About I DON'T LIKE QUESTIONS
Follow the pitiful life of young Eric Simoneson following his father being gunned down in a foiled bank robbery. His social worker advocate does not have enough hours in the day to keep abreast of Eric's abuse in one foster home after another.
Eric hides behind a self-imposed façade of not being able to talk. He associates talking with people asking him questions. Questions which he does not want to answer. He fears his father gunned down his mother before his escaping the east coast for California where he planned to ditch Eric.
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Young Eric Simeonson wrapped his pillow around his head trying to quiet the fighting coming from Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom. Daddy had been drinking again. Eric hated it when he did because he got real mean—more than other times. Maybe if he slid under his bed all the way to the wall it wouldn’t be so loud.
Something heavy crashed against the wall causing him to flinch and scrape his arm on the bedsprings. Daddy shouted naughty words followed by a loud bang—like Daddy’s gun.
Eric shook and curled tight knowing Mommy would have more owies—maybe bad owies. Someone was always getting hurt—someone besides Daddy.
Hard footsteps came down the hall. Eric peeked from under the bed. His bedroom door swung open and slammed against the wall. Daddy stood in the doorway looking angry and bellowed, “We’re leaving. Forget what you think you heard. Get in the car.”
Eric picked up his prized possession—his blankie. He wanted to grab more, but it’d take too long, and Daddy was already mad—madder than he’d ever seen him. Eric ran after him to the car with the New Jersey early spring air circling his body. He should’ve taken his jacket.
Eric struggled to open the car’s backdoor and climb in. He raised the seatbelt’s bent end to Daddy like he always did.
“I ain’t got time for that. Buckle it up yourself.”
Eric tried, but couldn’t connect the twisted seatbelt so he held it.
The car shot forward out of the driveway pressing Eric back into the seat. Daddy had never taken him for a ride alone. Mommy must be hurt real bad not to come along.
“Get that blasted truck out of my way. Where’d you learn to drive? You jerk,” yelled Jake while shaking his fist.
Eric shivered from the cold and fright. His stomach growled. He pushed his thumb into his mouth and squeezed his fingers around his blankie. His eyes took in the empty food containers lying on the floor wishing they were full.
They sped through town squealing around sharp turns and Jake yelling.
Eric hung onto the seatbelt and door handle trying to stay in the seat. The car slammed to a sudden stop. Eric propelled forward and smashed against the front seat. He screamed as his nose flattened. He felt warm liquid on his upper lip and rubbed it away. Blood—he had blood on his hand. He hid it so Daddy couldn’t see it.
Jake jumped from the car and jerked the backdoor open. “What’s the matter with you, you stupid brat? You’re about as worthless as your mother.”
Eric didn’t like it when Daddy called Mommy names. She was happy when Daddy was in jail.
He looked at Daddy, with tear-filled eyes, hoping he’d wiped all the blood away.
“Don’t you dare cry, or I’ll smack you. Got it? Real men don’t cry. I warned your mother she was making a baby out of you.”
Eric sucked it in and turned away from Daddy’s sight.
“You stay here. Can you do that much? Stay on the floor. Don’t let no one see you. Understood?”
He dropped to the messy floor even though he wanted to see. The last time he’d looked out after being told not to, Daddy smacked him good.
He held his blankie tight and traced the raised bump on it—a letter E. Mommy gave it to him and told him it was a very special blankie. She said she used some kind of a soft cloth that made up the rest of the blankie. He’d never let anyone take it. It smelled like Mommy. He had a felling he’d never be able to again sit on Mommy’s lap again and rock in a rocking chair like when Daddy was in jail. He broke the rocking chair because he said Mommy was treating him like a baby.
He shivered and a tear coursed down his cheek. He let it be since Daddy wasn’t there.
An increasingly loud noise startled Eric. He wanted Mommy and some food. When was Daddy coming back? Eric was cold. He closed his fingers into a tight ball. They felt funny. His fingertips were white—no longer pink.
Hunger forced Eric to sift through the discarded fast-food containers on the floor. The junk stunk. Daddy’s car was a bigger mess than Eric’s room. He licked the ketchup from two empty boxes that looked awful, but tasted okay. The search alongside the front seat yielded a cold French fry. He ate it. It was better than the piece of a hard hotdog bun he had for breakfast. Mommy had said she was sorry, but Daddy didn’t give her any food money. He covered himself with his blankie, but was still cold and shook up.
