I grew up in a very violent drug and alcohol polluted family. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics, as was my maternal grandmother. I called her Big Ma. Since my mother and father still had their desire to party and hang out, Big Ma and Granddaddy raised me during my early childhood. Big Ma had served prison time in the Georgia State Penitentiary back in the 1930’s for killing a man. This was common knowledge and most people feared her. She had cut my granddaddy Herman Carver up with a butcher knife on several occasions, as well as beat him with a baseball bat. She had her flaws, as we all do, but she was the love of my life. We lived on 3rd and Iona in Jacksonville, Florida in a predominantly black neighborhood. They owned several houses that they rented out.
On May 7, 1973 I was 5 years old and I was sitting on my granddaddy’s lap as he was sitting on the couch there in the living room. To the left of us was the bathroom door. Big Ma had just gone in and closed the door. Granddaddy said, “When I die, I want you to have the shot gun.” It was an old 12 gauge shot gun…. Seconds later, he made a loud noise that startled me. I looked up into his eyes and knew something was terribly wrong. I jumped out of his lap, screaming for Big Ma. She came running out of the bathroom. My memory is cloudy at this point….
Fire and Rescue showed up but it was too late. Herman Carver died on May 7, 1973. We attended his funeral at a little church up in Georgia, which he was buried behind. After his death, I clung to Big Ma even harder. I skipped kindergarten just so I could stay home and be close to her. Over the next few years she would have several heart attacks. One night as we were getting ready for bed, she pulled the blankets back and collapsed on the floor. I ran to the front house screaming for help. Her tenants came running, and the night was full of chaos with ambulances, and fire and rescue. She survived and that’s all that mattered in my small world.
My mother and father divorced in 1973, so I shuffled back and forth between my mom, Dad and Big Ma. My mom began a lesbian relationship. My dad remarried. But he and my mom would still have some brutal fights, mostly due to alcohol. Which causes more death, violence and misery than any other drug. Because my mother was gay, I had a father who worried about me being gay, and therefore took a little boy who had nothing but love and compassion in his heart and tried to make that little boy as mean and tough as possible.
I believe Big Ma had the same concerns. But her remedy was to supply 6,7,8 year old boy with pornography. Not just Playboy, but hard-core porn such as Hustler. Mom would constantly take them away from me and tell Big Ma, “You shouldn’t be giving those to him.” Big Ma would say, “He’s a boy, it’s natural.” She would rent rooms to winos and that’s where most of the magazines came from.
In the summer of 1976 I was 8 years old. I spent the week with Big Ma. I was sitting on the front porch of the front house. One of the winos named Register was sitting out there. I was playing with his can of Prince Albert smoking tobacco, when I accidentally spilled it. He began yelling, “You little bastard,” and began chasing me towards the rear house that Big Ma lived in. I screamed out for Big Ma and out the door she came. She picked up a metal pipe and began chasing Register back up the sidewalk, cussing him and beating him all in the head. He had knots and cuts all over his head and was bleeding like a stuck pig. The poor old drunk let alcohol dilute his senses. But Big Ma knocked the sense back into him. She was no joke, tough as nails, mean as hell. But she was my Big Ma, my love, my life, my world, my rock, yes, my everything!
On August 5, 1976 the weekend after the incident with Register, I spent the weekend with Dad and the day at the beach. Fernandina Beach. We were in Dad’s supped up 1964 EL Camino traveling south down US 17 in the Yulee area, headed back to Jacksonville. Before reaching the Nassau/Duval County line, my dad’s friend Robert was coming northbound and as he saw us he blew his horn and spun his 1969 Super Bee around. Dad pulled over to the side of the road. Robert pulled in behind us. I was sitting in the El Camino with my stepmother Frances, as Dad got out. Robert met him at the back of the El Camino. A few minutes later Dad returned. I knew something was terribly wrong. I could see the tears in his eyes as he started the engine, pulling out onto the asphalt, tired squealing as he was running through the gears. At no time we were in excess of 100 miles per hour. I kept asking what was wrong? What’s wrong? When he finally responded, “Big Ma’s dead!” The entire foundation of my little world fell out from under me. I was way beyond hurt. I was completely and totally devastated. I never have hurt like that before or since. And needing to blame someone, my focus went to Register, who had upset her earlier that week. I said through sobs, “It’s Register’s fault. I want you to get him.” We entered the Springfield area and came up to Big Ma’s house at 3rd and Iona. Register, all beat and bruised from Big Ma, was sitting on the front steps. I pointed to Dad like you would point for an attack dog and said, “Get him!” Dad jumped out and crossed the street heading towards Register. I was right on his heels. Register looked at us. I can still se it like it was yesterday. The old man’s eyes were sad. What I didn’t know was that he and Big Ma were lovers. Dad threw a punch that landed on Register’s right cheek. The punch was thrown with such force that upon impact the whole cheek caved in and blood shot out of the corner of the old man’s eye, splattering all over the steps. His body went limp; contorting as he lay there sprawled out in a bloody mess. I remember thinking, “What have I done?” I felt guilty for Big Ma’s death, for had I not dumped the tobacco out, she wouldn’t have gotten worked up beating on Register and therefore wouldn’t have had the heart attack. But now I had more guilt to contend with for here was this poor old man, lying battered in a pool of blood because of my need to blame anyone other than myself.
