EMIL, THE FOURTH HUSBAND, PART 1

While Brother and I were at school, Mom and Emil finished the last of the packing.  Boxes of clothes, household furnishings and furniture were loaded into the pickup truck and the trailer hitched to the car. 

Day by day our little house became more and more empty until soon our voices echoed off the bare walls.

- - - 

The morning before we were to leave for Wisconsin, I got up and got ready for school.  When I was done, I wrapped my Baby Beans doll in her little blanket, gave her a kiss and tucked her into bed.  Then off to school I went. 

- - -

When school let out for the day, Brother and I walked to Marion's house for the last time.  As we walked into her house, the aroma of yeast and freshly baked bread greeted us at the door, and my mouth watered in anticipation of eating my favorite after-school snack.   

At the kitchen table were plates of piping hot bread slathered in butter.  After I sat down, I eagerly picked up my bread.  As I sank my teeth into the crunchy crust, I moaned in happiness as the delicious flavors of melted butter and soft, spongy bread swirled around my tongue.   

When I was done eating, I wiped my mouth and hands and went outside to play.

- - -

Later that afternoon when Mom came to pick us up, Marion gathered me and Brother in her arms for one last hug.  As we drove away, she stood on the sidewalk with tears streaming down her cheeks waving goodbye. 

I had no idea as I sat in the car smiling and waving at Marion that she suspected Brother and I were being abused at home.  She cried for days after we left.   

That was the last time we ever saw Marion.

- - -

In the painful and frightening years that were to follow in my life, I thought of Marion often.  Her selfless acts of love and kindness had made a permanent imprint on my heart, and I missed her terribly. 

For years each time I smelled yeast and freshly baked bread, I thought of Marion, and I was instantly transported back to her warm and loving kitchen.  

- - -  

When we got home, I went to my bedroom to get my Baby Beans doll.  As I entered my room, I saw that my bed and dresser were gone.  All that remained were a few empty boxes on the floor.   

I walked through the house searching from room to room for my doll.  She was nowhere to be found.

With rising alarm and tears in my eyes, I went to look for Mom to ask her if she knew where my doll was.

Mom and Emil were in the garage arranging boxes in the trunk of the car.  As I walked up to them, Emil put his arms around Mom and whispered in her ear.  Mom giggled as she wrapped her arms around him and gave him a long kiss.

"Mom, I can't find my Baby Beans doll," I sobbed as tears rolled down my cheeks.  "Do you know where she is?"

When Mom heard my voice, she turned to me in annoyance.    

"Goddamn it!  QUIT feeling sorry for yourself and stop that fucking crying!" she said angrily before turning back to Emil. 

I did my best to swallow my tears as I sadly walked back into the house.

I never saw my baby doll again.

- - -

That night as I lay under a blanket on the floor of my empty bedroom, I thought about my Baby Beans doll.  My heart ached with sadness, and I desperately longed to hold her again.   Suddenly I felt the walls of my room getting bigger and bigger.  I opened my eyes and stared fearfully into the suffocating darkness as I felt myself getting smaller and smaller.  Terror raced through my body and adrenaline filled my veins as I curled into a ball and cried myself to sleep. 

- - -

The next morning we got up early and finished packing.  Afterwards we walked through the deserted house to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything.   

When we were done, Mom picked up Muffin, closed the front door for the last time, and off we went to the stables to pick up the horses. 

- - -

Brother rode with Emil in the pickup truck with the horse trailer while Mom and I followed behind in the car with the trailer. 

While Mom drove, I sat silently next to her listening to the radio and staring out the window.  I thought about Sunshine, my Baby Beans doll, Marion and my friends.   At times I felt so sad and lonely that my throat ached painfully and tears filled my eyes.  Each time that happened, I quickly wiped them away.  I knew if I started to cry, Mom would get angry.  I loved Mom very much, and it scared me when she got mad.

- - -

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were eaten at truck stops.   After we were done eating, Emil lit a cigarette.  While he smoked, he pointed at the other truck drivers in the restaurant and laughed.

"Look at that fat slob! 

"See that guy over there?  Wonder when he took a shower last?" Emil sneered as his fat belly shook with laughter.

Sometimes Emil showed me and Brother how he could wiggle his ears back and forth without moving his face.  Each time he did that, Brother and I got the giggles.

Emil was very funny!

- - -

Before we left, we walked through the convenience store in the truck stop so Emil could look at the many T-shirts for sale.  Emil loved T-shirts, and he rarely left a truck stop without buying one for himself.

- - -

In the evenings, Mom and Emil got off the freeway and drove the back roads looking for a stable to board the horses for the night.  

Once the horses were taken care of, off we went to the nearest truck stop for dinner, then on to a hotel for the night.

- - -

The closer we got to Wisconsin, the colder it became.  Soon a bitterly cold wind started to blow, and snowflakes filled the air.  Each time I went outside, I shivered miserably in my thin clothes from California as the wind stole my breath and made my eyes water.

- - -

A couple of days after we left California, we were sitting in a truck stop eating breakfast when Emil turned to Mom and said, "We need to find a place to live when we get to Wisconsin.  I have a roommate." 

"Well, kick your roommate out!" Mom said as she looked at him in surprise.

It turns out Emil's roommate was not a "him," it was a "her."  He must have forgotten to tell Mom about his girlfriend that was living in his beautiful house and driving his new car.  

Now we had to find a place to live.

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