Dr. Spudman44

Dr. Spudman44
Tumbleweed, Washington,
June 06
Dr. Spudman's 44 Ripples of Hope Creations
BANNER BY RICTRESA I live on the border of Eastern Washington and Idaho. I have been a teacher, coach, and mental health worker. I make books for people and write some myself. I tutor a few people. Come visit me at my website. It has some cool stuff. Scroll down to links and click on www.drspud44.net


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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 30, 2009 11:20AM

Tanya Saw Her Father's Head Explode

Rate: 23 Flag

frying pan

Tanya's favorite tool of defense

(Time of story? Many years ago)


Beautiful fifteen year old Tanya and I were playing Boggle one day at the runaway shelter in Bellingham, Washington when she spoke these words to me. “I saw my father's head explode when I was four years old.” Obviously, that sentence had my full attention. I dropped my score keeping pencil and said, “I'm listening.”


“My mom took me on a long trip by car from some farmhouse near Spokane that took days, I think. It seemed forever. We ended up in a East Los Angeles house and she disappeared. I remember waking up and she wasn't anywhere around  at the house we had entered late at night. The next thing, I knew, I was in the bad seat of this big red Cadillac and a boy was sitting next to me. I remembering thinking, 'Did they get you too?'


“Was it Ray?” I asked. Ray was her twin brother that visited frequently at the shelter home.


“Yeah, I had never seen him in person before.”


Tanya and I had become very close over the last five months. Grace, an older, caring social worker, had come over one day and literally begged my wife and I to take her in. She explained that she had been picked up by the police in Vancouver B.C. She had hooked up with an ex-con and they were running a robbery scam. Tanya, was a strikingly attractive young woman, over six-feet tall with exquisite clear mocha skin and deep brown eyes. She wore her hair in a little Afro which added three more inches to her height. When she smiled it would light up the entire neighborhood.

She was taught by the ex-con to just walk down the streets near Gas Town, smile and men would follow her back to the cheap second floor apartment where he would jump out with a knife and rob  some  poor sucker. This little ruse didn't last too long before  both of them were deported and ended up in Bellingham, the nearest town with social services. He went back to prison for parole violations and Tanya was back in the system yet again. She had been in 57 different foster homes and was well known by the workers there. Wanda and I had lots of experience as we had met at a tough residential treatment center in an Idaho town where we both had worked. We got the full story, or so we thought, and the next thing we knew, a Whitney Houston look-a-like, with a voice to match was our new roommate.


The phone rang. I got up, irritated by the interruption, as Tanya didn't often open up and she was about to share one hell of a story. She had told me many but never any part of this one. I answered with fake friendliness. “Well, fuck you too buddy, I 'll be here!” I slammed the phone down, hard.


“What was that? “ Tanya inquired.


“Oh, some drunk asshole, claiming he knew I had his daughter here and he was going to come over and kick my ass.”


“What if he comes over, tonight?”


“Ain't my problem now is it?”


“What do you mean?” she asked.


“It's going to be your problem after that bullshit you pulled at school today. I saved your ass, again,  so as pay back you are answering the door. I'll get you a frying pan.”


“Hey, asshole dipshit, you already punished me and the frying pan thing isn't that funny. By the way, do you think it is proper parenting to say, “Fuck “in front of your foster daughter?” her brown eyes were twinkling as she loved this type of banter.


“Punished? Are you kidding me? I took you out to lunch for Christ Sakes. I warned you about my descriptive language the first day I met you.”


“You yelled at me and you call saying , “Fuck” all the time  descriptive language?”


“Hey, I like the word and I didn't yell at you. All I said was, “Consider yourself chewed out.”


“But you hurt my feelings,” which she somehow said without laughing aloud.

 I had gotten called out from my student teaching day, to deal with a typical Tanya problem at school. She had cussed some teacher out and was about to be suspended. I listened closely, and respectfully and assured the principal and offended teacher that the situation would be attended to. Tanya played her part perfectly, hands folded, eyes downcast, hunched up to look as small as possible, a performance I had seen many times before but still admired. We walked out and I said, “Saved you ass again, bitch. Now, consider yourself chewed out.”


“I really am sorry, you had to leave school again...” eyes downcast, hands folded, still in character.


“Knock it off! Besides I was glad to leave, check this action out." I showed her my slacks that had split at the butt exposing my red long underwear, the ones with the flap in the back. “The fourth graders really enjoyed this.”


