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Paula Sophia Schonauer, LCSW, continues a serial memoir. If you haven’t read the earlier parts of this series, follow the links at the bottom of this page.


“Everyone that watches “Deep Throat” is watching me being raped.”

Linda Lovelace, Ordeal


I had this dream. I was walking along a hedgerow on a warm, sunny day, the neighborhood quiet, serene, birds singing, squirrels chirping. No traffic on the street, no horns honking, and the air crisp but not cold, filled with the odor of autumn, that respite from a long, hot summer, not the decay near the beginning of winter. It was as close to heaven as I had ever known. I felt safe, nobody stalking me or taunting me. 

Then, I heard something snap and growl within the hedgerow, and I watched with dismay as something dark moved through the brances, a black tendril, shapeless at first but at the same time, muscular and threatening. I could not move. The darkness took the shape of a monstrous hand, and it grabbed my right arm, shaking it, almost ripping it from the socket while I screamed.

I awoke to see Dad grasping my wrist, shaking my arm. Groggy and frightened, I pulled away from him, snatching my arm from his hand. I turned over to my left side, frightened and confused. 

“So, you don’t want to get breakfast?” Dad said, a perturbed menace in his voice, perhaps hurt by my impulsive reaction to his overture. I immediately felt bad. 

“Breakfast?”

“Pancakes.”

I loved pancakes. I sat up in bed and gazed at Dad in the semi dark. I could discern his eyes and the shape of his face, angular and concave, darkness beneath his cheekbones. I think he smiled, but I did not see his teeth. A chill overwhelmed me as I thought of Boris Karloff’s depiction of the Mummy. 

“Come on, get dressed.”

The roads were almost empty at 2:00 am, an occasional car meandering from one place to the next, one of them straddling lane lines and proceeding tentatively through intersections, remaining stopped after a light turned green.

“That’s a drunk driver,” Dad said aloud, vocalizing his thoughts. He did not pass the car, just followed it while maintaining a safe distance. The car took a left down Bath Road, a curvy two-lane highway plunging into the Ohio Valley, trees swarming at the sides, overhanging branches creating the effect of a dark tunnel. 

The drunk driver swung wide on a curve and almost crashed head-on into an oncoming car. It then went off the road, plunging over the shoulder, down into a gully where it came to a sudden stop. I saw dust flaring up behind the car, creating an eerie fog that glowed red from the taillights. Dad kept driving, neither speeding up nor slowing down. 

“I’d hate to be that guy,” he said. 

“He might need help.”

“Not our problem. You still hungry?”

I glanced back at the accident scene now diminishing with distance. I could still see the red fog and the headlights of an approaching car. I hoped they would stop. 

“Yeah, I’m still hungry,” I said, still uneasy about the accident. 

“In another universe, that guy didn’t crash.”

“Huh?”

“In a different universe than that, he doesn’t even exist. You don’t exist, somewhere in another universe.” 

I remembered this episode in Star Trek when Kirk and Spock travel back to the 1930’s after stumbling through a temporal gate. “Like Star Trek?”

“Yeah, kind of.”

The possibilities were intriguing. Maybe, in another universe I was a girl wishing she could be a boy, and I wondered how we could connect and switch places or switch minds, or whatever it would take. 

After a while, I saw a bright white light glowing near the top of a grove of trees. The lights were shining upon a huge billboard advertising a nearby truck stop. Soon, Dad drove the car into a parking lot full of semi-trucks and trailers, diesel engines groaning in chorus, the acrid smell of diesel fuel in the air. Despite the late hour, the truck stop was busy, men climbing in out and out of truck cabs, some women too. 

One woman climbed out of a cab and sauntered her way to the entrance of the restaurant. She was not wearing much clothing, a short skirt, a halter-top and a thin jacket with strings of beads. She had long blond hair, and she was wearing high heel shoes. I thought she looked like a hippy, but her face was a little weathered, her eyes vacant like she had just woken from a long sleep. Her eyes bothered me. They did not sparkle with life, just dim, zombielike. I felt sorry for her. It seemed she did not want to be there.

“Welcome to the trick stop,” Dad said. 

“The trick stop? It’s a truck stop, Dad.”

The woman looked at Dad, eyes registering his presence, a smile, maybe a sneer, on her lips. They seemed to recognize each other. 

“You get around,” Dad said. 

The woman winced or grimaced at Dad. They did know each other, and it made me wonder. Maybe they knew each other in school. 

We went into the restaurant crowded with truck drivers, some in groups, some by themselves, the solitary ones sitting at the counter or in booths nursing cups of coffee, weary and staring into space, unshaven and bedraggled, dressed in blue jeans and coveralls, plaid shirts and t-shirts and ball caps. 

Every once in a while, someone called numbers over a loudspeaker, telling someone a shower was ready. Nobody ever looked lonelier than these guys had, but it was, after all, almost three o’clock in the morning. I was beginning to fall asleep myself, only half interested in the stack of pancakes set before me. 

I slept all the way home, groggily walking into the house and up the stairs to my bedroom. It was dark outside, but I heard birds singing, lots of them. I had never been awake that early or had stayed up that late, whichever. I relished nestling into my bed, but Dad had a different idea. 

He took me to the bathroom where I stood and watched as he brought a tiny film projector down from the top shelf of a linen closet next to the bathtub. He grabbed a box as well, full of tiny reels of film no wider than a 45 record. Dad scrounged through the box, and when he found what he was seeking, he squealed with excitement. He strung the film through the projector, plugged the cord into the wall, and turned it on, projecting the images against the shower curtain. 

The movie had no sound, but I did not know whether Dad had turned off the sound or if the film was silent. It looked grainy and amateur even to my ten-year-old eyes. 

A man took off a woman’s clothing, petting her, breathing hard, and acting excited. He dropped his pants and tore his shirt open. I noticed the woman had long blond hair and a weathered face. The man removed the woman’s bra, cupping her breasts in his hands before pushing her hard. She fell onto a bed, almost bouncing to the floor from impact. He crawled on top of her. 

Her eyes held my attention, glazed over, almost glistening, mouth twisted as she bit her lower lip trying not to cry. Then, her eyes went vacant, staring into space as though she had left her body, vacant eyes like the woman at the truck stop. My mind drifted away, but I could still hear the birds outside, their songs loud in my ears.


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Last Updated October 22, 2021, 6:39 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor