Note: This forward is preliminary and may be changed or re-positioned as the book nears completion. The following material is copyright 2019 Laura Susan Johnson/Kimberly Renee Ohanesian and PeachHam-Beach Publishing.
Jamie Pearce and Tammy Mattheis
Fort Bragg, California
Sometimes, our thoughts swirl around us in a figure eight, or like the symbol of infinity, or just a plain circle, perfect, never ending. They say it takes a lifetime to understand your own life. Sometimes, you must tell a story backwards, just to make sense of it, to gain perspective. We’re not sure how to proceed. We don’t think there is any one right way to tell a story.
We gained this philosophy long ago, but it was cemented after we read the book, and saw the film, White Oleander, the story of a girl, called Astrid, whose mother, Ingrid, callously murders a lover who has been unfaithful; Astrid, a girl who develops a thick, nearly impenetrable coat of armour over a period of several years, being in a series of bizarre and brutal foster homes. One foster mother, an actress called Claire, proves to be more loving and caring than any other, including the cold-blooded biological mom, Ingrid, but even gentle Claire has flaws that are too dangerous for Astrid to thrive in. The unrepentant Ingrid is described in the book as physically beautiful, and in the movie, she is played by actress Michelle Pfeiffer, an exceptionally striking and talented woman who gives a chilling performance.
Even after all we’ve been through, we came away from the novel and the film unable to comprehend how Ingrid, someone so talented, so intelligent, so full of promise, could throw her life away, throw her child away, over being scorned.
But people do it all the time. Diane Downing, Scott Peterson, and now Chris Watts, educated, charismatic, likeable people who cold-bloodedly kill their innocent children and/or their spouses.
And we remember the statement: “I couldn’t understand the beginning without beginning with the end.” We’re paraphrasing, of course. But it seems that in telling our story, we had begun with our present, which spanned over a few weeks around the Christmas holidays in 2011 going into 2012, with descriptions of our early childhood and teen years included.
The first telling of our story was very concentrated, focused mainly on ourselves, like that of a pair of newly born babies, filled with discovery, joy, a lot of pain, healing, and most of all, love; our first real conversations, the way we read each other’s minds as we talked. We’d waited so long to be together.
You can’t help who you fall in love with. You really can’t, but that statement lends little comfort to people like us. We had been afraid when we were in high school together. There had been hateful exchanges between us on a few occasions, but it was because were afraid, terrified of what our classmates would think of the tall, handsome, masculine, jockish, athletic one who kept secrets so painful and horrible that he entertained the idea of committing suicide before the age of thirteen, in the company of the undersized, androgynous-looking, goth dressing, makeup wearing one who had, a year prior, been removed from a house stinking of the rotting bodies of a man and woman who had raped, tortured, exploited and starved him for seven years.
Children are cruel to their own kind, especially in small towns. They’re no less hateful in high school than in middle or primey school. People think California is so liberal, so open-minded, so evolved. Yeah, maybe if you live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or anywhere near the ocean, but if you live even a few miles inland, you have the same narrow-minded hicks, pounding on their bibles, telling their kids that you’re a dirty piece of trash, used goods. Somehow, having been sexually victimised by paedophiles made people eager to shame and blame us for our sufferings. The smaller of us was jumped a few times, had an arm broken once, but the larger of us came to the smaller one’s rescue, running the bullies away and drove the small one to hospital.
Slowly, during that last year of high school before the larger one graduated, we exchanged shy glances and tentative conversations. We even gave each other anonymous Valentine’s cards, both hoping and dreading that the other would guess who our admirer was. On the older’s last night of high school, we talked more than we ever had. We swam and ate barbeque at his friend Ray’s house. Feet were tickled under the water, and our friend Stacy urged us to keep talking to each other. Mindlessly, we abandoned our fear of being seen conversing intimately. Once, we came up out of the water with our arms around each other, and we made eye contact. We saw the same look in each other’s eyes. We saw love. We saw that we loved one another, and wanted to be boyfriends. We saw the desire to kiss each other. But, abruptly, the older of us let the younger go, and abruptly left the party. The smaller, younger of us was crushed, and decided to leave as well. The small one leaned against Stacy’s car, sobbing, when the bigger, older one came up to the little one, half dressed in damp clothing hastily put on after swimming in the chlorinated pool. The larger of us asked the smaller one what was wrong, and the smaller one confessed everything. The older one confessed too. We loved each other. We kissed each other in that dark driveway, and it was the most joyous moment in our lives.
