It was around age 10 that my stepfather decided that he wanted to get into racing. He took out a mortgage on the house, had the old wooden barn knocked over and pushed into a hole where it would be buried. A new huge pole barn was built, a plethora of tools and other expensive equipment you’d find in any auto shop. My stepfather was a mechanic by trade, and at one point owned his own garage. I never heard the story of how he ended up not having it anymore, but he always spoke with a bitter tone when referring to it.
A, which I’ll call him through the rest of this post, built his own chassis and souped up his own engine within specs of the track he was to race at. I had been allowed to take his kart out once in awhile before or after races and I showed a lot of promise, so he eventually bought a racing frame and engine. I competed in the youth division and he in the adult division, respectively. I was good at racing. More than good, actually, I was great at it. I always placed in the top 3, even against other people in my class whom usually dominated the division. At one point some of the youth division parents reached out to the track management to see if some of the youth division, mainly myself and the two others who consistently placed in the top 3 could compete in the adult division, provided the vehicles could have lead weights put on the frame to make them meet minimum weight requirements for the adult division.
A did fairly well at racing, but wasn’t any more or less competitive than the other drivers. Since I’d be racing in the adult division, I’d be squared up against him. For all of the verbal, physical and emotional abuse hr dolled out on a daily basis, including on race days when I took 1st place, this was one place that I had a chance to beat him at something. I was tall and lanky – 6’1″ and all of 145lb, and uncoordinated at that. I consistently placed ahead of him. Within the first month, the three of us from the youth division were dominating the adult division as well. People were upset by this and wanted us to be moved to the open division. Open is an adult division where you can do anything you want to modify your vehicle without any restrictions. For someone who loved to race, that meant no more restrictor plates, and any modification that you could come up with. We did really well in that division as well, but at least there was more diversity in the top 3. My stepfather moved to that division when I did. He placed nearly last each time, and I knew it upset him.
I was better at something than he was, and we both knew it. If I did particularly well, he’d be more horrible than usual that night and in the coming days, but it was worth it in a way. I’d be berated regardless, so at least I’d have the upper hand at something.
During all this, school was difficult. I still didn’t fit in with any particular group. At 12 I met a girl whom I thought was absolutely beautiful, and far, far beyond my league, so to speak. She asked me if I’d come to her house one day and I agreed. She was my first kiss. At least that’s one experience that wasn’t jaded by everything else going on at the time. She’d end up moving away shortly thereafter.
My father ended up living next door to us in the country as it was his father’s house before he passed and my grandmother moved to an apartment community where other elderly people were. This of course didn’t go over well with my mother or stepfather, but it was nice in that I was given a key to the house. My father had bought me a computer and kept it at his house. I’d end up getting a separate phone line and running a BBS (old-school). The BBS was one of only 3 in the area, and at the time, if someone got a new member, they’d call the new user to verify the account and maybe get to know them a little. One day a girl joined the system – unheard of at the time and in such a small community. I called to verify and she was indeed a real girl, a year older than me and up on tech and gaming. We started dating within a few weeks, and at 12, she was the one I’d lose my virginity to. We’d date almost entirely throughout middle and high school.
As things got worse with my stepfather he continued to escalate his punishments. Grounding meant nothing to me anymore. I’d just leave the house before he got home. I’d ride my bike elsewhere, go hide out in the woods or hitch a ride away from there. If it was inevitable that I’d always be in severe trouble, fuck it, right? I ended up working for my girlfriend’s father at his auto accessory shop on nights and during the weekend. My stepfather would then demand rent. As things got worse, he then refused to spend money on food for me as well. He’d actually keep inventory of what was in the cupboards, what was in the refrigerator and the freezer. There’d be hell to pay if I ate anything that he had purchased. If he couldn’t control anything else, he’d control food. After being sent to my room without dinner so many times, I finally stopped bothering to come to the table at all. The school free lunch program was for low-income households. I didn’t qualify. My girlfriend’s father had some inclination that things were really bad at home and slipped me some cash now and then. Other poor kids at school would sometimes share bits and pieces of their lunch so I’d have something if I didn’t have any cash for lunch.
I was 6’1″ and weighed 118lb. I was emaciated at 14. My sense of self being non-existent, being full of self-hatred, self-loathing, weakness, seemingly limited mental capacity and overall being a fuck up, I wanted to die. My girlfriend knew that things were bad at home, but I never told her how bad. Sometimes she’d come over during the day while my stepfather was at work when we were on summer vacation, but I always made sure she was gone long before he came home. Two things mattered to me in the world at that time, my girlfriend and art. I was a half-way decent artist back then, and it offered a great escape. It was something that demanded focus and attention.
That’s enough for today..