I wish we would have never moved. After the incident at the party, however, it was necessary. My mom had a friend who used to live at the same motel where we did, and she told her of another motel a couple towns over where she was staying now. We moved there, and times got tough quickly. The guy who owned the place knew what my mom did for a living, and he was okay with it so long as she gave him 50% of what she made on top of the rent. We didn’t have much food on account of that, and mom got generic cigarettes if she was lucky. By the time the rent was paid, all we really had money for was hot dogs and the drugs my mom used incessantly by that point.
The one upside to the arrangement was that there was a gas station across the street, and the old lady that worked over there really liked me. “You’re such a sweet boy” she used to say, and she would often give me a bag of chips or some candy. One day my mom sent me over for some smokes and she didn’t want to give them to me. I told her they were for my mom, but she refused. She told me to tell her to come over and get them, but I told her that she was having a bad day. She said that she would bring them by our room when she got off of work.
“I will go, once I have said what I came here to say. I will never shrink from the anger in your eyes- you can’t destroy me. Listen to me closely: the man you have sought for so long, proclaiming, cursing up and down, the murderer of Laius- he is here.Robert Fagles Sophocles
She came by with the smokes as promised, but she asked me to have my mother come outside and talk to her. My mom was gone for about 20 minutes, and when she came back she was happy. I could see why. The woman had given her an entire carton of Camels. My mother rarely had an extra pack laying around, let alone an entire carton. Mom said that she had some errands that she needed to run, and she told me that the woman’s name was Helen, and she would be babysitting me while my mom was out.
After my mom left, Helen asked me if I knew anything about sex. I told her not much really. I knew how it was done because I had seen my mom do it, but I had never done it myself. She said she was going to teach me how it was done. That day she gave me head. Over the next couple of weeks she would come by every few days or so because my mom had loaned her some money. She would pay her some of it back, and my mom would go to get some drugs or food while Helen would teach me more about sex.
She showed me different ways of doing it, and even taught me how to go down on a woman. It was a little weird because she was an old lady. Well, not old lady now, but old lady then if you know what I mean. When you’re 12, 40 seems way over the hill, and that’s about how old she probably was. It felt good though, and she was teaching me things I needed to know, so it wasn’t all bad.
Within a month, Helen stopped coming by. She had apparently paid my mother back all of the money she owed her, and times got tough again. One day the owner of the motel came down yelling and threatening to throw us out. Mom didn’t have the rent. She went and talked to him and begged him to let us stay. She said she would do anything, and he offered us a deal. When she came back she was crying. She hugged me and said she was sorry that things were so bad right now, and she promised to make them better someday, but right now she needed me to help her so we didn’t end up on the street.
She said that the manager would let us stay if I would let him take some pictures of me. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me, so I said “ok.” It turned out he wanted pictures of me in my underwear. Mom said he had something wrong with him, and he didn’t like girls. He came over with one of those Polaroids and took some pictures. He was really particular, telling me how to pose and everything. Eventually he ran out of film and said we were good for another week. Then he left. Fortunately, Brian came over a few days later. After that, things got really bad.
Brian was the son of my mother’s friend who had told us about that place. His mother had decided to pack up and move on to someplace else. I think she went out west or something if I remember correctly, but either way she was gone and she had left him behind so my mother told him he could stay with us if he was willing to help out. He was maybe a year or two older than me, and I liked him at first. It was nice to finally have another kid around. I had never had a friend before. The good times only lasted for a couple of days though. Rent was due again, and the money was short. The owner of the motel was willing to deal again, but this time he wanted more than pictures. There was a hierarchy to our new living arrangements. My mom was the queen, and that made me the prince. Brian was the odd man out. He would now have to work to help the family. Brian refused.
Mom locked Brian in the closet for a week. If he wasn’t going to help, he wasn’t going to eat either. I used to eat my hot dog without the bun so I could slip the bread to him under the door. I didn’t want to betray my mother, but she was being a bit harsh with him. She didn’t even let him out to use the bathroom. She would hand him the ice bucket and make him shit and piss in that. When he would hand the full bucket back out he would say “Can I please come out now?” She would say “Are you ready to work?” It was always “no”, so she would lock the door again. After Brian had been in there for 4 or 5 days, she got high one day and passed out. She didn’t wake up all day, and I obviously couldn’t slide a glass of water under the door. Brian was so thirsty that he had to drink from the bucket he had pissed in.
