A childhood sociopath...



I believe it is fundamentally nurture, not nature. Having transcended such, I don't believe bad seeds are born, I believe sociopaths are created.


When you take chunks of flesh and soul from a child without asking, they too are taught to take without asking. Most children self destruct; but for some, they destroy. Their love changes to hatred; and sociopaths emerge as thieves, rapists, murderers, thugs, arsonists, etc.


Ironically the act of illicitly taking property or life is more about anesthesia than taking back. Risking what he values most, freedom; lashing out provides a brief reprieve from the roaring pain in his soul. This is why he does it again and again.

Bobby: The making of a Childhood Sociopath

One important note; please trust that I am not boasting. Except for the insight I have today, I wish this never happened, none of it, but it did. I want you to have as much insight into my young mind and thought processes as possible. It has taken many years to make amends for my crimes and perpetrations, and I continue at every opportunity. Even though I celebrate profound love today, I would have much preferred a loving upbringing instead of the many years immersed in hell.


From infancy, I knew mostly aloneness, rejection and scarring bouts of physical and mental abuse from my parents and other caregivers. With the authorities in pursuit, I was kidnapped at age four by my mentally tormented, alcoholic father from a neglectful teenage mother who had little desire to rear a child.


By age eight, I had developed a hatred for authority that was deeply etched by a neglectful mother, an insane father, cruel nuns and an abusive, violent alcoholic step-mother. I soon numbed out the abuse by becoming a prolific burglar. At age ten, I almost bled to death by the hands of my father. I also burglarized about one-hundred homes by then, and by eighteen, several times that.


I was a powder keg, adept at hiding my illicit activities behind a facade of good grades, eloquence, charm, entrepreneurship, and lies. At age thirteen the powder keg blew with all of my rage nearly killing my father. After I had called the paramedics, I called the authorities, demanding to become an emancipated minor. The last time I saw my father, alive, he was on the floor, rendered unconscious from the torrent of my rage. A year later he killed my dog, a hapless and unwitting partner along with himself in some deranged suicide pact.


It was a dark, lonely, unpredictable childhood filled with pain, terror, and desperation. Although sometimes painful to re-experience, I write these memoirs as a healed man filled with compassion, love and a promise to others. You can stop the cycle and grow to forgive and trust. My wish is that “Bobby” is your road map, inspiring you to love, forgive, trust, grow and heal, because healed people, heal people.


Honor Loyalty Duty FaithRTB

Robert Bohen




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Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Introduction



The inwards shift...


"Seek first to understand..." ~Saint Francis of Assisi


“Bobby” is a vicarious journey that spans some of the blackest depths of human desolation to the some of the highest “peak experiences” of love possible. My wish is that you see “Bobby” as evidence and a road map that anyone can heal and celebrate and thrive around authentic love, no matter your life experience.


There are two reasons this begins in the middle of Bobby’s story. The first reason is that no matter where you are in this book, you will always have hope, for a your life and for Bobby.


The second reason is that I believe that authentic, transparent, compassionate love is our greatest accomplishment. I also believe this is everyone’s ultimate purpose for living. I believe that no matter your life experience; no matter how good or bad, how ugly or beautiful, how victimized or victorious, there is no excuse not to live a breathtaking life of love and humility. And if Bobby can do it, so can you. Your life can be a beautiful, playful game of awakening, intimacy, and contentment if you learn to convert your life's experiences into love for others and yourself.


I invite you to play a beautiful game, starting with the message behind "Bobby"; to victoriously love. The rules are simple and if followed, can only yield miracles in your life. Whoever dies truly loving and being loved, wins. Because if you love and by example, others follow your inspiration, everyone wins. Among the simple rules, one is always to ask, “What is the most loving choice I can make right now?” I call this “Love, Now.”


Chapter one begins in the middle of Bobby’s story, so you immediately see the glimpse of love and humility that Bobby finally starts to see. This lets you see the pivotal moment he shifts his life from living in years of darkness, pain, and struggle, towards a tender celebration of life, love, contentment, freedom, and a deep connection with God.


Then you jump back into the deep, dark, desperate side of his wounded humanity with Bobby’s first memories of abuse and neglect. You then accompany him as his father takes Bobby to the brink of death, and then Bobby taking his father to the edge of death. You will vicariously journey into Bobby's accelerating darkness, a world of twisted thoughts, crime sprees and drug abuse, as he lashes out at society until his life faces a fork in the road, choosing freedom or prison, life or death, hatred or love.


You will vicariously witness the internal struggle as Bobby lives a double life, trying to fit into the trappings of the American dream while warring with his dark side. All the while in futility, he struggles to not be like his tormented father, not knowing that what we focus on, we become. You will see first hand, his struggle as Bobby is caught between light and darkness for years. Then, visiting the brink of death, contemplating suicide, like father, like son, Bobby experiences a profound epiphany. From this epiphany, Bobby unravels a mystery that has plagued human kind since the dawn of time. My wish is that you understand this mystery too, to the core of your soul. And then you are deeply inspired to show the world what you have learned because the simple answer to the mystery isn’t done with words.



Bobby learned that winning the game of love is a choice not a chance, no matter the odds. Bobby began to see from his heart instead of his wounded ego. He learned that as you internalize your experiences, and we all do, you become what you internalize. Hurt people, hurt people and healed people, heal people. In spite of young Bobby yearning love, he could only see hatred, mistrust, and brokenness. Consequently, he internalized hatred, mistrust, and brokenness. Bobby became what he internalized, a hating, mistrusting, broken boy who desperately struggled with love, self-esteem, God and society, until he learned he could change what he internalized.


Regardless of his experiences, Bobby became responsible for converting his negative experiences to love and humility, and then he internalized the love and humility. This allowed him to become an inspiration while celebrating freedom, vitality, intimacy, trust, grace, joy and everything else that is abundant love.


Bobby was clearly a victim, wrongly abused as a child, but in the end, he chose not to be victimized. Bobby struggled when he filtered his experiences by seeing, judging and reacting from a perspective of being victimized. He knew only fear based emotions and had no access to grace, love, and compassion towards his abusers, others, himself or God. Like his father and other caregivers, Bobby was subjectively trapped in the human default of moralistic thinking, a lonely place of struggle, seeing the world through his ego with only a right/wrong, good/bad or us vs. them perspective. He did not know he could find a choice in his heart to practice relational thinking, a common ground free of judging others, finding compassion and seeing through the eyes of another; to seek first to understand. He didn’t know to be responsible for the experiences he internalized. Or that his heart or his ego determined a life of thriving or surviving, inspiration or quiet desperation. Consequently, he reacted as a victim for years, no matter how much he tried not to, desperately trapped in a fear driven, moralistically thinking, survival based mentality.


Then he learned to thrive around love through relational thinking. He learned to filter his experiences by being responsible to gracefully, compassionately and objectively create a love based outcome with every experience he had with others and himself. He learned that it's impossible to hate anyone whose eyes you see through; even his tormented father. He learned that the ego cannot see through another's eyes, only the heart can. He learned that where you live your life from, the heart or the ego, determines what you see, and that life always mirrors back what you see. In the end, his tormented father, as a potent example of one who saw everything from his ego, taught Bobby to see everything from his heart. Because it's not what you live for; it's where you live from.


Two people look out a window, one sees dirt, and the other sees stars...


Two people are called a bad name; one fights back, and the other seeks to understand...


A wallet is taken, one seeks retribution and the other restitution...




Same exact experience, yet two distinct experiences. To an outside observer, the latter matches the definition of “victim.” To the inside observer, one sees and responds from their heart and the other sees and reacts from their ego. What Bobby failed to realize for many years, is that he had a choice. What humankind has failed to understand is that we all have a choice.


Just like little Bobby, you may not choose to be a victim, but you do choose whether you internalize being victimized, whether it's an hour or the rest of your life. You choose to internalize anger or calm, hatred or love, sorrow or contentment. This doesn’t mean that you don’t initially experience pain, sorrow or loss. It means how long and how toxic do you choose to allow the experience of pain, sorrow or loss, actually to impact your life and subsequently your loved ones.


Saint Francis of Assisi humbly knelt in prayer, asking for the wisdom to seek first to understand. Bobby did not want to continue to live in his father's shadow of hatred and rage towards the world. So one day Bobby too, humbly knelt in prayer, asking for the wisdom to seek first to understand. He learned he had to step into his father's shoes and see through his father's eyes to begin to heal and love. We all need to step into other's shoes and see through their eyes. If we all did this, the world would heal, and we begin with those closest to us.


Bobby realized that his father was trapped, seeing the world as a cruel, hostile, unfair place. Consequently, the world mirrored back a cruel, hostile, unfair place, and this sadly became his father's truth. Bobby's father was molested, abused and abandoned at age five by Bobby's grandfather. He fought for survival as a starving orphan, living on the ruthless city streets of the Prohibition era.


This was no excuse for his father's behavior towards Bobby as a child. It was cruel, violent and insidious. However, seeing into his father's upbringing, realizing his father was tormented and truly ill, he realized that hurt people, hurt people. Hating and holding a grudge would be akin to hating and holding a grudge against a leukemia patient. Bobby's father didn't even have the scant resources we have today to try to get better; so he used alcohol to mask the symptoms.


This shift in perspective allowed Bobby a sense of compassion, then forgiveness, then the opportunity for Bobby to live a free, unencumbered life of love. He traded up, hate for love, fear for trust, judgment for compassion, and broke the cycle of abuse for his children. Bobby is also not using his father's abuse as an excuse to live a life of quiet desperation; instead, Bobby is using his father's abuse to live a life of inspiration. Today, Bobby has pure love and a deep compassion for his father and for others who were abusive.


My wish is for you to internalize freedom, vitality, intimacy, trust, grace, joy and everything else that is abundant love, so the world mirrors it back to you. Do this, so you thrive with whom you love and who loves you. You are free to choose your experiences in life with loving choices, knowing that each experience presents you with the choice of internalizing love, so you too live a life of inspiration. Bobby learned to be responsible for his experiences so he could victoriously prevail in love, and you can too, because healed people, heal people.



Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Preamble



The mind of a young sociopath.


As a toddler, I remember desperately wanting to be loved and nurtured. I wanted anyone to trust and not to hurt me. There was no predisposition towards stealing, manipulating, lying and deceiving. It was cause and effect. I was a small child frenetically defending my survival within a violent, insane environment. Most days were a desperate, unpredictable nightmare to avoid pain. I was a sweet little boy wanting only to trust and love. Instead, I alchemized into an angry, destructive childhood sociopath.


When someone is subjected to pain and abuse over long periods of time, the mind often disassociates to cope with the constant overwhelm. Compound that with being unable to develop meaningful, trusting relationships, while frequently uprooted to new places, the desperation and continuous adapting emerges a skewed perspective of reality.


As a tiny little boy, I quickly learned to survive by sticking my true feelings in boxes and locking them up. My little mind was as if it were a bank vault filled with deposit boxes. Each box held the best solution a child could create terror, fear, rage, unpredictability, and other toxic emotions from my caregivers.


I had to be acutely aware of my environment. I never knew if I would be kissed or kicked or hugged or hit; especially when hits and kicks followed hugs or kisses. I learned to be vigilantly prepared for the next violent onslaught. Knowing instantly whether someone was drunk or sober, relaxed or enraged was critical to my survival. I was trapped by a very sick father who married very sick women. I became a chameleon, wearing the colors required at the moment to escape pain, to fit in, keep the peace, or whatever survival dictated.


Overall I felt alone. The first time I felt this was when I was left in my crib screaming for hours in the direct sunlight until I passed out, which I describe in detail in a later chapter. Even as an infant, I felt broken, alone and frightened.


I didn’t know who I was or what to grab onto. I didn’t know what was appropriate, what to feel, if to feel, or how to act. The more I chose not to feel, the more dulled my conscience became. Emotions like guilt faded with other self-governing feelings. The more authority figures took chunks of my flesh from me without consent, the more I learned to take things without consent.


Combine that with aloneness, uncertainty, no one to trust; pain, both physical and spiritual, I had to anesthetize the deep, aching sorrow I felt in my soul. I soon discovered that I felt better when I stole things. The cold, calculating, riveting thought required when stealing was a potent anesthetic to my darkness and pain.


At age four, I was kidnapped from my neglectful mother by my raging father. I was juxtaposed from a home of drunken, bloody violence and neglect, into a home with relatives I never met. My father worked overseas for many months at a time and needed to place me. I was bounced around until my aunt Esther took me in for about a year. She had Paul, an adopted son the same age as me. She was very kind, present and loving, treating me as if her own. It was the only time I felt loved, safe and nurtured. The need to steal went away.


Under the scrutiny of his two German sisters, I had about two years where I was mostly free of my father's rage. I actually felt nurtured, and I held onto those memories during the rest of my upbringing as a pinpoint of love and hope.


Once again, the violence closed in with ferocity when my father returned. After a drunk and violent drive to Seattle, he stuck me in a Catholic boarding school that was a tyranny of militant nuns who took their rage out on kids. From the moment my father left, I was mistreated by them. There, the hatred was born in me. All of this I discuss in detail later.


Once released from the violent purgatory of the nuns, I went straight into hell. I now had to adapt to two drunk and violent people, my father and his newly remarried Yakima Indian wife, who would drunkenly beat each other and/or turn their wrath on me. I coped by stealing again. Starting out small, I would quietly steal four or five dollars from their wallets and buy a toy. They never questioned me. I wasn’t on their radar unless they were in "abuse mode" or managing some basic need. I also avoided them; they were violent and unpredictable. I was an object that interfered with their miserable life and the new toys I acquired never registered with them. Meanwhile stealing and new toys took away the pain.


Another contribution to the alchemy of a sociopath is when parents don’t pay attention. When I hear the news today, I am not surprised at the parents whose pretense is shock when their children commit murder or other crimes. There is a recipe to create a sociopaths criminal, and three random ingredients are addicted, violent, selfish parents.


When I finally moved to Yakima at age seven, I began my burgeoning career of being a young, full-time thief. I started shoplifting small things at the local stores or grabbing cash out of my stepmother’s till at her beauty shop. But like a drug, I needed more, so the stealing escalated at around eight years of age to breaking into people’s homes.


In the summer of 1967, I broke into my neighbor’s home and stole several antique silver dollars, got onto my Schwinn Stingray and traded them downtown for cash money. It was a great reward and a potent distraction to the hole in my soul. Thus began my decade long career of breaking into hundreds of homes, businesses, to eventually cleaning out a pharmacy.


You may be reading this right now appalled that such a young child could behave so brazenly. It boiled down to monkey see, monkey do. When adults take chunks of your flesh and soul without permission or remorse, you learn to also take without permission or remorse; whether it is property or flesh. I can tell you this: a child in this state of mind has to be brazen somehow; because that’s what it takes to feel. Or should I say, not feel.


