~chapter eight~ ~children: the mother blood~ ~part four~ ~momma was a soldier~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 16th May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Domestic Violence & Abuse

~momma was a soldier~she stood five feet very tall~protective of her tiny army~made of the stuff of first rank~no stranger to front line engagement~attended by pride & integrity~stepped forward into the fray~ever aware that survival was all she could ever hope to gain~momma was a soldier~never let fear own her~lest her army fail to hold that pale dark line~blood on a shoestring~retired to her winter home in a hard unforgiving land that she might carry the fight~good soldiers never rest~

~momma was a soldier~

I carried Cheryl and Momma carried Linda. Lily toddled along between us. “Oh boy, I goin’ t’ ‘chool, jus’ like my big brothers!”

We went straight to the office and Momma told the lady behind the counter that she wanted to speak with a Mister Johnson.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” the clerk said. “Mister Johnson has a class right now. Teachers only see parents at report card time, parent/teacher conferences, or if they have previously set up an appointment.”

Momma slammed the flat of her hand on the face of the counter. “My son came to school yesterday and was strangled in the hallway by your Mister Johnson. Amazing as it may seem to you, this was all done without an appointment. You get your Mister Damned Johnson or whoever is in charge of this place. You do it right damned now because I am not about to leave my children here by themselves until I get to the bottom of this. Have I made myself perfectly damned clear, lady?!?”

Cheryl and Linda were upset and crying. Everyone in the office had stopped whatever they were doing. Momma had their undivided attention.

“One moment please,” the lady said, “I’ll be right back.” She passed the bench where I had spent the previous afternoon then knocked lightly on the door to the principal’s office. A male voice said, “Come.” She went in and closed the door behind herself.

She came out directly and addressed Momma. “This is highly unusual but our principal, Mister Richards, has agreed to meet with you on the moment. Just go right in that office there.”

“I saw where you went,” Momma said angrily. “Come on, Tommy!”

I followed her into the principal’s office. Lily tagged along but was quiet and apprehensive. School hadn’t turned out to be near as much fun as she’d imagined it would be. Mister Richards stood up when we entered the room and extended a hand toward Momma. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Sterner.”

Momma would have none of it. “The hell you are,” she replied, “Put your hand away. What makes you think I’d want to touch you. I’m not a man. All that hand shaking bullshit doesn’t amount to anything to me!”

“Could we possibly have the children wait outside?” Mister Richards suggested.

“Hell no!” Momma said, “I’m sure you were sitting there on your fat ass yesterday while my son was being strangled half to death by one of your manly teachers. I’ll keep my children right here where I can keep an eye on them, thank you very much!”

“I find your attitude and language offensive and inappropriate,” Mister Richards said. “As a public servant, I don’t have to put up with this. In my opinion, it is abusive to subject your children to such a tirade as you are affecting here. If you can’t communicate with me in a calm and orderly manner, I shall be forced to ask you to leave.” He picked up the handset of his telephone. “The police department is only a few blocks from here. I can have them put you out, you know.”

“Call ‘em!” Momma dared him. “Call everybody in, Mister Bigshot! I see that board full of holes hanging on the wall behind you. It tells me all I need to know about you, Mister Administrator.” She stuck out her chin. “You’re chickenshit, Mister. I want the whole world to see me ‘n my babies bein’ carried out of your office by the police. I want the whole world to see your ‘Board of Education’ I should have brought the police with me.”

Mister Richards adjusted his tie. “Point well taken, Mrs. Sterner. May I call you by your first name?”

“Don’t call me by anything,” Momma said angrily. She seemed to be calming down a bit. “I know how you people operate. Well I don’t vote and I don’t even pretend to be a good citizen anymore. I work in a bar at night and do the best I can by my kids. Assholes like you make my job a whole lot harder.”

“Just exactly what do you want?” Mister Richards posed. “What did you expect to accomplish by barging in here like this?”

