still life…


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I can not ever explain it as why everything seems to be then. Then meaning,time has somehow stood still in places in my mind as if it was only yesterday that things had happened,and the rest in between is in slow motion.
My habit is to wake every day before daylight and now as the seasons are changing the mornings are back to a familiar chill. To me there is an association with the schedule of events in my life. I seem to be unable to forget what my life was like at age 18. It seems often that I am stuck there.

It was this time of year I was due to report on the USS Vulcan in 1969. It seems to be the main marker in my life-I wake up feeling something about it everyday,it never quits eating at me.
In my mind I can walk about the ship and remembering every place in every way.

I have never really explained everything. It is too complicated and too hard to believe-even myself,I have a hard time understanding it and yet it happened to me.

It was such a strange era to grow up in which ads to the confusion of it all.
Every morning when I wake up and hear the sounds of the silence of early early morning-the sounds of before daylight,I do this inventory of my life and it always begins there.
It is not exactly a pleasant feeling-it certainly is not the everlasting memory I would have liked to have. It definitely never goes away instead it is like an everlasting deja vu.

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is-it seems beginning the morning the same way each day helps it all linger. The guilt and the shame,which shouldn’t belong to me but are mine to bare regardless. None of it was my fault.

I actually hate myself the way it has all taken over my life. I try to pray a lot and most of them have the question if I might have this as my last day. God hasn’t been too faithful in responding to that request-but I am faithful in asking. This morning is no different.

I thought my life was going to be renewed on the USS Vulcan. I really believed my education was going to continue and the Navy was going to train me to advance-I knew it was where I wanted to be,at first. If things had only been different.

My son is a USN-CPO. He has just about forgotten the many nights when I would cry and instruct them to not have things happen the way I had them happen-why our lives were the way they were. I had hoped to reach as far as he has in my military career-and further.

Shortly after I entered my life on the Vulcan-we shipped out to Cuba. We stayed in Cuba for what seems a lifetime,but was only about a month,then we sailed to Montego Bay before returning to Norfolk. I was hooked for sure by then,yet it turned out to be the only sea going I have done in my life.

By the time we returned to Norfolk the seasons had turned to the time of holidays. The ship was divided into three groups-the holidays off,my group was New Years weekend.

My life changed forever that weekend-that New Years Eve,why I capitalize it I do not know.

There was a Greyhound bus that made a stop at the end of the pier where the ship berthed. That bus linked you to a bus that ran to Washington DC,where my family lived at the time in the Maryland side. That bus ran round trips often enough it was easy to go to DC on a liberty pass-and though it was an all night chance to ride up and back and have some fun in between,many did it. Usually if a sailor was late he earned three days restriction on board ship-nothing more.

With my liberty pass for the New Years weekend I was free to be off for 72 hours,but I also had that Friday night off-so I could make that bus and take the chance,just to be home for the first holiday I had ever been away for in my life. Except I had not thought about it snowing-and it snowed so bad that by the time we got to Washington I had already lost the hope of being back on ship that morning for roll call-afther which my 72 hours began officially.

I was smart enough to remember that in boot camp they taught us if the occasion raised where we were late by means of public transportation there was an office in bus stations that we could report to-and I did. The military liaison in that office telephoned the USS Vulcan and we were told that since I had a liberty card that began that morning to go ahead and enjoy my holiday.

I remember getting a ride to my families home with a newspaper man named Eddie Lachman-from Holland,and he drove us in a VW bug through all that snow.

I don’t know what took place in my absence-but the following day my brother and his wife showed up,he had been sent by the ship to ‘arrest’ me. It seemed there were statement made that I had done drugs-all was a lie,but my brother scared me so bad that I was afraid and confessed to something I had not done. I lied to get away from what was happening-and ended up in worse.

I was driven to barrack D in a USN van. I got there about 8:30 at night-I had never been in a detention center,and once I entered I was more scared than back at the Vulcan.

I remember the introduction I go when I received my blanket and pillow…”welcome to barrack D-drunks,drugs,and degenerates”,spoken by a man who acted as if he were a woman. Nothing more-nothing at all.

I entered the gate that kept us separated from freedom into a barrack area filled with men. My immediate reaction was to get as far apart as possible-which then meant a bunk that was at the end of the barrack. I think it was that choice that opened me up to be a victim-but at that time I had no idea what to think.

By that time I had to pee very badly. But I waited-because of fear.

I had spread my sheet out on the bunk and lay back and was immediately greeted by the men who would later attack me-one called me ‘mister’ and I’ve hated being called mister since.

I can recall all of it,it happens every morning-just before daylight.

I felt that it was safe to go to the head after everyone seemed asleep. I was wrong and with in a moment of entering the urinal area I was greeted by ‘mister’ again and punched up side my head and raped.

That was in the wee hours of New Years Eve 1969-70.

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