But we didn’t understand the depth of our fears. The older one was so scared that he left the next day to attend college in Los Angeles. There was no call to say goodbye to the younger, smaller of us. The one of us who left town told himself that his plans to attend university in L.A. should be given top priority, and he shouldn’t be tempted to stay home, even though he knew he could transfer to another school closer to our homes, and longed to. He knew he belonged to the beautiful, small boy with the fuchsia hair, but he said he hated our crummy hick town, and wanted to live in a big city. We had been one unit for a few hours on a wonderful night, and then, just as quickly, we were separated for nearly two decades.
The final, and least credible excuse for the larger, older of us to leave town was: he wanted to prove to everyone, especially himself, that he was not gay. The brokenhearted small one rejected those reasons. They sounded like horseshit. The older one had moved to a place where nobody would know him. Who would he be proving this to? It hurt. The younger of us felt betrayed, duped. It hurts so bad to be kissed and told you’re loved, only to be left behind less than a day later.
When the bigger one broke down sobbing one day, and said to the smaller one, “You’d already been beaten up and bullied. You had your arm broken for being gay. I didn’t want you to be targeted again. I didn’t want to be the reason for more pain for you.”
The smaller of us replied, rather coldly, “I would never have blamed you for anything. I’m sorry you believe otherwise.”
The larger one wept, “I didn’t want to leave, but it all seemed impossible. It felt like we were doomed from the start.”
The larger of us was forgiven by the smaller one that day.
Just because we’re happy now doesn’t mean we’re done talking. We’ll never be finished. We could go on for all eternity if allowed to. The time has come to talk about the only men we’ve ever seen as real father figures, the men who were on scene when the smaller of us was rescued from a life of pure hell and given a new life, the life that allowed him to experience the love and heartache we’ve just described.
Our names are Thames Mattheis and James Pearce. We first met in the Southern area of Sacramento sometime in 1982, when Thames, nicknamed Tammy (pronounced like a nickname of the famous river that flows through the centre of London, England would be pronounced, Temmy), and his mother, Peggy Mattheis, got into a cue at a grocery store behind a brunette woman who had a cherubic toddler in her trolley, a boy with blondish-ginger curls and red liquorice smeared all over his face. Tammy was immediately struck by how big and blue the boy’s eyes were. Even though the child had to be at least two years old, he did not produce comprehensible human speech. He was still in a stage of babbling and gurgling, apparently delayed. Otherwise, he appeared in good health and possessed a sweetness that disarmed both little Tammy, then aged four and a half years, and his mother, Peggy. The toddler’s mother was nicely dressed and well groomed, her dark, nearly black hair arranged neatly atop her head, but so cold in demeanor that when her ice blue eyes met Peggy’s after Tammy had asked a few questions about the little boy, Peggy felt frozen, shaken, speechless. She’d felt a primal urge to grab the little blonde boy from the trolley, to take him from this mysterious woman, but instead, barely able to move, Peggy had reached over to pull her son closer to her. She had been horrified when Tammy had shrugged out of her grasp to reach up and accept a kiss from the lovely child, whose name had been spat out at Tammy by the odious, dark-haired woman. Jamie.
Thames had met James that day. As the years following that first meeting passed, neither of us could know that our encounter in that grocery store was a miracle. The first of many.
