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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
"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
"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
"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
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: