Herold was a vicious bully who terrorized me when I appeared as a scraggly, fucked up kid in his domain, or reign of terror which was his school. To Grandfather, I called school Herodville. Some days he would drive me in his meticulous blue Buick and I would appear on the steps of the house before he could pull back in the driveway. It puzzled him and he would lighten the situation by telling me not to teleport home, like Spock on Star Trek, he knew I sneaked to watch when he slept at night. I couldn’t pull anything over on Grandfather. Two weeks later, he found my shortcut to our house and was waiting in the first backyard through the fence in a garden swing with a sweet widow who seemed smitten by him and his gift of gab and charm. He bribed her with his fresh cut roses and a visit any time she saw me cutting through her yard during school. My days off teleporting were over.
Education was of the upmost importance to him. I had much to catch up on. I was nine and could not read or write. He said I spoke like a sailor and acted like one on weekend pass most days. My first three years with him were grueling to move through the grades so I was on par with other kids my age. I had to read to watch TV…mainly cartoons, like Flintstones and Scooby Doo…my two favorites. I also like a quizz show, Grandfather felt was far too risque and inappropriate for someone my age to watch called Hollywood Squares or to the bane of his existence Hee Haw. Oh that was his least favorite show. He liked the Lawrence Welk show best…but his second was All in the Family which he said was tongue and cheek but a bad influence to “both of our souls” but we watched it faithfully. Even when I didn’t understand, I laughed when he laughed and he would pay my head and his eyes would glisten and sparkle like blue saphires with glee.
Back to School though, I would suffer the torment of Herold each day. I was an easy victim. Different. So odd and peculiar. “Not like the other kids” or “freak”…my teacher said I was often “distracted” although my grades were higher than average. She said I was a “daydreamer with a wise old soul”. I think my Grandfather accepted that as truth and me as who I was…as long as I kept my education foremost, permitable.
So each day Herold and his crew of mindless hoodlums, harrassed me, popping up my skirt, knocking me down, tossing the books out of my arms. One terrifying Wednesday when I stayed late for tutoring, Herold and three boys waited for me after school. I was hungry and not paying attention. I had become complacent in my safety zone which was Grandfather and Home..and Monkey who I slept with each night and day and spoke of my day and secrets I couldn’t share with Grandfather about the terrorizing, harassing, threats and torment of each day of school. I just wanted him to think I was normal. I was afraid of losing what I had, so I hid from the pain and dread of school each day.
The Wednesday, I stayed late…I stepped out the building, I was heading to my shortcut through the widow Ann Blake’s home. She and Grandfather had built quite a friendship on my attempts to skirt school. She was incited to dinner many night, I was glad he had someone so kind and loving to him in his life. I sneaked a peek at him kissing her through the banister on the second floor steps. If I hadn’t giggled, the two would never have know I was there. Just knowing he found someone who loves him as much as I did…except different like an old person would.
As their love flourished, I saw a new side of him, more relaxed and less worrisome. I watched her bring out new color in his Aura and glisten in his eyes and pep in his step. He planted her a beautiful rose bush by her backyard fence…he said to remind of both of how much “his girls meant to him each day as we passed”.
I was nearly to our rose bush when Herold stepped out unexpectedly. At first, I was unafraid even with his callous and cruel nature. Then the two older boys appeared, I later learned were his two year older twin brothers. I saw the look before…I knew I should flee…but I hesitated and they pranced on me, dragging me to the ground. One held my shoulders, the other covered mouth, I felt my panties slipping down and saw the evil and wickedness of Herold glaring at me menacingly. I bit the older blonde boys hand and began flailing.
“Do you know my Grandfather, Doctor John Burke? ” I said threateningly…he will kill you for this…but they laughed and grasped me harder pulling me away from the rose bush and Widow Ann Blake’s home and into the cold dirt. I made sound like so strange and distorted and animalistic, it frightened even me. My body was dragged down the road and I felt my life slipping away…once more into a new hell. I prayed in my head and prayed.
This time, God heard me. From behind the widow’s house…appearing from Behind the Woodshed where Grandfather kept his tools to mow and tend her yard and flowers. He built it by hand and I helped as his “Gopher”, helping bring him tools or nails or even lemonade the sweet widow bestowed on us.
