Working on Screenplay Based on Fred Staff's book about Sgt. Goldsby. Available on amazon.
When I saw that, I was sick to my stomach and enraged. I wanted to kill him. I grabbed the bat; he was outside still in the front yard. I remember swinging that bat as fast and hard as I could, trying to hit his head. He stood there and took several hits to his shoulders. He had very broad shoulders and hardly a neck. I swung that bat several times but just couldn’t hit his head. God how I wanted to hit his face. God, how I wanted to kill him.
Where were the other kids while this was going on? Where was your mother?
You know I don’t remember where the little brothers and sister were during those moments. My mother was probably in the bathroom, washing blood from her face or something. My brother Don just happened to pull up with his friends. All I remember after that is Don trying to beat Buss up and his friends were holding him back. Buss ran into the market, my brother found a couple of rocks and threw them into the two large windows of the market shattering them.
I don’t remember anything after that until I saw my mother in a bed at Ruby and Del’s house. They were an older couple that worked for us. Ruby was our housekeeper and her husband sometimes drove us to school. They were originally from Mississippi. Ruby’s hair was white. She told us something about a lightning strike and her hair turned white at a young age. Del was a very poor and slow driver and I use to hate having to ride with him. One of Ruby’s favorite phrases was, “It’s fixin’ to pour down rain.” I don’t know when they left our employment but for all the years, my mother and Fred would use that phrase if it looked like rain, and we all remembered them fondly.
I don’t know how mother got to the hospital for her broken nose or how many days passed till I saw her at Ruby’s. I think I was staying there also and probably my little brothers and sister, because where else would we be? I couldn’t stay home because Buss would have probably tried to rape me or at least sexually harass me.
I don’t know how long we stayed there or how long it took her to heal. But I do know we were back home and things as usual, as always soon after.
Don didn’t live at home so it was odd that he just happened to show up at that moment when he did. Buss never liked Don, had no use for him as he did me. Don got lucky and moved out probably about a year after we moved to Vinita. He lived with friends. How lucky he was to have escaped.
There was another time that Buss and mom were fighting, arguing at first in the kitchen. Again, I was trying to keep my little siblings occupied outside. Well, Teresa, probably about eight, kept running up to the house and looking in the window. I remember her running back to me crying and screaming. Then she would run up to the house again, look in the window and come running back to me screaming for me to do something. I couldn’t take anymore.
I ran into the market and got a knife. I ran to the house and opened the door, hiding the knife by my side. Something was said by one of them and then he said something to me and I told him to shut up. He told me to shut up. Then I said, “You shut up!” He told me again to shut up and I came back with, “You shut up!” and pulled that knife from my side in a threatening gesture at him. My mother saw the knife, gave me one nod and then she picked up a kitchen chair and hit him dead center in the stomach with it. He ran out the other door, she followed and I also went toward him. Somehow my mother got him in a headlock as I approached. She looked at me as if she expected me to stab him in the face. I have thought about that over the years and think, “How in the hell did she think I could stab him in the face; come on!”
After a lot of struggling, he got loose and he fell. He scrambled to his feet but fell over a little curb that was there. Again, got to his feet, all the time we were following him. He fell over a small shrub, got up only to run a few feet and into the picnic table and bench, and fell over the bench. Finally he got enough footing to run without falling and ran down to the sale barn, away from us. Now maybe his falling had something to do with only having socks on his feet, no shoes but I like to think he was terrified of me coming at him with a knife and perhaps knowing I was going to try to kill him, again!
I can’t imagine. So you were hoping for California. Did anyone have a clue as to where he was taking the family?
No, no idea. We just drove south and then west on route 66. I kept my brother, Mark and Teresa occupied by acting out scenes with my hands while mother tended to Fred. Teresa was about six, Mark four and Fred one. I made my fingers appear like tiny dinosaurs that walked around on our legs and arms and made them appear to be eating and fighting with each other. Don probably just sat there looking out the window. I don’t remember playing any kind of games such as counting cars or whatever other games most children or families play on long trips.
