All of the time I had lived with Bob and Barb, I had been told my father was Bob's mortal enemy... Marvin Dixon.
Marvin Dixon was an Army buddy of Bob's when they were stationed in Panama.
They now despised each other.
I was told every time I was beaten.
"You're Marvin's daughter. He is scum.
You are scum. I hate you.
I hate him. Now bend over and drop your pants because I'm going to beat you until you will wish you had never born," He would say it again and again and as he would unbuckle his belt his rage would build.
My new way of getting beatings from Bob was to fight it like an animal. His dentures would be across the room, his glasses broken.
He would be exhausted by the end of it and I would be bloody but triumphant. Being small and underweight was to my advantage.
I could writhe and wiggle and move and squirm. I could escape any hold this giant of a man had me in just a few deft moves.
I was small but quick. He was big but slow.
His blows would miss the mark more now that I fight back. When they did hit their mark, they were bloody and brutal but I felt I was doing SOMETHING.
My fight was in me.
My sister would beg me not to fight him because the blows landed on my face and chest and back of my legs but fighting kept me from crumbling inside. He was beating my body but not my mind.
There was a part inside me that I vowed he would never touch.
I fought. I would not go easy.
One particular day I will never as long as I live forget, Barbara brought me some really cute clothes. She had them laid out on my bed.
A pale blue and cream plaid wool skirt, a white crisp blouse and a soft baby blue fuzzy cardigan sweater.
A nice pair of black and white oxford shoes and ruffled white socks.
I was told to scrub my face and put the clothes on and wait in my room upstairs.
I was so excited about the clothes. I loved the softness of the fabrics and the smell of new clothes to this day makes me happy.
I put the clothes on and felt like a Princess. This was how my friends at school dressed everyday!
I felt so mod and even though there was no mirror in the upstairs room, I knew these clothes were perfect!
I sat on my cot and waited.
I didn't mind. I loved feeling so dressed up and pretty.
Barbara comes upstairs and jerks me off the bed by my arm.
"You had better be on your best behavior tonight, do you hear me? Now get your ass downstairs and remember, I am watching you."
She reaches out to pinch my underarm as I pass to go downstairs but I quickly dodge her and move away to scurry down the stairs. I feel her right behind me.
I can hear her breathing hard as she tries to keep up and follow me down the steps. It is out of excitement for what's coming next or because she's angry she couldn't inflict her pain?
What is this about?
I go into the living room and there is a man there sitting on the couch across the room from Bob.
Barbara pushes me forward so I am standing right in front of this stranger.
The man rises as I come closer.
"This is Lana."
He reaches out and takes my hand. I feel a sense of dread at his touch and pull away.
He scares me.
He motions me to sit next to him. I sit on the very edge, so careful not to wrinkle my new clothes and my gut telling me something is not right here.
Who is he?
What does he want?
This man gives me the creeps.
When he looks at me, talks to me, touches me, I cringe inside.
Barbara comes back into the room and announces to the room that it's time to eat.
I am told to sit by this man who I finally figure out is Marvin Dixon!
I don't feel anything. This man is my father?
Barbara puts the food on the table and has fixed my plate already.
It smells so good. Steak and potatoes!
When she sets the plate in front of me I see that it is a plate of fat and gristle. A pool of grease.
Dinner is over and the adults all go into the living room while I clean up the table, do the dishes. I had just popped a stolen piece of food into my mouth as Barbara sees me.
I hear Bob and the man talking in the next room with raised voices but I don't know what they are saying.
The man leaves. This man.... My father?
The word seems foreign to me.
I am still confused by this visit and it will all come clear later but for now I am clueless what just happened. What did this mean?
Was that man really my father? I hope not! He had slimy sneaky black eyes and made me very uncomfortable.
Of course, I was beaten for taking the bite of food. Do I care anymore? No.
I have a beautiful outfit to wear to school tomorrow. The beatings are the norm.
New clothes are not.
Barbara comes upstairs and takes my new treasured skirt, sweater, blouse and shoes away. As she gets to the door to go downstairs, she turns and with an evil grin tells me,
"These are going to the trash to be burned. You are a failure. You don't deserve them. I'm going to burn them so you will never get to them or wear them. Besides, you don't need a reminder of your precious dad, now do you?"
She cackles as she locks the door and leaves. I can hear her still laughing as she goes down the staircase.....
Did I really just meet my father?
Why did I not feel happy about it?
Somehow I had imagined the mysterious Marvin Dixon as a hero. A tall man that would rush in and rescue me and take my sister too because his heart was so good and so kind. Marvin Dixon would be so gentle and caring and tell Barbara and Bob how angry he was that they treated my sister and I so poorly.
If Marvin Dixon was truly my father, I didn't see it or feel it. Instead, Marvin Dixon made me feel very uncomfortable and sick to my stomach.
If Marvin Dixon was my father, I didn't like him. My gut told me not liking him was probably a good thing.....