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Author’s note: Please forgive any grammar mistakes. I do not have an editor and when I proof read, my mind corrects any of my mistakes because I know what I was trying to say.
I have had two male influences in my life. The first was my father, Leonard Shaw for what it’s worth, and he taught me exactly what I didn’t want in a man. He was usually at work but when he was home, he was distant, only talking to my brother Jack and me in one-word sentences. With my mother Judy, Dad seemed disinterested. They would talk but I got the sense he didn’t care. When I was twelve, father left for good. He paraded into the house with a woman on his arm, a colleague from work. Apparently, he had been seeing her for quite some time and they were now moving in together. He came in, took what he wanted, and left, leaving a path of destruction in everyone’s hearts. Granted, I didn’t know him very well, but he was still my father.
That was the day the second male role model entered my life. Since Jack was two years older than me, he had always been in my life, but he surprised me and, at least subconsciously at the time, I know my perception of him changed to that of something more. Jack guided me to my room and, as he mussed my black shoulder length hair, asked me to stay there until it was over. A simple demand, yes, but being so curious it was a request I could not fulfill. I watched him leave and then snuck down the hall. Dad stood laughing at our crying mother while his girlfriend rummaged the house. She even snickered at me as she passed. I’m shocked she didn’t try to take the pool from out back. Jack got between our parents and stared our Dad down. It was a spectacle to watch as a defiant Jack tried to intimidate our father. I couldn’t see any part of my brother. His scrawny, wiry frame was completely over shadowed.
“Got something to say son?” Father towered at least a foot and a half over my brother.
“Get out.” Jack didn’t yell or shout, but his tone… the words were spoken with an intensity I have never heard in any person before and it shocked me. I moved in closer to get a better look.
Jack’s response caught father completely off guard. “Well look at you,” he chuckled back, “trying to be all grown up. What do you think you can do to me?”
“Get out now!”
Dad kept laughing and Jack swung. The connection caused father to take a step back before his face contoured into something sinister and he balled a fist. Dad cocked his arm back and flung it forward. He stopped mere inches from my brother’s face. Jack didn’t even flinch.
“Linda, we’re leaving.”
I scampered back to my room as my father left, stunned at Jack’s audaciousness but proud he did something I couldn’t do.
From that day on, Mom was a shell of herself. My brother took charge of everything. In the house, Jack cooked, he cleaned, and he did laundry. He was on top of the financials. Mom did not work and only received child support. Jack did everything he could to supplement the income. He babysat, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and raked leaves, anything and everything for a buck. More importantly, he took care of us. Every day he insisted on checking my schoolwork even though he was often behind on his. Before bed, he would always take the time to talk to me about everything and nothing. We would laugh and joke around or if I had any problems, he would give me advice. It was really interesting watching him look up on the internet one particular tough question I had and then have him explain my first period. A few months later, I found out he would also stay up and wait for our Mother to come home from the tavern and make sure she made it to bed. He never bought anything for himself, but I seemed to get new clothes for school or if I desperately wanted something, it found its way into my room.
When he was sixteen, Jack was beginning to come into his body. All the manual labor really made him lean and muscular. He got a job making burgers at the nearby fast food joint. By now, our mom seemed to be coming home with a different man every night. Sometimes they would stay and have an awkward morning moment with my brother, but most often, they would leave. If Jack was home, he did his best to shield me from the sight of our inebriated mother and her friend walking in and then the sounds that came from her room a short while later. We would head to the basement and play games or watch television. While Jack was at work, I would just hide in my room and fall asleep after the noises stopped.
One particular night in which Jack worked, Mom brought home one truly odious man. I could tell she was more hammered than usual and when they walked passed me in the living room, his eyes seemed fixated on me. He reminded me of an ogre and gave me the creeps. As soon as they were in mother’s bedroom, I went in mine, shut the door, and hopped into bed. For some reason, feigning sleep in the dark helped me keep my mind off what was going on in the other room. However, maltepe escort this time was unlike any previous occurrences. Usually the door shuts and I hear noises; Mom giggling like she was five followed by the mumbles of the man, then the sound of the bed squeaking and finally grunts from the man and a loud wail by my mother. This time, however, there was nothing, only silence. Suddenly, my bedroom door burst open.