I was trapped between the insane conspiracy of two drunk and violent parents who didn’t like life, themselves or God. In order to mitigate the intensity, I had to equalize the intensity or succumb into an empty shell. It was simple physics of cause and effect; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. How does one drown out the roar of a jet engine? You drown it out with a rocket motor. Stealing was my rocket motor.


My double life began as a fourth-grade honor roll student at Grace Lutheran Christian School, reciting Catechism, and singing soprano in the choir. Afterward I would find an open door or window of an unoccupied home. No one thought twice about a little kid roaming the neighborhoods. I would slip in, wearing socks for gloves and find money and toys or something that would attract me. Maybe a stereo headset, a piggy bank or a small radio sufficed. I never took much; it was about being in someone else’s house so I could forget my reality. The abusive roar, intense pain, and inadequacy was quieted by walking the tightrope of illegally being in someone house. Every sense I had was hyper-acute. Every noise, every scent, everything was on full alert, leaving no room for pain. Unfortunately, as with any other addiction, you need more and more to feel relief.


Most of Yakima’s neighborhoods were not even middle class; they were ungoverned, blue-collar, ticky-tack homes, peppered with tall chestnut, fruit trees, and parks. My goal was the small amounts of money in these homes that yielded $25 to $200 a week. That was plenty for a kid in the late sixties and bought a whole lot of candy and toys.


The first time someone came home while I was burglarizing was the summer of 1969. Still ten years old, I heard keys opening the front door. I froze for a second in stark terror; my heart is pounding, and there is no way to escape. I bolted through the kitchen and climbed behind the washer and dryer. Meanwhile, my imagination went wild. I didn’t know if these people were going to kill me, torture me, or perhaps worse, tell my parents. I was crouching in a very uncomfortable position. I was tangled amid wires, hoses, pipes, filth, and lint. My leg was propped up high, and a hose was pinching my underarm. I started to ache to try to remain still. Compounding the peril was a dog that sensed something amiss. It began sniffing between the cracks, but couldn't see me. I knew the dog would go insane if any movement at all occurred and I would be caught dead. My mind raced thinking the authorities would pin unsolved break-ins on me. I had to be so quiet, but I began cramping from this tight and precarious position.


The owner and his family had been to the grocery store; it was dinner time, and obviously, they were not going anywhere. About eight feet from me, marauding around the kitchen, he was yelling at his wife about money. I couldn’t see him, but my imagination assumed he was a big angry man who would tear me apart if he caught me. I was stuck there, terrified, barely breathing; unable to move and in pain. I don’t know what to do. Finally, it became unbearable, and I even began to have thoughts of surrendering; I had to get out of this one way or another.


My mind was racing and I just couldn’t go down without a fight. I didn’t know if the back door was locked. There was no way out of the kitchen without them possibly apprehending me. My only option was a slightly open transom high above me. Wondering if my little boy body could slip through, I decided that was my best means of escape. When I couldn’t handle it anymore, I popped up like an evil jack-in-the-box and spun around. I leaped on top of the washer, sprang, and did a swan dive through the transom, all within a blink. I hit the grass in a puff of lint, rolled, and disappeared into the early evening.


I can only imagine their reaction to being in the kitchen all that time. In the sanctity of their own home, some leaping gnome pops up with the feral desperation of a cornered animal. I never saw them; they never saw me. I heard shouting and barking, but I knew better than to look back.


I went home, empty-handed and exhilarated. I took a licking for coming home after dark, but I was grateful that I was only in trouble for that. I often wondered how my life would have turned out if they had caught me. Would it have altered my direction? I doubt it. I was a remorseless addict, and I had a voracious appetite that needed to be fed.


This was how I spent my afternoons and early evenings for a few years. Meanwhile, the stealing escalated from my area to the nicer neighborhoods and businesses. Something also changed in me around age twelve when I realized there was expensive stuff to sell in the nicer homes, jewelry, coin collections, etc. I also started reading the Physician's Desk Reference when I realized that there were drugs like Yellow Jackets, Reds, Black Beauty’s, Tuinal, tranquilizers, Percodan, Codeine, and other substances in the medicine cabinets.


To not get caught, I needed to be never out of place, while clean cut and polite if confronted. I would politely knock on a prospect's door, ask for directions or if they’ve seen a lost dog or cat. When no one answered, I would do “the piss-off treatment”. I would repeatedly ring and/or knock on the front door. If they finally answered, they’d often be very angry, and I would become an apologetic, well mannered, innocent little boy desperately looking for my dog. Twice I got chased out by someone who just wouldn't answer their door. So if no answer, I pulled back and observed for a curtain to be pulled back or a light to go on. If no activity, I found any form of free entrance possible into their home. I never used force because noise gets you caught. If the home was secure, I left it alone. You may be surprised; about 80% of people left their windows or doors unlocked. Take it from a former burglar; lock it up. I was also a tidy burglar, I rarely left things out of place and minimized any evidence that someone had intruded. No crime noticed, no suspect; I was there to take things and forget my pain, not to deface. I also never discussed what I did; the less anyone knew, the better it was for the success of my craft.


Things escalated around age twelve; I no longer had to be home at dusk and darkness became my ally. I eventually confided in my close and intelligent friend Philip. After his initial shock and putting two and two together, we went into business together robbing homes and businesses. After that we became very prolific; sometimes we would burglarize up to four or five homes per night, a few times per week.


One night we entered a palatial home overlooking Franklin Park. We had been in there for a while; we were upstairs in a multi-storey Victorian-style home with high ceilings and a very high roof line. We were three floors up when the front door opened and a pure calm panic coursed through my veins; a very potent anesthesia to the darkness in me. Meanwhile, storm trooping out the front door was not an option because Phillip knew these people. Society would be a lot less forgiving in this area. And for all we know, the police could have many of unsolved cases. Being identified was not an option.


Silently, the decision was made to jump off the rear third-floor balcony which was actually about two and a half stories above the dirty, unforgiving asphalt of the alley. When you are hanging from a place like that, you know what commitment means. The consequences of the fall were nothing to the consequences of getting caught, even if it meant a broken leg. I found humor in the random fact that was looping through my head. A jump from thirty feet equals a thirty-something MPH impact. Facing at least an eighteen-foot drop from the bottom of our feet, we let go from dangling off the edge of the balcony and hit the asphalt hard.


There were no broken bones, but we were sprained, skinned up, torn up and bleeding. We hobbled to Philip’s house where we dug out gravel from our palms, shoulders, and knees; wincing as we disinfected our filthy, tar-infested injuries with Old Spice cologne (I now detest that smell to this day). There were a few other close calls, but not like that. We remained vigilant, tight lipped and low key. Hundreds of homes and businesses later, Phillip and I never got caught.


I had another problem. I was a kid with thousands of dollars in cash. A free sociopath is deft at not drawing attention to his craft; incarcerated ones are not. He is a chameleon that shows up how he needs to show up. Even though I was also a self-made kid; so to speak, dressed to impress with plenty of cash, I justified it. To society, I was a somewhat of an industrious role model. I was mowing lawns, raking leaves, washing dogs, cars, shoveling snow, picking apples, cherries and I was a janitor for my high school. No one ever questioned my cash flow. Meanwhile, I remained anesthetized with burglary, money, things, and drugs while keeping up appearances.


At day, I’m a sober, straight shooting honor roll student, ASB and Valentine's Day couple of the year. I lettered in sports, excelled in wrestling and took the state championship. I’m popular with teachers, faculty, and students. Some nights I dated. Some, I read and played chess. Others, I consumed LSD, Quaaludes, uppers, downers and smoked pot. The remaining nights I burglarized.


Like many sociopaths, I lead a double life. I’m well-dressed, eloquent, nice-looking, clean-cut and popular. Parents meet me and think I’m a bright, polite, nice kid who’s going places. I called them “Ma’am” and “Sir”, and did everything I needed to do to clean up after myself as a perfect guest. Some of them, like my coaches, even sought to mentor me, and I genuinely drank from their wisdom. After many incorrigible rounds of foster home placement, my seventh-grade teacher, Gary and his beautiful wife, Jeri, volunteered to become my foster parents. I drank, but they couldn't know of my darkness either. I cherished them so much; they tried hard to create a “family” for me, and I finally felt a little love. But it was too late; I couldn’t trust and authentically let them in; I was long lost in the darkness.



It's early 1974, tenth grade and I'm fourteen. Burglarizing homes is becoming less efficient at keeping the pain at bay. I need a bigger distraction, so I decide my next coup de main against society will be to break into a drug store and clean it out of its pharmaceuticals. Phillip and I steal thousands of Quaaludes, barbiturates, opiates, and amphetamines. The supply gets half the kids at Eisenhower high in Yakima wasted for months.


I just robbed the pharmacy about a week ago; I receive a call from my stepmother telling me my father had died from liver failure, when in truth, he killed himself and my dog by sealing off the garage and waited in the cab of his truck in some twisted suicide pact. When she breaks the news, I feel nothing except hatred and respite that he can no longer inflict his pain on me. She may have well tells me it was going to rain. I'm grateful for her wisdom to withhold the truth; she tells me at the funeral that my dog was hit by a car. She knows that I will carry the blame for his death. I’m certain my father wanted me to carry it as well, even at age four he truly blamed me for everything wrong in his life and he never stopped telling me, even in death. I believe he knew that by killing my dog I would him singing his final chorus that goes like, “Fuck you Boy; if it weren't for you, I wouldn’t be dead; and by the way, you’ll never amount to anything…”


It's been two weeks since the funeral and my real mother calls, Marina. She says she has been looking for me for ten years and that the FBI was too, hmm. She says someone called her from Utah and gave her the number. She asks me if I want to move to California and live with her and her first generation husband, Kurt from Switzerland. It's a no-brainer, I'm fourteen; I hate my life, where I live, and I’m sure the state of Washington is happy to get me off the books. The only conflict is leaving my deeply loving and caring foster parents, Gary and Jeri.


With thousands of Quaaludes, barbiturates, opiates, and amphetamines, I realize I have a potent means to strategically merge with the legendary counter culture of Southern California’s promise of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. Besides, legend depicts that everything that moves me, the introspection movement, sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll; all of it, originates from where she lives. A few weeks later, she makes plans to have me jump on a plane for a test run with only a suitcase full of clothes, not knowing I have another suitcase full of cash and pharmaceuticals.


I will stay on my best behavior so Marina believes that she got a sweet little farm boy to walk down some story book conclusion with her new found son. The façade will only last for awhile, but as time erodes away the mundane, so too, will the drugs and partying further erode my soul. Meanwhile, I will further crumble inside. Little does she know that she will soon open up Pandora’s Box with a fourteen-year-old, drug-dealing, authority hating, burglarizing, sociopathic monster, mirroring back all of her secrets and insecurities.


Meanwhile, possessing the finest and purest drugs in the land, I will soon have maidens competing for me, hundreds of instant, fair-weather friends, and the red carpet will be rolled out to attend all of the parties, concerts, and outings. Southern California is the Mecca of looking good, maintaining images and hiding out in plain sight, and I will fit right in. I will quickly become one of “the beautiful people,” as they say. No one except my mother will see the monster inside me, for a while. Soon I will operate an eclectic drug store out of my little box. They will call me Bobby Pandora, with his evil box. I will soon hate that name.


As I board the plane, I’m deeply conflicted. I’m fourteen, flying to California! I’m also sinking into a deep, black crevasse. I have a small fortune in cash and pharmaceuticals and a plan to cash into the sub culture there! I need healing, ethics, and love, and normalcy. I’m a prodigal burglar who is untouchable! I’m filled with excitement, opportunity, fear and emptiness. I know that am just a kid, empty, desperate and alone. I know I’m bright, but my skills are stealing, survival, manipulation, and appearances. In a few hours I will not know or trust anyone, and I know nothing about love, ethics, sanity or intimacy. I am so, so lost. Maybe I need to get caught so I can learn ethics.


But that won’t happen for a long time...




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith
















Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter one





The shfit to love and humility





Laguna Beach, California, Sunday, September 21st 2003


Todd is a high-strung, laconic, good-looking, sandy-haired, surfer guy who looks like he could be a copier salesman and he despises me. He doesn’t seem like an ex-con, a lifer, in and out of prison because of methamphetamine. But he is. Just like the other nine or so guys I’m with at the drug rehab facility which is disguised as a manicured, upper-class home on a bluff overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach California, a coastal retreat halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.


None of the other guys seem to have much tolerance for me either. I am pretty sure I rub them all the wrong way. I am a cocky newcomer, and this is my first week. I'm naïve and hiding behind my comparative material success with a super-sized ego as my only means of protection from the deep insecurities, fear and self-hatred that torment me. They can’t shut me up, and they can’t smack me around, so these guys do their best to teach me the basics of prison subculture, the only way of life most of them know. 


Mustering up every ounce of patience, they say things like: “Bobby, you wouldn’t last very long in here if this was a prison.” and “Maybe you didn’t know this, Bobby, but it would be best if you don’t jokingly call another man a “bitch.” In prison, people die from using that word.” They seem just barely to tolerate me, patronize me, and yet they know I am trying to fit in, and I am grateful that they are patiently helping me out of my ignorance. 


Todd is trying to burn off nervous energy by washing the dishes. Todd is like a dust devil, spinning around, cleaning things that are already clean, organizing things that are already in perfect order, he needs always to be doing something.


I am outside leaning over the balcony, contemplating the breathtaking sunset of brilliant oranges and yellows like a flame touching the sapphire sea. For a brief moment, I am spellbound and lost in my own thoughts when I hear the cacophony of glass against glass coming from the kitchen. I turn my head and look beyond the living room, and I observe Todd, his eyes darting around, frenetically washing the dishes. 


I’m just trying to be friendly when I shout, “Hey, Todd! That’s my job!” Immediately, like a freight train slamming on its brakes, Todd stops what he is doing with a crash. His hands are shaking with rage as he grabs a towel, his face, crimson, and looks at the house manager and screams, “Somebody get this mother-fucker out my face before I butt-fuck one of his kids!”


I was absolutely flabbergasted. Here I was trying to make amends with these men but obviously had not gotten very far. Even though he was venting and did not literally mean what he said, that was seriously inappropriate. I vacillated between rage and feeling deeply hurt that he said this. I also felt quite humiliated as eight guys looked at me waiting for my next move.



Instead of fighting back, I walked over to Todd and said, “Todd, I’m sorry. What did I say that was so bad?” He seethed with rage and hissed, “Get the fuck out of my face! You have no business being here. You are such an arrogant, fat-headed fuck! And you have no clue what humility is and you never will. You’ll never make it!’


That final comment hit home. This was another failed attempt at severing my roaring addiction to pain pills. I was a deeply fragile man hiding behind a façade of success and family. In truth, I had no idea how to live, and the psychic pain was extreme to me. The only thing that seemed to work was the anesthetic, Vicodin, and that no longer worked either.