We both broke up laughing and ended up eating lunch at the Cliff House Restaurant.

“Are you going to tell Wanda about the school thing?”


“Yep, I tell her everything, but I'll cover your sorry ass again.”


“Please do, I hate getting lectured by her, she can be scary.”


“Scary? She's only 5'2” for Christ Sakes, you tower over her. It's funny to watch from a distance. Hey, want a soda? Let's go out on the deck, I want to hear this story about Big Ray's demise.”


I got the cans of pop and we went out onto the deck that overlooked the town and Western Washington University's campus. It was gorgeous with all the lights. “So, you saw, Ray, you were saying....”


She told me about how her father known as Big Ray, a 6'8” and 300+ pound black man who always wore a brown leather coat, had taken her and brother Ray into a restaurant and they had ordered breakfast. Big Ray was eating away when the door opened and a guy walked in from the busy street and took a seat at the counter. Big Ray slapped down his fork and walked over to the coffee pot. He took four or five huge strides, spun the unsuspecting guy around in the chair and proceeded to pour the entire scalding coffee down his throat. He then calmly put back the pot and returned to eating his eggs. Sometime later, Tanya and little Ray were in the backseat of the Caddy waiting at a stoplight when they heard an explosion and both watched their father die in front of their eyes.


“Jesus, Tanya, that is one hell of a story. Someday, I am going to write all about you."


“Go right ahead but leave out the frying pan stuff.”


“Are you kidding me? Not tell the folks about how you used to knock out your mother's boyfriends with a frying pan? I will not promise that. In fact, whenever you're pissed at me, I hide the pans, just to be safe. “


“I'm going to bed, asshole dipshit.”


“Just a second,” I went and grabbed a couple of blankets and a pillow. “"Here you go.”


“What the fuck?” she involuntarily blurted out.


“You need to sleep out here close to the door, in case that drunk wasn't kidding and here's your frying pan. Don't ever say that nasty word in front of your foster daddy again either.”


The phone rang again. “Oh, fuck me, that goddamn phone again. Shit!”


I heard her laughing and she broke into :

Oh I wanna dance with somebody

I wanna feel the heat with somebody

Yeah I wanna dance with somebody with somebody who loves me “

"Night asshole dipshit. “ she called as she headed upstairs.

“Sleep well, bitch.”



Now, that's she's asleep I can tell you more stories about her and the runaway shelter.  Nope, not today, maybe some other time.  I need some sleep too.  "Oh, no! Not that goddamn phone, again!"


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I marvel at how a child can witness such trauma, and still grow up sane.

I love to read your stuff, spudman. It is always engaging. Reminds me of the lead-in to a Stephen King novella from Different Seasons (A Winter's Tale, it is the last one): It is the tale, not he who tells it.

Someone needs to get the Asian milfoil out of the damn feed!!!

*Bumped! Friday Frenzy Frequently Fries Feed.*
Remarkable gift to be able to communicate with kids who have been out there. All expectations of what a kid is go out the window. Fifteen-year-old war veterans. Good story. And good luck to both of you.
I'm sure you've heard it before, Spudman, but you are one special human being.

From your description here, I've got a very vivid picture of your latest housemate, who is lucky to have you in her life. That scene in the restaurant, followed by the incident with the frying pan...like something straight out of a movie!

My adventures undoubtedly pale in comparison to yours, but I do have a schizophrenic brother and a mother who's been in and out of psychiatric wards with bipolar disorder, so I have some inkling. Humor, as you've quite obviously discovered, is the key to survival.
I had to read this twice in order to fully digest it. Once before I left for work and again now that I'm home. I still feel as though I'm digesting it and am not certain what I can say, except, thank you again for writing and posting this. It took my breath away. As always, rated.
This post reads like a story, so I'm fascinated that it's your life. I hope you'll tell more. The dialogue is great; it gives a real sense of who you and Tanya are and how you related to each other. Thanks for sharing!
This is a fictional story circa 1977 or so. I am looking for Tanya as I haven't seen her in thirty years. It is fiction but there is more truth than fantasy here. I had a purpose for allowing her to use "bad" language when others weren't around and we made up the cussing nicknames which drove my wife nearly goofy.
I just realized you made editor's pick. Congratulations.
thanks, they seem to like my fiction.
You must be totally awesome working with these kids, Spud. I admire how easily you're able to connect with them. That's an art right there. Congrats on the EP. You deserve the editorial love!
Wonderful story. I can see Tanya in my mind so well. This may be fiction, but the truth of your generous spirit and heart are in there as well. The young people you work with are very lucky.
Oh my! This and the part two that was up and disappeared are incredible stories. Thanks for sharing your riveting experiences and the outrageous dialogue.
Tanya was one of the most special, interesting people I ever met. I appreciate all of your comments, I was sorry this one got knocked off the feed in a record 3 minutes, Friday these runaway stories are very special to me even though the experiences are over 30 years old.

