I said a cuss word and my mother slapped me. This is not unnormal. Mothers have been slapping cursing kids for as long as there have been mothers, cursing, and kids, but this time she did it with a snarl.
“How dare you use that language in my house!” she snapped. She lifted her fist as if she would punch me, but pulled it back. It would be a few years still before she would start punching me. After the slaps, the whippings and the threats stopped working would come the punch, but we are about three years from that now.
“Why are you so mad? You used to cuss,” I said.
She grabbed me by the shirt with a fist and jerked me down the hall. She threw me across her bed and pointed at the floor. “Pants down, now!” she said.
I did as I was told. I turned, pulled my pants to my knees, laid across her bed, and she pulled a belt for this occasion and whipped me as hard as her little body allowed her to. When she was done, she stormed out of the room, and I got myself together.
I walked into the living room and she was sobbing. “Don’t you ever mention that period of my life again, Jesse. That woman is dead. The woman back there, who didn’t know God, has been killed by the Lord. Now all that stands before you is a Christian woman.” She curled her fist and stared at it. Rage was housed in that glare. “That woman is dead,” she said through gritted teeth.
Well, when Less turned sixteen, things heated up with the war between her and my mother. It is my opinion that Less tried many times to wash the rage away but Rose had talked herself into hating her daughter. She would never admit it; she would never say it out loud. But if she searched her heart she would know, that all she has left in her soul for her oldest child, is hate.
Rose started opening Less’s room and telling her to wait in the living room. Then Rose and Mumble would ransack everything. They would look behind every book, search every box. They would look at every tape cassette and search the blankets and the mattress. No matter how well she hid something, they always found it. All she could do was hope that whatever it was had been enjoyed long enough, and she could throw it away before Rose and Mumble’s searches.
This time, right after Less turned sixteen to little fanfare, Rose and Mumble found the tape for a band called The Base Apes.
Now to call them a band is getting ahead of ourselves. The Base Apes might have one day been good, but they were not even a garage band yet. They were a spare bedroom band, and their style was more punk than anything else. It was trying to be metal but they were just not good enough. I don’t know what happened to them. All I know is that Rose found a tape they had loaned to Less, and the oldest brother in the band had done the cover art.
Cover art is strong.
He had a piece of paper that he folded up to make a tape cover and drew a few pictures. It was terrible craftsmanship but this guy was like 18. He had not learned what he was doing yet. It depicted monsters and devils and weapons and was basically a teenager’s depiction of cool.
There were a few pages of a comic that were the same level of content. Rose went crazy and screamed at Less for any information. The names of the band members were not even written on the cover.
Rose had no information. She yelled, she grounded. She screamed and she whipped. She took away anything and everything she could think of to get the answers she wanted.
Where had Less gotten this tape and who did these drawings?
It did not take Rose long to come to me. She met Shadow, who looked at her and said, as politely as possible and without using any cuss words, that he had no idea who The Base Apes were and she should pray about it and see if an answer came to her.
But Rose does not have time to deal with that. This is so serious. This is her first big one. She has to get this right, because she is almost positive she knows exactly where this tape came from.
There are a pair of boys, little brother and big brother, who sit in the back row of the church with Less. All the way through the sermon they are whispering and she is giggling. These boys have long hair and though they dress well for the service, Rose knows they are trouble. She thinks they are trash and she wants them out of her beautiful church.
All she needs is someone to point a finger at them.
Rose pulls me inside her room and sits me down. “Listen, Jesse, I am talking to the Christian in you.”
A few months earlier I had been baptized, was officially a member of the church, and a Christian.
This is where it started with me. This moment right here, when Rose found out she was able to call out the Christian in me and make me do things and answer questions, this is where her manipulation begins to take the form of Jesus.
“I need Christ to speak through you right now and tell me what you know about this tape,” she held up the Base Apes cassette, “and this comic book.”
Out came Servant. He knew his call when it was made. Out he came and he told her exactly what she wanted to hear.
The next Sunday at church she asked if she could meet with the pastor and the deacons. She had very disturbing news and needed to see them all. Rose was asked what it was about and she said she had found some disturbing things about the boys who sat with her daughter and they had given her satanic material.
Well they met the next Saturday. Every deacon, and the pastor, and there sitting in the room was Sister Blessing. The wind was taken out of Rose as she looked at the woman. She had not expected this, and wanted to ask for Blessing to be removed and let them talk alone, but she didn’t.
When Rose came back home, she was ringing. The deacons and the pastor had gone her way. Those boys were banned from ever coming to Harmony ever again. If they showed up, they would be removed. And then she described how furious and hurt Sister Blessing had looked.
That part was gloating.
Rose told us all that she gave the woman a hug and said if she ever wants to talk about her sons and Jesus that Rose would be willing to listen and maybe “grant some wisdom.”
A new day had dawned. Rose knew now that she could use Jesus as a weapon. She could use her opinion, and her faith, as a tool to tell others what to do, and how to act.
This would go on for the remaining years I have known my mother.
A few years ago when we clashed, she started to use God against me. I had mentioned in passing that I did not consider myself a Christian anymore. When the fight broke out the next day, she hit that button hard.
“You are a Christian! I know you are a Christian! You were saved and baptized in Jesus’s name. Don’t you dare tell people otherwise.” She fumed and I let her talk.
That is the secret to winning an argument. Don’t wait for your turn to yell, but listen while they talk.
“The Lord is angry with you, Jesse! He is furious and He is going to smite you! He is tired of the way you live your life and the things you write about, and He is going to throw you down and break you any time now. You just watch!”
I asked her if she had read Hosea, the book in the Bible.
She changed the subject. So when she started talking about God’s impending wrath, I asked her again.
“Have you read Hosea?”
“I’ve read the entire Bible, yes,” she snapped.
“Then you know not to worry. And you know, if you have read the entire book, that I don’t need your help, and I don’t need your guidance, and I do not ever need your judgment.”
“I am The Mom! The Bible says honor thy mother and father,” she said. “HONOR ME!!”
“Well the thing with that passage is that what God is talking about, is that you should live a life that makes people look at you and think, ‘he is such a good man that the people who raised him must be honorable,’” I said. “And if that is the case, then I have the entire world fooled into believing you are in fact honorable.”
The Bible says judge no one, but I can’t seem to get rid of that one. Because when children were being hurt and raped, my mother Rose defended the rapist.
There is no God in that.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.