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Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Bothered, Part 2

girls and flags2 WARNING: violence.

Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Bothered, Part 2 

by JD Holiday

©May 2018         

Shortly after that, I joined a drum and bugle corps. It was a teen group for thirteen to seventeen year olds. My friend this time with Kathy Donahue. Her older brother, Mike was a drummer. Kathy was thirteen too, so she and I are joining together. Girls were in the Honor and Color guards. We would be in the newbies. That was where girls learn to carry the flag and twirl them in nice patterns to go with the instrumental music the boys made with the drums and brass horns. The girls in the newbies would join the Honor and Color Guard the following year when the older girls turned eighteen and would be leaving the corps. practice2

              So Kathy and I and about another ten to twelve other girls would spend that spring in training, and the summer would be our first time marching in parades starting on Memorial Day right behind the Color Guard and in from of the brass horns and drum sections.   In good weather, the corp would practice on the community ball field across from the club house, a VFW post. At eight AM this one Saturday morning, the newbies gathered in the baseball area of the field. The Honor and Color Guards were already turning their flags in the outfield. The band played on the basketball court loudly performing their signature instrumental, Sentimental Journey in the shadow of Garrettmountain field 2 Mountain. The brass horns and beating drums were hammering the song home across the field and ricocheting off the mountain and back again throughout the South Paterson neighborhood.

 

         Our group leaders shouted our instructions over the music were we stood by the bleachers since it would be impossible for us to hear them out in the field. When we were told to line up and march to third base where we would be going over our drills I saw that my sneaker was untied. The others had run out into the field while I sat to tie my sneaker.

              I saw the older black guy who had left the corps now that he was eighteen sitting on his bike not far away. I remembered I finished and was getting up when I was grabbed from behind and pushed down onto the bleacher again. I felt my blood pounding in my face as I struggled to push him away but the guy came around and over my body to sit straddle my legs. It was the guy with the small bike. He started saying, “I’ll show them. I’ll show them,” over and over again while pushing me down with a hand on my collarbone.

              I fought hard and I turned looking for help. I glance toward third base but my bleachersgroup had their backs to me. No one else was near. I kept fighting to get him off pushing at his chest as the music continued and even sounding louder as it vibrated. With his other hand he began pulling at the snap of my jeans trying to open them. He was much bigger and I was powerless to get him off me.

              Then the blaring music ended. And silence. Or I thought it was, until I heard screaming echoed through the air. I was screaming.

              We continued wrestling until there was movement around us. Then the weight was lifted from me. Pete, who I knew was one of the drummers was there, and then the two of them were a blur as they fell to the ground and seemed to scrambled away from me. Some older girls came to me and dragged me off the bleacher toward the batting cage. Breathing seems hard. But I was already feeling some relief that it was over but I couldn’t focus on what was being said to me.

       batting cage       Many adults came from nowhere it appeared to me. Faces around me were frowning with concern. I glanced in the direction I came from to see my attacker up against the chain link fence surrounded by male group members and adults.

The woman who ran the drum corps came and wrapped her arms around me. She pretty much dragged me off the field. I heard her saying the guy was troubled.

Someone else walking with us across the street to the clubhouse added how he had behaved about having to leave the corps because he had reached the age limit and his fight with the group managers over it.

              Inside the clubhouse I sat while they all talked. Some stared at me and I have to look away having so much attention paid to me. Things began to sink in as they asked questions and I nodded a lot. They asked what happened, what did he say, what did he do. And I started murmuring that I was alright a few times and had to turn away from them wishing that were true. I didn’t want to be here anymore.

              My attention sharpened when I heard them mention talking to my parents. While I was glad to be going home, I didn’t want to have to tell them about this. And at the same time, just wanted it to be me who told my mom and dad. But the adults had to tell my parents, to explain the situation to them.

              At home, my father was the one who opened the front door. Somehow they all went inside, while someone ask me to stay on the porch. What was said I suddenly didn’t porchcare. I wasn’t in the middle of all the attention anymore. I sat on one of the adirondack chairs. What thoughts I had I couldn’t tell you, though relief was setting in. Home, I would find, was were I would always come to be out of the storm from here on.