You could cut the tension with a knife. I had no tools to change the pain of rejection from Todd and the other men, no pills to anesthetize me and no one to call. We were all raw and scared, and we coped with our pain the best we could in our different ways. Their coping was not any easier with me around. I knew I could not fault Todd’s over reaching reaction for my relatively benign words.


Apparently, the lady that ran the place thought that I, "Mister Apple Pie" with the house on the hill and the beautiful family might benefit being with these men. Maybe this self-proclaimed General Manager of the Universe who believes that humility is a defect of character might learn something. Perhaps this self-declared “successful” business man with no criminal record might realize that his "authority" meant nothing here. Maybe I would find a way to fit in and learn something if I would only drop the charade of my poor self-esteem. Maybe she was right.


Later Todd apologized, but I was, deeply impacted by Todd saying that I'll never make it. I believed him. I had tried everything to find some peace and faith in my life, to no avail. Everything was crushing me. This was my last chance; the next stop was death. I couldn't do that because of Lori and the boys, or I would have already.


So I had nowhere to go, no one to call and no pills to consume. I was stripped naked before God, standing on the balcony with the salty breeze and matching tears. Then something happened in me at that moment. Perhaps it was an actual "God" moment that people talk about, a moment of divine clarity. I saw that I had my perspectives wrong. I was blaming God for my ego and everyone else's ego. I had let my heart atrophy in the process, and I blamed God for that too, instead of being responsible for my own heart.


I had denied the truth for decades as a victim of circumstance, wounded beyond resolve. Somehow I knew that until I learned everything about love that was possible, instead of denying its power, I would be stuck, and It would be my own fault. I "knew" that I could not "see" what I needed to see with a jaded mind that looked for answers, happiness and meaning "out there." My mind didn't stand a chance to have peace in this life, but maybe my heart could.


I felt my heart crack open, exploding into a million poison coated pieces; so much that it hurt. I sobbed a torrent of tears on the balcony, decades worth. I knew I had to examine each piece of my heart to find the love and grace, and clean off the poison with humility, transparency, and spiritual guidance.


Out of humiliation, I believe that I exhaled my first breath of humility that day. In that heartbreak, I sensed my heart breaking free. In surrender, I felt my first victory of spirit. In the God moment, I saw a glimpse at the infinity of love, and I knew it was possible.


That day was the autumnal equinox when an astronomical shift occurs towards a new season. On that breezy, autumn California afternoon, I had a deep spiritual shift occur in me, and I began the process of seeing the Love in me, so I can see others to love.


Embracing love and peace seemed possible for the first time. I caught a glimpse of the mother lode of love that I had in me all along. I finally began the inward journey to live in Love, Now.


That night I read the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;


O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;



to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


That night, surrounded by nine ex-cons, I silently wept for joy. I realized that I could become an instrument of God, a rite of passage for every one of us.


All the decades I studied and learned about the human condition, all of my life experience, everything, began that day as the culmination into a life of knowing love, seeing it everywhere, and finally being it with every breath, I breathe today. Beware, love is highly contagious.


Thanks Todd...




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith









Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter two



The beginning...


Bogota Columbia New Years Eve 1957


It’s late and Walter Bohen, age thirty-eight, lies on a blanket in a village somewhere outside of Bogota, Columbia. He is snoring and unaware of the relentless humidity and the blood-thirsty mosquitoes hovering about him. His aqua marine eyes are closed due to his ever increasing alcohol-and-drug-induced comas. The fine capillaries on his nose are breaking, and he looks old beyond his years. His dishwater blond hairline has fully receded, accentuating his hookbill nose. Walter is a civil engineer who builds complex structures for the U.S. military all over the world. He fancies himself as a privileged, freewheeling globetrotter. Yet, more and more, he drinks away his troubles and is leaving a swath of unfinished business behind him.


Walter sees himself as a de facto connoisseur of every continent’s culture of exotic foods, libations, mind-altering substances and young women. He takes great pride in the fact that he has seduced countless maidens in his travels, whom he believes are fascinated by his enigmatic generosity, wit and charm. Having a basic philosophy of living life moment by moment, he dismisses any thoughts about what the years of fast living, heavy drinking, drugs and smoking can do.


Seventeen-year-old Marina, in her new silk negligee, bangles and bracelets, provided by her inebriated benefactor lies awake. She has submitted to this old man, day after day for a month. But she is far away right now from the ubiquitous filth and poverty of her village. She is daydreaming about America. She will become a prominent doctor in the land of the free, and this fat old man is what she needs to accomplish her plan. Nothing will stop her and she is now certain that she has conceived. Using her wit, and trusting her alluring beauty and charm, she is sure that he is in love with her. She also knows that this rich, pasty American has enough chivalry to marry her if she is with his child. She will tell him tomorrow afternoon after she feeds him her cumin chicken and rice, his favorite.


With his arm is sticking to her neck, Marina lays on her side staving off claustrophobia. She is repulsed by the stench of exhaled alcohol and dehydration, his dead weight, and his profuse sweating. She is determined to conceal her disgust of this fat, bald, old American if it means getting out of this place. This is just what she, Las Olvidada (the Forgotten One) needs to get out of the abuse and chauvinism in her village. This is her chance to fulfill her dream and she will, no matter what.


In his dreamless stupor, Walter has no clue that he recently impregnated seventeen-year-old Marina. In his eyes, Marina is just another exciting, nubile fling. Another bite of the sensuous ripe fruit ripe this world abundantly offers him, even though she is young enough to be his daughter.


She knows in her heart of hearts that the child is a boy. She’ll call him “Bobby.” She really likes that name.




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith









Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter three



Bloody Sunday


Be a good little boy, and you’ll get a new toy
Tell grandma you fell off the swing,
Because hell; hell is for children,
and you shouldn’t have to pay for your love

with your bones and your flesh. ~ Pat Benatar


Yakima, WA, 5:30 AM, Tuesday, June 11, 1968. Bobby, age nine.


It is a flawless Pacific northwest summer morning. I’m cooking bacon, and a slight scent of my step mother’s petunias is wafting in from the veranda. I’m making a surprise breakfast for my dad of eggs, bacon, and pancakes.


I have not seen him in six months. He is still asleep after drinking quite a bit of Four Roses last night. He promised that we would go fishing together this morning; right now I am the happiest kid on earth. I’m elated. Wow! My dad is actually home! It’s been forever since we went fishing together! I can’t believe we are going today. Together!


I wake Dad up; luring him with a hot cup of coffee into the kitchen, he sits down. I proudly say, “This is a pretty amazing breakfast, huh Dad?” He beams and looks at the clock on the counter behind me and then at his watch. Suddenly his face twists into a red-rage, and he hurls an object at me. I’m confused, thinking, why is he looking at me like that? I scream “No Dad! No!!!” I feel a heavy glass object shatter on my left temple as he storms out.


I’m shocked, dazed and speechless, but I think “Oh my God! What’s happening??? My head!!! I’m bleeding! No! I’m squirting blood out of my head! How is that possible? That’s not my blood. It is! It’s squirting against the wall! I remember the dog Dad shot in the head; its blood squirted too!”


“It’s squirting all over the kitchen everywhere I look! I can’t let that happen! I gotta go outside!” I stumble outside. “Now it’s hitting the white paint on the house! Oh God, I am gonna be in big trouble! Dad is gonna so be mad at me for this. I know blood doesn’t come off easily. It’s squirting everywhere I look!”


“What did I do??? The lead crystal butter dish shattered on my head! Did he throw it at me, why? What did I do wrong? Oh my God, Dad, why? What did I do this time? I’m sorry for whatever I did Daddy! I just want to go fishing with you! Please, let’s just go. I’m sorry! I can clean this up, I promise and then we can go fishing, Dad. OK? I love you, Daddy!”


“Why? Why did you do this? Will I die? Am I bleeding to death? I don’t want to bleed to death; I’m scared!”


“I think I need a big band-aid, Dad. Where is he? Please come outside and help me, Dad! Please!”


“I’m so sorry for whatever I did. I’ll clean this blood up too. Please don’t get mad even more. What did I do wrong? I don’t even know what I did. How can I be a good kid if I don’t even know?”


“Please, I miss you, Daddy! Let’s just fish like you promised, OK?”



These are my thoughts, Bobby’s, nine years old before I lost consciousness.


My father had just come home from being in the Aleutian Islands after the completion of building a military facility for the US government. I remember that morning like yesterday. I remember the thoughts, all of them. I remember the perfect confusion and shame. I had set the alarm clock an hour too early, so he grabbed the lead crystal butter dish and hurled it at me with impeccable velocity and accuracy. As it shattered on my left temple, the crystal severed my external carotid artery.


Having almost bled out, I’m in shock because he waited to find me. I’m jostled awake as my father frenetically races his forest green, 1964 Chevy pick-up truck (which would later become his sarcophagus) towards the hospital. My step mother is holding a towel on my head. She is screaming at my father for being so out of control, with me and with the truck.


I hear him say, “I didn’t mean to hurt the little fucker! But he set the god-damn clock wrong! It was a long trip and I needed my goddamn rest!” Then I hear, “If they know the truth about your temper, Walter, you are probably going to jail, and they could take Bobby away! Do you want that? Look at what you did to your son!”


After a long silence I hear him say, “Bobby, you have to tell anyone who asks, that you fell on the dog bowl playing! Otherwise, they will take you to the juvenile hall!” I said, “Daddy, I just want to go fishing, that’s all.” He said, “I’m sorry I hurt you Kid, we’ll go and I’ll buy you a brand new setup too, but you can’t tell’m what I did.” “OK?”


I don’t want to lose my parents or go to juvenile hall. I don’t want Daddy to go to jail.



I just want to go fishing…


I lied...


I could never have known how much how the lyrics by Pat Benatar would haunt me twelve years later…


Be a good little boy, and you’ll get a new toy and tell grandma you fell off the swing…


I always felt “dirty” around my father after that. Another part of my heart shifted to a cold, manipulative, steely intellect that day when I told the police I fell. I learned to stop loving others and myself a little more that day.


Soon, you will learn that whatever love there was turns to hatred. Four years later at barely age thirteen, he uttered his last words to me, “You are the reason for my misery, you little bastard! You are the reason I drink! You will never amount to anything! You are just a piece of shit!" I remember thinking, How rude! I'm just a kid; Then he took a swing at me. I finally hit back that day and nearly killed him.


While he was in the hospital, I packed my bags and walked out for good. I begged to become an emancipated minor, and soon after, my father committed suicide. He took my dog, “Tattle” with him; that was his big f--k you to the world.


My sociopathy fully congealed that day. I stopped feeling after that…


I also became one of the deepest, most loving beings that ever walked this earth as well.


It just took a few decades of darkness to see the light.


I had to learn what Love was not so I could know what Love is.


This is the triumphant, life long journey from a deep tailspin into tear less darkness to bouncing all the way back to the rite of passage that each and every one us is designed for, back to pure Love and perpetual tears of Joy, belonging and gratitude. 


This is about sharing with you the process of what we are all here to learn; to love and be loved; to teach Love and to learn Love, a simple two step process called Love, Now. The truth is always simple.


There is nothing else for us to do but to Love, Now. The rest is just a distraction from living Heaven on earth.




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 4





Onset of darkness




“I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations”... Deuteronomy 5:9


Lakewood, California, 1959.


Every mother is equipped with a unique psychic connection to her newborn child. It’s a powerful bond of loyalty that God instills in mother and child to ensure that life is carried forward. As an infant grows, the sense of that bond becomes part of the baby’s consciousness, security and self-worth, and that baby carries this nurturing sense throughout his or her life into adulthood.


I am a little over one year old, and I love my mommy. I need her. But I don’t think she feels that way about me. Instead, I am an obstacle, in the way of a hungry young girl’s life. She is now an American citizen, and she wants to experience all the promises of the United States of America. However, she hasn’t found any since she stepped onto the magical shores; I cause her a lot of problems, and I cost her, her freedom.


We live in a tiny, middle class, cookie-cutter, late-50’s era home; a single-story ranch house with three bedrooms in Lakewood, California. My room faces the backyard, and from my crib, I can see the trees and sky outside of the sliding-glass window to my right. Other than that, there are bare white walls with no decorations of any kind in my room, so there’s not much to see. To the right is the door to my room. It feels like it is summertime. It is hot and an early afternoon with the sun coming through the window onto me.


I wake up from my nap, sweating. My diaper is mushy, my butt hurts and I feel very hungry. I look around my room and I start to cry so my mother knows I am awake. I belt out a good, strong cry up from my lungs to make sure she hears me. I wait, but she isn’t coming. She must not hear me. I’ll try again. I cry out again, pushing the air up out from my lungs like I just did. Maybe if I do it a few more times, she’ll come.


I am getting frustrated because she is not hearing me and I know I’m crying loud. I guess I should cry louder. Still, no one comes. Louder! No one comes. I’m hungry, and my frustration is turning to anger. I can’t do anything else to get her to come except cry.


I’m feeling despair now because I know I’ve cried for a long time and no one is coming. Now my despair is turning to hopelessness. I don’t know time, but I know I have been doing this forever and I’m getting really tired and my throat hurts.


My nose is running and my eyes hurt and my lungs can’t do this anymore. I was hungry a really long time ago, but now I wonder if anybody is ever going to come? I am raging and screaming from my little lungs as hard as I can, begging with each cry for someone to come and get me. Doesn’t anyone notice I am here? Will someone please just come and see that I am here and pick me up, hold me, feed me, change me, nurture me, care for me, let me know I matter?



The room is now black. There is no more light out the window. My little crib has become a frantic hell, and I’m beginning to believe that no one will ever come to rescue me and I am going to be left here, all alone. Standing there, as an infant in total despair, I was not able to articulate the rage, horror, despair, and resignation I felt at the time, but that one experience altered the course of my life into decades of mistrust. My truth ultimately became I could not count on anyone for my well being. Consequently, my life mirrored that truth for forty years. From that point, I sought out the evidence for that decision to be true. It was not a rational decision, but it became one of the truisms we all make up in childhood when we decide that “something is wrong.”

After I had lost all hope, I felt like I was tumbling through an endless void of time and space, cut off from everyone. Cut off. What do you do with that as a toddler? Where do you put it? Where does it go? For a toddler, there is a pure terror when there is no longer a connection between mother and child, no matter how frayed or dysfunctional life is.


As a result, I grow into a little kid with abandonment issues. It frustrates my father because he is gone for months at a time and he has no patience for me. So instead of comfort, I get belittled, smacked and hit. I desperately want to trust, but I cannot. If I cry out too much, I get hit. So I learn not to cry out too much. As children, we either experience trust because when we cry out, our needs are met. Or, in my case, I experienced frustration, then anger, then intense fear, and I learned not to trust. I distrust. I distrust others, and I distrust myself. I don’t trust that I am adequate, worthy, lovable, etc., etc.


