All I wanted growing up was to go to Disney World, but I came into the family a little late. I understand that is how life works out, and I was never really too bitter about it. But when the opportunity arose for me to go to Disney with some “friends” in the seventh grade,  I jumped on it. Up to that point I was comfortable with the thought that I was never going to get to go to Disney World, so when I realized I was, I was as excited as a young kid could possibly be. For the two months up to the trip, I was like a hyper dog in a fenced in yard, just running circles, too excited for my own good.  Of course, if I could have looked ahead, and seen all the incredibly messed up stuff that happened on that trip, not only would I not have gone, but I probably would have reported everyone to the police, even though a policeman was driving us there. Yeah, my true stories are more unbelievable than most fiction, and I am okay with that. At least I finally have an opportunity to tell these stories because, up to now, they have been gnawing at the insides of my guts like a gremlin. Buckle up, people, this is one helluva twisted road we are about to drive down.

There are kids you go to school with that, no matter how much of a prick they are, you always try to win their acceptance. This is because of the hierarchy of the public school system. The public school system has a whole pecking order. A food chain, if you will. And if you are ever on the bottom of it, and work your way to the top of it, that is something very few people can do. It takes a transition from being the victim, to being the guy who has SOMETHING to offer (in my case, humor) so when it changes, you drink it all up with the fervor of a man dying of thirst. So when I finally worked my way up in the Weymouth school system from kid who was bullied, to the kid who was being asked to go to Disney with the two coolest kids in school, you’re damn right I said yes. But even the stupidest kid should have figured out that something was wrong with that equation.

The shadowplay version of American History X was unsettling.

So if you are good at deductive reasoning, you might know where this is going. Me, in a Winnebago, on a cross-country trip with the son of a cop, two of his (super popular, ultra-alpha) friends and his frat-boy older brother and HIS alpha-male friend. On top of that, we had Officer McDickFace as our driver and chaperon. Actually, in hindsight, God bless that guy. He had NO idea what was going on under his nose, but he did his best, and I can see that now. Just kidding. That guy was as weird and creepy as them, and wherever he would disappear to couldn’t have been good, but don’t let me get ahead of myself. Any way you slice it, you know that, at some point, this is going to turn into The Hills Have Eyes, right? Yeah, it did. It really did…

I sometimes watch this film as a shot-for-shot remake of MY TRIP TO FLORIDA.

I also feel the need to tell you that no major specifics will be given here, for the sole reason that I am pretty sure two out of the six people I spent that week and a half in a trailer with are serial killers right now. But you have the basic outline for what is going down. It should also be said that, before this trip, there was some innocence left in me. There was a thread of purity still visible in my being. After this trip, though? Nope. All gone.

And you guys know that if I am leaving out specifics, that is some serious shit, because I am the guy who talks about how he conjured a demon once, and how he got jumped for being friends with black people, so obviously, if I am not telling you some stuff, it must get pretty dark. And it did. Freakishly so, actually.

Alright, we will do this in somewhat chronological order, but pardon if I jump around, PTSD does that to a person.

I hath seen the face of Hell, and lived to speak of it.

So imagine, all seven of us, in a Winnebago, driving from Weymouth, Massachusetts, all the way to Florida. It could have taken us about one day if we did it effectively, but “Cop-Dad” wanted us to stop and admire everything in between. So we are talking about three days or so of driving.

First stop is at a campground in (location withheld for multiple reasons). At that point, we had been on the road for half a day or so, and made some good ground, but Cop-Dad (as I will call him henceforth) thought we should rough it for a night. Cop Dad wanted to leave us to do some night fishing;  my  adolescent road compadres busted out the drugs.

Yeah, I was young. Too young. This wasn’t good.

As an adult if you want to do drugs, smoke week, eat acid,  etc,  you have the right to make that choice. I think drugs, in the right hands, can actually be quite beneficial.  Perhaps  I wouldn’t think this way of illicit drugs if these kids hadn’t forced me to smoke weed at thirteen. You need to understand, I wasn’t into that shit as a kid. I was into being a kid.

