It Was A Feeling Like No Other; Blacky
“I could hardly wait to get there. We packed those necessary things for an overnight stay. Once we were there, I followed Nick just like a new puppy; overly enthusiastically happy. I was just dying to saddle Blacky and jump on to fly through the air, through the breeze, through the heavenly light. It was a feeling like no other. I shall never ever forget that horse named Blacky.”
What bonded Nick and Lorie was his beautiful horse named Blacky. It would become a pivotal crux in her life, testing her will, bravery and unintentionally giving her courage to rise resiliently and survive her parents vices who continued to repudiate her value in this family.
“Aside from malicious vitriolic remarks; those as judgment of fools can’t define you, even against insurmountable odds.”~ Natalie
Somehow Nick, Lorie and Blacky were connected by this strength of will to push beyond boundaries. Later, it would dawn on Lorie that both she and Blacky were exposed to Nick’s temper and irreverence.
As Lorie grew, she tried hard to impress Nick with the horses when they visited his parent’s farm. They still owned cattle and twice a year would bring the cattle down from the sierra after foraging through winter. There was always beef, chicken or pork on the table. Though Nick’s taste buds were more eclectic; including raccoon, squirrel, and pigeon. Lorie wasn’t convinced to go that far and neither was Janis. Though Nick and Lorie did share a taste for cooked tripe with posole’ and occasionally as a treat goat’s intestines thoroughly cleaned and wrapped around fine pieces meat; then baked to eat.
“Later I discovered that the French considered some of these foods a delicacy. The French, Scottish, Ukranian, Polish and Spanish Chefs cooked the blood of a pig referred in a Spanish word; morcillas. “Double Crown Chef Brad Farmerie brings blood back to the culinary fore; he points out that 7 percent of an animal is wasted when you let blood just drip down the drain. Now that offal is more chic than awful, the dining public has become less squeamish about the “tasty bits.”
“I think the one thing I deduced watching Nick kill farm animals and cook blood to eat and sustain; is if we were forced to live off the land, we certainly wouldn’t have starved if Nick had his way. Somewhere in a cave in the wilderness, we would eat comfortably and live for another day.”
Nick trained Blacky to do just about anything. Lorie remembered witnessing a barrel on its side and Blacky raised his front hooves onto the barrel and started to roll the barrel using his hind legs to walk. Blacky danced to the side as his head and mane bounced to the right and then he knelt down as if giving praise to a king and queen in the arena. But Lorie wouldn’t remain only an audience member for Nick and Blacky. It would eventually come when Lorie started to learn to ride a horse and no finer horse than Blacky. At first, she found that being on Blacky was scary because with anyone else, except Nick, he was unpredictable.
On this particular day, Lorie was on Blacky and Nick was riding another horse. They were off to a slightly mountainous terrain which had a cool stream of water flowing through the dirt road on their way. She could hear and feel the flowing stream’s lulling peaceful lullaby. They stopped there to let the horses drink and Blacky was agitated, fidgety. He stomped his front hooves; swiped the pestering flies with his long black tail from side to side. As he drank water, he paused snorting and bobbing his head up and down. He was drinking a lot of water and then he started to go down on his front knees. That’s when Nick grabbed Lorie by her collar and literally lifted her nine-year-old body away from the horse as Blacky decided to cool himself off in the cool stream. Now that is a poignant memory of her past.
Her second most notable memory on a horse was on another fine summer day on Nick’s father’s farm. On that normal day, which turned out to be anything but normal, was on a rare and challenging occasion when Lorie was thirteen. Nick decided to let Lorie ride Duchess. Despite the fact that this horse had not yet been completely broken in. Which meant the horses reputation was still totally unpredictable, wild and stubborn.
