Over On The East Side


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178 in stock


By Rachel Gunn

ISBN: 9781847479433
Published: 2009
Pages: 379
Key Themes: fiction, abuse, depression, OCD, modelling


Over on the East Side, a story by Rachel Gunn is about a young woman, Tuesday, who over time becomes disgusted with men and society and its unrealistic expectations. She details her childhood, how she was confused with sexuality at the tender age of seven, describes her encounters with sailors as an adolescent and then explains her present day relationship with her new abusive boyfriend, Carl.

Upon learning that Carl frequents strip clubs on the East Side, Tuesday becomes obsessed. She can’t stop thinking about Carl going into these places. She visually describes what she sees in her mind. It is as if she is there. In one respect she doesn’t understand how women can objectify themselves, but in another respect she battles with her inner demons, because she finds it strangely arousing.

Finally, she can take it no longer. She asks Carl if she can see where he used to go. She thinks it will look different than what is in her mind, but she is sadly disappointed. She becomes hysterical, practically suicidal.

Eventually Carl succumbs to his buddies and goes over to the east side whereupon he cheats on Tuesday with a stripper.

Tuesday, having her heart broken continuously and abused by Carl eventually breaks. She becomes so delusional that she eventually murders the perverts who frequent the strip bar and bums the strip bar down.

About the Author

Rachel Gunn, age 33, resides in St. Louis, Missouri with her two daughters, Madeline and Ivy, and her fiancé Michael Clark. She also has two step children, Mikella and Tyler. Rachel Gunn has worked as a legal secretary for the last ten years and also models. She was in the 2007 Maxim Hometown Hotties Competition, March 2007 Unrated Rock Vixen for Unrated Rock Magazine, a Cosmic Cutie for the Cosmic Tribune, Miss My Space September 2007, a Toy Box Fox of the Week for the band Toy Box Heroes, and a Babe of the Week for BNRX.FM. She has shot with many well known photographers and maintains a modeling website as well. Rachel Gunn also won first place in a contest held at TNJ for her poetry. Rachel Gunn was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and has lived in such cities as Cleveland, Hollywood, and Chicago, but St. Louis is her home for the remainder of her years.

Book Extract

This is not a story about love. Instead it is a tale spun from heartache, inspired by a demented interpretation of humankind. It is a story about a woman, her sweetened illusions of mankind ravished. This story is about me, a pleasantly attractive, intelligent young woman who allows sin to feast upon her soul, until all hope and passion for life is lost. It is about impure visions that intrude upon my mind continually, nibbling away until my brain is a desolate wasteland. It is my rendition of how one’s heart, though untainted, faithfully dwells in a world of immortality. My spirit longs to mingle in a realm of righteousness, to sample the delicacies which humanity offers, but instead is conquered by corruption. This is my chronicle of how I alienated every significant person in my life, whomever dabbled in evil, concluding in a lone existence.

My name is Tuesday, a name that is scarce but yet self explanatory in its significance, but to ease any confusion which one may confront, I will clarify. I was born on a Tuesday afternoon at approximately 2:20 p.m. in Cincinnati, Ohio to Jack and Helen Wiseman. My mother and father could not resolve their differences for one afternoon and decide on a name to best suit me. Therefore to identify me the nurse called me Tuesday, and the name has stuck with me ever since. I was born in the year 1975, a year when “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille reigned number one on the charts. In entertainment, Jaws and the cult classic, the Rocky Horror Picture Show were number one at the box office, and All in the Family and Laveme & Shirley prevailed as the leading shows in prime time television. The Altair, the first home computer, was introduced, a simplified version of today’s artificial intelligence. It had no screen, no printer, not one single luxury. The Altair was basically a kit computer you had to assemble for yourself, In the news, President Ford escaped two assassination attempts, the first attempt made by Lynette “Squaky” Fromme, a member of Charles Manson’s cult, and the second attempt made by Sara Jane Moore.