But there I was, alone, in a dark wooded campground with five bullies (by my own choice, too, somehow) with out the supervision of Cop-Dad now gone for the first time of the trip. It was quite clear what roles we were each going to have on this misadventure. I was the “noob”. The one who was going to be pushed around and tested the whole time. So what did I do? I smoked the weed, and I didn’t get high, but I think I may have acted like I did- because I was scared.

Once they got me “high” on the marijuana, they asked me if I wanted to do coke. I was thirteen. Holy shit, was this really happening to me? I sat in silence. It was the awkward silence of fear not leading to resolve or surrender, just a moment of pause. They mumbled something about not wanting to waste it on me anyway, and left me.

This is when things gets REALLY fucked up.

Yeah, it was kinda like that.

I am now alone, while Dad fishes and the other kids go do God knows what. Cellphones didn’t exist, so it wasn’t like I could call my Mom or Dad and be like: WHAT THE F*CK WAS I THINKING? I just had to sit there, wondering if I was high, and why the Hell this was happening to me. I also knew that I could never talk about this shit to anyone since I FOUGHT to go on this trip and my Mom worked extra hard to afford the added expense. I could not go home and share how this trip was to ruin me. It is only now that I have the freedom to share without shame.

Alone and bored I retreat to the RV in an attempt to sleep away my uneasiness and the fear that I have somehow tainted myself by using DRUGS.  The other kids eventually come back into the Winnebago a short while later. There jostling and hurried movements wake me from feigned sleep. They are visibly freaking out, all-sweaty and panicked. I pretend to continue sleeping, when the “leader” of the trip (my teenage host who gave the invite) kicks me to ensure my attention.

With his hands curled around my neck, his face pressed close, he loudly hisses between clenched teeth and twitching jaw, “If any cops show up, you were with us the whole night and we were just playing basketball down at the courts near the entrance, YOU HEAR ME!?”

I was almost too scared to react, but I blurted no problem a few times out loud until he would let go of me.

I had nothing to do with anything, but this is how I felt.

They all get into their sleeping bags. Quickly everything goes quiet. An awkward, stifling quiet similar to the silence earlier when I faced the notion of taking cocaine. All heads were immersed in thoughts so fervent it left the air was charged its silence. This was not like the brash bold cocky gaggleof assholes that who up until this point had been a constant buzz of mean spirited digs, sarcasm and horseplay. I knew something bad happened, and that somehow, I was gonna get catch the shit too.  I broke out in an uncomfortable sweat. All I kept thinking of was how ashamed my parents were going to be, as I was to be a scapegoat of God knows what.

At this point it had been hours, and I found it quite weird Cop-Dad hadn’t come back yet. Finally I was relieved to hear the paced footfalls of an adult approach. A flashlight peered through the fogged window, exploring the contents of the RV with quick swings of the torch before before the cop started knocking on the door commanding us to open up.

My heart dropped.

Note the rape ‘stache; A cop prerequisite.

Now I can only speculate what happened with these kids in that time they were gone, but I can put it all together from what the cop was asking. These kids found some other miscreant kids (assholes have a magnet to attract other assholes, it is the laws of attraction) and they all did drugs together. Unlike me, that kid, whoever he was, was down for doing some blow, and he either bugged out or overdosed, but bad things happened as a result of this unseen kid taking coke, and they were looking for whoever could have given it to him.

At one point in my life I worked with some of the sickest people you could ever be around, and even they freaked me out less than how these kids acted when the cop came. They seemed so innocent, so shocked at what the cop had said, that even I believed them, though minutes before, I knew better.  The ability to have absolute apathy and separation of one’s own actions… THAT, my friends, is the scariest thing of all, the true sociopath. I was an innocent kid, surrounded by them.

The police officer took our contact information, including mine. I spent the next five years of my life worried about when he would call my house to pursue those responsible for what I could only imagine as nothing less then some grisly murder . I imagined telling my family the truth about the drugs, the monster sociopaths my friends turned out to be and each scenario ended in them not believing me and leaving me to my own end.

