Monday, October 22, 2012

Aerial Cherry

I told no one what had happened.  No one.  Harlow knew because she was there but agreed not to tell Freddy so as not to turn him further against Tucker.  I decided that the epic ass kissing was good.  The feelings of watching him jump when I said anything were so good to me. You know when it’s really cold in the mornings? So cold that your fingers ache? Then you wrap a towel or warm blanket around yourself and feel the slow crawl of heat to your extremities as they start to thaw out; the delicious feeling as the warmth radiates and envelopes you? Like that, but waaaaayy better.  Plus, I was still in the same spot.  Still no vehicle, no money put back, not able to figure out which way to turn or which way to take us. Mostly paralyzed by fear and overwhelmed by decisions.

Thankfully during this time with us all crammed into this apartment, the sex life had devolved to a dull, extremely quiet, very dismal routine that served only to put him to sleep.  It meant the sexual shenanigans had come to a stop for the most part and I was glad of it.  Tucker kept on just trying to make me happy but things just seemed to be harder and harder on us.  I can remember waiting until midnight for the food stamps to be deposited on the card so that I could go and shop at midnight for food for us. It was worse and worse day by day.

One day in the midst of this, I’m not even sure what sparked the initial argument,  but I had many such days  breaking up Freddy and Tuckerette.  He, again, was an outspoken child and resented the fact that since she was supposed to be an adult and he was supposed to mind her but yet she didn’t work and she barely did housework or took care of the baby. We had given Tuckerette some money to take care of her checking account and she had double spent so that she ended up with bounced checks.  She ended up further not paying for them and laying the blame on her father.  Freddy had been privy to at least part of these conversations inadvertently and of course had run wild with the information.  He never ceased to give her a hard time and I was ever the peace maker.  On one particular day she was griping about not having something…clothes, money, I don’t really know what and Freddy told her if she would go out and get a job maybe she’d have something.

At that moment Harlow was busy rocking the baby because he’d been teething and fussy.  Freddy and Tuckerette were busy yelling at one another and I stood watching, not sure what to do to whom first. I had told Tuckerette constantly not to engage him, he was after all a 13 year old and she was 23. I had constantly told Freddy to shut his mouth to an adult and talk to me if he had problems with the situation.
Freddy had retreated to the top of the metal spiral staircase and turned and opened his mouth and said, “Well if you were enough of a grown up to have that baby, you ought to take care of it instead of letting my mom and sister do it all the time.”

Before I could stop her, Tuckerette crossed the room and put two hands firmly in the middle of Freddy’s chest and shoved him, hard.  He fell backwards with his arms windmilling and caught himself after he’d fallen down two steps. I had to lunge to catch him before he caught hold of her hair as he bounded back up the stairs. He was screaming and lunging and I had to stop him and calm him so I could see if he was alright.  He was cussing still and I told him that was enough.  I sent him down to his room and turned to Tuckerette.

“What in the hell is wrong with you?! You could have seriously injured or even killed him. Don’t you realize that?”

She spun around and jerked the baby from Harlow’s arms. He began to scream and she was yelling about how she didn't have to put up with this shit and he was a kid and couldn't talk to her that way and she was taking her baby and getting out. I stopped her and said, “You can go where you want but you know you’re in the wrong here and you owe that boy and me an apology.”

She proceeded to take her screaming baby and load up in the truck she wasn't paying for and drive away, presumably to the barn.  I called her father and told him to be expecting his daughter shortly and that she’d almost killed my son.  I told him things were changing right then and she needed to get a job or go back to her mother’s.

He sounded disgusted and worn out and I didn't care.  I knew he was juggling money and cattle and horses and had a tenuous grasp at best on financial matters.  Case in point, I had gone to the barn one day to get my mustang out and saddle him only to find that he’d been sold without so much as a, would you mind or we need the money. After I hung up with him, I took the computer and started looking for a place I could afford for me and my children without anyone else.  I knew that even though my parents had co-signed for the apartment we were in, they probably would be okay with me walking away from it if it meant I were walking away from Tucker.  Tucker came home to find me searching for someplace to live which spawned another argument and yet more emotional terrorism.  All of which I bought into yet again.  My son looked at me in utter disgust and defeat and my daughter said nothing. Since most of it couldn't be kept private in the tiny apartment, they had heard most of it.

The following months led to Tuckerette moving in with her boyfriend, Tucker, Jr. being arrested and held for a week on some vendetta that a former business associate of Tucker’s had telling Tucker that he’d drop charges against Tucker, Jr. if Tucker paid the $10,000 he owed.  So, Tucker came up with $10,000, the charges were dropped and meanwhile we continued to get eviction notices and scrape gas and food money together. 

I found a place that we could afford and sent Tucker to check it out.  It was 40 miles from town and I didn't know how we’d afford even more gas money but it was half the rent we were paying. It was a shithole that we worked on for two weeks cleaning and painting before we could move in and packed up and moved. Leaving our lease, leaving my parents holding the bag and still in just one truck. 

The move prompted a new beginning for us though as Tucker came up with money for a down payment on a car for me and I finally had my own vehicle and the kids were happy for a new house with lots of room and no Tuckerette. I thought that this would be the time for me to make it all happen. I thought I could finally make things right and better.  It was the never ending cycle of my pipe dreams and pie in the sky. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

It took me much longer to find a job than it ever had before.  It was 2009 and it was an employer’s market.  I had my lovely Associate’s Degree but now it seemed that was little better than a high school diploma and almost dismissed in most cases. I looked for three months.  It had never taken me that long to find a job but I realize how lucky I was to get the offer.  It was less money than I’d been making and it was really menial office work but I didn’t care.  I took it. I snatched it up quickly.