We both feel ready to talk about the men who made sure that we, Tammy and Jamie, were allowed to live through what would follow that first wonderful meeting. There are three men who have been sent by God to intervene in our lives. One of them you’ve heard precious little about, and two of them you’ve heard nothing about. Tammy was living out of town for sixteen of the years that the three men were around, but he remembers the first time he met all three of them. He’ll never forget the day. None of us will. The memories of that late Spring day in 1993 are branded on all of our souls, uniting us in love and pain, memories of the stink of death, the jutting of sharp bones and the pallor of lifelessness, the sounds of a man crying in anguish. Jamie was in and out of it, and Tammy remembers more than he originally let on.
Tammy was only sixteen when it happened. He was at the scene. He was not a mere looky-loo. He was not a drive-by rubber-necker.
He remembers three beautiful souls: two brunettes and a blonde. He remembers one of the brunettes being a cop, and the other brunette standing outside the ramshackle house, his arms around the blonde, both of them looking stricken at the news that two bodies had been discovered inside the home, then beginning to cry quietly upon learning of the existence of the boy, Jamie, teetering on the brink of death by starvation, dehydration, infection, and goodness knew what else. Tammy remembers the blonde and the brunette who had been holding each other beginning to sob uncontrollably when they heard the loud screams of the other brunette echoing from the stinking house, Jamie being brought out on a stretcher, the gruesome crimes against him so public, on display, in spite of the blankets covering him; the urgent calls for a second ambulance for the brunette cop who was still screaming. The blonde and the brunette ran towards the sounds of torment coming out of the house, and were held back by uniformed police officers. They begged the police to let them through, and the cops were sad but firm. It was a crime scene. They could not go in. “Please, help him!” the blonde shrieked. “Can’t you understand? We’ve been looking for these people since 1980! Joey knew we’d find this! But we didn’t know it would be this bad! Please, help Lloyd! Please! Help him!” And the blonde man collapsed on the lawn, crying, then vomiting so violently that the second brunette calmly snapped at one of the cops, “Call 9-1-1 for my brother, too!”
That’s when Tammy began to cry too. And as Jamie was put inside of the ambulance, Tammy felt something in the air around him. It wasn’t the unseasonable April heat. It wasn’t a subtle breeze. It was a presence, a vaguely familiar one. He looked at the tiny, skeletal person being loaded into the emergency vehicle, and wished he would open his eyes. Tammy, only sixteen, knew that he had felt the spirit of the boy who was fighting for his life inside the swiftly departing ambulance. He made his way over to the brunette and the blonde, who had managed to gather himself up from the grass. The blonde carried himself with a sense of ragged grace, walking with a pronounced limp, holding his head up as he ignored the stares of neighbours who had done next to nothing in spite of the increasingly fetid smell coming from this lonesome corner lot, lifting his chin a notch higher at each the annoyed honks of drivers who were angry that the street had been cordoned off by the yellow police tape. He let the brunette walk him to the pavement in front of the ugly house. As Tammy approached, he looked into the dark eyes of the brunette, and though they were filled with tears, he saw the same iron resolve and dignity that he saw in the dark eyes of the blonde. Very shyly, Tammy introduced himself to them and told them who he was. They gasped at him, began to cry again, and wrapped their arms around him, pulling him to their bodies, words of gratitude spilling from their lips as they both unabashedly kissed his face, marking him a permanent part of their family. Thames and James, two young boys who were both victimised, had finally found the fathers they so badly needed. They just didn’t expect to find them in this way, and they certainly didn’t expect to find three of them.
Any wrong Tammy would do to Jamie, therefore, was easily understood. We never hurt each other intentionally.
In horrific contrast, the man and woman who made videos of Jamie being raped and tortured saw him as nothing more than an object, a disposable piece of garbage, and they proved that when they killed themselves and left Jamie to starve, shackled to his bed.
Tammy’s own Uncle Price, used him and threw him away, and he was so afraid he would end up becoming like his uncle that he declared to God that he would rather die. Tammy is the bigger and physically stronger of the two of us, but his heart is so sensitive. He asked God to make him a good person, and God made him so good that his empathy could kill him if he’s not careful.