“That’s better,” Momma said, “Now we’re getting somewhere. What I want is to get my hands on the animal who strangled my son yesterday.” She put a hand under my chin and tilted my head up. “Look at those bruises, just look at them. That happened in your school, damn it!”

“Have you any proof...” Mister Richards began.

“Proof my ass!” Momma exclaimed. “You asked me what I want and, I’ll admit, it felt good to tell you. I know you won’t let me anywhere near the bastard. You assholes always protect your own, no matter what they do. I don’t have the time, money, or inclination to try to see this past you. What I hope to accomplish by barging in here is to let you know that I live right across the street. You tell those tough guys that work for you to keep their hands and mouths off my boys. If you value your job and reputation, and I’m sure you do, you’ll do just that. Yeah, look at me, asshole. I’m a person who has very little to lose. I may not be able to fight City Hall but I can damned sure protect my own!”

Mister Richards was seriously miffed. Looking at the expression on his face, I wondered if Daddy hadn’t been right after all. Mister Richards took a deep breath. “Are you through? Is that all you have to say?”

“Just one more thing,” Momma replied. “You take my son out of that class. He has a lot to get over and having to see that pig every day is asking just a little too much. You take him out of that man’s class and vow to me that none of my children will ever be subject to so much as a good morning from him.”

Mister Richards scratched the folds of his chin. “That’s a lot to ask. My responsibilities don’t include the making of schedules and tracking individual students.”

“The hell they don’t!” Momma protested. “Tommy’s attended school here a single day and already you’ve created a threat file to hold over his head. I hope to never have to come to this shithole again but, so help me, if your Mister Johnson or any other person here ever hurts another of my children, I will find a way to tear your fat ass down!” She pointed at the whipping board. “You keep that and your hands off of mine.”

Mister Richards scratched his nose. He appeared more amused than anything else at this point.
A wry smile came to his face. “You know I can’t offer you anything in writing.”

Momma regarded him with obvious disgust. “Your written contracts mean nothing to me. Your fat ass is on the line here and you know it. Just keep that man away from my kids.”

“I’ll look into this further,” Mister Richards offered.

“The hell you will!” Momma jumped up out of her chair. Her sudden movement and anger startled Cheryl. She was usually a quiet and calm baby but now she was wailing like a banshee. I guided her thumb to her mouth. She took it and quieted down. “I’m taking Tommy and my girls home,” Momma said in a whispered hiss. “Tommy told me you have a nice lady here who hands out the schedules.” She glanced at me. “What was her name, Tommy?”

“Mrs. Wentworth,” Mister Richards and I answered at the same time. This broke the spell of her anger and even brought a smile to Momma's face.

She sat down and tears welled up in her eyes. She was beautiful and tragic and strong and afraid.
“I just want to make my babies safe.”

Mister Richards got up and came around his desk. “Don’t cry, Mrs. Sterner.” It looked as if he was about to touch her shoulder.

“Don’t!” Momma warned. “Don’t you touch me!”

Mister Richards put out his hands defensively and returned to his chair. “I’ll speak to Mrs. Wentworth personally,” he said. “The schedule will be changed on Monday next, this being Friday.” He shot me a mock serious look. “You keep your nose clean, okay Tommy?”

“He always keeps his nose clean,” Momma said. “Come on kids, let’s go home.”

The following Monday I went to school and reported first thing to Mrs. Wentworth. She provided me with a new schedule and insisted on escorting me to my morning classroom. My new homeroom teacher was an older lady by the name of Miss Jones. She introduced me to the class but I couldn’t make out their faces. Miss Jones felt like a teacher though, right from the start, very unlike the monster I had met on my first day at the school.

Each school morning began the same. After the final bell, the public address system wished all the students a good morning. The voice was usually that of Mister Richards. Then everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance and got to sit down while listening to announcements.

