FRED, THE THIRD HUSBAND, PART 1

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.

- - -

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.

- - -

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.  

- - -

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. 

- - -

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. 

- - -

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.

- - -

 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…

THE GOOD GIRL, by Morrene Hauser

THE GOOD GIRL


"My child arrived just the other day,

he came in to the world in the usual way"....

 

When I was nine years old, Cat's in the Cradle was the number one song that was playing on the radio

a beautiful song written and sung by Harry Chapin

over and over and over I would hear that song

The year was 1974

 

Mom had just divorced her third husband

Goodbye, cruel, terrifying Fred.  You will not be missed

 

...."but there were planes to catch and bills to pay.

He learned to walk while I was away"....

 

"This is Emil.  We're getting married,  and we're moving back to Wisconsin where he lives" was my first introduction to the man who was soon to become Mom's fourth husband

I looked at Emil shyly turning away when he smiled at me

 

Off to Las Vegas Mom and Emil went to get married

And soon the packing began for yet another move

 

..."and he was talkin' 'fore I knew it.  And as he grew, he said, 'I'm gonna be like you, Dad.  You know, I'm gonna be just like you'"....

 

"Wait until you see my beautiful house.  And you will love riding in my new car," said Emil

Oh, the excitement of seeing that amazing house and riding in his new car!

 

Somehow in all of the packing my Baby Beans doll got lost

Running in frantic circles with tears flowing down my cheeks

I looked and looked and looked

where is my Baby Beans doll?

 

Baby Beans!  Where are you?  It's not nice to hide from mommy

Please come out.  I miss you

My baby was nowhere to be found

 

Crying out my heartbreak

with my arms aching to hold her again

between sobs I asked Mom if she saw my baby

 

"Oh, QUIT feeling sorry for yourself and stop that fucking crying!" was Mom's angry response to my pleas

I did my best to stop crying

for I didn't want to make Mom mad

 

Good girls don't cry

And I was a good girl

 

 

Baby Beans, momma loves you

I hope I see you again someday

 

Shortly after I started fourth grade, Emil came back to California to drive us to Wisconsin

Brother and I were taken out of school, and we began the long drive to his house

Goodbye my friends, my beloved pony Sunshine

My Baby Beans doll

And my babysitter I loved and trusted so much

 

Hugs and kisses

Goodbye, little one.  We love you and will miss you

"I love you, too," I said

 

..."and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon.  Little boy blue and the man on the moon. 

"'When you comin' home, Dad?' 

"'I don't know when.  We'll get together then, Son.  You know we'll have a good time then'"...

 

Over and over that song played on the radio during that long and boring drive to Wisconsin

 

"We need to find a place to live when we get to Wisconsin.  I have a roommate,"  Emil said

"Well, kick him out!" said Mom

Emil's roommate was not a "him," it was a "her"

He must have forgotten to tell Mom about his girlfriend who was living in his beautiful house and driving his new car. 

Brother and I were dropped off at Great Uncle's house in Illinois

while Mom and Emil drove to Wisconsin to find a place for us to live

 

Back in to the fourth grade I went for the second time, Brother the fifth

 

Standing in a group of girls at recess

trying to keep warm in the windy and cold winter in Illinois

was hard to do in my thin clothes from California

Thank God for the warm scarf I had crocheted and wrapped around my head

 

It was decided that I would share a bed with Great Uncle

which turned out to be a very bad idea

 

...."my son turned ten just the other day.  He said, 'Thanks for the ball, Dad.  Come on, let's play.  Can you teach me to throw?' 

"I said, 'Not today, I got a lot to do.'   He said, 'That's okay'"....

 

Night after night I lay paralyzed with fear in that lonely and frightening bed with Great Uncle

while his hands touched the most private parts of my body

 

The sadness, the fear.  The guilt.  The shame.  And the loneliness.  Always the overwhelming loneliness.  

You don't argue with adults! 

Do not be a tattletale! 

were words I heard over and over

 

And I was a good girl

And good girls kept their mouths shut

 

...."and he walked away, but his smile never dimmed.   He said, 'I'm gonna be just like him.  You know I'm gonna be just like him'"....

 

Mom and Emil found a place for us to live in Wisconsin

and back to Illinois they came

to pick Brother and I up

and we continued on our trip

to our new home

 

On the way back to Wisconsin we stayed in a motel

Awakening to strange sounds in the bed next to where Brother and I were sleeping, I looked over at Mom and Emil

"Harder, Honey, harder!" said Mom.

Mom and Emil were having sex in that bed next to us

 

Frozen in terror, hugging my knees to the sickness in my stomach

and trying not to look I kept quiet as a mouse as my pillow slowly became soaked with silent tears

I knew better than to let them know I was awake

 

For good little girls kept their mouths shut

And I was a good girl

 

...."and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon.  Little boy blue and the man on the moon. 

"'When you coming home, Dad?' 

"'Son, I don't know when. but we'll get together then.  You know we'll have a good time then'"....

 

The next morning I cried and cried and cried

"What the fuck's your problem now, Morrene?  You drive me nuts!" said Mom

Knowing I would be in trouble if I let Mom know what I saw them doing, I blurted out, "I'm afraid for Emil because he smokes."  That was all I could think of to say

 

Slowly Mom gathered me in her arms and said, "I know, Honey, I know."

Feeling the rare warmth of Mom's arms wrapped around me somehow did not take away the sickness in my stomach

 

But I was a good girl

And good girls kept their mouths shut

 

...."well, my son came home from college just the other day so much like a man I had to say, 'Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?' 

"He shook his head and said with a smile, 'What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys.  See you later, can I have them, please?'"....

 

In to the townhouse with green carpeting

we moved

And back in to the fourth grade I went for the third time and Brother the fifth

 

Sitting in class after school

staring at my math homework

Fighting tears of frustration

Why don't I know how to do my math?

Why am I so stupid?

 

Asking my teacher for help didn't work

feeling my body go numb with fear as I hear the impatience in her voice

I watch her mouth soundlessly move

for in my terror I had lost the ability to hear

 

I do not ask Mom and Emil for help

Because I might get hit

 

But I am a good girl

And good girls do not get hit

 

...."and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon.  Little boy blue and the man on the moon.

 "'When you comin' home, Son?'

"'I don't know when.  We'll get together then, Dad.  You know we'll have a good time then.'

"I've long since retired, my son's moved away.  I called him up just the other day. 

"'I'd like to see you, if you don't mind.'

He said, 'I'd love to, Dad, if I could find the time.  You see my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu, but it's sure nice talkin' to you, Dad.  It's been sure nice talkin' to you'
                                                   "And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he'd grown up just like me.    My boy was just like me."

 

All of these years later, at the age of 53, I still cannot listen to that song on the radio the whole way through without feeling the sadness, the depression and the fear of that      nine-year-old little girl that I once was.  And the gut wrenching loneliness.  Always the loneliness.

When the feelings become too frightening and start to overwhelm me, in desperation I reach over and turn off the radio.

 

Maybe someday I can listen to that song the whole way through

Just not now

Read More