It had been almost a month since my mom packed up all of our stuff and left my father. We were in a new rental house and my mom had already found a new boyfriend, Gene, a wet noodle of a man who spent all of his free time sitting in our living room in his frayed tighty whiteys, eating Froot Loops straight from the box, as he scratched his balls and hogged the TV.
My mom's taste in men definitely gave me a strong sense of what I was not looking for in a man later in life.
Gene was in his usual spot on the sofa, wearing a pair of underwear so worn that I was sure if I breathed too hard they would immediately disintegrate into a pile of yellowed dust, the day my Dad kidnapped me and my sisters at gunpoint.
We were watching back-to-back episodes of "The Brady Bunch" on TBS, the one show Gene and I could agree on, when my dad kicked the door open. He was holding a gun, bloodshot eyes a-blazing. Faster than a speeding bullet, Gene was off the sofa running out the back door, shredded underwear flying in the breeze of his chicken shit escape, as my mom entered the room screaming and cursing.
My dad started yelling, too. The only thing I could make out was him saying over and over again "Why’d you tell her about the names? Why’d you tell her about the names?"
This was a reference to my mom finally confessing to me that my dad wasn't my real father after all. Even as a child I couldn't help thinking, "It's a little more than just me not having your last name anymore, no?" but I wisely decided to stay out of it, and sat there quietly attempting to will myself invisible.
“Punkin', go get your sisters and wait in daddy’s truck!”
I hadn't seen him since we moved out. I considered going the "You're not my dad, I don't have to listen to you anymore!" route, but reconsidered after I realized that he might just take my sisters, his biological children, and I didn’t want to be all by myself with my mom and Gene.
I looked at my mom to see what she had to say about the situation. She was just standing there with her arms crossed, sniffing her snot up, not saying a thing.
“But we’re in our pajamas…” I lamely protested.
“Get your sisters and go wait in the truck.”
I made another attempt at averting parental kidnapping. “But it’s a school night,” I said. At the time, I honestly thought this was a no-brainer reason why he shouldn't take us.
“Just go!” my mom yelled. I wasn't sure if she was talking to me or my dad.
“Does this mean I’m not going to school tomorrow?” I asked.
My dad grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me right in the eyes. “No one’s going to school tomorrow because instead you’re going to spend the day with your dad. Ain’t that gonna be fun?”
At this point, I was pretty sure we would be leaving with my dad that night. Naturally, I tried to make the most of it.
“Can we sit in the back of the truck?” I asked.
I was worried about leaving my mom, but guessed she'd just have to figure it out. I got my sisters and we hopped into the back of the pickup truck. We had never driven al fresco at night, so I made sure to get a primo tire hump spot. There were a few benefits to having irresponsible parents.
As we were pulling away, I saw Gene come out from behind a parked car. He looked like a dirty Jesus. He ran up to the front porch and was talking to my mom, standing in the porch light in his underwear.
"Go inside!" I wanted to yell. "The whole neighborhood can see you!" Because apparently of all the embarrassing shit that just went down, it was Gene in his tighty whiteys that caused me the most humiliation.
Fortunately for us, my dad took us straight to my grandma Betty's house. Not exactly the most brilliant kidnapping plan. She seemed to be expecting us. My sisters went and lay down on the sofa and I sat with my grandma at the kitchen table, drinking basically sugar and Creamora with a splash of coffee and enjoying a piece of her famous fruit cocktail cake. My dad paced back and forth in the front yard.
About 20 minutes later I heard a car pull up.
“You dumb motherfucker, I’m calling the cops!”
“Sounds like your momma’s here,” my grandma needlessly explained. I ran to the window. My mom saw me and started calling my name. “Go get your sisters and come get in the car.”
“Keep your butt in the house,” my dad said.
I looked at my grandma. She got up and opened the door. “Candy, the girls will be fine. Just come back in the morning and we’ll work it out.”
My mom told her to stay out of it and then she told me to get my sisters again.
“Why don’t you come up and get the kids?” my dad said. This is when I noticed that she had brought dumbass Gene with her. He got out of the car, shirtless, wearing only raggedy jeans.
“Come on man, just give the lady her kids...” Before he could even finish what he was saying, my dad started running down the driveway with what appeared to be a Captain Caveman club in his hand. My mom started screaming as Gene ran into the middle if the street. He started touching his mouth and said, “Dude, what the hell…I’m bleeding.” He must have bit his tongue from running so fast. I ran outside and my Grandma came after me.
“Dad!” I screamed. I didn't really care about Gene, I just didn't want my dad to go to jail for beating the shit out of him. He was breathing heavy and he started walking back up the driveway. I noticed the club he was holding. It was like a Captain Caveman club! Despite all the drama, I really was baffled as to where you would get something like that.
My dad knelt down and put his hands on my face. They were rough and sweaty. Then he started to cry.
“You’re my baby…” he said. He turned back toward my mom, who was inspecting Gene’s lip. Now Gene was showing my mom his arm. I'm pretty sure I thought the kid version of "What a fucking pussy!"
“Are you screwing him? Huh?” My dad asked out of nowhere. “Hey, are you fucking my wife?”
“Get inside the house,” he said.
“What’s the matter, you don’t want her to know you’re a fucking maniac? She already knows. We all fucking hate you!” My mom clearly was not trying to calm the situation.
My dad looked at me. "I didn't say that," I reassured him.
Then my grandma came out of the house with my sisters. “Let’s just send the girls home with their momma before the police come.”
My dad kneeled down and hugged us, defeated. We said goodbye and then got into my mom's car. I saw my dad throw the club at the garage.
“This isn’t over, Candy,” he yelled as we drove away.
I looked back and my dad was punching the wall as my grandma tried to calm him down. After a few minutes my mom informed us that she had some good news. We were moving back to Florida, away from my dad so he couldn’t pull this shit anymore.
“Is Gene coming?” I asked.
“Yes honey…Don’t worry, Gene’s coming too.”
Suddenly the "moving back to Florida" part didn't seem as bad. I never saw my dad again.