No call ever came, but sometimes living in fear is worse than the fear itself. And people wonder why I had bleeding ulcers by the time I was in eighth grade.

Now imagine that internally and you have an idea.

This was the first night of the trip. Crumpled inside my sleeping bag,  chilled by the thought of how much worse this was all sure to getin the days ahead. Cop-Dad didn’t return to the campground until the next morning. No fish were caught that night but somehow I believe he got what he wanted if he was anything like his demon spawn. Hell, I don’t even think I remember him returning with a pole.

My mind spun with fearful thoughts of what these type of people were capable of people and how was this going to play out? My sanity was beginning to wane. I had forgotten I was on a Disney trip, the only destination my heart ached for was the safety of home. It felt as though I died and this was Hell; Disney the golden calf of temptation while my soul was in mortal danger of being consumed by what darkness wormed behind the eyes of my child companions and our adult escort.

The road ahead will be long and paved with trauma, but we must keep going.

The next morning, it was very clear the divide had been drawn.  It was clear that I wanted to be no part of this, and they wanted no part of me. The ” I think these guys may have just killed someone”campground experience bonded the five in their blood deed. It was my speculation that they must have intentionally fed this unknown kid drugs until he died,  speculation that was deduced from not only the officer’s questions but the way the morning revealed their eyes bright, hard and resolute in their ashen faces all wearing jutted grins on their wordless lips. There eyes would occasionally each meet my own then immediatly find the face of one of their own with a  “He knows too much” counantance, affirmed by silent slight nods or met gazes of affirmation. My blood grew colder with each mile.

If you guys know anything about a sociopath, it is that they really don’t care who they hurt, the end result is for their benefit without remorse or quarter. Despite my young age, I was intelligent, intuitive and I sensed their evil and maleficence. Without a shadow it was my belief that these guys are going to kill me and act like it was an accident on this trip. Cop-Dad was sure to cover it up because he is a cop and something odd is going on with him, too, and my family is never going to know how fucked up this trip really was.  But before I went mad with paranoia, we were in Florida.

The warm weather and happiness of arriving at Disney  blanketed us and kept the events of the night before at bay for a few hours, each of us kids again.  I thought the trip might get back to “normal”. Cop-Dad suggested we check out Baseball and Boardwalk, an amusement park that was supposed to be a bit more “adult” than Disney. An hour later, I would know just how adult this place really was.

Cop-Dad wanted to go have some beers, and gave us all money to go on rides to give him his space. While most kids would be happy to have that freedom, the only time the kids weren’t fucking gaslighting me was when Cop-Dad was around.  Each time he ran off, I knew I was in for some shit.  Cue Dad being gone, cue us all standing in a circle, cue me sweating, knowing really, really messed up shit is about to go down.

This is EXACTLY how I felt that entire trip.

The eldest brother chimes in and says “Ok, how about we have a contest? Everyone put in the twenty bucks Dad gave us, and whoever can finger a girl by the time we have to meet up with Dad, wins all the money.”

Wait, what??!! No, tell me I didn’t just hear that.

I swear to Christ, I think I may have blacked out for a second when he said that, it fucked me up THAT much. All I kept thinking was ‘no fucking way’, over and over, it was like a CD in my head was skipping, and it was skipping in denial. But mob rules, and before I knew it, the pact had been made.

This wasn’t a challenge of unimaginable dares, or eager prospect of feeling the mysterious body of a girl (I was thirteen going on thirteen). It was a snarl of black intent, of insolent humor and sport at what was to be an intrusion into a sacred space not an invitation of want and longing.

The stink lost innocence and malcontent suffocated me in a sunny place that was always the symbol of the magic of being a child rather the altar of my corruption.

More to come later, I need to go take a bubble bath and weep myself to sleep.

If this was a script, we would call this a cliffhanger…

It gets even more messed up from here on, I can assure you.

Click here to read part two: The Fingering Contest and My Molly Ringwald.