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I think it was Christmas time

Updated on November 22, 2013
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A vignette from my autobiography, "Bakersfield Blood"


A true story...


I think it may have been Christmas time, but I'm not for sure. I remember the flashing red and blue lights, but now that I think about it, they may have been from the police cars and the ambulance.

It was the flashlights that woke me up.

Lil' sis was awake as well, and side by side we lay perfectly still as the beams of light crisscrossed our bodies.

There were policemen in our room. I had always liked policemen. I think I even used to make believe that I was a policeman, as probably all little boys do.

Until that night.

Where was the comforting; the calming words? Why did Mr. Policeman never kneel down by our bed and pat our little heads?

I had been a child, but I recognized the expressions. I saw it reflected in red and blue flashes on their faces; disgust.

I had been afraid...and ashamed.

I figured poor children with cockeyed step-daddies just didn't count.

And so we never made a peep, even though I could hear momma crying from the next room; even though the policemen started tearing open our toys; especially the big bag of balloons that cockeyed step-dad had brought home. I never could understand why he bought such a big paper bag full of balloons but only let us have one of them.

And there went cockeyed step-dad. I just caught a glimpse of him as they wheeled him past the door on a stretcher. I guessed he must be pretty sick. I think momma told me later on that it was something called, "overdose."

Mom never did let me and little sis go to the hospital to visit cockeyed step-dad, because she said we wouldn't want to see the tubes in his nose. But it was okay, cause soon as he got better we got to go and visit him at a place momma called, "The Halfway House."

Unlike the policemen, the people there were really nice. and I think it might have been Christmas time, but I'm not sure. It just seems that every time I think of my childhood I recall flashing red and blue lights.



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    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you Nadine. i appreciate your visit.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Yes your memory might have been sad, but writing about it will be healing. Thanks for sharing

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you, Frank. yes, I think it has made me stronger, and much more appreciative of life.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      what a sad rememberance.. a child and his sis trying to understand a cockeyed step-dad addict.. i hope strength came from such a sad event :( Frank

    • wayne barrett profile image
      Author

      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by Deb.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I can see why red and blue are dominant colors. Quite an experience never to be forgotten.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 3 years ago from TEXAS

      Same for you, too! :-)

    • wayne barrett profile image
      Author

      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you so much, Nellieanna. I've been slow to respond due to being out of town with family. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 3 years ago from TEXAS

      You’ve painted this horrendous experience with brushstrokes of vivid color leaving heavy paths on the canvas. Even the flashing lights which might have been translucent seem opaque and heavy in this setting.

      To frightened children, plunged into an unexpected reality about policemen and loss of innocence, it must have been crushing.

      Perhaps set into the entire autobiography, it is more related to other things that happened in your childhood, but as a view through a monocular, it pinpoints isolated factors that had to have been bombastic for children, whose perspectives are inevitably searching for landmarks and links, even in the smoothest of situations.

      Amazing writing, and, more,- - amazing survival, Wayne.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Hahah! No way. But we learned that Dunedin is no place for poor people. Plus also, we're expecting a new addition to our family in April so we decided to move closer to my parents.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you Liz. I read your comment on your story and all I can say is stay strong.

      I see that you have moved! My poetry isn't scaring you away is it? ;)

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Damn, those red and blue lights are powerful. Those balloons lost their innocence when we found out about the overdose. Amazing writing as usual, Wayne. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you Jamie. Appreciate the visit.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you, Jodah. Hopefully it does work out that I have enough info for a tale. Sometimes it is difficult in recalling, but my life has turned out great, so would I change anything? Hmm.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      I like how different sources of light come through in tale. Well written. Jamie

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful as usual Wayne. I can understand how these memories would still be so vivid in your mind. I'm sure growing up n such a situation made you a stronger human being....and gave you plenty of material for a book.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Sha, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness in you words. For every thing there is a reason!

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      i hope you are doing better, Martin, and I hope that this turns out to be a wonderful Christmas for you.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      tirelesstraveler, I appreciate your take on my piece. Thank you very much for the visit.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you Anna. I appreciate the kind thoughts. You too are a very talented writer and it's for that reason that any compliment from you like this one is an honor to me.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Good to see you Nikki. Thank you again. You are always so gracious to visit my work.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Wayne, this is so sad. I can't imagine raising a child the way you were raised. You overcame and are a man I admire and respect greatly. You've got strength of character and a huge amount of love in your heart. My only wish is that you could have had a childhood full of innocence and freedom.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      My Christmases started with Arlene and ended with my handicap.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Heart breaking. A child's view of life is so different than an adults. You have powerfully revealed this. As an adult, my mind immediately said the policeman's look of disgust was aimed at the situation not the children, but they have no frame of reference to know, we all need to remember this.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Kim, as always, you humble me.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Hi Ann. Thank you dear for the wonderful comments.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      You are a very talented writer who has obviously overcame a huge amount of adversity in the past.

      This excerpt is very powerful reading and a testimony to both that skill as a writer and your strength as an individual.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Hi Marie, thank you so much for the compliment.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Hello, Chris. Very nice to see you again. Thank you very much for the thoughtful words!

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Thank you, Sir Bill.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Becky, I thank you so much for the visit and for the nice compliment.

    • wayne barrett profile image
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      Wayne Barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Roxi, what a pleasure to see you here. I truly appreciate the visit.

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikki Wicked 3 years ago from Louisiana

      Well written and expressed.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Powerful work. Your ability to capture even the subtleties of something told from a child's point of view again demonstrates just how awesome you are as a writer.

      Kim

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      We remember startling or traumatic events from childhood so clearly; I know I do. This is so well told; the scene is vivid, the emotions are raw and the poignancy is strong. Brilliant! Ann

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Wow, amazing. This little teaser made me want to read your entire book. Well done.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Wayne, there is so much here that calls up all sorts of emotions. These words are what got to me most:

      I had been a child, but I recognized the expressions. I saw it reflected in red and blue flashes on their faces; disgust.

      I had been afraid...and ashamed.

      I figured poor children with cockeyed step-daddies just didn't count.

      So we can look to you for hope, Wayne. Many others have to endure the same kinds of things. You came out of it and have risen above it. With some help and encouragement, maybe many more can do the same.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      If this excerpt reflects the rest of the book then it is a doozie. Well done, Wayne...well done!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      So sad that any child should have to remember things like this. I am so happy that you have moved beyond this and overcome it. It takes a strong person to change from something like this.

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      Roxi St. Clair 3 years ago

      Wow Wayne.... incredible writing and biography you are sharing here. It's amazing what little kids remember... those 'key' words that we absorb as we grow up and try to assimilate into the adult world. Bravo for your sharings!