breathing as he waited for me to say something, and it brought back some good memories and many bad. When I thought of the bad my brain wanted to shut down and I almost missed his first words when he spoke into the void that had stretched between us.

“I’ve had time to think since you walked away and I need to say some things to you.”

I remained silent and strained to hear him over the sound of my heart hammering in my ears.

“I’m sorry Ani. Truly sorry. I’ve done things to you that are unforgivable and these last few months have emphasized what you mean to me. I thought I could live without you, but I’ve discovered that I can’t. More importantly – I don’t want to”.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I looked around my near-empty house and I thought about the loss of all of my dreams. I remembered how excited and proud I had been when I bought the house and about all the work I had put into it. Then the memory of the pain I felt on the day it sold flooded in and took over. This man had forced me into running – and now here he was again.

“What do you want from me?” I whispered.

“What I want is for you to think about forgiving me and to think about the good times. Then I want to come over and ask you that question you found on your pillow – in person.”

Warning bells exploded in my brain and I shut them down. Someone inside my head shouted ‘Don’t do it!.’ Then, underneath all that clamor, I heard him blow his nose and sniffle loudly. I took a deep breath and wondered, really wondered, if I would regret my next words.

“Would you like to come over?”

That night stretched through the next day and it ended with me saying ‘yes’.
The next evening he called and told me he was leaving for Amsterdam the following morning and could I drive him to the airport?

“Amsterdam?” I asked in disbelief.

“I need to think, so I’m going for a month.”

I made myself believe that it was a good thing when I moved my few belongings into his apartment. My family thought it was exactly the opposite – but I figured they didn’t know anything. This was a test of true love. I kept myself busy while he was gone, looking after his cat and adjusting to unemployment. I had the surgery I had put off for two ingrown toenails and I hobbled around on crutches for three weeks. I called the Toronto guy and told him I hadn’t left and that I had gone back to the bartender. He was stunned. I waited for the bartender to telephone from Amsterdam and then babbled about what our life would be like once he got back. I daydreamed through bridal magazines – and I fed his cat.

The moment I picked him up at the airport, I knew something was up. He barely spoke as we drove the hour back to his apartment, and I spent my time marveling at how much my hands could sweat when I was nervous. It was a hot and muggy evening but I hurried to the kitchen to make some tea while he unpacked his bags.

“That’s for you,” he said with obvious distaste as he threw a small object my way. I unwrapped a small Delft blue duck about the size of my thumb and stood staring at it.

“These are for me,” he leered as he emptied a paper bag full of porn magazines on to his bed and spread them out for me to see. We had seen an amazing array of nudity at the strip-bar, but I had never seen or even thought of anything like this. I couldn’t believe he had managed to get it through customs and I reeled in shock. The warning bells began ringing again and I headed for the kitchen in an effort to ignore them.

When we had finally settled at the dining room table with our cups of tea, I asked him if he had something to tell me. Picking up his cat, he buried his face in her fur and rubbed her ears. Knowing that his next words weren’t going to be good ones, I carefully set down my teacup so I wouldn’t break it.

“I had a great time in Amsterdam. I met this woman and I ended up staying with her for most of my time there.” His brown eyes surveyed me calmly as he snuggled with his cat and waited for my next question.

“What do you mean – you stayed with her?” I let my trembling fingers reach for the teacup once more before I thought better of it and sat on them.

“I met her one night in a bar and I ended up taking her home. After that I just moved in with her.”

I could feel my heart shattering as it hit the bottom of my stomach and I doubled over with the physical pain of it.

“I thought you asked me to marry you – or did I just dream all of that?”

“All I could think of while I was over there was all the guys you had dated when we broke up – especially that guy from Toronto. So this was my way of paying you back. It was only fair.”

“But we weren’t even together then. We had broken-up and ended the relationship. What I did during that time was my business. I didn’t question you about what you did. Do you really think you are justified?”

“Absolutely. Now tell me something. Did you call Mr. Toronto while I was gone?”

I could feel the blush taking over my pale face as I tried to explain. “Yes I did call him – but it was to tell him I had moved in here and that we were going to get married.”

“See! See! I just knew you had called him. I just knew it! I could tell when I was over there and that helped me with Marina.”

“Marina?” I said quietly. I hadn’t wanted to know her name.

