Ellis Reddick

{Disclaimer: The name Ellis Reddick is arbitrary. I do not know a person named Ellis Reddick, and any similarities to anyone named Ellis Reddick are purely coincidental. This non-fiction story about Ellis Reddick is based on a man of another name.} “GET OUT!” Ellis Reddick screamed with unequivocal force. Prior to that outburst, we never knew when Ellis was kidding, and he was almost always kidding. He could yell at us with teeth showing, and it was all a big, weird, and unnerving joke. He was serious some of the times, but we never knew the difference. When he eventually made it clear that he was serious this time, I was absolutely terrified. I was the other kid, the kid he was forced to babysit that day, so we could chalk my fears up to seeing another kid’s parent lose it. Yet, his daughter, who presumably knew him better than most, was just as terrified as I was. Why did thoughts of Ellis Reddick horrify me throughout my youth? He didn’t have the barrel chest, the Popeye-sized forearms, or the booming voice my Uncle Frank had. As I would later learn in life, Ellis Reddick was probably 5’5” at most. He needed glasses, based on his girth, he looked about seven months pregnant, and he was cursed with a squeaky, nasally voice that should’ve cast fear in no adult or child. If they put out an open call for voice overs of cartoon characters, casting agents would’ve had my Uncle Frank do voices for lions. Ellis Reddick would’ve only probably only found work for the voices of mice, yet I found Ellis Reddick so horrific that I would plead with my mother to try to find some other babysitter for the weekend. I couldn’t articulate why I feared Ellis so much back then, so my mom didn’t listen, and her options were obviously so limited that she forced me into the Reddick home so often that when I now drive by their house I consider it the other place where I spent so much of my youth. What made Ellis Reddick so horrific was obviously not his stature, appearance, or voice. No, what made Ellis so scary to us was his unpredictability, and when you’re seven-years-old, you don’t know it until you meet someone like Ellis, but predictability is your greatest comfort. Most adults are so boring that seven-year-olds inadvertently create a mold for adults. We learn how to act and react around them to keep everyone happy, and everyone knows the rules of individual adults. Ellis was something different. He was foreign to our experience with most adults. We tried to prepare ourselves for his erratic behavior whenever we were around him, but he loved to break whatever mold we created for him, and that he loved engaging in erratic behavior, that shook up our preconceived notions of adults, but nothing he did prior could have prepared us for this. “GET OUT of my car Julie!” he repeated. We were idling near a curb on a residential road, about a half mile from their house, with the sound of the rattling little engine of his red Vega echoing Ellis’s ultimatum. “I don’t want to get out,” Julie said in defiance. “Then give me the thirty-five cents.” “Make me,” she said to ward off this challenge. ‘Make me’ was a popular, ritualistic challenge in our seven-year-old world. It suggested that the challenger was willing to take this matter to the next level if necessary. It was a reflexive challenge seven-year-olds made, without knowing what the next level was. The scary element of ‘make me’ for the challenged was that the challenger knew what the next level was, and they weren’t afraid of it. The other import of the challenge was that the challenged does not want to see how the challenger defines the next level. Whether Ellis was aware of the psychology of such a threat, or if he contemplated the horror of going to the next level with his daughter, is unknown, but he did decide to make her. He went after the thirty-five cents she found in his car. He went to her hands. He tried to pry them open. He began wrestling with her. She was laughing. I was laughing. We believed that these actions were another in a long line of hilarious, erratic reactions from the wacky and always unpredictable Ellis Reddick. He was always doing stuff like this. He was irrational in a non-adult manner. He was obnoxious in a manner we didn’t understand, and he kept us on edge trying to figure out what he would do next, and we loved it. We didn’t always understand Ellis, or Ellis’ sense of humor, but our relationship was that he was the adult, and we were the kids. In a kid’s world, an adult is next-level funny, and we were always trying to prove that we were sophisticated enough, and smart enough, to “get” adult jokes in a manner our unsophisticated peers could not. Thus, when adults joke or act erratic, we “get it” and then we hold it over those who don’t with our laughter. When other kids looked at us with confused faces, we just laughed harder whether we understood the jokes or not. Ellis put a surprising amount of strength into this effort however. We didn’t know why, but it turned the whole dynamic of what we thought we knew about Ellis Reddick on its head. He was still struggling, still fighting, and for a moment, we laughed harder at his