He wanted more food. Again, he reached under the front seat. He touched something that moved—Daddy’s gun. He quickly pulled his hand back.
A slamming car door jolted him. His head shot up. Daddy’s back. He listened and heard voices, but not Daddy’s. He was getting colder. He wanted to look out, but if Daddy saw him, he’d hit him. It sounded like ice-rain was hitting the car. Eric rolled over to see the sky out the side window. Some of it looked white. It must be snowing. He quivered and squeezed his arms tight to his chest. He wanted to go home. What he really wanted was a family like the Walton’s or Little House on the Prairie.
His blanket did little to warm his quaking body. His thumb got cold each time he pulled it from his mouth, so he stuck it back in and kept it there.
More voices. They weren’t from Mommy or Daddy. He eased himself up onto the seat and raised enough to look out the window. It was snowing. He turned in the direction of the voices. Three people were getting into a car. Another man put a suitcase into the trunk. He then realized they were at the airport. He had no idea how long he’d have to stay there. Maybe Daddy was flying away and leaving him. The building was a long way off. He should run there and find Daddy. He might get run over or lost. Maybe a bear would eat him. Maybe a policeman would catch him. Policemen are naughty people and ask questions. Eric didn’t like questions.
After parking at the far end of the airport lot, Jake left his snot-nosed kid and went looking for a car to steal thinking airports were a good place to do that, since he’d be long gone before the owner returned. Good grief, all he saw was newer cars. He cursed under his breath looking at them. He needed an older car that was easy to hotwire.
An airport security car rolled slowly down the far lane. Jake watched it out of the corner of his eye as he made his way across the lot to an older green Ford pickup truck. It’d be his luck the battery would be dead.
He held his head high and shook it trying to quiet the ringing of the pistol going off in the bedroom, an hour ago. She had it coming for asking him who he was with for the last three days. He wasn’t married, so he could do whatever he wanted. Who did she think she was anyhow? Guess he didn’t have to worry about her anymore. She’d never bother him again and he was free to hang out anywhere, so there. His gun-hand trembled, so he shoved it into his coat pocket. Now to get rid of the kid. He should’ve left him, but the kid would tell the nosy neighbors. He’d ditch him out west. The kid would slow down his new lifestyle. He’d be living high as soon as he robbed some small town bank. He hoped the kid was smart enough not to go squealing to the cops about the fight with Marsha and bring him down. Be just like that lousy kid to get him arrested.
Jake watched a security car skip all the other lanes and come down his, so Jake turned and headed toward the terminal. Stupid guards. Don’t they have anything better to do? He was wasting time. He needed to get out of town before someone found Marsha’s body. He should’ve slid her under the bed.
Jake entered the building to warm up and noticed a security guard looking his way, so he headed into the men’s room. After three minutes, he returned to the hall, and peered down the corridor. Good. The gumshoe was gone. He needed to get back outside and check out the old pickup. He was only a few steps from the door when a security car came to a stop at the curb. Jake spun around and headed in the direction of baggage claims, down the escalator, and around a bend in the hall.
Feeling he waited long enough, Jake climbed a nearby stairway and walked to the outside doors. It was snowing. He stepped off the curb and jumped back at the blaring sound of a bus horn. He shook his fist at the moving bus. He didn’t know they had buses at the airport. Hmm. That may be better than stealing a car, but he needed ticket money. His measly two dollars and fifteen cents wouldn’t get them very far. He had to find a pigeon.
After entering the airport bar and grill, he took a seat near the cash register. It only took him a few minutes to see an older man pay for a cup of coffee who had a wallet full of money. Jake followed him out into the crowd. A quick bump to his backside and presto the wallet was in Jake’s hand.
He headed to the bus terminal, located near the car rental area. “One adult ticket and one child’s for San Diego.” Good. He had some cash left for travelling expense—at least enough for food for himself and smokes.
Jake carefully wiped his prints from the wallet before tossing it over the top of the vending machines.
With two bus tickets in his hand, Jake headed back upstairs to find the main door leading to the parking lot. He had thirty-five minutes to retrieve Eric and get on the bus.
On his way to recover Eric, he passed the food court. His stomach growled alerting him to stop.
A burger and a large Coke occupied his hands as he tramped out into the snow.
That idiot kid had been in the car an hour. He hoped Eric wasn’t blabbering to some dumb cop. Rushing to the car became his immediate concern. The brat better still be there. Maybe he froze to death. That’d be convenient. He reached the car, brushed the snow aside and opened the door.
