General Non-Fiction posted February 5, 2023 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 6... 

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Tom makes up his mind to run away from home

A chapter in the book Angels Unaware

The Little Red Wagon

by forestport12

Tom does his best to adjust to a broken family where a traumatic episode has scarred him for life.
My desperate older sister Ann finally proved she could secure a boyfriend. Months later, she was engaged to the creep named Allan. He spent too much time at our country house bragging about his high school wrestling days and offering to give us boys private lessons. When I told him I preferred the wrestling on television he laughed and told me that wasn't real. I figured he was jealous, because he was a fat toad compared to them.

Allan often tried to get us on our knees so he could demonstrate how a real wrestler does his moves. It seemed a weird request. When my sister got wind of it, she told him to back off. She seemed to know how to keep him on a leash. There was one time where I wouldn't take a bath for days, and my mother was fed up. When Allan got wind of it, he volunteered to force a bath on me. My mother likely wanted to humiliate me into cleaning myself properly.

I'll never forget getting locked into our tiny bathroom in that small country house where he proceeded to make me strip down in front of him and get into the tub. He took a washcloth and touched me in private places. My mother and sister could hear me scream, but no one thought I needed to be rescued. Luckily, I don't recall anything worse than getting molested or touched inappropriately, since there can be worse degrees of violation.

I'm not sure what prompted me to run away from home. Part of it was having other men like Allan, and perhaps Herb trying to control me. Neither knew how to be a father figure if they cared. I mostly hated my new world order.

It was a cold time of the year when I left the house. I'm not sure how I evaded everyone. I think my mother might have been asleep from the night shift. I bundled up with gloves, hat, and a coat. I put my favorite things in a little red wagon. I hadn't thought much about the consequences. I just knew if I could get to the place my father lived, I would be better off. Strange as it sounds, I never feared my father hurting me like he did my mother. He never smacked us kids unless we fought each other, then he'd chase us with a belt, but we were faster than him.

As I walked down the country road from our house, I knew it would be five miles to the next town in Cicero where my father lived in a garage apartment. I remembered him telling us kids about how far away he was. In my little boy brain, I hadn't realized it would take more than a few hours walking.

I'm pretty sure I could see my breath and the cold stung my face. Once I got to the main road, the traffic was heavy and loud. Cars whizzed by me. If I had known the dangers of walking beside fast cars, I would have thought twice. Amazingly no one stopped and questioned why a bundled boy labored along a busy road with a red wagon. No one offered me a ride or tried to kidnap me. The police hadn't approached me. It was as if I had a cloak of invisibility.

More than halfway the smell of exhaust fumes took an intoxicating toll on me. Certain landmarks told me I was close enough, like the miniature golf course or a firehouse. Every now and then I turned around to look, and wondered if my mother knew I was missing yet. Each step I took weighed heavier on me.

Not sure how I got through the busy intersection in Cicero, but once I did, I could see the white house with the detached garage where I knew my father lived. My heart raced. I didn't know what adrenaline was, but I could feel the electricity of the moment charging through me, giving me a second wind.

Once I crossed the street, I hurried to the garage door, but noticed my father's car wasn't there. I knocked on the door. No answer. I swallowed a ball of fear. My stomach flipped inside.

My only hope left was to ask the landlord if she would help. Imagine the surprise on this woman's face when I rapped on the door and she saw this rosy-cheeked kid. This woman made me feel like I didn't belong at her door. "Can I help you?"

"Yes, my Dad lives in the apartment here, and...and he hasn't come home yet. And I was wondering if I could wait for him?

"How did you get here?"

"I walked from my mother's. Please, I need to stay here."

"I can't let you stay here with me. Let me see if I have a key to his apartment. You say he's expecting you?"

I told a lie. "Yes, he is."

"Okay, let me see what I can do." She found a set of keys hanging on a board. "It's cold out here. And you walked a long way." She grabbed her coat and keys, stepping outside.

I breathed a sigh when she let me inside the apartment. I pulled my red wagon through the door, shut it, and plopped down on my father's bed and stared at the ceiling. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of silence. It felt as if I'd accomplished something on the level of swimming across an ocean or climbing the tallest mountain.

The phone rang several times. I nearly jumped off the bed. A few minutes later, I watched through the shade when a car pulled up in front. I dove behind the bed. My heart hammered until it hurt.

I hid like a mole that had no business being inside the place.

Tom is me growing up in a broken world
Father (Tom Sr.)
Older Sister (Ann)
Allan (Future brother in-law)
Herb (Mother's boyfriend)

Some names have been changed to protect the living from a lawsuit against me for telling the hard truths.
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