Lloyd Tafford and the other police in the town of Sommerville, CA, broke into the dilapidated, putrid house and pulled Jamie out. We have to tell everyone more about Lloyd, our hero, our invisible angel who walks beside us as surely as we walk beside and protect each other.
But now you know, there are other angels besides Lloyd. We’re not in any way diminishing Lloyd’s value. He himself cut the chains from Jamie’s ankles. If you’ve read the first part of our story, you know of Officer Bloom, Lloyd’s partner at the Sommerville P.D. He was present at the time Jamie was rescued, and we remain thankful for everything he’s done for us. He even offered to have Jamie come live with him after Lloyd’s passing, while Tammy was still in L.A.
But there are still two who need to be recognized. By the time Lloyd died, another in our family had gone before him. Joey, who is now aged fifty-seven, is still living, happily married since 1995 to a wonderful woman in Ukiah, not very far southeast of where we live. He has a grown daughter and son, and one granddaughter who is four years old. He visits often. He’s happy. Like us, he credits his happiness to two people who refused to give up on him. When he was saved from evil, he was so afraid of reprisal that he kept a secret for an additional five years. But he finally revealed what was hidden, and he was reunited with those two people who had been searching for him. He was missing from the age of seven to the age of nineteen. Twelve years. Lloyd Tafford was partly the reason why Joey was found alive.
You’re about to hear about things that happened long before either Tammy or Jamie were conceived, long before we were the twinkle in the eyes of Lloyd, Joey, and Joey’s older brother, the blonde man, Derek.
Before Jamie met Lloyd, Derek, Joey and Tammy, nobody cared for him, or so he thought. There had been someone who had been in the company of the people Jamie was enslaved by. Jamie would not cross paths with this man for decades, yet still, this man, who was nearly two decades older than Jamie, knew Jamie existed long before they met. The older man isn’t some superhuman. He isn’t a god, omnipresent, always knowing everything. He’s just a man, like Jamie, who had been victimised by this same couple, years earlier. He had escaped from their clutches in May, 1975, when he was thirteen and a half. Someone reported a pale, bruised and emaciated boy, with hair the colour of onyx, and big, dark, bright eyes, wandering around the aisles of a grocer’s in the town of Redding, California. The clerks thought he was loitering, or shoplifting, and called the police. When the cops came and escorted him outside, the boy was terrified, saying in a pained whisper, “I’m so hungry…”
“You do look pretty thin,” one policeman remarked. “Your family not feeding you?”
“No, they stopped feeding me,” the boy said. “They’re finished with me. They said I’m too old now.”
The cops exchanged bewildered glances. “Too old? Too old for what?”
He shrugged, averting his eyes. “They were going to kill me.” The boy’s demeanor then changed significantly. A few moments ago, he’d been petrified. Now, he serenely lifted his chin to show them a thick, dark ligature mark around his throat. “Don wanted to choke me to death with the belt and bury me.” Upon closer inspection, his black, glistening eyes were bloodshot, too bloodshot.
“Holy shit,” one officer swore. “Call an ambulance.”
And tears began to flow, a river, a waterfall of quiet, venerable anguish. “But Andy told Don he wanted to have me one more time, for old time’s sake. One more time, he said, before she killed me. He wanted to have me one more time, then she could kill me.”
“He wanted to have you?” asked a cop.
“Have sex with me,” the boy whispered refusing to look at them now. The police recoiled from the boy as if they’d been burnt by fire. The boy looked to be no older than nine or ten.
“She quit choking me and stood aside. She said she wanted to watch, but he said, ‘No.’ For once, he said, ‘No’, to her. He knows how evil she is. He’s evil too, but she’s so much worse. She tells him what to do in the movies she makes.”
The police exchanged silent glances of revulsion between them. The boy continued, “They got into a huge row. She was screaming at him, threatening him. He pushed her out the door and locked it on her. While she was beating on the door and screaming that she would kill us both, he threw me out the window and said, ‘Run, Robbie! Just run!’ I don’t know what to do. I’m so hungry. I’m so cold! He pushed me out so fast, he didn’t even give me a coat or a jumper!”
