Those Dreaded Friday Night Lights

I posted stories the last three days that spoke of my dad and the fear he instilled in me. I spoke of it in a lighthearted manner, but it was not actually so. I won’t go into great detail, but I will say my childhood was at times horrifying. This story will give you a glimpse into what it was like too much of the time. I won’t speak often of this.

The boy lay atop the wrinkled, threadbare sheet, sweat beading on his face, as he waited; waited for the sound of tires sighing on the narrow blacktop street… and the lights that would splash across his window as the old truck pulled into the yard. He waited with a sense of familiar, painful dread.

Too many Friday nights he’d lain in this bed—the bottom of a bunk set—waiting for the horror those sounds and lights would signal; waiting for his father to come home.

He could hear the sounds of his two little brothers—one in the bunk above and one in the twin bed nearby—their soft breathing a sound almost soothing, but not quite. He envied them their youthful lack of worry, and absence of fear. Yet he knew when those headlights glared across the window, they would soon awake and share the nightmare sure to come.

It was an occurrence all too familiar, and yet one a child of thirteen could not grow accustomed to. Friday afternoon would come, and when the old blue truck did not arrive at the time it should—some thirty minutes beyond the time his father got off work—the knot would begin to form in his stomach. By seven—or at the latest seven-thirty—the knot was a painful cramp; by ten it was a dull ache consuming his entire body. It was fear, squeezing the breath—the very life—from his young, lanky frame.

He wondered how his mother could sleep; or…. was she too, lying awake staring into the darkness, waiting for the whisper of tires and the flash of lights; the rumbling sound of the rough running truck; the wailing screech of the door as it opened then the echoing bang as it was slung angrily shut.

No…. he thought, staring into the silent gloom of the tiny, hot room. She’s awake…. and waiting…. for those dreaded Friday night lights.

The clock on his nightstand was invisible in the dark, but he knew it must be near midnight. He turned his head and stared toward where the small clock sat A flash of light confirmed his guess of the hour; then in rapid succession, muffled only slightly by the rapid beat of his heart, the noises he’d dreaded filled the night.

Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, tears joined the beads of sweat on his face as he braced himself for the sounds of cursing… soft pleading… then… the crying. He trembled, choking back sobs.

 

30 Comments »

  1. Most of the times, we were afraid of our Dad as well. Just his stare is fearful…Huggggs.

    • This was true with mine also. It was not a respectful fear.
      Thanks for reading and commenting on my story!

  2. Sherry Mashburn said

    My heart just breaks for that young man, and for others like him that wait in fear. Stories like this one, that offer a glimpse into your life, make me appreciate you all the more . . . for the man you are and the boy you were.

    • I have a wonderful mom, two awesome aunts, and I had a grandpa–their father–who made up for all the bad stuff. I consider my self extremely blessed.

  3. And you….what a magnificent storyteller you are! This brought tears to my eyes. I just started thinking of my uncle. Hegave me my very first whipping. But when we write of those closest to us, the feelings are very strong and to make a reader feel some of that is …well magical This is the kind of writing I how to do someday…tell stories like this. Be vulnerable, more open. Thank you for leading me here. It means alot.

    • I believe you will write great things, Kellie. My suggestion: don’t be afraid, just begin. I didn’t begin writing until I was 45 years old, and I could kick myself for waiting. But then, look at all the material I gathered in those years. Yes, I am a storryteller, and I have a way of doing it that is sometimes special. I truly believe you, too, possess the gift of storytelling, and you have a very wonderful “voice”. Keep writing. There will be dissapointments along the way–I hope not–but I believe we will see your name on the cover of a very good novel one day.

  4. jndh said

    Boy howdy big guy I too can relate, but then again I guess alot of us can! Kinda make u wonder how there child hood was ???? I try to forget some of them days.

    • Dale: I never knew yu had a rough go of it with your dad. I guess I ddin’t even know him. You probably didn’t know mine either. As for their childhood, that is something to consider. My dad had three–or was it four–older brothers and one older sister. One of his brothers was a real loser, but the others all turned out to be great people. You just never know, I reckon. We survived it though, bud. My hat’s off to ya! Yer a fine man!

  5. Wow, what a powerful story–made worse by the fact that it’s true. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family which I so often take for granted. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but it’s amazing in that I never would have known. 🙂

    • You are blessed to have a wonderful family. You should thank God, as well as let them know how much they mean to you on a regular basis. Too many times, we take for granted that the people we love know we love them. You’d be amazed how much they want to hear it.
      And the fact you would not have known; I can thank God for my awesome mom for that. If not for unconditional love, there is no telling where I would’ve wound up.
      So glad to have you on the blog, David. Keep on keeping on!

  6. Charles, this post is one of courage in deep expression. I applaud you for this. You’ve really given us the reader a taste of remembering our own childhood and as well the memories of being sensitive to the learning from our parents. For most of us our role models are or were our parents, thus being their child, they were the very life of our foundation.
    what I thought was interesting was the number 4 came to me while reading this. Your mom and the three of you. Your room with 4 walls, the pick up with 4 tires…the bed shaped in a square, 4 corners…Just by writing this, I have a sense you are peeling your onion with conviction. Hugs to you Charles! Cindy

    • Thank you, Cindy. I have thought to write more on the subject, but some of the things that went on are too difficult to dwell on. We will see.
      I appreciate your encouraging and kind words. I hope you will visit again.

