Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just Can't Sugar-Coat Child Abuse

There is a moment of difficulty and danger at which
Flattery and falsehood can no longer deceive,
And simplicitiy itself can no longer be misled.

Can't help wondering...what you're wondering about?

I'm wondering about sugar-coated worlds and the inequities of life.
The Duck and his siblings stopped by the neighbor's today. “Hey, how are you!” he yelled across the driveway that separated us, when he saw me sitting on the porch.
Big, friendly grin as usual. Everybody likes the Duck. You really can’t help it. He’s just that kind of guy…mostly.

“I didn’t waste no time on that fat-f-ing bitch this month. She can get somebody else to kiss her fat-f-ing ass, keep her fat-f-ing food. Who needs it anyway-stale rotten shit nobody else wants anyway-g-damned f-ing rip-off anyway.”

Contrary to what the language might suggest The Duck is the smartest in his family. He often says, with obvious beaming pride, “My Mom always said she didn’t raise no stupid a-holes.” And although eventually they lost the court case on the condemnation of the family home, after it was found to house 42 dogs chained to the walls and ceilings, adults, children and animals all living without water or electricity, amid deep layers of feces and urine everywhere, it was The Duck who appeared before the judge to refuse a public defender, completed all the necessary paperwork, presented their case to the court, spoke briefly on camera …and did it all without a verbal meltdown.

His brother, Grub, usually along as silent, sulking driver of the car The Duck managed to procure from the system in order to get to the job he quit after getting the car, mumbles, as I approach the car with bags of bakery goods from my morning stint at the pantry,
“All mother-f-ing crooks down there.”

The Duck snarls, “Shut up stupid a-hole. She works there but you don’t have to talk to her that way,” then flashes another charming grin my way.

That sets off the Grub even more. “You can’t tell me there’s any g-damned reason why one person gets as much food as a family of five. Bastards just gotta screw anybody any way they can. Should be fair-everybody gets something or nobody gets nothing-ain’t nothing ever f-ing fair around here.”

I make a mistake, a really big mistake and try to reason, attempt to explain, “Listen, you know we’re volunteers doing the best we can to get food to people who need it. There’s no way we can break the food down and distribute it on an individual basis…”

The rant turns instantly to full-volume rage as Grub sets out to educate me and set my mother f-ing stupid head straight. “It’s f-ing easy. Any stupid a-hole can rip open a package of hotdogs; put one in the bag for the family of one, and five in the bag for the family of five.”

As Grub’s tirade went on longer than that, his language more colorful than that,
I stared at the dirt encrusted, nail bitten hands choking the steering wheel glad they couldn’t reach me, and focused on listening. Not much else I could do.

When he took a break, without thinking, I yelled right back at him. “Knock it off Grub…I’m not here to listen to you scream at me. Take it somewhere else.”

Then I turned to slowly walk away, breathing deeply, listening for any sound to indicate the car door might open behind me. Not much else I could do.

Nothing but silence followed as I forced myself to walk slowly, softly-without any big stick, but momentarily wishing I had one- to my place. A long walk across a short distance.

“Thank You God,” I said, humbly and with even more gratitude than usual, as I slipped inside, quietly closed and locked the door behind me. Not much else I could do.

Everyone for towns around knows the family. “Sweetest kids you’d ever want to meet, they were. Nice manners, too” they’ll all tell you. “The Mom quiet as a mouse she was. The Dad always drunk and yelling but hell you can’t blame the kids for that. Kept to themselves mostly. But the kids… the kids just as sweet as could be. And that one…he was always smiling, always so helpful, always looking after the other kids. Still is, I hear.”

And that’s so true. The Duck is always smiling, always helpful, always the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. Except, of course, when he isn’t. Which is usually when he’s drunk but sometimes just when he’s had enough and doesn’t care to put on the show anymore.

And there’s the kids. The newest batch of them… sweetest kids you’ll ever meet. Which, of course, is why they were here. The neighbor, knowing they hadn’t come to the pantry this morning, knowing the kids would be thrilled to get the sweet treats, called them to come get the bakery goods along with other goods we scrounged together for them.

It really was crazy at the pantry this morning. We had enough ooey-gooey finger-licking baked goods and boxes of giant frosted sugar bakery cookies to bury the town in, or at least give it a sugar high for a week. Wondered why? Maybe it’s the recession? People not buying like they did, but supermarkets not adjusting to the new reality so having inordinate amounts of baked goods to waste or donate?

Whatever the reason, makes no difference- it was crazy this morning…no other word for it. Everyone received two full bags of the donuts-four boxes of the giant cookies-and a cake or other large bakery item…every household that is…no matter whether one member or five. No doubt Grub would have wanted us to divide them more equitably-make sure every one got his or her fair share, instead of making some call around town looking for those who didn’t get any to come take them off their hands.

Crazy-all crazy- as ignoring abused and neglected kids and not knowing the shadow cast over them lasts a lifetime, is crazy. Crazy –all crazy- as crazy as acting like those little ones so often smelling of urine and feces, with dirt encrusted nail-bitten, finger chewed hands, dried mucus smeared across smiling up-turned trusting faces, lots of dull matted hair but little shining hope will somehow grow up and see a world as ever fair? A world where everyone gets his or her fair share? And no one ever has no other choice than just to grin and do whatever it takes to bear the pain.

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

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