Bernard Shumard Kraus
At the urging of my therapist, because I do not feel safe communicating to my father at all now, as he is rarely on my side now, I am writing down my view of what occurred one month ago on a Friday night at the airport when I reacted to being ambushed emotionally. I was very excited about spending tim with my Ffather because he has been very busy and has not made any time for my sister and me since he hired hisgot a cook/girlfriend, which was a big surprise. And I do not cope well with surprises, as we all know. I was very excited about speinding a weekend in my house in Plano with my father and my sister, Penny. Mnobody told me that my father’s cook/girlfriend would be there too. When I got off the plane and saw her with my dad, nothing was like it was supposed to be. I was very, very, very disappointed. I felt hurt very, very deeply. Nobody warned me, and it is well known by everyone in my family that I do not cope with surprises effectivly or well and so I can only fiure that this was the cook/girlfriend’s idea. I am not saying that she was plotting agaisnt me, because I am not paranoid, but she was acting strange/weird around me, like she has always done since she became my father’s paramore as well as the cook. She staeres at me openly or, oppositely, ignores me. She is always saying “Penny’s so sweet, Penny’s so good, oh Penny I love you, etcetera.” My father is like he’s been drugged (by the the cook/girlfriend), who would certainly have access to his food, but I am not claiming that. I deeply, deeply regret my outburst, and the public embarrassment it caused some people, and I am very sorry to always be the freak boy that nobody likes.
(At first I thought “Fin” was some kind of nickname, but then I looked it up on Yahoo and it’s how you say “the end” in French.)
“See?” Shu said, “It took a while, but he’s finally apologized.”
I stood there feeling like my guts were piled up at my feet. Shu had called me to come into the den and scooted back from his desk so I could stand in front of the computer and read the email forwarded by Bernard’s therapist. It took me longer than normal to read it because the entire time, Shu was stroking the back of my thigh (and trying for higher), no matter how many times I said “Quit!” or popped him with the dish rag.
When I finally finished reading, I said “Oh Shu, this breaks my heart.”
He stretched his arms over his head with a big “Ahh!” exhale, and then scratched his belly. He said “Don’t read too much into it…” He yawned. “Just Bernard being Bernard.”
‘It breaks my heart, honey.”
Liar. I was lying like a rug. Bernard’s “apology” didn’t break my heart. It burned my heart down to a black ball of furious rage. The kind of sick, burning, lingering anger that you can try to shake off, but it won’t shake off. After the mess at airport, I felt mostly ashamed and guilty. The anger took a couple of days to show up, like a deep bruise. Now here I was, still feeling rattled to my core – and over there across the universe was Shu, his ex-wife Deborah, and the boy’s therapist, all three going “No biggie, ho-hum, same-old, same-old.”
Shu got hold of my hand and kissed it. He kissed my fingers, my fingertips, sucking and teasing with his tongue, smiling up at me. Shu’s favorite time for sex is just before he leaves for work, his favorite places the areas not traditionally reserved for sex. On the staircase, for instance, or bent over the bathroom sink, or in the garage on the hood of the car. I had also become very familiar with the landscape of Shu’s great-grandfather’s oak teacher’s desk. Shu sat there now, all bedroom-eyed and thinking that I could just read everything in that email, all that “cook/girlfriend” business, and then just let him hop to it.
It was all I could do not to slap the top of his head.
Shu whined like a puppy, begging. On any other day, this would have made me laugh. Not today. Not now. He tried to lift the hem of my t-shirt.
“WOULDYOUQUIT! For God’s sake, Shu – knock it off!” He quit. He was surprised and so was I. I had never shown him my temper before.
“I’m sorry.” I said. “Please, just…don’t. I’m very upset, Shu.”
“I’m sorry.” Shu said. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’m just real, real concerned here. About Bernard.” Liar, liar, liar….
“This is all just him, being him.”
The boy needs attention, Shu, he needs help.”
“He has help. He’s had all the attention in the world, believe me! Over the years- ” Shu said, then stopped, slapping his thighs. He took a breath. “You just have to let him be. Ignore him. He’s just-“
“Maybe he needs a different doctor, or maybe he needs medication.”
“He’s on medication.” Shu said. “Really, Vashti, at the end of the day, you just have to – we’ve all just had to accept that Bernard is Bernard. His therapist says he’ll probably be like this until his body grows into his intellect. You’re sweet to worry about him, but really, just try to take him with a grain of salt.” Then he put both hands on my breasts and said “Take off your panties.”
I was so angry, and I hate the word “panties.” I gave Shu a look, a very peeved look that said REALLY?! REALLY?! which he did not choose to pick up on. He pushed farther back from the desk so I could see where his interest and attentions stood.
“Do you not understand that I am ready to decapitate you with a garden hoe?”
He laughed. I threw the dish rag at him. Then we did it on the desk.