Mark got very sick on the trip. I think he had hit his head before we left New York and maybe he had a concussion but I remember one night we stayed at a motel and they took him to a hospital to get checked out. Next day though we were off again. You would have thought his head was used to getting hit. When he was still in his crib he would get down on all fours and bang his head into the crib to either move it around the room or perhaps it was a useful mechanism for relaxation. Even though that sounds like strange behavior we thought it was quite normal for him and in our defense the crib’s head and foot boards were made of thin material.
We never had a problem with the car or the boat until we passed through Vinita, Oklahoma. We drove under this big restaurant that spanned across the highway. It was called “The Glass House” then. Odd because after we drove under it and still heading west we encountered a flat tire on the boat trailer.
Buss pulled over and took the tire off, unhitched the trailer and left Don and I there as the rest of the family went back to Vinita to get the tire repaired.
I knew we were in Oklahoma but the only thing I knew about the state was that it was inhabited by cowboys and Indians. It was late August 1966. It was hot and windy. Don and I sat on the edge of the highway facing some wheat fields. I felt like it was sunnier than in New York and definitely hotter. I was looking for the Indians though because I was afraid there might be some that would come get us.
When the tire was put back on the boat trailer we drove back into that town of Vinita and spent the night. It was very hot and humid in the evening and we were allowed to get an ice cream cone in a “Dairy Delight” or something like that where there were some older boisterous teens laughing and having fun. The kind of fun and freedom I hoped to experience one day.
The next morning we continued west. I was still hoping for California. No one was saying anything different so my hopes weren’t shattered yet. We kept getting flats on the boat trailer off and on into the middle of Arizona. That’s when Buss decided to go back to that little town in Oklahoma. I was unaware that he had checked it out and talked to some business people while we spent the night there. He must have thought about it for two states and decided that is where he wanted to start a new life. Build a meat market and live right next to it in a mobile home. My hopes shattered.
**** 1.99 SALE FOR E - REDEARS THROUGH SMASHWORDS
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INT. PLANTATION HOME – AFTERNOON
Mary, now a teenager, about 17, and Gincy in the kitchen, cooking. Mary is not happy about it, but cooperating some.
Ya should be more grateful ta be
here in the kitchen cookin’ for
masers’ family instead a out there
with all them men's.
Mary makes a face at Gincy.
I likes workin’ in them fields better.
I rather be workin’ with them horses
or fixin’ somethin’ broken than bein’
in this ole nasty kitchen.
That ain’t it so much. You just
got this thing about chu girl.
Somethin’ like you thinks you is
better than all a us.
Not all, just you.
Furious, Gincy bangs a large spoon on the table and speaks with clenched teeth.
Ya ain’t too big ta whoop ya ass,
ya know. I is ya mama. Ya outta
shows me some respect.
Molly has heard the noise and comes in to see what is going on.
You is not my mama! I’d feel it
if ya was.
Mary clutches at her dress as if reaching for her heart.
I’d feel it in here (beat)
ifn’ ya was my mama.
She begins to cry.
I knows my mama died, havin’
me cause my heart died with
her.(beat)My mama died havin’
me in them god damn blasted
fields and nobody gonna’
tell me no different.
Gincy and Molly are shocked that she swore.
She storms out of the kitchen. Molly follows.
EXT. PLANTATION HOUSE – CONTINUOUS
Mary runs out of the house, Molly close behind calling out to her as they run far out into the yard.
Mary, stop! (beat) Mary!
Mary finally stops at a fence trying not to cry. Molly catches up with her.
I hates that woman. Always sayin’
she’s my mama and how she gonna
whoop my ass.
I hate that woman (beat)
You hates her too?
Hate, not hates. And you
shouldn’t hate anyone or doing
any of that cursing and swearing.
You know those are against God’s
That’s why you can’t go away.
