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Authors: Dave Pelzer

A Man Named Dave

BOOK: A Man Named Dave
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A Man Named Dave

Dave Pelzer

To the lady who gave her all to make me the man I am today, my lovely bride, my best friend, Mrs Marsha Pelzer. You make me whole and will forever be my Princess.

 

To my son, Stephen, I can never tell you how precious you are and how much you have changed my life for the better.

Everything I do, I do for you.

Acknowledgments

Since this has been my most arduous project, it is only prudent I pay respect to those who made this book possible:

With all respect, I bid adieu to my former publisher. I wish to convey my deepest thanks to Irene Xanthos, Lori Golden, Ronnie O’Brien, Jane Barone, Joy Fauver, Doreen Hess, and the small band of others who truly believed in my works before their commercial success.

Also, to Peter, Terri, Kim, and Bob: against all odds, thank you for allowing me to become a
New York Times
best-selling author.

To my dear friend Youngsuk Chi, “The Book Expert”, for his excitability, mentoring, and for believing, just as I do, in maintaining the uncompromising standard of excellence. With dignity and honor!

A special thank-you to the owners and staff of Sonoma County’s finest coffee establishment, Coffee Bazaar, for again allowing me and Marsha to plug in, take over, and wreak havoc at all hours, while maintaining the maximum level of mocha-ness that is still keeping us up at nights.

To Cathy Lewis and Nancy Graves of Carmel’s Carriage House Inn – my home away from home – taking me in from the cold and putting me up in “my room”.

A special thank-you to the institution formerly known as The Hogs Breath Inn of Carmel, where Law, Order, and Ice Cream still prevail. My gratitude to Tim, Joyce, Lana, and the entire crew for granting me space so to slave away at all hours among the beauty of your serene town.

To the musician Pat Metheny, who unknowingly provided haunting yet soul-stirring theme music to all three tomes. With
A Child Called “It”
it was “Farmer’s Trust”, for
The Lost Boy,
“If I Could”, and now with
A Man Named Dave,
the incredibly moving music of “The Bat, Part II”. Spending endless hours listening to these tracks made me draw from the recesses of my soul.

To Marsha, editor extraordinaire, of Donohoe Publishing Projects for her absolute devotion to every word of every page. This is only one of the many reasons why I love you. For Marsha, it was a matter of … “The Bat, Part II”.

To the staff of Dutton Plume for their overwhelming professionalism and sincere kindness, as well as believing that I was indeed worthy of being a hardcover author. To Brian Tart, editor-in-chief, for his trust, genuine sincerity, and meticulous attention to detail as well as for his patience when it counted the most. I also wish to thank Mary Ellen O’Boyle for an inspiring and majestic cover to the book. To everyone at Dutton Plume, thank you for making me a member of your family.

Finally, to the millions of readers who took
A Child Called “It”
and
The Lost Boy
into their hearts: I am forever grateful. You may not realize, but your actions have made the world a better place.

Author’s Note

Some of the names in this book have been changed in order to protect the dignity and privacy of others.

As with the first two installments of the trilogy, this third part depicts the language and wisdom that was solely developed from my viewpoint as well as that particular time period.

This book is not under any circumstances meant to be used as a reprisal or an opportunity to be vindictive, but rather to serve a purpose of what transpires in my life and the valuable lessons learned.

1 – The End

March 4, 1973 Daly City, California

 

I’m scared. My feet are cold and my stomach cries for food. From the darkness of the garage I strain my ears to pick up the slightest sound of Mother’s bed creaking as she rolls over in the bedroom upstairs. I can also tell by the range of Mother’s hacking cough if she’s still asleep or about to get up. I pray Mother doesn’t cough herself awake. I pray I still have more time. Just a few more minutes before another day in hell begins. I close my eyes as tightly as I can and mumble a quick prayer, even though I know God hates me.