An unsettling truth of why I was allowed to emerge from within my mother’s womb has shadowed me from the first time my underdeveloped lungs wheezed in the disinfected hospital air. I was a child blessed to be breathing due to being conceived in the appropriate circumstances. Fortunately, I was created by two Jewish parents, married at the time, who were both ready to bring a child into the world. To my mother, these conditions were perfectly acceptable; therefore, she could not deny her offspring. If I would have been conceived in what my mother interpreted as morally wrong circumstances, I would have been aborted as soon as my mother was aware of my existence. Every day I express gratitude to a higher power that I was conceived by a married Jewish couple, or I would not be alive, able to express my story to others. My mother longed to live through me, to thrive through me, to breathe through me, to recapture the animated persona she once possessed. I was going to embody absolute perfection, be the centerpiece that all other parents aspired to bring into being. I would not only be physically flawless but would contain intellectual capabilities superior to all of my peers. My mother tried to mold me, to sculpt me into her version of a mastermind that all other parents would envy. I was to be beautiful, thin, a journalist, mathematician, scientist, inventor, actress, gymnast, dancer, musician, chef, Olympic swimmer, lawyer, doctor, a rabbi’s wife cooking huge meals for my congregation, but I did not excel in any of these fields. I was a source of great disappointment for her. In my mother’s eyes I was the black sheep of the family, a wicked witch drowning in a sea of filthy morals. Every time she would look into my face, her scowl translated to me that I represented a painful reminder of what could have been. To her I was only a ghost, a ravaged memory, the nightmarish spawn which she so discreetly tried to tuck away under her pillow. My kind spirit, loving heart, and upstanding values were not of importance to her. I always acted honorably and showed sensitivity to others. I would not even sacrifice the life of an insect for my conscience would not let me inflict such suffering onto another, no matter how insignificant that life appeared to be. In a superficial respect I could be looked upon as a failure, but if one was to explore my center, cradle my spirit, embrace my soul, cuddle my heart, I would not be critiqued for such artificial frivolities. If my mother would cease to scrutinize only the surface and instead delve into my essence, she would be pleasantly surprised, for her firstborn would not have been the failure that she so hastily assumed. This is only a fantasy though. My mother’s insides will always be frosted. They will never thaw, and this is a truth which I will someday be forced to accept. At first it will be quite painful, to realize that I was hatched from a detached heartless mother who never took a sincere interest in getting to know me. Eventually though I will be filled with peace, not having to desperately try to please a mother who will never be satisfied, for my imperfections complete me. These blemishes in my outward appearance and character churned out a unique individual, not conforming to the weaknesses that swirl around me. If only I could appreciate my individuality, celebrate my rare qualities, then I could finally be at peace, but I am blind to what is truly important. Therefore, I will exist as an empty shell, blindfolded and tiptoeing in a shadowy underworld, in search for my soul. If only I could stop criticizing myself and comparing myself to every other girl out there. If I could do that, then maybe my adult relationships could stand a chance to survive and flourish, but how do I even begin to live my life in such a healthy fashion?

I can remember when my eyesight began to worsen in the sixth grade. For months I remained in denial regarding my deteriorating vision. When teachers would call on me in class and ask for me to read something off of the blackboard I would squint my beady little eyes until the blurry chalkboard letters scrambled into something halfway legible. Of course my denial only exacerbated the problem, but I did not want to acknowledge to myself or my mother that I was less than perfect. Eventually I was taken to the school nurse for a vision test where it was confirmed that my need for eyeglasses was inevitable. That day I cried. I shed tears of shame for who I existed to be, tears of regret for who I was about to become, and tears of fear for how disappointed my mother would be in me. When I confessed that day to my mother that I would need eyeglasses, this small deal became a big production. My mother cried, just as I had predicted, regretful of the fact that her daughter would never have perfect vision as she did. Instead her daughter would be forced to wear a massive pair of goggles, be physically branded as a defective specimen. To cheer myself up concerning my new defect, I chose an appealing pearly pink frame, which attractively accented my features, but I still felt less than whole for I had once again saddened my mother.

