His slicked back hair was a bag of baby carrots smashed with a copper pipe. A square jaw line was only partially obscured by his matching, well-manicured and untrustworthy beard. He stood an unimpressive 5’11, his wide torso perched atop bowed legs that preferred faded Levi’s. His pale, slate blue cashmere v-neck attempted to soften his features, but only amplified his façade.

All too comfortably, he balanced a glass of scotch on his bent knee, looking at my mother and laughing in a way that seemingly only I knew to be, a cunning and calculated manner.

His piercing blue eyes did not fool me the way they fooled my mother. As he pulled a Marlboro red from the package, I skirted him with apprehension and a deep mistrust that radiated in a way that let him know I saw right through him.

Ron Summers entered our lives in February of 1982, a few day’s before my 11th birthday. Our babysitter arrived one night, and our mother emerged from her room in a deep burgundy, form-fitting cocktail dress, with flawless makeup, gold jewelry and high heels. The smell of Shalimar seductively trailed behind her.

Who was this person? Our mother never dressed like this. She told us she was going out to meet a friend, told us to behave, kissed my brother and I on our cheeks and told us she would come tuck us in again when she got home. Things were never to be the same again.

The next evening we were told that we were going to be having company. Mom had been drilling my brother and I all day on how important it was for us to behave, not throw fits, not fight, not back talk, not curse, not hit each other. She was basically asking us to be somebody else’s children for the night.

Suddenly, we were the children of a mother dressed to the nines, with an apron, setting the formal dining room table, preparing beautiful appetizers, taking delicate cream puffs from the oven and carefully scooping out the centers as she set them on the rack to cool.

The gold leafed glasses that had been handed down by her ex-mother-in-law were lined neatly on the credenza, along with the new bottle of scotch, a few bottles of wine, the silver ice bucket and tongs. Real cloth napkins that I didn’t even know we had were folded, flowers arranged, candles lit, cowlicks tamed, final warnings administered.

The doorbell rang and she checked herself quickly in the mirror, tugged at her dress, stood up straight, and answered the door with her award-winning smile.

Joey and I were actors on a fantastical set. Our house was messy, things were broken and stained, people yelled and fought while the TV blared and mom sat, in her dark green, floor length zip-up bathrobe, on the phone with the long twisted cord, slurring her speech slightly with a glass of scotch attached to her hand.

But tonight, things were different. We stood temporarily in the life we had always longed for. The house was clean and tidy, my brother and I were both dressed in new, fresh clothes, and the lights were comfortably dim as the fire crackled in the living room. The marble coffee table was pristinely arranged with assorted appetizers, little cocktail napkins, and sparkling crystal ashtrays resting on side tables.

Soft music played in the background as the two gentlemen were escorted up the stairs from the foyer and introduced. “Hi, I’m Tracy, it’s nice to meet you” I begrudgingly recited my line, as did my brother. Their names were Mr. Gaily and Mr. Summers, “but you can call me Ron!” Followed by a glance at my mom, smooth chuckle, and an attempt to make us like him, which failed miserably.

They were well dressed and businesslike, smelling of cologne and achievement. Mr. Gaily was tall and thin, blond, and spoke with a thick German accent, which I was both captivated and mesmerized by. The other man, “Ron” was obviously the one our mother was interested in. Their familiarity, inside jokes and casual, easy laughter let me know that their relationship had evolved somewhere else, behind my back, on those evenings she left the house in heels, smelling of Shalimar.

As we sat like prisoners of war at the dinner table, we listened to Mr. Gaily go on about his life in Germany, and how he was just here for the week for business. I never did understand what their business was, but I did enjoy the hard edges of his speech, and the surreal feeling of the candlelit make-believe night.

From that night on, Ron became a permanent fixture in our lives, marking the beginning of a very long, excruciatingly cataclysmic downward spiral.


43 replies

  1. Every post you write I keep thinking, “She can’t top this,” yet, every time you prove me wrong. As always, your voice is distinct and compelling. You are an excellent storyteller and I look forward to reading the continuation of this piece.

    • Thank you so much for such an awesome compliment. It is so cool to me that people actually like my writing, I’m still kind of scratching my head about it really.
      And yes, this is just the beginning, it’s going to be hard as hell to write.

      • Well you are most welcome. You are certainly one of my favorite writers on WordPress (and there are a lot of great ones). And I understand things can be hard to write. And to share with others. I have things I’ve been working on for years because every time I sit down to revise them, I get overwhelmed with emotions that I thought I’d dealt with a long time ago. I’m also not quite brave enough to share as much as you do, but I think it’s amazing that you have chosen to be so honest in your blog. Good luck with the rest of this!

        • It’s funny, when I decided to get sober over a year ago, I became honest, and that opened pandoras box on how I remembered things. My perceptions had been rewritten for so long I am finally able to go back and take a long and honest look at them. It’s absolutely cathartic.

  2. Your cliffhanger ending has filled me with dread.
    Nevertheless, I’ll be back to watch this tale unfold in what is sure to be a grisly fashion….

    • I didn’t realize what I had started. This “story” spans about 4 years, and there’s the other half going on at my dad’s house in tandem. fun times.

  3. Tracy,
    It’s easy to recognize stellar writing; you can’t wait for the next chapter. You got it all wrapped up. It’s really a beautiful thing the way your work has evolved.
    Thank you for sharing it.

    • Red,
      Thanks, that means a lot to me. This is an evolution for sure, I’ve hopped on a ride and I’m letting it take me where it will. Who knew?

    • Thank you. I didn’t realize what I had started. This “story” spans about 4 years, and there’s the other half going on at my dad’s house in tandem. fun times.

Your thoughts, experiences and opinions here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s