I guess I have to back up to when Mumble and Rose divorced before I can really give them away to their new spouses. Let’s start with Mumble and get Horrid out of the way. Rose and Honed is a little easier to swallow. First the shit.
Mumble wanted to run something past me, and he didn’t want to take me to his house yet, so we met at the high school in Waynesville to talk. I took my Nova, and turning into the high school parking lot with that car was insane. We have time. I’m going to back up into my teen years so you can hear this story. We are wrapping things up in my life. There will not be an Unreal Mind, Vol. 3, and I want to give you one more glimpse of what was going on in my house as a teenager.
When I was a kid it was explained to me very well that I was not getting my license at sixteen. That was not going to happen.
If I got my license, I would want to drive. And if I wanted to drive, I would want to drive their car. And if I wanted to drive their car, it would have to be on their insurance. And if it was on their insurance, they would have to pay a higher rate. They would not be paying for my insurance. They would not be buying me a car. They would not be paying for my gas. I had to do it all by myself.
This is what it looked like to my mother.
First, you get the job. Doesn’t matter how far you have to walk to get one. And she was not going to give you a ride to work, that was on you. You get the job, you work the job, you save the money for a car. You work the job some more and you get the money for the insurance. You work the job some more and you get the license. You have to do it in this order. And you have to pay for every drop of gas that you use.
Uncle Savior was a mechanic and a damn good one. He lived in Milwaukee, but he loved me, and he hated my mother for not buying me a car and not paying for my insurance. He saw it for what it was. He knew this was her way of controlling me, of making sure I had no way to get around, so I could not leave whenever I wanted. If I was dependent on her for a ride, then I was dependent on her for everything.
So, one day when we are visiting Milwaukee, Uncle Savior takes me into his garage and stands me in front of a 1981 Camaro. It is blue with a black racing stripe going right up the middle, and he points at it and lists off its pedigree. I don’t know cars at all, but he started listing off parts it had, horsepower it would produce, and I stood there knowing it was fast, and knowing it was gorgeous.
When he was done, he leaned against his work bench and pointed at it. “That is your first car.”
“What?!” I said. I stared at it propped up, the hood up, the engine exposed.
“You’re fifteen. You will need a car. This is yours. I will give it to you for your sixteenth birthday.” He leaned forward and splayed out his fingers, placed them on the front of the car and peered into the engine. He shook his head then looked at me. “Nothing they put together in Waynesville is ever going to touch this. This will be the fastest car in your city. Nothing will get close.”
I was jumping up and down in glee. This meant I only had to get the insurance and get the gas. This was going to be awesome.
“Now, it will be a stick. You won’t have anyone to teach you, so when you turn sixteen, I will send you a bus ticket. You will come up here and we will drive to Waynesville together. I will show you how to drive this monster without killing yourself, and by the time we get you home, you will be a pro. I bus my way back and you have a Camaro.”
I hugged him. It made him uncomfortable but it had to happen. I was so happy. I could not remember being that happy.
When my mother heard about it, she went crazy. She started yelling that she was not going to have it. I was not being given that car. She had a plan, I had to do it her way. She screamed at my aunt and flatly refused to have it done.
She made him sell the car. This was not the only time she did this.
Uncle Ball and Uncle Wrath also decided I was going to get a car. I was eighteen by then. I had given up on the dream of ever driving, and Uncle Ball picked me up in his gloss black 1980 Monte Carlo. The thing was a work of art, and he told me it was worth 2,000 dollars. He was going to take a 1,000-dollar hit and Uncle Wrath was going to give him 1,000, and they would give it to me as a gift.
Rose screamed at them. Uncle Wrath fought back but, in the end, I didn’t get either of the cars. I think one day I will. I think I will buy myself those two cars and fulfill that tiny place inside of me that has ached for those two cars my entire life.
Anyway, when I pulled into that high school parking lot with my 1974 Chevy Nova, I kinda lost my mind a little bit. I was completing a dream of driving to that parking lot with my own car that had been in me for years.
Anyway, that was the tangent to beat all, but I needed to give you just a glimpse of Rose. We will get to that. Remember that.
Here I am with Mumble in the stands of the football stadium. He is nervous and looking at me and his hands and his feet and every other place that he can look.
“Just tell me whatever you have to tell me and we will work it out,” I said to him. This was starting to freak me out a little bit. He was nervous about what I would think of something.
“Well it happened without me asking for it,” Mumble said. “I always loved your mother.”
“I know. That was never up for grabs,” I said.
