(a sob story)
This is the story of a boy called Melvin. And before you think he is me… he is not me. We sort of share a name but he is not me. He is somebody else. A little boy who grew up in a house full of psychotic people. And everyone knows that psychos prey on the weakest. And he was the weakest. He was the littlest psychopath.
Let me see… There was Violent Psycho, Trust-Me Psycho, Grandma Psycho, Rapey Psycho, Uncle Psycho and a half-brother he called monster, that we’ll call Half-Monster Psycho.
And before you feel too bad for little Melvin. He was not alone in this house full of demented psychos. He had a friend; A teddy bear, he named Teddy Beam. This was his companion and protector… that doubled as a football on its day off. Its name was Theodore Melvin Beam.
Its first name was Theodore because Melvin was only five years old when he found it and failed to realize that this was an awful name for a teddy bear. He chose Melvin as its middle because HE was Melvin, so shouldn’t his bear be named Melvin too. And its last name was Beam because… Well, because it doubled as a football. Teddy Beam was a good football.
And I know he sounds like me, but little Melvin was not me. He was not. He was somebody else.
At five years old, Melvin wanted to be an actor when he grew up.
Grandma Psycho was an elderly heroin addict whose habit had outgrown her income. Melvin loved her for her stories and for her butter and maple syrup sandwiches. Heroin addicts sure love their sugar he never thought, because he was only five and had no idea.
When she baby-sat for him, they would read tarot in the kitchen and eat their sticky sweet sandwiches and laugh at the ghosts and demons that came to mess with them. Grandma Psycho would stay with him until the money was gone and the drugs wore off and there were no more suckers, who only wanted to hear what they already knew told to them by an old soul dealing out cards while an even older one stared blankly at their dead relatives or lost friends and grasped his little teddy bear for dear life.
But once the drugs wore off and there was nothing left in the house to steal, she would rent little Melvin to the local pedophiles for money. That’s right. Grown men would pay her money. Not a lot of money. Just enough for her to get good. Money to spend time with a little boy.
“Grandma needs her fix.” she said “And grown men need their hugs. She’ll just be in the next room getting high on these here drugs.”
Theodore Melvin Beam was a tan classic bear. One of his eyes was brown while the other was a black button. He had been someone else’s bear before Melvin and they had apparently let things happen to him. Bad things. But Teddy Beam wants you all to know that he’s safe now. He’s good.
At six years old, Melvin wanted to be a comic book artist when he grew up.
Uncle Psycho was Melvin’s least favorite uncle. He would take Melvin down the block to watch him and his friends drink cheap wine and get into fights. Sometimes there was blood and they would have to run. Or down to the bar or to the brothel until it got dark and Melvin couldn’t wake him because he was too drunk. Or until Melvin was forgotten somewhere along the way, like that jacket you’re always leaving everywhere, the one your mother tells you that you’re going to lose one day.
And the whores would kiss Melvin’s fat little cheeks and pretend to care about him in between giving blow jobs to patrons and it got too dark and he’d have to find his own way back in that dark and the six-year-old boy, older than his years, his cheeks stained cherry red, would head for the door to walk home in the dark.
“You’ve forgotten your jacket sweetie.” a working girl might say. “Can you make it back alone?”
“I got it. I ain’t scared at all.” In fact, it’s scarier at home.
Theodore Melvin Beam always smelled of wine, whiskey and spirits. Jack Daniels was his favorite. He could drink with the best of them. He was the most interesting bear in the world. Then Teddy Beam turned to the camera and said, “Stay thirsty my friends.”
At seven years old, Melvin wanted to be a professional photographer when he grew up.
Violent Psycho and Trust-Me Psycho were a couple. They were in love. He bought her things and made her feel pretty and wanted. Trust-Me’s mother, Melvin called her Grandma, was fond of telling her that no one would ever want her and she believed it. So when a violent psychopath brought her flowers, she overlooked that he’d been abusing her seven-year old son so badly that he’d been hospitalized twice.
Melvin had a scar over his eye where the doctors had to cut it open so that it wouldn’t go blind. This was before the time when “I fell on the swing” or “I bumped into the door” was questioned. No one cared and no one came.
Melvin was Violent Psycho’s whipping boy. VP had a long oak staff that… (Oh do you guys mind if I call him VP? It’s just so much easier) Well, he had a bo staff. And it was that he used to beat the hell out of little Melvin. In the morning. The afternoon. At night. He was a martial arts instructor, militant radical and an overall sadistic human being. Your basic violent psychopath.