Yes I believed him to be a dark angel…not evil dark…just dark skinned. Like a beautiful coffee colored Walnut desk like grandfather had in his office/library where I did my homework. The apparition was husky, maybe overweight, with a wide striking nose and deep kind chocolate eyes that twinked like a glossy tearful look in his eyes. He stood over 6 feet even though he seemed young. His presence terrified the three men so much that they impetuously ran in three separate directions after ceased the assault upon me.
He stared away as I slide my underwear back over my buttock and straightened them cautiously. I brushed what dirt and grass I could. My knees and clothes were terribly stained and my shirt was ripped and my hair had come apart and the streaks were now beating my face in the wind, making it hard for me to see my rescuer.
The Widow Ann Blake’s heard scrimmage…she called Grandfather at work who was apparently racing across town, because she was frightened. Her pug, LuLu was barking incessantly. The widow was terrified. He said for her to call the police.
My hero got edgy and concerned. The next door neighbor stepped out back and on seeing the young dark boy and me so disheveled…began screaming for help…she ran back into to her home. I grabbed his arm to reassure him, my angel, but he was shaking. Our eyes locked together briefly in an intense embrace…both of us bewildered by the other presence. I got so close, I could hear his breath and I stole a kiss on the lips. He looked shaken as if he didn’t know how to react. Then as quickly as he appeared..he slid from my presence leaving me like a surreal dream and into the brush back Behind the WoodShed Grandfather built and disappeared.
My Grandfather appeared almost at the same time as the police officer. The widow Ms Blake l, who knew I was the one in trouble rushed to me, holding me like a protective mama bear who wrapped me in a soft blanket and held me so tightly. I could feel my heart beat with hers. When Grandfather appeared from his blue Buick, we bum rushed him crying like hysterical children.
The police were storming the brush and area and I was spouting off incessantly to Grandfather of what happened. In the commodtion, the police called the widow to the back of the Woodshed to question her. My grandfather followed and without my hero, I stuck to Grandfather like a lampry sucker fish to his leg. When we all ducked behind a bush and there was a tattered blanket, bits of food, a few empty ton cans, a book of matches, some tattered and stained clothing and one large shoe without a shoelace and a small blue tattered Monkey a cop kicked carelessly in to the thicket.
I knew who lived there immediately and my loyalty to my protector raged. The police were off track, and I used the skills Grandfather used on me to get them to listen. I whistled. Loud and hard. In all the commotion, everyone stopped. I shut the neighbor up first who then was then saying she saw a large black boy attacking me.
Everyone stopped and stared. “The boy you speak of…the large black boy you saw, he saved me. That was not my attacker. It was Herold Mascot from school and two older twin boys one with blonde hair, the other a dark brunette. Those three attacked me…the two older boys held me down, covered my mouth and Herold tore down my underwear.” Ann Blake and the neighbor made the sign of the cross in front of their hearts. The widow Ms. Blake got weezy and began to faint, but Grandfather caught her and set her down.
Grandfather pulled the chief aside and the two younger officers behind the woodshed and spoke so softly, I couldn’t hear. I knew his tone and quietness did not match his red face and sharp arm movements. The police spread out.
The police arrested the three boys. The news spread like wildfire through our sleepy little Texas town. There was a reward for the hero when he could be found. The whole town was searching. I knew he was terrified. I felt him now in my heart and spirit. I spent the next few days with the widow and Grandfather’s love, Ms Blake whole Grandfather worked and I got out of school. On Thursday, we watched television all day to my Grandfather’s chagrin. It was Friday night at midnight. I could not sleep. I tossed and turned. I thought of him so often, running through the woods, alone and afraid he was being hunted for a crime he did not commit.
I thought of his belongings.
I thought of the blue monkey. Of my life and second chance. I got on my knees again, and I prayed out loud for my mystery man. For my love, my hero, my protective phantom who disappeared like a foggy morning. I asked God to bring him back to me. To give him a second chance too . I prayed and wept so deeply and wholeheartedly when I heard a creak behind me and half expected to see the young boy who saved me with a rose. It was My Grandfather though and not a rose, holding a blue monkey. He looked tearful and disheveled. I ran to him and clung to him like an unmovable vine.
He took me to the widow’s house. She tucked me in and hummed me to a listless sleep. I heard Grandfather clanging around her kitchen and wondered his plan.