Because I am not worthy enough to be a member of “The Family”, I lie on top of an old, worn-out army cot without a blanket. I curl up into a tight ball to keep as warm as possible. I use the top of my shirt as a tent to cover my head, imagining my exhaled air will somehow keep my face and ears warm. I bury my hands either between my legs or into my armpits. Whenever I feel brave enough, and only after I’m certain that Mother has passed out, I steal a rag from the top of a dirty pile and wrap it tightly around my feet. I’ll do anything to stay warm.

To stay warm is to stay alive.

I’m mentally and physically exhausted. It’s been months since I’ve been able to escape through my dreams. As hard as I try, I cannot go back to sleep. I’m too cold. I cannot stop my knees from shaking. I cautiously rub my feet together because I somehow feel if I make any quick movements, “The Mother” will hear me. I am not allowed to do anything without The Mother’s direct authority. Even though I know she has returned to sleep in the bottom bunk bed of my brother’s bedroom, I sense that she still has control over me.

The Mother always has.

My mind begins to spin as I fight to remember my past. I know that to somehow survive, my answers are in my past. Besides food, heat, and staying alive, learning why Mother treats me the way she does dominates my life.

My first memories of Mother were caution and fear. As a four-year-old child, I knew by the sound of Mother’s voice what type of day was in store for me. Whenever Mother was patient and kind, she was my “Mommy”. But whenever Mother became crossed and snapped at everything, “Mommy” transformed into “The Mother” – a cold, evil person capable of unexpected violent attacks. I soon became so scared of setting The Mother off, I didn’t even go to the bathroom without first asking permission.

As a small child, I also realized that the more she drank, the more my mommy slipped away, and the more The Mother’s personality took over. One Sunday afternoon before I was five years old, during one of The Mother’s drunken attacks, she accidentally pulled my arm out of its socket. The moment it happened, Mother’s eyes became as big as silver dollars. Mother knew she had crossed the line. She knew she was out of control. This went far beyond her usual treatment of face slapping, body punching, or being thrown down the stairs.

But even back then Mother developed a plan to cover her tracks. The next morning, after driving me to the hospital, she cried to the doctor that I had fallen out of my bunk bed during the night. Mother went on to say how she had desperately tried to catch me as I fell, and how she could never forgive herself for reacting so slowly. The doctor didn’t even bat an eye. Back at home, Father, a fireman with medical training, didn’t question Mother’s strange tale.

Afterward, as Mother cuddled me to her chest, I knew to never, ever expose the secret. Even then I somehow thought that things would return to the good times I had with Mommy. I truly believed that she would somehow wake up from her drunken slumber and banish The Mother forever. As a four-year-old child, rocking in Mother’s arms, I thought the worst was over and that Mother would change.

The only thing that had changed was the intensity of Mother’s rage and the privacy of my secret relationship with her. By the time I was eight, my name was no longer allowed to be spoken. She had replaced “David” with “The Boy”. Soon The Boy seemed too personal, so she decided to call me “It”. Because I was no longer a member of “The Family”, I was banished to live and sleep in the garage. When not sitting on top of my hands at the bottom of the staircase, my function was to perform slave-like chores. If I did not meet one of Mother’s time requirements for my task, not only was I beaten, but I was not allowed to receive any food. More than once Mother refused to feed me for over a week. Of all of Mother’s “games” of control, she enjoyed using food as her ultimate weapon.

The more bizarre things The Mother did to me, the more she seemed to know she could get away with any of her Games. When she held my arm over a gas stove, she told horrified teachers that I had played with a match and burned myself. And when Mother stabbed me in the chest, she told my frightened brothers that I had attacked her.

For years I did all that I could do to think ahead, to somehow outwit her. Before Mother hit me, I would tighten up parts of my body. If Mother didn’t feed me, I would steal scraps of food anywhere I could. When she filled my mouth with pink dish washing soap, I’d hold the liquid in my mouth until I could spit it in the garage garbage can when she wasn’t looking. Defeating The Mother in any way meant the world to me. Small victories kept me alive.