At dinnertime, Melvin was his favorite little plaything. He would make Melvin stand beside the table with his arms held out at his sides parallel to the ground. If they dropped at any point, if Melvin got tired or lost his focus, VP would snatch up his bo staff and whack Melvin across the thighs with it or across the back or on the head.
While the rest of the psychos ate dinner in silence, Melvin had to stand there like a statue straining against gravity until everyone was finished with the meal. Or until Melvin had gotten angry enough or tired enough to drop his arms in defiance and take the beating. The savage beating that had hospitalized him twice. Some days he added books to his hands.
And before we go much further I can tell you think he’s me. He is not me. He’s somebody else. I say this honestly.
One day VP thought it would be amusing to juice Melvin’s most hated vegetable and force him to guzzle a large glass of beet juice in one go.
It got messy.
Little Melvin tried his best to keep it down. But it came back up violently and so Melvin ran into the bathroom to escape the beating. He would beat Melvin even when he wasn’t mad. Just for fun. So an angry beating was always particularly brutal.
The bathroom was the only room in the house with a lock. It wasn’t actually a lock but a hook and eye. It was a wall, a moat with alligators, a tower with sentries, an impenetrable force field with a thousand-year power source. It was a little piece of metal with a bracket screwed into the door frame. It was a place of solace.
Violent Psycho huffed and hollered. He banged on the door. He could have easily smashed it in but he enjoyed the game. Even angry, he enjoyed the terror he created.
Then there was the sweetest little knock. It was Trust-Me Psycho’s sweet little knock on the bathroom door. So he unhooked the eye and let her in. She smiled.
“He’s not angry anymore. Breathe. You can stay here if you like.” And then she shoved him out the door. I even think she whispered, “Psych!”
Theodore Melvin Beam was just a stuffed animal and did not feel pain. This came in handy when he was dropped from a great height. He was often dropped from great heights but he never complained. Teddy Beam was always cool like that. He was very cool.
At ten years old, Melvin wanted to be a rock star when he grew up.
Trust-me Psycho was fond of saying I love you when dropping Melvin off with strangers. “Out of sight, out of mind.” she used to say. She said a lot of things. “I love you.” “I’ll kill you.” “Who are you? Why are you trying to hurt me?” “What happened to my spaceship?” OR “God hates me.” Were some of her favorite things to say, to the wall, the door and anyone and no one in particular.
She met a man at school who lived with a mute boy. They were not related. Just a mute little boy who lived in his house. (Sounds legit, right?) She would drop little Melvin off at this house and leave him there so the boys could play.
I’m going to call the man RP for short. It stands for Rapey Psycho because his house was a full on pedo-trap. He had coins on his floor. Dimes and nickels that were easily pocketed when he wasn’t looking. And candy dishes near the sofa. Kids would come over to play and leave with almost a dollars worth of change and a pocket full of candy.
But on the table, where he sat and watched the children, he kept dollar bills, just out of reach. This one time Melvin took a chance and sat down with him at the table where the bills were. Melvin had gotten greedy for money and that’s when he served Melvin the Kool-aid, the Kool-aid with the quaaludes in it, or whatever, that knocked him right out cold.
And when Melvin opened his eyes he found himself on RP’s large creepy water-bed. The little mute boy, the little mute boy who was not the man’s relative, still played on the carpet. Who leaves their child in the house of a man with a large creepy water-bed and a boy who is not his own?
So when the man suggested a sleep-over, a chill ran up Melvin’s spine. Trust-Me Psycho gave him the choice. He could sleep over the pedophiles house or come back home where Violent Psycho had something special ready for him. It was his choice.
The little mute boy said, “Stay.” Not mute after all. Just scared and lonely. Melvin chose the gentler of the two options. He chose to stay.
“Giving your child to pedophiles seems like the family trade. But you’re doing this for nothing, bitch. At least Grandma was getting paid.”
Theodore Melvin Beam sleeps in a bed. He is hugged for comfort and not for pleasure. He chases away the demons with his softness. But the years have hardened his material. He is still soft on the inside but his outside is course and hard. Don’t judge him by his exterior. He has feelings, you know.
At fifteen years old, Melvin wanted to be a filmmaker when he grew up.
He was not alone. Melvin was not alone. There was someone watching from the corner of the room. There was someone with him. There was someone there at every turn. A monster in the corner delighting from his pain. Melvin had a half-brother. A half-monster. Three years older and dumb as a bag of bricks. He was friendly one moment and a complete monster the next. His half-brother must have hated Melvin like something out of a fairy tale to watch all that abuse and say nothing. He watched years of torture and torment that his little brother endured.
