I was an impressionable youngster
at the age of 12, when one day my father suggested we go camping as a father-child sort of thing. This excited me to no end as I had never done anything with my father. He wasn't one of those dads
who go and watch their kids at sports and always drive them around. He was more of a loner
, kind of like me I guess.
Anyway, it was a bright and beautiful Friday afternoon, and school had just gotten out. I came home, excited to embark on all kinds of adventures in the wilderness. Maybe we would go fishing and catch all kinds of fish to bring home. Maybe we would go kayaking down whitewater rapids. Maybe we would cut down a tree and build a huge bonfire. Maybe...
"Go get my shit together, boy, I'm gonna run down and grab a few beers at Mackie's."
I obliged excitedly, and packed all the gear, and set it out on the front porch. Hours later, approaching night, he came home, smashed off his ass. He took all the stuff and jammed it into the back of his rusted old Chevy Celebrity and we drove off into the setting sun.
We arrived at the "campground" and, much to my disappointment, what we received couldn't really be comparable to a wilderness environment at all. Essentially, it was a plot of dirt 20 feet by 20 feet. Some rocks, but mostly dirt. No fish. No rapids. No trees. Dirt. Oh well, I could still spend some quality time with dear old dad, I guess.
We got to unpacking, and he opened the trunk of the station wagon. Boom! Crash! Bang! His poor packing job caught up with him. Stuff toppling all over the place, flying all over, a general mess. I let out a small chuckle, barely noticeable. He was on me like a rabid wolf.
"What the fuck do you think is so funny about that?! I'll fucking show you something funny so you can fucking laugh, mother fucker!"
Right there, in front of a dozen or so people, my father beat me. Smacked me in the head, threw me on the ground, and kicked me repeatedly. Everyone around just looked away as if nothing was going on as my dignity was being ripped away from me. Every blow I endured, every bit of dirt kicked in my face, every bit of pain I felt, I lost a little more of my naive childhood innocence. A rite of passage, perhaps.
I spent that night crying while my dad was passed out in a drunken stupor. But that was the last time I can remember crying. I've never really felt much since then, like he kicked the feelings out of me that night. I wasn't beat up too badly, and nobody seemed to notice anything had gone wrong that weekend. But someone died that weekend. My boyhood role model. The man I looked up to for advice in everything with love and awe was dead, and the cranky old drunk that was my father was all that remained.