an excerpt from
Chapter Three
of

ROLLING ON

by Carmelo Gonzalez

At the age of thirteen, Carmelo Gonzalez underwent surgery to correct complications caused by Cerebral Palsy. This chapter of his autobiography begins when Carmelo returns home after three months of rehabilitation, already dreading the turmoil he knows that he'll find there.

When I got home, everybody came to see me.
Everything was going well, but I still wanted to be back in the hospital. My mother had moved to a three-room apartment in Richmond Hills, Queens, where I slept in the living room, and my mother and Ralph (my stepfather) slept in the bedroom. They told me that the bedroom was mine but I had to stay in the living room until they got a sofa bed. It took like three years for us to get one. We fixed the room up the way I wanted it. I helped them paint it light blue. While we were painting we had a paint fight. We had a lot of fun painting that room.

My father was in prison before I went into the hospital. When my mother told him that I was home again he wrote and asked her to let my brother Nelson and my sister Carmen take me to see him. Whenever someone went to visit he would ask them to bring some drugs in a balloon. The reason you use a balloon is so the prisoner can swallow it, then shit it out and clean it. We put the drugs in a balloon, which we hid in my wheelchair, because it was a good place to hide: They couldn't really check the wheelchair.

When we went in to visit him he was so happy to see me. He gave me a hug and we talked until it was safe for us to pass him the drugs. He took the balloon and swallowed it. He told me that he made me a picture. I had to wait until we left to get it. It was a picture of a boy with three puppies jumping on him. I hung it on the wall at home and whenever I looked at it I would think about my father. I wish that I still had that picture.

To get home we had to walk fifteen blocks to the train station. On the way, Nelson wanted to scare me so he started running with me. He was zigzagging and he tried to run Carmen down with the wheelchair. At first I liked it, but then he started going too fast. I was getting scared so I told him to stop. He called me a chicken.

Everything was good for a month or so until New Year's Eve, when we had a party. My mother was there, and so were Nelson, Carmen, Miriam, Irene, Irene's mother, her little brother Eddie, Ralph, and two of Ralph's friends. Everyone was drinking. I didn't want any because I hate alcohol. I hated the way my family would act when they got drunk. They would always get into a fight, and New Year's Eve was no exception. Everything was fine until one in the morning, and then the shit hit the fan. I don't remember how it began, but Irene and my mother started arguing and Nelson got into it. Then Ralph got into it. Before you knew it everyone was fighting.

Nelson got mad and locked himself in the bathroom. I was going crazy. I wanted to walk out of the house but I couldn't so I had to sit there. I sat on my bed watching everybody fight like cats and dogs. Nelson came out of the bathroom and left the house. Irene saw Nelson leaving so she tried to go after him. My mother blocked the door so that Irene couldn't get out, so she ended up climbing out the window. Try to imagine a woman nine months pregnant, ready to give birth at any time, going out of a first-floor window.

The fight lasted what seemed like forever. Everybody went home, but my mother and Ralph kept on fighting until daylight. Ralph picked up the coffee table and smashed it on the floor. I was crying and trying to tell them to stop. They kept on fighting until my mother locked herself in the bathroom because she was afraid that Ralph was going to hit her. Sometimes when he did hit her, she would hit him back or scratch him. I couldn't do anything but watch what was going on.

My mother is an epileptic and she would sometimes have seizures when they were fighting. It would scare the shit out of me when she had a seizure because I thought that she was going to die. It would especially scare me when she had them when I was alone with her. The seizures would happen more often when she was drinking. Once she stopped drinking, the seizures diminished. You don't know how much I thank God that she stopped drinking. When she would drink, she would turn into a . . . I don't know what to call it. It was like someone would take over her body. I don't know what, but it wasn't my mother.

When I couldn't take my mother and Ralph fighting anymore I would think about killing myself. Sometimes when they went to sleep or went out, I would go into the kitchen to get a knife and try to stab myself, or go into the bathroom and get some pills. I never had the guts to do it. I wished that I could walk so I could run away. Sometimes I would picture myself going down the stairs in my wheelchair. Sometimes I wished that someone would kidnap me; that's how much I wanted to leave. Since I couldn't, I had to sit there and hope that they would get tired and take their ass to bed, so I could go to sleep myself. Before I would go to bed, I would take whatever they had left and pour it down the sink.

