Nun School and the Silent Father (part 2) window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag(‘js’, new Date()); gtag(‘config’, ‘UA-91762910-1’);


If you haven’t read the Part 1 of this chapter, it will be critically important for you to read first. Read it here.

I threw back the Long Island iced tea as quickly as I could to avoid a brain freeze. As I felt the same burning sensation in my throat from the night before, I realized Dave had lied, likely for his own amusement. I stared at him angrily; he gave me a wide, laughing smile. Slamming the empty glass down on the bar he was leaning casually against, I stormed back to the dance floor wordlessly. I didn’t understand why he would do such a thing and I had asked him specifically to be trustworthy. Throwing my anger into my hips, I forgot myself on the floor.

My memories for the next few hours are foggy. The drink was far stronger than I had guessed and by the time it hit, I was wasted. I returned to the birthday boy, Frank, for help when I grew thirsty again. He gave me another amber-colored drink to swallow, assuring me there was no alcohol involved and in my state, I believed him. Already drunk, it was impossible to taste the alcohol in the parade of drinks that followed. I didn’t see his hand pass over the them. Time and again, with an increasingly less adept mind, I returned to Frank to quench my thirst from dancing. I wasn’t used to the Florida heat after living for so long in Montana and I had grown dehydrated over the course of the week. Stumbling around, the music pounded my determination to play it cool into my mind. Swirling lights and colorful silhouettes of women dancing stole my enraptured mind as I watched them dance, wishing I was as slim and long haired as they.

My last coherent memory is of Frank holding me tightly under his arm and holding two small straws to my lips, promising it was Gatorade. I drank deeply, wishing to both just disappear from a life that didn’t will for me to live happily against hope that in just moments I would be clear minded. I felt my feet lift from under me.

My memories for the following hours were scattered. I remember being half led, half dragged into a private dance room. I couldn’t see but I heard Frank bark to someone to leave us. Two chairs were pulled up together and my torso was draped face-down on them, my butt hanging off one end, suddenly exposed. I blacked out.


Dave and Frank dragged me out of the club, swearing at me harshly as they hefted me between them. I heard someone shouting something about the police as they dragged me with one of my arms behind each of their necks out to the car. For a moment I was able to hold my own weight and they rested; my legs gave out again and they crumpled. My head smacked hard on the parking lot ground. For a brief moment, I was out again but Dave’s cursing quickly brought me back. I threw up on the asphalt as they lay me on the ground. As Dave got the rest of the group together, Frank handed me a plastic bottle and whispered to me that it was root beer and to drink. I drank deeply; it was whiskey and I almost immediately passed out again.

The next time I woke, someone was holding my head out of the small gray Honda passenger window. I threw up, then again, and again. I saw my bald reflection in the side mirror and for the briefest of moments had a thought of my own beyond just existing: ‘This must be the glorious drinking everyone talked about’. I blacked out again.

We were suddenly parked in front of the dorm. The only way up to my suite was past security, which wasn’t possible. I raised my head from the car window for the briefest of moments and saw the only other girl in my group holding open the door to the fire exit. The guys lugged me up all three floors of stairs, them rummaged through my pockets to find my key card into the room. I felt the hand in my pocket, also visiting the place between my legs and knew it was Frank again. Shortly after the hand was gone, I heard a beep and my suite door swung open.

They threw me in headfirst. No one stayed. My head hit the tile and I was out.

The door swung open what felt like hours later, hitting my foot. I lay facedown, unable to move. Something was wrong. The girls were back from their John Meyer concert, shocked to see me on the floor, my head bleeding freely. One of them dragged me to one of the two common room couches and the others fetched blankets. I was out again.

My next memory was my room-mate from Texas, sitting on the only other couch and cradling her laptop. When I stirred, she said something, objectively placing her computer on the coffee table that only a week ago I had proudly placed our new turtle mascot, Maui.

Lee: I have been reading and I think you have alcohol poisoning.

Me: Waaaaaaaasat?

And I was out again.

My next memory is Ruth sitting next to me, eyes wide in worry. The blood was caking on my head and around my face. My pink shirt was ripped open and I was too incoherent to speak. Suddenly the Resident Director was there, sitting on my legs. Even in my state I wondered if they would crack and break under her several hundred pound motherly frame. It was as if I blinked and the police, surrounded by paramedics and dozens of girls on the floor were there. My Resident Director, Becky, was wielding a small pad of paper and pen, trying to merrily ask me questions:

Becky: How many drinks did you have?