  7. How brave of you to write this… it was impossible not to get emotional when reading this, especially because i have become a regular visitor here now… i don’t want to say too much for fear of it sounding trite… i’m sorry indeed, I wish I could protect children who are afraid… I suddenly have a deeper idea of what God felt as He wrote so often about the fatherless and the widow… not because this kid was fatherless, but because a father is the one who is meant to protect… so when he’s te scary one… it breaks my heart…

    • Don’t be upset for me, Catie. It was a long time ago, and I came out of it okay, thanks to my gift from God–my mom. It is important to watch for signs of abuse to children, though.
      Still no sign of the shoe! Maybe soon!

  8. ShirleyAnderson said

    You know as children we keep these things to ourselves, also in fear of what might happen to us if we tell someone. I was abused physically and mentally for 13 long years. Not by my Dad, but my step mother. There were so many times when I was raising my children, that I would remind myself of those times and try my hardest to do the opposite. So in my case it made me stronger, but the memories never go away. Thanks Charlie for sharing.

    • Hey Shirley! I hope you know I am always thrilled when I see your name in the comments column! Not only is it great to be in touch with you, but your comments are always thoughtful and meaningful.
      I had no idea you had been abused. When I knew you, you seemed so happy and secure. But, like you say, we never know; especially back when we were kids. I often wonder what was going on in other homes. I always had this sense that we were the only ones going through what we were going through, but I now know that was not true. Yes, the memories stay. But I consider my self blessed to have had the best mom ever, so all turned out well in the end.

  9. Charles,
    “How Deeply” I could relate to your story. My world was so intense as a child, I cannot write it for fear people might wonder if my parents were wolves. I hated what they did to me everyday but respect that without them I would not exist. There were demons in them they were helpless to.
    I have many diaries with this but don’t think I would ever be so brave, as you, to go there. The pain would be so great.
    Your story is touching and well written with respect to your parents despite the issues.
    God Bless,
    Isadora

    • It is so sad to hear all the stories like yours–and mine–Isadora. And I do not doubt there are many in this country at this minute who are being abused and living in constant fear. It is so sad, and unfortunately, any people are animals, as you feaar others might percieve your parents to be, should you tell your story.
      Please know that my mother was a wonderful mom, and she was a victim of the abuse and lived the same fearher children lived. Her fear was for all of us, and without her love, I wonder how we would have survived.

  10. terri0729 said

    Oh Charlie, such a horrible thing for you to have to go through! My heart cries for your pain. I know that feeling of waiting for the coming storm. It is the worst, most terrifying thing that I could ever have imagined in my worst nightmares. With nightmares, you can wake up but reality is a whole different thing. That was the best thing that I could ever have done for Sara, spare her from those sounds. She doesn’t remember when she was so little and would come to “save” me when her dad would have me cornered in the bathroom screaming at me and roughing me up 😦 She would totter in and say, “Momma, come help me…” and he would scream at her to get out. She would run away crying. She was 3.5 yrs. old when I went to the women’s shelter and escaped for good. Unfortunately, the damage was already done to my eldest two children. I refused to do it to the third, even if he killed me for it! At least then I knew he would go to prison and she would be safe from him. 🙂 Of course, now she is having to deal with it as a teenager but she is more prepared to handle it, sort of 😦 Life is not fair, especially to the innocent. I guess that’s why our reward in heaven will be great, right?! Blessings, Terri

  11. Great capture of the fear, I can relate too well. Makes you mindful of how you treat your own little ones and construct their worlds around them.

  12. I, thankfully. cannot even imagine … I feel a loss for words to comment or respond when I hear and/or read about such situations. Many blessings await those of you who endure(d) this!!

    • I could write a book, Becca; but it would not be funt read (wouldn’t be fun to write, either).
      Thanks for the read and comment!

  13. Charles, thank you for your kind comment on my poem, it made me feel less alone. I think the less we speak of these things the more they continue, the more we miss the signs of abuse in those around us, and the less advocates children have in the world. I admire your courage and perseverance, happy to hear you had some blessings in your life even then. All my best.

  14. adopted80 said

    Your right Charlie, I felt as if I were reading my own story, and we have traveled down familiar paths. If you have any writing tips or encouragement I’m open. THank you for your support
    Bart

    • I’m not one to give advice, Bart. I’m no expert, and what I do is just something that comes natural to me. I have no education, and simply write what I feel as well as I know how. I’ve learned some things over the years, but basically, I am what I am, and my writing is what it is. Mainly, I write to encourage others; that’s all I really care about.

  15. Hi Charles; Thought I’d let you know that i have read your story… My Dad was a heavy drinker and yes I had my share of friday nights.. But my Dad was killed in a car wreck when i was arround 12yr’s old, so basicly i grew up without a dad.. I want to thank you for sharing your story..very touching my friend.. from your writings, it looks like God has and is taking good care of you and I pray that He always does.. Your friend and brother… Pat .. 🙂

    • I sometimes feel like I was raised without a dad, Bro Pat. But, yes, God is definitely taking good care of me, and as I look back, He was always there; the Father watching over me.
      Thanks for the read and comment.

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