I should have known Grandfather and his will and persistence. His fearless and undying love for me. I doubted God in my life before that, but I never doubted Grandfather. They said I slept two nights straight. I awoke with a startle, confused and befuddled
At the end of my bed, the widow Ms Blake had set the two monkeys holding each other under my blanket at the foot of the bed. In the chair next to me sat the widow. By the window stood my love. It was raining, he had his forehead pressed against the cool window. When he turned to look at me, he had trouble making eye contact. Grandfather sat across the room and when I peer over he gave me our famous crooked half smile like a mischievous cat. My heart leapt upon seeing him. I jumped from my bed, the widow quickly wrapped me in a proper housecoat. Grandfather didn’t say a word. He knew he had answered my prayer.
I turned slowly towards him and asked his name. He looked down at the floor and wiggled his left foot across the hardwood floor avoiding eye contact. He spoke quietly and stuttered out “Trevor”. He looked like he might dart again like a jack rabbit. So I ran to him and grasped him. He seemed akward and hesitant to touch me. I told him I prayed God would bring him here to give him a second chance, a home, a family and safety.
“Look you are here!” I said and wept. I held him so tightly, he probably couldn’t breathe. I felt his warm breathe on my neck and for the second time, we locked eyes.
He lifted his arm and for the first time willingly held me, it felt like blanket to comfort me. My love buried his face in the nape of my neck. I told him God sent him to me. He shook his head gently maybe he sent “You to me.”
My Grandfather lay dying, John Burke Junior fussed and wanted Grandfather to sing he said “Please sing Peanut sitting on a railroad tracks song again GG paw”.
Trevor appeared like a cool wind of relief in his three piece suit after work. He kissed My Grandfather’s forehead after embracing me and kissing me gently, hugging his three year old son and kissing Mom (Ms. Blake). He sat down patiently by our sides. Sometimes, we stared at each other saying nothing, my Grandfather said if he had to go to one more graduation….and we all laughed. He and the widow never married because Ms Blake adopted Trevor at 15 and if they married they knew Trevor and couldn’t marry ourselves. It was their continual sacrifice.
Schooling was tough cause at that age Trevor could not read or write. He picked it up so quickly and when given the chance to succeed..
Between the two, they took on many neighborhood kids besides us…others thought worthless, bad eggs or not worth the time not Ms Blake and Grandfather. They changed many lives. Still Trevor and I began it all or so we liked to think. Between them we were left a beautiful home and a halfway house. There was more than enough to buy a community recreational center for children in need, tweens and teens in our area. It was a safe place and hot food was always served. Clothes. School supplies. A fabulous library. Computers available. The doors always open. If a child had a need we tried to reach it. Providing classes and counseling to all. Anti Bullying programs exceeded our expectations and the school district was rated highest in state for graduation rate.
We all stood around and sang Silent Night two days bef Christmas. Ms. Blake’s bed was set next to Grandfather’s. He passed during the chorus. I heard the kids sing sleep in heaven peace….it was John Burke who piped up, “it is ok GG paw, I will see you there.” Junior who was sitting next to my Grandfather told us he said he was called to go home. I held his hand til the end. At first, I wanted to say, please don’t go…but I knew it was time to release his soul. Ms Blake died two days later on Christmas.
Trevor and I held it together for John Burke Junior to have a Christmas, neither of us ever had. It was hard not to weep, mourn and grieve at times and other times. It was the most awesome, grateful year of celebration.
We buried the two together in gorgeous coffee colored oak coffins….we asked all attendees of the fineral to choose a rose from either of their gardens of their two homes to lay on their graves if the two impacted their lives.
When Junior was 15, he appeared in our bedroom doorway….”what are these?” Lol…”monkeys with mange?”
I was in bed from the chemo. The only son by birth although we adopted seven more kids along the way….
John Burke Junior held them high making them do an acrobatic act to my bedside. “Mom, you ok?”
“yes, my love.” I said weakly and began to cry, partly for knowing I was leaving him and my other children..and my one believed Trevor
and partly crying knowing I was to see my Grandfather and Ms. Ann so soon.
I could hear John Burke’s voice as it faded into murmurs. He tucked the two monkeys on bed next to my heart
I remember him saying he needed to call his Dad, but he didn’t leave my side. I remember him gripping my hand tightly. I could feel Trevor coming. Like he knew. Before my last Breathe I said one more I love you and as I opened my eyes he was there.