Me: I dunno. Seven teas.

Becky: What kind of tea? Long island iced tea?

Me: Yeahhhh. I thought they were just tea.

Becky: Who gave them to you?

Me: Fraaaaaaank. He gave me root beer too but I don’t think it’s root beer.

Becky: Why did he give them to you?

Me: I dunno. I think he just wanted inna my pants.

The surrounding girls laughed while the cops and paramedics seemed nonplussed. At making the girls laugh, I smiled and felt clots of something between my teeth. I blacked out again.

When I woke, the paramedics were strapping me to a backboard saying something about a neck injury. I panicked. If this happened…if my parents found out what had happened, I didn’t know what my father would do. I struggled against them, doing my best to sit up and demonstrate that I was fine but they pushed me down saying something about my crimes. The police eventually intervened, holding me down as well as the medics fastened straps across my legs, hips and chest. With even my wrists confined, I had nothing left to move but my head and I slammed it up and down against the plastic backboard, protesting my restraints. One of the medics held my temples and pressed the back of my head to the board saying something about how they had to do this to save me. I felt a forehead strap snap into place. They immediately lifted me, completely immobilized, and carried me out.

When they reached the elevator, the board, designed for average people, was too long to fit. They held me at an angle and I watched the doors snap shut,still unable to move and unwilling to speak. After carrying me past the main office, they traipsed out to the ambulance, the lights still flashing, parked across the common space between the male and female dorms. Even then, I felt humiliated; everyone knew this wasn’t a street, that there wasn’t a single registered crime in the planned town of Santa Maria and everyone knew there was only one person in the female dorm with no hair.

They loaded me into the ambulance and took off. A female paramedic with a stony face took a seat next to me.

Medic: How many drinks did you consume?

Me: They said seven.

Medic: Did you use any drugs?

Me: Heck no. I’m a good kid!

Medic: Do you have any health issues?

Me: I’m allergic to mushrooms and my dad.

While talking to the medic I managed to free my hands.

Medic: You’re not going to cause any trouble are you?

Me: No! I told you I’m a good kid. Damn it; I’m a fuckup still arent I? AREN’T I?

The medic was silent. We arrived at the hospital. Someone shouted as they scurried me into the emergency room. Someone inserted an IV and took tubes of blood while another person shouted something about charcoal. My adrenaline had run out and once again, my world went black.

I woke in the early hours, immediately seizing a nurse by the wrist who was drawing blood and saying something about how they found date rape drugs in the first test. Terrified of needles, I grabbed the hand of some student standing on the other side of my bed. I pleaded to the nurse, still wasted:

Me: Do you have kids?

Nurse: I have a couple.

Her defenses were up. I was determined in my drunkenness to somehow get her to tell me I was a normal kid. I continued to clutch her wrist, preventing her from drawing more blood. I became suddenly aware of my patient wristband.

Nurse: I have a son like you. He’s a goofy one.

I held her wrist tighter, sensing hope.

Me: But he’s good right? Or is he a crazy fuckup like me?

I pushed her and we went back and forth but that’s all she would say. Finally, in complete exhaustion, I passed out for the last time.


When I woke, it was probably three to five hours later and I was still drunk. I didn’t know what treatments I had received nor had I any idea how close I had come to death; it was only in later years that I would learn how perilously close I had come to the other side. I was assisted out of the bed, led down the hall and given my clothes to change into.

I suddenly realized I didn’t remember how I ended up in the gown I was wearing, but I was still too drunk to consider it. I pulled on my jeans and gathered my tattered pink shirt around me. I didn’t know what a rape kit was nor did it cross my mind to ask for any kind of exam; I was exhausted and all I could think of was endless sleep. Once I was dressed, I was led down another hall to a waiting room, where Becky rose from a grayish-blue chair in expectation.

She and another woman loaded me into a van and I fell asleep across the seats while they talked. I was used to not knowing where I was going or what would happen to me and especially in this moment, I was too drunk to care. Not far from the dorms, they stopped at a small building at Santa Maria: the security and police office. Herding me into a small office, a small, sternly balding man began to ask me questions.

I had no one to protect. I didn’t like this place and I had decided to treat the kids who had betrayed me with the same nonchalant disregard they had given me; I gave names and the full story. No one asked me about Frank. The officer was primarily focused on the drug deal that had taken place before the club. After telling him all my exhausted mind knew, he continued to drill me. Completely deflated, I repeated my experience over and over until finally I hit my limit.

