The Story of Sledge


#1

DISCLAIMER: This is an autobiographical account, rated a strong M for Mature audiences only. All events written actually happened, although they are shown from my perspective and with the information I have to be true. I do not plan to hold back, and some parts of my account can and WILL disturb some readers. It is up to the reader to choose to continue and it is my hope that anyone reading can have catharsis from doing so, or at least relate to the harsh reality of life and better understand who I am. All names within the story are changed to protect the identity of those involved (except my name of course). This is not a chapter book, but a series of memories of the events that have occurred in my life.
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Sirens were sounding off in the distance as a man covered in sweat and holding a bundle of cloth raced down an alleyway. The squad cars were in pursuit, their rubber tires squelching over the icy street as they came to a sudden stop. The police had spotted him. They blared orders over the megaphone for him to stop but with the sound of his racing heart throbbing in his ears he barely heard the incoherent sounds.

He quickly regathered himself, looking for an exit. The alleyway was long and narrow, and now the bundle in his arms started to cough and cry. The cold wind was making the baby’s skin red from its bitterness, and the few inconsequential snowflakes falling only served to upset the child more. No matter, he had to run.

The cops were on foot pursuit now, and he could hear them pounding after him, their keys jangling as they went, all of their gear slowing them down. He could outrun them…just a little further and he could cut down another alley.

Just as he was about to reach the end an officer came into view and blocked his path. He didn’t see the motion but the officer drew his sidearm. The blue and red flashing of lights and the barking from the policemen blurred altogether in a haze.

“Put the baby down! Get on the ground!”

The man stopped, panting hard while gripping the now screaming child. He took a couple steps backwards but the police in pursuit now also drew their firearms.

“Put the baby down! We will open fire!”

In a desperate moment he considered the consequences, and finally, he bent down and tossed the baby into the nearest small pile of snow…then he took off to climb a fence.

The police rushed him from both sides, and in short order they grappled him off the fence and thrust his face down into the concrete. They holstered their firearms and began to beat him senseless, as if each wanted to make sure they got a turn at cracking their knuckles into this man’s face. One of the officers trailing behind the pack gently picked up the baby nearby and wrapped her as best he could in his uniform to shelter her from the wind. He made his way to the nearest squad and radioed in, “We have the baby…the father is in custody.”

The snow cooled and yet burned the fresh wounds of the man on the ground, who had now stopped resisting. The blood stained the white powder around him as handcuffs were shackled to his wrists behind his back.

Welcome to my story.


#2

You put the warning behind the story. Lol


#3

Rhaast: Ohhh. I do like this.


#4

Should I put the disclaimer first you mean? Ahead of the story?


#5

Probably would make more sense. Good read though.


#6

I modified it…it does make more sense this way.


#7

Wait are you the baby?


#8

Yes, that’s me.


#9

Continued…


“You keep running around, going out late nights, dating all sorts of men. This isn’t good for you or Vanessa.”

The man speaking spoke with an inflection both of judgemental superiority and loving concern, a mixed cocktail of the perfect guilt trip. He sat down on the edge of the bedside of Cara, a young woman in her twenties, with fair skin and vibrant red hair that curled down over her shoulders. She smiled, and aside from the black and blue marks spread across her what otherwise would have been beautiful face, she laughed.

“Dad, I can take care of my own daughter.”

The man sighed, looking down on her and placing his hand on the back of her own. He had slick black hair, and a small mole on one cheek. It pained him to see her lying there injured once again, yet his pity was being overshadowed with worry for the baby. “How many times do you have to end up in the hospital, Cara? Because some man beats you? What if he killed you…what if he killed your daughter?”

The woman’s smile melted away as quickly as her eyes left his face. She turned away, unable to meet his intense gaze. The pain of the bruises still throbbed on her face, as if to suddenly remind her of what had happened. She remained silent, looking for words that could make him stop staring down at her, but nothing came to her lips.

The moments passing between them in silence were a weight too much to bear. It seemed as if he really was waiting for some kind of answer. She blurted out the first thing that came to her mind: “Reuben, they really messed him up when they arrested him. They beat the shit out of him.”