But it should have been. Mumble was a deviant. He had started having arousal problems the moment Rose had given birth to Grasp. See, at that moment she did not look like a teenage girl anymore. In his eyes, she looked like a woman. So, he lost his attraction. What we didn’t know about Mumble, and we would not find out until he was fired from Pizza Hut years later, was that Mumble could only get it up for a teenage girl, or a woman who, if he squinted and pretended, he could convince himself was a teenage girl. Years after marrying Horrid he would lose his job. He would be brought up on charges and convicted of sexual groping of a minor when he grabbed up on one of his teenage employees.
“I never asked this girl to come to me. She just did,” Mumble said. This was years before. He is trying to tell me about Horrid.
“Her name is Horrid. She works for me. She is married to a guy on Post. But he is an asshole, and he beats her, and she wants me. We have already kinda, we were able to, we had sex a few days ago and she loves me, and she is moving in. I wanted to tell you here so that you could yell at me if you want to, and I didn’t want to spring her on you if you weren’t ready for it, but I—”
“Listen, this is a great thing,” I said. “I don’t know why you thought I would have a problem with this, but it is a great thing. I want you to be happy. I don’t know if you ever were with Rose and I want you to be with someone who will love you and treat you well.”
“She does,” he lied. “She treats me like a king.”
“Good, she should.”
“She has kids.”
“Kids?” My mind is stunned. I will have new siblings.
“Little sisters!” I said. I laughed. “How old are they?”
“Well, Horrid is much younger than me. She looks way too young to have three girls, that is for sure. Well, the girls are ten, nine, and three. They are pretty darn cute, and they are good girls.” He shook his head. “The only thing is about Horrid is that she struggles as a mother.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Man, they drive her crazy, those girls do. They make her scream to the heavens.” He laughed a nervous chuckle.
“What do you mean, Mumble?”
“She’s not a great mom. She loves her kids!” he said. “But she yells a lot.”
I tried not to dislike her but it was already too late. “Well, are they at the house?”
“They are. Want to meet them?”
When I walked into the house, I saw Whippy walking through the house hugging something to her belly. It was writhing and wiggling, and I noticed she was hugging a cat, upside down by one leg. I stopped her and grabbed the cat. I put it in her arms upright, looping her arms around its belly.
“It will like this much more,” I said to her. She babbled something to me and kept moving. I saw Star kneeling on the floor curled up looking at something. She had wild hair and dirty clothes. I got down on one knee.
“Hello, my name is Jesse. Can I ask your name?”
She looked up at me with a bit of fear in her eyes and nodded. “I’m Star.”
“Well Star, I am Mumble’s son, which means if you will let me, I will be your big brother.”
Her eyes got wide and I smiled.
“Big brother. I will love you, and protect you. I will be your big brother if you will let me.”
She smiled. “Okay!”
Horrid came into the living room yelling at Star, and I stood to look at her. She was young. Late twenties when Mumble was over forty. She did look like a teenager to be honest, with a round pretty face and light brown hair. When I looked at her, she was mad. I could see it in her eyes. I do not to this day know what she was mad about, but she was mad. I looked at her as she stared down at Star and I held my hand out.
“Jesse,” I said.
Horrid looked at me for a while before Mumble stepped in. “This is my son, Jesse. Jesse, this is my girlfriend, Horrid.” He laughed when he said it, chuckling to himself and puffing up his chest. But she just stared at me. She looked at me with a calculating eye, trying to figure out if I was going to get in her way. I saw that look hang on her face for about half a minute before all the earlier anger melted and she hugged me.
She said all the lies she needed to say. How nice it was to see me, how she had been looking forward to meeting me. How much she loved Mumble. How great a guy he was. Then she started talking about how terrible her ex was and how Mumble could definitely beat his ass if they fought. She said all the things Mumble wanted to hear her say and I nodded.
“Met two. Where is the third?” I said.
“Daughter. I met Whippy and Star but I was told there were three.”
“Oh, Gem is hiding somewhere trying to get out of work,” Horrid snapped. “Gem, get down here right fucking now!”
I wanted to punch her. I really did.
“I’ll find her,” I said. I went looking. I found her in a bedroom. She did look like she was hiding. I walked up to her, dropped down to sit on the bed beside her. “Hi,” I said.
She looked at me afraid to smile.
“I’m Jesse. I’m Mumble’s son.”
“I think you ought to let me be your big brother. What do you think?”
She smiled a tentative smile.
“But you have to do something for me first,” I said.
