You can't pick your family and you can't pick your pain.
Beau Johnson shows us the true meaning of dysfunction.
Beau Johnson shows us the true meaning of dysfunction.
Heavier Than It Ought to Be by Beau Johnson
I’ve blocked memories. I know that now. By disclosing this, I would have to say I’ve blocked certain types of feelings as well. I mean, it’s the only thing which makes sense, really, and could go a long way in supporting the reasons as to why I never really connected with my mother. Speaking of Rebecca Chalmers, you know how I’ve come to know this? First reason, top of the list, would be her; that she’s a right fuck of a cunt, and that I have probably hated her on some level for most of my life. Second would be the old home movies I found up under the stairs in the house I grew up in. These were movies I was not meant to see. Of this I’m pretty sure. That I was the star of said movies, well, that’s the reason I’m doing this I suppose; that stuff like this, the stuff I found---that it does something deep within you, at your core, where the filling of who you are either breaks or continues on. There are only those two choices in situations like this. Of this I can fucking attest.
I am suggesting that one day your life seems good, or what you’ve come to accept as good, and the next it’s falling apart, smashed beyond repair. After that it becomes something more, festering, and you either live long enough to decide it’s time to eat iron or you simply carry on. Decided, a drive is formed, consuming you, and suddenly it’s revenge which lights the way, except it isn’t suddenly, not at all, as it has always been there, a want you could never fully explain or have reason to act upon. It is thick, this feeling, and red, the blood in your veins somehow heavier than it ought to be. You have any idea what I’m talking about? Then perhaps I should go on.
I have a sister. Her name is Paula. She’s okay. Sometimes a bitch, yes, but mostly she’s okay. She is short and squat, carrying a little extra weight in the places women would rather not. Paula’s pretty though, in ways I can appreciate, even though she’s my sib. Same as me, Paula has no use for our mother, never has, and so when Ma gets sick, well, let’s just say there was some drawing of straws and such. I lost, you see, and this is where it begins to fall apart. To really fall apart. My life, I mean. Clarity, Ben. Clarity. That is what I’m looking for. What I am trying to convey. Please stand by.
“You should move in with her. Really, you should.” This is my sister’s idea of humor. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it. Far from it, matter of fact. It’s that I’m unable to use such digs which has gotten my goat. I flip Paula off instead. Weak, yes, and I wish I had more, but short straw, you see.
“I’ll make you a deal then,” I take my eyes from the Seinfeld rerun, the one with Uncle Leo and the watch. Paula makes me wait, though, there on the couch---takes the last big pull on her beer and then slams the bottle down harder than she needs to. “I’ll split you the cost to put her in, or up, or whatever you fucking call committing her. I sure as hell don’t want to be wiping her ass when my turn comes round is what I’m saying. What say you to that, Bub?” It was never Ben with Paula---just Bub. Always Bub.
I looked at her, at my older sister who looked more like our father than me, and then I get both of us another Bud. It is here I should probably say that I don’t hate women, not totally, though an argument could be had regarding such a statement. I say it nonetheless. As I don’t hate woman, not all of them, and I didn’t hate my mother up until a month ago, to when I unearthed this depravity I have no memory of. How I did such a thing I will never know, but now that I do, now that I’ve seen, whoa-fucka, is someone gonna pay. I mean, all things being equal, she pretty much has to, right?
So I say to Paula: “Sure, why not, it’s not like I really wanted to wipe her ass either.” And then we laugh, my sister and me, there on a Tuesday, nine days before I realize that I would be wiping my mother’s ass. Along with a few other things I might add. I will do this because of what I found, these movies under the stairs, and I will do it because I have chosen to take Rebecca Chalmers on, illness and all, even though Paula and I agreed to commit her. Paula didn’t seem to care when I changed my mind either, just told me I was a fuckhead, and that it was nobody’s funeral but my own. If Paula knew though, if I told her what I hit upon and watched as I was boxing up our mother’s house…
I wondered if she would help.
And then I wondered if she knew.
I would have to be sure and ask Ma---that’s what I’ve decided; what I’d ask her every day as I beat her with a stick in the basement of her house. In her infinite wisdom I would also ask her what she believes a monster is made of; if his stuff was as stern as it looked. Bad enough my git of a father did what he did, yes, and that the piece of shit taped it, but what upsets me more is her, that she was there. How do I know this for certain? I’ve thought about that. Thought about it often, matter of fact. I could live with it I suppose, that it was only him, and only because he is dead and gone and I never have to see him again, but in the last box I went through, near the bottom of the pile, I found a tape among the Super 8s. It was VHS, this tape. Recordable. And as I watched…movement. Not just my father plugging away at every orifice I owned, but actual fucking movement from the actual fucking camera of the actual fucking images of my innocence being quashed. You see what I’m saying? You see what I mean? I mean, seriously, it’s as though she was panning around in search of the best possible angle there was to get it all from. It led to the first question in a long line of what will prove not only Rebecca Chalmers undoing, but that of mine as well: Just who the fuck was holding the camera then?
Who, Ma? Who?