His eyes narrowed a bit from the abrupt subject change, but he persisted. “Just like he messed you up when you were pregnant? Just like he messed you up when he kidnapped Vanessa? Do you really think he will stop? Or any of your boyfriends-”

“Dad, I am married to Reuben.”

“You say you’re married…”

“I am, dad.”

He looked away, sensing the lie but not wanting to hear the truth in that moment. He simply returned to his prior subject.

“Cara? Let us take Vanessa. You can go and do what you want, and you can still see her whenever you like. We can take care of her and she will be safe with us.”

“I can take care of my own daughter, dad!” she bawked, tears starting to well in her swollen eyes.

“Look at yourself. You can’t even take care of yourself. Think of your baby…”

The woman lowered her head.


#10

I know reading this is just gonna make me cry and want to fly to you house and give you a big hug and tell you how much you’re loved, and yet here I am.


#11

You’re a fantastic writer, I just want to say that.


#12

Continued…


Small, shiny black shoes clicked against the pavement in a broken skip. A dark-haired little girl of about five years old clung onto the hand of Ellen, a much older woman, whose sandy hair was combed up in the quintessential “grandma” style, kept curled high off the shoulders. They were crossing a non-busy street lined with brick homes.

“Make sure to look both ways, now” the woman smiled, clasping the little girl’s hand in her own, making sure the child didn’t skip right off across the street in her playful ignorance.

The little girl instantly obeyed, stopping right at the curb’s edge. She leaned forward in an exaggerated manner, as if she had to crane her small neck to check all the way down the road into the next mile. When no cars appeared, she turned her head the opposite way, scanning unnecessarily far down the street.

At that moment she saw something. It was a glimpse of red that flicked out of her vision in an instant, but she gasped at it. Her heart startled, her hand reflexively gripping the older woman’s hand.

"That’s - " she squinted to see, trying to be sure. “It’s mommy!” she blurted out in excitement.

“What?” The older woman’s lips left their upturned smile instantly, as she now looked to where the little girl was pulling and pointing.

“See! See! I saw her!” she insisted, her feet starting to head in the direction of the line of parked cars where she saw the glimmer of red disappear. “She’s behind one of the cars! Look gamma!”

The older woman did not move, and the child hit that resistance in a single footstep. She had innocently presumed that her grandmother would likewise match her zeal and start heading in the same direction to find her mother.

“There’s no one there, Vanessa,” Ellen said, a serious tone in her voice. Her hand closed tighter on the child’s own as she stepped into the street, pulling her along the opposite way.

“No, wait, she’s there! Don’t you see, gamma? Don’t you see?” Her voice wavered in a high excited pitch as she tugged with her little hand. She didn’t understand how her grandmother could not see what she saw. She could see that somebody was kneeling behind one of the vehicles. She saw her mother’s shadow and legs peeking beneath the undercarriage of a car. “She’s playing hide-and-seek! Can’t we go find her, gamma?”

“Vanessa,” Ellen’s tone grew almost angry. “You don’t see your mother there. There is nobody hiding behind the cars, now lets go home.” She pulled the girl harder now, insistent on their course.

Vanessa stammered in a string of useless protest, “But…wait, that’s her! I saw her hair. She’s behind the car, for real!” And when her grandmother refused to turn and look, to say anything more…when she continued to pull her across the street and head for home, she didn’t seem to hear her anymore.

“But-but I saw her hide behind it! Why can’t we go, please? Let’s check, gamma, please!?”

_ _

Later, after they had arrived home, the little girl went to her room and lied down on her bed, curtains drawn closed to dim the daylight. It was nap time, but she couldn’t sleep. She hugged the little red plush toy doll her grandmother had sewn for her, staring at the clock next to her bed. It had a strange star-patterned facing and a hypnotic second hand dot that spun around and around the star. She didn’t know how long she had watched that clock.

She knew she had seen her mother. She wished she could have convinced her grandmother of it, and now she missed the opportunity to see her, which she so seldom got to do. But why did she hide?

She curled up in the blanket and quietly cried to herself.


