The Construction Worker, The Kickboxer, & the Man with the Gun–Day #4 of the 30 day challenge to blog

It’s appropriate that I woke up in the middle of the night, not being able to sleep, fleeing my bed to take a shower when I realized what I was going to write about this morning. Let me be clear, I’m not excited. I feel as timid as a little boy. I have a knot in my stomach, and a lump in my throat, and my eyes are dodging around trying not to cry. My soundtrack to write this morning is the score to Braveheart, which is eerily appropriate.

Let me toughen up for a second and be honest. I’ve got a temper to me. And an appetite for fighting. I long have. I grew up loving the movie Die Hard. I was eight when I saw that movie, in the movie theater. Man I wanted to be John Mclaine. My friends are laughing right now, and just said under their breath as they read this…”And you still do.”…I guarantee I’ve seen the movie more than you, but even as the franchise’s biggest fan, I mourn the last installment of die hard 5. I’m from the east side of Indianapolis. Which now has turned into a war zone, literally in some areas. There are many kids now that don’t escape the high school I went to, Warren Central, because they are shot by their house. Which was only a few blocks away from where I lived. But it wasn’t quite like that when I was growing up, at least not as bad. Mainly just a bunch a wannabe’s. But sadly, some of them did grow up and become “be’s”…I hope they found what they were looking for, but I doubt it.

I feel sad, and shame faced as I admit this, because I can picture and even feel the jokes about me from some of my friends—they know my angry side. Some friends describe me as…”Oh no Dave’s gonna go crazy”…and another will just say…”Uh oh, Dave’s crazy eyes have come out.” I have that Robert De Niro thing of …”you talkin’ to me.” Not the impression, but the secret desire of hoping people will screw with me. Some have called it little man syndrome since I’m only 5’9”…but I know it has nothing to do with the outside…it has everything to do with the inside…I still day dream about fighting all the time. In a lot of ways I’m still a kid who wishes he was John Mclaine. I imagine or wish the Target I was shopping in was taken over by terrorists…and I’d get to save the day. Sometimes I’ll be driving along with my wife and just go…”Man, I want to get into a fight.” I’ve just got this thing down inside me…Now watch this…I’m about to quote Rocky Balboa…it’s like when Rocky said to Pauley…”I’ve got this beast in the basement that needs to get out”…I’ve still got that beast. But I don’t want to be a monster and just go beat the shit out of people, I want to be a hero. I want to save the day.

I can’t remember how many nights that my mom woke me up in the middle of the night when I was a kid because we had to run away from one of her drunk and violent boyfriends. But strangely, I do remember the little things, as one does. I remember almost vividly the moment before my Mom would wake me up. It’s like I could sense it before it would happen. Not every time. Matter of fact the times where I would be awoken out of a deep sleep where almost better, because the times when I knew it was coming were hell. I would lay there, watching my Mom pack a quick suitcase for me in the dark, she’d be panicking, and walking out to the living room or bedroom curtain checking to see if anyone was there. Then she’d say, “David, wake up. We have to go. We have to get out of here. He’s gonna kill us.” There was always a variation to this line. Sometimes it was kill us, sometimes it was hurt us…but it was always fearful. Next, I would be throwing on some jeans, and trying, the best a 7 year old could do, how serious this was…because let’s just say My Mom can be a little “Peter cried wolf”…Then, and this is such a detailed memory for me. I can still remember where the moon sits in the sky, as it cast it’s light over the lawn, and my mother and I would be jumping the fence. We’d throw our suitcase, or bags, or her purse over the fence, and then we’d climb over it, and run to a neighbors and call the police. Occasionally you could hear the haunting sounds of a drunk and angry voice yelling “Carol!” My mother’s name. Not every time. I can still see the damn fence. Our family doesn’t own that house anymore. And every once in a while when I”m in town on the east side of Indianapolis…I drive by the house on the corner, and look at the house. The fence is now gone, and for me it’s metaphorically perfect. I’m no longer in that house. That house of fear. That house of monsters, ghosts, and the constant fear of the boogie man.

