“Get your hands off of me you two-balled bitch!” Greg screamed at our neighbor Valerie as she pulled him off of her nephew Bobby. Greg and Bobby had been in a heated brawl where many punches were thrown but very few landed.
Valerie’s white Chevy truck was parked in the middle of the gravel road and you could see the creek on both sides. My sisters and I watched in amazement, first the fight and then the adult/juvenile confrontation. We rarely heard cussing and this was the first time I had ever heard insults directed with such venom, creativity and alliteration. I was mesmerized mostly because Greg was only 1 year older than me and at 9 years of age I had never seen a child defy an adult both physcially and verbally.
Greg slapped at Valerie but she was a very large woman and his attempts to inflict pain were as futile as bee stinging a rock. Eventually Greg calmed down once he realized that this wasn’t a battle he was going to win. He got on his bike and rode up the hill towards his own house and Bobby road off in the opposite direction to his house. Valerie got in her car following slowly behind Greg. The rest of us kids stood around talking wildly about the incident, gasping as we recalled the language and Greg’s passionate antics.
Corrida Lane was long gravel road that started at a bend in the road at the bottom of a hill. The decline continued toward the creek which is where we lived and eventually turned into a dead end near the Delgado’s, a Mexican family of 7 or 8. Across the street from our house there was a small trailer and our friends Ricky and Kelly lived there. The land was cheap in this area, you could get two acres for a payment of only 90 dollars a month and there weren’t any restrictions as to how you lived on your piece of America – which was evident by the appearance of the homes and the junk that surrounded them.
The Delgado’s lived in a mobile home that eventually got reposessed and so they built a one bedroom shack that housed all 8 of them, but right across the street was Bobby’s house and it was a nice two story custom home that made all of the other homes on the street look like crack houses.
Life on Corrida was simple and ucomplicated. We made friends with everyone, event the foul-mouthed Greg. Eventually Greg and I became “best” friends which meant that during the summer we hung out with each other, but during the school year he tried to avoid me most of the time because I was a Christian.
This little fact has made my life miserable, but not as much as it has made it happy…
We became Christian’s at the age of 5, 6, and 7. My parents followed suit soon thereafter. We were one of those families that did everything the Bible said to do and my parents, whose lives before had been a series of mini-hell’s, suddenly found purpose and meaning in their chaotic lives. It was like a new drug, a delicious, sweet cure-all that they couldn’t get enough of.
Being a Christian wasn’t easy. It meant giving up almost all music, going to church every Sunday and at one point it meant giving up our Christmas tree and even our television. My parents listened to Talk Back with Bob Larson and our church, Word of Faith, had a pastor that believed in miracles and demons and the rapture.
This was my world. Jesus was the center of my universe and every single action that I did was checked with the thought, “Is this wrong?”
I had been led to believe at an early age that if you committed a sin and hadn’t repented before you died or Jesus returned then you would go to hell. God was looking for a church that was white as snow and spot and blemish free.
At night I would pray for forgiveness when I laid my head on my pillow. Every single lie or bad thought that I could remember I would confess and repent hoping that God would see my heart and my fear.
That is what early Christianity was for me, a series of rules and a boat load of fear. I’ve never heard Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Sinner’s in the hands of an angry God”, I didn’t need to, I understood full well his wrath and I knew that ever day I was teetering on the brink of hell and damnation.
Talk Back with Bob Larson was a radio program where Bob Larson would talk on the radio to people who were involved in Satanic cults. There were some people that would call in and claim to be demon possessed and sometimes crazy things would happen where their would be crazy voices or dead silence and we’d all be in the car listening and terrified.
One caller called in and said that there was a green eye on her bedroom wall and she felt like it was a demon watching her at night. Another woman called in and retold a story of hour her parents were devil worhsippers and how they killed people and ate their flesh raw. They would sacrifice people and then throw their bodies into a pit. If she didn’t do what she was supposed to she would be thrown into the pit with the dead and decaying bodies, sometimes for days at a time.
Others called in with various stories and soon I started to believe that there were demons in our house and eventually there were.
There is a song by Gavin DeGraw called “Belief” and in it there is a line that says, “Belief makes things real.” When I was younger I didn’t understand the power of belief, but I do now. I truly believe that there are powers of good and evil in this world and that if you toy with darkness, if you feed on supernatural things, then you open a door to them and allow them a modicum of control around you.
While living in The Colony, TX we were new Christians and we listened to Bob Larson and other preachers talk of demons and we allowed ourselves to be consumed with the possibility that there was a demon in our house and it wasn’t long before we started seeing manifestations of something. The occasional and unexplained slammed door, lights going off and on, dogs barking at imaginery things – it was very real at the time and very frightening.
Over the years that fear stayed with me. All of my life I have woke in the middle of the night sometimes sensing a presence and wondering if my room was filled with something demonic. I’ve rarely shared any of my fears because most people would think them absurd. They make fun of me when I tell them I don’t like scary movies and they say things like, “It isn’t real, it’s just a movie” but to me it is often very real. It is a horror that will live with me and visit at the most unsuspecting times, waking me at night and reminding me of the terror of my youth.
There is something about being alone in the dark in the middle of the night when you awake from a particularly vivid dream. The images will stay with you, your heart will race and you are afraid. The next morning when you awake the fear is gone as if the light of day has chased away the demons, but during the night it was so real, so thick you could feel it, you could touch it.
Greg was one of my first “friends” that truly helped me to see how different I was from everyone else. As a Christian you really do stand apart. I faced many things in my childhood and no matter how difficult I was always reminded that there were some people who gave their lives for the sake of Christ. My persecution was nothing compared to what Christ suffered on the cross, what I didn’t know then was that most of the time I suffered needlessly and that my Faith was only one more item on a long list of reasons to torment me.
Looking back I can’t help but wish that my parents had used a little bit more discretion when it came to talk of demons and demon posession. I realize that they were just trying to make me aware of the harsh realities that exist in our world, but perhaps they should have waited until I was a little older than 5 years old.
When I look back on my childhood I can see a recurring theme that I have only now realized, that theme is Fear.
Author’s Note: I realize that this post is a bit incongruous, but I’ll fix that later and possibly break this up into two chapters. For now I am going to leave it as is.