Josh, Flaws and All, Part 2 – “Cowardice”

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            Before we get to the meat of this one I have a question for you.

            Did all of you like the last installment of this soul shredding, and hopefully healing, series of essays? That was a very hard piece for me to write because it exposed a very base and shamefully facet of my personality. I have not heard back from Alan as of the writing of this essay, but to be fair it’s only been about 24 hours so he still has plenty of time.

            I feel better after writing that.

            I know it sounds strange but that subject had been eating me alive. I felt a tremendous amount of shame due to my repressed feelings. There was a tremendous sense of relief when I realized my problem was not so much jealousy as self loathing. It’s still an awful thing to feel but at least I don’t have it directed like a laser at my best friend in the entire world anymore.

            My self hatred/loathing will be the subject of an essay of its own in this series. But Boils and Ghouls it will not be the thrust of today’s little tidbit. Not to say it doesn’t bother me a lot but something else has been occupying my mind and distracting me from my goals in recent months.

            Ladies

            Gentleman

            Transsexuals

            Attractive Aliens …

           

            I am a coward.

 

            Now I am going to relate two my most shameful moments of childhood cowardice that have not been touched on before. Or if I have touched on them I will try to bring something new to the conversation. These are the incidents that keep me up at night sometimes and leave me feeling queasy and ashamed.

            These moments will stand for all of the others.

            In 1987/1988 I was in the fifth grade and attending Lincoln Consolidated Elementary School in Willis Michigan. My mom worked as a secretary at a moving company and not some rinky dink company but one which at one time was one of the biggest in the country. She hated that job with the passion of a fiery sun. Her boss was a bastard who never missed a chance to hold it over my mom’s head that she was a single woman in 1987 with two young children and he could get rid of her in a second. More than one night I listened to her crying as I went to sleep.

            There was nothing I could do and I felt helpless.

            That job meant mom needed to have sitter for us. My cousin, let’s call her Natalie, and her family lived a few miles from us and my mom hired her to watch us in the morning and afternoon. Mom dropped us off at Natalie’s house in the morning, we caught the bus at her house, and came back to her home on the bus after school. Mom would pick us up in the afternoon.  This arrangement sucked.

            I had been close to Natalie when she and I were younger but that had been years ago. Now she was the sitter and her home was less than fun. Between the fights she had with her husband and her refusal to allow us to eat any of her food, my mom had to bring over every drop and scrap of food we consumed there, I hated it. The worst was when she and her husband took us and their children to the mall to Christmas shop. After we were done shopping they stopped at McDonalds, bought food for everyone but my unnamed brother and me, and ate it in the car in front of us.

            I did have a school friend who lived in her neighborhood.

            I would get out of Natalie’s house as much as possible and walk to his house. I’m not sure when the incident happened but it was cold and snowy but Christmas hadn’t happened yet so I assume it was in early December 1987. I was walking back from my friend’s house when one of the older kids in the neighbor hood stepped in front of me. He was a good head taller than me and he had the beginnings of real facial hair.

            “Give me your glasses or I’m gonna kick your ass!” He roared at me.

            I would like to say I was a little lion and I attacked this shit head. But like my great grandma, and maybe everyone’s great grandma, used to say.

            “Tell the truth and shame the devil.”

            I stumbled backwards into a snow drift, fell on my ass, wet my pants, and started crying. I braced myself for a kick to the face.

            The fucker started laughing.

            I was shocked and I was enraged. But I was also terrified. I think he saw all or most of that in my face and it made him laugh harder. He kicked some snow on me, called me a “Fucking Pussy”, and then he walked away. I sat there in the snow with piss freezing on my jeans and my ass going numb until I was sure he was really gone.

            I did nothing.

            When the snow was starting to melt a few months later my tenure at Natalie’s house ended. One morning when mom dropped us off I banged and pounded on Natalie’s door but there was no answer. Eventually one of her neighbors noticed two kids standing in the slush outside the house and let us come into her house while her husband banged on all of Natalie’s windows. After we were in Natalie’s house she laid into me about getting her neighbors involved and that I should have pounded on her bedroom window.

            Her tone pissed me off.

            I told her it was her fault we were outside.

            She was pissed and I spent the rest of the time waiting outside for the bus.

            At some point in the next few days she told my mother I’d told her she had to do whatever I told her to do because my mother pays her and that I was in charge in her house when I was there.

            Mom knocked the crap out of me.