My little sister, Hannah, had endured a similar crisis at the tender age of four. Until the age of five my sister had not uttered one word. For five years she remained perfectly silent, only expressing herself by crying, whining, or pointing. At times she would attempt to articulate a phrase, but only with a good deal of stammering. My sister lacked the refinement that most children learn from their parents. It was as if she was raised in the woods. She craved strange mixtures of food such as dipping cheese in ketchup. She wiped her feces on the wall creating smelly masterpieces. At the age of four my sister can remember being so excited about a movie that was previewed on a television commercial, “The Pink Panther.”

Breathlessly, my sister dashed down the long hallway and into the dining room, her sweet chocolate colored curls bouncing up and down as she ran. For at least five minutes my sister tried to tell my mother that a Pink Panther is coming to a theater near you, but it was useless. My mother, patience not being of her greatest virtue, began to frantically scream, frightening Hannah so badly that she climbed under the dining room table to try to find some solace, but my mother could not let it rest. She climbed under that table, remaining on all fours like an impatient dog, insulting my sister by screaming “Are you stupid?”

As a child my mother had also suffered from a speech problem, severely stammering. The children at school teased her mercilessly, which would make her nervous and aggravate the stuttering even further. She carried her speech problem into adulthood and to this day stammers which would cause me to think that she’d be more sympathetic to her own daughter’s deficiency, but of course instead my mother was mortified. She marched right over to our family doctor, Dr. Stein, and demanded that he perform all sorts of speech and hearing tests on Hannah until the root of the problem was discovered. That day my little sister was incorrectly diagnosed as being part deaf. My family was torn apart. My mother and I cried for hours while my dad tried to console us. My sister stacked her multicolored wooden blocks, oblivious to our sorrow, and the obstacles she would have to encounter in the future. As time progressed though my sister became more comfortable speaking, and her improper diagnoses of being part deaf was recanted.

I do not understand how my mother developed such unreasonable standards for her daughters to aspire to. Her of all people, should realize how precious life is. Therefore, I would expect her to cherish her children, and be appreciative that we are alive and healthy. After seeing her beloved brother fade away, I cannot understand how she could become preoccupied with such trivial problems.

My Grandma Evelyn and Grandpa Sam gave birth to a baby boy, Eddie, in the year 1940. My grandparents and mother fondly recollect Eddie as being the perfect child, as courageous as any child could be at the age of seven. He was extremely handsome, the spitting image of my grandfather, always defending his little sister’s honor in front of the neighborhood kids. I do not know if this deserved praise were exaggerations, since survivors of loved ones usually embellish the character of the dead, but I can imagine that Eddie was as wonderful as my family illustrated. My mother idolized Eddie just as many younger siblings idolize their older sister or brother. Nothing in this world could have prepared my three year old mother to tearfully watch Eddie’s casket slowly descend into the ground. My mother could not grasp why her seven year old brother was so tragically snatched away from her. He was so young, fresh, and healthy; the one person in her life who always came to her rescue. What could possibly have justified his disappearance? Why did Eddie of all people have to be infected with Leukemia? My mother might have been a survivor physically but mentally she died that day with Eddie. Any pleasure or compassion stirring in her soul was lowered into the earth along with his casket, left to be consumed by the worms and maggots. My mother could not make sense of something so unfair. Instead she buried her mourning and grief so deep within herself that it eventually materialized into a tight knot of deadened sensations. Life from that moment on would only present heartache and betrayal. She would never be able to develop a close meaningful relationship with another human being for the intense fear that they too would be taken from her. Every day I struggle to absolve my mother of her shortcomings. I try to forgive her for displaying such insensitivity and instilling such tremendous insecurities within me. To alleviate my rage I imagine her as a three year old girl. I can picture her dressed in black from head to toe, her shiny patent leather shoes twinkling, her glossy black curls pinned back in a felt pillbox hat. Her ashen skin greatly contrasts
her hair and outfit, but compliments her clouded gray almond shaped eyes. She resembles a porcelain china doll, her flawless skin so fragile and her cheeks painted with two pink smudges. Her little hand, adorned with perfectly manicured nails tightly grasps her mother’s hand while the other hand firmly clutches her Raggedy Ann doll. The other adults standing amongst her appear passive, unaffected by the gloom among them, but my mother can not conceal her grief. She hysterically wails while her brother lowers into the ground, her tears and grieving the only way to console herself. At the age of three she has not developed faith; therefore her witnessing her beloved brother enter his new home terrifies her. To her he is not soaring into heaven, but tumbling into hell with no angels to protect him, only the cold earth surrounding his casket.