Nick’s father reminded and complained to Nick about this. Her grandfather didn’t like it that Lorie was going to ride Duchess. But Nick knew better. Together they saddled her up and Lorie was put in the back pasture where there was a small stream with rocks. Lorie felt she was already experienced enough to take this challenge on. When she was riding Blacky, he stood on his hind legs which didn’t alarm her. She felt proud, imagining herself like Zorro with the exception that her name would be Zorra! Just a Spanish gender correction. That does sound catchy; Zorra!
She had ridden Blacky going at a fair pace and was able to come to a stop very quickly, so she convinced herself she was ready for Duchess. Nick had confidence in her and Lorie was up to the challenge, wanting to make him proud. Lorie didn’t need any help mounting a horse. She knew how to saddle them and put the bit through their mouths. She was very skinny and a tomboy; no makeup for her. She had already tested those waters and it was a no go; she didn’t care to push it. Makeup wasn’t a priority for her.
Years later, it dawned on Lorie to question why Nick would make such an immature decision. But if he was drinking, he usually felt braver and happier and maybe that encouraged him to test his daughter’s tenacity. There was plenty of that, as she had already demonstrated to him countless times. He opened the gate and Lorie started off very deliberately at a slow pace. She didn’t want to challenge Duchess in any way. The horse was new to Lorie, and Lorie to Duchess. Lorie gave the horse time to get used to her. They were about to test Mike’s discerning judgment.
You’ll Not Contain Her
If You Try She’ll Be Like
Lightning In A Cage
She’ll Storm For Her Freedom
But She’s The Fastest One
When He Stood Up
And I On His Back
I Felt Like Zorro
I Knew Then
An Unstoppable Force
“Bring Her To Me”
Requested The Queen
Only She Can
Help Me Run The Fastest
Be Expecting Us
I’ll Look For You
When I’m Finally Long Gone
But If For Any Reason
You Might Not Recognize Me
My Spirit Will Live In Her
Duchess and Lorie came to a much narrower stream and they stopped for Duchess to drink water. Lorie felt assured that this would turn out okay. They crossed the narrow stream with rocks and went further into the pasture. Then they turned around and Lorie decided to do a little jog. However, Duchess went from a jog to a racing horse in split seconds. She was fast, very fast, and Lorie was bouncing on her back like a puppet. In her fear, she didn’t tighten her legs to grip Duchess with her strength. It came quickly to her mind that she needed to slow Duchess down before they reached the stream with all the hard rocks. Then she realized she lost one rein and that had to be the worst sign that she was in trouble. Duchess was wild and stubborn. As they got closer to that stream it became clear that Duchess was going to jump that narrow creek. Lorie panicked and made a conscious choice, she leaped into the air to jump off the horse and in doing so, it nearly knocked her out. She found herself on her knees crawling around and crying. Her white jeans had green and brown stains from the green pasture and dirt.
Still on all fours, she could see in the distance, Grandpa, Nick’s father, getting in his truck and driving towards her but Nick beat his father on Blacky to Lorie’s side. There Nick witnessed Lorie’s uncontrollable fear and she was crying and humiliated. He asked her to get on Blacky and he’d take her back to the house. A loving father would have jumped off the horse to help his daughter up and ask her where she was hurt most. She was sore, trembling, emotionally upset and mad. Lorie very insistently refused to get on Blacky with Nick.
She finally stood up, like a new born colt trying to steady her legs. But she was shaking all over. The adrenaline pumping through her whole body. She didn’t even bother to wipe the dirt off her white jeans. She was wobbly and could barely walk by the time she reached Nick’s parents’ house and came in through the kitchen door. Janis was at the table helping Lorie’s grandmother cook; she took one look at Lorie and knew what had happened. Her hair disheveled, dried tears down her cheeks, and emotionally worn out due to the all the crying. Janis looking at her white jeans with green and brown abstract stains on them.
Still, she was barely able to walk to her grandmother’s bed to lay down. She fell asleep and when she woke up and raised herself from the bed her legs buckled and she dropped to the floor calling out for her mother. At this point, Janis was furious with Nick. He picked Lorie up, put her in the car and they left for Santa Fe to see a doctor and have X-rays taken. Luckily, there wasn’t any noticeable damage other than she was very sore, bruised and her pride had taken a licking.