“There you are!” I scooted back against the wall and I was as far as I could go as the beastly man took step after step closer to my bed.
I pulled my knees up and nightgown down to cover myself as much as possible. “I’m sure my mom is looking for you.”
I began to shake as I felt his eyes gaze upon my body as a hawk would a mouse. “Yeah, she passed out on me.” He then sat on my bed, “But you aren’t a bad second option, Sweetheart. Tell me, have you been with a man yet?” His hand rested on my thigh.
“Leave me alone,” I pulled my leg from his hand, but he followed. “Go away.”
“Oh, Honey. Shush now. Let me make you feel good. I promise I’ll be gentle.” He leaned in and tried to kiss me but my face cringed and I turned my head. His hands went to my temples and forced me to face him.
“Please don’t.” I started to cry.
He moved my arms in the air and held onto both of my wrists with one hand. The other began to slowly move downward. I was petrified. His smile was devilish and his breath smelled of cigarettes and alcohol as his head moved forward. His hand was just above my shoulder and I was fearful of both their destinations.
“Ow! Fuck!” The man arched his back and released me.
Clank. I opened my eyes as the brute was frantically trying to escape from my brother and his aluminum baseball bat.
“Get the fuck away from her!” Clank. Another strike from the bat and the man was now hobbling into the hallway.
“You little shit! The girl wanted it. Practically begged me for it,” the man grabbed his side, where the last attack happened. “You’ll be lucky if I don’t sue your ass for assault!”
Jack lunged for him, the bat arching down. Seeing his threat wasn’t stopping the teen, he dove out of the way. Clank. The bat just missed pummeling the man’s head. The reverberation caused Jack to momentarily pause and gave that asshole a chance to get away. Jack left my sight to verify he was gone and then reappeared in my room. I was shaking uncontrollably.
Jack held me tight and repeatedly whispered, “It’s going to be okay, Audrey. You’re safe now.” It may have been my imagination, but I swear he had a slight tremble to his body as well.
Suddenly, that despicable man was back in my room, attempting to grope me again. I was scared and I tried screaming, but it was too late. His mouth already was covering my own. I awoke in freight, my body glistening in a sheen of sweat. It was a nightmare. The man never came back. I took a couple deep breaths to settle myself and then grabbed a change of clothes and headed for the shower. As soon as I entered the hallway, I heard Jack from the kitchen, and he was not happy.
“What the fuck were you thinking last night mother?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about and I’m not in the mood for another one of your lectures,” mom’s voice was barely audible and sounded irritated. “Do we have any aspirin?”
Did she say ‘another lecture’?
“How could you bring home such a piece of shit?”
“Did I make too much noise again or was it something else this time?”
“Are you kidding me?” I never heard Jack so angry. “I had to beat the man off with a baseball bat before he raped Audrey. You know, your daughter. Remember her? Or did you already kill off the brain cells that reminded you that you have two children?”
“Whatever. The little tramp probably asked for it.”
I dropped my clothes and started to cry at her words. How could my own Mother think that of me?
“Tramp? ” I can tell Jack was livid by her words. “Tramp? Don’t you ever say that about Audrey again! You know nothing about her.” I heard the sound of someone smacking the wooden table.
“I know my daughter.” Mom replied halfheartedly.
“Bullshit. Do you know she has a hard time making friends because she’s so shy and reserved? Constantly afraid that anyone that gets close will leave her like Dad did. How about the fact she thinks you’re going to drink yourself to death before she graduates? Huh? Did you know any of that? How about this? Just tell me one of her grades. You don’t even have to give me the class, just the letter.”
There was a long pause. “I don’t know, a ‘B’?”
“Wrong again. She’s a straight ‘A’ student and you don’t even care.”
“Just let me nurse my hangover, Jack. I’m too tired right now.”
“You used to be such a good mother to us both. Now look at you, a fucking disgrace.” Jack let out a frustrated sigh. “Maybe I should start calling you Judy instead of Mom.”
“Just leave me alone.”
“Gladly. mecidiyeköy escort But before I do, let me make one thing clear. If you bring home another man, and I don’t care who it is, I will beat the living shit out of him and I will cut you completely off. Audrey doesn’t need to live in fear in her own house because her mother is a lousy drunk.” Jack turned the corner and into the hallway. His face was masked in fury but when he saw me, it dissipated and a slight smile appeared. I was standing in a daze as he walked up and hugged me in a protective embrace. “Sorry we woke you. I should have kept my voice down.”
