General Fiction posted December 15, 2023 Chapters:  ...17 18 -19- 20... 

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There were some dark times in the hallway

A chapter in the book A Particular Friendship

Dark Memories

by Liz O'Neill

We dip into the darker aspects for Lizzy and Nike and Mother of the hallway and how it fanned out into their lifetimes.

 Much of this chapter holds my dark memories of the hallway. I caution you to step back as you read it.  

A small lamp with a pretty blue flowered shade always sat on the blue hall dresser.  It had an especially long extension cord that would stretch from the wall outlet up the steps of the ladder and into the attic.  

I loved to shine the bright bulb around, illuminating the engrossing world of the attic.  However, I was either psycho or still too young to realize a burning light bulb was not a toy. 

Boredom must have necessitated I discover another purpose for a long corded lamp with a shadeless light bulb.  With lamp in hand, accompanied by a crazed look, I began chasing shirtless Nike around.  

The fear of being burned on his exposed stomach with a hot bare lightbulb made him jump around.  During one of his dodgings, he slipped and hit his head on the door stop just above his eye where the rim of his glasses dug into his brow.  

I still have his fifth-grade class picture taken with the stitches still in his head.  This may have been his first head injury, although he did get hit in the head with a good-sized rock by one of our friends. 

You may remember I mentioned how violent we close friends were. It seemed to have been a bizarre manner of relating for us. I have no idea what the catalyst of this wee skirmish was. 

Teddie, who chased me all over town firing his B-B gun at me, recently told me, for some reason,  I hit him in the head with a thick chunk of tar. 

He had to be rushed to the hospital in the next town away. They sure did get a lot of business from us. We kept them quite busy. 



I don’t remember that I ever knew what set Mother off against Nike; but I’m sure that hallway was the scene of many skirmishes.  My little brother would be on the floor kicking and Mother was hitting him with a ruler.  

He had a way of really frustrating her so that he won, no matter what.  Everytime I heard that snapping, I would hear Nike retaliate with, “Hit me again, that feels good.”

Mother had to deal with two other males; her drunken husband and his dry drunk, cancer-ridden, battering father-in-law.  It’s a wonder our father didn’t hit Mother with his upbringing, watching his mother get thrown across the kitchen floor. 

In this scenario, if there were any pounding to be done, it was Mother who once again flung futile blows at the chuckling of her brain-numb husband, in a liquor stupor.

 When Grampuh died, Nike was only two, so things did not improve.  By the time Nike was four, Mother began making threats to send him away. 

After some incident with Nike, Mother marched into his room, got out his little brown and gold suitcase, and started packing his small-sized shirts and tiny shorts. I remember maybe two times Mother packed little Nike’s suitcase. 

He always said he found it so hard to be a good boy. Both of us, so small and so hysterical, on each side of her, promised we would be good to save Nike from being sent away.  

As early as five I knew exactly my raison d'etre, my reason for existing. I was responsible for my brother’s actions and eventually everyone's.  Fortunately, now, I know I  am responsible for no one’s behavior except my own.  Alanon has taught me that.

It was up to me to do something about it.  After all, I’d promised Mother and so had Nike, just off the hallway, in Nike’s room, with the big closet full of clothes where we’d at a later age ran to hide.  We both promised. 

I’ve told my brother, without ever remembering those dreadful incidences, if we were kids in this day and age things would be different. 

In fact, maybe our whole neighborhood of kids would be shuttled off to the current childrens’ pysch hospital in a 1950 van jammed full of small-town juvenile delinquent reprobates. 

Our behaviors would be unacceptable. No one would get would get away scot-free pushing a child off a porch railing, or chasing another down, with a loaded B-B  gun, until it emptied. How about hitting another over the head with a board, or a chunk of tar? Flinging a good-sized rock, or getting in serious fistfights would be called threat.

We won’t even review the parents’ and grandparents’ disciplinary techniques.   Somehow we made it out alive and can laugh about it with each other.   

My work as an advocate for abuse victims taught me something that applies here and serves great value to aid all with further understanding. Sadly, Mother never gained the insight.

Abuse is learned behavior. She must have prayed not to be abusive to Nike, but couldn’t seem to have helped herself. It is for this reason I believe Mother learned to be abusive to Nike as a male. Although, when they both grew older, the two had a beautiful mutual caring relationship.  

After seeing her mother, my grandmother from hell,  strike her loving father, her attitude toward males warped. She learned males were meant to be hit, and belittled. Nike was the only male Mother could control.  


                                                                       The Cellar   

Nike and I were not the only ones to run and hide.  When Mother became overwhelmed she would threaten to run away and on a few occasions, she bolted out the door and up the street. After frantically running partway after her, we gave up and returned believing she was gone for good. 

She must have circled back and gone into the cellar to hide; all this time her two little ones were just above her in the dining room crying.  The cellar, with its floor of black, musty, hard-packed clay was not a pleasant place to spend any extended amount of time.  

Mother probably sat on the rock in the center of the cellar, until she thought she’d punished us long enough, and got us to realize she could take no more. This of course was followed by our promises to be good.

In defense of her, I will explain the overwhelming situation. We were no more than three and four. My mother was caring for her father-in-law who had a dark history of being an alcoholic batterer. He was lovely to me, calling me his little nurse. 

I have no idea how he related with my mother. If my father’s verbal abusiveness and alcoholism is genetic, then I can’t imagine my paternal grandfather was capable of being kind and appreciative any more than he was with his daughters who saw him throw their mother across the kitchen floor.  I was just a sweet little three-year girl who came to visit him, not a woman whom he would belittle.




I cannot change the spacing for the last part. I apologize. I even used Basic Editor. I'm glad I wrote this 20+ years ago. I did not remember much of this chapter. It was a bit of a shock, however, I understand the dynamics more now.
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