This story has no beatings in it but has something just as painful and hurt a lot longer, and that was Verbal Abuse. Trust me, I had my share of being called many hurtful names by my foster-father throughout my years living in that foster home, but there were two names that not only did I hate, but one name had a major effect on my life well into my adulthood. Now I can’t remember all the times he called me names, because there were so many, a lot more than the beatings that’s for sure, but I remember the first time he called me ” Bow Legged Freak”.
I was about 12 years old, and at times liked to play with my foster-brother’s Hess trucks he had up in the attic. The attic was pretty cool because most of our toys were stored in piles along the wall on top by the steps, so my little brother and I would explore around to see what was in the boxes that were piled about. All the way in the back there was this little room to the left that stored some really cool stuff in boxes of all sizes that belonged to my foster-brother Barry.
He had lots of baseball cards and Lionel Train sets…old ones, not those fake plastic ones we have today. But he also had some Hess trucks scattered about and I would play with. But of cause if Barry found any of his toys of his broken, yours truly would get the blame even if I never touched anything of his, I was getting the blame regardless… according to that family I was not only marked as a thief but a liar as well.
So this one Saturday afternoon, Barry had come down stairs with one of the Hess truck in his hand and walked into the kitchen where I was sitting and asked me if I was playing with the truck. At first I said no because I didn’t remember the last time I played with it, but it didn’t matter, because I was guilty already regardless whatever my answer was. What I do know was I didn’t break anything of his. If I had, I would have hidden that truck so deep inside that attic, his children’s children would not have found it.
But it was sitting where it always were by the top of then steps in the attic by all the other piles of toys, and the smoke stack was found broken off. Now, you think that would have been the end of it, but I couldn’t be that lucky. My foster-father decided to ask me the same question as his son. Not only that, but now it became more like an interrogation instead. The only thing missing was a swinging light above my head, and him telling me how he had ways of getting people to talk while lighting up a smoke.
Every time he asked me a question, I just looked at him and said that I didn’t know. It was a matter of time before my head became a target for his soda can, but I would just stick to the truth on this one. I didn’t break anything, specially his son’s Hess truck. But, of cause that wasn’t enough. I said I didn’t know one too many times with a couple of shoulder shrugs to follow before he threw the salt shaker at me yelling that he didn’t want me to touch anything unless I asked….Message received.
That could have been the end of this, but as always, he would go on about it as well as other topics that had nothing to do with the subject at hand. What started over a broken toy escalated how I needed to have my Puerto Rican (Spic) blood drained from my body and have it replaced with his blood. If that wasn’t enough, he would then go on about how my parents were both good for nothing and should have been in jail. Not for nothing, but I had no idea what he was talking about, but I guess maybe he knew something that I didn’t.
What he was doing was trying to bait me to say something back, but I never bit. I may have been only 12, but I was learning something after those years of beatings and name callings, and one day, would learn to prefect it…and that was Patience. Right after his ranting as my mother once again told him to just shut up, he says this…” I don’t have to shut up while this Bow Legged Freak lies”. Right after he said that…I just looked up at him envisioning stabbing him in his chest with the very fork I was holding right in front of everyone. Instead, I just sat there saying nothing and continued to eat my dinner.
But from that day on, I use to grab toilet paper and rolled them into a ball and place them strategically inside my white knee highs, than have rubber bands hold them in place than put my pants on so I wouldn’t look like I was bow-legged. I did this every single day til I was about 16 years old. I was so conscious over my legs that I would never wear shorts in public til I was about 30 years old. The other name he called me was Michelle. I always knew that he was going to call me that one to many times without paying a price…and sure enough, he did.