So down the rabbit hole, I go with life providing infinite evidence of my beliefs. The decision I made in 1959 crippled me inside and made me autonomous outside. It was up to me to make my life work. I had to depend on me. I could not depend on my mother or my father. These decisions were to become the filter through which I see my life until I die unless I can wake up and heal. These early experiences will shape my personality. The decisions a child makes way back when becomes the operating basis of an entire life. It’s called a “blown purpose,” and we live out our lives as a reaction to that decision unless we become conscious of it and heal.


I don’t know where she was, but I heard rumors later in life. I don’t remember how that memory ends. I don’t remember when she came. I don’t remember if she came or someone else. All I know is that my relatives told me that she did that a lot. Apparently, it was in part, the impetus for my father taking me away from her. It's tough for a child when your mother doesn't want to care for you.


Today, she lives in the same county as me and has never met my youngest son. It has been over twenty years since I saw her. As a young man, that cut to the bone. As a healed man, I understand it has nothing to do with me. I have great compassion for her. I truly know how tough it is to be so dead inside that you cannot freely love. I see her life as a fragile deck of cards that she manipulates and guards out of tremendous fear. It is the same fragility and manipulation that got her to America, and I was an infant that interfered with what she wanted.


As a kid, each time I experienced more rejection from my parents, more of me was being killed off. It was the part of me that was willing to feel deep feelings. I had to bottle up the pain associated with people will sell you out. People cannot be trusted. What kind of world is this that lets this happen? If these are the ground rules, I hate this world.


It is unfortunate that I made these irrational decisions, but I did. How many times did that experience repeat itself? I do not know, but it was countless. Please know that this is not a pity party by any means. These experiences ultimately produced many miracles and deep insight into my life. This is just another journal entry; we all have one.




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 5



First blood


Lynwood, California, 1961.


Now I am almost four years old. My father shouted that it was dinner time. He would tell me to wash my hands, and I would run down the hall to the bathroom and make a shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh noise like water was running, but I’d never wash my hands, and I’d run back to the table excited to eat. 

I loved chicken and cumin rice, and tonight was chicken and cumin rice. For some reason, I liked the gristle at the end of the chicken bone. Everything was great. With a bone in hand, I was happily gnawing on that gristle with my teeth, when suddenly I feel a mighty blow and piercing pain in the middle of my forehead. I remember falling to the floor, dazed and stunned. I touch my forehead, and it is covered in blood; it’s dripping into my eyes. He had just grabbed the crystal salt shaker and hurled it at me with a bulls-eye.


I look up from the floor and see my father’s face above me, crimson with rage. I am too stunned and afraid to cry. He is screaming at me to mind my manners. He is screaming at my mother for not teaching me etiquette. He is yelling that there will be no more food for me tonight and go to my room. 


My father threw many things at me, and I simply was not on guard that night, my bad. Long before that night, I learned to be vigilant. You can’t trust or believe anything. There is no solid ground. With him around, things can change in a split second, so being on guard at all times, at every moment was the norm. 


I am sitting in my room. I am asking myself, what just happened? I’m a little boy. I’m hungry. I want to be loved. I want to be with my mom and dad. Instead, I’m alone, with a bleeding welt on my forehead and a heart full of sadness.


I think to myself, is this what kids are supposed to go through? Is it always going to be like this? Is this how grown ups are? Do they grow up to be mean to their children too? I don’t want to be like that. Is it just me or do all kids go through this? I cried and cried; my tears turned into whimpering, and I fell asleep. I wanted so much to be loved, to be held, but I was locked in my room because I needed to watch my manners. What does that mean? I’m a good boy, and I get loved, but I’m a good boy, and sometimes I get hurt. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t like this life.


I suppose I was an optimist, always thinking it would be different. So after he was gone for extended periods, I always looked forward to my daddy coming home. I knew he loved me; he was just functionally insane. I was the dog he kicked, but I knew he loved me. It was fairly twisted. However, when my father’s around, there is an almost-daily in-fighting with my mom. The din of the argument escalates into screams, cursing, name-calling, like, “whore, bitch, slut, c-nt.” There is always stuff being banged around, dishes broken; they’re always at each other’s throats. I try to block it out. Whenever I would have sad or scary thoughts, if I shouted, jerked, spun around or jumped up and down, my mind would become distracted. I imagine a stranger would think I had some Turrett’s ailment, but it was just how I got some relief. 


It is night time and the door bursts open to my bedroom, and I am awakened. There they are, disheveled and out of breath. They’re fighting again. My six foot, one-inch father, is jealous, drunk and beating on my five foot, three-inch mother. With tears in her eyes, my mother pleading, “Tell him, Bobby, tell him!” I think, tell him what?


They start pushing each other around in my bedroom. My mom sidesteps as he lunges at her and my intoxicated father loses his balance. I watch as if in slow motion, my father plunge through the sliding glass door. Instantly I see him on the ground, blood spraying out of his arm. The fight is over.


My mother runs out of the room and gets a towel and went to him, saying “Are you OK? Are you OK?” He is bleeding badly. They immediately go from enemies to intimate care for one another, it is so odd. The police come again. And this time the paramedics arrive too.


A friendly police officer gives me an “official badge” and deputizes me. He tells me that if I am ever scared to call him. The paramedics bandage my father up. Then they take him away in the back seat of a police car. I’m screaming, begging and crying to the police not to take him; I want my daddy back. He is going to jail, and I don’t want him to go to jail. I’m inconsolable.


I did get to sleep in my mom’s bed, and that felt nice. Being close to her was good. Why do I have to witness such violence to be close to my mommy? Why do I have to witness a bloody, incarcerated father, and hours of anguish, just to be close to my mom?


Yelling, screaming, fighting, violence; these were my role models.


Dad came home the next day with a toy. I was excited to see him and kind of happy to see the toy, because it took two people to play with it, and I knew nobody would play with me.


But at least my daddy’s home.




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 6



Held hostage


June 1965, traveling by car from Bountiful, Utah to Seattle, Washington


It had been almost two years now since my father took me from my mother. Even though the real crazy times have yet to occur, I have moved and adapted four or five times since California. This pass, I settled into a clean Mormon suburb of Salt Lake City with my aunt and uncle. My podgy cousin, “Little Paul” was the same age as me and my aunt Esther treated me as an equal member of the family. In fact, she would dress us up identically almost every day. I sensed her attention and genuine care. I was deeply grateful for it and I did anything a seven-year-old could do to show my gratitude to her. I was truly happy there, even with Big Paul, my uncle that possessed an economy of words that would have made a monk sound like a caffeinated auctioneer.


With this family, I had made it through the end of first and all of the second grade, drinking from this family’s tender love. Their acceptance and love became the parched benchmark of “normal” I would always thirst for from as a kid. Even so, my aunt, like my father had a craving for alcohol that would ultimately kill her. It was, however, the only time I felt cherished. I never thought once about stealing when I was there. The pain inside of me had reached a reprieve that could have completely vaporized had I been allowed to stay there. Perhaps I would have grown to be an ordinary young person.


That dream ground to a halt one morning when the phone rang. I hear, “Bobby! Your dad is on the phone! Holy Cow! It’s Dad! As a child, you quickly forget the not so good memories and my father was missed, however brief. So once again, my father appeared with his perennial odor of alcohol and immediately uprooted me from my life there, heading to Washington state. Little did I know that I would be juxtaposed into a twisted fate that even rivaled my father’s insanity.


It did not take long to realize that my father’s rage was even more unstable due his acceleration alcoholism and selling out his life to another contract with the US military. His misogynistic and racial tirades and general hatred for his fellow man had worsened. I was a hostage in the car forced to endure his vociferous disdain for humanity and many more hangovers. I endured his vicious hatred of my mother and his stunted patience with doing business with the indigenous and apparently corrupt third world, nigger, monkey thief, Kenyan, spook, mother fuckers. Until his death, it did appear that each time he came back from abroad, he had more and more hatred and cynicism towards humanity.


Little did I know that on his way back from Africa he had taken a brief detour and remarried Wilma Adrean Mesplie Bohen. She was a thickset, matter-of-fact, emotionally cold, strong willed Yakima Indian. My new step mother eked a living as the proprietor of “Adrean’s Salon of Beauty” in Seattle. I soon learned she also had the proverbial, native Indian like allergy to alcohol that turned her into my dark, abusive and violent personal nemesis several nights per month for many years. When sober, through the filter of her frosty constitution, she did do her monochromatic best to rear me. Perhaps the colors of her heart drained away from to the fact that she was biologically incapable of having children of her own. Instead of heartfelt warmth, she had perfected a razor sharp mind with stunning, cold logic. My indomitable will and anger were about to be unleashed in full fury, and she was one of the few people that had the tenacity to match wits with me and vice versa. Metaphorically speaking, Bobby, an unstoppable force, met Wilma, an immovable barrier and all laws of physics alchemized into a very bizarre relationship.


It seemed my father had some trepidation about breaking this news. It had been a long drive of many stops at bars on the way to Seattle before he told me. My father had a way of driving with one eye closed to mitigate the alcohol and barbiturate induced double vision. I don’t remember much except hitting a cow in the dark of night. I remember the agony that cow was in as it bellowed and convulsed with two legs broken and blood gushing from its nostrils. I also remember the agony my father was in as he convulsed and bellowed about the damage to the front of his newly acquired 1965 Chevrolet, Bel Air. I remember him kicking the cow hard several times and calling it all kinds of names as it lay helpless and dying.


The only other thing I remember after that was getting beat by him in some parched town in the middle of nowhere. My father had a chronic habit of stopping at every bar he could while we were en route somewhere. He would leave me, a toddler alone in the car while he would go in and apparently power down a couple of drinks. As the day would wear on, he would get progressively more smashed. He had this insane demand he always made with me that went like, “Stay in the car, Bobby. I have to see a dog about a man. Be good, and I will get you a present later.” I soon learned that a “dog about a man” was code for the mandate that I sit in the car as long as it takes while he gets drunk. Sometimes it would be a few minutes, and sometimes I would have to wait for hours before he would come out completely plowed. Good fun with a book and a flashlight.


Enroute to Seattle one sweltering afternoon, my father went to “see a dog about a man”. He left me in the car with the engine running to keep the air conditioning on for me. As a curious boy, I decided to pull down on the steering column gear shift handle. The car ground into gear and lurched forward down a slight incline, through a parking lot. I was so confused, and I felt petrified and helpless. Then the car jumped the curb and crossed the main drag of this town at an angle. As I heard horns and screeching brakes, I was suddenly thrown forward. I ended up smashing my lip on the steel dashboard as the car crashed into a stop into a telephone pole. Rarely do I ever remember being so scared, confused and terrified of his wrath than at that moment.


My lip began to bleed profusely as I was balling in pure terror and confusion. People ran up to the car, and a man opened the door. Then I heard a lady sort of gasp behind him, and she looked frightened which frightened me more, so I became hysterically inconsolable. Apparently, I was pretty bloody, and it looked worse than it was. The man asked me where my parents were, and between gasps, I tried to speak, but I wasn’t making any sense. Soon the lady picked me up and set me down on the curb. She began to triage me, and I calmed down. Soon, I was able to articulate that my father was in the bar and they rounded him up. He came running. Meanwhile, the lady started yelling at him, saying, “What kind of father leaves his child in a running car to go into a bar!” Feigning concern and sympathy for me, he told her that he just went in to go to the bathroom. She called him a liar, saying, “You were drinking! I can smell it all over you!” They go back and forth until he grabs me off the curb and tosses me into the car. He peels away, yelling at the lady to mind her own business.


Of course, as soon as the crowd was behind him, he promptly starts backhanding me and raging how I fucked up his car, his life, and his marriage while saying, “I can’t even get a drink without you fucking things up!” He backhands me again which causes my lip to bleed once more. I’m trapped, he is raging, and I’m frightened and balling. I begin to suck hard on my lip, getting the blood on my hands and face to look a wounded as possible. When you are face to face with such an unstable person, you learn to quickly try anything to stop the onslaught of anger and rage. He reaches in the back and throws a towel at me, saying, “Shut the fuck up and clean yourself up.” He never asks me how I am or what happened. He just broods in silence that you can cut with a knife. Meanwhile, he forgets to mention his flawed humanity and cutting me a break. He just hit a cow while drunk the night before. I hated traveling with him. I was his hostage that was always within hitting distance. A little prisoner shackled to the whims of his rage.


The next day things had calmed down as we slowly got closer to the rain soaked city of Seattle. However, there is still the stench of resentment, and my father was in the midst of another zero tolerance hangover. He is shaking, and his nerves are raw. This is always a perilous time for me because this is when anything could set him off, and I'm in the car right next to him. I learned to keep my mouth shut during this time of day, but often that didn't work when he wanted to pick a fight.


Soo he tersely declared, “Bobby, so you are finally getting a real mother.” I said, “Not true, I have a real mom, Dad. She lives in California.” In an instant his face contorted and his temporal vein predictably bulged as he aspirated and sputtered in pure, pure rage, “No, not that fucking whore Bobby; a real mother that is honest and not a dumb bunny, lying whore, bitch cunt who doesn’t deserve the time of day. She doesn’t deserve to be your mother. That cunt doesn’t deserve to be alive.” She's a whore Bobby! Don't you ever forget that!" He just hissed.


All I remember back then was thinking things like; that doesn’t seem very nice to use bad words and talk about people like that. I’m a Christian. I go to a private Christian school. What’s a whore anyway? I better just listen. He sure gets upset about Mom. Boy, they sure used to fight. I remember when Dad went through the sliding glass door and got cut real bad and the police man gave me a real Junior Deputy badge and took him to prison? Swearing, it’s a weird word. It’s what Dad does all the time and what the policeman made me do when I held up my right hand too. Such a strange word “swear”; I like words.

I'm scared and well on my guard by now. When he raged about anything and everything, violence was next. I was always the closest punching bag for him to take his frustration and rage out upon. I just never knew when or what to expect. You learn to develop a keen intuitive “sense” trying to survive around people like him, even though it is so stressful. Way too stressful for a little kid, especially when it occurs almost every day.


I am now trying to keep thing light and playful when he says. “Bobby?“ I respond, "Daaad?” Do you know what a honeymoon is?” “Yes Daaad, I know what a honeymoon is, who doesn’t?” I tried to play along so he would maintain his cool. You learn to invent things to distract him from his rage. And that’s because I’m smart Dad. I know lots of things. “Your new mom and I have to go away on a honeymoon for a while, so I have a place for you to stay for a few weeks and then we will move to Yakima.” “What Dad? You just got back! I haven’t seen you forever! I don’t want a new mom; I want you!


