Dancing with the Devil Who Lived Down the Street

This predator always liked to lead.

I always wanted to be invisible after that first time it happened.  I wanted to watch you, but I didn’t want you to see what I was up to.

young elizabethI remember sitting in my parents’ living room, with my eyes shut down while my breathing became rather shallow. I didn’t want you to hear me either.

I was always in my Sunday best – patent leather shoes with shiny buckles, poppy necklaces and frilly silly girly dresses that were held up by skinny little legs that sprung to life at the drop of a Broadway tune coming from my father’s HiFi. But now I wanted to dissolve into one of those Tom Collins drinks that made their way around at my parents’ shindigs. In between all the merriment and my father’s wit that rivaled Oscar Wilde, there he was. Some one had let the devil incarnate in.

Everybody loved him. What was not to like? His laughter was contagious, his dance moves were legendary and he could hold his liquor. But he gave up his soul a long time ago. Maybe he left it at home? What the hell did a five year old know?

I did not have a shy bone in my body. I could entertain anyone at anytime. Even if they didn’t ask. I was your girl. I wish the little me could have hung out a little longer. But I understand. You had to go. You had to join the underground. Changed your name and burnt your dance card.  But he kept coming back and searched you out. Who let him in?

This was when adults knew everything. But they never knew this. I think my father would have killed him if he knew. But instead they shared cigarettes and war stories.

Your lap was like a portal into Hell, and I wonder how many other little girls felt pain when you pushed them down on your lap. Our big tulle and taffeta skirts hid what you did to us.  Such a clever man you were.

But I had no one to tell and had no words to describe what had happened. I just knew that it hurt.

I realized if I stopped dancing, if I stayed with the other kids downstairs, if I never went near him again, then I could be safe. Funny how my five year old self became the mother/father figure who saved my own life.

I stuffed that pain down inside just like I used to stuff green peas into my mashed potatoes. Thinking that this crime against my innocence would never resurface. But these memories always do. It’s all a matter of time. For the longest time I did real well in the stuff it and snuff it department.

Until I was 25.

I was living in San Francisco at the time when I was slammed against the wall with my memory, my hidden truth. My own personal earthquake had disturbed the sleeping beast and its black eye winked and welcomed me back home. It was that subtle.

I remembered what he had done to me.

I am so grateful that this sickening truth came back to me after my very anguished teen years. I can almost guarantee that I would have not survived those years.

I tried to find out if he was dead. I wanted to be afforded the opportunity to sit with him.

I was always told that I could give looks that could kill.

And I would have taken a really long hard look at him.

© 2011 My Views from the Edge ™

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Originally published September 20, 2011