“You didn’t talk to no one did ya?”
Eric shook his head.
Jake took another big bite of the hamburger, then another, and tossed what was left to Eric. “Eat.” The meager remnants of the burger fell on the floor. Nevertheless, Eric ate the remaining bite, along with some floorboard dirt. Jake gulped the last swig of Coke and threw the empty container to the ground.
“Hurry up. We got places to go. Wait a minute.” Jake reached under the front seat for his pistol and ammo. He shoved them into a big coat pocket. He glared at Eric. “Get out of the car. Now.”
Jake pulled Eric from the car. His feet sunk into three inches of fresh snow.
“Come on, kid.” Jake bent down to pick up Eric who flinched. “I ain’t gonna hit you. We can’t be late.”
“Fffforrrr what?” stuttered Eric.
“We’re going on a bus ride. If anyone asks, my name’s Jason. Yours is Percy. Don’t forget it.”
He didn’t want to be Percy?
They entered a building, and Eric shuddered as his cold body took a few minutes trying to get used to the warmth.
Jake jerked Eric forward. They passed by the food court. Please stop, Daddy. That wasn’t going to happen and Jake continued down the stairs, and stopped at the bathroom.
Leaving the bathroom, they passed a water fountain. Being more brave in public, Eric pulled his daddy toward it. “What?” Eric pointed at the fountain.
“Make it fast. We ain’t got all day.”
Jake dragged Eric away before he finished drinking and continued walking. They neared a crowd by some doors where a bus waited outside the glass wall.
“Percy, you wait here for Daddy.” He leaned closer to Eric. “Don’t move or you know what.”
Daddy walked toward a line of people standing in front of a counter.
Eric watched Daddy stroll past the line, reach down, and pick up a man’s suitcase and then quickly step over to the bus and handed it to the driver. He motioned to Eric. “Come on, Percy, we’re getting on.”
Jake grabbed Eric’s arm and pulled causing him to stumble. Jake pushed him up the steps and shoved him down the aisle.
Eric kept trying to see out the windows, wondering if the man was going to chase them for his suitcase.
“Let’s sit here,” commanded Jake.
It was on the wrong side of the bus for Eric to see any more of the man. He held his breath as each new passenger entered. He was afraid the man would be mad and fight. He knew Daddy had a gun.
The engine roared, and the bus pulled onto the roadway. Eric wished he didn’t stutter so he’d yell at the driver to stop and wait for Mommy. He needed her even if Daddy didn’t. He stood as his muscles coiled to run up front and stop the driver.
Daddy knocked him down. “Sit.”
Eric hated being so scared. He imagined what had happened to Mommy, but he wanted to see for sure. He didn’t want to leave town without knowing, but Daddy had a gun.
Jake popped a lifesaver into his mouth and looked at Eric, “Sorry, kid, these’ll rot your teeth.” He tossed in another chewing with his mouth open.
Eric turned toward the window and let his blanket absorb some tears. Mommy wasn’t going with them ever again.
Miles and days flew by and the bus pulled to a stop in front of yet another diner. Eric had lost track of how many there’d been on the long trip.
Getting off the bus, he tripped. An older lady wearing a strange looking red hat offered to help. “Are you okay, young man?”
He looked up at her, pointed to his throat and shook his head. She looked surprised. “You can’t talk?”
She helped him and once off the bus, Eric struggled to get free. He ran to Daddy who was busy talking with a blond lady.
She took one look at Eric and said a bad word to Daddy, before hurrying away.
“Don’t ask for too much food, Percy. I only have so much money. This is our last stop.”
The bus driver pulled Jake’s suitcase from the bin and handed it to him.
Jake hustled Eric to the diner and set the suitcase next to the table and ate in silence save a few low toned burps.
The meal of meat loaf, potatoes, and buttered corn ended, and people began to make their way to the bus.
Jake paid for the food and asked for a pack of cigarettes. When the cashier turned her back, to retrieve them, Jake stole all the coins from the penny container sitting on the counter.
Eric looked away.
After paying for the cigarettes, Jake rushed outside.
Why doesn’t Daddy say anything about Mommy? Something’s wrong—bad wrong.
“Keep an eye on my suitcase and wait.” Jake disappeared behind an old building.
Eric held even tighter to his blankie, getting a slight smell of Mommy’s scent, which seemed to be fading.