My cry turned into a sob. “Am I really a Tramp? Was last night my fault? I swear I barely even looked at him when he came in the house. Does that make me a Tramp?”
Jack broke our hold and stared me right in the eye. “No. Don’t you ever think that again, Audrey. You did absolutely nothing wrong. And don’t you listen to Mom either. She’s just mad at me for yelling at her, that’s all.” He hugged me again.
“Thank you, Jack.” I wiped the tears from my face. “For everything.”
“No problem,” Jack kissed my forehead. “How about an omelet for breakfast?”
That was the day Jack taught me what I wanted in a man.
When Jack was eighteen, he made shift manager at the fast food restaurant and no longer helped me with my homework. Not because he didn’t care, it was because he couldn’t. My sophomore A.P. classes were ahead of his senior regular classes that he was barely passing. He still made sure my homework was finished though. Since Jack enforced the “no men at the house” rule, mom took to staying out even later, doing the deed at her liaisons place. I began to come out of my own little world, but not much. I was a part of a close-knit group of friends and even started to gain the attention of some of the guys at school as my body was developing. I didn’t date much, but when I did, it was interesting to watch Jack grill any boy wanting to take me out. He was so protective of me.
The next two years saw drastic changes in our household. Something snapped in mom. Whatever Jack did to get her to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, was worth it. The meetings had a profound effect on her as she all together stopped going to the bar. She was home and sober. She even got a job as a server at a diner. She still wasn’t in charge of the house, but it was good to see her trying to get her life in order. Jack progressed at his work and was promoted to the salaried position of assistant manager. I was still shy, but one of my best friends really did all she could to get me to go out, setting me up on a myriad of double dates with her. Only one of them got a second date, the guy to whom I lost my virginity, and he looked like Jack, sort of. I could never find what I was searching for. My brother set the bar so high no one could attain it. Some had nothing in common with me, others were simply immature, a couple only wanted sex, and more than a few didn’t make it past my brother. They all seemed surprised that he was the one interrogating them. Then they were even more astonished at how fiercely he questioned them. It was infuriating to know the ineptitude of the male adolescents at my school.
My eighteenth birthday arrived a day after graduation. Jack agreed to finance pizza/slumber party. He also bought me a used car. It was an old and rusty escort, but knowing what little funds we had, I was grateful. The party was kept small, with just my two best friends, Claire and Holly in attendance. Claire was a shy, slender girl with red hair. Holly had the body with curves in all the right areas, blonde hair, and was our de facto leader with her boisterous and infectious personality.
We were all sitting in a circle with a couple large pizzas in the center of us and the topic soon turned toward boys.
“So Audrey, I found a guy for you for your birthday present,” Holly announced. “His names George and He – Is – Hot.” She emphasized the last three words.
“Ya know, I think I’m good this time,” I shook my head. “I don’t think you know my type.”
“I don’t think you know your type,” Holly laughed. “Besides, you’ll forget all about ‘your type’ when you see George’s muscles.” I gave her a not amused look and she rolled her eyes, “Oh all right. If you want to grow up to be an old maid spinster with fifty cats, that’s fine by me.” Claire giggled at that. “Claire will double date with me.”
Claire stopped laughing. “I told you I’m not interested.”
“You’re never interested,” Holly shot back. “Don’t tell us you’re a lesbian.”
“No, I, uh,” Claire muttered out.
“Wait,” I interrupted. “Are you telling us you like someone?”
“Who is it?” Holly excitedly exclaimed. “Tell us who it is!”
“I, uh, didn’t mean to…” Claire began twiddling her thumbs and looking around. Holly pressured her again.
“All right, all right, but you can’t get mad Audrey.” Claire finally relented.
“Me? nişantaşı escort Why me?” I was perplexed at why I was being put on the spot.
“Because it’s Jack.”
“Jack? Jack who? Wait, do you mean my brother?”
“Yeah,” Claire had her head down, but her eyes kept glancing at me to gauge my reaction.
I sat deep in thought. Did I mind? My contemplation wandered to the warm memories of my brother. All the caring. All the compassion. All for me. The edges of my mouth curved upward in remembrance.
