Kaitlyn: Me too. I dream about houses that I’ve seen but don’t
recognize. And yes. There was a woman. The woman was his
accomplice. She led the police to Mom’s body after the killer
Benjamin: Wow! It’s strange I dreamed that woman!
In my dream, she’s in her late forties.
Kaitlyn: I’ve never seen her. I saw the man though.
It took police a year to find him. The woman never
did time. But he got life.
Benjamin: Was it a robbery?
Kaitlyn: No. I don’t think so. Mom was found at the woman’s house.
Benjamin: I thought it was a hotel.
Kaitlyn: No, it was her house.
Benjamin: She had a house?–was it big?
Kaitlyn: The woman lived in a housing project. Like the one we grew up in.
I once drove by out of curiosity.
Benjamin: The house in my dream; it had two floors.
Kaitlyn: Her house was like the one we had in Ben
Kaitlyn: This place had two floors.
Benjamin: There were stairs?
Kaitlyn: Of course!
Benjamin: In my dream, I went upstairs…
Kaitlyn: I know so much about Mom’s death.
Benjamin: Was anything…? Did Mom have her ring?
Kaitlyn: She was badly beaten.
Benjamin: I mean, do you know if her ring was gone?
Kaitlyn: I don’t know
Benjamin: Wow! I wonder…
Kaitlyn: The Coroner said there was no rape and she
didn’t have nothin’ to steal.
Benjamin: Was she found upstairs?
Kaitlyn: She was found downstairs…In the living room.
Benjamin: She always wore her ring! It was her
engagement ring; was that listed?
Kaitlyn: I dunno.
Benjamin: Why was she there?
Kaitlyn: …It was her birthday an she was homeless
an she met this guy an he got her got her drunk an
got her into that house and I dunno! Nothing ever
Benjamin: I’m sorry, Kate.
Kaitlyn: She died a horrible death.
Benjamin: I see her death over and over in my mind.
Kaitlyn: I dream about finding her body.
Benjamin: Hey! I had a dream last night but it wasn’t
about Mom! It was about a woman making porn.
(laughs) What a funny dream!
Kaitlyn: Maybe you dreamed up Mom’s shitty best
Benjamin: Skip? I don’t think I remember her.
Did Skip make porn?
Kaitlyn: You don’t remember her?
Kaitlyn: You don’t remember we got taken away
from Mom and placed in foster care with the
Kaitlyn: We stayed with Skip for over a year!
Benjamin: I don’t remember that!
Kaitlyn: You don’t remember any of it?
Benjamin: I must have been little!
Kaitlyn: Ben, you were nine.
Benjamin: I remember a lady that made phone calls to Jesus.
Kaitlyn: “Jesus” was a guy named Dan. Dan was Skip’s boyfriend. Skip called “Jesus” so Dan could tell her what kid he wanted that night.
Benjamin: I remember it scared me when the lady called Jesus.
Kaitlyn: There were five other kids besides us. You were Dan’s favorite. He always said you were too pretty for a boy.
Benjamin: Oh my God! Did Skip make porn!
Kaitlyn: Ben, do you really want to know?
Kaitlyn: Ben, Skip had sex with you for Dan. Dan got off on it…He took pictures.
Benjamin: In my dream, the lady squeezes a pillow between her thighs.
Kaitlyn: In the morning, your face was always rubbed raw, I didn’t really understand why until now.
Benjamin: …Maybe it’s better to leave the past alone.
Kaitlyn: That’s not so easy! Not for people like us!
Benjamin: I don’t remember!
Kaitlyn: I wish I could fucking forget!
Benjamin: I’m sorry Kate. I didn’t mean to piss you off.
Kaitlyn: Mom told me once that she wanted to go to
Hell for what she had done to you.
Benjamin: Did she say what she thought she’d done to me?
Kaitlyn: Dreams have meanings. I have beliefs too!
Benjamin: Umm…ok…Tell me about your beliefs.
Kaitlyn: OK. I believe Mom comes to us for a reason. And I think she is trying to help us resolve something or solve something and she won’t rest until we get it done.
Benjamin: So, death is Mom’s chance to be a good Mother?
Kaitlyn: You’re still a little snot, Bennn-jamin!
