Friday, December 30, 2011

Can't I Just Sleep On The Floor?

After my parents divorced, I had to share a bed with my mom. We were living with another family. My sister got her own bed. I wasn’t allowed to sleep on the floor. I had to sleep with her. She didn’t molest me or anything; she would just cuddle up next to me. I didn’t like it. I wanted my own bed. I wanted to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor. She would play the radio and sing when we were in bed. She would sing the songs that would come on. She made me go to bed at the same time as her. I would lie next to her and she would read and drink her wine sometimes rubbing my head. I guess she just wanted to have somebody next to her.
We moved out to our own place and I had my own room. She would get drunk and sing sad country songs and call out my dads’ name. Sometimes when she was drunk she would come into my room and get in bed with me. Breathing her horrible wine breath in my face as she tried to make he hold her. I would push away and that would piss her off. “Fine then no one loves me I guess.”
That room became my prison. I was not allowed out of my room unless I had to use the bathroom. All my meals were eaten in the room. I could go to school, but after school I had to back in my room. I would read and listen to music. They became my salvation.
As I got older she got worse. She would walk into my room and tell me things like if I ever had a girlfriend I would be going to hell because it was a sin to touch girls. She told me she knew everything I did because she had microphones hidden around the house.
After a while the yelling and paranoia weren’t enough. She started hitting me. First it was just a slap then a wooden spoon, it moved on to fist and kicking. Hell, she even hit me with a blender once.
She would tell me to get out, that she couldn’t afford to feed me anymore. I’d leave and walk around and be picked up by the police after a few hours. She would call them and say that I had run away.
The worst was in ninth grade. I had gotten a D in some class. I had a ten gallon aquarium with two newts. When she got the report card she stormed in my room picked up the tank and threw it at me. It missed my head and shattered against the wall. Glass, rocks, water and the two dead newts were on my bed. “Clean up your fucking mess you god damned dummy!” was all she said.
The next day it was like nothing happened. She asked where the aquarium went.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Name Game. Death to Verne.

I am named after my father’s grandfather James and his father Laverne. James Laverne Robison. Laverne went by Verne. He was not my fathers’ biological father. He was his stepfather. I’ve never met his real father. I don’t care to meet his family, he is the only one I considered grandpa. Dad’s grandfather is a step also. It’s the same on my mothers’ side. No one will say anything about her real father. I recently found out he was a Ukrainian sailor. Grandma won’t say anything else about it. I’m not going to pry.
For the first 13 years of my life I went by Verne. I hated it. I always got teased for my name. It was always “Hey Laverne, where’s Shirley?” To this day I can’t watch Laverne and Shirley without cringing. After the show was canceled, along comes Jim Varney and his stupid “Hey Verne!” crap. After that, the movie Stand By Me had a dumbass character named Verne.
When I started 7th grade I thought, here’s my chance, no more Verne. It was a new school with new people; I would start using my first name. It sort of worked. There were a few people from elementary school who insisted upon calling me Verne. Verne morphed into nerd. For the entire 7th grade and half of 8th grade people called me nerd. It sucked, but it was better than Verne.
When I left Rialto, No one called me Verne anymore. Even my family called me James. Verne was dead.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

White Trash Heroes. Or, How I Got My Spine Back.