It was May, in Northern California. The temperature was seventy-four degrees, fahrenheit. None of officers were wearing coats. One of them took the shivering boy to a squad car and turned up the heater full blast. “You’re going to need to go to hospital. They’ll get you warmed up, see if you need any medicine, and feed you a good, hot dinner. Does that sound good?”
“All right,” the boy nodded listlessly.
“Rob…Is that your name?”
“Yeah,” murmured the boy. “Rob. Robbie.”
“Robbie, where are these people? What’s the address?”
“It’s the white house on Linda Street. A few blocks from here. It’s not far. I only got here in ten minutes, and my legs are stiff because they hardly ever let me out of my room. It’s a white house with dark green paint on the windows. I saw dark green paint when Andy pushed me out.”
“Andy…Is he your dad?”
“Your uncle? Cousin?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“Were you taken by these people? Kidnapped?”
“No. I live with Andy and Don.”
“Who’s Don? Are they relatives of yours? Or did they snatch you?”
“Robbie” sighed, “I can’t remember. It’s been a long time. I was a wee lad.”
The police weren’t to blame. It was a case seven years cold. They missed the big clues: the physical description…the hair that was practically inky black, even after it was washed in hospital; the dark, brown, nearly black eyes, a distinct birthmark. How could they be expected to spot the tiny details? Like the West Country accent that came from the boy’s biological father, an accent from Devon, England, an accent unlike any other British accent, an accent also used by people in Southern Wales, the accent thought to be the parent accent for most people living in the Central and Western United States; the words “wee lad,” words that were not used by Americans, words meaning “little kid” or “small boy” to people in Ireland and Scotland.
At the time of ‘Robbie’s’ discovery in Redding, California, there was no organised system for helping missing children return to the families from whom they’d been stolen. If police stations had had federal assistance, if police precincts had better communication between themselves in those days, they might have immediately spotted that this boy had been missing since 1968, that he had an Irish-born mother and a father from the Southern West Coast of England, that the mother was deceased, and that the father was currently living in his homeland. If communication had been optimal in that era, the police would have known quickly to contact this boy’s older brother, who lived over a thousand miles away, in Galveston, Texas, a brother who, along with “Robbie,” had been adopted by a new family after the death of their mother, a brother who had been waiting for “Robbie” to return home for years.
“It couldn’t have been that long ago,” one cop said to nobody in particular. “Maybe they drugged him. How old could he be?”
The cop who had placed “Robbie” in the cop car and turned on the heater asked, “Robbie, did someone take you away from your family?”
The undersized boy shriveled down in his seat. “They don’t want me anymore. Nobody wants me. I’m scum.”
“Hey, buddy,” a cop said, opening the car door and kneeling down so that he was at eye level with the boy, “That’s not so. You’re a brave kid. We’re proud of you. You can help us. These people are criminals. You know they are. What they’ve done to you is wrong. Don’t let them do it to another kid. Help us catch them. What’s the address where Andy let you out of the window?”
“It’s the white house with the dark green on the windows. On Linda Street,” sniffled the boy.
“Yes, but what are the numbers on the house?”
“They locked me in a room. They never let me out. For years.” Again, the police took note of the child’s vampiric skin tone, his ebony hair, his huge, dark eyes. “Sometimes, they wouldn’t let me have food until after I let them do things to me!” The boy wiped tears from his face and made a slinging motion with his wet hand, as if he was ashamed of crying. “Their house is white with dark green windows. Dark green, like a Christmas tree. It has an ugly pink chair on the porch with big yellow flowers. The house directly across from them is dark, dark brown, like chocolate, with dead grass and a beat-up old white pick-up parked out in front and a light green car in the driveway. And Andy has a car too.”
Smiling, practically drooling, the police asked, “Do you know the license plate numbers?”
“No,” replied Robbie. “But it’s a 1967 Pontiac Catalina. Andy talks about it constantly, and it’s parked right in front of my window. It’s the colour of bing cherries. Not a convertible, just a regular hard top. And it has an ugly orange spray paint spot where Don wrote the word, ‘fag’ on the driver’s side door before Andy used the same paint to cover it up.”