Scruffus, I took down the second part which I am redoing slightly, glad you noticed. There is a third part too. I am going to work on these for the next month and self-publish them, my latest fun thing to do.
Idaho, I didn't see this yesterday, but found it today. I was one of those foster kids, I was only in care from 14 to 17 when I ran away and got a job in Denver. I knew a girl who I liked right away, similar to Tanya who was pregnant when I met her when we were both 14. Incest, and she was too far gone to do anything but allow her to give birth. I saw some stuff and I will write about it little by little.

When I was younger my writing about it was just too full of anger and sorrow to be any good. It was better to acquaint myself with the life I sought than to keep revisiting the bare knuckle fighting.

If only I had met someone who had such a humor about them when I was going through it. But no, they were all trying to make me a good, clean, Christian girl. It pissed me off and made me want to throw up after I destroyed something that they loved so they would know how I felt inside. But I only imagined doing that, I never acted upon it. I just kept looking for my escape.
Susanne, I am so glad you found this one especially after I read your brilliant and sad free verse. I thought about you and felt you might like it as it was centered in Bellingham. It was a great experience and I have wanted to write about it for many, many years. I stayed up nearly all night working on part II of this which I posted early this am and just took down. That piece I thought one of my very best and I will alert you when I repost it with the changes. To show we may be kindred spirits of sorts, read my attempt at free verse a few posts down on this blog called She's a Pretty Girl Who Never Smiles if you haven't already seen it. Thanks my Toad Lake friend, god , I loved that area.
What a tragic life for her! It must be hard work to be always angry at everyone, maybe more so for yourself. There are so many angry and 'displaced' people are there.

I wonder whatever becomes of them.

Has this affected you in some way?

I know I was in my own classroom though I fought tooth and nail not be to. There are times I had to divorce my own feelings and concentrate on getting the job done. I know it sounds awful; but I could only do so much.

Maybe that's the reason why I can't be in a regular classroom anymore.

I hope you tell more stories like this one.
Fuck, Spud. Good damn story. What the hell was the damned drunken asshole thing about?

My family refused to read my novel because of the garbage language. I have no fucking idea what the hell they are talking about.
Breaks my heart. When you said she was asleep I thought that was a euphemism for dead. I'm glad that isn't the case as far as you know. God bless your heart and what you do. I was a CASA for 2 years and it was the toughest job I'd ever done. Please let us know if you find this girl, hopefully in one piece.

Rated of course. Writing beautiful. So sad though I am sobbing.
Hey, Captain! We were running a very active runaway shelter and had lots of action because we were close to the Canadian border. The phone rang all the time there and I used to receive threats at least a couple of nights a week. I hate phones to this day. Fuck your family if they can't take a joke.
Denese--Hi, there! Glad you enjoyed meeting Tanya. This was differently work for a young man, which I was back then. You probably have some interesting similar stories. We cleaned up things when others were around but she loved to tease and screw around with me and I enjoyed it immensely too. Stay tuned for more on these 30 year old memories. By the way, 90% of this was true.
I don't have interesting similar stories, because I did not live with the children I advocated for. As a CASA you deal with the children of one family that are in foster care. I spent 2 years documenting their mother's behavior for the juvenile court judge, because the mom was smart enough to comply with court orders for a very short period of time-- like a day-- but then abandon them once she was no longer in the court's line of sight. After my son became very ill I had to transfer my case to another CASA, who by the way, managed to convince the mother to voluntarily relinquish custody of the kids, who were all adopted (the eldest by a family member).

I like to think that all of them were at least given a chance.
You have a terrific voice, perfectly suited for these tales of hilarity and desperation. You're probably too stubborn, but you could use an editor - not -- definitely notnotnot! -- to take away your unique sound, because that's necessary, but just to tighten it up a bit, fill it in in other bits. I think you have a book or books here.