We lived in six different places in San Pedro. Two apartments, three houses and a travel trailer in a dirt lot. My parents never paid the bills or rent. The first house was infested with cockroaches. I would take a bath and watch the roaches crawl around the walls.
One day I asked if I could go out and play, my mom said yes but that we were leaving soon so don’t go far away. On the next block over was a construction site. I would play in a sand pile there. I took some army men and a plastic tank and went to the sand pile. An hour or so my parents drove up. They started yelling at me for being so far away and that they went to the grocery store without me because they couldn’t find me.
When we got home I was sent to my room for the rest of the day.
I lay in my bed bored out of my mind when I noticed a little hole in my wall. I put my finger in and started pulling out little pieces of plaster. I kept pulling out pieces of wall till my mom walked in and saw the now three inch hole in the wall. She grabbed me by the shoulders and slapped me across the face twice. I had to sit on the couch the rest of the day.
I stated Kindergarten while living there. My mom decided I better study before school stated. She bought me a notepad and a pencil. She told me to practice my ABC’s I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. I drew the number eight. I filled the pages of little eights. She took the notebook from me to see how I was doing. When she saw all the eights she went crazy. “My soon is stupid! How did this happen? How can you be so stupid?” I just sat there and said “I don’t know.”
“Go to your room.”
“Don’t come out till dinner”
Mom and dad got drunk. They forgot about dinner.
The second house was across the street from the first one. It was lime green and had thick turquoise blue carpet. That’s all I remember about that place.
We were evicted after about three months. We borrowed a little travel trailer and put it on a dirt lot near the harbor. Every night a bunch of men would drink beer in the lot. They would knock on the windows and stare into the trailer. We had to go to the bathroom outside.
At apartment number two I would go dumpster diving. I found a few gallons of white paint. I decided that the dumpsters need painting. I found a paint brush and painted white stripes down the front of the dumpsters.
I liked it here; there were finally other kids to play with. I played with all the other kids except for one. Amelia.
Amelia was a bitch. No other way to put it, just a bitch. She was the neighborhood bully. At six years old we were all terrified of her. She would walk up to us and just punch the crap out of you for no reason. The playground at the apartment complex was hers. We had to ask permission to go on the swings or use the slide. She ruled that place.
One day this albino boy moved in. He came out to play and tried to use the slide. Amelia hit him in the head with a rock. He fell over and started shaking. One of the kids ran to tell Amelia’s parents. Her mom said Amelia wouldn’t do that. She’s a good girl.
The albino kid’s parents ran to the playground. Someones dad wrapped albino boy up in a blanket and raised his feet up. He was taken to the hospital. He came back with six stitches and a broken nose. He never came out to play again.
Amelia threatened all of us. She’ll beat us up if we said anything.
Two days later Amelia socked my in the stomach because I used the swing without asking her first. I had enough. I waited till she was on the slide. I found a piece of 2x4. When she came off the slide I smacked her in the forehead with it. She cried and ran away.
I was scared. My parents were going to beat me for sure. I ran and hid in my frog toy box in the closet. I was in there for about an hour when I heard the doorbell ring. I could hear muffled voices. Something about suing and bills and that I should be arrested.
My father came into my room looking for me. He called out my name but I stayed in the box. He opened up the closet and pulled me out.
He told me that Amelia is a brat and I shouldn’t hit girls. He told me he is proud of me for standing up for myself, but next time tell him instead of clobbering someone with a piece of wood.
We shared a common wall with Amelia’s apartment. The bathroom plumbing went out once time and the plumber removed part of the wall between the bathrooms. We could hear everything that happened in their bathroom.
I woke up one morning to Amelia asking for her mom to wipe her butt. She was saying she got it all over and needed help.
I went to school and announced that Amelia can’t wipe her own butt.
She never bothered us again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

San Pedro Kindergarten Thug Life

We had this plan to make money. Joey would take my pocket knife,  open it and lay it on the road. I would stand in the street and warn people there was a knife in the road. Bill would walk out and pick up the knife. The driver would give us a reward for saving his tires. It didn’t work that way at all. Someone yelled at me to get my dumb ass out of the road. Another person ran over my knife. It was ruined.

For fun we would sit on top of our Tonka trucks and ride them down hills.

There was an old biker guy that lived upstairs from us. He always had board games and candy for us. We would go and he would sit and watch us play Twister. When we played in the courtyard, he was always in his window watching us.

Joey and I were convinced that a murderer lived underneath the school. We looked into the basement every recess. We never saw this killer.

We had big brick shaped blocks in class. We were never allowed to play with those. They were there to torment us.

Once a week the class would walk to the beach and have a picnic for lunch.

Hal told me that what I saw my parents doing was called humping.

Hal’s Sister Debbie took me in the closet and asked if I knew what a French kiss was. I told her no. She put her mouth on mine and stuck her tongue in my mouth.

Debbie asked me if she sucked my wiener would pee come out. I said I don’t think so. We tried it the next day, nothing came out.

I wonder where Debbie learned these things. I wonder if the biker guy showed her.

I had to hold the hood of the car open so my dad could try and fix something. I got distracted and dropped it on him.

Hal, Joey, Bill and I took some wood from a construction site. We wanted to build a clubhouse. Somebody saw us take the wood and called the police.  The cops came to our house and explained that stealing is wrong and that we could go to kid’s jail if we did it again.

We found a dead body in the alley on the way to school. His pockets were pulled out of his pants. His zipper was down and his dick was sticking out. He had cut on his neck. His chest had a hole in it. We were excited; we thought we were going to be on TV for finding this guy. The cops asked us a lot of questions and gave us a ride to school.

I dressed as C-3PO for Halloween. I didn’t know his name. I told my mom I wanted to be that gold robot from Star Wars. Bill’s mom made him a Luke Skywalker costume. My mom bought mine from a store. I’m not complaining, there is no way she could make me a C-3PO costume. I looked pretty shitty next to Bill though.

Joey’s mom dumped hot turkey juice down her legs. The ambulance took her away.  They cut away her pants. I saw her in her underwear. They were pink.

An old man fell and hit his head on a brick wall. There was blood everywhere. I told my mom. She told me not to make up stories.

I would wear Toughskins jeans and Garanimals.

