Updated: Dec 6, 2019
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THE LAST FATHER FIGURE
"Without the guidance of our fathers, what do we know?"
THE OLD MAN
After being shot in the head, then in his back, I was left fatherless at 5 years old. Killed by a bartender of all people. The dickhead told the cops that he shot'em because he thought my old man was gonna rob'em.
The faggot police new the reputation and extensive record of armed robberies of my father. I heard the prick spent all of three days in jail.
I will keep his abuse of my mother brief. Only to say I witnessed the brutality and physical scars that a man can inflict on a female. But I do not hate him. Although he was not there for her or us kids, I love my father.
At the age of 10 I had a stepfather. But I didn't like him. He was strict and abused my lil bro. Plus he took my mother's attention away from me. Him and I were constantly at odds. Things only got worse as I got older. And bigger. But my mother did not want my attention at all. So she got rid of me and my step father stayed.
12 years old. Sent away from home. Then I'd be gone. Sent away by the same mother whom I loved so much. Banished me from home. At times, far away from home. The next county, city, or state over. Sentenced by a judge to be a ‘ward of the state’. There were periods that I'd go without seeing my home or family for months, even years at a time.
Once children are sent away from his parents, the state is now responsible for the juvenile. His housing, safety, clothing, food, the whole nine. A social worker is assigned to the kid and they are responsible for finding placements anywhere within the state where there is room to accommodate them and their needs.
Whichever the circumstances call for. These places can be near, or far away from where the child is from. For some reason I feel the need to mention that either of these situations are extremely hard on an adolescent.
It was with-in these different counties and cities that I found myself unknowingly looking for someone to look up to. To guide and advise me. Like a father. At first, it was the male staff working in whatever group home i'd be in at the time. But even during this phase of my young life, nothing that I say from these guys impressed me enough to want to grow close to them. Let alone look up to them. It was obvious by the way the male staff ignored us, never listened, or cared about our feelings, or shown any interest in us. That they were simply there for the paycheck.
For a time it was the big kids who guided me. Well, me and the other younger kids like me. But of course the big kids taught us cuss words and the best way to get over on staff. None of us. Big or little were trained on how to be young men. Usually I learned more than they did on my own. By watching adults, listening, Then added the valuable characteristic to my own personality. How to conduct myself with kindness and understanding. In a word, I learned to be more mature than the other kids.
Making this change forced me to act differently around the other kids. Eventually, I'd grow tired of dealing with their antics. Then, eventually they grew tired of my change. Mostly the fact that I did not want to make fun of people anymore. After more time. They grew annoyed with my perceptiveness and intellect. Something that they didn't understand. That intimidated them. And at times, I was the one being picked on. And given a hard time. But I could handle that. During my time with them, I had garnered a reputation for fighting. So they took the talk only so far. Besides, I was able to keep a few of those close friends that did not turn against me. I was not alone wanting to better myself.
Kids raising themselves in a juvenile institution. This went on for a season. During my adolescent years. Just me and the big kids. Battling it out mentally and physically because that is the only way we knew to settle a disagreement. I did well on both ends.
During this stretch. I'd come to rely heavily on that same intellect and perspective They comforted me. Molded me. I learned to trust these qualities. Far more than any person I was around. But the qualities also revealed the terrifying reality of my circumstance. And amount of work and time that will be required to make it out of these places and go home.
But for this technique to work. I had to withdraw inside my head. And because of my lack of guidance, I resorted to remain there. For long, then longer periods of time.
But there's an awful downside to this. I soon began physically isolating myself. Which led me to be very apprehensive around my peers. Nervous, and maybe worst of all, deadly, deadly quiet.
As one can imagine. This made making friends extremely difficult. Soon. each home after the next. I quickly became known as, 'the tall quiet kid'. By my peers and staff alike.
But the few friends I did make under those enigmatic circumstances, turned out to be divine examples of character, and possessed several of the fine qualities decent human beings have to offer.
Therefore. I taught myself by watching and listening. They all inevitably became lessons, that I've never forgotten. Perhaps, learning these lessons so harshly and without warnings or guidance. Made an even larger imprint mentally for me to remember these periods of teaching. So as not to make the same mistakes. For myself, these are the seeds to knowledge and wisdom. Attributes no father figure can teach.