About a week after I started school, there was an announcement that some culprit was sneaking into classrooms and lockers, anywhere lunches were kept. I immediately thought of my brothers, especially Jackie, but the announcer said the perpetrator didn’t eat the lunches. Sandwiches were stuck to the wall and smooshed into locker grids and door jambs, a case of vandalism, plain and simple. If Jackie and Phillip took food, I couldn’t imagine them wasting it like that. I asked Jackie about it and he just laughed me off.

I had my own unique lunch experiences and problems to worry about. Rather than just walking across the street to get to school, I left by the back door and walked down the alley. Picking through the trash of neighbors, I learned fairly quickly which garbage cans held the items suitable to my needs. One day I had heard the snickers of a couple of kids in the lunchroom. They were laughing about the boy with holes in his jeans who never brought a lunch to school. So I picked through trash cans until I found a suitable brown bag and some crinkly plastic wrappers. A couple of tin cans for bulk and, by the time I neared the end of the alley, I had what appeared like a bag full of lunch goodies just like everyone else. This made me feel better until one day I heard derisive voices and laughter directed toward the boy who just pretended to eat a lunch. I found it strange how human beings assume that someone who is challenged one way or another, as I was in the category of sight, is lesser in all respects. Because I couldn’t see them, didn’t mean I couldn’t hear them but, in the long run I guessed they were right. I seldom knew who they were, couldn’t have done anything about it if I did without causing a lot of trouble for myself.

Jackie and Phillip’s outlaw ways came to a screeching halt around the middle of October. They had begun to hang around the parking lots of liquor stores and markets. When a soda pop delivery truck appeared, they waited until the delivery driver went inside with a two-wheeler loaded with merchandise then raided the truck for all the pop they could carry away. This was a double bonus job since they got to drink all the pop they wanted then cash in the bottles for money.

Turns out the school lunch jobs were also part of their handy work. They kept candy, cookies, fruit and chips, anything they personally enjoyed, to eat. The remainder of the lunch (sandwiches, salads, etc.) would be smooshed and splattered around the area. Phillip insisted, when they were caught, that this obnoxious behavior was carried out by Jackie alone. Seems he had a king size attitude against the school and its rich students who could have such things as yummy cold lunches.

The driver of a Pepsi truck was the first to nail them on their soda pop run. He had suffered a couple of hits the week before, so devised a plan to capture the crooks or at least find out who they were. He parked and unloaded merchandise onto his two-wheeler then wheeled it through the back door of the store. He left it there and peeked around the corner, out into the parking lot. At first he couldn’t believe his eyes. He expected teenagers, maybe even adults, not two little brown-eyed peckerwoods like the Sterner brothers. When he came out the back door, off they went with all the pop they could carry.

The ferocity of the older of the two boys both impressed and scared the young delivery driver. The boy stopped and dropped his booty then began heaving bottles of pop at the driver. The young man was tenacious though and dodged as best he could while keeping up his pursuit. His efforts were rewarded as he ended up with a wily crook in each hand. He grabbed them by the napes of their necks and dragged them back to the store. He called the police and the two were put into a cruiser and taken into custody. They refused to give their names until separated then the younger one spilled the beans.

Greed was their undoing in the school lunch caper. Raiding the lunches, they filled their pockets with that which they didn’t consume but chose to keep for later. They would then store the spoils of their efforts in large bags in their lockers. School administrators, frustrated at their inability to apprehend the lunch room bandits, as they had become known, decided it was obviously an inside job. They systematically checked each and every student locker in the building. Thus were Jackie and Phillip caught and, once again, reported and put into the custody of the police.

Pepsi Cola declined to press charges due to the age of the perpetrators. The company was satisfied that the two crooks, having been caught in the act and taken into custody by the police, should have learned a valuable lesson. Mister Richards and company were not so lenient. Thieving from children and willful destruction of school property should be dealt with in the sternest possible manner. So the brothers, at the tender ages of seven and nine, were put on one year probation. Momma advised me to watch out for myself and, especially, to stop missing so much school. She saw the harsh treatment of Jackie and Phillip as Richards’ first strike against her for having the audacity to question the strangling of her eldest son.

