Under The Tree


My past is multiple choice.

I can’t decide on how my past went.  One day I remember it happening one way.  Another day I remember it happening another way.  It’s good to have options I guess.  Often I wonder how much of it’s true.  How much of it is my creativity governing me?

I wandered off when I was three years old.  I remember that much.  I wasn’t particularly fond of my family.  There were just too many people in it.  I was the middle child, and I had an imagination god damn it!

Why stay in that house on 18 Alice Street North in Essex, Ontario?  It sucked.  My step-dad was a cranky and sadistic marine.  In actuality he was a mechanic, but he had a legendary temper, and was extremely abusive.  You got your ass beat bad for stealing a piece of cheese from the fridge in the middle of the night.  It’s hard to imagine what made the little 5 foot nothing asshole so miserable.  Perhaps he hated being short and figured that whupping me regularly and often would ensure that I would never get taller than him.

I say with complete pride and arrogance that I am 6′ 4 today.

Yeah, life at home sucked.  If my dad wasn’t beating me it was my older brother.  If he wasn’t beating me, he was definitely terrorizing me.  I don’t fault him for that today though.  He was doing what a big brother does.  In his defense though he took exception to anyone outside the family thinking they could rough me up.  But back then I couldn’t appreciate that. I was an extremely immature 3 year old.

There were four of us kids.  We were all boys. Ziggy was my oldest brother.  He was about a year older than Jeff (my nemesis) and they were like best friends.  I had a younger brother named Larry.  He was alright.  He was a chubby little simpleton who everyone liked.

So I walked.  I walked away from that house on Alice street in search of a better life.  A destination wasn’t thought of.  I just walked.  Initially I ended up at my big brother’s school, Dowswell Elementary.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, despite the fact that I got my ass kicked a week earlier for getting stuck on the roof of that very school.

I decided to relax at the school for a spell before continuing my journey.  It seemed a good place to chill.  There was no possible way that anyone could find me there.  It was a whole two blocks away from my house.  My brothers would be playing.  My mom would be visiting old Roy Tesky, and my step-dad would be watching Hill Street Blues.

After hanging out at the school for a while, I got approached by some big kids.  We’re talking huge.  They had to be in at least Grade 2 They were a little younger than my big brother, Jeff.  They asked me what I was doing at the school, and asked me why I wasn’t at home.  They wanted to know where my parents were.  I told them that it really wasn’t any of their business, and if they kept bugging me, I would get my big brothers to clobber them.

They looked at each other and pondered my proposition.  It must have been a good one, because they took their soccer ball and went home.

Who the fuck were they to ask ME what I wasn’t doing at home?  I had no interest in what they weren’t doing at home.

Since people seemed to be all too interested in why I was hanging out at a school, which was not a no fly zone for 3 year old kids, I decided to move on.  It didn’t make sense to stay there if some dumb second graders could grill me about my diabolical intentions in a free country.

Next was Sadler’s Pond.  It was the home of Big Ben, the legendary giant snapping turtle.  Everyone was afraid of Big ol’ Ben.  I never saw him but Jeff used to tell me about him.  He was the most feared monster in the land who fed on little brothers.

I wasn’t afraid.  I mean, he was a turtle but I was a real person.  That turtle thought he was so big and bad?  There was NO ONE bigger and badder than my brothers.  If this turtle tried its shit with me, not only would he feel my fearless wrath, but he would have to deal with my asshole brothers too.  That thought alone was enough to make me feel sorry for the turtle.

Sadler’s Pond was a forest with a gigantic pond in the middle of it.  It had some serious wildlife . I had seen turtles, snakes, frogs, foxes, cats, dogs, people, and gigantic leeches.  Leeches that were an easy 50 centimeters long when they stretched out.

It was also home to Big Ben.