“Don? Who’s that?” In their heads, the policemen were spelling the name, “D-O-N.”
“Donna. The woman who liked to beat and do sex things to me. The woman who choked me, tried to kill me.”
“Can you tell us their last name, Robbie?”
“Peers…Pierce…something like that.”
“What’s your last name, Robbie?”
“It’s the same as theirs.”
“Are you sure?”
The child shrugged. “I don’t know. I think so.”
“I don’t think your last name is the same. I think they took you.”
“I’m hungry. Can I please get something to eat now?”
“Dammit, he needs to eat! What are we doing?” The police officer who said this looked like he was appalled at himself and the rest of them.
But one cop tried to pry more answers out of “Robbie.”
“Please, Robbie. Try to remember. What’s your real last name? Is Robbie your real first name?”
“Leave me alone!” The boy shouted at him, his dark eyes flashing with a new rage as sudden and as snapping as the bite of a shark.
“Leave him the hell alone, Gary!” the cop who had knelt down to the boy bellowed.
The boy began to cry. “I can’t remember. It’s been too long.”
The ambulance arrived and, as Robbie was given a warmed blanket by the paramedics, the cop with the heated squad car shook his small¸ ashen hand. “You did really good, Robbie. Thank you.”
“I didn’t give you anything,” the boy replied, a confused look on his small face.
“You gave us plenty. You told us about that bing cherry coloured car of Andy’s, and that’s a lot.” The officer smiled, and winked at “Robbie,” and felt encouraged by the boy’s returning smile.
As the police requested warrants to search the property the boy had described, Robbie was examined. The shivering, gaunt little figure was asked how old he was. When he replied, “I’m nearly fourteen,” they didn’t believe him, but he insisted it was true, that he was born in December of 1961. He weighed only seventy-five pounds, the weight of an average ten-year-old, not a fourteen-year-old. The boy bore more injuries, old and recent…bruises, cuts, burns, and other, very specific damages that told grim stories of deplorable abuse. After much prodding, the boy revealed a last name that he could say but not spell. “Peers, or maybe Pierce?”
“Why don’t you know how to spell it, son?” he was asked by a nurse.
“I don’t know. I can’t read or write anymore. They never let me go to school,” the boy replied. “They just locked me in a room and beat me and starved me and did horrible things to me.” When the child began to cry, the hospital staff let him be. The first of many rape trauma councillors was brought in to speak to him.
After surgery to repair his injuries and provide some nourishment to arm him for his new life, he was released from hospital, but during his convalescence, a little band of police officers who had not met him came to question him. Before they met him, they were swaggering along the hospital corridor towards his room, joking quietly about how a teenaged boy “let himself be raped” and “why he didn’t fight back.” Those same officers left the interview, shaken, their cocky attitudes adjusted forever, one bawling, repeating to himself in an agonised whisper, “He’s so skinny. He’s so little.” Another was heard saying, “Did you see how wasted his legs are because he’s been locked up for so many years? He said he had to crawl some of the way to the store, because his legs hurt so bad! And he was so scared that they’d come looking for him that he hid in some bushes for a while.”
“Just give me two minutes alone with those sons-a-bitches! Fucking cowards!” sobbed another.
“Fucking perverts!” yet another cop muttered through clenched teeth. “To do that to a kid. I don’t understand how he survived all that.”
There was never any doubt that “Robbie” was telling the truth about someone having harmed him. His physical injuries, including evidence of long-term sexual abuse, were proof. It was up to the Redding P.D. to find the culprits. Within hours of “Robbie’s” admission to hospital, armed with court orders, they swooped in on the house, and found it deserted, filthy, clothing strewn about, rotting food spilled everywhere, and pictures…one, a deceiving “family” portrait, in an oval shaped cheap silver frame, an approximately seven or eight-year-old “Robbie” sitting between a black-haired woman and a ginger-haired man. The woman’s smile was fake, forced, her ice-blue eyes filled with hatred. The man frowned in the photo, his brown eyes defeated and empty. The child between them looked like he was posing for the picture at gunpoint. The fear was unmistakable.