I bellow, "What??? Ouch!!! Why did you just smack me in the face???" “Dad! Please don’t hit me!” “Don’t talk about my wife that way you little fuck!" ”Dad! I’m sorry…” “Shut the fuck up you little bastard!” Wham! The lights behind my eyes flashed with pain as he backhands me again. He says, “You know what a bastard is? It’s you! You little prick!” "No, it’s not! That’s not nice! Why are you so mean?" “A bastard is a son of a bitch! You are the son of that cunt, whore, bitch! You are the son of a pregnant female dog! You’re the whole reason I got remarried you unappreciative piece of shit. You are the reason for all my fucking problems in the first place! Just shut the fuck up!”


I'm sobbing and frightened. "Gosh! What did I say? I don’t understand. I didn’t ask to be born. How can it be my fault? I don’t think I am a dog either! You are not nice, and I just don’t believe you. I am a good boy; a human! Not a dog! I’m kind and smart, and I love Jesus. You’re just a big mean bully sometimes… always! I don’t like you right now. I liked it better with "Baba" (This was where I was just living in Salt Lake City). Why did you ever come back anyway? I was happier there. She was nice."


Now in Seattle, we drove in mutual resentment for the rest of the way past the bucolic neighborhoods of children playing in their stable, loving yards through the unimaginably green suburban Seattle. I felt so frightened and claustrophobic next to his dark unmitigated rage at the world and me. I'm so stressed to be next to this crazy man called a father who is directing my tiny life, especially whenever I was in the car with him. He was so mercurial; when he is sober, he has such a hair trigger rage that is laser focused on me. When he was wasted, he is a blubbering, sloppy kissing, middle aged child that I have to nurture and babysit. I just never knew when he would fly off the handle and backhand, beat or hurl objects with professional accuracy. Perhaps the worst part is he would just scream so loud, and I was so close, sometimes for hours on end; that my ears would ring.




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 7



Welcome to Purgatory


The Convent, June 1965, Seattle, Washington


“Here we are, Bobby. Get your shit and follow me and behave…” I am so sad, I just wanted to be with you! I am never with you. You are always gone, and when you are here, you are so mean. Why can’t I just have a mom and dad that are together and stay in one place? Why can’t I have a dad who is nice? I don’t belong here. What is this place anyway? It’s like the Munster’s house, except it’s so big; not as big as the (Mormon) tabernacle. I’m scared. 


I remember us pulling into this long gated road, into view came this Gothic, grey-stone structure that was a replication of some European icon to the Vatican built by the Free Masons or Knight’s Templar’s under the directive of Pope Clement V, on a vast and very green estate. It was not like a church; it was more like an institution for the mentally insane with a Catholic theme. Little did I realize that was exactly what it was, except it was the insane that was running the place. So this is like the Purgatory I learned about at St. John’s Christian school that the Catholics invented and that Martin Luther fought against?


As I entered, I remember the distinct musty smell of mildew old. This smell still haunts me today. I still can not enter an antique store without feeling the re-stimulations of that “smell,” so I avoid places like that. I also remember this artificially jubilant, shriveled runt of a woman in a nun suit. It’s the Flying Nun; except you aren’t very pretty compared to the real Flying Nun! You sure look dumb with that silly hat. That’s a bad habit you guys started! I am funny! I also know things!


“Bobby hello, I am Sister Anna. How are you?” “Look at him, Mr. Bohen! Bobby is so adorable!” “Yes he is a good boy, aren’t you, Bobby?” I’m not talking to you. You’re mean. I hate you! “Aren’t you Bobby?” Walter Bohen’s face would have such a “don’t defy me or pay dearly with your flesh and soul…” glint in his pale, dead, aquamarine eyes. I certainly feared that for the longest time, but each day I grew stronger and more immune to the pain he inflicted, until that fateful last day when it was to be no more. I don’t want to talk to you. How old are you Bobby? “I am almost seven, Ma'am.” “What a big, handsome boy you are! There are many boys here your age you can make friends with!” Right…


“Well Mr. Bohen, we have everything under control. We promise to love Bobby as if he was our own.” How many times have I heard that? Grown ups cannot be trusted. I remember having such a deep sense of doom at that moment, and I would have gladly retained the insane relationship with my father than the abandonment and what was soon to come at this insane asylum. “Thank you, Miss Anne; you know how to reach me, good bye.” Walter Bohen sauntered, no staggered away. I am sure his mind was more concerned with finding a bar open that early that the desperate pang of rejection and abandonment I felt at that moment. I tried at that moment to use my rapidly forming defense mechanisms of cutting off feelings, but it was still impossible. My heart was still wide open to the change and love that never came. But in standard denial, I mustered the thoughts anyway. Go away you mean man, see if I care. You always say you would be better off without me. It’s me that is better off without you! I hope you never come back!


Of course the second my father’s battered car that I battered and paid for by being battered back, disappeared down the tree lined road and ghosts of ancient cavalcades, I broke down and became inconsolable. “I don’t want to be here!!! I am not a Catholic. I am a Lutheran!” Or am I Mormon? Hmm. I calmly thought to myself in the middle of my grand mal of a tantrum. By then I was developing an ability to “see” these things happening to me. It was a rather odd form of disassociation to protect me from emotional overload. Prematurely developed to watch my meltdowns calmly, a gallows humor about my fate.


“Bobby! Calm down immediately. Around here we don’t behave like that!” “I want my dad! I don’t want to be here!” My bellows echoed down the cavernous hallways of this God-forsaken place. Almost immediately, this gelatinous nun burst in and chafed towards me with remarkable agility and a face contorted with pure, unadulterated anger. I immediately thought to myself a sort of Uh oh… I need sympathy, but I don’t think I am going to get much here, yet I can’t stop now. As a kid starving for attention, I found that could happen sometimes. Who are you? You are big and fat! What is that in your hand? And out of the blue came a black and blue, wham!Wham! Wham! Wham! Wham!


This happened with such violence and ferocity that I was in shocked silence for some moments as her torrent of blows found purchase on my back side. I twisted and dodged in an arching staccato of self-preservation as I felt the burns glancing off of my hands and spine. I thought; Oh my God!!!!! and I belted a record setting scream that trebled to blood-curdling levels beyond the capacity of seven-year-old boy’s vocal chords and spirit.


“Stop! Please stop! Stop!” “I will stop, young man when you learn silence that is observed here, do you understand? Children will be seen and not heard here!” she hissed at me. “Am I perfectly clear?” as the “p” in her perfectly spit some venomous saliva in the air. A brief lull occurred as I gulped, my lungs searching for oxygen. Time slowed as my mind fogged, attempting to comprehend the surreal brevity of her rage and the constricting shock coursing through my tiny body. In one crystallizing moment, I snapped full force from some distant, humane instinct of dissociation to the close, acrid stench of breath that violently wheezed, “ANSWER ME!”


In a fission of strength that was hitting a now dangerous critical mass, I thought, children should be seen and not heard! So I am not saying anything! She bellowed, “ANSWER ME!!!” like a bull elephant in musk. “Alright, alright I understand!” I replied in a Trojan horse of deep defiance, disguised as capitulation.


You big fat cow pie! If you think you are going to win here, you are wrong. You don’t treat people this way! Basic survival engineered a new wave of focus, and my mind became acute and sharp. Then in a veiled ridicule, concealed as obsequious compliance, I stuttered a perfect “Yes! Yes! Yes, I understand, m-m-ma’am, I’m s s-s-sorry. I p-p-promise to be quiet.” and I made my lip quiver on queue as I amused myself with a brand new form of humor, you big, fat ugly, nun that could never fly.


I attempted to feign a response that would be in alignment with the ferocity of her assaults. She was strong and packed a wallop. I needed the insanity to stop much more than the pain I felt. By then I was somewhat immune to this type pain anyway, so I had no real way of gauging her damage, except for some bruises I had for a few days.


The big problem is that you just never become immune to the injustice and the vengeance builds and builds as it becomes you against all of them. I was so very, very angry. The emotion of anger eclipsed anything else I could have felt at that moment. I was a good and pure child, but no longer after that. I was innocent and kind and miserable people were trying to steal that from me, and they finally succeeded. I know I felt deep hatred and real anger for the first time in my life and a part of me died right there, and in retaliation, a part of me was born. He had to stick up for me.


I felt unfathomable resentment towards my father, my life, and the world. For the first time I felt a deep, guttural hatred towards this corpulent monster that seemed to take great pleasure in hurting me. A feral, primitive and primal rage was slowly enveloping me, consuming me. I was changing, a metamorphosis of deeply etched pain was turning outward. My keen mind, sharpened by the premature deletion of innocence was planning retribution deep in the core processor of my tortured seven-year-old soul. At that moment, I believe I could have murdered that Draconian spinster if I could have at that vengeful moment.




Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 8



Holy water


The Convent showers, June 1965, Seattle, Washington



From that moment on it was a test of will with these mercenaries of Doctrine. Before I could take another breath, I felt and heard a cracking as she grabbed my ear and yanked me down the hallway of perfectly polished marble, and I remember the acrid smell of Pine-Sol. “Now it is time to clean up, young Master Bohen.” She mockingly declared to me. “We like clean boys here…” She melodically intonated.


What has happened to me??? Why do I have to go through this? If I had a mom and dad that loved me, this would never happen. I am a good boy! I just want to be loved and play. Instead, you are the boogie man that has come alive to destroy me. I feel your badness. You are not a good lady. Why would God let you be such an impostor? Don’t you know this, Jesus? Please help me. I don’t need to be here.


We entered. Actually, she dragged me into this vast shower area. I remember the thought crossing my mind that I was going to get gassed; just like what we did to the Jews. I thought. My father’s side was pure German, so amidst the bourbon and sauerkraut here was much musing about our “recent” contribution to society via Adolf. Of course, I cannot forget my father’s mantra for the Jews, “take every one of the cheap, Kike son-of-bitches; then line’m up against the wall and shoot every last one of those thieving mother fuckers.


In a dull, forceful, voice unique only to someone grossly obese trying to feign her shortness of breath, I heard, “Take off your clothes.” What??? I so was stunned at such a humiliating demand and still recovering from my tantrum and beating, I barely understood her. Her eyes seemed to have a deadness that genuinely frightened me. Her broad brow narrowed on her sweaty face and in a wheezing boom belted, “Take off your clothes!” I don’t want you to see me naked. It is wrong. I am too old. I don’t want you to see my wiener! I was overwhelmed with shame and stark humiliation. Modesty never reared its head more than that moment, and all I could do was whimper out a barely audible, “No.” I do not know her, and this is not right. Strangers do not make people take their clothes off. I don’t want her to see my wiener! It’s too small too! It may seem shallow, but as a young boy, thoughts like this are rampant. It is no wonder some men grow up with such feelings of inadequacy. She wheezed in exasperation, rolled her eyes back and lunged for me with that paddle. I dodged her and shouted, “OK! OK! I will!” At that moment I uncovered such a deep, deep sense of a total annihilation of self.


Any dignity I had was washed away from the harsh scrubbing and tepid shower. It exposed and unleashed a controlled and calculating rage that anyone in authority with the fate of meeting me would for decades confront. The combination of abandonment, hatred, and humility caused something in me to snap in many places right then and there. 


My seven-year-old mind concluded that the world was not safe. Adults cannot be trusted and do not understand kindness. They have taken enough from me, and it is now my turn to take back, and Heaven forbid if you try to stop me. I must have disassociated pretty severely after that because it was as if that was not my body that was being painfully scrubbed, and sprayed, and doused with cold water. I remember that no noise came out of me, knowing better than to give this behemoth the satisfaction of her sadism. I was learning to be there but not be there. I was learning to go somewhere else that was more safe and loving. I was busy making plans to vent my rage as I was someone else, watching a little boy have every last piece of dirt removed from under every fingernail and inside every orifice by this battle ax of a nun. I know she got pleasure from my discomfort and I truly hated for the first time in my life.


After I was scrubbed, sprayed, de-loused, dressed in a plaid uniform consisting of shorts, a short sleeve shirt, fake tie and shoes. I essentially “came to” in a stark, cavernous room that had high ceilings and high windows. I could hear boys playing outside. The walls were painted a light blue, and the industrial tile floor shimmered from the diffuse afternoon sunlight. It was filled with countless steel pipe twin beds that had years of chipping layers of paint. At the end of each bed was a small dark wood chest of drawers.


I remember hearing “take a nap; dinner is soon.” Then a large door slammed, and a jangle of keys echoed as the lock bolt turned. I went from being a prisoner of my father to a prisoner of this place. I curl up in a ball and sob. Oh God!!! Oh God!!! Why am I here? Why? Why? Why? What did I do? I am so alone! I feel so hollow! I hurt so bad right now. Am I bad? Why would this happen? I just want to be safe. I want to go back to Baba’s! Please Lord, just let me go back there! This is so terrible! I don’t belong here! I don’t! I don’t! I don't! You know I don’t! Please, please, please.


I just started closing down from overload and sheer exhaustion. In stark disillusion, I sobbed and cried to sleep, begging for my insane daddy until the mercy of slumber overtook me. Often fitful, sleep was a privilege I learned to cherish deeply. The guardian of Nocturne was usually my friend, my sentry to keep pain, loneliness, despair, and anguish away. As I got older, even that privilege became unreliable.


Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 9



Bad Habits


The refectory (dining hall)


As I entered into the refectory, the symmetry of dozens of long, dark, medieval, carved wood tables and benches dominated the view. There were three entrances with glass windows and a stainless steel gangplank to guide the old food trays on their endless, Sisyphus like loop, damned to be repeated until the end of time. On the white walls were photos of old people in expressionless gazes with placards juxtaposed in Latin and English that posthumously had meaning to those long since gone. There was an underlying odor combined with the decades of sweaty boys, Pine-Sol, and grease that seemed to coat every surface. I the smell of Pine-Sol today still gags me.



On one wall was a large crucifix with a semi-naked Christ nailed to it, complete with blood dripping, and gazing at me as if saying, “I know your pain and I love you, Bobby.” No, you don’t! How can you! You just let this fat pig touch me and hurt me in private places. You let this pig hit me and see my wiener! You are no different! You are one of them as well, Jesus, a mean liar pig yourself that just hangs around watching little boys get hurt by other pigs! I had been to two years of private Lutheran school by that time, and up until now, I had an innocent faith, but it was rapidly evaporating. I quickly learned that I didn't want anything to do with religion that condoned being mean to people.


I observed the silent cacophony of about two-hundred boys; all dressed exactly like me. It seemed to dissipate as the quick glances and nudging elbows sized me up while managing an absolute mandate of silence. I matched eyes with a couple of bigger boys who transmitted the alpha male; we’ll meet soon to see what you are made of. There also seemed to be an odd smirking and nodding of heads in anticipation, a prescience of what happens to new kids. They were like Romans at the Coliseum, in blood thirsty anticipation for the next Christian to be shoved into the arena.