              Once the club members left, most of the women giving me a hug before going, my mother and father came to the door. They had a short talk before my father stepped out onto the porch where I still sat by myself.

              “Are you all right?” he asked in the doorway.

              I glanced his way before turning back to watching the afternoon traffic on Madison Avenue. My father looked thoughtful.

              “Yeah,” I said, not wanting to talk about it.

              Looking back, I’d say he knew me better than I did when I was thirteen years old, for he said, “You don’t want to be bothered, I take it.”

              “No,” was all I said as I realized my breathing was normal now and I wasn’t hurt. I was all right, at least for the moment.

              He nodded, then he went back in with my mother leaving the door open a little.

              It never dawned on me at that time if the kissing incident being brought up at school had anything to do with the boys being black and the girls being white. I did find out weeks after from Leslie that the two boys involved were in a bit of trouble that night but for Leslie and me being their alibis.

              So you know, my parents never said anything about the kiss incident. And my parents never talked about race to us. Knowing them as I did, they thought there was no need to. Black people came to our house to have their taxes done all the time. And, over the years I’ve thought about that guy on the bleachers wondering if anyone had ever bothered enough to care about him.

Read Part 1 at: https://cerealauthors.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/truth-as-strange-as-fiction-bothered-part-1/

JD’s Site:   http://jdholiday.blogspot.com/

 JD’s Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/J.D.-Holiday/e/B002G1GOKQ/

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Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Bothered, Part 1

Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Bothered, Part 1

by JD Holiday

©May 2018

         staircase   When I was thirteen I was called out of my class by the principal, Mr. Carrolio. The principal led the way ahead of me into the main stairwell. We were probably going down to his office. I thought, isn’t that where you ended up if you’ve done something wrong, and where the principal can yell at you, you hope, without others hearing it. This was embarrassing.

              But this was even worse for me. Mr. Carrolio was not only the principal but was a friend of my aunt and uncle’s. This was not a good thing to be happening, especially since I didn’t know what I had done. I was mortified.

              As far as I knew no one had ever been pulled out of my class by the principal before. But it happened to me.

              He was ahead of me in the stairwell, and half way down he stopped and turned to look at me.

              “Where you out with Leslie last night?” He said, though he used Leslie’s last name too.

              I was glad we weren’t moving down the stairs because I was sure I would have stumbled and falled down them just then. And I didn’t know if I gasped out loud at the question though I thought my mouth opened and some sound came out. How did he know I was with Leslie last night? My knees quivered in fear and my nose began to run. I had to wipe it with my hand.

              I was always willing to do whatever a friend wants to do for the most part. I wasn’t looking to get in trouble. I never liked it when my parents were disappointed but when Leslie said we were going to kiss boys that was exciting to me. I had never kissed a boy before. I needed the experience.

               I didn’t think we did anything wrong. Yet Mr. Carrolio asking about it seem to imply it was. How did he learn about it, I wondered while not being able to turn away from his stare. After all, he was an adult. I was taught to respect them.

              I shakingly said, “yes,” to his question was I with Leslie last night.

              “Did the boys kiss you?” he asked watching my face. The boys he was referring to were two black boys from the eighth grade. Now, my brain screamed; maybe my parents wouldn’t want me kissing boys. Though I didn’t know for sure. I never talked to them about that kind of thing. Then I thought, if he tells my parents, or worse, tell my aunt, she would make a bigger deal of it, I would have to have that conversation with them. Even more humiliating.

              Last night after dinner I met Leslie, but the excitement vanished with a kiss. We TSP 1960 Chathammet the two boys under the the overpass along Route 80. It was a deserted place with the only sounds were of the vehicles above racing along on the highway. It turned out to be a crude experience. First there were some weak hellos with the boys on one side and Leslie and me facing them. Then, with some shuffling back and forth by all, the boys just leaned forward to kiss the girl opposite. The one kissing me crushed his lips to mine for maybe ten seconds, and that was it. I hadn’t yet formed an opinion of kissing when that boy declared, “She doesn’t know how to kiss.”

              Leslie gave out a short giggle. And the boys turned and walked away. From excitement to dismal now, I just wanted to go home. Leslie said nothing about it and I was thankful.