progressed, erratic behavior. This wasn’t a part of the usual non-adult, obnoxious Ellis Reddick however, but we thought he might be taking his obnoxious, unpredictability to a new level of hilarity, and Julie and I were always competing with one another with regard to who got it more. When Julie pulled out of his tussle with the thirty-five cents she had a terrified look on her face. The terrified look affected my reaction, initially, but I decided I would be gaining greater stature if I continued laughing, until Julie could come around to the sophisticated extent of this particular joke. I didn’t want to be viewed as the naïve kid who didn’t “get it” when the joke was revealed. He went in again. Julie’s attempt to avoid whatever tactics he dreamed up would’ve been admirable had she been able to avoid crying. Her crying, combined with his screaming, caused my smile to falter, as I began to realize that I might be witnessing an altercation between an adult and a child, and if it was, it was my first. When she popped out of the bent position she had taken to protect the coins, her face was beat red. She was confused and scared. “Get out of the car Julie!” he screamed. If there had been a progression from this notion that Ellis always acted erratic to one that any observer could define as a true altercation, I must have missed it. I retraced the steps that led to this point in a hopeless effort to understand, but I missed it. This erratic behavior-turned-altercation began with a conspiratorial, competitive whisper that ticked me off. “I just found thirty-five cents,” Julie had whispered to me with a sense of superiority about her. “Where?” I asked. “In the cushions of the car,” she whispered. In a seven-year-old world, as in any faction of our world, money is power. Having money is power, earning money is power, but finding money provides the finder a special degree of power that places them in a seat of superiority in a seven-year-old world. I began searching through the seat cushions around me in vain. I was angry. I thought about how if I would’ve been sitting in the front seat, instead of her, that would be my money now. She lorded this over me for another half a beat, and she added something more to it that I didn’t hear. I didn’t want to hear it. She was mocking me with her new found power. “That’s mine,” Ellis responded. His voice always had the elements of whine to it. Yet, it had more whine to it here, more urgency, with an ingredient of desperate powerlessness added to it. His voice sounded so powerless that most observers who knew Ellis’s penchant for humor through erratic behavior might have mistaken it for comedy. “That’s my thirty-five cents, and I want it.” “Finders keepers,” Julie said with a confident smile. Every seven-year-old knows this truth too. If one loses something, and another finds it, too bad. You’re out baby! Ellis lost control. What began as pre-pubescent whining from a grown man speaking to a child, evolved to outright screaming as he informed her: “It’s my car Julie, and what you find in my car is mine!” When that didn’t work, he reminded her: “I paid for your McDonald’s, and if you don’t give me my thirty-five cents, then you can just walk home!” “Mmm mmm,” she said. Her response didn’t have as much conviction as the previous ones had. As I reflect back on this, I think even the seven-year-old Julie sensed that this might spiral out of control. Julie was his daughter, and she probably knew him better than 99.9% of the population, but the one thing that she probably knew better than the other 99.9% of the population was that no one could know Ellis Reddick well enough to know how he would react. In a world of children versus adults, a child’s existence is dependent on figuring out how the adults in their world will react. Some kids’ parents are on the weaker side, and some were so strict that we repeated their rules to one another so often that we had them down by heart. The one thread running through the rules of other kids’ parents was predictability. There are some parents, and I only met one, who don’t follow any patterns. Some adults are so unpredictable that a kid could spend their whole lives trying to figure them out, and they will fail. Some adults are unknowable. Julie’s reaction told me that she recognized this idea with her dad long ago, but her stubborn refusal to acquiesce suggested that she thought it was probably too late to turn back now. This was the point when Ellis issued his first “GET OUT!” ultimatum. Then, after approaching the next level of ‘making’ his daughter on two different occasions, he reached a peak of frustration that led him to issue her this final ultimatum. He reached across her. She flinched. He opened the door: “I want my thirty-five cents,” he said. “Or, I want you out of my car.” He screamed various versions of this final ultimatum, with the engine idling and rattling a half mile from her house, until she finally exited. Julie’s whole body shook with tears, as we pulled away from the curb. I saw Julie cry before. Seven-year-olds cry when they’re hurt, scared, and when something confused us. Crying is just how seven-year-olds deal with some