There were times when I would only have three or four hours of sleep, if any, but no matter how tired I was I would always want to go to school just to get out of that house. All the other kids liked Fridays and hated Mondays. It was the opposite for me. I think I was the only kid that hated three-day weekends and vacations, because they meant that I had to stay home and hear people fighting. I never wanted to miss school. It was the only place where I got away for a few hours, so I never wanted to miss even one day

Do you know how it feels when you want to get out of your house, and you can't? It's like dying of thirst and there is a cup of water five feet away, but you can't get the water because you are tied down in a chair. Then imagine that you have to sit there and watch other people drinking it. That's how I felt looking out the window, watching the kids in my neighborhood playing outside.

Derek and Nicholas, two guys in my class, went to a club together every other Saturday. It was like a boys and girls club for handicapped kids. I knew that I needed to get into the club, so I asked them how. Derek didn't want to tell me, but Nicholas gave me the phone number. My mother called and got me in.

I had no idea how much that place was going to change my life. I had somewhere to go every other Saturday from nine in the morning until six at night. I could be out of the house when my mother and Ralph started to drink. There were a lot of things to do there. You could play sports, do arts and crafts, or just make new friends.

One day I met a man named Jeff who worked there. He was disabled too, but not that much. He was small and used a wheelchair. We didn't know what was wrong with him so we called him a midget. He would always talk to me. I liked having someone to talk to. I thought he was a nice guy. I got to like him, until one day he came out and asked, "Do you like boys?" I couldn't believe what I heard.

"WHAT! What did you say?"

"Do you like boys?"

"Why are you asking me that?" I asked him.

He put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I watch you and I see how you look at them."

"What are you talking about? I look at them like I look at everybody else."

He just patted me on the leg and told me that he understood. I knew that I had some feelings for boys, but I didn't know why I was having them. I thought I was crazy for having those feelings, so I learned how to deny them and hide them. Jeff was always nice to me. He got me to trust him. I was able to talk to him about what was going on at home, so I felt like I had someone who would help me.

I thought he was the only one I could trust until one Saturday. The heat wasn't working, so we had to keep our coats on. I had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn't go with my coat on, so I asked him where I could get someone to help me. He told me that he could help me if I wanted him to. I said OK.

He told me that the bathroom for us kids wasn't working, but there was another bathroom we could go to. I didn't think anything of it, so we went up to the next floor. When we got to the bathroom, it was very small, only one wheelchair would fit in. He told me to go in with my wheelchair, and he would get up out of his and walk in. After using the bathroom, I started to pull up my pants. He told me that he would help me pull up my pants, but he pulled down his own pants instead.

"What are you doing?" I asked him as I tried to get up.

He pushed me back down and told me, "Sit down and don't move."

He tried to grab my penis. I pushed his hand away from me and told him, "Leave me alone! I want to get up."

He told me to shut up and sit still. I went to try to open the door to get out. I started to cry.

"Shut up. You know you like it, so shut up or I will hit you.

He grabbed my penis and he told me to hold his. I tried to pull my hand away, but he was holding my hand too tight. The more I tried to pull away, the tighter his grip got. I realized that I couldn't do anything but stay still and let him do what he wanted.

He asked if I liked what he was doing to me. I told him No. It felt to me like I had to go to the bathroom again. I didn't know what was happening to me.

"Stop, I have to go to the bathroom. I'm going to go on myself!" Just then, I came. I got scared. That was the first time that I had ever ejaculated. After I came, he made himself come. He came on me. At that point I was really scared. I didn't know what he was going to do next.

After it was over he grabbed me by my neck and said, "You better not tell anybody what happened here, because it was your fault. You made me do this. If you do tell anybody they are not going to believe you, and I will kill you. I know your address. I will go to your house and kill you and your family."

As he told me that, he grabbed my neck harder. I really thought that he was going to kill me. We heard someone coming so he let me go and pulled up his pants. He took some toilet paper and wiped up the sperm and pulled my pants up. Just before he went to open the door he told me, "Remember, if you ever tell anybody what happened, I'll kill you."

I didn't know what to do. I really thought that he might kill me. He made me feel it was my entire fault. When I went back downstairs I stood in a corner by myself. When a counselor saw me there, she knew that there was something wrong with me. I was crying, so she asked me what was wrong and went to touch me. I pulled away from her.

"What's wrong Carmelo? Are you all right?"