              From five years old, until the Beatles came to the USA, I was in love with Johnny Mathis. We owned one album each from Johnny Mathis, The Ink Spots, The Platters, Frank Sinatra, and after November 1963, one album of speeches by John F. Kennedy. I would put Johnny’s on the record player playing it over again until my mother said to stop. She never told me Johnny was black.

              I stammered, “yes,” to his question about the boys kissing us feeling sick.

              “Were you petting?” he asked.

              “What’s that?” I was frowning.

              “Did they touch your body?” he inserted.

              “No,” I said, why should they was my next thought. And anyway, it was early fall and though not so cold I was wearing my heavy winter coat because my mother said it was going to get colder. It was a hand-me-down red duffle coatm a give a way from one of my father’s more wealthy tax clients who thought his five children needed more clothes than we could afford. My father was an accountant. He charged every one seven dollars no matter who they were. Companies paid fifteen dollars. But, anyhow, touching would have been hard to do with that old coat over my slight build.

              Mr. Carrolio just stared at me for what must have been a minute, I think, before he said, “You can go back to class.”

              I bolted back up the stairs. My classroom was the first room on the left at top of the landing. As I entered the classroom I felt on display. Every one of my classmates turned to stare at me like they knew all about it. Mr. Tamorino paused a second then went on talking as I slipped back into my seat, my face hot.

 

NEXT time on Truth, As Strange As Fiction:

Bothered, Part 2:  More Teenage angst, WARNING: violence.

JD’s Site:   http://jdholiday.blogspot.com/

 JD’s Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/J.D.-Holiday/e/B002G1GOKQ/

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Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Desperate Mind

perfume-labTruth, As Strange As Fiction:

