(story still in editing phases)
I often say God looked down and saw I was going to need some extra help, when he saw that Catholic priest sexualizing me at five years old. And he was right, I got in situations several times where I should have been dead, maimed. Well I did get maimed, raped, brutalized several times, but I still recovered. Chaos kept the tempo of my life frantic for decades. I’d pick up and move, it was just natural for me to live in chaos most of the time.
The point of this story is the Evil that lurks alongside anything to do with the pedophile priests.
It’s like this demon that will snarl at you whenever there is an opportunity.
I hate to say it, but one time after telling my story of the pedophile priest, the demon rose up on me at that homeless shelter with the same energy, the same feeling, and the same response evoked in me, the same tone, the same voice as what came out of Bob Schwiderski’s human-ness last week, when he attacked me for writing about my bad experiences with SNAP.
When my daughter and I lost our apartment on Franklin in West Hollywood a few years back, the first place that finally got us out of our car and into shelter was The Lighthouse on Sunset Boulevard. The building used to be Joe’s Bar or something like that. The architecture for this one-time topless bottomless dancehall included a second floor with a long line of tiny rooms along a narrow hallway.
Wonder what they used to do in those rooms?
In 2003 the rooms were filled with women who had been living on the streets, or just escaped from a drug-crazed home with their kids, prostitutes trying to be ex-prostitutes who needed a place to live while they went to dental hygiene school, women like that.
The Lighthouse gave Lizzie and me a place where we could unpack a few bags and share a bunk bed in a tiny room, for $450.00 a month. Even homeless shelters charge rent, you know.
The woman in charge was a genuine Alabama cracker. She and a score of Christians arrived in Los Angeles about the turn of the century from the great Southeast, on a mission, to plant churches all over Hollywood and save its population of crazed sinful deviants like me. As a result there are these little pastoral centers all over the place in Hollywood.
Carole built Hope Again up from a room where she made phone calls in the nineties to this empire that owns four buildings along Sunset Boulevard, all of them now jammed full of people who are learning the Bible in exchange for a roof over their head.
Like all homeless shelters there was a mandated program. At the Lighthouse on Sunset Boulevard just east of Normandie, every night you brought your Book into the living room and did a Bible Study.
This was just about the weirdest thing I’d ever encountered. My experience with Bible studies was pretty much limited to what I’d seen in sitcoms on TV.
Mandatory Group Therapy
We also had to go to groups and take classes in different Christian churches around Hollywood.
I found a group for adult victims of child sex abuse. Signed up right away.
So next Tuesday night, in a classroom with little tiny chairs because it’s usually used by children, I sat in a group with about seven other girls and told the story of Father Thomas Barry Horne taking me into the woods to finger bang me when I was five years old and how it had affected me for the rest of my life.
I didn't even get to the part where I’d ride my bike to the rectory by age six, to bang on his rectory door and beg for more…
I just told the story of the first time Father Horne got to me out in the Woods on the 20 acres of property we had in Bartlett, Illinois, in what then was a rural area outside Chicago.
I pulled a pad out from my bag and started sketching.
This gruesome picture was the result, of a man with a priest collar towering over a little girl, the trees and sky in the background, him panting and leering as he arouses and excites this pretty little girl, lying on the ground beneath him.
The Adamant Christian lady to my right became astonished. “Look at that picture she just drew, how can you let her even be in this group,” she cried. I tried to cover the drawing then, but the woman running the group said, no, show it to us. It’s good to express yourself and draw what you're feeling and seeing.
It came up time for Lydia. She opened by saying she really identified with my story because the man who abused her was also a pastor in a church, and her father. She then told this horrific story of life out in a church in at the far east end of the Inland Empire of Los Angeles.
Her dad ran one of those tiny churches where people swallow the Bible whole while at the same time he was having sex with all his daughters and some of the neighbors' girls as well.
Lydia was a vision of saintliness in itself.
She was so white. So white, like she was lacking basic pigment elements in her DNA. White eyebrows and lashes, white skin, pale blue eyes-
And a way of talking that bespoke years of home schooling by parents who were practically illiterate themselves.
But she knew the Bible by heart.
She told her story. I thought we bonded.
I wanted to find out more about this ministry her dad ran while molesting his kids and the neighbors' kids in private.
Next day I was ordered first AM to report to Carole in the Hope Again Office up the street from the Lighthouse.
Carole was Exec Director, and founded this Christian ministry on Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood when she first came from Alabama in the seventies. Now it was the only place that could take us in, because they weren’t getting government grants, so the age of your children did not matter.
This place was so zen.
I call what I learned to practice there Zen Christianity.