“Ya – she had long blonde hair and long legs and she liked everything I did.”

His sneer finally shook me out of my disbelief and I rose as gracefully as I could and took my cup to the sink and poured out the cold tea. I left him sitting at the table and went to look out the front windows at the cars going by and tried to pull myself together. I wiped furiously at the tears that streamed down my face and thought of my car sitting in the parking lot and of my life sitting in Alberta. Taking off my clothes I climbed into the bed and pulled the sheets up to my chin and closed my eyes. Maybe tomorrow I could figure it out.

Monday, January 7, 2008

'The Man' Tales - And I Almost Fell

Suddenly I was deep in the land of drugs and it was unfamiliar territory for me. I had watched multiple drug deals go down around me as I served beer and averted my eyes. Now I was part of it, and it felt so weird to be asking for a packet and handing over $120.00 each time. I lived for the weekend when we would try to make the little packet last, but the more you used it the more it took to get those first highs. Sometimes I gave in and smoked some marijuana and ‘treated’ myself to the cocaine on the side. These highs were different – I felt more distant and not as close to the bartender. As time went by I developed a sore on the inside of my nose and the thought crossed my mind that I might be doing some serious damage. When we started snorting midweek I felt like I had lost all hope, but it was the only way I could face my life. I was so incredibly unhappy that I yearned for those false highs more and more.

The bartender made me do all the buying, claiming he couldn’t get in touch with the dealers from his position behind the bar. It never occurred to me that he didn’t want to be the one who got caught. One day, near the end of my shift, I was approached by a customer who offered me a ‘test’ of some pink cocaine. After I cashed out, I told the bartender I would see him later and drove off to the address I had been given. I never thought I would be in danger as I had known the fellows who had made the offer for many years. We sat around snorting some pink stuff and when I thought I had visited long enough, I headed home. I drew myself a bubble bath and lit some candles, then slipped in for a relaxing soak. It wasn’t long before the bartender called to inquire where I had gone off to. I tried to evade the question, but his bullying finally wore me down and I told him where I had been. He called me every dirty name he could think of and then some and I finally hung up on him and tried to relax in my bath. Within ten minutes I heard his key in the back door and he raced into the bathroom and pulled me out of the tub and screamed into my face.

I was wet and slippery and thought I could get away from him, but he was strong and wiry and out of control. He flung me about the bathroom, bashing me up against the counter and into the toilet. I finally slipped out of his grasp and ran for the stairs and the safety of my bedroom. He grabbed my ankles when I was nearly to the top and hauled me back down, bashing my chin on the each step as he pulled me backwards. I tried crawling down the hallway but he kept kicking me and I curled up in a little ball by the kitchen doorway, bruised and bleeding from the scratches his fingernails had made. He grabbed me by the hair and hauled me up to the bedroom and backhanded me so hard that I landed on the bed. Here he pinned me down, one hand on each wrist and screamed into my face before slamming out of the house again. One thing about him, he knew better than to leave noticeable marks on my face for the public to see.

The next day I had an early morning appointment with my psychologist and I dragged myself into her office and sat without speaking. When she reached forward to touch my arm, I gasped and my sleeve fell back, revealing a mass of bruises, most of them vivid handprints. Her anger made me withdraw even more, but when she put her arms around me I broke down and sobbed. She told me I had to go to the police and report him and I told her I couldn’t. He was just angry with me for not sharing the cocaine and for going to some guy’s place without him. He loved me – he really did. It was obvious by the bruises. We spent an hour going around and around – her insisting I go to the police – and me saying it was just his way of showing love. It was natural. He was waiting at the front door of the hotel when I arrived for work and he wanted to know what the psychologist had said. He went pure white when I told him and I could tell he was scared until I assured him that it had been my fault and that I knew why he was angry. None of my co-workers noticed the abnormality of my wearing long-sleeves and turtlenecks for a week while the bruises faded. And life continued like that for a while longer.

One day, just before the doors opened for the lunch-hour rush, I raced into the women’s washroom. My co-worker was standing in front of the sinks with a rubber tube around her arm and her foot braced against the counter in an attempt to hold one end of the strap tight. She held a needle in her one hand as she tried to tighten the band around her upper arm and I noticed it had some liquid in it. A spoon lay on its side on the counter with little wisps of smoke drifting off its scorched surface.