Desperate Mind
by
J.D. Holiday*

I have come crossed a few people in my life who for one reason or another have found something or other about themselves that they were afraid would be found out and to cover it they made up an unbelievable story to hide their secret.
This person is the first I came across to come up with such an elaborate lie to hide they’re desperate secret.
It was the man who hired me at my lab job in a cosmetic factory where I was a a sample girl at the time back in the early 1970s. My job was making samples for the customers and taking bacteria samples and sending them for quality control. The man’s name was Mark* and he was intelligent, and probably attended a ivy leaque school, attractive, well dressed with brown hair and long sideburns always neatly trimmed. But he was also insufferable to deal with. He had to habit it of making everyone feel they were stupid because he knew so much more than they did about the cosmetic business and his reprimands would be sharp, loud and everyone would hear when he told you with attitude, ‘go back and think some more about what you were doing and do it correctly’ eye roll and all. I, myself, was afraid to disappoint him for fear of being reprimanded. But in retrospect I think that made me do my very best. As for Mark, new looking back with what I learn about him, if that was his only flaw I would have to say it wasn’t much at all.
I never look at people and see them through their religion, their color, gender, their looks or anything else, and never dared to assumed their sexual preference. As a child I remember learning for myself that if I smiled and was nice to people they would do the same to me. Well, you know how that turned out, but I’m a dreamer and really liked being liked so I kept that up through most my life. Simply, I treat people as I want to be treated and if that’s one basis flaw, if it is a flaw, I have.
As the boss of this lab Mark’s main skill was to make sure that the samples were exactly what the customer ordered. And boy, was he good at it! He could take any mistake a lab techs made whether it be the eyeshadow, face makeup, creams of all kinds, mascara, you name it and he could name what was missing or had too much of in it to made it right. Nothing left the lab to be sent to a customer unless Mark approving it. And he was rarely wrong.
Mark was friends with one of the owners’ son, Harry* who was the supervisor in the factory making sure that production ran well. Harry was a skawny guy, with drooping shoulders, losing his short whitish blond hair and wearing gray overalls daily.
Very different from Mark in every way.
The lab itself was made up of cheap kitchen cabinets along four walls of the lab with two rows of cabinets occuping the center back to back. My station in the lab was in the far dark corner, against a wall and pretty much hidden from sight by a make-up formulas filing cabinet, and far away from the long glass picture windows. Mark and Harry’s desks were side by side right in front of my station.
The two of them spent many an hour just sitting at their desks which happened to be right in front of me and they did nothing but talk as their jobs required just to monitor things on occasion, but most of the time, with little to do there they sat. If they weren’t friends they certainly spent a lot of time together in the lab.
As part of my job I not only made samples but I had to take care of the sample room where samples of every product ever made in the company’s 40 years or so was housed and I was in charge of it. The only other key was in Mark’s desk. I had to add a sample of everything made daily by all the lab technicians. So I spent part of my time away from my desk and when I was at my desk I didn’t pay any attention to what Mark and Harry talked about so I have no insight into how close they really were.
But all hell broke loose one day after I was there about 6 months.
Backing up a little, the company bosses hired the pill popper, Bromilda* (see: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun for more) to be Mark’s assistant three months earlier to this event. She had a mediterranean look, was medium built, nice wavy brown hair that I admired but not a smart dresser. Why he needed an assistant I have no idea but management had known her years ago when she was a young lab tech in their lab but left to join another company and was now returning. Though way after this all happened, I wondered if the bosses had a ulterior motive.
There were eight other lab techs and most of them are pretty boisterous all day long, laughing and joking with a few of them constantly maligning others behind their backs when anyone left the room. I felt Bromilda fit right in with the latter group. Once she join that team, as it were, she mainly sat at her desk all day too, though located at the far end of the room away from Mark and Harry.
Now others may have known more about this than I did before hand but I only learned about it the morning it happened. And I was so surprised I can’t even say that I ever had an inkling that this event was going to happen.
As I remember it I believe it was a Friday in October and the days are just starting to get cold when on arriving at work and was about to take off my coat when Bromilda approached me and taking my arm, said, “I have something to tell everybody, come with me,” as she dragged me along with her to the front of the lab. Talking loudly to be heard she took the others to listen and said that Mark’s fiance had been killed in a car accident overnight. I had never heard that Mark had a fiance and was very shocked. I felt so bad for him and I could tell the others did to as the whole day was a solemn one.
Now Bromilda and I did not get along from the start. But she came to my desk and asked me what I knew. But there was nothing I could tell her as this news about Mark was new to me. For the life of me I can’t remember what I did that weekend it was pretty much uneventful but Monday morning once again there was a crisis at work and it about Mark. The place was in a hush. And you could feel the tension in the room as Bromilda (in Harry’s chair,) and Mark sat at the desks in front of mine. There was no sign of Harry.
Bromilda and Mark whispered their shouts at each other. And I couldn’t describe it as anything but. What could possibly have been the matter especially with Mark just losing his fiance what could this be about? Mark was in distress. You couldn’t help feeling bad for him. The two of them did a lot of hands flinging out, heads bobbing and animated gestures. Once in a while I would turn and look that them. It was mind-boggling without knowing what could possibly be the matter other than the obvious.
At some point they got up and left the lab. Once they were gone though the rest of us seem to settle down and able to concentrate on our work. After some time had past I had to go to the sample room in the back of the factory and as I made my way there I looked around for both Bromilda and Mark and findng no sign of them. It was at the door to the sample room that I saw the door was ajar and I I heard Bromilda’s voice. “But why lie about it,” she was saying, “it’s just you don’t need to. You need to talk to someone.” I seemed frozen in place, and at that point they turned and saw me. Mark’s head went down. Looking away from me, too, Bromilda said, “can you come back later?”
“Sure,” I croaked out and left more bewildered than I was before.
Mark never came back to the lab! The next day, Bromilda set in his place. And while I was at the Bunsen burner preparing lipstick samples with a glossy shine, someone whispered to me, “Mark never had a fiance, he made it up. The company sent flowers to a funeral home and the funeral home says there was no such funeral going on there.”
I remember saying something like,”that doesn’t make any sense.”
Someone else added, “Mark’s gay and he was trying to cover it up.”
Another said the boss called him and he had to admit it.
Others piped-in and the discussion was about how Mark wanted Harry and Harry said no but in was much more colorful description than I will use here. We never saw Mark again. He called someone in the company to say he had a job in California and was going there, that’s what he wanted to do.
Bromilda slid into Mark’s job. A few days later Harry was back and he was sitting in the chair he used to occupy when it was Mark’s desk.
I have known desperation in my life, but I never had to hide who I was nor absorb or deal with denying it. What happened to Mark has probably played out one too many times. ~ JD Holiday

My other lab story: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun
https://cerealauthors.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/truth-as-strange-as-fiction-man-with-a-gun/

* Names have be changed to protect the innocence. 😀

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 Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun    

   Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun496515016

    by JD Holiday*

              Back in the mid 70’s, I was the sole provider for my family. It was me and three year daughter named Jennifer while my husband, Angelo, interned in a hospital for a job in the Nuclear Medicine field.