matters, and Julie was no different. She never cried like this before, and I never saw anyone cry like this before. I was so confused that I almost cried. I couldn’t understand why Ellis had yelled at her with such force over thirty-five cents, but that confusion took a back seat to my fascination with Julie and her tears. The image being laid out here, may lead some to believe that I was mocking her, or that I was enjoying my new ‘seat of superiority’ in lieu of the competitive whisper she gave me when she first found the money, but I wasn’t enjoying it. I was watching realization in her tears. I didn’t know it at the time, of course, as my young mind couldn’t grasp what I was seeing, but reflection on this scene has led me to believe my fascination with watching her cry was borne of seeing a young, idealistic person lose her innocence for the first time. I was seeing a young girl lose her naiveté, as the seeds of cynicism wormed their way into a young brain that didn’t know what cynicism was. One of the primary roles of a parents is to be a beacon of sanity in a world that is so difficult for young children to understand. Seven-year-old kids don’t see this for what it is, and one of the greatest compliments a seven-year-old can relay to a parent is that they take it for granted they will always be there for them. What happens when a child learns that their parents will not always be there for them? What happens when that parent informs that child, through their actions, that not only will they not be there for them, but they will add to their confusion? I saw the latter standing on the sidewalk, screaming with tears, as we drove away. The tears she cast weren’t sad tears, or even bad girl tears that result from an act that requires correction. These were the convulsive tears of a young girl having her heart broken by the one man, in whom, she thought could invest unconditional and unqualified trust. To that point in my life, I never saw devastated, broken-hearted tears before, and I couldn’t stop watching them from the rear window as we drove away. How does a child deal with a level of betrayal that affects the rest of their life? They forget. ‘How can anyone forget something like that?’ you might ask. I’ve had other friends involved in devastating, heart-breaking events incidents and accidents, and some of them managed to forget them. My first inclination has always been, “How? How could you possibly forget it?” I could see forgetting, or losing some of them minor details of such an event, but they say they don’t remember the situation at all. Are they lying, because they don’t want to talk about it? Some might be, but others sincerely state that they don’t remember the situation you’re describing. “Wouldn’t you?” is the obvious question. Of course, but my question is not about should they remember but how can they forget? I would think that such incidents might mark their life in such a profound manner that they’re forever altered. I would think they would be the subject of their nightmares, and daymares, for the rest of their life on earth. The answer is that they choose to forget. If the subject of an incident such as Julie’s, which might seem relatively minor in the grand scheme, but in a seven-year-old world was an absolute betrayal of trust in horrific proportions, wants to avoid living a life in which they trust no one, not even their immediate family members, they’ll  manage to forget what happened to them. If they want to live a happy life, they have to learn how to move passed the fact of life that some people die prematurely. Some people just leave the Earth when we need them most. They also have to deal with the fact that some of the survivors are horrible people, and some of those horrible people happen to be parents, their parents. What do seven-year-olds do when they’re having such trouble dealing with the word as-is, only to have death and destruction heaped on top of that? They move on, they adjust, and they forget. Sigmund Freud, and the Freudian acolytes who followed, suggested this is the polar opposite of how survivors should deal with such matters. They suggested that the road to quality mental health was paved with memories, both good and bad. They suggested that psychiatrists must pound that road into their patients’ heads, until the patient either finds some mechanism to deal with it, or works their way through it. They suggested that while we might choose to forget, the subconscious never does, and the ramifications of trying to forget would lead to some form of a debilitating breakdown. Modern psychologists find that this is not always true, and some of the times finding a way to forget is almost vital to greater mental health and overall happiness. This still doesn’t answer the question I have of how someone could forget. I know the answer involves something along the lines of “day-by-day”, and “you just do what you can to move on”, but that doesn’t register with me. After some mistakes, with other people, I now know to avoid asking questions do that they might find the merciful power of forgetfulness, but the primary reason I interrogated them was that I wanted to learn