There are 5 parts leading up to this:
Skate Land Circa 1983 (although it does not have “Ron” in the title, it fills in the gap between part 3 and this)
And now, finally…Ron, Part 5. The End
I was hysterical and couldn’t believe this was happening. Upon arrival I was strip searched, and instructed to “spread my legs and squat.” Honestly, I probably would have killed myself then if I could have. I spent the night in isolation, a cold basement room with a cot, cheap blankets and no windows. The next day I was taken to my assigned “cottage” as it was so inappropriately called. All of our rooms were locked from the outside, contained a cot and a footlocker, no personal items whatsoever, and a barred window. The bathroom and showers were all open, and there was the main common “group room” downstairs.
It was June, there was no air conditioning or fans and it was stifling hot. It was about 85% black, and as badass as I had thought I was, I was nothing in here but a terrified skinny white girl. There were fourteen-year-old girls with gunshot and stab wounds who showed them off like badges of honor. I stuck out like a sore thumb, and was forced to become tougher, more mouthy and intimidating, causing trouble with the guards in order to prove myself, because you did not want to get your ass kicked by these girls. No fucking way. Shortly before I had arrived, someone had hung themselves from the light socket in their room.
My only saving grace was that the girls found me to be funny. Humor became my defense mechanism and weapon of choice. There were constant fights, girls getting raped with curling irons, getting jumped in the showers, you name it. It was beat or is beaten. My award-winning attitude got ten times worse in that hell hole.
Having no drugs or alcohol, in conjunction with all of my painfully sober anger, sadness, and sense of abandonment, I was filled with such deep-seeded resentment, now compounded with the daily terror of being assaulted.
There was one guard or “counselor” or whatever they were supposed to be, who was named Mr. Hinkle. He was probably mid-thirties, tall, mean and pervy as hell. All he ever talked about was his IROC, and there were plenty of rumors circulating about girls giving him blow jobs in return for cigarettes. All authority figures there were mean, manipulative and happy to take advantage of you.
Every day at 3:00 we had group, where we all sat in a circle to talk about our feelings and problems. I always stayed quiet because it ALWAYS broke out in a fight or threats of later abuse. It was basically a fighting ring, and the “counselors” were there strictly to referee. Once a day, we were all shuffled over to a school building, where the work was so remedial it could have easily been for 3rd graders, and still most could not do it. I acted as if I couldn’t either as not to perpetuate a “white girl” reputation.
The boys’ cottages were on the other side of the grounds. I have no memory whatsoever of ever eating one meal there or what the cafeteria looked like, only that we were made to line up, black white, and count off before we walked over. No shoelaces made it harder to run away, there were always a few girls that would try it, only to be brought back a few days later with longer sentences.
I was there longer than most, watching girls come and go, even watching some to go only to return again. Parents were allowed to visit for 1 hour on Sundays in the group room. I only remember one of these. Everyone got a “nice visiting outfit” from the designated “nice visiting outfit” box. I wore a yellow skirt and white shirt that looked like it had been sewn by a three-year old. It was ridiculous.
I was told I had visitors, and escorted down into the group room, and there sat mom, and Ron. It pissed me off immensely that he was there. They had brought me Slice soda, caramel popcorn and a carton of Marlboro 100’s, all to be held by the staff and rationed out to us, but they almost always smoked all of the cigarettes.
I couldn’t hold back my tears. I begged and begged to come home, I told them that I was scared and didn’t belong there. I was told over and over that “I was paying my dues” and that this was the result of my actions and decisions, and that I was the only one to blame for my current predicament. They proceeded to tell me about all the fabulous things that they were doing that summer. Ron did most of the talking, and mom choked back tears. My father never visited me.
No one ever considered for a second that anyone else might have played a part in this. They just continued on in their hypocritical alcoholic lives, and I suffered in juvenile lockdown. Those months are a blur of fights, hot plates with metal combs, and big gigantic plastic tubs of green hair grease the black girls would use to straighten and comb their hair. There were no mirrors, only sheets of buffed metal.
When I was finally released, and looked in the mirror for the first time in months, I was horrified. I didn’t recognize the girl staring back at me. She was pale as a ghost with dark circles under her eyes, stringy, greasy hair and horrible acne. She was 5’11 and weighed only one hundred pounds.
