Monster – Chapter 2 (non-fiction)

Monster – Chapter 2 (Non-Fiction)


As unpredictable as the monster was, sometimes she was like a VCR tape that had been watched until the machine ate it. Over the years, her need to lash out, to punish, to hurt, could always be counted on. The abuses piled on, from the time she beat me with a belt so vigorously that it broke into two sections when I was six, to the most frightening moment of my entire life when she tried to force me to put my hands on the kitchen table so she could cut my fingers off after I damaged some of her kitchen knives at age eight.

I spent the majority of my young life in such a state of fear that she would eventually kill me during a blind rage that I’m still damaged by the trauma to this day. Books and baseball were my only true outlets of escape, and baseball was a summers-only affair that couldn’t be relied upon during the majority of the year. Books, on the other hand, allowed me to leave my world and enter others, from the strange, horrifying settings Stephen King created, to the somewhat cheesy but still enjoyable Nancy Drew series. As an adult, I find myself comparing my imagination to that of Calvin, from the comic strip by Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes,” except instead of having two loving parents, I had a single, terrifying, toothless, monstrous creature who was as real as some of Calvin’s imagined beasts.

Devouring books, from whatever I could constantly check out at the public library, to the numerous books lining the shelves within the duplex that was more prison and torture chamber than a home, is the one thing that kept me sane, kept me from eventually turning the tables on the monster and murdering her. The monster realized that this was likely an eventual outcome at some point, as the object of her fury continued to grow both physically and mentally, and she knew that one day I would no longer be the punching bag who would cower and cry as she rained down physical blows, enhanced by a flurry of verbal strikes designed to keep me from believing that I was anything but a worthless piece of shit—as if her goal was to be able to look back one day and think, “He turned out exactly as I predicted!” Continue reading

Moving On – Monster (chapter 1 – Non-Fiction)


Note: This is a non-fiction story of my early life growing up with a horrible, abusive monster. It’s not a pretty story, but it’s something I feel compelled to write, and not just because it’s an assignment for my Creative Writing – Non-Fiction class in college. I’ll add more as I get it written, and likely eventually turn it into a book. My hope is that it will give others who have lived through similar terrors some catharsis like it does me, and more importantly, serves as a way to let people know that such horrific childhoods can still lead to a quality life of happiness.

Moving On – The Monster

I shivered but remained silent as the monster’s shadow fell over me. The terror that filled me nearly caused my bladder to let go, but I knew that would only incur more of the monster’s wrath. I knew if I kept quiet, did as I was told, she would go away.

“Put your hands up here,” the monster said, indicating with one hand that I should grab the rails of the bed’s headboard.

I followed her instructions, wincing as the tough hemp string dug into my wrists. Once the knot was finished, I held my hand in place while she tied the other end of the string to the rail, then waited with my eyes closed as she tied my other hand in the same fashion.

“Your brother and sister will be home by four,” she said, then turned and walked out of the bedroom.

I strained my ears, listening for the sounds of her heavy footsteps in the kitchen, the jingle of keys, then the front door opening and closing. I held my breath, afraid she would decide I needed another reminder of the rules and rush back into the house. I heard the car start, then the fading sound of it backing out of the duplex’s driveway. I waited another minute before taking a breath, followed by tears that streamed from my four-year-old eyes. Continue reading

Amtrak & The NHL: The Great American Hockey Road Trip

So, crazy idea time… (and yes, Carly is coming with me, I simply couldn’t do this without her!)

I saw an article the other day where Amtrak has some kind of pilot program where they offer a “Writer’s Residency” which sort of translates to “you get to ride Amtrak anywhere they go and use the time to write a book.”

Awesome idea, right? I mean, who of you have actually ridden in a train? And if you have, was it just a commuter train, or did you take the long way around?

This got me thinking… I might be able to combine this into two most excellent, as my friends Bill & Ted would say,  lifelong dreams:

1. To travel the country via Amtrak and then write a non-fiction book about the history of trains in America and how they opened up the west, the boom and bust towns along the Amtrak lines, businesses that still rely on Amtrak passengers to survive, and the people who still ride the train (both vacation and commuter).

2. Specifically, to ride the Amtrak to all 30 cities that have an NHL hockey team (keep in mind, Canada will require riding VIA Rail, their version of Amtrak) and write a book about our experiences including: A short history of each city and their NHL team. Photos and interviews with fans, business owners affected by the team, and members of each team, including players, coaches, and executives.

Some of the things (besides money, we’ll get to that in a minute) that would make this trip-job a lot easier:

A. To coordinate with Amtrak (and VIA Rail in Canada) so they can help us plan out our trip, maximizing time at each location while also taking the most scenic routes, stopping at historical or otherwise interesting cities along the way. To help us connect with interesting or influential persons and businesses that have history with the train companies. I want to make this a story about how trains built America, how they’ve become ghosts to almost everyone outside of the Northeast, and how they still affect the lives of Americans (and Canadians!) around them.

Discounted or free (promo) tickets of course would free up a huge expense, but not necessary. The money saved would allow us to stay longer in each location, visit more locations along the way, and spend more time digging up history and interviewing persons of interest.

Bonus: I want to encourage EVERYONE to take a train trip once in their lives.

B. To coordinate with the NHL so we can purchase game tickets in each city (have them waiting for us at will-call to make things simple), help me get access to players/coaches/executives for interviews, and to point out some of the more interesting persons/businesses in each NHL city (such as lifelong fans, a hot dog vendor who has been there 25 years, things like that). I want to make this a human story, but a human story about our love of hockey.

As with Amtrak/VIA Rail, discounted or free tickets to the NHL games would also free up a huge expense, allowing us to visit more locations, spend more time in each city before moving on, interviewing more persons of interest.

So, I’ve decided to begin a Kickstarter project. To make all of this happen, I’ll need some kind of funding/backing. Since I don’t know anyone rich enough to fund such a book writing excursion, I’m going to attempt to get a Kickstarter fund of $50,000 to make this happen.

Sure, it’s a pipe dream and a long shot, but if I can make this happen, this will be possibly the most memorable time in our lives. The reason I am going to try and get a minimum of $50k for funding is that Carly will have to take a sabbatical from her job, which means we’ll need not only just enough to pay the normal, minimal (we are VERY frugal already) bills, but we’ll need to also purchase everything: train tickets, NHL game tickets, hotel rooms, food, rental cars, and a myriad of other expenses that come along with taking an extended trip.

$50,000 won’t cover everything, but it will cover all of the major expenses, and we’ll scrimp and save and hope to <favorite deity here> that I sell a lot of books between now and opening night of the 2014-2015 NHL season in October. If I can somehow convince Amtrak or VIA Rail or the NHL to help out, I can lower the Kickstarter fund goal significantly.

Once the Kickstarter project is live, I’ll link it. As my friends, I sincerely hope you will do me a huge favor and spread the word about this. The more eyes that see it, the better my chances of meeting the funding goals are reached, and that means I can write two books about this incredible journey that Carly and I will have had the chance to experience.