My only form of escape had been my dreams. As I sat at the bottom of the staircase with my head tilted backward, I saw myself flying through the air like my hero, Superman. Like Superman, I believed I had two identities. My Clark Kent personality was the child called “It” – an outcast who ate out of garbage cans, was ridiculed, and did not fit in. At times as I lay sprawled out on the kitchen floor unable to crawl away, I
knew
I was Superman. I knew I had an inner strength, a secret identity that no one else realized. I came to believe if Mother shot me, the bullets would bounce off my chest. No matter what “Game” Mother invented, no matter how badly she attacked me, I was going to win; I was going to live. At times when I couldn’t block out the pain or the loneliness, all I had to do was close my eyes and fly away.

Just weeks after my twelfth birthday, Mother and Father separated. Superman disappeared. All my inner strength shriveled up. That day I knew Mother was going to kill me – if not that Saturday, then someday soon. With Father out of the way, nothing could stop The Mother. Even though for years Father had at times watched in dismay while he sipped his evening drink when Mother had me swallow tablespoons of ammonia or shrug his shoulders while she’d beat me senseless, I had always felt safer whenever he was in the house. But after Mother dropped off Father’s meager belongings and drove away, I clasped my hands together as tightly as I could and whispered, “… and may He deliver me from evil. Amen.”

That was almost two months ago, and God never answered my prayers. Now, as I continue to shiver in the darkness of the garage, I know the end is near. I cry for not having the courage or the strength to fight back. I’m too tired. The eight years of constant torture have sucked my life force out of me. I clasp my hands together and pray that when The Mother kills me, she will have mercy to kill me quickly.

I begin to feel light-headed. The harder I pray, the more I feel myself drift off to sleep. My knees stop quivering. My fingers loosen from digging into my bony knuckles. Before I pass out, I say to myself, “God … if you can hear me, can you somehow take me away? Please take me. Take me today.”

 

My upper body snaps upright. I can hear the floorboards strain upstairs from Mother’s weight. Her gagging cough follows a moment later. I can almost visualize her bent over as she nearly coughs up her lungs from the years of heavy smoking and her destructive lifestyle.
God, how I hate her cough.

The darkness of my sleep quickly fades away. A chill fills my body. I so badly want to remain asleep, forever. The more I wake from my slumber, the more I curse God for not taking me in my sleep. He never answers my prayers. I so badly wish I were dead. I don’t have the energy to live another day in “The House”. I can’t imagine another day with The Mother and her sinister games. I break down and cry. A waterfall of tears runs down my face. I used to be so strong. I just can’t take it anymore.

Mother’s stumbling brings me back to my dismal reality. I wipe my runny nose and my tears away. I must never,
ever
expose a sign of weakness. I take a deep breath and gaze upward. I lock my hands together before retreating inside my shell that will protect me for another day.
Why? I sigh. If you are God, what is your reason? I just… I so badly want to know, Why? Why am I still alive?

Mother staggers out of her bedroom.
Move!
my brain screams.
Move it!
I only have a few seconds before … I was supposed to be up an hour ago to begin my chores.

I stand up and fumble through the darkness, trying to find the light switch to the garage. I trip over one of the legs to the army cot. By reflex, I reach out to the floor to soften the impact, but I’m too slow. A moment later the side of my face smashes against the cold cement. Bright silver dots fill my view. I smack the palms of my hands on the floor. I so badly want to pass out. I never want to regain consciousness ever again.

I push myself up off the cement as I hear Mother’s footsteps leading to the bathroom. After flicking on the light switch, I snatch the broom before racing up the staircase. If I can finish sweeping the stairs before Mother catches me, she will never know I’m behind.
I can win.
I smile as I tell myself,
Come on, man, go! Move it!
I seem so out of breath. My mind races at supersonic speed, but my body responds in slow motion. My feet feel like blocks of cement. The tips of my fingers are so cold. I don’t understand why I’m so slow. I used to be lightning fast.

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