The nun pointed at the line and whispered to me to not say a word and get in line and get a tray for my “food” and sit at that table. I remember it was spaghetti and that fact did cheer me up since spaghetti, peanut butter and jam (not jelly) sandwiches and cottage cheese mixed with strawberry jam were my favorite things to eat. I needed food by then because I had not eaten since that morning with my father.


I remember that breakfast because we ate at “Sambo’s,” now a defunct restaurant chain boycotted into oblivion once equal rights matured in this country. The walls were plastered with this fable of little Negro boy that turned a tiger into butter for his pancakes or something like that. At the time, I thought even then that seemed rather racist. Perhaps I was more sensitive because of my father’s racial and misanthropic ramblings.


I felt many eyes upon me as I walked to the obligatory dinner table, the newest prisoner of this Vatican gulag. Ironically, it was in line with the crucifix. As Christ stared at me, I sat down and ravenously started to eat, quite oblivious to the charters governing mastication in the Catholic church. I should have known. Before I put the second bite in my mouth, a ruler smacked the fork and food out of my hand. I yelped from the sting as I was seized up by my under arms. All eyes were on me as I heard a chorus of muffled snickers from the other boys. Dumbfounded, I felt my body being dragged away in silence.


Once in the hallway, this nun was grunting as she forcefully pulled me. I did not recognize her at all. She was plain, and like the rest so far, she seemed to have a twisted sense of pleasure at the expense of my displeasure. She mockingly said, “You must be new.” I thought she was waiting for me to do that. I was so confused and speechless. I'm thinking, What just happened? Why are you so mean? Oh God! Get me out of here! I hate this place! I just want my father!


I asked imploringly, “What I did wrong?” and I was sharply reprimanded, “Silence! You will learn the laws of the land soon enough!” I felt the g-force of a final shove as I fought for my balance just before the door slammed and the jangle of keys locking on the other side.


Again, I was that not yet seven-year-old boy who was balling from hurt and disillusionment. The all too familiar monster of abandonment had just reached a cruelly higher level of ferocity. I honestly wondered if this was the end of the line this time and maybe my father had left me here for good. I laid there in this massive infirmary, stomach growling, with the high Pacific Northwest evening sun shining through the transoms. I wondered if this would be how the rest of my life would be like, and if so I would not go down very easy. I was getting very, very sick of grown ups being mean.


A few minutes later I heard the door being opened and felt a wave of fear shake my hungry body. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that it was the nun that initially retrieved me for dinner. She had a sandwich and a cardboard box of milk. Relieved it was not the angry Behemoth who showered me, I kept my head buried, pretending I didn't notice and turned up my sobs hoping they would elicit some compassion.


She advanced towards me in those white nun shoes that seemed to be designed for maximum stealth. I could hear her clothing rustle as she walked. I was curled up in a ball, sobbing, hungry and feeling very alone. I needed some genuine sympathy; it had been pretty rough few days and I tried to milk it with all I had.


Fortunately, I believe she saw how genuinely distraught I was. She sat down on the bed and said, caressed my head and asked, “Are you hungry Bobby? I bet you are. I heard you had had a pretty long day.” I remember how she stroked my forehead because it felt like jolts of calming energy coming into me. This feels nice; someone is nice to me. I thought in a wave of appreciation and hope. In a kind and soothing voice she said, Bobby, no one eats before Mother “breaks bread, ” and the prayers of gratitude are spoken.


Between sobs, I aspirated, “I know places have rules, how come no one told me? How am I supposed to know! They didn’t have to be so mean! They could have just explained to me what I did wrong and gave me another chance! That is not fair! You are very mean people, and you are supposed to be Christians!” She attempted her rationale saying, “Bobby, there are many boys here, and we must have strict rules to keep order and respect.” I sobbed, “How can they respect people being so mean and cruel? Jesus would have never done that to someone!" ” She just stroked my forehead in silence after a minute told me that I would learn enough tomorrow how to get along and that my stay would be “pleasant enough” as long as I followed the rules. Pretty much at soon to be age seven, I had made up my mind that I was done being treated as if I was had no rights or say so. Especially with these hypocritical liars.


I would end up spending two of the worst months of my life thus far there. Except for a handful, these were harsh and cruel nuns that seemed to thrive on capital punishment. They physically punished and objectified us at any opportunity. They completely normalized abuse. We weren't children with emotional needs; we were animals that needed to be herded, and if out of line, hurt. Our bellies were full, but our little hearts and souls were starving. The colloquialism of children should be seen and not heard, took on a whole new meaning to me.


Children here were never to be noticed and must behave at all costs.


All costs...



Honor Loyalty Duty Faith








Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 10



Bobby's disassociation


The Convent June 1965, Seattle, Washington


Something clearly snapped sometime in this Purgatory. I woke up one day, and I knew something changed deep inside of me. My childhood innocence was over, done, finished. Six months earlier, I believed in Santa Claus, trusted Jesus, and expected kindness. Six months later I believed in no one; I could trust no one, especially Jesus, who was just another lie…Hey Jesus, where is your love and protection promised by my teachers? Religion associated only disrespect and cruelty to the helpless. At age seven, I was all alone. I was cut off from the love that other’s my age implicitly took for granted. For some reason, I was broken, different. There had to be something wrong with me because this does not happen to normal, good children, correct?


My mind raced as Proteus, the Greek god of change was turning me into a little person with a resolve that would be capable of choosing battles I would be willing to die for. No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not Correct!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is them, not me!!!!!!!!!! There is no way you are gonna trick me into believing that! I do not deserve this! I know what I feel inside. They are all wrong, and I can not listen to them.


It was dinner time, and the sun was uncharacteristically high as it courted the Pacific Northwest latitude and the summer solstice. Even from Utah, I noticed the difference of the sun’s position. I thought to myself; I have an incredible talent for observation. I see things that others do not. I think; yeah, like that big fat cow that just hurt me. I hate her. I wish she were dead. That’s not nice. Yeah? So what? I battled within. She is mean, ugly and fat. She deserves death. Yeah, but it is not you that will do it. As early as two, I remember there were always these clear, dichotomous voices, dueling with one another. So often it would be these two voices arguing, and then there was another part of me forced to watch, listen, choose.


You may call one Bobby; he is someone with a heart as that can contain and love the universe and everything in it, patiently and unconditionally with Divine compassion. Bobby get’s love, the real love that fosters growth, trust, intimacy, change, compassion, opportunity, oneness. Bobby understands he has the undaunting, capacity to love a country or a planet in the fashion Gandhi, Paul or Christ showed the world. He knows it is impossible to love like this with a past of unspoken inequities or a heart with any malice in it, anywhere, whatsoever. He knows this cannot occur effectively while fighting life or death battles just to have the right to breathe. Bobby knows the timing of love and the course of nature. He knows that you cannot force a seed to become a mighty tree any faster than nature’s laws permit, but sunlight, attention, nurturing, and environment are powerful tools to maximize growth within nature’s laws. He knows love happens only in the absence of force, domination, selfishness. He recognizes the cause and effect of action, the physics born from the core of creation. He knows we are all one, interconnected from the God source. He knows that unloved people, un-love and loved people, love. Bobby was born this way.


Then there is Bob. Even though he was born later and is growing stronger every day, he is wise beyond his years. Bob bypassed childhood; someone had to. He went straight to the business of taking care of business. He couldn’t wait for Bobby, that sweet, gullible, trusting little fool, to get it together. He is here to protect Bobby and teach Bobby the ways of the world. Bob is learning to masterfully eclipse Bobby (at least this is what Bob believes), especially after today. He grew more today than ever. Bob isn’t a bad guy either, no way. He’s just not a very good one. For him, there is just a “relative” indifference to things. Let’s just call it a cool detachment. For example, he would consider some things as “the cost of business;” it’s nothing personal. Take for example, when the Golden Gate Bridge was being designed, part of the considerations was that a certain number of men would die building the bridge construction for every thousand man hours worked, oh well. It was just inevitable, and the job had to get done. Of course, casualties are not welcome, just statistically anticipated and that doesn’t make him a bad guy, maybe just calloused, or better yet, practical.


A notch down, he is also about survival, driven, cool, cunning, reptilian, manipulative and darkly brilliant. He is here to protect Bobby. That is nice, right? Bob capitalizes on every bit of wit, eloquence, charm, opportunity, preparedness, and the frail human everyone else suffers from to accomplish all that is owed to him, and to him, everything is rapidly becoming owed. Bob can size things up in a nanosecond, and he needs only one more nanosecond to calculate and act upon the circumstance with a mind that coolly and statistically accepts the outcome and acceptable risk. He has a keenness that never loses in the long run and rarely in the short runs. Failure is just one step closer to success, so there is no failure. He knows to take the short blows and use drama to capitalize on the blows to feign appropriate loss to the enemy. This of course powerfully disarms the enemy, and they don’t even know it. It’s like the bird that feigns a broken wing to distract the predator from the true prize.


He is a becoming brand of Mr. Hyde, yet unseen, a child monster to this world that continues to grow more powerful as he experiences more and more violence and oppression. He is learning to thrive on it and convert the dubious attempts of the grown-up's force and control into a stronger and stronger constitution; they are so stupid. He is learning to remain placid on the inside as he observes their attempts at dark will and control and drinks the blood of opportunity, their blood if necessary. If he does choose to drink their blood, they won’t even know he is drinking their blood if that is how he wants them to experience him. That’s how brilliant he is; the petty fools and that’s real power.


Like a true warrior, he knows fear well and makes fear his ally. He assumes an unstoppable commitment after calculating acceptable risk. He rehearses all possible outcomes and scenarios, all in an instant. He knows real power is discretion and to not attract unnecessary attention. One does not have to hurt, kill, maim or destroy to get what you want. Besides, you calculate those scenarios out of your infallible planning; you use strategy. Real power is to take what you want and not leave a trace of your presence afterward. Not a trace…


These voices got so wild and loud sometimes; I had to invent distraction tactics to shut them down from the fierce arguments I would hear inside of me. To an outsider, they would observe this almost spastic kid walking along and start singing, flailing or impulsively bark like a dog, meow or yell something like “enough!” or “pickles!” I’m certain I had developed mild Turretts, although it was not impulsive at all it was engineered to cause enough of a distraction to stop the arguing.


A few hours later the door opened and a new face, unadorned and kinder looking with a natural beauty that even years of ascetic living could not conceal, asked me, “Hello. You must be Bobby! Did you sleep well? Are you hungry? It is time for dinner if you will come with me.” She asked me some other things to fill the void, and I think I told her that I was not feeling too well. My guard was high, and I had no desire to capitulate to another predator in a nun suit.


I hear the echoes of my footsteps bouncing off the cold, cavernous walls as I walk the circuitous path to the dining hall of this hardened, sacrilegious prison. I'm here in form, my body primordially reacting to the wafting smell of food, but my mind is a million miles away, my soul in hell and my heart is nowhere to be found.


I had to be anywhere but here…



Honor Loyalty Duty Faith







Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 11



Where's Gid?





In my young mind, time almost stood still that summer. Each day was a monotonous clone of the next. The meaningless rituals and the stopwatch routine droned on as the nuns, like automatons practiced meaningless rituals from a previous millennium that I was slowly growing to despise. In the repression and redundancy some children were going mad and others were getting mad, or both (like me). The rules and punishment in the absence of kindness and relationship were exacting a vicious toll of rebellion or regression on the children.


It was us against the nuns. At night I fantasized a million different ways to slaughter them and their heartless fascist regime. I stood at the edge of insanity, looking down into the abyss of what felt like Hell, holding on to the memory of a glimpse of love I knew existed based on my brief experience with my aunt. The depth of loneliness and isolation was unbearable. I felt stark and utter hopelessness as I listened to the din of meaningless chanting ricocheting off cold, stone walls. There was no bridge back to love… no hope. Religion is supposed to be of love, but in my heart, I knew for certain there was none here. It seemed that these sexless automatons were programmed to follow some ordained choreography that required no thought, purpose or any expression of tenderness.


What kind of religion is this that would make its followers act so cruel to us? What kind of God are You to permit this? Whatever kind of God You are, I want NOTHING to do with You. I want a God who is gentle, kind, compassionate… who I can feel safe with, who I can trust. Instead, I feel hate. However many weeks I was there, I walked in with an open, loving heart and I was to walk out spiritually bankrupt, forever tainted by these hypocrites, these supposed disciples of Christ. 


Their eyes looked beyond us and were empty of life--perhaps a result of their futile attempts to find meaning via their empty doctrine of coldness and human depravity. There was no solace. They exacted their pain upon us with cruel accuracy and then secretly atoned, parroting words inside stale confessionals to mercenary priests whose hearts could not hear. In this stone sarcophagus of dead hearts, there was no joy, humor, or even a spark of God’s love.


Regarded as invisible or as an irritation, I was paying a deep emotional penance. My loving little heart was rapidly alchemizing to a burgeoning anger and hatred for God and all authority figures. I’m still six years old until late August. There was little emotional connection and a stench of “we should be more appreciative” wafted as they obliged our physical needs and what we needed would have appreciated was any form of love and nurturing. Instead, it was a Gothic prison that provided biological sustenance for emotionally emaciated children. Our little hearts were dying from starvation that food could never vanquish. The nuns had little or nothing to feed us anyway, whatever god they worshiped insured their deprivation too. Their hearts had withered from exposure to a harsh, arid culture dominated by an unforgiving god and congealed by a capstone of acrimony, long set in the cold gray walls, decades before. They had perished long before we entered and they were merely the walking dead, mocking the living in religious costumes, twisted impostors dressed in black and white.

As the days came and went around of the long evening sun of the waning summer solstice, the only highlight of my week was Batman, which came on at 7:30 PM. After briefly losing myself in the escapades of the Caped Crusader almost capturing the Joker or the Riddler, the harsh reality of bedtime was imposed at the dreaded and mandatory eight PM. I would lay there in the bright light of the long day and imagine all of the other children playing and celebrating the long days of summer vacation. I saw them eating popcorn in front of Madison Avenue’s phalanx of black and white televisions with the proverbial Cleavers, every single one of those perfect mom’s and dad’s. I secretly listened in as wide eyed sons and daughters avariciously pitched in their thoughts to amazing parents who were planning the two-week ritual to Disneyland or Yellowstone via wood paneled station wagons. There were many nights I imagined being some other little boy, someone else’s little boy; I wanted to be any kid with a mom and dad that loved him.


Instead, I had to lie very still, very quiet, and very awake watching the shadows become longer from the summer rays shining through the transoms. At that latitude, there were still glimpses of the sunset well past ten PM, and that singular thought used to drive me crazy being forced to lay there. My energy was boundless as a little boy. Being forced to quietly contain my vast reserves of energy, lying in bed was pure agony for me. At least let me read! Time seemed to practically stand still in anticipation of Nocturne’s comforting darkness. It seemed as if I had forever to let my hatred fester for the nuns and my father.