#13

Man, you should make this into a book. Plus why are you not an author?


#14

I majored in English Creative Writing in college; and while I have written some things, the only work I’ve gotten published are my children’s books. After I designed my own illustrated books, I started to freelance illustration for other authors who were interested, so I didn’t pursue my writing for the adult market - an incredibly difficult sector to break into. I have always wanted to write an autobiography, but doing so would have faced an intense backlash from family.


#15

Continued…


“This is W2TFB. Calling CQ…hello CQ, calling 20 meters. Is this frequency open, over?”

An older man with a small mole on his cheek slowly turned a large dial on the wall of grey metal machinery in front of him. Each segment of the wall hosted a plethora of knobs, switches, and glass panels, looking like something from a science fiction movie. His fingers tuned the largest dial ever so slowly, as if the transceiver would only respond with the most minute of touches. He pulled his chair closer to his desk, leaning in to the microphone.

“This is W2TFB…Whiskey Two Tango Foxtrot Bravo, calling CQ, CQ, CQ. Does anybody copy, over?”

Only static responded on the other end.

He called out a few more times, trying to get something other than random-pitched dead air. Nothing came, so he flipped a couple of switches and the lights on the machines went out. Sliding back from the desk he grabbed for the pipe in a nearby ashtray, looking over the extensive wall of his amateur ham radio equipment. His eyes glazed wet while he sighed, loosely adjusting the old desktop morse code machine he had used during the war.

He turned off the basement lights and ascended the stairs, each step taking longer than usual, his legs feeling heavy. When he entered the kitchen he saw Ellen leaning over the sink, watching something intently outside the kitchen window. She peeked through the sunny yellow drapes with one hand.

“Vito,” she said, not diverting her eyes from the street below. She could hear muffled unintelligible voices laughing from outside. “she’s back out there with Mike, partying.”

Vito sighed again, this time with a hint of frustration. He tapped the pipe on the edge of a garbage can, getting rid of the used tobacco. “So, what else is new?”

“She can come over to Mike’s house all the time, right across the street from us, but doesn’t have the time of day to come visit Vanessa.”

“If all she wants is to be the town mattress back, then so be it. You can’t stop her.” He took a seat at the kitchen table, tamping some fresh tobacco into his pipe. Annoyed, he glanced up at his wife. “Will you stop watching out the window?”

“But Vito,” she trailed off, unsure of what else to say. In a pursed-lipped huff she closed the drape. “Well, at least we won’t have to put up with hearing and seeing that soon when we move.”

Vito slumped back against his chair, legs splayed out in front of him, resigned to the inevitable move coming quickly before them. He already was missing his basement equipment. “Well, at least Vanessa won’t have to see her ducking her behind cars anymore.” Somehow, even though he had spoken directly to Ellen, the words seemed to comfort himself in the telling. He placed his lips on the pipe, a flick of his Zippo lighter burning the tobacco into life as he dragged a few puffs out to get started on his smoke.

“Granpa?” Vanessa had stepped into the room, wearing a nightgown and hugging her handmade plush, a book clutched close to her chest with her other hand. Her feet pattered across the tile floor as she ran to climb up onto his lap. He sought to quickly fix his legs to sustain her weight while she spilled the book onto him. “Can you read me dis for bedtime?”

His demeanor changed instantly as he smiled through his lips, teeth still gripping the pipe. “Oh, sure I can sweetheart! Which one is thi - ?” he turned the book over and stopped mid-sentence, “oh, this one…again?”

“Yeah,” she giggled. “It’s my favoritest!”

He and Ellen exchanged glances, both smirking. Ellen shrugged as she pulled a towel from the sink-side and continued to dry the dishes as she watched. The little girl had a way of bringing the rosiness out in their cheeks in an instant.

“But what about the book with Ernie in it?”

“I like this one the best.”

“Well, ok.” Vito hugged one arm around the little girl while the other held the book rather unsteadily. He put the pipe back into the clean ashtray on the kitchen table. “The Monster at the End of This Book,” he began, “starring lovable, furry old Grover…”


#16

Continued…


“Vanessa, stop looking out the window.”