The police turned that unkempt house inside out for four days, gathering as much information as they could, to build a case for “Robbie.” They found belts, knives, razor blades, all encrusted and stained with bits of blood. They discovered pornographic magazines with photos of children. In one bedroom, they found a twin bed, its sheets stained with blood, urine, faeces and semen. A bucket sat beside the bed, flies buzzing happily around it. It was nearly a third full of urine, toilet paper, and bowel waste. There were handcuffs fastened to the bed, four sets of them, to different parts of the frame.
And most damning of all, the police found photographs and film reels containing exactly what Robbie had told them about.
They had a treasure trove of evidence for these two beasts, but like the chickenshits they were, the pornographers flew the coop.
“Robbie” became a very sharp thorn in the side of the Redding Police Department. After he was old enough to drive, he made the trip from his new home in Yuba City to Redding whenever he had a free moment, and never stopped telling the police to keep looking for the man and woman who had terrorised him for seven years. He wasn’t afraid they would come looking for him, he was afraid for other children that would encounter those monsters. Even after he was adopted by a nice family in a new town, he never stopped hounding the Redding Police. He had also called the Highway Patrol and even the California branch of the FBI, begging for them to launch a manhunt. He was ignored, he was cajoled, assured that since they had kicked him out, they wouldn’t want to come after him, not even for revenge.
“After all,” one cop condescendingly chuckled, “why would they want to risk getting caught by trying to kill you because you told on them? They’re hiding. We can’t find them.”
“I’m not worried about myself! I want you to find them!” “Robbie” sighed. “They’ll do this to another kid! They need to be locked up. They need to be executed!”
“A vengeful mind will only hurt you, son,” said the idiotic cop.
“Robbie” said the same thing to every patronising official he had to deal with: “I’m not after vengeance. I just want their dirty asses off the street. Little kids are in danger as long as those baby rapers walk around free. They’re evil. They’re despicable. Aren’t you worried about your children?”
And still, “Robbie” was dismissed.
He knew. Somehow, this “Robbie” knew that Jamie existed even though they’d never met or seen one another. “Robbie” didn’t specifically know that a James Michael Pearce had been abused and locked in rooms in at least three homes between California and Oregon, being starved and raped.
But “Robbie” did know that his rapists wouldn’t stop preying on children just because he had been spared. They had beaten “Robbie” so often, and so brutally, he had prayed for death, he told Jamie later. “Robbie” knew that the system is broken, and he could not truly rest his eyes and mind until the swine who had hurt him, and maybe other kids (“Robbie” was released in May, 1975 and Jamie was born in 1980. Jamie has no clear memories until approximately 1982, and even those are foggy. He remembers the dark-haired woman slapping his face, while the family was eating breakfast. He thinks he was three at the time. Honestly, there’s a big gap of time between “Robbie’s” rescue in 1975 and when they began to abuse Jamie when he was around six or seven years old in 1986 or ‘87. Who knows what those two predators did between “Robbie” and Jamie?), were tried, convicted, and put into prison where they could never hurt another innocent child.
Prison. Forever. That’s what “Robbie” wanted for our tormentors. Even after he overcame the shame that had silenced him for five years after being found in that grocery store, “Robbie” remained involved in the threadbare efforts to find two merciless criminals. He didn’t have time for shame, he told Jamie once. He’d wasted enough time on the worthless emotion. We’ve all watched the old interviews of him telling the police, the welfare workers, and the courts about the beatings, the tortures, the mental abuse, the cameras, the sex acts forced upon him, upon us, the starvation, the false imprisonment.
