My mom had a lot of Church friends. I feel like I'm repeating myself. The majority of the friends she chose to surround herself with were people with were at the lower end of the intelligence scale. The majority had a host of mental health issues. Depression, a lack of ability to see beyond their own issues, made them blind to the reality of our lives. Well meaning. Big hearts, little sense. One of her friends had an ex-husband that ran an alternator shop. She arranged for me to have a summer job at the shop. I thought it was odd, but money was money. The man was never out of the way with me, but mistrust ran deep. I was always on edge waiting for him to try to touch me. He was older and odd. In the shop there was a caged monkey that he instructed me never to feed or touch. I could not open the cage, but I often talked in a quiet voice to the entrapped animal. At just barely 13, I was out of place in a run down building that employed just a few other men. A few days a week the man would pick me up and I'd spend my day doing odds and ends. He never preached to me. Never attempted to be inappropriate. I still questioned my mother's judgment and waited for the other shoe to drop. I was never able to develop trust with the man who picked me up, but an there was an awkward kinship with that monkey. I knew that the man and his ex-wife had very active adult children in the Church. They had children by the van full. By active, I mean fully participating in the Church. The man appeared lonely and his ex-wife was off her rocker. He appeared to be alienated from his children and grandchildren and I often wondered how he got through each day. I thought he would probably kill himself, but he never did.
Summer went by in a haze and it was time to start back to school. I had no place to fit in really. No child doing drugs thinks the people they do drugs with are really their friends. They might tell you they do, but they don't. They are just other people who have as many problems as you do. Misery loves company as they say and you learn to settle. Children who don't do drugs avoid you like the plague. There were no "friends" at Church because let's face it. I hated them.
School began and my attitude pretty much sucked. I skipped 28 days of school my 7th grade year. Slipping a pad of school excuses in my backpack was easy from Dr. Dumbass's office. I became the master of my domain in seventh grade, but was lonelier than ever. I definitely was able to find people to hang out with while I skipped school, but not anywhere I'd want my children to be hanging out for sure. Some days I'd hang out with a girl from school who skipped more than I did and others I'd go to a man named Pappy's house. Pappy had four grown sons. None of them on the up and up. But Pappy never asked questions and there was plenty of alcohol in that house among other things. I will say those boys were very respectful of me in the sexual sense and it was as safe a place as any other.
But as luck would have it I did eventually get busted. I was skipping in this young woman's apartment in my own apartment complex. She needed to take her toddler to get his immunizations or something and I was getting ready to fry some potatoes to eat. I'd never fried potatoes, but I wanted some so I thought I knew what I was doing. How hard could it be?? Her parting words to me were "Don't burn my place down" and within 20 minutes I had set fire to her kitchen. Flames flickered up under the Cabinet as I grabbed a towel to put out the grease fire and of course the towel caught fire. As I panicked looking for salt or baking powder, the wall caught fire and a deep black smoke filled the apartment. No fire extinguisher, a small disposable salt shaker and water. I knew not to use water on an electric stove. Finally I abandon ship. I could hear the fire trucks and knew I was in deep shit. I was probably high truth be told. When I exited the apartment in full view of the crowd that had gathered in the parking lot, I spotted my mother immediately. God help me I knew what was coming. And this time I deserved it. That was the last time I skipped school.