            I was too shocked by the statement and terrified of my five foot one hundred pound mother that I said nothing. I didn’t argue with her. I didn’t contradict her. I don’t believe I said a damn thing because of my fear, because of my base cowardice.

            To be fair this was before my mom decided to detox ON HER OWN so she was in a bad place when it came to her mental and physical health. So while I am still to this day kinda pissed she didn’t ask me if it was true before meeting out rough justice I do forgive her.

            Natalie is another story.

            The next day I asked her point blank why she did it and she told me she never said that. I asked her if she was calling my mom a liar and she said no she was just saying she never said that.           

            Still not sure who the fuck she thought she was fooling.

            I think it was less than a week later that my mother asked me if I wanted to be a “Latch Key Kid” and I was out of there.

            Never did have to face the kid who wanted my glasses again.

            I wasn’t the first time I didn’t fight back and it wouldn’t be the last. The next time it happened I’d run to my mommy to defend me and destroy any chance of a quiet life in Ohio.

            I hated living in Ohio as a kid. I do believe I’ve said this on more than one occasion. The first two years were bad, sixth and seventh grade are filled with very few good memories. But eighth grade was hell. I was picked on, I was miserable, and I was paranoid.          

            I blame hormones and too much caffeine.

            The bane of my existence in 1989/1990 was a tall, bespectacled, pimply, goat smelling, and halitosis ridden ninth grader named Shane. For reasons I never learned the son of a bitch decided my continued existence offended him. I have a theory that being the new kid, he’d been sent to live with relatives for a few years, he’d decided to cull a sheep from the herd and torment it. That sheep was me and torment he did.

            For several weeks I was the butt of his every joke. I was called names, tripped, punched, and made terrified of getting on the bus. Then one dreary Friday afternoon he grabbed me as we were getting off of the bus and told me he was going to beat the shit out of me at the bus stop Monday morning.

            I nearly crapped my pants.

           

Sidebar: The fucking bus driver witnessed mw being tortured for weeks. The stupid slack jawed twat was privy to my humiliation and fear first hand. When Shane told me I was doomed on Monday she was sitting right there on her fat ass and pretending not to know what was going on. When you are a child the authority figures are supposed to protect you, I’m not saying she should have done something directly but fuck the bitch could have at least reported it to the school! This is why I should always be allowed to carry a knife and stab a mother fucker if I feel threatened … end of sidebar.

 

            I spent the entire weekend dreading Monday. It got so bad that my normally indifferent (at that period in time) mother realized something was wrong and asked me about it. I broke down in tears and told her the entire thing. She listened, she comforted me, and she told me everything was going to be alright. It is still one of the best memories of my mom I have from when I was a kid. Monday morning my mother went out to the bus stop and threatened unholy retribution if any of the little shits gathered to see the fat boy get his ass beat ever touched me.

            It worked

            I was saved

            My mom was my hero

            I was humiliated by my own cowardice

            I was never touched again. They left me alone physically but for the rest of the school year, I returned to Michigan at the end of the year, I was reminded that I needed my mommy to save me and that I was a “Fucking Pussy Faggot Boy”. That is a direct quote I remember quite well. So my body was spared but my soul was scared. Just because I was unwilling to man up and do what I needed to do.

            I know what people have told me in the past. They tell me I was a scared child. They tell me it is a parent’s job to defend their children. They tell me if I would have fought Shane he could have killed me. I know all of these statements are true and yet I still feel like less of a man because I ran.

            Interesting post script to that story, I think Shane had a thing for dominant women. For years after that, even after I’d moved away, he was always trying to chat up my mom. I really believe her threatening his physical well being turned him on.

            I just vomited a little in my mouth writing that.

           

            Alright I am done for today. I am a coward. I admit it. I like to think I have gotten better when it comes to dealing with confrontation. Or at the very least I believe it appears to outsiders that I don’t give a shit and am willing to cut a bitch if I need too. But the truth always has been and always will be that in my heart I am afraid, when there is tension I feel like I will vomit and all I want to do is run to my room and hide under the blankets until it’s over. I try hard to do the things that scare me, but sometimes it’s so very hard … and not in a sexy way.

 

 

            -Josh

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Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books (www.palladiumbooks.com) and Third Eye Games (www.thirdeyegames.net) before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press (www.gwspress.com). I also work for Fat Goblin Games (www.fatgoblingames.com). In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!