how to apply their special sauce to my life. I didn’t know any of this when I was seven-years-old, of course, and I didn’t have any deep thoughts about what had just happened, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the despair I was witnessing either. I was witnessing the spectacle of seeing someone’s life come crashing down around them, a spectacle that everyone but a child tries to avoid seeing. I should’ve gone with her, and I was invited to go with her, but I didn’t. I’m still not sure why I didn’t. She was my best friend. My desire to be the child who didn’t do anything wrong may have overrode whatever tenuous loyalties existed in our seven-year-old world. Maybe I just couldn’t deal with the shock and awe of the first true altercation I had witnessed between an adult and child. I witnessed challenges to parental authority before, and verbal altercations between children and their parents were nothing new to me, but the idea of an adult following through on a ‘make me’ next-level challenge with actual physical action was new to me. I saw Julie cry before, but she wasn’t a crier. I made her cry once, but I was sticking up for myself when I did it. Much like her dad, Julie Reddick was a bully, and she could be relentless. She was the type of bully who wouldn’t stop, until you stopped her by making a bold statement. I decided, one day, that I had had enough. I introduced her to an unfair truth: Boys are stronger, boys are ruthless, and boys won’t allow you to pick on them forever. Boys are going to stand up for themselves, and when you push them to a limit they don’t care how much it hurts when they do. Ellis was the bully in their home, but Julie was the bully of the block. She was willing to do anything she could think up, to whomever she wanted to do it to, and everyone feared her. Some kids beat you for a reason, and some do it just because they like it, but most of them will stop when a kid starts crying. “All right fine,” is something they say. “You big crybaby.” Crying didn’t stop Julie. She saw it as a sign of weakness. Julie also saw it as a sign of victory, and she didn’t just want a victory. She piled on. She would even laugh while she was doing it, and she encouraged us to laugh with her, but we stopped when she got so out of hand. We felt sorry for the kid she was beating on, and some of the times, we stopped it. The kids in her neighborhood just weren’t used to the level of violence Julie inflicted. They were terrified of her. I became the one kid she wouldn’t pick on, or beat up, because I set the precedent that I would defend myself. As she did with her victims, I laughed at her when I defended myself and she was crying and bloody, but the difference between Julie and me was I stopped when she conceded. When I made her cry, she sobbed with the physical pain I caused her, but that ended quick, and we became friends again soon after. The tears Julie cast the day Ellis Reddick drove away from her, were the tears of pain, confusion, and all-hope-is-lost tears that only a parent can cause a child.

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Ellis Reddick scared me long before that particular incident. I knew he was an anomaly among adults, and a foreigner in the world I called home. As a 7-year-old, fascinated with Ellis Reddick, in the manner 7-year-olds are fascinated with aberrations –if only to understand all adults better– I struggled with the best way to capture the man’s identity. After my mind strengthened, and I was able to grasp complicated concepts, and I found words that described abstracts beyond my reach, I realized that nothing would capture Ellis Reddick better than the adolescent word: creepy. When his wife was at work, and he was left babysit us, we tried to avoid being in the same room as him. This was often a mutual decision. He worried me, and it was obvious that his daughter felt the same way. Even at the young age of seven-years-old, when our knowledge of character is not much more than superficial, there was an ever-present worry regarding what he might do next. He was creepy in an indefinable manner I have to imagine method actors search for in their pursuit of finding that perfect characteristic that will cause the audience to fear them. He was prone to violent outbursts, unpredictable, and chaotic, and he was prone to punctuate it all with a sociopath’s giggle. If Hollywood got a hold of his story, and they tried to portray his characteristics on screen, they would be apt to overdo it all to get a message across to the audience that Ellis Reddick was creepy. I don’t think the best director in the world would’ve been able to capture the essence of Ellis Reddick, however, for I don’t think they would’ve been able to capture the subtle nuances Ellis brought to the role. Meet Ellis Reddick in a supermarket, and the first characteristic one would walk away with is that Ellis Reddick is not an attractive man. He lost most of his hair young. He had bad teeth. One of his front teeth was capped gold, and that made him even creepier. He had a high forehead with an unusual slant to it. His eyes bulged too much. He didn’t speak well, or often. When a