Friday, October 26, 2012

West of Lake Michigan Part II

Just a refresher, I was a Princess whose dad owned a castle. Now and then I took a bit of time off to be Annie Oakley. At those times, I put on my red cowgirl outfit with the white fringe, and then rode through the west on my fantasy horse, which was actually a broom. Whenever I saw a bandit, I'd pull out my Bible, read a few scriptures. The perp repented—recanting their evil ways. Naturally, they always tried to thank me afterwards, but it was too late, just like ‘the masked man’ I was already on my way to another adventure. Once they turned themselves into the law, I turned back into a Princess, job well done.

Even though I was a Princess at home, I certainly wasn’t one at school. I attended a wonderful private school but no one there liked me much. In fact, I was the second to the last most unpopular third grader. It was nearly impossible to move up that social ladder at this place, so, I got a plan. The next day was show-and-tell and I needed something with pizzazz enough to dazzle everyone.

My dad loved to give me nearly anything I wanted—except for the dollhouse I asked for each and every Christmas, but never got. (That is another story—later) So I played on his affection in order to get a particular doll that was for sale in a glass cabinet at the nightclub. Dad told me he would bring it home with him that very night. My show-off-time, I mean my show-and-tell was going to be a hit this week.

I was in the Princess mode, fighting off sleep, trying to still be awake when Dad got in from work. Once The Ivanhoe was closed, I imagined Dad sliding the small, gold key, into the lock of the glass cabinet and opening it up. He’d reach in and take out my doll. Then he'd put it into his overcoat’s pocket and walk home with it. Although I knew how the doll looked, all dressed in the same shade of pink that matched my bedroom walls, the shag carpet, and the rose bud print on my bedspread, I didn’t know how she’d feel when I held her. Texture is important.

By midnight, I lost the battle and fell asleep. Hours later, I awoke with an eerie sense that something was very wrong at the castle. My parents were on the first floor and their voices were uncharacteristically strained. I crawled to the head of the stairs, keeping back in the shadows, and listened to every word, wishing the conversation would move along so I could get my doll.

This is what I heard my dad say. "I got this phone call saying I had to pay them two thousand dollars or they'd kidnap Russell (my brother). The deal was to hand them the money and then I'd be on my way home. As I walked down the street, a car pulled to the curb and a man grabbed me, pushing me inside. One man counted the money, one man drove, and two men beat me up. When someone said, "The money is all here," I was tossed out on the street." Dad cried. I had never heard him cry before that night and wondered if my doll fell into the gutter because I sure couldn't see it from my vantage point, no matter how much I craned my neck.

Mother told him the cab had arrived to take him to the hospital. She kissed him goodbye through tears of her own. And just like that, he was gone.

I ran down the steps and into my mother's arms. She was horrified to see me. Neither one of my parents wanted their eight-year-old Princess, who wasn’t feeling Princessly anymore, to hear this kind of news. And I no longer wanted the doll. I just wanted my dad.

Mother made me Princess Promise NOT to tell anyone what happened. I Princess Promised but my reign was somehow ended by that event. Mother hadn't yet been informed. The news was too fresh. Since by now, I was a commoner, and I knew that by tomorrow at noon all the students my third grade class would hear about my brother's near miss at being kidnapped, that my dad was robbed and beaten. Yep. My story was going to be the best one ever. The only thing was, I didn’t know the true story of what happened that night.

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