The Ride Home

Childhood is a time of wonder and discovery. But there are events that are planted in the linings of my brain that I will never forget. For instance, the plane ride from England to Canada and how I put on a first class act to get the window seat. Also, the ride from Canada to New Jersey was full of wonder. I do not remember stopping at Niagara Falls, but there is a picture of me standing on a brick fence and leaning over a steel rail gazing at the raging waters and it still brings me wonder. The lights of New York City looked like the stars in space that dangled and danced. Also, childhood brings back memories of a birthday party and a ride home.

It was a warm, beautiful summer day. I could hear the sputter of the lawnmower as my brother started to cut the grass. I could see him push the mower through the thick and luscious grass. Also, I could hear the sound of splashing water and kids screaming their happy noises playing in a nearby pool. Meanwhile, I was getting ready for a birthday party. I put on my white Converse sneakers, tee shirt and shorts and ran out to my dad’s lime-green car. My dad pulled up to the house that my friend lived in; it was bluish-gray, the building was converted into apartments. I open the car door and jumped out. The windows of the house were tall, framed with dark wood and the doors were even bigger. I open the door, it was heavy. It was quiet inside the dark hallway. As I climbed the steps, the creaking invited me upward.

The quietness confused me; was there a party here, I thought. I knocked on the door again and again. No party. Not a problem, I will take this time to venture. I had to get home fast, darkness was upon me, and it was late. My dad did not like me out after dark. I hopped into the old smelly car. It was a blue rusty Chevy. The seats were worn and ripped. The music played loudly, the door was heavy and made a noise that sounded like a screech, and my blood ran cold. The man in the driver’s seat was skinny. His face was thin and unshaven, also his clothes seemed too big for him. Once I was settled down, I was greeted by a bottle that looked like dirty, dingy brown liquid. I pulled it to my nose and took a whiff; it smelled like piss; It smelled awful. I handed it back, like a football player would snap a ball to a quarterback. As we continued the ride, he came up with the idea of me driving the car and it sounded like a good idea; what eight year old would not want to drive a car?

Thoughts of my dad flashed into my mind, he let me drive when I was younger. As we entered an old abandoned farm road, I could hear the sounds of the stones and gravel that crushed with the weight of the car, the large trees hung over the dirt road like arms of a protective mother. Also, one could hear the cows crying out for food and a dog shouting out commands like a drill instructor. Little did I know that I would need my mother’s protection that day. It was my turn to drive. I climbed into the driver’s lap with the enthusiasm of a race car driver. As I grabbed the steering wheel with all the excitement of a child on an amusement park ride, I started making noises that echoed a race car. Then we stopped and my ride ended and I left my position of control. The ride would be interrupted by the summer breeze that my exposed skin felt. The stranger ripped my pants off like one would rip a nail from a piece of wood. I could smell the stench on his breath; it smelled rotten teeth. I could feel drips of venom that spilled from his foul mouth. The cold metal of the door slapped my cheek. I was stuck like a wolf in a cold steel trap.

I lost my voice, I could not speak, only imagine. Only much later in years I would fall like a wounded animal to howl out unspeakable words. I was assaulted by this stranger, I thought he would kill me. My innocence was ripped from me like someone who would rip a piece of paper from a notebook after making a mistake, yet this was not a mistake this was a violation. I fixed my eyes on the beautiful cumulus clouds that floated in the air like cotton candy. I notice the clouds seemed to be held by an ocean of blue skies. My beautiful view was obstructed by a warm feeling on my skin what is that? I whispered in a state of fright, again I looked out the window to the safe and inviting sight of the cotton candy clouds. When we left the darkness of the dirt road, I saw the large trees that now looked like the arms of a monster from a horror movie. As we approached the street that I lived on, he struggled to pull something from his pocket.

I thought he was going to pull out a knife or gun. The stranger took out this old, worn ripped wallet. He rewarded me with two dirty old dollar bills. I was dropped off near my house. I walked home in shock looking at the money he gave me. When I walked up to the house, I was relieved; I notice the familiar sights and sounds, like the metal box at the front door where the milkman left the cherry ice cream and rich milk, and the sounds of my brothers fighting. The first person I saw was my older brother. Look at what someone gave me, two dollars, he responded with his eyes wide open, his tongue hung out like flame. Do not tell dad- you will get into trouble. he says. I never mention anything about the assault.  Julian – Williamstown, NJ