At school, or even from movies I’d learn about fictitious characters like the boogie man. I’d only half jump at movies like Candyman or Friday the 13th. Because I knew real monsters. The kind that are flesh and blood, not the ones born of fables or creative storytelling.

I can barely breath, and don’t quite know what I’m writing this, but I don’t know…I just am. Maybe it’s my way to tear down the fence around my house…that still exists in my heart. What’s your fence? What needs to be torn down in your heart?

He doesn’t deserve for me to say his name, so I’ll call him the man with the gun. He’s the guy I remember the least. But I remember enough to know I was a little kid…man I’ll be honest… I don’t know if I can do this…I was a little kid when he was drunk and I was running around in my underwear…and I remember he was drunk…and I remember him joking around and trying to take off my underwear…let me be clear he didn’t molest me…or do anything sexual…it was just a joke…a drunk joke…by a drunk guy with a gun…I can still see his face laughing…but that’s not the worst part…the worst part is my mom was sitting right there…laughing beside him…The only person that knows that story is my wife…and now…all of you. Maybe I’m exorcising some demons here at what is now 4:44 in the morning…or maybe they are monsters…I almost didn’t write that for a variety of reasons…but mainly I think it’s shame…I still feel the shame of that moment…a moment that was joke between my mom and the man with the gun. A joke that has never made me laugh.

Somewhere along the way, mom was done with that guy. And that’s when The Construction Worker came into our lives. My honest words here the minute I just wrote the last sentence was…”I fuckin’ hate that guy.” I know this blog is a little to raw for some if not most of my Christian friends out there…and Im’ not trying to convert you to be a cussing Christian…but I will say this…I think, or at least what I have found is that the road to abundant honesty, transparency, and openness is the vehicle to being the healthiest disciple I can be of Jesus. And it’s different for all of us. So it doesn’t have to filled with cussing…but it has to be filled with you being you…even if it makes others uncomfortable…because after all being real will always make people uncomfortable…because we live in an entertainment culture…a culture of mask wearing…I used to be a do-list Christian at times…it never lasted long…but I did try…here’s my list…do this and don’t do that…but it never felt right to me…I usually end up burning the list….because to be a disciple of Jesus is to recognize that it’s more about a love affair with the Almighty Soverign Absolutely Other…and I got a better shot at intimacy if I’m honest…especially honest with myself…and the road to that is to take of the mask…especially the mask of religiosity…and the mask of wanting people to like me…and the most dangerous mask of all…the mask of people thinking I’m a “good christian”.

Anyway, My Mom woke me up one night and took me to a motel. But this motel wasn’t one of refuge that was usually the norm. This was one where there was a fight happening between the drunk construction worker and the drunk man with the gun. That’s where he get’s his name. I can’t remember the minute by minute details of the event. I do remember I was 6. And I remember it was dark. And I can still see the neon lights of the shitty motel hitting my face. And the fear of gun being waved around. But I’m not going to get creative with inventing the past, because that’s all I really remember. I just remember that was the man with the gun, and after the cops were called and took those drunk boys (for men is reserved for others of a different character) off to jail…I never saw him again.

Now the Construction worker, he would be in my life on and off for the next 8 years. He was a hillbilly redneck…but not the cool Justin Eubanks kind…the kind you want to throw through a window. I remember he wore flannels, or a white t-shirt, had a mustache and like really terrible cut off jean shorts…and keep in mind this was the 80’s…and it was bad for that time period…the mustache he had is actually back in style now…so if he’s not in a gutter, jail, or dead now he’d probably fit right in and you wouldn’t even know…With so many years, of laying in the bed in the middle of the night, my mom being so afraid of this monster alcoholic…and yet also afraid to not have him in our life…all the memories are a blur. But I’d like to share a few key memories that stick out. Because I feel they are important, I’m not sure if they are for you, or me, or both. I remember on a weekend visit with my Dad. I must’ve been around 10. I think this was right before he left for Oregon. He was dropping me off. And I could see that no one was home…except the construction worker. And I just squeeked out…”Dad don’t leave me.” To his credit, he did come inside for a few minutes to make sure I was okay. He was there …chatted with this piece of shit for a few minutes, then looked at me to see if I was okay. Genuinely he did. And I said yeah. He then left and I watched his white toyota hatchback celica pull out of the drive way.

What else was I supposed to say. No. In front of the construction worker. I wish I could tell you what happened after that. Was it a good night. Or a bad night. I can’t tell you because I can’t remember, but it doesn’t matter. The most haunting part of that memory for me is …was my Dad really that stupid? If my Lucy has one ounce of fear over anything I will go to hell and back to make sure she’s safe. I don’t know. I’m still alive, but…at the end of the day I think what my pain reflects is you just want your dad to be your dad, ya know…You want him to protect you, and love you, and take care of you.

I remember the construction worker always drank budweiser…specifically cans. I always hated those red and white cans. And to this day I’ve never taken a sip from a budweiser can. Yes, budweiser was ruined for me…until a Saint one day redeemed it for me. St. Bryan Bontrager…who once on a trip with all our friends…ordered a budweiser…but in a bottle…I decided to have one too. And ever since Budweiser, the king of beers is my beer of choice. What I find to be a pattern in life, is that monsters, and demons can ruin the good things of life. And they will die, or wilt away like a flower in the hot sun. And will remain dead, until it’s raised to life by something a little holy, or a somebody that is holy like a cowboy named St. Bryan Bontrager the saint of deep friendships, and true loyalty. For no rhyme or reason I really like Budweiser in a bottle. It’s not even that great. But I think it has more to do with Bryan than it does with the beer. There’s little things like that, that I do…just because it reminds me of people I love. But I still can’t have budweiser in a can. And I don’t think I ever will.

Then there was the kickboxer. He had a mullet, and a black mustache. And he thought he was the shit. He couldn’t stop talking about how he had been on Espn and was a kick boxer. His favorite activity? Getting drunk and teaching me how to fight. Sure he’d show me a few moves in the yard every now and then when he was sober…and then he’d say “practice”. Oh, and I would. I would stay out there for endless hours doing the kicks, the punches, the blocks. I would punch the shed in our yard over and over and over again. How could I be so committed you’d say? I would pretend the shed was his face. I saw all their faces. The man with the gun. The construction worker. The Kickboxer. And I would pretend to be a hero. I would be John Mclaine kicking their ass. I vividly remember him pulling me out of bed, and he was drunk, and my Mom, to her credit was trying to get him to leave me a lone…I remember that …That night’s lesson, I remember was in the living room. To show me how to block. He said, “I’m going to show you one time…and then the next time I’m really going to hit you.” So yeah, I know how to fight. You learn quick, especially when you have to.

That same night ended with fists being thrown, and me running into my room and slamming the door. I laid on my bed, and moments later…I shit you not…he kicked the door so hard it came of it’s hinges and it flew into the middle of the room. I knew I was dead. Especially that night. Now this next part was weird…and it always remained weird throughout the years…he came in, with an evil deep in his eyes, of which I knew there was no escape. And then he got the strangest look in his eye. A puzzled look even, and then he just left. No drunk yelling, or warnings, or raised fists. He just left. It was one of the oddest moments. I guess you had to be there, but I always shrugged it off as maybe he just shocked himself with his own strength.

I was getting stronger, or maybe just a little fed up with fear so I started fighting back. Once in my mom’s closet he was holding me down, and he wouldn’t let me up. He was slapping me, and maybe even choking me…I can’t quite remember…it’s vague…years have passed forgive me…but I do remember this I somehow got my leg free and fucking kicked him as hard as I could in the face. He fell back. I again, knew I was dead. But he looked at me like an asshole and just gave me a “Atta boy” head nod, smiled and walked out of the room. In my head I was thinking “Shut up Mullet!” I hated that dude. We’re not friends, I was thinking.

Another time, maybe the last time. He was messing with me. And I was doing my best to ignore him. Being a kickboxer he was always into kicks. He was doing this roundhouse in the kitchen, saying shit to me…and honestly I don’t know what got into me…I’m guessing the beast in the basement wanted to come out…he was in the middle of a kick…prodding me to fight…and I just ran up, caught his leg and threw him on the stove…I cussed his ass out. He calmly struck the fear right back into me. I let go, and fearfully went to my room.