Benjamin: I’m sticking my tongue out. I hope she comes back as a Ford.
Kaitlyn: Stop making me laugh! You’re lifting my mood!
Benjamin: How much you wanna bet that guy took Mom’s ring!
Kaitlyn: He prolly did. Hell, he took her life!
Benjamin: Hey…Maybe we could get together and go to Charleston and do some research…
Kaitlyn: It’s up to you
Benjamin: Or maybe not.
Kaitlyn: I think Mom knew she had met her death that night.
Benjamin: You know Kate, every dream I have about Mom takes place in
a house I’ve never seen, but think I know. Do you have that dream, Kate?
Kaitlyn: Me too. I dream about houses that I’ve seen
but don’t know.
Benjamin: I’ve had two dreams about Mom this month. She always comes at Thanksgiving and leaves after Christmas.
Kaitlyn: That was her favorite time of year
Benjamin: I didn’t know that.
Kaitlyn: Yea it was. She loved the holidays. Ben? Don’t
you remember the fuss she made over Christmas?
Benjamin: No. I remember almost nothing. When I left, I left completely. I wanted to be to be free of her and the pain and the stupidity of that disgusting little town with it’s hypocrisy and ante bellum pretensions. I hate everything about it! If I could go back in time I’d give Abie Baby a Nuke and tell him to use it.
Kaitlyn: (laughs) So I’m hearing you say that you dislike the City of Charleston.
Benjamin: (laughs) A little. Let’s talk more about Mom.
Kaitlyn: I had a long talk with Mom after Dad died.
Are you sure you want to talk about Mom?
Kaitlyn: Mom said that when she was 16 her Father died and she had a nervous breakdown. She said she felt trapped when he died because he loved her and treated her like she mattered. But her Mother–
Kaitlyn: Yes, Grandma, Her favorite was her oldest Son, Alex. Mom said she disappointed Grandma because she wasn’t beautiful.
Benjamin: Mom was beautiful!
Kaitlyn: Yeah, but not the way Grandma wanted.
Benjamin: Grandma thought Mom was beautiful, too!
Kaitlyn: Ben! You said that you wanted to hear this. I won’t tell it to you if it’s going to make you angry.
Benjamin: I’m sorry. It’s silly still feeling like I have to defend her.
Kaitlyn: You don’t have to defend her from me, Ben.
Benjamin: I’ll be quiet.
Kaitlyn: Mom said that when she got sick Grandma thought she was acting crazy for attention. Mom said she lost control and wound up at “Bellevue”. The shrink there wanted to keep her but Grandma pulled her out and sent her on a “vacation”. Mom said Uncle Alex had married a “rich piss-elegant bitch” from Charleston.
Benjamin: (Laughs) I bet she delivered that line with a z snap!
Kaitlyn: Yeah…So Grandma sent Mom to to “the low-country” to meet Aunt “Lauren”.
Benjamin: (Laughs) How low can it go!
Kaitlyn: Pretty fuckin’ low! Mom said Grandma bought her a whole new wardrobe based on Aunt Lauren’s.
Benjamin: I remember that scene from “Now Voyager“. See! I do remember something!
Kaitlyn: Imagine my eyes. Now imagine them rolling.
Benjamin: (laughs) That must hurt.
Kaitlyn: Mom said that when she arrived she met Lauren’s “beefy” cousin and married him a week later.
Benjamin: Guess that was Dad.
Kaitlyn: It’s hard to think of Dad as “Beefy”
Benjamin: Sounds like she wanted to get the hell out of New York.
Kaitlyn: That’s what she said. You were born ten months later.
Benjamin: I always wondered about that. The neighbors used to call her a “Yankee whore”. They hissed at her when we went out.
Kaitlyn: Hypocrites live everywhere, Ben.
Benjamin: So I was born…what did she say about it?
Kaitlyn: She said that after you were born she felt all wrong. She said she loved you but was angry and felt trapped. She said she hurt you when you were three weeks old and got scared and called Grandma. Grandma came down from New York to help.
Benjamin: Did she say how she hurt me?
Kaitlyn: It frightens me to say it.
Benjamin: How did she hurt me?
Kaitlyn: Oh Ben! She pressed a hot iron onto your back.
Kaitlyn: Mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia!