Over the past hundred or so years tragedy has continually prevailed as a leading theme in my family. My father, at the age of two, tragically lost his father. It was the year 1938. My grandmother, Sadie, and grandfather, Joe, lived in Indianapolis, Indiana. My grandfather, Joe, a junkyard dealer, frequently conducted business in Champaign, Illinois. On the evening of March 15, 1938 at approximately 11:00 p.m. Joe called Sadie on the phone. He was at a late night poker game with about five other business associates. Joe seemed unusually downhearted and emotional that evening even beginning to weep when his eldest daughter, Margie, got on the
phone. My grandmother could barely understand him with the combined bawling and heavy Russian accent. Never before had he expressed emotion so openly.

I believe that my grandfather had an inkling that that night was going to be the final time that he spoke to his family. My grandfather in his tearful tone professed his 1ove for my grandmother and their three
children. Around four hours later, at 2:00 a.m., my grandfather, extremely inebriated, left the poker game, and began to drunkenly wander among the unlit city streets of Champaign. He staggered onto Bell Ave., a quiet residential street lined with several bland box shaped wooden houses squeezed closely together and stumbled upon the front porch of a small white house where he fell asleep on the porch swing. At around four a.m. he was rudely awakened by a blow to his skull by a metal pipe. Apparently two men stole his wallet and repeatedly bashed his skull, crushing it so severely that he became unconscious. For two hours he laid on that porch, dead to the world, his head bleeding profusely. At 6:00 a.m., the owner of the house, a Hungarian woman, opened the door, as she regularly did every morning to retrieve the newspaper and was shocked to find a man bleeding to
death on her doorstep. She promptly called the paramedics, who upon arriving at the scene
amazingly found that my grandfather was still alive, but their hope was short lived, for sadly he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They never found the culprits that were responsible for my grandfather’s murder. It was unfortunate that my grandfather lost his life for a couple of measly dollars.

Naturally, my grandmother was devastated when she learned of her husband’s death. Sadie, a Polish immigrant, possessed no skills and had no resources to support herself, or more importantly her three small children. Her only family in town was her brother, Harry, and lately he had been so preoccupied with his new wife, Juanita. Her eldest daughter, Margie, was only four years old. Goldie, the middle child was three, and the baby, my father, Morris, was two.
My father didn’t even have a chance to create a visual image of his father. For years he could only imagine what his father had looked like. My father could not find one photograph of Joe that recaptured his essence. When envisioning his father he could only fabricate a fictional character which most likely displayed no similarities to Joe. Growing up as a boy, my father had to compensate for having no father figure in his life. Morris would fantasize about his father being a mythical figure, a firefighter, a policeman, just about any daring man he could imagine. My father would always contain an emptiness within him, a decaying cavity which would never be filled. While the other boys played ball with their dads my father would press his face against the window, wistfully longing for a dad that he could toss a ball with. Looking into the mirror my father would gaze for hours examining his every feature and wondering if he could thank his father for these attributes. In every heroic tale my father contrived my grandfather, though elaborately dressed in colorful costumes, bore the same expressionless face, a doughy lump of skin, a blank canvas which could never be painted. There was not one known fact to quench my father’s insatiable thirst for knowledge of his father. He was never made aware of or taken to the burial site to pay his respects, so he never had closure. As far as he was concerned, without witnessing concrete evidence, the murder never transpired. He did not know who or what was culpable for his father’s supposed death. Was it the two mysterious men who clobbered him in the head with a steel pipe? Was the alcohol, which prompted him to dazedly wander the streets of Champaign the culprit? My father would never have closure or find an answer to the dream he was chasing. This caused my father to assume an antagonistic attitude, blaming and alienating anyone who assumed an authoritative role in his life.