I don’t quite remember the time period…but I’m guess I was 14 maybe I had just turned 15. And I walked the living room…and My Mom started screaming for help…”David he’s raping me…He’s raping me”…He was on top of her. “Run to Grandma’s , call the police”…I did just that. Luckily, she lived next door. Now when I tell you I ran as fast as I could. I ran as fast as I could. As if my life depended on it. And you know, I think it did. I looked back and he had a telephone in his hands…and kids…I don’t mean a smart phone…I mean a (f-word) telephone land line…okay…he threw it at my head…it missed. and I ran into grandma’s house…slammed and locked the door..”Grandma we have to call the police!”…He pounded on the door and then walked to the window. I saw his face looking at me through the glass. That would’ve been a great time to throw out a John Mclaine line..like “Kick you later dip shit”…but alas I had no cool one liners…I just wanted this endless nightmare that was my childhood to end.

The last time I saw his face was from he back of the police car. I never saw the kickboxer again after that day. But unfortunately the construction worker came back into our lives…I’ll spare you the details…I was a little older…and little more angry…and thanks to the kick boxer I now knew how to fight. But fighting the construction worker was easier than you can imagine. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to fight a slobbering drunk. But if not…it went like this…A lot of yelling…then he tried to kick me. I moved and he fell down. He couldn’t get back up.

Around the same time I remember sitting on one of my cousins bed, and most of my cousins were packed into a room. And I remember hearing they also had stories. Stories with monsters, and boogie men. But not like the kind you’d hear at a campfire. More like mine. We had been through different things…but not too different. Still hard. Still scary. Still things kids shouldn’t have to go through.

Now I hesitate to share this…because it’s a bit spiritual…but I will…just know if you’re not Christian I’m not trying to get weird or preachy…I’m just trying to be transparent…and if you’re a Christian…don’t get all annoying and weird or I’ll …well I won’t do anything…I’ll just be annoyed (See my first blog Day #1)…Once in the pit of despair over my depression and I was trying to deal with some of this shit. I think I was 27 or so…and I did a theofostic prayer session…if you don’t know what that is…google it…and tell me…because I sure as hell can’t explain it…

But simply put it was a guided prayer session…and it came to a part where the counselor asked me to picture all these horrible memories…I didn’t tell her …i just pictured them…and then she asked me…to pray and ask God where he was…I know how potentially dangerous this was…but I honestly wasn’t going to create anything…I really fucking wanted to know where God was …I almost was demanding it …and then I saw my house…the house on the corner…the house with the fence…but it had no roof…and I was looking down at it like …from a bird’s eye view…and I saw all the memories I’ve shared with you playing like a movie in each of the room, simultaneously …then I saw JESUS…not his face…but I knew it was him…like  Johnny Cash said…he was the “Man in White”…I saw him go to room to room…he was answering my prayer. He was there. He always was…Now please …believe me or don’t believe me…but what I’m going to tell you…I’m not making it up…

When the memory played like a movie…of the kickboxer kicking down the door…I saw the guy walk in…then I saw Jesus walk in…and stand between me and the kick boxer…I wasn’t bullshitting you…I genuinely ALWAYS wondered and ALWAYS thought it was weird how that guy just stopped. He had a strange look in his eye…but now I know what happened…God got in the way. That’s where he was. He wasn’t passive. He was at work in the story of me.

I’m no longer a kid. Even though I still have nightmares that make me want to hide under the covers, and climb over fences. I still have this beast int he basement, but he’s being redeemed. Not by a saint, but by the maker of saints. Jesus. With him I don’t have to pretend to be John Mclaine or fear boogiemen. They have to fear him.

I love you all. I’m going to bed. Sleep well. And know, no matter what you are going through, went through, where you are, or where you’ve been. God is there standing between you and the monsters.

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~ by David Leo Schultz on October 9, 2015.

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