Daddy was leaving him. He didn’t get it. Mommy couldn’t help him this time. All he had was mean Daddy. He wanted to run after him. Yeah, but he’d get beat. He wished he had been born into a family like the Waltons or the one in Little House on the Prairie.
Eric lowered his head into his hands. He was startled when a car pulled up and beeped the horn. Daddy got a car.
“Get in.” Jake got out and retrieved the suitcase, but tore off the nametag and tossed it into the nearby trash drum. He threw the suitcase into the trunk and slammed the lid.
Eric climbed into the backseat of the rusty car and held tight to his blankie and grabbed the door handle to keep from flying around the seat as Daddy squealed the tires speeding across the parking area. He must’ve shot someone to steal the car.
Sadie Woolton of Sunflower, CA wove her way to the bathroom bouncing from wall to wall while mumbling, “I don’t care what my sister says. She’s not my keeper. I’m older and the one who always protected her from Dad’s advances. She has no idea what I did for her. So what if she works for the county and I don’t. I don’t care if the government is paying my way. They could have cared less when I was little and cried for help. Now my life is what it is. I need to take pills to feel better. She doesn’t have a clue what I’ve been through and continue to go through.” She momentarily grabbed the towel bar before moving across the cluttered bathroom where she fell against the sticky gray counter. Her shaky hands swept at several bottles of medicine. Some dropped to the floor and a couple rolled into the sink plugged with grime.
She spoke to the inflamed face staring back at her from the large streaked mirror. “Who you looking at? Get a life.” She gawked at her blue eyes surrounded by pools of red with bags beneath and an assortment of wrinkles. She’d been pretty and an inch taller than her goody-two shoes sister Nancy. Sadie needed more pills.
She grabbed the sink’s faucet to keep from falling and picked up a pill bottle. She popped the cap. “Do I take two of these?” She steadied herself and reached for another bottle. “Or is it one of these and two of all the rest? Big deal. What difference does it make? Who cares?” She snapped open a few more bottles and filled her hand with the variety. She tossed them into her throat. A couple missed the mark and hit the floor. She reached for an open beer sitting on the counter and knocked it over. She righted it in time to save some to wash down the pills. “I need a nap.” A slouched walk took her to her dark blue living room recliner where she plopped her overweight body into it to pass out.
Her sleep was interrupted when shaken. “Wake up. Wake up.”
“It’s me Nancy. Your sister. It’s time to go to the counselor.” Nancy pulled at Sadie’s arm.
“You woke me up for that? I told you I wasn’t going anymore.” She jerked her arm free.
“Don’t you care about your life?” Nancy reached for Sadie’s arm again only to have her hand batted away.
“I’ve got all I need.” She gestured widely taking in the whole repugnant room.
“You call this living? Don’t you care that there’re black cobwebs hanging from your ceiling along with food wrappers, dirty clothes, and empty beer cans strewn all over the floor? How do you even walk through here without tripping? When’s the last time you took a shower or changed clothes? This place is so filthy you could be evicted.”
“Get out of my house if you’re going to rag on me like Mom and Dad...Where are they anyhow?”
“They’ve been dead for three years. Don’t you remember the fire?”
“What fire?” Sadie burped. “Oh, I remember now. They burned in our old run-down house.”
“Yes, Sadie. That fire.”
“Okay.” Sadie burped again.
“You’re disgusting. Mom and Dad may have been rotten abusive parents, but they never would have lived in such a pigpen or acted like you do.”
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“I’m moving some of your mess. I need a place to sit.”
Sadie pushed herself to a standing position and took a swing at her sister. She missed and crashed to the floor squashing some of the clutter, which she batted at.
“Who invited you to come here anyhow?” Sadie struggled to get up using the lime-oak coffee table for leverage. A partial beer rolled off spilling its contents on the already grungy floor. Gasping for breath, she hung on to a nearby chair for support.
Nancy stood to her full height of five feet two inches and headed to the main door. “I’m leaving, but I’m calling a cleaning service to come in here and clean this place and—”
Sadie boomed, “You’re doing what?”
“You heard me. And I’m coming over tomorrow night and giving you a shower.”
“You and what army?”
“Either you take a shower tomorrow night or I’ll call 911 and have them take you to the hospital to scrub you.”
Sadie charged her sister who was letting herself out the front door, but tripped over the debris, falling flat toward the floor. Her head collided with the corner of an end table. Blood dripped.