Did he think about me? No way Bobby! He doesn’t love you. Why do you think he dumped you here? Would a dad that loved you do this? Why do you think he travels the world without you? He doesn’t want you around. You are the reason for his problems; isn’t that what he always tells you? Has he called or written you? A dad that loves you would at least do that. Besides, you are a son of a bitch, remember? A dog! Yeah, you are just a dog to him. You are a dog he gets to yell at or kick, like that cow we hit. Don’t you ever forget that Bobby. I did not want to believe those thoughts from “Bob,” but they seemed real enough for the concrete thinking of my yet seven-year-old brain. Bobby, he thinks about a lot of things like getting drunk and hating people, but he is not thinking about you, and when he does Bobby, it is how to get rid of you. In fact Bobby, dad is probably “talking to a dog about a man” and drunk right now, anyway. Bobby, you must never depend on him. You must never depend on anyone, especially him. It’s not safe, and you know that. I truthfully had little argument with that. It seemed more and more that things were not safe and I spent many nights rehearsing scenarios in my troubled little mind on how to brace myself because I had an idea of what to expect if he ever came to get me. In spite of that, I seriously underestimated.


As the days ticked by, I realized the only way to avoid being abused by the nuns and bullies was to keep to myself. I did make one friend there, Danny. Danny was a rotund and jovial red head, freckled from head to toe. He had been there for a very long time and had an alpha male presence that kept the bullies away from me. He had a strong constitution and the things the nuns through at him, ricocheted. I stayed in his shadows, and it allowed me safety and mentorship. It was interesting how when you are not even seven years old, how wise and mature someone two years older seems.


Danny would tell me tales of his father being a treasure hunter and how he commanded a vessel in the ocean. His dad would be there soon enough to take him with him. He had an old silver coin he would show to all of the new kids as proof. I learned better, he had no parents at all and was an “award of the state.” Little did I know then that I would soon become one as well. I went along with Danny’s charade. If any kid deserved respect, it was him, and he did not have to fabricate a story to get mine.


For these children, this place was the nether of in-betweens, a purgatory for abandoned souls. Once released, many of them ran toward hope into the heavenly arms of loved ones or, as would be my case, I would slink toward the hellish, mercurial fury of my twisted, addicted father, the Great Teacher of Hate.


It was late July, a month before my birthday, and one afternoon a nun came up to me and said my father was here and it was time to leave. I remember that moment so well. It was a feeling of stark relief and dread at the same time. I wanted out of this prison so bad, but I also did not want to be subjected to the rage of my father. I got my stuff and said a couple of good byes, I gave Danny our friendship handshake and that was that.


Good bye nuns from Hell. Hello father from Hell…



Honor Loyalty Duty Faith











Honor Loyalty Duty Faith Chapter 12



From Holy Hell to Hell


Vashon Island, Washington


I walked down the cold gray hallways for the final time exhilarated, yet frightened to leave; frightened of the unknown nature of the man picking me up. I am so angry with him. He never called me once; he never wrote me. I was dying here, and he didn’t care. I hate him. How could he be so unloving to me to abandon me here with these terrible nuns, I turned into the reception area, and Walter Bohen is beaming with a huge grin on his face, holding a large gift wrapped box and with his other arm open wide he said: “Come here, son.”


Immediately, the past inequities drained from me; the amnesia of optimism that childhood innocence seeks, to forgive their caregivers. I rushed to his arms, and I could smell the familiar combination of Old Spice aftershave, Listerine and alcohol. “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby! Hello, son. Look at you. You have grown! You look good! That’s what you think. I have been in hell. I am going to take you to the Space Needle and the Seattle Science Center and then Pikes Street market right now. We are going to celebrate.” “What’s that Da-a-ad? Is that for me?” I was avariciously eying the big wrapped box he was holding. “You bet, Here Bobby it’s a gift for you being a good boy while I was on my honeymoon with your new mother.” I forgot. That’s right. He got married. Last time I got hit when we talked about this. “How was it Dad? When Do I get to meet her?” I asked. “How about right now? Look.” He pointed to the repaired car with a woman in the passenger seat with short black hair. From a distance, she was not that pretty with a round face and coal black eyes. She was waving at us.


This is my new mom? What is she like? Is she nice like Baba or like the nuns? I gingerly approached her as she sat in the car with the window rolled down and said: “Hello Mrs. Bohen” in my best precocious act of mature and intelligent soon to be seven year old. She replied, “Hello Bobby, your father has said many things about you. I understand that you are a very intelligent young man.” I jumped in the back seat engrossed in tearing the wrapping paper off of the box and replied. “Thank you, Ma'am.”


At that moment I was so happy to be out of hell with a happy father and a new mother. The deep thoughts were maybe everything will be OK. I’ll be normal with normal parents. “It’s an HO scale train set! Wow, thank you so much! My new mom asked me a battery of questions, none of which I answered with much thought. I was myopically examining each component of the hundred or so pieces of the train set. That day we made the rounds in Seattle, and I actually enjoyed myself. It was everything I dreamed of as an idyllic family. We all got along impeccably. Everyone was on their best behavior.


That night we all arrived at my step mother’s house. It was early August and the addiction began committing my very first crime that night. I stole five dollars from my father’s wallet. The next morning we jumped on a ferry to Vashon Island, a rain forest covered ocean paradise and cold war missile base. My father found us a place to live there. What a difference and I could not believe this was all possible. I went from nun hell, creep father to this Pacific Northwest bucolic heaven. I would jump out of bed in the morning and explore this island all to myself. I would spend my days collecting and categorizing all of the biotas. I was a blissful, almosst seven-year-old, pretending to be a botanist, marine biologist, and zoologist. 


One day I was swimming in the waters of the Puget Sound, and my father called me from the shore and said, “Bobby, come home!” I came back as soon as I could, and I was shocked to see that things were being packed up. Confused, asked, “What’s going on Dad?” He said, “We are moving Bobby. School will be starting soon, and we are moving to Yakima which is about 120 miles from here.” I was sad, but the way things were going, They could only get better, I thought. I was wrong. My father said, “Bobby. We are going to make a couple of trips moving things, and I want you to go with me and help, OK? I said sure. What choice did I have?


It had been a hot summer and seemed oddly rain free. I certainly had memories of only hot, carefree, sunny days on that kind island. As we were leaving, I remember seeing Mt. St. Helens rising in the east, peering above the Cascade Ridge. She was pretending to be this white capped mascot feigning her vigilance. In actuality, a dark rage was boiling inside her as she was conspiring a swath of destruction to be unleashed a few years later. Or was that me? Any, you could see forever and all around was the breathtaking majesty of the Pacific Northwest.


In the truck heading east, it occurred to me my father had been drinking that day pretty heavily, and he was already pretty drunk when we left. We boarded the ferry east, and I had a candy bar, and my father had a couple more drinks on the boat. Riding the ferry was such an exciting thing to me, but that was dimmed because I was getting rather concerned. His slurring and intoxication was soon becoming an embarrassment to me and was becoming quite evident to the shipmates and passengers. I think the boat steward had cut him off. Today, someone in that condition would never be allowed to leave, but it was 1967 and a different time.


It was getting dinner time soon, and before boarding the ferry I was complaining about getting hungry, and he promised to have Chinese food in downtown Seattle after the ferry landed. We disembarked, and within minutes we were downtown, and I was relieved to get to the restaurant because his driving was pretty bad for a short drive. When Walt Bohen was drunk, really drunk, his bottom lip had an odd way of flattening out as it obscured his upper lip and one eye would be closed to avoid seeing double. We had a heavy load to carry over the pass through Cle Ellum. Perhaps it was the last thing on his mind, but I was getting scared. “Dad? Are you OK to drive?” “Yesh, I am okay, Bobby.” He trailed off.


He stumbled out of the truck and tripped, hard. He landed on the asphalt and laid there for a half a minute. Oh my God! I ran over to him and shouted, “Dad! Dad! Are you alright?” He groaned and turned over and just started laughing. His clothing was dirty from where he landed, and he brushed off himself as he sat up giggling. Walt had one style of dress. He always wore this odd one piece construction suit that zippered up from the crotch to the neck in either blue, green or khaki or a Blues brother’s suit with a skinny tie. No suit today. “Help me up Bobby,” he drooled. I ceremoniously did my best to help this 240-pound man off of the ground to no avail. Some man saw us and came over and helped him up. I was so embarrassed as I obsequiously thanked the man on my father’s behalf. He got his bearings, and we entered the Chinese restaurant. I remember the place like yesterday. It was on the bottom floor in a corner building in downtown Seattle, and the façade was red brick. When we entered, I am pretty sure the Chinese man sized up my father’s inebriant state and gave me eye contact to the effect of “We don’t need this and why are you with this man who is obviously impaired, little boy?” My eyes communicated back. This is embarrassing sir; I don’t deserve this. It has been so beautiful recently, and now my Dad is drunk again. What can I do? We can’t even drive, and he just fell on his face outside just now!


The Chinese man shuffled us to the very back booth with red vinyl seats next to the door that opened to the kitchen. I remember the smell, I always will. Today, if I have Chinese food, there is a smell once in a while that takes me right back. He gave us two menus, some water and went back up front and then turned around and stared at us, somewhat unsure of his patrons. I looked at my disheveled father who was now bleeding just a bit from the scrape on the right side of his forehead. His right shoulder was blackened from the grime of the asphalt as well as the palms of his hands. He was trying to make sense of things and trying to “act” not drunk in an obvious way someone that drunk tries to not act drunk. He looked pathetic and had a double digit IQ look about his face as he was staring at the menu with one eye closed. Do you even know you are bleeding? Why am I stuck here like this? What would Wilma, my new step mother think right now? You haven’t done this since Utah. What, were you just waiting to escape from her so you could get drunk as soon as possible? You make me sad, Dad. You make me very sad. I got my wits and asked. “Dad, you’re hurt.” He mused. What are you talking about, Bobby, I’m fine; what do you mean I’m hurt? “Dad you are bleeding.” I dipped a napkin in the water and scooted over to him and dabbed his forehead and hands. I remember that cloth napkins were red to match the tables. In mental dry humor, I thought. What luck, matching napkins. Yeah, you’re really lucky, Bobby.


“Whatcha gonna eat Dad? He retorted, “I need a drink. Do you want a Shirley Temple? Naw, you’re a Roy Roger’s kind of guy arncha?” as he gave me a little bravado shove and winked. I kept quiet. No! No, you don’t’ You are really, really drunk Dad! Can’t you see that? Please don’t drink anymore! We have a long drive! 120 miles long!


Just then a waiter came up and asked us for our order, and my Dad rattled off some things on the menu, including a drink for him and a Roy Rogers for me and some Wor Wonton soup. Oh Dad, please no more booze. No more, not tonight! I was helpless to say or do anything. I love him, but I wanted to be far away from him. I felt so at the mercy of his drunken whim. He was out of control, and so was I little boy caretaker. Maybe he can sleep it off before we go or maybe the food will help him. I sat there in stark disbelief, unsure, uncertain and frightened to be with this man for the next few days and I had zero choices of doing anything else. He was muttering to me about this, and that and I was absently placating him back with “go along to get along” answers, laughing at his stupid attempts at humor. At least he is being nice. Yeah, but wait until tomorrow when he has a hangover. Then you will see how nice he is.


A few minutes later the waiter brought out the drinks and soup. I then realized how ravenously hungry I was and I could not wait to eat some wontons in the soup. After the waiter had served the soup and drinks, he left. Meanwhile, the man up front was still staring at us. Please mind your business mister; we mean no harm. He is just drunk, that’s all. Stop looking. It’s embarrassing me. He must have read my thoughts because he turned around. Between that brief exchange, I heard the clink of ice and looked at my father setting down an empty glass of liquor. Geez, that’s too much, slow down. Finally, I had held back enough and said, “Dad we have a long drive, I am worried about you drinking anymore and I am scared because you fell outside when we got here.” “I did? I fell?” he asked incredulously. “Yes Dad, and you are bleeding on your head, remember?” His eyes shifted upwards in recollection, and he muttered. “Oh yeah, good soup huh?” Yeah, Dad; good soup I thought sarcastically.


We ate the soup in silence. I am so hungry. Where is everything else? I thought. Then I heard, “Bobby, I don’t feel so good.” I looked at him, and he was white as a ghost, and the whites of his eyes rolled upwards and just dropped, and his face went right into the soup bowl. What’s going on? Oh no! “Dad! Dad!” I yelped. He made a gurgling sound in the bowl, and the physics of his big round German head was being pulled down by his limp body as his lights went out, and dead weight began to carry him to his right. I rounded the circumference of the booth to come around to where he was falling in slow motion in some futile attempt to break the inevitable fall. It was like watching a tree in the woods being felled; observing that moment of suspended animation. The final point of no return when it’s life line and foundation is severed by the last saw cut. His body’s friction hijacked the table cloth on the way down and everything on it, glasses, bowls silverware, soy sauce, everything fell to the floor with the cacophonous thunder of shattering dishes. It crescendoed with the seismic, building shaking, dead weight, thud of a body free-falling onto a wood floor with a basement underneath.


I stood there stunned, waiting for my mind to make sense of what just happened just staring in utter disbelief at this comatose body that belongs to my father. He had landed on his right shoulder. His right leg was still dangling from the bench, hooked by his shoe. The left arm was between his legs sticking straight out. His other arm was pinned under his right side and his face seemed further into the floor than it was because his jowls were being displaced by the weight of his body pushing slightly downwards on his head. He was out cold. I stood there in silence trying to comprehend. In slow motion I watched patrons and management intervene.


Someone grabbed me out of the way as they stretched him out, prostrate. In slow motion, a waiter opened my father’s mouth and stuck his fingers deep inside while someone was yelling in Chinese for something. The man who opened his mouth then looked at the man who sat us down with both palms up with a look on his face like, “What do I do next?” Foreign words were exchanged, and the waiter put his ear on my father’s chest. The brevity began to kick in. Oh God! No! No God! No! No! No! Is he not dead? I tried to wrestle free from whoever was holding me as I screamed, “Dad! Dad! What’s wrong with my Dad? Let me go!” I couldn’t break free, and I sobbed, “Let me go! Let me Go!” The waiter then popped his head up shaking his head up and down vigorously in affirmation of a heart beat. I belted, “Yes! Yes! He’s OK! Right?” A soothing voice of a woman said, “Yes son, he will be alright.” “He drunk! He drunk!” I heard in broken English. “He drunk and he little boy father!” I call ambulance right now! Please be quiet, mister, please!