I saw a fly caught in a spider’s web. I sat and watched the spider eat the fly. I felt sad after that.

Me and Hall buried some hotwheels in an empty lot. The next day they were gone.

I used to eat gum off the sidewalk.

We used to stop every day at a bait store on the way home from school. We would buy sharks teeth for ten cents

Monday, December 26, 2011

One thing I can say about my father was he always accepted me. I’d dye my hair pink or blue, he would laugh. It’s good to be different he’d tell me. In tenth grade I gave myself a Mohawk and died it blue. He didn’t care. As long as I went to school he was fine. I don’t think it was a matter of education, I think he just wanted me out of his hair.
He was more of a friend then a father. I would have liked a little of each. Considering the fact that some people never know both of their parents, I guess I was lucky that I had a relationship with at least one of my parents. Dad was high on his pills most of the time and overdosed a couple times. I had to call the ambulance to come get him. He had at least four different doctors supplying him prescriptions. If I couldn’t sleep he’d hand me a couple different pills and tell me to take them. I usually just tossed them out.
Every summer during Jr. High, my mom would take me to my grandma’s house and dump me off for the entire vacation. It was cool; all I did was play video games, smoke and drink coffee with my uncle. I’d come back the day before school stated and it was always the same, people would ask me where I had disappeared to.
I would sit around and listen to the radio. If I heard a song I liked grandma would give me the money to buy the tape. My mom told her not to spoil me that way. Grandma told her that I am her only grandson and she’ll do what she wanted. Which was a little different than a previous conversation, Mom called me a little asshole, and grandma told her not to ever call me that. Mom told grandma that I was her kid and she can call me whatever she wants. To prove her point, she dumped a glass of water on me.
My childhood wasn’t always shit. There were some good times. My dad used to take me and all the neighbor kids to Marineland or Knott’s berry Farm. He’d pay for all of us and we’d have fun running around the park for a day. He would get shitfaced drunk, feel guilty about it and bring me new toys.
One Christmas eve I was taking a bath with my little sister. I hated doing that. She was only one and would shit in the bathtub. My mom called up to me “Verne! Hurry, Santa’s here.” I wrapped a towel around my waist and flew down the stairs. I saw a red leg and black boot leave the door. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized dad didn’t show up till after Santa left and he was out of breath.
He would take me everywhere he went. If he had to take a truck to Portland, I always sat in the front seat of the diesel truck.
I don’t remember the last time I saw my dad. He used to just show up and take us to dinner. He would hand us a few bucks to buy something for the girls and then would disappear for a month or so.  My ex-wife said it best when it came to him. He has good intentions, but never follows through.
There was never any father/son bond between us. In fact I think he hugged me once. He said goodbye, hugged me and was walked into the Psych. Ward at the VA hospital in Loma Linda. I was 16, no money, nowhere to live. Being homeless again didn’t appeal to me. I bit the bullet and called my mom collect.
She picked me up and drove me to her house. The ride over was silent. I could tell she wanted to say something.
We got to her house. She asked if I had any clothes or bags. I told her I didn’t know. Me and dad had split the travel trailer the night before. He woke me up and said we needed to go. I didn’t have the time to grab anything.  We got in the car and he just drove around. Five or six hours later we ended up at the VA Hospital. He told them he wanted to die.
Mom told me I could have my own room back and that she would take me out to get some clothes tomorrow. It was weird being in the house again. I had been gone a little over a year and things seemed different. It wasn’t bad at first. We went to a few thrift stores and got some clothes. We went to the grocery store. She told me to get whatever I wanted.  That lasted about five days.
She made spaghetti one night. She poured us a glass of wine. You’re old enough to have a glass every now and then she said. I sat on the couch with my dinner. She sat on the chair on the other side of the living room.  She looked at me and said
“You think you can just move back in whenever you feel like it? You and your asshole father are just trying to take advantage me.”
“Quite mom, I just want to eat.”
“Fuck you. You do not ever talk to me that way.”
Her plate of spaghetti flew towards my face. I ducked to the side. Spaghetti covered the wall and the couch.
“Clean it up asshole” she said.
I went to the porch and smoked a cigarette.
 I decided I would go back to my grandma’s house in the desert.

I took the bus out there. My dad picked me up.
He said he was only in for three days.  I asked why he didn’t pick me up. He said it never occurred to him he should do that.


I get a call from my cousin.
“Your dad’s dead, he killed himself.”
Way to break it to me gently asshole. I called the Coroner’s office in San Bernardino.
I’m calling about Larry Robison. I’m his son.
The coroner I talked to was very nice. He asked if I wanted to hear the note he left behind.
Only a couple things stuck out in my mind. He said that he knew his grand babies would be taken care of and that he hoped to come back as a blue jay.

He killed himself in his girlfriend’s house. He took a shit load of pills, wrapped himself in a blanket and shot himself.
His girlfriend called me a few days later. She said that my father died owning her money. She wanted me to pay her the money and pay for a new couch. I told her to fuck off.
Last I ever heard of her.
I called my mother to let her know. She told me she’d dance on his grave. I hung up.
I had him cremated. I took his ashes and buried them in my grandma’s backyard. I didn’t attend the memorial service. I didn’t feel like hanging around a bunch of people that were pretending to like him.
I felt bad for my grandma. All of her kids were dead. Her husband was dead. My uncle, my dad and my aunt killed themselves. My other aunt got drunk and didn’t bother wearing a seatbelt. She died somewhere on Inyokern road, beer cans littered the area.

I started going through boxes of my father’s paperwork. I want to find out what happened. I want to know why he killed himself. I don’t think I ever will. Suicide is hard thing to understand. I’ve tried it myself a few times, never actually knowing why I wanted to do it so badly.

I came across his note. Now you may think I’m a bastard for doing this, but I am going to reprint his letter here. I think his last words should be heard. He wasn’t a bad guy, just sick. Forgive the spelling errors. I’m assuming Martha was his girlfriend. Shawnee is my sister, he spelled her name wrong, but that doesn’t matter.


I am sorry to have found myself in this position, but, then I chose to be where my most fond memories are and have been.
Your desk in at my house, and the keys are on the key chain left here on the kitchen counter, also you will find the $100 .00 that I owe you, Thank you for your caring and support during our time together and I do that the right person comes for you to fulfill your happiness
As for me, it was a wonderful fulfilling time, things just got in the way, of my happiness, and none of it was your fault. I know mom is taken care of, and my grandbabies are in good hands, even if Shawnee is having some upset but she is strong and will do well
As I know the Ans, shall when she is happy and hopefully you also
Today is just another walk in the park in life, and life continues for many, but my time has ended, maybe I will come back a blue jay
My Love

I do not eat snow.

I think I was two. It had snowed. I played in the snow. I made a snow pile and drew a face on it. I made snow angels. I threw snowballs at the horses. I got thirsty. Snow is water. I ate snow. I went in the house and got a straw. I walked along a snow bank poking my straw into it, drinking the snow. I did this for a while. My mouth filled with a horrible flavor. I spit it out, brushed the snow away from where my straw was. On the ground with a straw sticking out of it was a pile of dog shit. I no longer eat snow.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My son the fag.

My parents thought I was gay when I was a kid. Most of my friends were girls. I would hang out and play with them. We would put on plays and do little shows in one of our garages. My dad would say that no straight boy would do that. It didn’t help that there weren’t very many boys on our block. One of the boys would always ask to sleep over and would try to climb in bed with me. Once he asked me if I had any hair down there yet and would I show him. I tried to stay away from him. My parents thought the other boy on the block was a bad kid and wouldn’t let me play with him. So hell, who was I supposed to play with?
Sometimes we would play Happy Days. I got to be Fonzie. Jennifer and Stacy would random 50’s sounding girls names and be my girlfriends. They stood around and cheered and I rode my bike up and down the street. I had stupid little second grade crushes on either them at one time or the other. So I was happy when they held my arm and called themselves my girlfriend. In my mind I was one cool little mother fucker.

Once for Christmas or my birthday, I can’t remember which it was. I asked for a sewing machine. That did not help the “my son might be gay” situation at all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where's my elephant?

I was standing under at palm tree. I was wearing a bright orange shirt with Fred Flintstone on it, blue shorts. I think I was barefoot.
My father was talking to my grandpa. “We’ll have to go to Mammoth.”
“Will you be able to get the whole thing in the truck?” asked grandpa.
All I heard was the word mammoth. I wanted an elephant and they were going to get it for me!  My father drove the truck around. It was White with green stripes down the side. On the trailer was a green elephant painted on it.
That proved it for me. I was getting that elephant. Dad had an elephant delivery truck. They can’t hide it from me.
Dad and grandpa drove off. I didn’t see them for hours. I knew that there weren’t any elephants where we lived so this made sense to me. My mom and grandma were in the kitchen. I was playing in the living room with my Weeble-Wooble tree house watching Yogi Bear. I overheard bit and pieces of conversation. “What do we do with the trunk?”
One of them said. “We’ll deal with that later. Come on, we have a lot of food to cook.”

Elephants have trunks. Elephants eat a lot.

I was excited. The truck showed up. My elephant was here! They pulled in and parked.

“Daddy can I see it can I see it?”

“Well you are sure excited.”
They opened the door of the trailer. My heart sank.

 It was a tree stump and part of the trunk.

I hated my family for a few days after that.