Benjamin: Jesus Christ!
Kaitlyn: She was sick!
Benjamin: No wonder I’m a mess!!
Kaitlyn: Grandma asked Uncle Alex to take you so Mom could have a break but he thought Mom was exaggerating and said that the burns weren’t that bad–also, he didn’t like dad.
Benjamin: The burns weren’t that bad? He blamed Dad?
Kaitlyn: He called Dad a poor Jew boy and shamed Mom for getting married to him. He said that neither of them was good enough for you cuz as you got older he could see that you were smart. He didn’t like that either.
Benjamin: Uncle Alex said that Mom and Dad was no good for me? And he didn’t like me for being smart?
Kaitlyn: Yes. Grandma began to say you were gifted…and he was jealous.
Kaitlyn: He thought Mom was acting. He said that if Mom didn’t act normal he would take permanent custody of you.
Benjamin: Grandma and Uncle Alex left me with a woman who tried to kill me?
Kaitlyn: That was Mom’s biggest fear. That she would kill you.
Benjamin: I’m so confused!
Kaitlyn: Mom did her best to make everything right, but she had another fit. She said that she called Uncle Alex one last time and begged him to help.
Benjamin: What had she done.
Kaitlyn: She said that she had burned your arms and legs.
Kaitlyn: She said Uncle Alex said it was normal to lose patience with kids. Mom said that after that she went numb.
Benjamin: When did Mom get that diagnosis?
Kaitlyn: She got it when I had her committed.
Benjamin: You had her committed?
Kaitlyn: She had stopped taking care of herself. And I wanted to get her off the street.
Benjamin: That must have been hard, Kate.
Kaitlyn: I did what I had to do. She was in the hospital for thirty days. She never really tried to get better.
Benjamin: None of this feels real…
Kaitlyn: She tried to commit suicide about a year after dad died. I went to her. She was scared to love anyone, especially us. She was afraid she would hurt us. She was especially afraid of you.
Benjamin: I hate this story! I don’t want this story!
Kaitlyn We didn’t choose this!
Benjamin: Kaitlyn–I want to ask you a tough question…
Benjamin: Did you purposely set it up to have your Daughter taken away.
Kaitlyn: Prolly did. I couldn’t let her go but I was afraid to keep her.
Benjamin: I thought so.
Kaitlyn: Ben, did you decide to go Gay so you wouldn’t have kids?
Benjamin: I don’t think you can decide things like that but if it was a choice then yes.
Kaitlyn: When I think about the lives we could have had I get sad.
Benjamin: Why was Momma afraid of me.
Kaitlyn: You really don’t know, do you?
Kaitlyn: She told me she really loved you and respected what you did with your life.
Benjamin: Like spending most of it in and out of psych units!
Kaitlyn: She said the last time she saw you, you were angry.
Benjamin: I said, “I’m so mad at you I can’t sit next to you”.
Kaitlyn: That was when she knew she was gone for you.
Kaitlyn: She said you had wished her away.
Benjamin: …What did she mean?
Kaitlyn: You forget people.
Benjamin: I never forgot Mom!
Kaitlyn: Yes you did!
Benjamin: That hurts, Kate.
Kaitlyn: That’s just your share of the pain.
Kaitlyn: There were crumpled notes in her purse.
Most of them were notes about us.
Kaitlyn: Do you want to hear what she wrote?
Benjamin: I have to, right?
Kaitlyn: No. You can hang up and forget her again.
Kaitlyn: She wrote that God had gifted her with two beautiful children and that she had tortured them. She wrote that she tried to get help but all she found were harsh judgments and that the result was that she became angry and bitter. she was in trouble and that we were in danger and that She wrote that everyone knew they shamed her instead of doing what they knew was right by us. She wrote that she wanted to take back our wounds and that she was ready to go to hell–especially for what she had done to you.
Benjamin: It sounds like a suicide note.
Kaitlyn: She didn’t think she had a right to live.
Kaitlyn: She wrote it a week before she was killed.
Benjamin: You know Kate, every dream I’ve ever had about Mom happens in a house I’ve never seen, but think I know. Do you have that dream, Kate?
“Puffin Billy” with the Melodi Light Orchestra recorded in 1954
Image and text (c) Rob Goldstein 2014-2017