But at nicer times, they would play catch. During the down times, Teddy would fly through the air like a beam of light. He was a pretty cool football, that Teddy Beam.
His brother was not a football. He was a smiling witness. He was there to pour salt on the wounds because the psycho rolls downhill. He was glad he was no longer the youngest, the weakest, the littlest psychopath. And that smile of relief for not being the center of abuse never left this half-monster’s face.
He left home when he turned eighteen and never looked back. He asked Melvin to come with him. Melvin had a girlfriend. Melvin was in High School. Melvin was fifteen and moving across the country with a half-monster just didn’t seem like the right decision. The devil you know. Plus by this time all the other psychos were dead or in jail. Except for Trust-Me Psycho, who Melvin desperately wanted to trust. So, he chose to stay.
“I saw them beat, saw them rape you.” he said. “Put you in the hospital twice. But I don’t think it was that bad. It was actually kind of nice.”
And then he left.
Theodore Melvin Beam had been through the wars. Through the fire. Through the mill. And had passed every test. He was a good…
“And you don’t need a teddy bear.” his brother said, as Melvin complained in earnest, then he ripped it from his arms and then he threw it in the furnace.
Melvin stood and stared in horror as Theodore Melvin burned.
“Now you have nothing!” The monster slammed the door, never to return.
Theodore Melvin Beam had been through the wars. Through the fire. Through the mill. And had passed every test. He was a good friend. He was a good companion. He was even a good football. And he will be missed. R.I.P.
At seventeen years old Melvin didn’t know what he wanted to be if he ever got to grow up. It really wasn’t that important anymore.
He was left alone… with HER.
Trust-Me Psycho was in rare form. She was talking to herself and redecorating her life as if she lived by herself. But there was someone breathing in the next room. There was Melvin; Her son. She couldn’t drop him off with relatives; They were all dead, or pawn him off on psychos who were all in jail.
And the boy was a handful. He had anger issues and personality problems. He had beaten up those boys at camp and bullied kids at school. He had yelled and screamed at his grandmother and never visited on her deathbed. He had threatened the lives of her boyfriends and set fire to their things. He punctured that man’s water-bed and flooded his house. He had chased his uncle with a knife when he tried to touch him. He had no respect for his elders. No respect for his mother. The screaming. The fighting with his brother. The temper tantrums. She couldn’t take anymore of this… this… little psychopath. He was a psychopath and she just couldn’t.
“What do you want from me?” she asked. “Stop looking at me.” she ordered. “Are you telling your friends that I’m a bad mother?” She was all over the place. But then suddenly calm.
She said, “I love you, little Melvin. Of that there is no doubt.” and then she swung open the front door and screamed. “Get out. Get out! GET OUT!!!!”
Melvin, after seventeen years, had finally found himself psychopath free… and homeless. Homeless and psychopath free. Well… there was one more left; Melvin himself.
He had survived Grandma, Uncle, Violent, Rapey, Trust-Me and Half-Monster Psychos. And even lost his imaginary friend along the way (a psycho in his own right and one hell of a football). But there was one more psychopath to go. And this would be the trickiest one to get rid of.
He decided to decide that he did not want to live with Melvin anymore. He did not want to BE Melvin anymore. Melvin was a victim. Melvin was a sad-sack. Melvin was a whipping boy.
He would change his name and become someone else. Someone else entirely. Someone who didn’t have the same skeletons as Melvin, the same psychos in his past.
He would change his last name from that old man’s name to something given to him by someone he liked.
He would shorten his first name to something he wanted to be called. Something better.
Something that wasn’t short for anything. And he would just move on.
But this was not a fairytale. It does not have a happy ending. He tried to finish High School but didn’t graduate with his class, mostly because of attendance but also because his life-long straight A’s became straight D’s overnight.
And he would always have trust issues and relationship problems that had deep roots. And though he’d exhausted the hospitality of his friends, after three years of night school (while sleeping on the subway), he finally got his diploma. And would start his new life. Freeing himself from his old one.
It is not a fairytale. But the one thing he learned was how to survive. This new man was a survivor. The memory of old Teddy Beam still comforted him though it had been replaced by a psycho kitty. A cat, which is a better companion for a grown man than a teddy bear.
And I know what you’re thinking; That last part definitely sounds a lot like me. And I’ll give you that much.
“We may share the same scars and our state of mental health.” he said again. “but this story is not about me. It’s about somebody else.”
For Teddy Beam