My mom had a boyfriend that owned a hardware store in Deer Trail. We moved from the edge of town into the middle of town and we were happy we didn’t have to cross the “Green Mile” anymore. We lived in two apartments up on top of the store. Mom and her boyfriend had one side, and we had the other. It worked out ok, he was very nice to us, but I think we caused utter chaos in his otherwise normal life. We had access to the store when it was closed and my mom and boyfriend went to the Elks club.
We figured out how to bend our arms up and through the pepsi machine and had pop any time we wanted. We had all the “cool” keychains we wanted. We had an indoor rollerskating rink, never mind all the items we pulled off the shelves on the tight corners. We played tag, hide-and-seek, ghosts in the graveyard, and any other game we could think of that was scary at night as we couldn’t turn the lights on or we would have been caught! And the ultimate: Sunflower seed spitting contest: We climbed up the shelves to the top in the corner near the paint mixing machine. There was a scale used to measure how many nails, screws, bolts, etc… and we used it to see who was the champion seed spitter. We sat there most all day on Sundays. I never heard from mom’s boyfriend whether he found them or not, but he had to have. I never told him how much we appreciated living with him, all I did was find the key to his cash register and took money. I got caught; when I got the key stuck and I broke it in the drawer. I felt horrible and came clean when I called for help.
While we raged havoc in the store, my mom and her boyfriend sat at the bar. We knew she shouldn’t be there, but he couldn’t stop her. We would see them stumble home sometimes if we were still awake, and we were always scared of the stairs they had to walk to get up. They were metal, with very little hand rail, and they were coming off of the header that attached them to the building. One night must have been worse than others as I saw my mom in a horrific state. She was laying at the bottom of the stairs-just like she had fallen- and I screamed for help and ran down the stairs. I tried to wake my mom up, but she was out cold. My older sister came to help and was going to call 911 when her boyfriend came out and said to stop. He had walked her home, but he couldn’t get her up the stairs, so he went through the back door so he could get her up some safe steps, but he couldn’t carry her so he left her there. The three of us carried her up the stairs, and I stayed awake all night with that image of her at the bottom of the stairs.
Our side of the apartment was falling apart. After one storm the inside of the roof in my room had fallen in. All the drywall was all over the floor, and the saturated fiber glass was falling down too. We managed to put some plastic up to keep things from falling on me during the night, and poked holes in places that the water was gathering and had buckets to keep the floor dry. I hated sleeping in that room, I could hear critters scurrying above my head, and I could hear the water running through the cracks of least resistance into the bucket below. I always thought my life would end when the ceiling gave in, and they would find me in my bed, (probably in my own urine) alone, (my sister didn’t have the same problem I had, and never wanted me to sleep with her) with critters and insulation covering me.
Yes, I think I was a bit dramatic, but that was my world. I didn’t have people over in my room once the roof fell. I figured they would laugh at me, and I would feel more alone and different. I threw myself into sports, and cheerleading, and anything else I could do to keep me busy and away from home.
The image of my mom at the bottom of the stairs has stayed with me, it was an image that no one should ever see, but we all know I have been there before…