“Awesome,” Holly clapped, “Thanks for being okay with it, Audrey.”
Okay? Okay with what? Did I agree to something?
“What can you could tell us about him? Like what hobbies, interests, type of girls he has dated?” Claire sat up on her knees and I noticed both of their eyes were riveted on me.
Hobbies? Interests? I drew a blank on all accounts. Then it hit me like an elephant squashing an ant and I only really answered because I couldn’t believe it myself, “He’s never gone out with anyone, guy or girl.” It was true. Jack was fourteen when he had to take control of the house. He never had a chance to go out on a date or hang out with the guys. No school dances. No going to the movies. No fun whatsoever. His only goal was sustaining our family.
They both sat stunned for a moment and then Holly coughed before she excitedly spoke, “So he’s a nice guy with a job and he’s a virgin?” She chuckled. “The line starts behind me!”
“What about Ricky? Remember your boyfriend?” I contended.
“Oh, we both know we’re not going to last.”
“Anyways,” Claire rebutted, “I staked claim first, remember?”
“But I always let you two get all the guys, it’s my turn.” Holly exclaimed as Claire stood up. “Hey, where are you going?”
“I’m going to ask Jack out before you try to snake him from me.” Claire must really be into my brother for her to ask him out. I’ve never seen her so bold. Her shyness tends to stop her from asking even us certain things. Holly knew what she was doing when she pushed Claire with that faux threat.
Claire bounded out the door and Holly and I were in hot pursuit. We spied from the hallway, watching Jack at the computer as Claire demurely approached.
“Hey Jack. What are you looking at?”
“The washing machine is making a squeaking noise. I’m told it’s probably the belt, so I’m doing research on how to change it.”
“Wow, I didn’t know you knew how to do that.”
“Honestly, I don’t have a clue, but this is how I fix anything that breaks in this house and then I hope for the best.” Then Jack did what he always did for me. He stopped what he was doing and turned to face Claire. He gave his undivided attention to her. It always made me feel like I was the most important person in his world when he did that. “I’m sorry, Claire. You didn’t come out here to find out how to fix a washing machine. What can I do for you? Did you three run out of pizza or drinks?”
Jack’s focus on Claire seemed to unsettle her. Her nervous nature came flooding to the forefront, “I was just wondering if you would… by chance might like to, um, go out sometime?”
Jack stared at her quizzically for a moment. “Go out?” My brother’s voice had a calculating tone to it, “Does Audrey know about this?”
“Yeah,” Claire’s foot began twisting in front of her. “Asked her first.”
Jack appeared lost in thought before answering, “Sure. I hope Thursday is good for you. If it has to be a weekend, I don’t get one of those nights off easily.”
“I can do Thursday.” I could tell Claire was doing everything she could to prevent her from crying out with joy.
I was happy for my brother. I was happy for my friend. With her inexperience and shy nature, Claire would be a good fit for Jack and his kindhearted soul. But something didn’t feel quite right. I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept dreaming I was at the wedding of Jack and Claire. I should have been happy, but I was devastated and then I was alone. Just me and the darkness.
When we all woke up the next morning or should I say afternoon, Jack had made breakfast for everyone. We sat around the kitchen table, with Claire hovering around my brother. It was cute actually. I don’t know why, but I suddenly had to vomit. I was never so happy in life than to see Claire’s mom come pick her up. Holly left a short while later. I didn’t understand my emotions. I now realized I was jealous, but why? I couldn’t explain it.
“So you’ve got a date with Claire, huh?”
“Thursday at six.” Jack then stopped doing the dishes, turned, and faced me. I felt it was just him and me in the world. “Are you all right with that? If not, I will cancel.” He was still doing his best to take care of me.
“Yeah, it’s fine.” I lied because I didn’t have a good explanation for what would have been his follow up question of ‘Why’ if I told the truth. Hell, I still didn’t know that.
Jack eyed me curiously for a second. He always could read me. “You sure?”
I was extra giddy as I replied, “Of course, why would I mind?” I tried to interrupt his ‘Audrey Radar’.
“In that case, I have a favor to ask of the birthday girl.”
This is a first. He’s the one usually doing the favors. “And what’s that?” Really, I’d agree to anything to change the subject.
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