I’m still ill… (beat) ill…
Yep. Illiterate and a rascal.
Oh Mary, you’re not illiterate
at all. Stubborn, impatient and
Mary begins to walk away slowly. She has always loved Molly in a way that had confused her somewhat and the older they have gotten the stronger the feeling has become. She knows it is not how she should feel about a girl and we sense her affection for Molly but Molly is oblivious to Mary’s unorthodox feelings.
But on the other hand, deep
down, you’re a hard worker,
quick learner (beat) sometimes
sweet and always caring.(beat)
Now a rascal, well maybe.
Mary turns and smiles at her friend.
Molly takes Mary’s hand and leads her over to a bench nearby.
They sit and hold hands.
Listen, Mary, I don’t know who
your mama is or was. I don’t
know if Gincy is your mama or not.
Mary pulls her hands away from Molly’s.
Molly takes her hands back and speaks calmly again.
Alright then, Mary. All we can
really be sure about, and know
in our hearts is that you are a
child of God and he loves
Mary looks at her friend with appreciation.
Do you believe that?
Mary wipes tears from her eyes and nods.
Molly nods with her, then smiles because of what she is about to say.
Good. Now you should give Gincy
the benefit of the doubt so that
at least you can be civil to her.
Mary pulls her hands away from Molly again not even wanting to consider that idea.
Please, for me?
Mary considers it and how she would do anything for Molly.
Molly looks at Mary with a smile until Mary gives in, smiling back.
I don’t knows how I’m gonna live
without you, Molly Dunn.
You’ll do fine, Mary, just fine.
I’ll come home as often I can and
write in between.
Molly hugs and holds Mary close.
Try to get along with everyone,
Mary because you know what could
happen (beat) and I don’t want to
lose you, alright?
I’ll try hard, Molly. Real hard.
Mary holds her friend dearly, not wanting to let go.
Reeves hears Dillard MOAN and FALL. He stands, guarded but checks himself for a gunshot. He checks his stomach but there is no bullet. He looks for his holster and guns and finds them on the ground close by. He picks them up, inspects them and finds that the buckle has been hit causing it to fall from his waist. Cliff comes riding up as Reeves has made his way to view Dillard. They both see that Dillard is dead.
Bass, you alright?
Reeves still a bit stunned. He holds up his holster.
He shot my damn gun belt off me!
What? That just ain't possible. (beat) Of all the luck.
Luck hell. It's them angels that still watch over me like my mama says.
Cliff nods, smiles big. Reeves smiling back big at Cliff.
I might just take a liken' to law. It's kind of fun.
Cliff circles his face with his finger pointing out to Reeves that his face is covered with mud. Reeves still with a big smile, wipes his face with his hand. They LAUGH.
The plane was basically used for pleasure trips. Occasionally we would fly to Oklahoma City just for breakfast. One time Buss was in the wrong place in the air after take-off and I could see from the windows, jets at 7:00 and another at about 5:00 coming toward us. I could hear the traffic controllers trying to salvage what could have been a huge catastrophe. Not sure if Buss was drinking that early in the day but most times he flew while drinking beer. Another time we flew to Six Flags in Texas for the day. After we took off for home and well into the air I noticed that my mother hadn’t latched her door. The latch was above her head. She was holding Fred and looked back at me and realized that I knew. She put her finger to her lips for me to be quiet. I can’t describe the stress that I experienced as I tried to calculate how that door would or wouldn’t come open and suck mother and Fred out and possibly the rest of us as we began to descend and crash in a fiery explosion. I knew I had to keep my mouth shut because I could also imagine Buss pushing mother out or become a raving maniac about mother forgetting to latch it and having the same end result of a fiery end to our lives.
Your mother was very brave, wasn’t she?
Sorry to say, not afraid of anything. I guess she was hoping for the best that day and by God’s hand we landed safely and Buss never knew about the unlatched door.
ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM "AND I THOUGHT I'D BE A NUN"
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There was a family from India. The mother walked at night, sometimes by herself, sometimes with her husband who was a professor at the university. They had two children. The woman fasted one day a week, where she ate nothing I assumed for twenty four hours, which I found interesting. I know we had many conversations and that our children played together but don’t remember much else. I know they moved to Pennsylvania for a short time before moving back to India. I still have letters from her saying how when they get back to India she wanted me to visit them and stay with them and would, “Get you many gifts.” Years later I had tried to locate her but to no avail.
Another family was from Saudi Arabia. I don’t know what the husband was studying. His wife was like a little girl, so quiet, so shy, and so innocent. She said we were sisters. They had a little boy who would come over to our apartment all the time. He really liked me as did his father. The father, not threatening at all but wanted me badly. He said many times he would divorce his wife. All he had to do was “Write it three times on something and give it to her family.” He never touched me, nor made advances toward me. He was pretty obsessed with me but very respectful. I told him there was no way we could be together. I was married. I loved his wife and would never do that to her and he shouldn’t even think of us together. They too were Muslim and one day some Seven Day Adventist or Jehovah Witness’s came to their apartment while I was there and I stupidly said, “They are Muslim!” and shut the door. Maybe they would have liked to hear about Jesus. I regret to this day doing that.
They too moved away. I barely remember when or how we said goodbye. I have a photo of when my daughter and I took them to a fireworks show one year. They seemed to enjoy that. After returning to their home country they sent me a robe from Morocco and a gold ring with my name in Arabic engraved inside and a gift for my daughter as well. I still have letters from him where he wanted me to come to Saudi Arabia or to Jidda where they vacationed. I did consider it, for a visit only; there was so much trouble in the Middle East though that I didn’t want to risk it. I don’t remember exactly which of these years my friends had left the U.S. but in 1981, Egypt’s President, Anwar Sadat was killed. An independent organization for the liberalization of Egypt claimed responsibility. They were against Sadat’s policies including him signing a peace treaty with Israel in March 1979. Pope John Paul II was shot by a Turk. The Lebanon War went on from 1982-1985 which involved the Israelis’, Palestinians and the Lebanese. In ‘83 the U.S. bombarded Lebanon and then a few weeks later a U.S. marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by suicide truck bombs a couple of times. So there was no way I was going to go to the Middle East with so much turmoil and unrest.
I have always said, “The first time I ever ate kiwi was on a bed with a bunch of Arabs!” I know that statement allows the imagination to go a bit wild but it was with this family so not such a shocking event.
I also met some very good friends of theirs, also Saudi’s. He was a large burly type. They had a little boy also and the wife; oh my God was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Such a beauty and at first I wondered how she could be married to this big bear but soon found out that he was so kind and generous and probably loved her dearly and treated her like a queen. They were always so happy. They moved to another town further south for him to finish his education. I was unemployed for a second time and I went to Lake Texoma with a friend to go boating and skiing. We stopped to visit this Saudi family and when we were leaving the wife ran outside and put something in my hand. I didn’t look until I was back in the car and we were driving away. They knew I was not working and she had slipped some money into my hand. To my surprise it was four, one hundred dollar bills. I was truly surprised and grateful for the gift and thanked them many times over.
There were a few other foreign neighbors that I only greeted as I saw them. There was one couple whose shade of brown skin and their absolute beauty intrigued me. I couldn’t figure out where they were from so I had to ask. They were from Ethiopia. Another apartment was occupied by some Arabs where the woman probably had actually worn the burqa all of her adult life. I remember going to visit them briefly about something and the woman who opened the door, I knew was the grandmother. She opened the door with her face exposed. Something in her eyes showed her age but not the skin of her face. Her garments had shielded her face from the sun and her skin was so smooth and silky it was hard for my eyes and mind to corroborate what I was seeing.
You sure met a lot of interesting people. How was home life going?
I have written that book, I was always going to write...Have continued to write..have