Tuckerette of course was not working.  She was helping to spend the money alright but even with her doing the feeding and taking care of the animals, what little I had begun to make was doing naught but disappearing almost as soon as I made it.  I got myself a checking account and flatly refused to get any checks for the account.  Tucker acted wounded and I told him he could go cry in a bucket...but then there was work. Sweet sanctuary.  I could leave my madhouse for 8 hours a day and feel smart and important and not worry with all the bullshit.  I was slowly starting to feel myself, just a little anyway. 

Tucker it seemed had decided to work some angle with bank accounts between Tuckerette, Tucker, Jr. and some DBA he had started. I was flatly told over and over not to worry about what the fuck was going on. I knew though that we didn’t have enough money even with my check to cover bills and for all of us to eat.  I cannot count how many times we ate dollar McDonald’s for supper because he had managed to scrape $30 together before I got off work.  He didn’t believe in my cooking and us having groceries in the house unless I was going to be home to cook them.  

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any crappier, summertime arrived and so did the two younger Tuckers.  I now had an apartment with an 11, 12, 13 and 14 year old in it along with a whiny, lazy 23 year old and an infant.  Plus there was the grandbaby…bazinga!!! I went and got food stamps.  I wasn’t going to watch all four of the younger kids starve to death and survive on McDonald’s for the summer and then I forced Tuckerette, Jr. to go and get WIC for her and the baby.  Tucker was furious about the “charity”. 

I told him, “It’s not charity, it is welfare and we won’t continue to receive it unless you participate in their work program.”

I think we can all surmise how the rest of that conversation went.  He wasn’t going…fuck them…and their goddamned charity…blah, blah blah.

Things smoothed out a bit during the summer and we went on a little vacation of sorts.  Tuckerette and Tuckerette, Jr. had taken the baby and gone to see their mom.  Freddy had gone to his Granny’s and Tucker, Tucker, Jr. Jr. and Harlow and I went to a swimming hole I’d read about online.  Hiking and swimming and picnicking.  We headed back to the house as it was getting dark and were driving through a construction zone.  I was driving because Tucker’s license was still expired and it so happens I was going 70 in a 65 and got us pulled over.

The officer took my license and my insurance and went back to sit like they do, where you’re sure they’re pulling up everything that’s ever happened to you along with your bank account information, internet history etc. etc.  

The police officer stepped up to the window and said, “Ma’am is there another licensed driver in the car?”

The taste in my mouth was copper pennies.  “No.” I said shakily.  

“Well we’ll figure that out in a minute, could you step back here behind the truck please?”

I slowly looked in the back seat at Harlow.  Her eyes were huge and questioning and fearful.  “It’s fine baby.  It’s fine.” I told her and didn’t believe it for one second.

As I stepped behind the truck the officer asked me to place my hands behind my back and he handcuffed me. “Ma’am, I’m placing you under arrest for theft by check on a warrant from That County.” He read my rights to me and I began to tremble and cry. Tears running down my face that I couldn’t wipe away and I was unbelieving and kept thinking, This. Is. Not. Fucking. Happening.
My daughter watched me get handcuffed, placed in a police car and taken away.  What followed was humiliating, horrifying and not the worst thing that anyone’s ever endured but at that moment, for me, it was the end of the world.

I remember standing there at the counter, in handcuffs, sobbing and the female jailer asking, “This your first time in jail, honey?” I looked at her and nodded but thought, No, I’m a hardened criminal, I do this every weekend.  

After having to strip, put on a fucking orange jumpsuit, be fingerprinted, have my goddamned mug shot taken and then ask the male jailer for sanitary napkins since of course the lady had disappeared, I dragged my mat into the cell and laid it down on the floor.  I curled up on it and stared at the urine stains on the floor and thanked my stars there was no one else in there with me.

I lay there for hours wondering what check I could have possibly not picked up.  What was it? When was it? Who had it? And why had I trusted him when he said he had it all taken care of? I was in that cell from 10PM until 2PM the next day.  I had a lot of time to think.  A lot.  I was furious. I was scared. I was defeated. I was tired. I was so hurt. I was alone. I was worried for Harlow. I was wondering how in the fuck I was going to get out. When I was finally arraigned the next day next to drunks and thugs, I ran the gamut of emotions again but mostly I was just still in that place where you don’t believe this shit is happening.

When I walked out into the sunshine, I was not free.  There he sat with my baby girl waiting.  She ran from the truck and hugged and hugged me but I refrained from crying.  The rage was too great.

He walked up to me and I held my hand up, “Somehow, someway, this is YOUR fault.” I told him, “I know it and you know it. Don’t fucking talk to me, don’t apologize to me.  Let’s just get home so that I can shower and eat and think about what the fuck just happened.”

“Baby, it’s fine.” He had a look on his face that was unreadable to me.  I looked down at Harlow and back to Tucker and decided not to lose my shit on him outside the county jail I had just walked out of lest they drag me back in.  I walked away from him and got behind the wheel.  I drove us home without a word.

When we got home he left immediately and I was happy to have the time without him in my vision.  I took a shower, wrapped up in a robe and curled into the recliner in front of the television.  Harlow stayed by my side but was exhausted because as she relayed to me they had stayed outside the jail all night waiting.  They had run all over town trying to find the judge to get him to come to the jail and arraign me.  Tucker had discovered that the charge was not for the check itself but for unpaid court costs on a check that I had not written but one that he had signed my name to at the feed store.  I was less than pleased that my 12 year old daughter had been through all this but she had refused to leave with Tucker, Jr. when Tucker had him come and get Tucker Jr. Jr. 

Tucker walked back into the apartment and brought me some food and went back downstairs without saying another word to me for the rest of the night.  Harlow told me he had worried himself sick all night saying things like, “She’s gonna leave me for sure now.”  

I could have.  I should have.