Hope Again was this wonderful place run totally on faith, you just prayed and adored god and miracles happened in front of your eyes. And they did.
But when Carole summoned you, you dropped everything and answered, and Carole could, on a whim, throw you back out on the streets, if she just didn't like the way you looked...
I got summoned. Linda stood in the doorway of our tiny crowded room I shared with Lizzie at age 15 at the lighthouse that morning and said:
“Carole wants to see you right away.”
This meant trouble. I walked up the block and got ushered right into the exec director’s door.
“All holy hell has been breaking out here since I walked in this morning because of you,” she waddled in front of me and the words came out like razors from her thin very red lipsticked lips.
Carole and I were about the same build at the time. Two stout square bodied women standing in front of each other looking like sisters.
Then the three pastors who were also on staff entered.
Closed the door behind them. It was very quiet.
All had expressions that said to me, you've got some explaining to do, woman.
With the pastors all assembled and me in a chair, them lookign down on me, Carole explained. Lydia said I’d been on the phone to her nonstop, calling her over and over again all last night and through the morning.
Lydia claimed I had taken on characteristics of someone who is possessed by the devil.
She said I’d call her at all hours and snarl, viciously into the phone and go into graphic descriptions of sex acts done on a child.
There in the office with Carole all the pastors staried down at me sitting in a little easy chair stunned.
I said, I don't have a cell phone, how could I call her.
Carole said, go back to your room, don't go anywhere, I'll get to the bottom of this.
The phone calls I supposedly made, were the same as the tone of Bob Schwiderski's video sent out to five hundred people last week.
I said, I don't even have a cell phone, and I don't have Lydia's phone number.
Carole said, go back to your room, and ask Jesus to help you.
I thought, yeah right.
But then again, I didn't know what else to do. And she did have the power to make us homeless again.
At that time of the day most of the residents were out of the Lighthouse on Sunset Boulevard, so I was about the only person on the second floor of the building.
I was in this state.
Lydia had made all those weird accusations and my story of Father Horne must have triggered her, and now everyone around me thinks I'm some kind of demon, and Lizzie and I may end up back living in the car again as a result. What do I do.
What do I do.
Well, when in Rome so to speak, do as the Romans or, well, do as the fundamentalist Christians do.
I lied on my bunkbed cot and decided to do what Carole said to.
I was hesitant, so I didn't call out, the the name Jesus came out quiet and soft, and that's all it took.
The whole force field pressure of horrible feeling I had after hearing about those phone calls, it all left.
I lay there on my bunkbed on the second floor, with crack whores hollering on the sidewalk right outside, and barely whispered Jesus’ name and this burst of protection flushed out and surrounded me, made me feel fine, there was nothing wrong with me at all.
Then I walked back to the office and pointed out that since we had to sign in and out of classes at the Lighthouse, I could prove I’d been in their own programs at least some of the times Lydia claimed I’d made those calls.
Carole let us stay at the Lighthouse after that, of course, though she did take an aside to say, "For now, let's just keep the priest molestation stuff on the low down, okay?"
So Lydia (not her real name) ended up going from the homeless shelter to somewhere else, not me and Lizzie. Now we live in our own place just up the street, just a few blocks up Sunset Boulevard.
Point here is similarity of the energy.
The phone calls Lydia described, maybe hallucinated, were from the same source as the video Bob Schwiderski sent out to five hundred people about me last week, they had that same snarling tone.
Even weirder, I remember Mary Grant's emails when she was trying to stop me from starting City of Angels, also had that same snarling tone.
Writing about pedophile priests you end up being so close to Evil. It can surprise you at first. But now that I've seen it several times, I know I can just laugh at it, because it really has no power. It can just intimidate and scare you, it can't really get to you.
I still have that same bubble protecting me from that day on the bunkbed in the Lighthouse, actually from the day I was five years old getting finger banged by Father Horne
The bubble is keeping City of Angels alive and making it grow, in spite of nonprofiteers, in spite of the priests who continue to be priests and all their reprimands.
It's been a very weird three-years-long now effort they've made to beat City of Angels down, from many places.
And I'm still here.
Almost the exact same day I got booted from Abuse Tracker for my "screed" about SNAP, which is all true, I got picked up by AlterNet which is much more mainstream, reaches a much wider audience.
Those angels have been protecting me and making little miracles like this happen in my life actually since I was raped by Father Horne in 1953. The months we went with no food in 2007-8 kick started me into eating less and now I no longer have the same body type as Carole, I'm dancing again.
There's always something good inside the bad, and the real evil can't get to you if you just stay right.
PS. What are the odds that three different people would email me on the same day using a word like "screed"?