There were father figures who have disappointed me. Like any relationship. Things start off well. An you gradually get to know the person, the more time the two of you spend together. Overtime, some would constantly ask me for money, others would exhibit a form of hatred for ideas, or races of people that we found ourselves constantly arguing about. Outside of these conspiracies, there was nothing to learn.
A few let me down by being so self absorbed that they had no interest in my life and often looked to me for advice and guidance on some of their most sensitive issues. And when I'd try to give my perspective on their problem, anything I'd say would be met with, 'You still don't understand.' Followed by anger and frustration. GLWT.
But I would not be angry at them. I knew how to walk away. And how to distance myself. Guys like that who ended up not up to snuff, I never erased them completely out of my life. I remained resolute with them. And was appreciative of the things they did teach me.
But. These same personality traits I'd developed, caused a few potential fathers figures to let go of me as well. Extracting themselves from my life in the same subtle way I had others. Once I became aware of this, it hurt. Which made me wonder if I'd hurt the men who I had so tactically extracted from mine.
If only they told me why. Sat me down. Explained to me. Maybe I would not of been so hurt, or confused. Yes. Talk to them. Don't just gradually phase them out. But first, tell them the issues you have with them. Express yourself. Maybe that could save things. Or at least save feelings from being hurt. Yes. Another lesson learned. But without advice or guidance on how to navigate situations like this, severe damage has once again been done.
There were hopefuls. Good people in particular who had a knack for making a positive impact on ‘wounded’ adolescents. Like Miss Harris. My teacher in grade school. Heavy set white woman. She was drawn to the quiet ones. Who just happened to be me. She was not the father figure I was looking for. But she gave me hope. That in itself was a catalyst. She made me think that I can push through the obstacles. And that I am doing something right. She saw the qualities that I aspire to achieve. I used to draw. That's how are relationship started. She gave me praise. She was patient with my awkward, withdrawn demeanor. And with my deadly silence. When she introduced the ‘mess’ to her family. On several occasions she brought her kids around me. Introduced me to her husband. She spoke for me. Boasted about how bright I was. Even with my inability to communicate socially, she made things comfortable. And with that. She forever cemented a special place in my heart. These things drew me closer to her. And pushed me to open up to her in ways that I did not deem others worthy to see. Ms. Harris was not a father figure. But she made me realize that I also craved the warmth of a mother as well.
In a place called 'the valley'. A psychiatric treatment program for adolescents. There was a social worker named Mr Wayne. He was a hippy from the Vietnam era. I don't recall if he had serviced. But he kept the flower child persona of the time. Always wearing blue jeans and blue jeans jackets. Kept a 'high' laid back demeanor. As well as utilized the lingo of the era. With his 'Mans', and 'Ah it's cool daddy-o', 'no sweat', and our favorite, slappin low fives he called 'skin'.
Mr Wayne had a tan that would make Snooki jealous. And the short bouncy blond hair of a 20 year old. Although he had to be at least in his 50s during that time.
He always had a story for us kids. The most memorable one being the time he got shot. And the time he got stabbed.
When Mr. Wayne took off his shirt, he was tan and ripped for his age. But there were two horrific craters. On his abdomen and another upper chest.
The scar on his midsection was round. It looked as if he had hit with a baseball going a thousand miles an hour. All us kids jumped up ran our fingers through it. The hole was so deep, half of my finger made it inside before it finally hit skin.
Mr. Wayne laughed at our enthusiasm. 'That ones from a AK-47.' He explained. 'While the guy had a gun pointed at me, being an idiot, grabbed the barrow and tried to yank it out his hands. Never try that one kids.' he said smiling.
He then pulled up his shirt higher fous to see the full damage of the second scar. 'And this one right here.' He said with a bit of pride. 'Is from a machete.'