“Could you help me pull it tighter?” she asked with a gasp.

I shook my head in horror and watched with fascination as she jerked the band tighter and slipped the end of the needle into her arm and pressed on the plunger. Little beads of sweat popped out on her forehead as she concentrated.

“What the hell is that you just put in your arm?” I was so sickened by the sight that my voice shook and I wasn’t surprised at how pale my reflection was when I looked in the mirror.

“Coke” she said as she leaned over the sink.

I forgot all about my desperate need to pee and staggered out into the bar where I worked in a daze for most of my shift. My co-worker seemed fine and disappeared into the bathroom a couple more times before I went home. I sat for a long time in the dark and thought about my life. I knew I had almost reached bottom, and seeing it that day in someone else was shocking. I knew when I saw that needle that I would never touch the stuff again – and I never did. I also knew that it was time for me to move on. I needed to sell my house, quit my job, and get away from all of this.

The only problem was the bartender. I didn’t think I could face life without him. He lost his temper – again – when I told him I wouldn’t be getting him any more cocaine as I had quit. The beating I received helped firm my resolve and when he finally stopped long enough to listen to me, I told him we were through. I wasn’t prepared for the tears and I almost gave in to them – almost. When I told my boss I was thinking of leaving, he cried too! I was shocked, but I still needed to make the move and I set about getting my house ready to sell and listing it.

In the months it took me to paint and put down trim I learned to ignore the bartender while we still worked together. We developed a very crisp way of dealing with the orders and I noticed he still kept an eye on what I was doing – but I didn’t care. I dated a couple of different men, but nothing serious. One fellow took me home at the end of our first evening, and when I refused his advances, he belted me across the face – and fled. I was convinced I attracted men like that or that there was something seriously wrong with me. During that time I flew out to Alberta to my sister’s wedding and met a wonderful man on the airplane. He lived in Toronto, and we had so much fun together I wondered why I was thinking of moving away. My parents sold the tourist resort in Northern Ontario, and my mother came for a week and we packed up everything she wanted to keep. With the lodge sold I felt I had no further reason to stay in Ontario and my house sold in three days. The moving truck picked up nearly everything I owned and their belongings from the lodge and headed west. I had only a few days left to work and I was looking forward to my new life and whatever it would bring.

Returning from my last weekend in Toronto I stepped into a house filled with notes that hung from nearly every available space. There were at least a hundred of them. The entire basement ceiling flapped when I moved. Each note contained a declaration of love or an apology. The final one, attached to my pillow, was a marriage proposal – all from – the bartender.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Struggle

Faithful Readers – I was awake most of last night thinking about the past and about the task of putting it in words. This morning my stomach hurts and I feel queasy. This is incredibly hard to do. This blog is just a small peek into the maelstrom that was my life back then and I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel when I get to that chapter in The Wailings. I have pushed myself away from my desk – come back – raked my hands through my hair – picked at my skin. If I appear to be struggling – I am. I try to block these memories most of the time because they are so hideous, and it is stressful and embarrassing knowing that I allowed this to happen. I will attempt to explain why I did as I go along.

Again – this is my small inadequate attempt at reaching out to others who have been, or are going through this. I do not have the words to describe how scared I am that he will find out. I know exactly what he would do.

I am still afraid of his anger.

I was 27 years old and I had never touched illegal drugs in my entire life. My ex had succumbed to the pleasures of many and had paid with the price of a fried brain. The bartender was 10 years older than me, and loved his ‘medicinal herbs’. He grew and smoked marijuana regularly. He also liked his hashish oil and LSD on occasion. I couldn’t see the attraction and was afraid of addiction. The bar where we worked was one of the hubs for dealing drugs. You could get anything you wanted in there, or you could ask me for a drink. Not only did the local Mafia run drugs but also the biker gangs that controlled the strippers.

I once wiped off a table of what I thought was spilled salt arranged in lovely little straight lines. The customers had wandered for a brief moment, and I came along (that good cleaning ethic instilled in me by my mother) and wiped down the whole table. What a hullabaloo that followed! Another time I inadvertently blew the cover of an undercover cop. I felt so bad – he had obviously been working on the drug bust for a long time.