My dad picked me up in his arms and walked towards Big Ma’s house, as I looked back over his shoulder, unable to take my eyes off what I had done. We entered Big Ma’s house where everyone had gathered, and my mom held me as I cried. My world had been shaken so badly. I’d never find peace of mind over her death. I dreamed about her. I’d look out the car window thinking I’d see her. I was lost without her.
In 1978, my mom and her lover, Dee, enrolled me in a Christian school called Amadell. They handled grades K-12. One day instead of attending classes, we went to the chapel to watch a movie. The movie starts off with a couple of guys on motorcycles, which grabs every little boy’s attention. These two bikers pull up at a church, get off their bikes enter the church and they start harassing the preacher. They were trying to get him to join their church. After he refuses, they go out and get on their bikes and speed on down the road. One biker gets way ahead of the other one, and he goes over a hill….all of the sudden you hear screeching of brakes, crushing metal, etc… As the other biker pulls up over the hill slowing down, he comes to a stop and there laying in the middle of the road is his friend’s bike, the rear tire still spinning, as was the chain, and next to that was his friend’s head, which implied that it was cut off by the spinning chain.
The living biker eventually returns to the church where he sits down and talks to the preacher that they had harassed earlier. The biker begins to question the preacher about his friend’s soul. As the preacher begins to explain about eternal hell, the movie begins to show the dead biker burning in hell, skin melting off the bone, as the biker screams in horror, maggots and worms coming out of his eyes, nose and skin. The movie made a horror film look like candy land. And here we were 6-17 years old, watching the most detestable, deplorable forms of torture that anyone could ever imagine. The movie was designed to scare us into submission and to accept Jesus as God. After the movie, one of teachers got up on the pulpit and explained that those who do not believe in Jesus as their savior and accept him and live honorable Christian lives should expect this punishment. Most people would be terrified by such a thought. But I was enraged!! Because my first thought was of my Big Ma, my Big Ma, being tortured in God’s torture chamber!! How dare he? The thought that the love of my life, my everything, suffering through that kind of horrific torture! Here it is my god wants me to love him and accept him…he who would allow this evil malicious, vindictive, disgusting act of torture on Big Ma.
I walked out of that chapel with a hate in my heart for God. I can recall days later standing in the middle of our neighborhood street at 10321 Westmar, looking up into the sky and cussing God like a foul mouthed sailor. I was so mad that I hated the thought of God. The video had the opposite effect. For I wasn’t one of those selfish kid who only thought about me-me-me.
I would study Christianity years later, after accepting Jesus as Christ my Lord and Savior, only to reject it and Jesus after studying the Biblical text and seeing the many contradictions with the New Testament. From Jesus’ last dying words being different from the hour he’s on the cross to the many contradictions in the resurrection. I accept the fact that there could be a creator, but I don’t accept any organized religion. Nor do I believe that any man is worthy of holding eternal life in is hands. For man is the ultimate puppet master and is unworthy of trust. And anyone who says man is worthy of this is a liar or a fool. What I went through there as a child…no child should ever have to go through. Yet religions breed fear into the hearts of our fellow man. A fearful heart is not a productive heart. People say, “You’re a total f@#$ up!” Yes, that’s true. I have more faults than any ten men combined. I’ve made more mistakes than any one man should. About 50% I can say were a product of my environment. The other 50% I have to say were the result of my own stupidity. I cannot honestly look back on life and say about anything, “That was a good choice.” And that’s a shame when you can’t look back on life and at least find one good choice that you made. No one can judge me harder than I judge myself. I have more regrets than you can possibly imagine. I have more guilt, shame, humiliation and resentment towards my own foolish stupidity. I wish I could turn back the hands of time, relive every mistake, correcting them. Be an all around better person. But life doesn’t work that way. We take our mistakes, regrets, pain and guilt to our graves. Oh, we try to deceive ourselves. I’m not the same person… I’m a better person now that I’ve found Jesus, Allah, etc… Yes, you may have changed to become a more honorable person, but the desire to forgive yourself and change came from within. I can honestly say the best day of my life…will be the moment it ends. Those who read this and say yes he’s had a hard life…what I’ve told you is child’s play. I can describe details about being molested as a child that would mortify you. I’ve been deceived, used, manipulated to the point where my motto is, “Trust no one! Suspect everyone! For today’s friend will be tomorrow’s enemy!” One thing has been consistent in this life and that is nothing lasts forever. Yes, say I’m a pessimist…I say I’m a realist. Life is what it is, a continuous cycle of never-ending disappointment and pain. Find escape in moments of bliss. We find happiness and pleasure through material items, love interests, etc… But eventually the pain returns. Memories of dead loved ones, lost loves, our failures in this life, the traumas in life that we’ve been through and live with daily. Hey, it is what it is. You can dilute it with legal or illegal drugs, religions, placebos or whatever works for you. What works best for me is the knowledge that I have control. I can end this life and my pain right here right now. That’s a piss poor excuse for comfort. But I find comfort in that. I don’t recommend suicide. It’s a selfish act and yes, you can say I’m selfish for finding comfort in it. Will I ever do it? Hopefully, not. But like I said, I’ve never made a good choice in life. So why should my final act be any different?