The little girl had been slouching over the couch, knees on the seat, armpits stretched over the back, and elbows resting on the windowsill behind it. She had to change into a new awkward position every so often from the strain, not wanting to miss a familiar car pull up. Her nose inadvertently touched the glass several times. She wiped the prints away with her sleeve.

“She’s coming soon!” she exclaimed in a desperate manner back to her grandmother. She had proclaimed that a couple hours earlier as well, but with more certainty in her voice.

“This happens every time.”

“But this time she is coming for real, she’s just late.”

Ellen left the front room. It was a room kept immaculately clean and forever set-up for guests that never arrived. The couches barely saw any use except for when the rambunctious seven-year-old abused the one on certain weekends. The couches themselves the girl never really liked, being covered in overly obnoxious flower patterns and sometimes plastic to keep the dust off.

The girl heard her grandmother say something again about time, but she didn’t pay it any mind, preferring instead to keep watching. The sound of a car turning down the block made her heart quicken and she lurched to see, but she settled once again into the slouch when it turned into a neighbor’s driveway across the street.

She changed position again, draping one arm down behind the couch, the other being used as an anchor to hold up her chin.

“Where are you?” she whispered aloud.

Another car was coming down the road. She snapped to attention, kneeling against the couch with hands splayed on the window dividers. The car pulled up to the curb and rolled to a stop outside her house.

She bolted, almost entangling her legs as she jumped from the protesting sofa. Her feet hit the carpeting in a run for the front door, shouting “She’s here! She’s here!” She undid the locks and flung open the door, rushing outside.

Her mother, Cara, stepped out of the car, her red hair blazing in the sunlight with a golden outline. Out from the passenger-side door burst her sister, Jamie, two years her junior. Her own dark brown hair was up in a ponytail that had wild strands sticking out every which way. She likewise seemed compelled to close the distance as fast as possible to Vanessa.

When the two children collided it was amidst an outburst of joyful giggles the likes of which long lost schoolyard friends might make that hadn’t seen each other for quite some time. Their skinny limbs wrapped around each other as they fell down in the grass.

Cara bent down, picking her daughter up from the ground in a hug. All at once the little girl’s questions of why she was so late faded from her mind before they could reach her tongue. She hugged her mother back tightly as Ellen poked her head out of the front door, which had been left open. Vito, who had just lifted the automatic garage door attached to the house, was walking out next to his Buick, backpack and pillow in-hand to greet them.

“Hey dad,” Cara shouted loudly, followed by an even louder laugh. “How you and mom been!?”

Ellen only waved to Vanessa and wished her to have a good time. The little girl pulled away from her mother just long enough to run back to her grandmother and plant a kiss on her cheek, then to her grandfather to do the same, and then again to reattach to her mother.

“You finally made it this time,” Vito smiled; and although the words sounded happy there was a certain stab to them at the same time.

“Yeah, well, you know Cicero traffic!” Again the laugh.

He handed the overnight gear to Vanessa, stopping the kids from their already begun impromptu game of “Tag” using them as obstacles. “You girls all have a good time!”

“Is my Cuddle Puppy and Butchie-Boy in there?” Vanessa asked hurriedly, referring to an imposter Pound Puppy they had bought her and the red doll Ellen had made for her…two toys Vanessa wouldn’t sleep without.

“Yep, don’t worry. You be good, ok?”

_ _

The girls could hardly contain themselves in the back seat as their mother got in the car and rolled the windows down by hand-crank. The car reeked of chained cigarettes, whose smoke had long woven into the fibers to give it a scent of its own. She waved to her folks while lighting a new one and off they drove. When they had turned off the block out of sight of Vanessa’s home, she turned the music dial at least four times louder than it had been before, wind trailing through everyone’s hair.

“Are you ready to have a good time?” she whooped over the sound of the wind and stereo. “I got my girls with me and it’s going to be fun!”

“Yes!” Vanessa cried out. “I have my mom and my sister with me!”