Me: I already told you! Now can I please go to bed?

My annoyance struck him and he released me. Becky led me back to the dorms where I collapsed into my bed, already asleep.


I didn’t wake until that evening. There was only one of my room mates in the suite and she was sitting on Quincy’s old bed, staring intently at me. When I stirred, the questions began. She knew.

Anna: He raped you didn’t he?

Me: I think so. I need to sleep more.

Anna: Did they do anything to you….down there…while you were in the hospital?

Me: I don’t think so. His name was Frank.

Suddenly, I made connections and the weight of what Frank had done hit me harder than an overloaded train. My heart crushed under its wheels and I wanted to die.

I seized my head in what I knew was a neck-breaking position position. I had read enough to know with the right movements I could snap my own neck.

Anna: Don’t do it.

Me: Why not? My dad will kill me.

Anna: Can you imagine what it would be like for me?

She sat tensely yet in an oddly relaxed position on the bunk opposite mine.

Anna: Do you know what it would be like for me to watch you kill yourself? Do you think after that I would have normal life and a normal family?

She was right, I realized; I couldn’t do that to her. My grip relaxed and I began calculating how to pull my stunt off without anyone around. It was too much and I fell back again into blessed sleeping blackness.

The next day I was told by Becky that my fate was being decided and it would be best for me to go to class as usual. Anna had whispered to me that she had told Becky she was sure I’d been raped, but was told that unless I came forward to them or the police, they weren’t planning to follow up or ask me. I was determined to save face with my father; I muscled up all the courage I had and went to class.

I felt the stares on my face, body and into my soul for the entire day. I avoided the smoking area like the plague, terrified the kids knew I had named them. At the end of my last class, I walked out of the building and to the bike rack, but my bike was gone. Trudging back to the dorms, I buried myself from the shame in my blankets, sleeping deeply in my nightmares.

The next day I was led to the dean’s office, where they told me if I didn’t withdraw from the school they would expel me. I cried and protested, but they assured me with my underage drinking they would not only expel me but open an investigation. Caught between a bad and worse option, I signed the document.

Finally, my father called the school. He refused to speak with me, talking to Becky instead. He wasn’t going to let me come home, she told me. The Dean had given me until noon of the next day to vacate the dormitories; I didn’t know what to do.

My father wasn’t answering his phone. Slamming down the receiver, I paced in a panic. My recent assault was lost upon me with my newest crisis; I was about to live on the streets of Naples, Florida. Pacing up and down in the halls, Ruth caught me. She gently asked me to promise her something. Overwhelmed, I asked her what. She asked me to spend five minutes, no less, in the dorm chapel. Absentmindedly I agreed.

After I couldn’t take my own pacing anymore, mind whirling up and down the halls, I arrived in front of the chapel I’d sworn to never enter. What did I have to lose, I thought. I opened the door, set my watch timer and plopped down in a back pew. I was alone.

I sat there, still in total panic and shock. I counted. Four, three minutes. Now two were remaining, then thirty seconds….free! I bolted.

As I closed the chapel door behind me, I experienced something I have never felt before or since: It was as if warm, rich fur blankets had fallen about my shoulders and head. I somehow felt someone clasp my head as if to a mother’s chest and I heard a clear but nonverbal message:

You will be safe. I love you.

I have never forgotten it. My tense shoulders relaxed into a normal position and I breathed deeply and freely; for the first time in my life, I felt peace. I couldn’t explain it; suddenly I knew everything was going to be fine. With new reassurance in my step, I strode up the stairs and back into the suite. There was an email waiting for me  from my father (only names have been changed):

On my flight home, I again listened to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” as despair seeped into my heart. Even if no one else knew, I understood what these flights were leading me into.
I flew home. I got a job at a local cafe, giving the entirety of my paychecks to my parents every payday. Finally that October, as I sat home, friendless on Halloween night, I mustered up the courage to tell my parents what had been done to me. My father sat at the table with a thoughtful and slightly angry expression as he played with his fingers. Finally, he broke the silence:
My father: Let me get this straight: You have run away, started smoking and now you’ve slept around? All you need now to be completely messed up is to use drugs. You have literally failed life in every possible way.
I knew the indentured peace with my parents wasn’t going to last; I would hever never imagined what was still to come.
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