Her eyes got serious and she stared at me. If I had known how traumatized she was, I never would have said anything like that to her. But I didn’t know that she was yelled at and bullied by every adult in her life. I looked at her and she stared up at me terrified.
“You have to let me buy you ice cream,” I said.
“What?” She smiled just a little and I could see just how beautiful a girl she was.
“Can you stand up for me please?” I said.
She stood up.
“Stand right here,” I set her up right in front of me and to the left just a bit.
“Very good. Now cover your ears,” I said.
“Hey Star!” I yelled. “Get up here and come talk to your big brother!”
I heard her feet pounding the stairs as she joined us.
“Stand right there,” I said, pointing in front of me and off to the right a bit.
I stared at them for a minute. I took their hands, looked at their palms, then I shook my head. “This is bad,” I said.
“Bad what?” Star said.
“You guys are really low.”
“Low on what?” Gem said. She giggled.
“You two have very low Ice Cream levels. We are going to have to make a run to Dairy Queen right away.”
They looked at each other then Star looked at me. She whispered, “Ice cream?”
“Right now,” I said.
I made it to the kitchen and I looked at Horrid. “I’m taking my little sisters for ice cream. All three of them if I can get ahold of the little one.”
Horrid glared at me before turning to Mumble.
“Let them go. I can vouch for him,” Mumble said.
“Fine, but they get smalls,” Horrid said.
I called Bekah at her grandparents’ house. “I’m coming to get you. You’re not going to believe this. We are going for ice cream.”
She giggled and my sisters and I all piled into my Nova.
A month later, Horrid and Mumble ran off to Vegas to get married. He told me he had never been so happy before.
I was happy for him.
Rose and Honed was a bit different. She had seen him at church when she was still married to Mumble and she had fallen in lust with Honed.
He was tall, tan and muscled. He had a face and hair, and he knew how to present himself. He looked like a country girl’s dream, and he was from an influential family in the area. I’m pretty sure he had been a police officer in Chicago, but I might be remembering that wrong.
He had three prior wives to his record, but I didn’t hold it against him. He was smart. He was funny, and when Rose saw him, she went crazy.
She started all her conversations for two weeks with, “You know I love your stepfather.” Then she would talk about laundry. “You know I love your stepfather.” Then she would talk about Grasp. “You know I love your stepfather,” she would say, and by the third one I knew the marriage was over.
She told me God had spoken to her, told her Honed was her angel. She had even bought him an angel pin, given it to him at church, and he had put it on. I knew the look. I could see it in her eyes. It’s not hard to recognize.
Now I want to be clear. Rose had been in an unhealthy, loveless marriage for a long time. The last time I remember seeing her really happy was during that hootenanny so long ago. No, she was miserable every day. But God was about to tell this woman that she needed to divorce Mumble and run off with Honed. I knew it as soon as I saw her talk about him.
In the end, I think she made it three weeks from seeing him to freeing herself of Mumble and moving out. She went to stay with her mother for a long time and Honed came to meet me. We talked for a long time. I knew he was her next husband.
I talked to her about going to therapy for a year before she married him. Said she had been through two bad marriages and needed to work all the gunk from those relationships out of her system before she got married again. I mentioned it over and over again. One day after he had proposed to her, I mentioned it again, and she screamed at me.
“I didn’t do anything wrong!” She curled her hand back in a fist.
“I didn’t say you did.”
“Char cheated on me. That marriage was not my fault!” She is still screaming, still furious. Her hands now clenching and unclenching. She wanted to hit me. “Mumble refused to touch me. He couldn’t even treat me like a wife. I was lonely, and it was not my fault!”
“I know it wasn’t your fault, but those relationships taught you unhealthy patterns and you need to start clean with Honed so you don’t end up getting jammed up with him.”
She crossed her arms before stabbing a finger in my face. “I’m going to love him and he will love me and we will do it right. We will treat each other right because we love each other and I know how to treat the people I love.”
But she didn’t. She never had. And when she shook her head and told me to shut my mouth about therapy, I knew it was just a matter of time before her and Honed shattered.
They got married in a tiny church out in the middle of nowhere. The building sat on a dirt road in the woods, and it was charming and beautiful. It was so country, and it looked exactly like what I pictured these two people getting married in.
She played a song on a CD player called “Amazing.” And I walked her down the aisle. I gave her away, and she cried when she said her vows and kissed him.
Rose had her Honed. Mumble had his Horrid.
They were the worst things to ever happen to each other. These two people would shatter what was left of my parents. One would break a heart, and the other would break a will. It was a train wreck too terrible to watch.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.