Chapter Six - Coming Home
1999 - Mom is 50, Scott is 25, I am 22
I am working at ClubMed in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I hate it here. It is too hot, too sticky. The humidity is unlike anything I've ever experienced before in my life. I work in the Baby Club, taking care of little ones - as young as 4 months, and up to 3 years old. Most of them are okay, but their parents are beasts. Before coming here, I had been living with my Mom in Newport for a few years. I had left college in Ashland, and had flopped around between jobs for a while. Right before I left for Florida, Scott came back home to live too. He was bigger than I'd ever seen him, had quit school, and was in a terrible state of mind. He hated everyone and everything. He hated all of the family. He hated himself. He hated me. He weighed over 500 pounds, and ate like I've never seen anyone eat. This was the first time I'd seen him in a while, and I was amazed at the pure enormity of his being. How could he let himself get this way? How could he have that little control? Why was he so mad at everyone? What had happened?
After I came here to Florida, my aunt Anita and uncle Gary in Bend had offered for Scott to come live with them. Gary would put Scott to work, Anita would help him with diet and exercise, and they would both help him lose the weight and get better. Scott went to live with them. He called me once in a while to give me progress updates.
"Hi Jellybug, what's a-happenin' at good ol' ClubMed?"
"Same ol' shit, "Cranky Kids and the Parents Who Abandon Them", some of these people are really horrendous. They shouldn't even be allowed to reproduce. They just drop 'em off and go lay by the pool all day. Or drink in the bar. We had to go find this mother three times today because her little girl wouldn't stop crying, crying so hard she was throwing up EVERYWHERE. On the toys, on the floor, in the pool, in the hall, in her crib, on the toys some more. We've been sanitizing things all day."
"So, did the mother pick her up?"
"No, she got the father, they both came to the pool where we were, with all the kids. They're French assholes. They shook and slapped that little girl, she's only 2 years old, and screamed at her in French, literally threw her in the pool and forced her to stay in there, shivering, bawling, choking, and throwing up. All she wanted was to be with them. She was scared. And she didn't understand anything we were saying in English. Mark, this kid I work with, speaks French, and went and rescued her. He pulled her out of the pool, wrapped her in a towel, and screamed something at the both of them. The father came at him like he was gonna hit Mark. Mark stood his ground, handed off this man's daughter to one of the other Baby Club girls and confronted this much bigger man. I was so proud of him. He got a written warning. I hate this fucking place. Sick fucking French owners. They let these assholes do anything to these kids, all for a few thousand dollars a week. I hate this place. So, how are YOU doing?" Scott laughs. I love the sound of his laugh, it's a cross between a little girl's laugh and a big burly man's laugh, squeaky and robust.
"Wellll, I'm doing pretty good. Just got done riding my bike - 30 minutes tonight! I'm gettin' up there. Could only do about 3 minutes when I first started, so it's getting better."
"That's great! How's working with Gary?"
"Oh, you know, hard. But I like it though. The boys are hilarious, we're joking around all the time. I'm able to do more and more every day, so that's good. Anita fixed us a really good dinner tonight - asparagus and rice and teriyaki chicken."
"Wow, your own personal chef, huh? Must be nice. How many pounds have you lost?"
"Well, that's why I called you...I finally reached the hundred mark! I've lost 102 pounds as of this morning!"
"God, Scott, that's AWESOME! Wow! I'm soooo proud of you! Keep it up, brother, and soon we'll be swatting the girls away with a stick!"
"Yeah, right, whatever. But, yeah, I'm really proud of myself too. Anita is taking me to sign up at this cool gym this weekend. And I started going to church again. I like it. It's comforting. And the guy who runs the gym is the pastor there."
"Sounds like you've got it all figured out, huh? Well, that just makes my day. I'm so happy to hear all this news, so happy you are feeling better, getting better. You rock, little brother."
"Julie, I'm your BIG brother."
"I know, I know, it just sounds better in a sentence, that's all." In truth, it seems like he's my little brother for as much as I've taken care of him over the years, it FEELS like I'm older. So, sometimes I forget.
We get off the phone and I head to bed. In a couple months I will leave this place, a little ahead of schedule due to some unforseen and tragic circumstances. I will go back home, again. I will make a new plan, and try to overcome my life. I hope Scott stays on the right path, and he's becoming an inspiration to me more and more every day.