My poor grandmother could not continue raising three small children with her limited income. Therefore, she was basically forced to put her children into an orphanage. She had no choice.

Ironically, father described his years in the orphanage as the happiest in his life. At the orphanage he made many lasting friendships and was provided with some of life’s little pleasures that he never had the good fortune to receive before. Just as every worthy thing in his life had been snatched from him this was too. If it was not for the constant disappoint in his life, my father would not have formed such a bitter outlook. Too many times my father had witnessed pleasant well-to-do couples visit the orphanage and express an interest in him only to be rejected in the end. Each time he was cast aside by these couples, memories of his mother having to abandon him would surge back, but at least he still had the orphanage. The orphanage was the only family he had ever known, but the imminent threat of abandonment by this surrogate family always loomed in the distance. While many boys indulged in frivolous fantasies, my father only dreamed of stability. Receiving a candy apple red fire engine or a shiny new bicycle were indulgences that my father found trivial. All he had wanted from the beginning was a family, but it seemed as if this dream would die as soon as it began.

My father’s uncle, Harry, due to pressure from his sister, Sadie, had my father and Goldie and Margie live with him in his trailer in Indianapolis.. Harry was a wealthy man who owned a profitable trailer home business. He was married to Juanita and had a stepson, Lou. Juanita was a very domineering woman who was not happy unless she controlled everyone around her. She was very spiteful and extremely envious throwing juvenile temper tantrums if Lou was not put upon a royal throne. Time and time again my father recounted how terrible the summers at Uncle Harry’s house had been. Throughout the sweltering summer months Juanita would have the three children pick weeds daily for hours at a time, but Lou would never have to pick weeds or perform the daily chores the other children did. Juanita made sure of this, and Harry was too passive a man in his personal life to do anything about it. As a businessman Harry was a leader, but at home Juanita’s conniving ways overpowered his strong demeanor. You would not think that one person’s actions could effect the destinies of everyone around them, but somehow everyone that Juanita crossed paths with was emotionally disfigured in some way.

Poor Aunt Margie, her destiny forever tarnished ever since the evening of her father’s murder. That night she lost the only man who would ever place her on a pedestal high above any other female in his life. Joseph doted on his adorable doll like no other; not even Morris and Goldie were made a fuss over like Margie was. There was just something special about Joseph’s first born, her full head of chocolate cuffs, her wide grin, those chubby crimson cheeks. Margie was his special little angel. That night he died the last person he spoke to was Margie. He cried and cried on the phone, longed so badly to rock his little angel to sleep, to kiss her warm forehead and pat her soft curls. Perhaps deep down inside he knew that Margie would share his fate, brief and heartbreaking, and he felt he needed to protect her.
Margie was a soft spoken gift, gentle and passive, but these were the traits which doomed her, sentenced her to a hell on earth she could not break away from. Her silence; this was her downfall; the beginning of the collapse of her spirit. Silence was not only the downfall of Margie but of woman since the beginning of time. Silence is what enables women to be treated as sex objects and permits men to profit off of womens’ sexuality. Silence is what a stripper practices as she smiles for her customers, slaps her naked ass, spreads her legs. The stripper is silent, an otherworldly creature void of emotion and a voice. To men she is only here to gratify their sexual desires and to put man’s needs before her own. She is empty, a quality evident in her soulless eyes, but no one cares. In their one- dimensional minds she is only a pussy.

