(Part of this blog repeats a bit of some past blogs (but has to to tell the story correctly). If so, and you’ve read that part, my apologies. Please gloss over that part and get to the new stuff). Thanks. Rick
Fifty years ago last week, I saved the lives of my brother Andy Stetelman and sister Carol Stetelman-Abshire from a raging fire that destroyed our home. It had started from a lawn mower gas tank that the landscaper left with the cap open next to the hot water heater in the storage room. My parents were at a cocktail party at the Fine’s house. It was 6:40 (give or take a few moments) CST on a Thursday night, October 1965.
The maid/baby sitter had locked herself out of the house and was repeatedly ringing the doorbell. My six year old brother Andy was paralyzed with fear crying on the couch in the den on the west side of the house closest to the front door. My sister Carol was in the hall bathroom taking a shower.
My 11 year old aspie mind assessed the situation. I could see it was bad and about to get much worse. First I ran to the beige dial-up phone under the stairs next to the bridge table and called the fire department which was on a yellow sticker on the phone. There was no 911 in 1965.
I then knocked loudly on the hallway bathroom door to alert my sister who didn’t believe me (at first) but as smoked filled the house, she did and left through the front door.
I then pulled Andy next door to Richard Ward’s house who generously kept him calm there and safe so he wouldn’t re-enter the burning home.
For two weeks I had the role of “hero child”. It felt awkward as I was not used to positive attention from my parents or family.
How do I remember these lucid details such as times, days of the week etc? I actually remember much more of that night but no room to include. Some people afflicted with autism/Asperger’s can remember details of situations as far back as 2 years old, some even further. I remember a lot of milestone details as far back as age four. The fire is one of them. I even remember how long it took for the fire department to get there after I called. I remember being nervous and twice having to hang up the phone as I could not dial the number correctly. I remember how the smoke bellowed from my closet door as the Munsters played on tv. That was 50 years ago. I was 11.
Then I was told never again to mention what I had done and they were back to treating me as “the core of all the problems they ever had”. My father mumbled something about humility and that was the end of the story. I thought he was doing me a favor, teaching me social skills; but if asked about the events of the fire, which I often was, I simply told people, “I don’t talk about that anymore”.
It ruined my bedroom as well which was in an isolated attic away from the family. For all my childhood, I thought living in an isolated attic was normal. It was not. It was very sick, and often done with disabled children who “don’t fit the family lineage”.
I don’t bring up this dark time in my life to get a pat on the back or receive the tag of “hero”. That, of course, is not what I am/was at all. Any brother or sister, I believe would do everything possible to get their sibling(s) out of harm’s way.
The reason for writing about that event, is what was to follow. The “erasing of Rick”. It was already happening, I simply was not aware. I was an undiagnosed autistic child, barely making it in the world, and punished severely for my behavior.
Joe and Rose Kennedy did this with Rosemary with a lobotomy and an isolated cottage in an institution that Joe had built. On a much smaller scale, that was basically what was being done to me. In both instances, lies were manufactured so the public would be assured they were being protected from this “accidental monster they’d created”. My family did it to me on a much smaller scale; but with just as little class as Joe Kennedy. Not much.
In medical/psychological terms, they were creating the “Identified Patient”. In street terms, the black sheep or scapegoat. Scapegoats don’t just “happen”, they are created and for a very specific reason (click on link below for article explaining).
Why would any parent do that? Narcissistic abuse follows one way into adulthood. Siblings and their friends begin to “believe the lies” as to face the truth would make them fall apart, literally.
I’ve decided this family secret has officially ended. Whoever believes me or not is immaterial. I now know what happened and it has been confirmed by some extremely knowledgeable people in the medical community. And now, of course there are articles and stories all over the media with the Kennedy story being leaked all at the same time.
I am in the process of writing a book, and soon thereafter a film. I’ve set up a strategy that should something happen to me, members of one of my autism communities will finish both. Also one member owns a very large film studio. So it will happen whether I’m dead, in jail, or unconscious. My beloved wife Lee and an autistic group will receive the proceeds of both should something happen to me (I also have congestive heart failure) and active “flying monkeys”, now very angry ones.
These stories need to evolve no matter how scary they are, no matter how much they make waves, no matter how much they disrupt the status quo. For if they don’t the very soul of this great country is gone. And it is up to us, the citizens of this great country, to set such stories straight. Not everyone will believe them and that’s fine. Those of us who have the epiphany of the real truth is what matters. And if it helps one more person or family, it was all worth it all along.
Excellent Story On Why Parents Scapegoat: http://bit.ly/1Lo8Q21
Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer. He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons which he launched in 1997 and Rick London Funny Gifts.