That’s All I Can Remember Melanie Katz, Part 8
“I triple dog dare ya”. “I’m not afraid, are you?” We weren’t allowed to hang out with boys, but they dared us to walk pass the park. Our walks were like adventures, we walked everywhere. “Let’s do it”. The minute our feet touched the sidewalk, it began. They spat, threw beers cans from across the street, and shouted in effigy that ugly word. Holding hands we began to pick up the pace. The spray painted walls with those 3 letters and other symbols made it even scarier. We made it to the other side, and began to run to my grandma’s house. Life has a way of making you strong, making you tough, making you think like a soldier. Militant, I became militant, early on; I had to, just to survive. “Sir, Yes Sir!” “When you approach the ladder you will climb up, do not hesitate”. The test was to drop off of a 3 story building in to the water, resurface, and then tread water for 5 minutes. I reached the top of the ladder, and jumped. “Tread water soldier!” I was already a Certified Life Guard in 2nd grade; we’d already done this stuff. I’d found myself in the United States Navy. I realize now what he was teaching me, to survive. All the girls had special jobs upon entry. I was assigned to a submarine as an Information Technologist upon completing A School. At 4:30 we were awakened to run 6 laps in the freezing cold. Every night someone was assigned to stand watch for 4 hours. After 2 weeks, I began taking on several of the other recruits jobs. Mopping the floors for other recruits, I stood watch for 4 nights straight holding my rifle at attention. Anita was from Maryland, she and I clicked right away. She was Port Side, and I bunked adjacent in Starboard. Anita and I would tell jokes as soon as they turned their heads. This time we got caught. “What’s that soldier? Drop and give me 100!” We got right to it; there was no arguing with him. Standing watch at two in the morning he sends me to another barrack to retrieve some documents. Upon entry, there were two men sitting at a computer,
they were laughing about a simulated program. I looked at the screen, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stood at attention at the front desk, a little nervous and confused about what I’d seen. The officer handed me a stack of folders, and I carrying them back, standing watch puzzled and afraid of what I’d seen. Needless to say, I had to get out of there. I was on the next bus home in 2 weeks; I didn’t even complete boot camp. I was headed to college, a Veteran. It’s mid-summer, at a friend’s house from the old neighborhood. He had the latest PlayStation Games; we were having so much fun. After a few games, John went to the corner store for a few snacks. I sat and waited, I heard the door slam shut. Before I knew it, there were 3 men in the room. Heading for the door, I told them I had to go to back home, to my grandmother’s house. The eldest of the men sat down, and explained that he was a mason, really high up. I had no idea what he was talking about. His friends explained that he’d been given the prototype for his vehicle; it wouldn’t be released for a few more years. I looked out the window, there it was. “Okay, but I have to go!” “Do you know why we’re hear Tiffany?” “No, I have to go home!” The men grabbed me, removed my pants. One of the guys held my wrists, and the other my ankles. “Wait, could you use protection? I have AIDS”. That’s the only thing I could think of so, just in case they had it, to protect myself. They all began to put condoms on, my mind went numb. One after the other, then the eldest man began punching me in the face; I tasted blood on my mouth. Punch after, after punch, after punch. I felt nothing; I got up, pulled my pants up, and headed for the door. Just then 3 masked men entered with guns drawn. They peered at me pointing their weapons. I put my hands up, “I didn’t see anything”. I ran all the way to my grandma’s house, I told her I’d been jumped by 5 girls. I headed for the shower and just sat there, blood oozed slowly down the drain. That’s not all I remember. Summer in Brooklyn was amazing, my friend and I were going to a party. A quiet night to say the least, we drove around for hours shopping. The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan was on the itinerary. We shopped til’ we dropped, clothes, jewelry, we had huge wads of money in our pockets, the trunk was full of bags. We went to the block party, full of food, music, and fun. The children’s laughter filled the air, there were men performing in the street, dancing and singing. I
swayed quietly reflecting on my day, we didnâ€™t drink alcohol, but we decided to have a cooler, we had to drive back home. Although we were in New York City and surrounding areas, I thought of my grandfather that day. I felt close to him, he was from upstate New York. What a day, I felt free.
Melanie Katz Part 8