From there I was taken to The Good Shepherd Center for girls, for a period of one year. It was another non-voluntary facility, no phone calls, they read all mail first, and outdoors consisted of a courtyard surrounded by four walls of the main building. This was a million times better than Montrose however.
We were all assigned to a group, which was set up like a dorm. Our group was named Welbers. A nun, and two group counselors ran each group. A few of them I liked tremendously. We all had our own rooms with a desk, bed, and a closet. We were allowed accepted personal items, such as comforters from home, music and books. I read compulsively, every pulpy paperback that I had access to. Danielle Steele, Stephen King, V.C. Andrews, Jackie Collins. We had both group and individual therapy. I liked the group therapy, and ironically found myself as someone the other girls would come to for help and advice.
I began to develop a sense of worth and acquired some real friends there. I hated individual therapy, with Marta Chaney and her incessantly growling stomach. She would ask me how I felt, and I would reply, “I don’t know how do you feel?” That’s how that went. In spite of that, I began to develop some decent self-esteem. The school here was real and our grades transferred once we were out. I loved my art classes and teachers, they encouraged me to enter contests, a few of which I actually won.
Eventually it came time to leave, and I was both excited and terrified about it. I had made good friends, excelled in school, had order in my life, and plenty of encouragement. Things were stable here. I could trust my environment and authority figures. It was a tear-filled goodbye as I left Welbers, and walked out the front doors, back into the care of my mom for the first time in well over a year.
The house felt strange as I walked in, like trying on a pair of jeans you used to wear all the time, and discovering they don’t fit anymore. The house was clean, and it felt all welcome homey as if I had been away at horseback riding camp instead of juvie.
I had another few weeks until I started high school, in 10th grade. Mom had arranged to send me to a different high school so that I would not be around all of my old friends, but this meant that she would have to drive me both ways every day, and that I would have to wait in her office and do my homework after school.
The most obvious change was the relationship between mom and Ron. There were many times my mom had tried to end it with him. They would fight, then he would split for a while, and just when things would start to feel better, he was back. He was there that day when I came home, in attempts to fool my mother into believing he really cared by offering his fake, scotch saturated support. Once we had been home for an hour or so, he left, at which point mom explained to me that they were done, and Ron didn’t live there anymore.
It was the best news I had ever heard. I remember hugging her, we were both crying. There were a million regrets and a million apologies in that hug. I was overwhelmed with a feeling I had very little understanding of. Hope.
There was a very noticeable difference in our mother, brother, and our reunited threesome. Laughter began to replace yelling, conversation took the place of door slamming, and mom had scaled back her drinking dramatically. She had exceeded any of her expectations at work, and was now running with the big dogs in the male dominated world of high-level executives.
The last time he came back, he wasn’t welcome, but he barged in, sat on the burnt orange sofa that his ass had worn thin over the years, and refused to leave. He was completely hammered and started in on a rant about how he belonged there, how we all needed him, telling mom that she was too stupid to know what she wanted, that he knew she loved him, and that he was going to stay.
We looked at her in terror, knowing that this was a defining moment, and begging her with our eyes to choose us. She backed us all into her room, locked the door, made a call, and we sat and waited for the police.
When we heard them enter and come up the stairs, we all came out of her room. Ron was just sitting there on the couch, as we had left him, but with a drink he had apparently helped himself to. A cigarette sat burning in the ashtray, and he just stared straight ahead as the police came in to take him out. When they told him to get up and come with them, he just sat, staring. They started to pull him up off the sofa when the shit hit the fan. He began yelling at mom, “FUCK YOU, YOU BITCH! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME LEAVE! THIS IS MY HOUSE TOO!” But it wasn’t, nor had it ever been his house, and mom made this perfectly clear to the police.
I looked at that piece of shit with pure disgust and hatred, taunting him, calling him a worthless piece of shit as they took him out in handcuffs. I laughed at him as he was dragged out, loud enough for him to not only hear it, but feel it. When that door closed behind him, the only look I saw on my mothers face was relief. She hugged both of us and I knew then and there that was the end of Ron.
We never saw him again, and when we did ask a few months later, we were told that he had died. As much as we hated him, we were still naturally sort of shocked by the news. We asked what had happened, and we were told that he had died from drinking, “Cirrhosis of the liver,.” I never realized that you could actually die from drinking. His daughter Tracy Ann, who had been forced to become “family” with us, was also never seen or heard from again.