Excerpt From My Memoir, Monty & Me

randomlychad  —  October 30, 2012 — 23 Comments

Today’s post is an excerpt from my work-in-progress, tentatively title Monty & Me: From Fractured to Free, a Memoir. I am posting today as part of a larger synchroblog started by the wonderful Jim Woods. Jim issued a challenge at the beginning of the month to focus on writing that matters. What follows is my attempt to show that I’ve been doing just that. In doing so I’m uniting in solidarity with other writers from around the country, and indeed the world, who have similarly taken up Jim’s challenge.

——————

Suburban white boy tragedy is still tragedy all the same. Look beneath
the facade of the nicely painted house, the bushes trimmed just so,
and you’ll find suburbia’s dirty little secret: despite their best efforts, not
even the Joneses can keep up. They never could. There is a crumbling
marriage, two boys to corral, a mountain of bills, and a man who wants
out.

But nobody on the outside knows any of that; all they see is what they
want to see: a happy family.

How did people live next to John Wayne Gacy all those years and not
know the truth of him? Because he looked like such a nice man. And he
was a clown for goodness’ sake! A clown! Everyone knows that clowns
love children. But some clowns are scary, and like the whitewashed
tombs Jesus spoke of, beneath the facade of the happy clown were
dead men’s bones.

Unlike Gacy, there are wounds which do no seeming harm, but rather
seek to kill the soul. Just because I grew up in suburbia, doesn’t
mean–despite having a roof, clothes, food–that I grew up happy,
well-adjusted, whole.

Suburbia is full of whitewashed tombs: the people living in them
appearing alive, but dying inside. I know because I lived in one.

Let us look beneath to the fractured bones of my soul.

Because you see broken men beget broken boys–boys who grow to be broken
men, further begetting brokenness of their own.

This is the story of Monty and me–of how I went from fractured to free.

——————–

Motes of dust playing in beams of light. Children are playing around the town square. Little girls in frilly dresses, boys in dungarees. The Methodist church stands off to side, ignored for now, stalwart in all its red brick glory. It is the 1950’s in small-town Northwestern Pennsylvania.

My dad is there, with his sister, playing with the children. He is six, maybe seven–younger than his sister by two years. She is named Roberta, after their father. She knows him, their dad, little better than my own dad–who knows him not at all. Who does he look up to? Who’s his rock? His mother? I’m told he was very close to her.

Yes, his mother is his world. She has forbidden him from seeing his dad, and indeed from having any relationship with his father’s side of the family; like a good son, he has dutifully complied.

“I have a secret,” the little girl said.

“What is it?” asked Roberta.

“Tell us! Tell us!” shouted little Monty.

“I have a secret, and I’m not telling!”

“Aw! No fair! Tell us!”

“I know who’s getting married in the church today.”

“Who? Tell us! Come on!”

“Sillies! Your mother! Your mother’s getting married today.”

Monty and Roberta hadn’t even known their mother was courting, letting alone marrying again.

“No! That can’t be.” Almost as if on cue, like when Peter locked eyes with Jesus after the third denial, there was their mother, walking down the steps of the Methodist church, arm-in-arm with a man they’d never seen before.

Doubtful he could have articulated it at the time, but commingled with the love he bore his mother–his moon and stars–little Monty felt a shattering betrayal. If I had to guess, a seed was planted that day. One that would, with the right kind of tending, later bloom into something other than that great love he bore towards his mother.

Because, like oil and water, love and betrayal don’t mix. Or if they do somehow commingle, become tangled in the heart of a man, the results are likely to be as explosive–and as volatile–as nitroglycerin.

If I had my guess, young Monty bounced back from this betrayal, and his mother regained his trust.
He wouldn’t always. Because some seeds go deep before they bloom into a bitter harvest.

—————–

Young Monty grew up in an environment much like that of his peers: it was the 1950’s, the era of rock-n-roll. It was a music foreign to the ears of his mother and stepfather, but soothing to his soul. He was akin to his peers in another way: he grew up in a house of secrets:

Evening. Dinner has been eaten, and cleared. Chores, and homework, are done. The children have bathed, and have been sent to bed. Monty is in his room, in the dark, hoping to drift off to sleep to strains of his radio. Needing to sleep, willing himself there.

Then he hears the voice:

“Turn that goddam radio down!”

He knows what’s coming, feels powerless to avoid it. He wants to hide, to die, but can’t. He hears the footsteps on the stairwell, counts them. The heavy tread stops outside his door, the knob slowly turns.

“Didn’t I tell you to turn that goddam thing off?” asks his stepfather.
Monty fears to speak.

“Well?”

“Yes, sir.” He doesn’t move. His stepfather approaches.

“I’ll turn it off, you stupid kid.”

Monty knows what’s coming: it will be more than the radio’s knob that gets fumbled with. It has been this way since shortly after his mother remarried, but he can’t tell. Who would believe him? Why won’t she protect him?

Where is God?

—————-

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randomlychad

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers.Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email
  • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

    Wow, Chad! I can’t wait to read more. I’m also working on a memoir, and will be posting a bit tomorrow on my blog.

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Thanks very much, Jamie! Looking forward to what you, and all the writers unite folks, are going to share.

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    Chad, this is fantastic! All of the hard work you have put in shows! Can’t WAIT to read the piece in its entirety!!

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Thanks very much, Jim! Thanks for issuing the challenge, encouraging us to go deeper, writer harder.

      It’s an ongoing work at this point; I’m shooting for 50,000 words when it’s done. Wish it was progressing faster, but it is moving forwards.

      • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

        LOVE IT!! So excited about this Chad!!!!!

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Thanks very much, Tor! That is my hope.

  • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

    Great stuff Chad -- thanks for being so transparent. I’m sure that lives will be changed by this finished work!

    • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

      Couldn’t agree more with you Tor!!!

  • http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/ Tammy Helfrich

    This is really good. I can’t wait to read more of it.

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Thank-you, Tammy! Very much appreciate your kind words.

  • Michelle Woodman

    Oh my gosh — Chad, that’s heartbreaking and beautiful, messy and hopeful all at the same time.

    You must finish this, because I want to see how free comes about. Not that I’m trying to be pushy or anything. Just, yeah — please keep working on this and through this.

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Aw, thanks, Michelle! Appreciate that!

      The plan is to continue until it’s done, and done right.

  • http://meetthebuttrams.com/ Jessica Buttram

    Chad, every word is in its perfect place. Can’t wait to read more.

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Jessica, coming from a wordsmith such as yourself that means an awful lot. Thank-you!

  • http://dailygallen.com/ tim gallen

    well, i’ll join the chorus of wows, my friend. powerful stuff. can’t wait to read more.

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Thanks very much, Tim!

  • http://steadilyskippingstones.com/ skippingstones

    I know I’m just echoing the others, but this is good and I’m eager to read more.

    • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

      Gosh! Thanks, Michelle! Appreciate it!

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