The Would-Be Kidnapper

I’ve hesitated making another entry because I wonder at what I haven’t already written about. Of course, there’s plenty that I haven’t written about in this blog, but I’m speaking generally and as a whole over the past fifteen odd years. Should I write off writing about the same topic again, in a voice that has seen more life and is now much farther away from the events?

Meh. I’m not bothered by it. All I know is, if I don’t write I’m shooting myself in the foot, so let’s get on with this shall we?

My birth “mother” tried to kidnap me once. I’m a twin, mind you, and we were having a visitation with her when she took us over to cousin Larry’s–a rough neck feller and the definition of the word “hillbilly” who lived in a holler hole of a trailer park on the edge of town. My Pops told me later that he could sense something was off with her that day when she came to pick us up. Something in her eyes, he said.

When we were at Larry’s, she sat us down and told us that she was taking me back to Virginia. Larry (I can imagine him with his tattooed, furry leather arms crossed in front of the door) was basically her muscle and enforcer in the task–he had whooped me once before when I wanted to call my mum after a game of hide-and-seek gone wrong a few years prior. I was also told he made bats with nails in them. Not the nicest guy.

At first I took it as a joke. But then she started to mobilize, heading to the vehicle and telling me to get in. It came to my attention that she intended on taking only me, not my twin brother, who I’d only just been reunited with after nearly two years apart. I knew that somehow in her twisted mentality, she wouldn’t take me if it meant taking us both, and so I held on to my brother and refused to get in the car.

But she has always been a meek woman, and she had her ways of using that to come off as innocent and trustworthy. Bottom line, after about half an hour of refusing to go with her, she said that she decided to give up and that she would go ahead and take us home. I was hesitant, but my 12 year old self asked, “You promise?” As if a promise means anything to a would-be kidnapper.

And she promised. So I opened the door and sat down, and no sooner did I have both feet in that she started to speed off, passenger door still open, leaving my brother running and screaming after us in a cloud of dust down the dirt and gravel road.

Miraculously, the vision of him in her rear-view made her pause, and she slowed to a stop and laughed at him…giving me just enough time to jump out and run back to his side.

The whole fiasco wasn’t exactly going in her favor, so she got out and spoke privately with Larry. This, by the way, was the last time I ever saw Larry, not to my displeasure. I suppose that they devised a plan for him to be the voice of reason (who’d have thought), and he offered an olive branch to us by saying “Let’s go for a ride in my truck and talk about this, OK?” My brother and I clung to each other as we got in the truck together–maybe we would go some place more public and be able to escape, or maybe we’d be driven to Virginia, who knew, but at least we’d be together.

For one reason or another, we were driven to our neighborhood grocery store–familiar turf to us both, as our elementary school was just down the street and home just a few blocks beyond that. We sat in the truck holding one another as Larry tried to convince us of what the right thing was to do, and our birth “mother” paced outside of our door, waiting.

At some point she circled around to the other side of the truck, and as this happened Pops pulled up with a SCREECH in our Astro minivan and simply shouted to us, “GET IN.”

Without hesitation, we flung open the door and jumped out of the truck. Always having a protective nature over my brother, I made sure that he was the first to make a run for it–back in these days only the right side of vans had a door, so we still weren’t home free until we got around it.

As I ran for my little life in the tailwind of my brother, I remember my sneakers sliding against the asphalt, almost the way I’d slide into third in baseball before taking the leap of faith to make a run for it to home. In this case, that was a scenario come to life, and as I dove into the van Pops put the peddle to the floor and we high tailed it out of the parking lot.

Even writing this now, a little shy of twenty years later, I hear myself shutter as I take a long deep breath to reassure myself that I made it through, that it’s over. It turns out that when Pops sensed something was wrong, he asked his niece to follow us, as she nor her car would be recognized. She had seen it all, and was able to contact him from the grocery store once we were planted in the parking lot.

As we were driving away, my brother and I holding one another for dear life, adrenaline and numbness coursed through us, hearts pounding together. I hadn’t known at the time, but he told me that I almost didn’t make it: It turns out that our birth “mother” had been right behind me as we ran like hell for the van, and had reached out to grab me just as I dove in.

Our parental guardian was given full custody about a year later. I don’t even think anyone tried to contest it at that point. Finally, after so many years, it was really and truly over. And to think it could have all been avoided were it not for the bias of the court towards reunification, against ample family, professionals and advocates recommending otherwise, and a consistent narrative from us on what and who was our home and family.

She still contacts us sometimes. My brother has remained lighthearted with her over the years, whereas I cut her off in my teens. Every time I’ve tried to open up and allow her into my world as an adult, she has proven time and time again that it only results in destruction. But she remains obsessed over that, and over me. She has previously confided in me that my brother was “extra” and that I was the child she’d always wanted. My brother was the spare wheel to her… between all the lies and the drinking and otherwise disturbing behavior, this is probably the most hurtful thing she’s ever said.

Sometimes I’ll get random, long texts from her professing and apologizing for the same sins over and over again–no amount of “it’s ok” or “don’t burden yourself with the past” ever eases her mind. She fantasizes about a mother-daughter relationship that doesn’t exist and arguably was never there in the first place. Whatever the case… I wish her a peaceful life and a restful mind, always. I never sought to hurt her or be vindicated in any capacity, and I know that her condition was never my fault–despite family members over the years who have villainized me in conversation, including my beloved grandmother, telling me I’m bitter or hateful because we don’t speak (it’s called emotional stability, folks). Sometimes you just have to do what is right and truthful for you in your own life, even and especially if others don’t understand it.

I think in some ways she is still standing there in that parking lot. Watching us speed away, frozen in disbelief. By what she did, by the outcome, by the prospect and certainty of repercussions that lie ahead… She’s still there, forever carrying that sense of loss for what was never to come.


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