One night I filled in for a sick bartender. We had a strict rule that ‘colors’ could not be worn inside the bar. That meant the biker gangs could not show attire that spelled out their names…like ‘The Coffin Wheelers’ etc. That night a biker gang had come in and taken over an entire section. The leader was huge, with massive arms, red hair covered with a bandanna, chains, hoops – the whole look wrapped up in one. I sent the trembling waitress over to inform them that they had to remove their colors or we couldn’t serve them – house rules. He sent back word that I could go f**k myself. I sent back word that they would have to leave if they weren’t going to take off their colors. He came up to the bar and started to harass me. I tried to remain calm and pressed myself up against the bar to hold myself up as my trembling legs were about to give me away. I again told him I wouldn’t serve them with their colors on. It was simple. He called me several unpleasant names and I began my reach across the bar for the telephone to call the police. He grabbed my wrist (I can still feel it-like iron) and looked me in the eyes. I looked back into something I didn’t want to see – and gave him my undivided attention. He told me that if I touched that phone it would be the last time I touched anything. I took a deep breath and told him I was just doing my job. The stare-down was intense. Surprisingly they left after throwing only a few chairs around. I went and stood in the walk-in cooler for a bit until my legs came back to life – all 110 lbs. of me.

I was defiant and tough on the outside, but inside I was a mess. At this point the divorce proceedings had not even started and my husband was in a psychiatric hospital and was so drugged he couldn’t speak. I visited once in a while out of sheer guilt. He knew I was moving on with someone else and I knew that my actions were part of the reason he was in there. So far the bartender was restricting his abuse to the bedroom and to words. My doctor sent me to a psychologist to try to help with the bleeding ulcers and the stress. I was trying to hold my life together, pay my mortgage and deal with two (sick) men in my life. My family lived on the other side of Canada and I was alone.

When I first went to the psychologist I was delighted that I had been sent to a woman. I thought that she would be able to understand what I was going through. I painted the bartender as a good man who was so loving and caring and generous. Granted he had gone through two wives, was on the alcohol wagon and did drugs to compensate – and oh yes – he had hit me a time or two. But I loved him. I couldn’t get enough of him. He was so wonderful. On the other hand I was incredibly stressed and suicidal. We had broken up and got back together every other day since the beach episode. The psychologist was taking a dislike to him and so I was taking a dislike to her. Here’s a little excerpt from my journal – “Today I thought about killing myself. But I didn’t. Just in case we get back together again.”

I was such a mess. The husband got out of the psychiatric hospital after a year and came into the bar to see me. I could barely look at him but the bartender wanted me to be friendly towards him as he was dealing drugs to make a living and the bartender needed a supplier. Or a dealer. So I tried, but the emotions it took in dealing with both of them almost drained me. I was a puppet, and the bartender jerked my strings with glee. One night during another sexual encounter, he stopped and lit a joint and held it to my lips and told me to inhale. I tried not to but he held my head with his arm around my neck and told me to inhale. So I did. He covered my nose and my lips so I couldn’t exhale until I thought I would burst, and then he let me go. He repeated that procedure until the joint was gone. I don’t recall what he did to me after that. What I do recall were the hallucinations I experienced for over 24 hours. I was terrified! He laughed at my helplessness and left me to fend for myself. He didn’t believe that marijuana would make anyone hallucinate, but that was the affect it had on me. He did that a second time and the results were the same and he didn’t make me do it after that.

One Saturday evening the bartender arrived at my house and was the epitome of love. He held me in his arms and caressed my hair. He kissed me with those long emotional kisses that make you melt. He told me he loved me and couldn’t live without me. I thought ‘At last! He finally loves me – he truly does.” When he took the little silver foil packet out of his pocket I didn’t understand what it was. He kept petting me, cooing, telling me how wonderful I was, how much he loved me. This was so different from the usual words of how much he hated me, how I instigated his anger, how ugly I was, how I didn’t treat him like a human being – that I would have done anything for him right then and there.