One of the paramedics came over, bent down to me and warmly introduced himself. I was immediately washed with calm and a trust in him that he could work miracles. In those situations, you look for any reason to embrace some optimism. He calmly led me over to a table and sat me down. He asked me many questions about my day, what my father had done, how much I thought he drank, etc. I truthfully told him that I think he had something to drink when we left and two on the boat and a partial one here. He darkened and said, “Is that all son?” You only saw him have less than three drinks? “Yessir.” I replied. Before I could say anything else, he told me to wait here and he bolted back to the other two men, and they exchanged words, and I saw their faces show concern as well.


A moment later the man came back and sat down with me again. He smiled and asked, “Bobby, do you know where your mother is? We will have to take your father to the hospital to see why he is sick and we need to have your mom come and get you.” Loyally I replied, “My mom is in California sir.” “California???” He retorted. “Yes sir, but my father just got remarried last month. My step mother is on Vashon Island right now, and we are moving to a place called Yakima. That’s OK anyway sir. I want to stay with my father and go to the hospital with him.” With as much kindness as possible, he said, “You can’t Bobby. Er, you can’t go with us. It is not allowed.” I welled up, and I could not form words, only thought, Can’t go? What are you thinking mister? This is my Dad. I have to go? Please do not leave me here.


I raced in thought as waves of panic and fear rocked me. Your mom can drive you there, however.” he chirped. She is not my mom mister. “What is her phone number and I will have her come and get you.” I suddenly realized this conversation was going nowhere, fast. “She doesn’t drive, and there is no phone number sir, it is a vacation house we were staying at for the summer. Before that, I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah.“ It was only a month on the island, but my growing insecurity and need for approval worded it to sound like we stayed on the island much longer. Perplexed, he asked, “I don’t suppose you know the address on the island do you?” This wasn’t going well at all. “No sir, I don’t.” He got up from the table and spoke to the police officer for a minute or two. Fear was starting to take a grip on me. This is not happening. I am going to wake up from a nightmare and you won’t be drunk. Way to go, Da-a-ad.


The policeman clanked and jingled over to me and sat down, or tried to. He was the biggest man I had yet ever seen. I thought he must have been close to seven feet and half as wide. He looked like a chiseled superhero with a cool gun. He had very thick blond hair, and his eyes were kind, yet piercing black dots that radiated warmth and a tinge of embarrassment that he could barely fit into the booth I was sitting at. I just remember him so well because he could barely fit and I had never met someone with blond hair and soft coal black eyes. For some reason, I pictured him on my tricycle. I immediately liked him and felt a pang and a thought; “Why couldn’t my dad have been someone nice like this police man?” After some meaningless niceties, he asked me what I think I should do to get a hold of my step mother. I had no phone, no address, we had been there less than one month and all I wasn’t even sure of her first name. Is it Wilma or Adrean? What a real mess. Why is this happening?


After a couple of fruitless minutes, he sternly whispered, “Bobby, here is the straight shot here. I think your dad will be just fine; I really mean that. I talked to the paramedics, and I would not just say that to you to make you feel better. Do you trust me when I say this to you?”A huge wave of relief and comfort passed through me, but the consternation is his voice left something yet unsaid. “Yes sir, I do trust what you are saying, and I understand that no one can be one hundred percent sure.” He smiled, “You seem like an intelligent boy, Bobby. Have you ever thought about being a police officer when you grow up?” I pridefully responded, “I am one sir.” “You are?” He chuckled. With the total conviction that I was as official as he, I shared with him at age four, I was sworn and deputized in California when my inebriated father shattered and bloodied himself through the sliding glass window after smacking my mom around and he went to jail. I concluded, “…actually sir, I am studying to become an astronaut.” He just smiled at me, and I felt his genuine admiration. I needed genuine appreciation from an adult. Seeking approval ended up consuming a large part of my childhood. “Bobby, you cannot go with your father to the hospital; it is against the law, son. Until we can find your step mother or next of kin, you will have to come with me.” I tried to keep my face was unreadable. No way! I can go with you; a real hero? I can ride in your fast car and maybe catch a criminal too.


The truth of the matter right then and there, I did not want to go to the hospital with my drunkard father. I wanted to catch criminals with this amazing man, forever. I analyzed the situation; Bob did. What is the appropriate response? I am pretty sure a normal kid would act like he wanted to be with his father at all costs. So act. “Sir, I am grateful for the opportunity, but I need to be with my dad. He needs me” Maybe he’ll buy that Bobby. Puzzled, he responded, “Bobby, I know you need to be with him, and I know he needs you, but that is not possible. I have to take you to the police station and you will meet a social services officer and he will find you a place to stay until your father is better.” With a poor poker face, I thought, what are you talking about? I thought we were going to catch criminals together?


An hour later, my father had been long dispatched to a Seattle hospital, and I was answering a battery of questions by a woman who identified her as a social services officer and my superhero was long gone. I was finally hitting bottom from the long unwanted day. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember that she wore a black skirt down below her knees with ugly flesh colored nylons, a white blouse, and a black jacket. She was pudgy, prim, humorless and dispassionate. She had those peculiar pointed glasses on a chain, and she seemed perturbed that she was dragged away from her late night talk show. She droned on asking me about my history, my father’s drinking habits, arrests, etc. She asked me if he ever hit me and I told her the truth. I told her about my incarceration at the Catholic insane asylum. Her demeanor was detached and uncaring; she seemed just like the nuns to me. I was interfering with her life; I was another obligation to me dutifully managed.


By the time we were finished, it had to have been after midnight, and she said with what I perceived as smugness, “Bobby, the only place we can take you tonight is juvenile hall.” In shock and terror I welled up, “That’s prison where bad kids go! I am not a bad kid! What did I do wrong? You can’t do that to me!” She pursed her lips like here we go again and retorted, “Bobby, that is true it is where bad kids go, but it is also where good kids go when we can’t find their mom or dad to take care of them. We just can’t leave you by yourself Bobby; that wouldn’t be very nice, am I right?” I am seven years old, seven! Why am I going through this? What is wrong with me that I am not in bed somewhere with normal, loving, kind, thoughtful and not drunk parents? I am a defect.


Honey, I don’t want you to have to go there, but we have nowhere else for you to go. They are going to know you are a good boy Bobby. You will be going as a visitor, and you will probably be released first thing in the morning, just as soon as we find your mom or when your father feels better. It will just be a place for you to sleep and as soon as you wake up you should be able to leave. She lied. It was hell revisited.


Oh my God! What if dad doesn’t get better? What if he is sick and he is not just drunk? Will they forget about me? Will I stay in prison for a long time? If he died, will Wilma still want me? Can I go back to Baba’s? I wish I were there. I wish I weren't here, anywhere but here. She put her hand out, and a glint of a maternal heart seemed to weep through her professional veil and obsequiously and compassionately asked, “Bobby, we have to go now. Will you please come with me?” My mind raced in the terror of the unknown and all I remember saying is, “I don’t have a toothbrush, Ma’am.” Then I got in the car, and I rode shotgun. I have no memory of the trip. The next thing I remember is her waking me up in some place with modern bricking and bright lights with gates, and we were in the back of a U-shaped building with gating that looked escape proof.


She held on to me as if I were to bolt like a rabbit; it seemed more out of habit than concern. I was beaten, exhausted and very compliant. I approached this steel door with a big glass window to look through, and it buzzed when we got to it, and she clicked it open. I do not remember the particular time, but I remember it was well after midnight, yet the place was very brightly lit, quiet and sterile. I sensed a presence of tension and hostility. I felt very, very alone and I had this feeling of embarrassment that I would be looked at like I was a bad criminal. However, the place seemed quiet and empty. The inside was white everywhere. The floors looked like white squares with pieces of pepper spread out diffusely and the hall went straight with closed gray doors with small windows every twenty feet or so. The walls were white and the ceiling was white with fluorescent lights every few feet. All I know is that it had the air of a cold, sterile, hostile place and I was frightened and lonely. It was the last place on earth I wanted to be, and I was worried and furious and disappointed in my father that his actions left me here. I could never trust that man again.


The hand off happened, and the social worker was kind enough to say in front of the other lady I was turned over to with a wink that I was “one of the good guys.” She promised to let me know how my father was doing and that they would try to get in touch with my step mom. I thought That is not possible if he dies; and a cold, fatalistic shudder went through my soul. They were going through the formality of their handoff, and I was twiddling in a chair far enough away for their words to not be heard. I was studying the room I was in which seemed to be the administration department. I had a feeling that I had the privilege of bypassing a more demeaning way of being a guest there.


The place reminded me of the place in the soon to be popular TV series, “Dragnet.” It was new and utilitarian with steel desks and outer offices with blinds. There were some photos on the wall of people that were involved in the juvenile detention system. The lady she was talking to seemed much younger, blonde and I thought was very pretty. I had a feeling that I would like her. She reminded me of my aunt, Linda. If aunt Linda were here, I wouldn’t have to be here.


Before I could do much else, the blonde lady said, “Hello Bobby, I guess you have been through quite a bit tonight. I bet you are exhausted, Honey. Are you hungry or thirsty?” I had not had a chance to eat much at the Chinese restaurant, just a couple of gulps of soup and some won ton things, but the last thing I felt like doing was eating right then. “I am very thirsty Ma’am, may I please have some juice?” She smiled warmly with a big of course little boy in her expression and obtained two containers of apple juice, which I guzzled down in a second. I love apple juice.


Then she handed me a toothbrush and some pajamas and escorted me to the bathrooms. I immediately felt overwhelmed with fear when I realized where we were going. The scene of brutality and embarrassment roared through my tiny body. I think she sensed something in me and immediately said she would be waiting outside for me and for me to take my time. Much to my relief, she did wait outside while I cleaned up and changed. She smiled warmly when I came out and escorted me down the long white corridor to one of the gray steel doors and unlocked it with a huge flat key. She was kind enough to dubiously fluff things up and asked me if I was comfortable. Then I sensed she tried with a deftness and sensitivity to close the steel door quietly and then carefully turned the heavy lock as silently as possible to minimize the fact that I was now a prisoner here with no rights and no way out on my own free will. 


I remember how small and ascetic the “cell” was. Everything was made of stainless steel bolted into cinder block walls that were painted a shiny white. It consisted of two bunk beds to the right and a toilet and a sink. At the end was a divided window that was too high up that covered the width of the cell. There was a low watt light bulb covered in a metal grate in the middle of the ceiling. The floor was concrete that was gray and cold. The place was fairly new, and I could smell the newness of paint the moment I walked in. I despised the smell of old however that made little difference; it was cold, empty and sad. There was no heart or soul in this place, and I felt claustrophobic and the stark terror of being cut off, trapped, out of control and a sense of stark loneliness that was aggravated by anger and fear. Sometimes today I smell that scent, and my mind and body still go back to those emotions.


I laid down very annoyed by the tenacious light from the ceiling and closed my eyes. In spite of that, I could see the light penetrating through my closed eyelids diffusing my though with the color of red and began the process of surrendering. Like the disassociation of my protector and alter ego, Bob, I learned the process of surrendering. There were many times before that I was forced in the brief seven years of my life to cower and accept to the irrational whims of my father. I developed this fatalistic acceptance of my situation, as sort of, whatever will be, will be. There were many times I realized I had nowhere to go and no one to help me when my father would direct his rage and hit me and scream and yell at me. I could feel it is coming on like the distant war cries of an approaching army heard by the peasants. Then when his fury unleashed, there was the clarity of destiny and then the ultimate surrender when a zebra’s head is caught in the vice of an alligator in the water.


There was a stark a fear of uncertainty I had to turn off. I knew while lying there the mental looping was of no benefit and that all I had was right now. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be incarcerated for decades or life because I was a real criminal that was caught and convicted for bank robbery and there was no way out but to be paroled or to die here. So this is what it would be like. I will never put my self in that situation. I would rather die. Every so often the silence would be punctured by a feral scream or someone crying far away. That deeply haunted me, because my imagination could only go to there was secret torturing here, and this is really what is in store for me, and perhaps I will never leave. After a while, it all came crashing down. I started a familiar pattern of crying and sobbing as silently as I could, using the pillow to muffle myself until fatigue and heartache became sleep. Then I heard keys unlocking my door.


I woke up to that startled and dazed trying to remember where I was and why. For a couple of seconds, I thought I was back at the Catholic asylum with the nuns until the dread and panic of remembering flooded every cell in my body into an acute state of awareness of where I was. I was in prison because my father was irresponsible. I had a flash of deep, deep anger. I then I became overwrought with worry that I would never leave here because my dad died. 


The door opened, and a man with a big belly and with greasy, balding hair wearing a guard uniform entered and gruffly said, “Hello, you must be Bobby, are you hungry? If you are hungry, follow me.” and turned around and started walking away. I caught up to him, and while he led me away, I observed quite a few big and scary looking older kids going to and from. When you are seven, even a nine-year-old looks like a giant. A few of the boys looked at me with a very mean and hostile look. I obsequiously waved at one because I felt fear and he just stared me down and then whispered to another as I walked by. The man led me to the bathroom entrance, stopped and with an hmm, sized me up and grabbed blue jeans and a t-shirt, socks and tennis shoes and boxer underwear and a tooth brush and a small tube of toothpaste and handed them to me. He said, “You have ten minutes to get dressed, and the chow hall is there at the end.” as he pointed down the long hallway and walked away. The sound of his keys tolling of the harsh reminder of where I was and why.


I walked the short distance to the cafeteria with fear filling my empty stomach. I remember the cold fluorescent lights and the peppered white tiles of the juvenile institution. As I entered the cafeteria, I sensed the eyes of the other boys sizing me up. I remember the breakfast smells and I remember the smell of fear too. The smell of fear was my own.


I felt so lost, so alone, and I was learning to hate my existence. I was formulating an intractable brokenness that would haunt me for decades. It is an unseen handicap that compromises every decision, every thought. If left unmanaged and unhealed, this handicap forges an unconscious destiny filled with emptiness and irrational choices based upon a decision made as a child of brokenness that influences every decision choices until death or the resolve to transcend all of this.


Beyond the smell of cooking grease, Pine Sol, and industrial paint, I could sense three boys talking about me and I was certain the gauntlet of falling into the caste system would soon be upon me. The fear of being bullied and punched was overwhelming, and at the same time, a sense of surrender was within me as well. Fate was fate; whatever will occur, will occur, and I had no choice but to accept it.


The sense of fear was overwhelming as I was closer to getting served at the cafeteria line when the greasy haired guard walked up to me and said, “Let’s go; your father is here…”


I remember the sense of relief in the reprieve of the uncertainty being bullied by the older boys. I also remember the feeling of fear being released back to the certainty of being bullied sooner or later by my father.


At least that was familiar and predictable…


Honor Loyalty Duty FaithBobby




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© 2017 Robert Bohen - Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Love never fails.

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