“Thanks to my kalopsia, it was easily accessible through my mind. Perhaps in denial of the more serious issues that would remain a constant. There were no prayers that were continually prayed to change this situation. I must have prayed thousands and thousands of Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s. I thought that even if all my praying didn’t change anything, I would get credit at least to go to heaven. I pretended to be lots of different characters to occupy my mind with oneiric fantasies. This kind of wishful thinking assuaged all those deeper concerns.”
Somehow with time, Lorie became more comfortable with Nick but there was always some mistrust. She witnessed many of Nick’s irreverent ways. Nick lived his life with minimal rules and he was tough and excessively fearless and some of those vices and virtues rubbed off on Lorie.
Christmas was almost here. As a family of five including Lorie’s grandmother, they weathered Thanksgiving day quite well; primarily because Nick celebrated above and beyond his normal day of drinking. This time, they were sitting in a formal dining room around the cherry wood table and matching chairs. There was a white tablecloth that made the holiday table look extra special with a Thanksgiving centerpiece. There was a long antique buffet which still remains in the family. The one thing that never changed and never disappointed Lorie was that Nick, Janis and her grandmother were excellent chefs in the kitchen.
On that memorable Thanksgiving day, the turkey looked as golden as the autumn leaves that came with that fall. The stuffing was extraordinary, with rich delicious gravy. Lorie and her grandmother made a salad with plenty of green vegetables, mash potatoes and sweet potatoes. The pumpkin pie with whip cream was to die for.
There was usually a Christmas party that was given in Nick’s department and it was an exciting time. Janis laid the forest green velvet dress on the white bedspread. That richness of that green velvet dress against Janis’s dark brown curls and her light complexion made her look beautiful. During all the family outings and events, visiting with Nick’s and Janis’s friends, Lorie’s mother was always the most beautiful and vivacious; her personality stood out. She and Nick were very friendly and always enjoyed their friends all over Santa Fe. Between the friends, Janis sisters and their family those were the best of times. Everyone was enjoying themselves and the conversation was non-stop.
If Nick and Janis had anything in common, it was their love for dancing. they both loved to dance. On that fateful Christmas party, Janis went to the the beauty salon on that day; she had her hair pinned up in beautiful curls; ringlets worn up. Lorie watched her put on her makeup, lipstick, her earrings and a necklace. Then they left for the party. Like Cinderella and her Prince.
Lorie, Miguel and their grandmother stayed at home. The situation was quite good, Nick wasn’t drinking; yet. The party was in a hotel ballroom which had access to the pool area. Everybody started drinking, smoking and dancing. Before Janis knew it, there was a commotion going on in the pool section. She walked outside to the pool area and there was Nick laughing and jumping in the pool with his buddies. They had all taken the plunge, a dip into the swimming pool. This ruined their nice suits. Janis was unprepared for such an embarrassing situation which wrecked the party for her; so they left. When they arrived home Lorie went to the back door to greet them.
Nick was drunk and he tripped and fell to the ground. Janis was furious with him. Then she jumped on him grabbing his hair and his ears pounding his head on the ground. Lorie yelled and called out for her grandmother; who couldn’t come quickly enough as far as Lorie was concerned. Her daughter was trying to kill Nick, Lorie’s father. Lorie pushed the screen door open and tried to stop Janis.
That was when her grandmother pulled Lorie to the side and said in Spanish,
“Tu No Sa Vez Lo Que Sta Pasando.”
“You don’t know what is going on.”
Then she revealed the truth after thirteen years of secrecy and conspiracy within the family.
“Nick No es tu Papa.”
“Nick is not your father.”
Lorie couldn’t believe it; she didn’t want to believe it. At that point, she felt different about herself and about Janis and mostly Nick.