When he took out a little mirror and a razor blade I began to tremble, but he stroked my hair and kissed me and told me to trust him. He rolled up a $20.00 bill and snorted up a white line and then handed me the money. I played with the money until he took me by the hair and held me over the cocaine. I snorted. He did another line and gave me back the money and I did another. Again he took me by the hair, but this time he unzipped his pants and I pleasured him. Three lines each remained. We did another and headed for the bedroom. We just lay there – he was satisfied already – and we finished off those little white lines. I floated up around the ceiling somewhere and babbled away. The cocaine made him kind and loving, and was an incredible stimulant. He was suddenly the man I had wanted him to be for so long. I was hooked.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Into the Fire

Last night I got out my journals from that time and read through them again. I remember writing them like it was yesterday, when in fact it was the early 80’s. What I remember the most was that I wrote them with the knowledge that he read them daily, and because of that they are more like letters to him, than my own place to vent my life. I know you are thinking that they must be interesting to read, but in reality they are a repetition of my cry for love and my denial of reality.

I waited for the ‘honeymoon’ to resume after this abrupt break – but it never did. And while I waited I tried to monitor everything I did to ensure that I wouldn’t be ‘deserving’ of another slap. I know I never once thought he reminded me of my father. Not then. I was still so infatuated with him – so utterly consumed with wanting him to want me. From that moment at the beach he started holding me at arms length, granting me the favor of his attention, his body, his disdainful love. Before that time it had been an equal sharing, a romance, a discovery of each other.

It was right around then the Police came out with a song – “I’ll be watching you”. The words went – Oh can’t you see, You belong to me ~~~Every move you make, Every step you take, I’ll be watching you. He loved this song. It also was a popular song for strippers to dance to. I’d be serving customers while the strippers peeled to this song and look up and he would have hoisted himself up behind his bar and would be watching me and pointing at me – mouthing the words. At first I thought it was cute, but it embarrassed me the customers were watching. He was making sure that everyone knew I was his. And – he was making sure I knew I had to toe the line. Or else.

When you work in a bar, any bar, you develop a type of friendship with your customers. I had my favorites – nice guys who came in for a drink at lunch or after work, just to relax and spend some time with their friends. It was a popular bar, one of the few in Ontario where the strippers could take everything off (as long as they held a scarf or something). Working in this environment makes you develop a thick skin towards nudity, sexuality, alcoholism and drugs. For me it was a business. I wore skimpy clothing (sometimes almost transparent) and heels. I never stopped from the moment the doors opened until my shift ended at 6:30. Every single customer added to my income and I worked hard for the money I made. It was nothing for me to carry 32 glasses of beer on my tray and four jugs of the same in my other hand. The bartender watched my every move and if I stayed longer at a table to chat – he wanted to know what it was about. If my eyes followed a customer – I heard about it. Sometimes I would break out in a sweat in the middle of my back – those tingly scared sweats – if a customer put his arm around me. I knew I would pay for it. So I developed a ‘do not touch’ policy and enforced it with everyone. The management backed me up on it and would throw a customer out if they touched me. They had no idea I was protecting myself from something else.

But it wasn’t a two-way street. The bartender looked at everything. Not just a casual glance, but those sweeping once over glances to ascertain the woman was worth looking at in the first place – then the second look. I asked him once why he was looking at these other women when he had me. He turned and looked me up and down and sneered. Turning away he said, “To see if they want to f**k me.” I wanted the earth to open and suck me up, and in the next instant I vowed to work harder at making him want me – and only me.

From that moment on the beach – things changed. Our sex life became the stuff that romance novels are based on. With a twist. He would suddenly sweep me off my feet and carry me to the bedroom and rip off my clothes. I would almost swoon with the violence of it. I would think ‘He wants me! He wants me so badly!’ Then, in the middle of a passionate kiss, where my eyes were tightly closed and I was trying to melt into him, he would draw back and slap me as hard as he could across my face. My eyes would fly open and he would be watching me for my reaction – waiting. The first time it happened I was confused. I knew he was angry because I had been talking longer than was necessary to a customer. He hadn’t said anything about it and we had gone back to my house in what I thought was a comfortable silence. While preparing supper he had swept me up and carried me to the bedroom. My reaction to the slap was to raise my arms and whisper ‘I love you’. Then I buried my face in his chest to avoid another slap. He ravished me then, instead of making love, and called me names and told me I was a tease with the customers and this is what it got me. I reveled in it. I went to work the next day with extra make-up to cover the red mark that remained. Our lovemaking from then on was always an outlet for him to find different ways to inflict pain and degrade me. I thrilled with the domination. I would let him do anything – as long as he wanted me.
I had myself convinced that we were just into kinky sex. It was when the beatings stepped outside the bedroom door ---