Cara shouted in a sing-song way, tilting her head from side-to-side while she sang out the words “Sisters! Sisters!” The girls picked up the jingle and mimiced her while a new song came through the car’s speakers.

“Oh, wait, I love this song!” Cara exclaimed, kicking the music up yet another notch. She started to sing along with Niel Diamond. “Everywhere around the world…they comin’ to America! Every time that flag’s unfurled…they comin’ to America!”

The girls laughed and attempted to sing along with the song they had never heard before.


#17

Continued…


Angry laughing echoed between the school-buses that were running idle in the parking lot, expectantly awaiting its young passengers to be released from school. The first few had already begun to trickle out with their backpacks in tow, running for their designated bus or lazily walking there while chatting with their friends.

“You shut up!” Vanessa yelled back at the laughter. It was coming from a taller, stocky boy with nearly black short hair. A grin was spread wide across his face like a hunter that just caught his prey in a trap.

“You were adopted. You are probably a bastard!”

The little girl gasped at the word, knowing it was vulgar but unsure exactly why. She glanced in multiple directions but other children seemed to just ignore the confrontation, although a few giggled or whispered “ooohhhhhh” in the way schoolkids do when they know somebody said something they shouldn’t. There seemed to be a uncomfortable lack of any adults around.

She hastened to retort, “I’m not adopted! I live with my grandparents!” She gripped her backpack tighter as she yelled.

“Yeah, 'cuz your mom and dad don’t want you!”

One of the bus drivers, a tough-looking elderly woman, came off of her bus from hearing the shouting. Her narrowed eyes scanned over the kids now filling the lot. The skin seemed to tighten across her lips while trying to detect which kids were causing trouble. The schoolyard knew not to mess with her, not even to turn to her for help.

Vanessa and the taunting boy quickly jumped onto their bus together, but not before the boy made a secret rude gesture with both of his hands slapping against his thighs, thrusting his hips towards her.

_ _

“Granpa?” She sat at the kitchen table, frustrated by a math problem. Vito was trying to point out how to go about solving the problem while simultaneously showing the work, and her mind continued to go back to the bully. “What’s a bastard?”

“What!?” He bawked at the sudden shock of the word that just left her mouth. It was quite the diversion from what he was just explaining. “Where did you hear that word?”

“From a boy at school. He said I was a bastard and that I was adopted.”

“I don’t know why he would say that. Did you tell anyone?”

She kept her eyes on the paper and the pencil marks that might have been hieroglyphics, such were her feelings about the math situation in front of her. Math didn’t really matter over the argument replaying in her brain like a broken record that kept skipping.

“No,” she admitted quietly.

“Nobody should be using words like that and calling you names.” He got a bit agitated himself. Now he understood why she didn’t seem to be paying attention to the work he knew she could do; but even though he was angry at the unknown child that hurt his grandchild, he softened his speech. “You should have gone to tell someone.”

“What does it mean?”

“Well, uh…” he looked for the best word choices to use, “It’s when a mommy and daddy have a baby but are not married together.”

“So?” she asked, “is that bad?”

“Well, it’s not good.”

She toyed with the pencil, rolling it along the table. “Am I a…was my mommy married?”

He sheepishly pulled his handkerchief from his shirt pocket and wiped his nose. “Uh…yes, she said she was.” As he put it back he shifted the conversation. “Look, it doesn’t make any difference. Some are raised by their mothers and fathers, some just by their mommies or daddies only, and some are lucky enough to be raised by their grandparents.” He poked her on the chin and smiled, waiting for her to lift her eyes from underneath her bangs. “Like you, kiddo.”

When she returned the smile he moved his chair in closer. “You know you’re not adopted, but even if you were, love is what makes a family…and you have all the love you need with us.”

As her grandfather drew her attention back to her homework once again, she couldn’t prevent a question that hovered in the back of her mind…But why does my sister get to live with my mother, and I don’t?


#18


#19

He’s seen some shiz…

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Also, he reminds me of Gumby… like he’s a red version of him but with a more hammer-head type head… I’m not completely sure why tho lol


#20

That is honestly going on the top 10 list of scariest shit I’ve ever seen