Now I’m no pussy, even though Brian always said I was, but I would have broke after two days of that. Brian made it a week. My mom asked him if he would work if she let him out, and he said yes. She opened the door and, can you believe it, that little cocksucker hauled off and slapped her square in the face. She beat his ass, and beat it badly. She locked him back in and didn’t give him any food or water for two whole days. After two weeks of that shit, Brian agreed to work.
I was in bed when the owner came down to the room. For once I was glad to have learned to sleep with the sheet over my head. I didn’t see what happened to him, but I heard it all. I heard him crying and vomiting. I heard him screaming in pain. I felt him laying in the bed beside me sobbing when it was over. My mom came to our bed, but she ignored Brian. She hugged me and told me she was sorry things were so bad, but she would get us out of here when she could. I pretended to be asleep. When she left I hugged Brian and tried to comfort him, but I didn’t know what to say. What could I say? It was awful.
Some people say things that they don’t really mean. They will say things like “You’re not going to believe this” and then tell you the story and expect you to believe it. I hate that. When I say that the things that happened to Brian were unspeakable, that is precisely what I mean. I won’t tell you the things that were done to him because it hurts me to remember and you would be worse off for knowing. To be honest I have blocked most of what he told me from my mind over the years, but every now and then bits and pieces of it come back to me in a horrific flash, sometimes when I am sleeping and sometimes when I am lost in thought. I wish I could forget, but since I can’t completely do that, it would be unfair to ask you to share in my burden with me.
The first month or two Brian confided in me. After that he bullied me. He called me a little pussy boy. He said he had to do the work for the family because I was too much of a bitch to handle it. He started stealing my moms cigarettes and smoking them, then he would blame me and I would get in trouble for it. But all of that was mild compared to what happened next.
There was no pretense of mom working to pay the rent anymore. Brian was now “the rent.” She tried once or twice to pay in cash, but the manager would say “We have a deal” and refuse to take her money. Brian would have to work again. One day when he came by to collect he said that he had a guy that wanted to buy some pictures, and he needed her to have sex with her son. I guess he didn’t know that Brian wasn’t my brother. My mom argued with him but eventually she gave in. That night I laid in bed with the sheets over my head listening to the sounds of my only friend having sex with my mother. It was almost more than I could handle. I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t. Where would I go? And what would I do without my mother?
In the end I guess I learned that life just isn’t fair. I loved my mother, but Brian hated her. He used to tell me what a bitch she was when she was gone. He changed after that night. He used to taunt me. He would stuff his underwear in my face and say “Taste your mother’s cum, pussy boy” or “Smell that? That’s your moms pussy bitch!” There was only so much of that I could take.
I started trying to work my way back in with my mother, but she was different now. She was cold to me. I began to feel like she loved Brian more than she loved me. I climbed in her bed one night and cuddled up with her. I was going to take her back from Brian. I started to kiss her the way Helen had showed me but when I put my tongue in her mouth she slapped me and called me a “sick little bastard” and kicked me out of the bed.
I was now the outsider. What had started out as a blessing had turned into a curse. Brian had taken my punishment, and now he had taken my mother. She wouldn’t even look me in the eye after that first night, and as the weeks went on and the manager would demand more, she got to where she didn’t even talk to me much. She barely even got out of bed. He started bringing her drugs so she didn’t have to go buy them herself anymore, and she would do what he said and then get high and pass out again. It got so bad that she didn’t even get up for work anymore. That’s when he started coming down with a key and opening the door. He would let men in to do their thing and leave. Most of the men came for my mother, and they wouldn’t even wait for her to wake up. Some of the men came for Brian, and I would fall asleep in the bed beside him listening to the sound of him crying.
I don’t know exactly how long this went on for. It seemed like an eternity, but now I know it couldn’t have been more than 3 years. I don’t remember what month it was or anything, I just remember a man coming in one day and going over to my mother and saying “What the fuck?” He left and came back with the manager. He came in and lifted her arm up, and let go of it. It fell to the bed limp. “See? She’s fucking dead. Give me my money back.” And then they left.
I looked around for Brian. He would know what to do. He wasn’t there. I went over to my mother and pulled back the sheets. She was lying there naked with a band tied around her arm and a needle in the bed. I don’t know why, but the site of her lying like there turned me on. I knelt down beside her and kissed her… first on the cheeks, and then on the lips and neck. Her mouth was so cold and dry, but I slid my tongue inside it. I caressed her naked breast with my hand. Then I got scared, so I covered her up and went back to my bed and watched some cartoons.
A couple of hours later, the manager came by with another man. They told me to get lost, so I left the room. I didn’t know where else to go, so I went across the street to the gas station. Maybe Helen would help me.