I told her that my stomach was hurting. Jeff came up to us and asked what was going on. She told him that I was having stomach pains. Then she asked me if I wanted to lie down. I said Yes, thinking that I would get away from Jeff. As we were leaving, someone came and told her that she was needed. Jeff told her that he would take care of me.

As she left, he pulled me to the side, grabbed my arm real hard and said to me, "I hope you wasn't thinking about telling her what we did!"

"No, I wasn't! Let my arm go, you're hurting me."

"Good! Don't forget what I told you. I will kill you and your family. I have your address." He showed me that he did have my address. "Anyway, nobody is going to believe you."

Then Nicholas came to tell me that they were going to play baseball and he wanted me to be on his team. I said OK. I really didn't feel like playing but I wanted to get away from Jeff.

That wasn't the only time Jeff molested me. The next Saturday I tried to stay away from him, but he got me alone again. A few of us were going upstairs and he was running the elevator. There wasn't any more room for me on the first trip and I was hoping that someone would come before he came back down, but no one did. When he came back to pick me up, I didn't know what to do, so I went in.

"How is my special friend doing?" he asked me.

I didn't say anything. I just looked down.

"What's wrong? Look at me," he said as he pulled my head up.

When he pulled my head up he reached to stop the elevator. That's when I knew he was going to molest me again.

"It's been two weeks since I saw you. I missed you. Did you miss me?" he asked me.

I didn't say anything. I just looked back down. When I saw his hands going towards my pants I tried to stop him.

He grabbed my hand and said, "Don't fight me, Carmelo. You know you like it."

I was afraid that he was going to hurt me so I didn't do anything to stop him. He opened my pants and grabbed me and started to jerk me off, then opened his pants. The bell rang to let him know that someone needed the elevator. At first he didn't stop, but they kept on ringing, so he had to stop.

"Remember Carmelo, don't tell anybody about this, or I'll kill you," he told me as he went to turn the elevator on.

When the elevator opened I didn't know what to do. I just went looking for Nicholas and Derek. From then on, I made sure that I went everywhere with them.

After that, I couldn't sleep some nights. Every time I closed my eyes I would see Jeff doing what he did to me. I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. He started to call to ask if I told anyone what he did to me. Then he would talk dirty to me. He would ask me if I ever had anybody put his dick up my ass, and he would tell me that he wanted to do it to me. He said he wanted to show me how it feels to get it in the ass.

He asked me to go to his house to meet his friends. I told him that my mother wouldn't let me. Every time he was going to hang up, he would always remind me that if I ever told anybody what happened, he would kill me. He told me that what had happened was because I wanted it to, that it was all my fault, and if I told anyone they would think I was making it up. I didn't say anything to anybody. I just kept it to myself and tried to forget about it.

One day he showed up at my house. When I saw him, I didn't know what to say or do. I thought to myself, "Mommy is here so nothing is going to happen." Then my mother came and told me that she was going to the store and that she would be back in half an hour. He told my mother that he would stay and watch me for her.

"Do you want anything?" she asked me. I just told her to hurry back. When she left I got up off the bed and got in my wheelchair. I thought if I stayed on the bed I wouldn't be able to stop him if he tried anything.

When I got in my chair he touched me on my leg. I pushed his hand away and told him, "You better stop. My mother is coming back soon." Then he went to touch my leg again. I didn't know what to do, so I froze up. Just as he was going to open my pants, we heard my mother talking to someone. He stopped and closed my pants up and told me not to say anything. Thank God my mother came in.

"Look Carmelo! Look who's here! They're going to stay with us," she said as she opened the door. It was my aunt Etta and my two cousins Arnold and Elvin and their three sisters. Etta had a fight with Jamie, her husband, so they stayed with us for about three months. Jeff saw that we had company, so he told me that he was going to go, and he'd see me next Saturday at the center.

That Saturday I took Arnold and Elvin with me, so Jeff wouldn't be able to get me alone. He stopped going after me when he realized that I was always with my cousins. I started to hang up on him when he called me at home. I just got to the point where I couldn't take him trying to scare me any more, and I realized that he really couldn't hurt my family or me.


Excerpted from "Rolling On," 2001 Carmelo Gonzales
Edited excerpt 2002 Carmelo Gonzales

To order a copy of
"Rolling On" and to learn more
about its author,
go to Carmelo's Website:
www.carmelogonzalez.com

 

 

 

BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/May 2002