General Non-Fiction posted February 3, 2023 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 5... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Tom has a date with counselor and a clown

A chapter in the book Angels Unaware

Punish the Clown

by forestport12

Tom endured watching his mother almost die at the hands of his father. As time goes on, he finds his life is meant for more than surviving but has a purpose
1967 started like most winters, dark, dull, and dreary. Our family dynamic changed without my father living at home. My mother needed to bring in extra income. She went to work for General Electric, a popular company in the 60's and 70's. She worked the night shift. Between school and the evenings, us kids hardly spent time with her. Once again, my older sister was the reluctant babysitter. She often looked constipated, bound by us, wishing she could be a free and dating as a high school teen.

My mother and sister reminded me when I turned ten that I should finally stop wetting the bed. They seemed to be running out of positive reinforcement and threatened to tell others about what I hoped would be kept a secret. It was worse when my father lived with us. He once threatened to rub my nose in it like a dog. It got to where I tried to conceal it, but even the smell would give me away.

I couldn't wait for summer. Often I played with my friends in the neighborhood or would visit a classmate from grade school. If my mother worried about us kids getting molested or kidnapped, she never let on. Sometimes a couple of my friends and I would walk the rails on the tracks behind the woods and see how far we could get before we lost our balance or dispersed from an oncoming train.

One particular summer day I woke to find my mother had brought a new man home. He was sitting with her on the couch in the living room sharing an ashtray and smoking cigarettes until they were shrouded in a cloud of smoke. He had beady eyes, a pinched nose, and a balding head. His smile was more like a smirk. I was just a boy, but I didn't need a degree to know he only wanted my mother. I found out later he discarded his previous wife and kids. I was told he was my mother's shift supervisor or manager. Fringe benefits.

When I labored by them, I gave the love birds a dirty look.

My mother immediately looked through the screen door at the sunshine, then my way. "It's a nice day. You should go out and play."

My mother always wanted me outside, rain or shine. I balked at the idea of her getting rid of me. "I don't feel so good."

"Well," she said. "If you don't feel good, then you should go back to bed."

I pouted my way into the kitchen where I rummaged through drawer and found a pair of scissors. I opened the fridge and found a bottle of ketchup. Then I squirted and spread the ketchup on the front of my shirt to make it look like I stabbed myself.

I stalked back into the living room with the scissors in my hand, crouched over as if in pain. One of my best acting jobs ever! They were not amused. I loved how Herb's smile evaporated and his eyes bulged. "Look what I've done to myself! I'm dying."

Mother jumped from the sofa as if she'd been stung in the ass. "What have you done?"

I made a lasting impression. Mom ushered me into my room, warning me, scolding me, ripping the scissors from my hands. "What's wrong with you?"

"I don't want to live anymore."

I had hoped it would have been enough to get rid of Herbie, but he stuck to her like glue. I never got him to leave my mother alone.

A few days later, I watched my mother and father talking in the gravel drive about the need for me to see a psychologist. My father was cold to the idea. He didn't want me talking about how he harmed my mother when I was two. He changed his mind when she told him it might help me to stop wetting the bed.

About the time school started, my parents would take turns picking me up and take me to the clinic in Oswego, NY. It didn't appear to be much of a secret that I was headed off to see a mental health counselor. I had been locking myself in the 5th grade bathroom and acting out in class. I'm pretty sure everyone knew I was mental case.

My father was the most fun when he took me to see the counselor. He'd make sure to drive real fast over the rolling hills on the back roads so I could lift my arms up in the air and feel the empty wave in my stomach like a roller coaster. I also didn't mind having my mother spending time with me when it was her turn to drive. During those drives I had her all to myself. I would have been a momma's boy if she had let me.

The clinic was a two-story building on a busy street close to Lake Ontario. We parked in the rear where we climbed this black metal stairway and entered into a room in the corner. If it wasn't for the big windows and the sun penetrating the room, it would have seemed scary.

A young woman opened a door from another room and introduced herself. I couldn't tell you her name. She had long dark hair and shiny-blue eyes. I was glad she was a woman. I didn't mind sharing secrets with her once I got to know her. She seemed the opposite of my mother, willing to talk to me about anything.

We talked about sports, especially football and my love for the Dallas Cowboys. Then she'd ask me what kind of games I liked. The place was cluttered with all kinds of toys and games. I kept looking at the clown in the corner. "What's up with that goofy clown?"

"You want to play with the clown?"

"What you mean? Like how? It just sits there like an overgrown bowling pin."

"You're supposed to knock it down."

"A punching clown. I'm supposed to hit it until I win?"

"Sort of," She stood up from her plastic chair and pulled the clown from its neglected space in the corner and set it in front of me. "Give it your best shot. You can't hurt it."

I should have known it was a set-up. But I was only ten. I didn't know better. "Wow," I said. "I bet I can wipe that smirk off its face." I coiled my hands into a fist.

"Go ahead. Try n knock him down!"

I unloaded on this clown. I pummeled it with both hands. I even kicked him a few times until I fell down with exhaustion. But there he stood with his cheap grin.

"How do you feel?" asked the counselor.

"I hate this clown! He won't stay down."

She smiled. "Think of that clown as someone you know, someone you don't like."

As I stood up for the second round, I pictured Herbie, my mother's boyfriend with the same funny smirk. I unleashed a flurry of punches. Then I pinned it to the floor. As I backed away, it returned upright.

"What gives with this clown anyway?"

The counselor leaned over from her chair. "The clown has sand in the bottom. Its bottom heavy. But don't you feel better, getting all that anger out?"

"You set me up. You made me play a game I can't win."

"Let's talk about that. Sometimes we get mad or angry cause we can't change things, things we can't control."

I liked her, but I didn't care to make it easy for her. In some ways, she, like the clown wasn't going to back down. Eventually I would open up and tell her my secrets. As for the clown, he had it coming to him.

My life was no funhouse: more like a house of mirrors, not knowing what I might smack into.

Tom Bednar (Me)
Vicky (Mother)
Tom Sr. (Father)
Ann (Older sister)
Mental Health counselor (No name)
Clown (No name)
Herb (Mother's boyfriend)

Back in the day no one ever suggested other than people who have been in war suffered from PTSD. It's become a common definition for others who experienced some form of violent trauma in their lives. I'm pretty sure the bed wetting was related.
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