Well I spent a good couple hours searching for this fucker.  All I saw were some little Bens, garter snakes, and a million frogs.  After serious consideration I realized they would all make great pets.  I found a mud covered box and put every reptile and amphibian I came across in it.  I kept it closed tight so none of them would fall out and get hurt.

After searching about an hour I took a break.  I remember being really tired and hungry at that point.  I sat on the bank of the pond and kept my eyes peeled for Big Ben.  He was smart to stay hidden.  I was 3 years old.  Not some dumb little baby.

After about ten minutes, I was approached by a big female person with a little person about my age.  She wondered the same things that the kids at the school were wondering.  Now things were just starting to get creepy.  Why in the hell was everyone so interested in where my parents were, and where I lived, and how come I wasn’t at home with my parents, or just at home, or whatever the fuck?

I wasn’t sure exactly how to answer this nosey big female’s questions.  I tired the same scare tactics I used on the kids at the school.  Might as well stick with a winner.  The big female person just kinda frowned and asked me if my big brothers were close by.  I said yes and she seemed satisfied with that answer.  Geez, of course they were close by.  We lived in Essex.  The population was about 6000. Either way, they were close by and that reminded me that I better get a move-on.

I picked up my box of pets and peered inside to see how they were getting along.  Now to this day I cannot unsee the disturbing contents of the box.  I only got a second and a half glance before I dropped it in terror.  It was a fucking massacre in there.  It was a battle of the reptiles and the Little Bens came out on top.  They were the only ones that weren’t in bloody pieces.  I ran from the box and into the Viscount Trailer Park beside Sadler’s Pond.

My appetite was gone.

The Viscount Tralier Park was very nice.  It’s not your typical trailer park you would make fun of.  It was actually a beautiful community with nice paved roads.  I wandered the streets and remembered that my mom had a friend who lived there by the name of Gladdys.  I had been to her house (trailer) a few times, and she had given me some ice cream.  I found my previous hunger coming back.

It was time to find Gladdys.  It was dark now.  Incidentally it was also  ice cream time.  In fact, Gladdys was a really nice woman.  She seemed to like me just fine too.  I would go live with Gladdys.  I would never get beat up by my brother again.  My dad wouldn’t be able to beat me anymore.  It was a no brainer.

After some time I found what I thought was her trailer.  I knocked on the door and some male big person that talked in a funny voice answered.

I asked him where Gladdys was.  He said there was no Gladdys there and started asking me the golden questions that I had been hearing all night.  There was no way I could use the big brothers threat on this big person, so I cut to the chase and just told him to give me some ice cream.  He laughed a little and beckoned to a big female person.

The big female person came to the door and began to ask where why alone where how .. …. … …. …

I was getting cranky.  Everyone was so god damn interested in things that I could never possibly in ten million fucking years care about.  I was starving to death.  I had to give up on the idea of having pets because they couldn’t get along. And at this point I just really wanted some fucking ice cream.

I repeated my request for ice cream and they invited me inside.  I may have been a little kid but I knew well enough to not go into a stranger’s house.  My parents told me that all the time.  My mom told me that if someone ever tried that on me to go crazy and start screaming for help.

I did just that.

The whole time I was carrying on they both just kinda babbled back and forth to each other in some kinda weird talking.  When I was done with my coniption they asked me if I would mind going somewhere else for ice cream.

Of course I didn’t mind.  Ice cream was ice cream.  What fucking difference did it make?  I WANTED ICE CREAM AND GETTING IT STARTED TO SEEM LIKE A HUGE FUCKING HASSLE!

So we got into their car and drove to the Big V Plaza.  When we got there I was greeted by my parents, and the police.  My mom was really happy to see me, and my dad wanted to kill me.  That night I don’t think I caught a beating.  Perhaps my dad felt that me not getting my ice cream was suitable enough punishment although I couldn’t understand at the time what I was being punished for.

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One comment so far:

  1. Jeorge says:

    Amazing story! Love it man. You’re a legendary storyteller Doug.

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Posted by: Doug Hell on