The scar had carved its way from one breast to the other. Rising upward as it along. The wound was so long, deep and rigged. That It looked like he had been bitten by a huge shark. Of course all us kids wanted to touch this one too. Us boys ran our hands and fingers all along the wound. Making sounds that signify our awe and amazement at such an awesome, gruesome
The females on the other hand. Were much more cautious. And less willing to touch any of the deep lacerations. They'd poke at a scar, let out shrieks of fear, then quickly pulled their hand away.
Mr. Wayne was a cool. A regular on our unit. He worked three to eleven shift. So all us kids were used to seeing him every day. He'd place his hand on my shoulder during the times when I was angry inorder to calm me down. 'What's goin on 'big J'? wanna go take a break and talk about it with ya ol buddy wayne?' And when I didn't want to take my medication. The nurse would call Mr. Wayne over and he'd convince me each time that it was it will make me feel better. I looked up to, and appreciated Mr. Wayne.
Once he sat me down and shared the stories of how he got those scars. 'I was wild. And had a real bad temper in those days. It took me nearly getting myself killed twice and a couple of stints in jail before I realized I needed to control myself. Not while I was angry or did somethin stupid. But before those things even came up. That's self control. Can you dig that man?' 'Yeah Mr. Wanye. I can dig it.'
But one day. Our relationship came to a crashing end. Me and a couple of buddies on my unit were goofin off. Horse playn, runnin around when we weren't supposed to. All of a sudden it was time to all of us to go to our rooms for our daily hour of 'Quiet time'. But the games didn't stop.
Mr. Wayne comes in. 'Come on guys lets go go go it's that time.'
We ignored him and continued running and playing around.
Mr. Wayne tried to corral us like cattle. Cutting us off in an attempt to get us running in the direction towards out rooms.
It worked for a couple of kids. He successfully herded them to there rooms nearby. But the three of us were let and weren't willing to give in so easily.
Mr. Wayne tried the same maneuver. But me and my guys were to fast and things changed into a game of keep away.
As I tried to run past Mr. Wayne, I twisted my shoulders so he would be unable to grab me. But he was quicker than I thought. And caught me by the collar of my shirt.
There was a small storage closet in the room we were in. It held stuff like balls, board games and other toys we'd play with during rec..
The storage door was open. When Wayne grabbed me. He threw me to the dack of the closet with both his hands still wrapped around the collar of my shirt.
Not only did he do that. He forced my body into the back of the closet as if he were attempting to push me through it. 'Are you listening to me?' He said in an angry voice. 'Cut the shit and get to your room.'
I didn't speak. He let up the pressure on my collar and allowed me off the wall. I walked out of the closet. Upset and scared. All the play had been literally squeezed out of me. I went to my room.
Once quiet time was over, we all went back to the day room. Wayne (What I called him from then on out), was there. Smiling, he walked up to me and said something that I do not remember. But I do know that it was an attempt to make a miens. I did not acknowledge him. 'He placed his hands on his hips. Still smiling he says, 'Oh your still mad at me?'
From that day forward. I avoided Wayne whenever I could. After a while. He took notice and realized that he had crossed a line that can never be repaired. The talks stopped. He never again came to convince me to take my medication. Now, with out his influence, If I didn't want to take my meds. I hid it in my mouth, spitting it out later. Or just flat out refused to take it at all.
I missed talking with him from time to time. Watched him 'buddy up' with other kids. We all make mistakes. And have character flaws. Wayne's is violent outbursts on children. Mine is holding grudges. For life.
But some relationships I ruined myself. At my elementary school, there was an after school program for 'troubled youth'. Only for boys. I was one of them. While there, I missed out on one of the best role models I could have asked for. Mr. Ross was the counselor there. The only counselor. He was a young white guy in his early to mid twenties. He got along with all of us boys. And he was our guy.
There were only about 5 boys In the program. Boys who had behavioral problems in class and constantly in trouble with teachers. Suspensions, detention, that sort of thing.
Most of us had mental issues as well. Bad tempers, fighting with other students excetera, excetera.
He was a young white guy in his early to mid twenties. He got along with all of us boys. He was our guy.
He took us on trips to the park. And scheduled activities for us like arts and crafts, basketball games, field trips to the arcade. And my favorite. Water gun fights at Panther Creek park. A huge Fish and wildlife reserve in my home town of Kentucky.