Shortly after I started second grade, I came home from school one day and saw a man I did not know sitting across from Mom in a living room chair.
Mom looked at me and said, "This is Fred, and we're getting married."
Mom was dressed in a bright red corduroy pantsuit with matching short jacket and two skinny white belts encircling her slim waist. With false eyelashes enhancing her brown eyes, black teased hair and wig, high cheekbones and beautiful smile, Mom was a stunning woman.
Excited to meet Fred, I sat on the floor beside his chair and proceeded to tell him about my day at school.
"Morrene, be quiet! Nobody wants to hear about that!" Mom said.
"Well, why do you think anyone wants to hear what you have to say?" I shot back.
When I saw the furious look on her face, I started to crawl away in panic. I knew I was in trouble. Fred grabbed my leg, dragged me back to him and spanked me, and I was sent to my room crying.
That was my first introduction to Mom's third husband.
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When Mom met Fred, she was working as a secretary for Congressman Hanna, a job she hated. Mom could barely make ends meet every month with her low salary and the money Dad gave her for child support. The financial stress intensified Mom's chronic insomnia and made her crabby and short tempered with me and Brother.
Mom was tired of struggling, and she felt Fred could give her the life she wanted, to not have to work, free of financial worries, someone to help watch me and Brother and plenty of time to ride her horse, Jazon.
After Mom and Fred got married, she bought a young Arabian Thoroughbred stallion named Quazar, and she started breaking him to ride.
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Brother and I frequently fought as siblings often do, and that made Mom very angry. Although I tried hard not to complain when Brother hit me or called me cruel names, sometimes the injustice was too much, and I would cry out in pain and anger.
"Goddamit, SHUT UP, YOU FUCKING LITTLE BASTARDS!" Mom would yell furiously when she heard us arguing.
Sometimes I made the mistake of trying to tell Mom what Brother had done to me, which only made her more angry, and she would start slapping me and Brother in the head repeatedly until we were both crying hysterically.
I didn't like it when Mom yelled and hit us. I loved my beautiful mom very much and didn't like to see her upset, so I tried not to complain when Brother called me names and hit me.
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After Mom and Fred got married, Fred and his dog, a German Shepherd named Jasper, moved in to our little house in Anaheim. Shortly after Fred moved in, Mom quit her job. Happy to have time to herself to do as she pleased, Mom's mood seemed to improve.
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Fred and his father, Fred, Sr., a tall, elderly white haired man, owned a company in Long Beach called Taylor & Son Decorating that manufactured cheap plastic holiday wall decorations, Santa Clauses, reindeer, Easter bunnies and garland for Christmas trees.
Fred and his father also owned popcorn and cotton candy machines, several ponies, a couple of mules, a stagecoach and a wagon. On weekends Fred, his father and the migrant Mexican workers who worked for them loaded up the animals and equipment and worked at various carnivals, company picnics and other events around Southern California selling popcorn and cotton candy and giving people rides in the stagecoach and wagon that the mules and ponies pulled.
Many weekends Fred and his father worked at Calamigos Ranch, several acres of land located in the hills of Malibu.
Mom often sent me and Brother to work with Fred and his father on the weekends, and we would wander around alone at the events.
While we were gone, Mom was free to do as she pleased and often spent the day at the stables with her horses where she was the happiest.
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Fred was a tall man of medium build, dark thinning hair combed straight back, and he wore black rimmed glasses. He had cruel dark eyes and an angry downturned mouth. He did not live with us very long before we all felt the impact of his anger and cruelty.
Our little dog, Muffin, did not escape Fred's abuse after he stepped in a puddle of her urine on the living room carpet one day.
"Bad dog! BAD DOG! BAD DOG! You do not piss on the floor!" Fred yelled at Muffin.
Poor Muffin looked up at Fred with terrified eyes as he towered over her, her little body shaking in fear and urinated on the floor where she was sitting. Incensed, Fred grabbed her by the neck and roughly threw her in to the back yard.
Fred did not like me at all, often cruelly mocking me and laughing when I talked. My very existence seemed to annoy him to no end.
Brother and Fred seemed to get along well, and Brother escaped his abuse.
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Mom didn't like to cook, so we often went out to eat in the evenings when we weren't at the stables.
I absolutely loved eating in restaurants. My usual dinner of choice at that time was a hot fudge sundae. When I found out where we were going to eat, I would excitedly say, "I'm getting a hot fudge sundae!"
When Fred heard me, he would turn to me with hate in his eyes and angrily say, "Shut up! Nobody asked what you wanted!"
Needless to say, it didn't take long until I was absolutely terrified of Fred.
It was not long after Mom and Fred got married that they brought me into their bed and started sexually abusing me. Child abuse was not talked about when I was growing up, and I had absolutely no idea that the uncomfortable things that they did to me were wrong. Each time they brought me into their bed, I did my best to put it out of my head and not think about it.
Mom frequently warned me and Brother not to talk about what went on at our house. Brother and I were also taught from a young age to always obey and respect adults.
So I kept silent. That's just the way it was in our house.
TO BE CONTINUED…