Misfortune was a continual theme in my family. They had all of the necessary ingredients for a great tragedy; murder, drama, heartache, confinement, disease, and eventual death. After the death of my grandfather, Joe, my grandmother, Sadie was lost. She couldn’t raise three children by herself, let alone bring them up during the depression. She also suffered from depression which paralyzed her, drained her of any little energy she contained, and unfortunately she passed her depression onto her daughter, Margie. When Morris, Margie, and Goldie were teenagers she decided that the best thing she could do for them would be to have them live with their wealthy uncle, Harry. She possessed great optimism for her children towards the future. Finally, her children, the victims of ill luck would be able to get anything they ever wanted. With her brother, Harry, owing a trailer park lot, she had no doubt in her mind that she was definitely doing the right thing. Harry even promised her that he would take good care of his nieces and nephew, treat them like they were his own children. He did not foresee his wife, Juanita, to resent the children so. She had one son, Lou, from another marriage, and Lou was to be spoiled by Harry or he’d suffer the consequences. Lou terrorized the three siblings, once even holding a gun up to Margie and threatening to shoot her. He had everything he’d ever want, including a promise from Harry that when he was old enough he would be a guaranteed partner in his trailer home business. While Lou loafed around wasting time Morris, Goldie, and Margie were expected to complete a long list of chores, including picking the weeds which surrounded their trailer in the sweltering heat of summer. They were essentially kept as slaves, expected to bow down to their every little whim.

Eventually, Juanita grew tired of housing Morris, Juanita, and Goldie. Therefore, they sent Morris to a military school in Louisville, Kentucky, pushed Goldie out of the house to get a job and live with a roommate, and sent Margie to the well known sanitarium, Central State Hospital, located in the outskirts of Indianapolis. Margie, destined to a hellish fate from the beginning, inherited depression from her mother, Sadie, and unlike now, there was no medicine for depression. Unfortunately, people could be confined to a mental hospital for such minor mental illnesses as depression or even for being handicapped.

Central State Hospital opened its doors in November of 1848. The exterior of Central State might have looked inviting with its elaborate steeples, ornate craftwork, and lush gardens, but inside Central State there was nothing but coldness and misery. Many say that Central State is haunted to this day. There were dark damp dungeons below the hospital grounds crammed with patients wailing for food, air, and daylight. Some of the patients were even restricted by shackles attached to the cold brick walls. The roof leaked, the floors were rotted, patients were forced to sleep on straw mattresses. There was a “dead house” attached to the main building where bodies were stored and prepared for autopsies. Patient abuse had been a recurrent rumor over the centuries, consisting of use of restraints, beatings, and neglect.

The patients’ moans can still be heard, especially in one particular area on the grounds behind a cluster of trees where one patient was stoned to death by another. Silhouettes of long gone patients have been seen running into the streets and vanishing in the darkness of the night. Footsteps scuttling across hallway floors can be heard by maintenance workers in the still of the night.

Understandingly, the rich history of the Central State Hospital has lingered for decades, but no one had ever delved into the personal history of each patient, such as my aunt and grandmother who were confined there for years.

If Margie would have stood up for herself then perhaps she would not have been confined to Central State during such a critical period of her life – adolescence. Juanita and Harry did not see her as her own father did; an irreplaceable angel. She was only a burden to self-centered Juanita and timid Harry. Yes, Margie did suffer from depression, but she did not deserve to be imprisoned in a sanitarium. Depression did not justify the many electric shock treatments she received. Electric Shock Treatment (EST) was a form of therapy widely used to treat certain psychiatric disorders, particularly major depression. EST did not cure depression though. Instead it only exacerbated it, in addition causing brain damage, memory loss, and diminished intelligence. Patients have burned their skin on the head where the electrodes were placed, broken bones during seizures, committed suicide due to anger brought on from the therapy. The most heartrending element of the electric shock treatment though was how she felt afterwards; those final few disoriented minutes she lay on those crisp white linen sheets in that chilled drab room, the electrodes still plugged into her forehead. She was powerless, likened to an unwanted puppy put to sleep at the pound.

Margie did not deserve to be sterilized, deprived of the gift to reproduce. Because of her sadness and silence they forever marred her, robbed her of the one thing which may have saved her; an angel of her own. Margie was beaten, force fed, basically treated as an animal, and this inhumane treatment would eventually be the cause of her death in her latter years.