She asked her grandmother who and where her father was. Her grandmother said in Spanish, “Your mother can tell you more about your father”. At this point, Lorie went inside the house and laid down, not caring if Janis killed Nick. She began to cry remembering what her cousin Patty had told her, “He’s not your real father.”
In the morning, she woke up very early and still emotionally upset. So she put some things together and left quietly. As she walked towards nowhere, the familiar street where the behemoth semi-trucks would drive through, the liquor store on the right and two story house across the street didn’t look familiar. She felt totally alone and that feeling would never go away. She had no idea where she was going but aimlessly walking toward the church that was at least 10 blocks away. She felt tired and worn out because of the fight and then the blow of the reality that Nick was not her real father. Time just seemed to stop. With all the thinking that was going on inside her head ,she hardly heard the priest going through the normal process of mass. On this Sunday, a couple of masses went by, one after the other and while she to sit through them; trying to look normal while hiding her belongings she had packed. “He’s not your real father.” “He’s not your real father.”
From The Time
I Knew The Secret
Your Voice And Words
“I Am Your Father”
My Salvation Of A Tiny Morsel
To Know I Was Loved And Needed
As It Would Have Been
Now the realization of the truth explained Nick and Janis’s behavior and their choices. No wonder they weren’t saving any government bonds for Lorie’s education. She was not the real daughter, that certainly Nick would have given anything to change that fact. But not as much as Janis would. No wonder Lorie always felt uncomfortable in these pretentious circumstances singularly defining her fate and her cross to bear. She stayed in the church for hours, oblivious to the fact that a small search party was out looking for her. She had all kinds of questions for her mother. Eventually ,her grandmother walked into the church and found her. Lorie was so thankful it was her grandmother. Not the lunatics. Once again they acted as if nothing happened. It wasn’t explained. It wasn’t talked about and it still remained a secret. All the tumultuous ambiguity of this secret had affected her immensely.
“Years later when my brother Miguel had his own daughter; my niece and I had started to bond. I was really enjoying developing a closer relationship with her. My niece was about six years old when Janis, her grandmother, informed her that Nick, her grandfather, wasn’t Aunty Lorie’s real father. Why would Janis tell her the truth? Who was only six at the time? When Janis couldn’t even tell Lorie the truth; ever. Janis had crossed a boundary as she had done thousands of times with Lorie. It should have been up to her brother Miguel or Lorie to share that information with her niece. Janis knew what she was doing; she was trying to drive a wedge between Lorie and her niece.”
Just when Nick and Lorie had the chance to bond then the truth broke her spirit for a long time. It took a year at least to come to terms with that fact and she tried very hard to sweep it under the rug. She didn’t discuss it with her first cousins. Nor does she remember ever discussing it with her grandmother. Nothing was going to be same for Lorie. She was the black sheep among all the cousins who had their real fathers. It was as if she wore a scarlet letter on her chest near her broken heart.
Lorie was different in terms of gumption, capability and fearlessness. Why shouldn’t she be fearless? After all, she was learning from the master; Nick.
The one thing that Nick liked to do best was to ridicule Lorie; putting her down. He had all kinds of names for her and unforgiving statements.
Janis let him get away with all the mental abuse as well.
Despite the fact that Lorie didn’t drink and drive, make an ass of herself constantly, abuse another man’s child, have dozens of liaisons, hit Miguel when he was little putting him in the emergency room in need of stitches. Nick had also beaten Lorie for trying to learn to ride a bike all by herself at the age of five. The back tire had lost its pressure and he told her to put it away; she did and then she didn’t. She was almost there, balancing herself, when he came back and found her; he beat her again.
Years later Lorie’s cousin said, “He is paying for the injustice and all that you suffered because of him.”
What happened to Nick, his fate couldn’t have planned it worse. Comeuppance was the word, just punishment. This had nothing to do with God’s plan or Karma. This had more to do with his genes and his alcoholism.