              Up until this time I was a cashier in a supermarket but I could not make enough money to pay the bills. Not knowing what else to do to find a job where I would make enough, (I knew at the time, your months rent should be the same as your weekly salary,) I bought the newspaper every day.

              Looking back it seemed it wasn’t long, and only about five job interviews, until the right job came along that I thought could make what I needed to make ends meet. It was $40 short of the rent but I would get a raise after a trail point to make this happen.

              My new job was as a sample girl for a cosmetic factory. I would have to make samples for the customers and taking bacteria samples and sending them for quality control. I haven’t a clue how I was to be a success as a sample girl, but they wanted me and I went for it. Part of my job was to get to know all the likes and dislikes, and the dos and don’ts of make-up for each and every one of their customers, which included many cosmetic companies world wide. You would have been surprise to know which ones, especially when one very famous company was suppose to have its make-up made in France and not in a rural town in New Jersey.

              I joined the chemical lab techs (a place ripe for stories and some I will pass along here as well!) and soon, I must say proudly, I had all the customers products down to memory. Mind you, I was not to deal with the customers directly but make the two bosses, who were also brothers and had inherited half of the cosmetic factory, look like they care for each and every one of these moguls of the make-up industry. It wasn’t long before I stepped into a position equal to that of the lab manager, a pill popping woman named Bromilda*, where I bypassed her and making any conversation with her exposive, and dealt only with the two bosses.

              The lab itself was really just cheap kitchen cabinets along the four walls of the room with two rows of the same cabinets occuping the center back to back. My station in the lab was in the far corner against a wall and behind the make-up formulas filing cabinet that hid me from sight and blocked anyone from seeing me from the company office door on the other side of the filing cabinet.

              About four months into the job a young man about my own age was hired to join the other lab techs and was given the station next to me. He was tall and attractive and seemed sociable. He laughed alot. And he found he could find something funny in everything. I did not like him. To me not everything is funny or amusing. I have found people who do, just might lack empathy and even sympathy for others.

              On his third day he came in and stood at my station looking down at me. He stated, “I want your station.”

              Not even hello or a smile. He placed his coat on the back of my chair. “I need my back to the wall,” he added and reached to his coat pulling open one side still staring at me.

              My stare went from his face following his arm to the inside of his coat to see an extremely large gun. At the time I had no knowledge of guns other than they are used to kill.

              Without a word, I opened my stations drawers and cabinets and removed everything. We silencely moved together as in a strange dance of sorts to changed stations, my thoughts in a turmoiI. What was to happen with this strange and dangerous guy. I had to work this job everyday with him right next to me, were my thoughts.

              I found the whole thing surreal. A nightmare really. And stranger still that no one ever ask me way the change! Afraid, I never said. The only time I knew someone notice was the first time one of the bosses came in, looked at my station with a startled look. I put up my hand, his smiled and stepping toward me without a word about it.

              For two months I wondered what others thought about this man.Did he seem normal to the others? I guess he was not theatening to anyone else. Could that be? The only thing he did wrong that was noticeable, in my opinion, was to be late almost every day. And then one day the factory manager, Manny, who I did all the bacteria sample for and I knew well, came running through the lab and straight into the office. Later, he was to tell me the ‘man with the gun’ was selling drugs in the parking lot to factory personal.

              The next day, we were all told the those who are late three time within a two weeks would be fired.

              You can guess what happened. And two weeks later, I moved back to my

station   ~JD Holiday

* Names have be changed to protect the innocence.  😀

You can find out more about me on Cereal Authors at:

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My site: http://JDHoliday.blogspot.com