Margie was basically destroyed upon her release from Central State. The Electric Shock Treatment had slowed her reflexes and caused considerable memory loss. She would have trouble functioning as a self sufficient adult in society. She personified and gave life to the stereotype of the unmarried spinster, destined to a lonely life fulfilled only by her horde of precious cats. Sure, Margie dated a multitude of uniformed officers, got involved with cruel men and many meaningless relationships, but she’d ultimately live by herself in a trailer with eight kittens, her only companionship besides her younger sister Goldie. Out of the three of them Goldie was definitely the strongest. She was resilient, self sufficient, and empowered with strength only to be admired. There was no one like Goldie.

I loved any Aunt Goldie. I remember when I used to visit her as a small child. She doted on me only as an aunt could. I felt safe with her, this towering woman who stood over me at 5’11 “. She not only exuded strength but personified it in every state of the word. With her statuesque frame and strong features nobody crossed Goldie. Goldie had a strong roman nose, jet black hair, and gray beady eyes she’d use to her advantage when she was angry. Yes, Goldie went through her share of tragedy, but it was her faith in the lord and jesus that carried her through the rough times. Goldie had her share of personal failures, including her three futile attempts at marriage, but she didn’t let these get her down. Instead she used these disappointments in her life to educate others. Goldie was never at amiss for words. How many times had she made me cry during one of her many lectures on the evils of men. “Men are bad! All they want to do is get down your pants! They’ll drug you, kidnap you, take you down to Mexico and sell you for prostitution!” “Yes, Goldie,” I’d obediently say as I turned around and rolled my eyes. As a sixteen year old nai’ve adolescent I did not take her seriously, but as I grew older I could see that she was trying to express her pain through her warnings. She was preaching from the heart.

Her first marriage had ended in divorce. She had married a very nice man. He was faithful, responsible, willing to support her, but he was sterile. Goldie was a very motherly person. She felt she had a purpose in this world; to have children. She liked this man, but she did not love him. She knew what she must do – divorce him.

Her second marriage was not to such a nice man. Jay Shepherd was handsome in a rugged sort of way. He was a country boy, raised on a farm by his grandparents about forty miles south of Indianapolis. Jay was not a tall man, only 5’6″ and almost looked like a dwarf when standing next to his towering wife of 5′ 1 l”. The years had wreaked havoc on him prematurely aging his tan weathered skin. His most obvious flaw though was his missing index finger on his right hand. He’d go to great lengths of hiding it, either stuffing it in his pants pocket or burying it beneath his shirt sleeve. Other times though, such as when Goldie had to push him to look for a job, he’d use his supposed handicap as an excuse. He was nowhere near as supportive as her first husband, but he offered the kind of excitement Goldie had been craving for so long. Goldie did everything. She wholeheartedly raised her two children, Steve and Cindy, performed all the household chores, volunteered for school activities, and now she was going to have to look for a job and support her family also. She found a job at Wonderbread Bakery two miles away from their home. It was an honorable position, good benefits, a decent income, but the conditions were grueling, and the hours were demanding. Every week night she’d stand for twelve hours straight in that hot humid factory packing buns and loaves of bread. Her shift started at 8:00 p.m. and ended at 8:00 a.m. when she’d have to rush home, get the children ready for school, clean the house, prepare dinner for that evening and sneak in just enough time to sleep and get refreshed for the next work night.

Jay watched her slave every day and evening and did nothing. He found it amusing. Instead he only watched television, drank himself into a drunken stupor at the neighborhood bar, or womanized with his friends. Goldie had claimed that her husband had committed adultery many times, but this was never substantiated. I can almost guarantee though that Jay, a drunk who never took his wedding vows seriously, cheated on Goldie many times.

