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Trailer Trashed

It was a summer, I was twelve. Mom had been very busy with her, almost daily, ritual of cleaning the 10X60 rectangular box on lot 13, we called home. I was now confined to the front portion of this giant shoebox, at the kitchen table with my drawings. I was not allowed to pass through the living room. Unless, of course, I wanted to vacuum behind myself, erasing my footprints and only leaving nice, clean lines in the brown shag. There wasn’t any time for this; mom’s sister would be here any minute. It didn’t matter who came or who didn’t come, mom would clean. They do say that cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I could hear her coming around the corner before I could see her. She drove her husband’s truck, not just any truck, but a giant rust and brown monster truck. It was a Ford, although it had lost its FORD lettering tens of thousands of miles ago. As she cranked it around our corner onto Comanche Trail I strained to see if she’d brought my cousins. “Mom, Aunt Karen’s here,” as if I had to announce this. Please, please, please, let my cousins be in that truck. I couldn’t see anyone other than my aunt in the driver’s seat. “Damn it,” I said to myself.

She pulled in in front of our trailer and in back of our 1974 GMC Gremlin and shut the tank off. I sat watching out the window as the five foot one framed woman climb down from the Gravedigger. She turned to retrieve two very important items from the cockpit, her Bible and a six-pack of beer.

Aunt Karon appeared before the screened aluminum door, Bible, purse and six-pack secured to her torso. “Come on in”, mom yelled as though she were standing in her foyer of a 2,400 square foot home. The trailer looked immaculate, it always did. Everything had its place. Even the plastic apples, grapes and other unknown impostors, were carefully placed on their respective trays on either side of mom’s scale of justice clock. The fruit, not looking real in any way, shined to a high gloss.

“Hiii,” Aunt Karon, with an O, said in her naturally loud voice as she came in through the heavy aluminum door. She only began spelling her name with an O after she learned it was spelled this way on her original birth certificate in spite of being told by her own mother that the misspelling was a mistake.  That’s KarOn, I've been told.

I stood and gave my aunt a hug, said my hello and returned to my drawings at the table. My aunt went into the living room and sat with my mother. “Where’s Greg Sr.?” She asked. And my mom responded with her usual, one of three standard responses to this question, “oh, he had to go into the shop for a bit.” Truth be told, my dad was out at one of his favorite watering holes around town, he spent the majority of my childhood out running around town if not at work.

My aunt opened her first beer; it was usually on her third beer when she’d crack open her bible. I was intrigued by some of the content she’d focus on in the bible, I was more amused by some of the stuff she’d claim to have experienced. She’d always begin her bible quoting with a story, usually something along the lines of while vacuuming she was praying and hallelujah, the Lord appeared right there in her living room standing on her blue shag. He or the Holy Ghost would often appear and pay her a visit.  I think most people would be freaked out if spooks and dead people would regularly show up in their living rooms; not my Aunt Karon, she was saved and she’d later claim to be anointed. Well, she was anointed all right! Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Aunt Karon, but I loved my cousins more. I loved and feared my aunt at the same time. She was a very intimidating woman, manipulative and loud. And loud people always scared me—and there were plenty of loud people in that household, someone was always screaming. If I ever so much as raised my voice to my parents. 

Now my aunt began reading and quoting the bible. She was reading from the book of Acts, which was talking about the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Then she said it, said what I knew would be next. She claimed the Holy Spirit came to her in her living room while she was praying. And, "praise Jesus", she began praying aloud in a foreign language. Now she’s only ever received a secondary education and I doubt she’s ever taken Spanish, let alone an ancient, foreign tongue. I excused myself and stepped outside, well with my mom, Aunt Karen and now the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost it quickly became too crowded for me inside that house.

I share this particular story because 1) it’s hilarious and laughter heals and feeds the soul; and 2) it’s the absolute truth and it was these experiences that shackled my religious fear and would torment me for years into adulthood.  This period of time in my childhood was just the beginning of a whole new world for me and my Lutheran family—Pentecostal Assembly of God, speaking in tongues, I too fell victim to this twisted manipulation of authority.  A Thief in the Night, a film about the Rapture-which gave me nightmares for years as a child, The 700 Club and Pat Robertson, Tammy Faye and Jim Baker.  My aunt went on to save not only her children and her alcoholic husband, but was destined to save the rest of the family—to save us all. We’d all be born again. All accept one, perhaps. This period haunted me and pushed me further away from the God I knew and deeper into self-loathing.

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