Thursday, July 12, 2007

Des Moines Part Two or Living on the Dragon's Snout

The rope was tearing into my skin. The more I struggled, the more it tore and burned. Sweat poured down my face to intermingle with my tears. My heart was pounding, ready to rip itself from my chest to escape the building fear growing all over my body. My throat had gone dry from the screaming and now a corse whine issued from my mouth. I had a briuse on my upper right shoulder where I had kept beating my back against the foundation post I was tied to in our basement. It was dark that day in the basement. I remember it was day because, the only thing that filled me with hope was the small window in the basement, with warm rays of sunlight shining to a spot a few feet in front of me. I wondered why Mom hadn't come down to rescue me yet. But I already knew the answer to that. Dad.

After all, he had tied me there.

And that was how I conquered my fear of the dark. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be able to type this now in a darkened room, lit only be my computer screen.

Mom has recently said that she doesn't recall why Dad tied me down there, but there was a shouting match between them about it. All I remember is the sunlight and fear. Fear has been my constant companion since that day. And since most of us have vivid imaginations, my fear has always had a voice. A voice that even now as I type this is telling me to stop and delete this post. I don't know if any of you have ever suffered this type of abuse and perhaps it's not right of me to share it with you and ruin your day. However, if I don't, it makes me a coward and my fear wins.

I remember wanting to escape badly. To run outside and keep running away, until I found a place where I wouldn't be hurt. And then, I remembered where I lived and what resources I didn't possess. The streets of Des Moines would offer no salvation and neither would its people, all dealing with their problems and abuse, that had changed them into unsympathetic citizens. I know what you are thinking, it was your father, Cameron, not the town. It was both is my reply.

The sun beat down relentlessly on the pavement. I reached down to feel its heat make the empty street feel like a skillet. My hands press against the hot surface to gauge my pain threshold. Lifting my head, I surveyed my neighborhood and see that no one is watching. Slowly, I kneel down repeating my pain exercise on my knees first, then belly and finally my right cheek. Heat sears its way all over my body, and subsides after a few moments and then I can feel the coldness of the street return. Staring down the street I can see the two sewage drains on opposite sides at the end of the road. They are raised, so nothing can clog them, but a child could slip and fall down to the sewage below. From my belly resting on the street I can hear what seems to be footsteps and water. I was still alone and no cars had driven on the road since I had laid down. I listen again and this time I hear something else, a pulse. A pulsing sound, and the street seemed to move. Breathing. The whole street was breathing and the two drains suddenly became jet black eyes that caught me in their gaze and I could not move. These words formed in my head. No escape.

And this was the beast that I had hoped to escape to during my time in the basement.

Fear. It's a hell of a thing.

Next time, I'll share a good memory to offset this horrible one.




dmweblife said...

Cameron, ever since I found your blog a couple weeks ago I've been riveted, waiting for a post just like this. I have lived in Des Moines all my life. I currently write a happy little blog about Des Moines called dmweblife. You write about a Des Moines I realize I never knew, even now do not know. And frankly, hopefully will never know.

But your perspective, and your unique voice, are essential to truly knowing my city. I could never have imagined the kinds of things you are writing about, but I do thank you for this: the understanding that two people can grow up in the same city and still come from totally different worlds.

Keep writing, keep exorcising. It's frightening and beautiful all at the same time.


goodmancam said...

Thanks Janet. I realize that even though people may live in the same city, they may not live in the same world. These are my memories of a town that still exists (my brother still lives there) and, unfortunatly, will always exist. I haven't been back since '04, and my old neighborhood looked like an old dog that was shot in the head and beaten and forgot that it was supposed to die. Mom told me at the time that the 'hood wasn't as nice as it used to be. Yes, I found humor in that comment as well. Anyway, thanks for writing and for god's sake stay away from Central Des Moines.

Carl V. said...

"However, if I don't, it makes me a coward and my fear wins."

Much powerful truth in that.

I have only experienced this kind of abuse from the other end, as one in the emotional/psychological healing profession. I've heard stories, seen scars, both physical and emotional, and witnessed the struggle that still exists in getting authorities to step in and do their job to protect a child. Seeing other's pain and experiencing their stories is in no way akin to experiencing that for real, but for people like me that is the closest I can get to understanding.

I appreciate the courage it takes to share this. Despite the internet being a somewhat anonymous medium, you obviously know that people like myself and Jeff will be reading and I applaud the courage it takes to take that step, to not let fear win.

As I've said before, you are a very skilled writer. I look forward to the next installment, be it 'good' or 'bad'.

Jeff S. said...

It takes courage to share this kind of experience. I don't have any personnel experience with this kind abuse and have only heard about it through books and television. I can't imagine that level of fear. The betrayel of a parent in that way is horrifying.

They say to write what you know for it to ring true. These entries show that in spades. I would suggest you take that knowledge of fear and use it in your work. Turn your Dad's and the city of DM's abuse into a positive through your writing. Use them as they used you. The ultimate revenge in a way.

These blogs entries are, while written from past experience, compelling. You've got talent as does Carl. I hope you now take those experinces and start pounding them out into that screenplay you described to me a few weeks ago. My wife feels so much different since she completed her first book. No matter if it never sells she won in a certain way. As a friend I think it would be so great for you to write that screenplay. I really think it would be life changing for you.

I will also be back for that humor post down the road. See ya tonight.

Andrew said...

You're quite the writer Cameron...I have been enjoying your posts quite a bit my friend.