It was one evening though which would alter Goldie’s perception of men forever. It started like any other average night in the Shepherd household, Jay cursing because he was out of cigarettes again. Goldie would patiently listen to his slurred grumbling about how he needed a smoke even though his fingers and teeth were bright yellow. He’d then slam the door which would shake the entire house and cause little Steve and Cindy to run to their mother and hug her leg. Jay would disappear for hours either drinking at the bar or out with one of his girlfriends, and Goldie would finally have some peace, but this night was different. Goldie watched the hands on the wall clock, listened to the ticking as each hour passed by. She prayed to the lord, cupped her hands and pleaded to her savior that the same curse would not be passed onto her husband as her father. She pictured Jay, bloody and battered, his nose broken, his head smashed, strewn out on a neighbor’s front porch. What would she tell her children? How would they cope after hearing that their father was murdered? She couldn’t bear to have to visit her children in Central State like she did Margie every other Saturday afternoon. She kept the radio and television on to offset the silence and to listen in case there was any breaking news on her husband, but she heard nothing
The next morning she awoke to the Sunrise Centennial landing with a thump on her front porch, but there was no Jay. Many days passed like this, Goldie frantically looking for day care while she worked, taking the kids to school, finding transportation since Jay took the car, but still there was no Jay. Goldie was beside herself. Jay was a lazy no good womanizing drunk, but he was her husband and the father of her children. It was a different time with different values, and people loved to gossip. What would they say about a single mom raising two children after her husband left her?

Goldie faithfully watched the news, read the newspaper, and listened to the radio, but she never did hear or see the headlines JAY SHEPHERD FOUND DEAD ON FRONT PORCH! POLICE SPECULATE HOMICIDE! She was in denial, but in her heart she knew that Jay had left her. He never had the decency to even tell her he was leaving. He bought a pack of cigarettes and was gone, gone from all of their lives. It broke her heart, to have to look her children in the face and tell them where their father was. How would she persuade them that it wasn’t their fault when they asked why daddy left them? Jay was not an extremely attentive father, but he had his moments. Little Steve feverishly giggled as Jay would let him swing off his arm, and Cindy would blush brightly whenever Jay called her his “little princess”. Every night for two years after Jay left Cindy would stay up till odd hours of the night wailing for her dad. Goldie hated and distrusted men, but she didn’t want her children to feel the same way, especially Cindy.

Cindy was only eleven years old, on the brink of adolescence.

Amazingly, she had already begun menstruating at the tender age of nine. She was far more developed than her peers, and this bothered Goldie greatly. Goldie tried to keep a close eye on Cindy, but it was extremely difficult to watch her at nights when she worked at the factory. One year later her worst fears were confirmed when a tearful twelve year old Cindy confessed to her mother that she was three months pregnant. Goldie was livid! She cursed Jay until her ears were as pink as a tulip bud, and her forehead was drenched in sweat. Without a proper male role model, a father figure, Goldie knew this was destined to happen. She felt responsible for what had happened. Her daughter was unruly, sneaking out at all hours of the night to be with her boyfriend, Lee. The neighborhood was obsessed with their business, whispering as they walked by. There was nothing subtle about a twelve year old pregnant girl.

Goldie had believed that she had instilled the right values in her children, but premarital sex was not one of them. She was strongly against abortion, and these values transcended in her children. Cindy might still have been a child herself, but she couldn’t quell the bulge in her stomach. It was a time of celebration in most women’s lives, but Cindy was too young to enjoy it, and the circumstances made it difficult. Cindy loved to sneak into my room when I was an infant, tiptoe up to my crib, pick me up and cradle me in her arms. She loved to nuzzle her nose in my baby soft hair and smell my skin freshly sprinkled in baby powder. When the neighborhood busybodies whispered as she walked by she just tried to remember how much she enjoyed holding me and how much she’d enjoy holding her own baby. She’d shut out their whispers with her thoughts.

Nine months later Cindy gave birth to a healthy bouncing baby boy and named it Lee after the father. She tried to be the best mom she could, but Goldie wound up taking care of that baby. Cindy was just too young.

Goldie worked so hard for forty years, putting in grueling hours at the Wonderbread Factory, raising her two children and grandson alone, taking the children to church every Sunday, and what did she get in return. At the age of sixty-five she died of cervical cancer, lost one hundred pounds, evolved into an emaciated skeleton not even her family could recognize. This was the fate that so many in my family received. Was the cycle going to end?


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