At this point, Daddy was inclined to lay back and let the authorities punish his sons. Jackie spent most of his time at home in the corner and got plinked more often than not. Daddy wasn’t about to administer any serious punishment when the authorities were involved. He had a standing order that if the boys got into fights or any other trouble at school, they would be punished when he found out.

It was now the end of October. There had been an early snow so Daddy was unable to work. He was drinking heavily again so it is doubtful he’d have been working anyway. Momma was five months pregnant and losing weight, working long hours waitressing at the Dog House. Half of the family was ‘on paper’ as Daddy called it. The only ones not on probation were me and the girls. I was tempting fate by missing school even when I didn’t have to stay home for the express purpose of baby-sitting my siblings. There was one bag of flour in the cupboard, all other commodities and every other edible thing had been consumed. When Momma cut the flour bag open, it was crawling with bugs. She sifted and shook them out as best she could through a piece of screen from the back door then used the flour and the last little bit of baking powder to make hard round discs that looked vaguely like biscuits.

Momma wasn’t sure if it was the flour she’d made the biscuits with or something else that caused the problem with worms. What she did know is that the day after that meal everyone’s butts were itching. I noticed small white wiggly worms in my stool and brought them to her attention. She took all of us to a free clinic at Denver General Hospital. It turned out to be a long hectic day, filling out paperwork, waiting in several different rooms and lines. Finally, we were given physical examinations. The doctor prescribed tiny purple colored pills for pinworms and a rust-colored shampoo to kill lice. Momma also had to scour the bedroom and throw the mattress out back in the trash. Each night after that she and I used cushions off the couch to make a bed on the floor for everyone.

Halloween was one of mine and Jackie’s favorite holidays. It wasn’t controlled by the adults in our lives unless they refused to let us go out trick-or-treating. That very seldom happened. On this particular Halloween, Momma decorated our faces with used coffee grounds. With our old coats and faded pillow case bags, we were hoboes, plain and simple. We were allowed to go out, so long as we agreed to take Phillip and watch out for him. It was four o’clock in the afternoon when we got started. We were to be home by nine o’clock. That gave us five hours to hoot, howl, and eat all the candy we wanted.

On the way home at about eight thirty, we were walking through the parking lot of the Highland Bar and, lo and behold, there was Daddy’s truck. I thought it would be a good idea for us to go in there and trick or treat. The strong ladies were crazy and generous. They would probably give us money or buy us cokes and candy bars. Jackie was of a mind that Daddy would take our bags of candy and any money we got to boot. Turns out both of us were right and wrong. The strong ladies thought we were about the cutest damned thing they had ever seen. They made us do the ‘trick or treat chorus’ several times and whooped it up and dropped several dollar bills in our bags. Daddy escorted us out of the bar to ‘be sure it was safe’ and ‘borrowed’ all our money. Jackie was upset with me and I couldn’t figure out why. Daddy had let us keep our candy.

Inquiries: wordwulf@gmail.com
©2014 graphic artwork music & words
conceived by & property of
tom (WordWulf) sterner 2014©
~also available at Amazon ~
~chapter one~
~chapter two~
~chapter three~
~chapter four~
~chapter five~
~chapter six~
~chapter seven~
~chapter eight~
~my heaven~


1960, Alcoholism, Art, Authority, Colorado, Denver, Family, Free, Memoirs, Momma, Mommas Rain, Money, Mothers, Parenting, Philosophy, Photography, Poverty, Religion, Soldier, Sons, Survival, Tom Wordwulf Sterner, Violence, Wikinut, Writer

Meet the author

author avatar WordWulf
I write novels, poetry, songs,nonsense & lies. Sometimes truth sneaks in when I ain't lookin'.

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