The young man with the raven hair, the man who would become our older brother and one of our dearest friends, held his chin up high and didn’t falter as he described the bucket he was forced to use because he wasn’t allowed to leave the padlocked room. He didn’t plead for them to listen to him. He held his head up, and said, “These people made child pornography of themselves raping me, and they sold copies it to their friends, to total strangers at shady flea markets, to other perverts at key parties, and any other seedy setting you can imagine!” This dignified teenaged survivor’s eyes were dry and resolved as he gave out the names of those who enslaved him, insisting that unless this twosome was permanently separated from children, they would continue to commit unimaginable atrocities.
It would have made no difference if “Robbie” had sat there and cried his eyes out. His earnest request for a manhunt was brushed off. And because they were, Jamie became the next known victim. But “Robbie” wasn’t going to give up just because the authorities didn’t want to follow his chilling prediction.
In 1980, the year of Jamie’s birth, “Robbie”, then nineteen, made a phone call he had been wanting to make for many years, but had been afraid to.
He had been lied to, brainwashed, told that his real family no longer wanted him. A seven-year-old child is so vulnerable. But, not long after he was found in Redding, California, “Robbie” began to have vivid memories of a sudden, vicious, bloody encounter in a parking lot. He had horrible recollections of being thrown into the boot of a car he didn’t know, hearing unfamiliar voices threatening to kill him if he screamed or kicked. In the precious seconds that ticked by before the lid of the boot was slammed down on him, “Robbie” had memories of his older brother, Derek! The name, “Derek” came rushing back to “Robbie’s” memory about a year after he was freed from the diabolical couple who had abused him. From then, more images…Derek, fighting courageously to save him, to get him out of that stranger’s boot. Frozen in fear, “Robbie” watched as Derek had been wrestled to the ground, punched in the face, and stabbed. Derek had blood streaming from wounds in his head, in his hands, in between his neck and his chest. But Derek would not give up. “Robbie” remembered a long stick, a broom or mop stick, that Derek used to beat his assailant, who was twice his size. “Robbie” remembered his brother being kicked hard in the area of his ribs, before the big brute pushed Robbie’s head down and slammed the boot closed before jumping into the strange car and speeding away.
Held captive for seven years, then in a safe, loving home for five, “Robbie” had been missing for one dozen years. He couldn’t stand it any longer. He knew Derek, his older brother, and Lloyd, a longtime friend of both brothers, were looking for him. How could he have kept them suspended in agony for five years?
It was that brainwashing. They had lied to him, saying that nobody would ever want him. Especially not his family. Not after all the “nasty” things he’d done. It didn’t matter that he’d been forced, coerced, starved, threatened, beaten.
No more. “Robbie” remembered that someone had fought for him. Someone had bled for him. He rushed into the kitchen and broke down in tears, in a breathless state of near panic, confessing to his foster mother, Trudy Millerton, “My name isn’t “Robbie!” My name is ‘Joey’. Joseph William Rollins. I’ve been missing for a long time! I know my family is looking for me. I used to live in Texas. I was kidnapped! I remember some guys grabbing me in a parking lot, beating up my big brother, throwing me in the boot of their car!”
While making those first calls searching for Derek and Lloyd, Joey suddenly wondered, had Derek even survived that long ago attack? He almost hung up the phone a few times, afraid the answer was no.
There is more to Jamie and Tammy’s forward/introduction. I am writing a large intro to provide a framework for Armour. This intro will more than likely be fragmented into three separate pieces for three “books” or “parts” within the novel. I will be sharing more chapters of Armour in the coming weeks as I endevour to finish it and ready it for publishing. 🙂
Song: Before The Dawn by Patrice Rushen. This beautiful jazz composition, released in 1975 by a young prodigy named Patrice Rushen, who displayed an innate talent for musical composition, arrangement, and performance, is a theme song for the two Rollins brothers. In 1968, Derek Rollins, just passed his seventeenth birthday, suffers from a concussion, stab wounds and several injuries after being attacked in the parking lot of a grocery store in Galveston, TX. He wanders until he is forced to lay down in some bushes in the neighbouring town of Jamaica Beach. Seven years later, a boy, calling himself Robbie, claiming he is fourteen, is found loitering in a grocery store in Redding, CA. He is malnourished, his weight that of a ten year old.