I can only piece together fragments of memory from my genesis. The rest left in the photographs and some of the video footage that wasn’t taken, and recently recovered.
The earliest memory was being burnt. I crawled under a table, and as I stood up a kettle (just boiled fell on me, burning my back.) I remember getting an army man that fell under the table, I remember crawling and I remember standing up and the small of my back catching the table.
The pain that followed I don’t think any child deserves, and I was thankfully spared of that. My mother recalls it with frightening accuracy…
I was three years old at the time. As my mother carried me to the bathroom, the skin peeled off me like paper. My arms were flailing around in desperation. My mother put me in the bath and filled it with cold water it was then my screaming subsided for a while. She called the ambulance, and I was rushed to hospital.
My final memory of the event was the ambulance door opening. It’s like an editor cut the film between my times under the table, and just before I entered the hospital.
Church was huge. The people were all oversized and intimidating. I crawled on the pews, and hoped it would be over soon. Nothing about it jarred me yet, but the preacher babbled on for light years after my attention span gave in.
I still remember Pastor Harry. He wore semi-transparent glasses, hiding his eyes from far away. He seemed like a powerful man way up there at the lectern. When he had stopped talking and reading out the Bible, the music started up.
Harry stood back half a step. His mouth grew as round as a dinner plate and he joined in the singing. Although from so far back I could not hear him much.
My first Christmas that I can recall was exciting. My bleary-eyed parents stared at me and my brother’s faces, through cracks of sleep. I remember getting Lego. My little man with a barrel head came with a helmet and a motorbike.
I remember taking him to church.
I could not understand why my parents would want to spoil such a beautiful day, listening to a boring voice on hard benches. I remember holding this new toy, with heightened excitement. While the sermon ran in the background like the monotonous sound of the fan…I escaped into my head. My Lego man was the last survivor. He clambered out of burning wreckage and rose to begin his journey. He raced along cliff faces, and onto long-forgotten beaches to find gold. As he came down the last slope a branch snagged his visor fell tumbling down into the nothingness.
In this church there was a metal grill below every second pew. This ventilated the church, and lead to the storeroom directly beneath. My clumsy fingers had pried the visor loose, and it had fallen through the grid. I climbed down and looked through at boxes and steel poles below. I could not see the captain’s visor.
I sniffed and could smell the dust and feel cold air float onto my face. Later we spoke to the pastor and went to retrieve the lost visor. I picked it up from the cold concrete.
It was all by itself.
My house was chaos. My parents fought often, and they sent me to toddler schools I found intimidating. There was one thing that scared me more than a crowd of mothers and children…our dog.
He name was Brutus, and I’m sure his surname was Maximus. Brutus was a boxer. My head was level with that long sleek body; those eyes and heavy jaws raised one and a half heads above me.
Brutus was full of energy. He seemed trained for combat, always ready to run and trample things down. Nothing got in the way other than the towering figure of my father. Even guests used to nervously peer over the gate before entering. The ignorant ones would leave with mud stains decorating their clothes.
Many times I was bowled over by Brutus. It seemed to be normal to be scratched and burst into tears, once he’d finished throwing around my stick figure. I can proudly say that one day I got revenge on our dog. It was David and Goliath, Man against Machine…and I came out on top.
My father enjoyed collecting bones and skulls. Many shapes and sizes he’d shown me telling me about the animals they all came from. My mother considered bones to be dirty things, and they remained in a suitcase in the garage. I was around the day Brutus found the bones.
His big nose seemed to draw more curiosity than a cat could. His nose started to rummage, looking for something interesting enough for it to be worth the effort. I was watching from the garden, my mind slowly working out that he was after the bones. I went to the compost heap, and grabbed a long rod of bamboo.
I screamed a shrill war cry in the air and ran towards the garage like a gladiator, swinging my sword above my head. Brutus grew tense. He sensed something was up. He grabbed a bone in his mouth and bolted out the building. I darted after him, with my brother in tow, both of us running and screaming. It was one of the happiest days I can remember. For the first time I remember watching his tail go between his legs.
My father loved to read, and he passed on the excitement. He made an effort to read stories to us, and grow our minds. With my fond memory of books came my memory, of my father’s friend…Clark.
He was a young exciting guy. His eyes were alive, and had curly orange hair, that sprung out at different angles. Clark was a librarian, who loved to pass on books. You could say that every year my birthday present from Clark was predictable. The story, excitement, and other world that lay beneath the wrapping could not be measured.
The more stories I could fill myself with, the happier I was to live in my head.
Every kid is fascinated with their crap and their urine at some point. I had lain in it for at least two years, with the nappy making it portable. A nappy helps to carry your crap around, although mothers see it as keeping you clean.
I must’ve been three or four years old, since I was able to walk around and climb onto a chair. I was in the lounge, I could still smell the furniture polish. I climbed onto the couch. Once there, out of pure curiosity I wormed my index finger down my pants all the way into my point of extraction. I dug out a sticky sample and watched it. I could a stiff and the gagging odor that followed, convinced me not to continue with this experience.
Since no toilet paper was around I wiped it off on the wooden handle of the couch, and left the room feeling guilty.
(To Be Continued…)