young person would ask him questions about life, as I was prone to do with all of the adults in my inner circle, he would do nothing more than provide limited answers that piqued the interest even more. “Why do you keep touching the gear shifter?” I asked him one time on one of our many endless drive to nowhere in near-pitch black darkness. “To make sure the engine is still on,” he replied. I looked up at him waiting for the reward most adults offered my observant questions. The man answered me in a manner similar to the manner one adult would answer another. He offered me no smiles, no sugary tones, and no assurances that this matter wasn’t as bad as my imagination might lead me to believe. He answered. He continued driving. “To make sure it’s still on?” I asked looking out on the dark road to nowhere we were on, picturing the long, dark walk we would have to endure if it did die out. “Yeah.” “Is there some fear that it could break down?” I asked. “Yeah.” Based on the Ellis Reddick precedent, I began to watch his type throughout my life. The Ellis Reddick type that didn’t say anything more than was necessary. Did his type reserve this attitude for children? I thought so at the time. He wasn’t good with children. He made no effort to entertain us. We were there. He was there. He was our supervisor, but he left us alone as long as we didn’t touch his stuff. I would watch Ellis Reddick with adults to see if he was a dynamic person. I would watch him, until I was satisfied that he was just as inept with them. I would watch him in groups, and I would see him fade into the woodwork. He would smile when a polite reaction was called for in these groups. He would even laugh an evil, little laugh at the end of a joke told by another adult, but this was to fulfill polite protocol. He could no more engage an adult in stimulating conversation than he could a child.

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Among Ellis Reddick’s favorite non-adult, obnoxious pursuits was the perverse thrill he received in scaring small children. Ellis’ brand of horror/humor was a Halloween type of horror. It took a sophisticated sense of humor that appreciated such exploits in some ways, and it combined it with the simple humor one derives from seeing others scared in a haunted house. His target, after Julie and I grew out of a fear of such things, was my 3-year-old brother. As a witness to this, I decided that it would provide me an excellent opportunity to show how sophisticated I was. My brother, as I say, was three-years-old at the time, and he was more prone to fearing that which he couldn’t understand than I was. Ellis would exit the bathroom with a pair of fake, vampire teeth in his mouth and an old wig on his head. I would laugh as my brother scampered back in terror, but the man behind the get up frightened me too. That truth bothered me, because I didn’t want to be afraid of anything, but Ellis was unpredictable. I would often wonder how close he was to hurting us all. My brother was afraid, because he didn’t know what was going on. He thought that it was another person stepping towards him with slow menace. I was scared, because I knew a little more about who Ellis Reddick was than my brother did. I would laugh, as I said, but there were moments between the giggles when my mouth would freeze in a worried smile. I would take everything I knew of the man and put those facts and ideas into a hypothetical puzzle, and I would wonder how much truth there was in the in the otherwise comical horror I was witnessing. Kids, like animals, grow accustomed to adult humans acting in a very specific manner. Kids grow accustomed to the tones that adults use around them. Kids learn that adults act their best around them, and kid get bored with that. This is why it’s always a shock for kids to see the adults in their life drunk, laughing hard, swimming, and kicking a football. Kids adjust their profiles according to these behaviors, on a case-by-case basis, until the adults become boring again. Yet, there is a certain comfort in that boredom that one doesn’t realize until they spend a day with an adult similar to Ellis Reddick. I have used the Ellis Reddick example of the aberrant adult in my own life, with the kids and animals around me. I scare them. I walked slowly at them with teeth bared in the same manner Ellis did to my brother, but I’ve always stopped when the horror grew too great for them to handle. I always ended up laughing and tackling them saying: “It’s just your good old dad.” The difference between my humorous interpretation of Ellis’ brand of horror, and his, was that he didn’t do it often. I do it so often that all of the pets and kids I did it to would adjust their psychological profiles to me, until they no longer feared my actions, they thought it was just as foolishness and funny as I did. Ellis would hide those fake, vampire teeth, and the wig, from us older kids, because he knew we would overdo it. We found them after a while, and we asked him if we could use them to scare my little brother. He threw a fit. He hid the items again, in a different place. He didn’t want us to overdo it. He wanted it fresh. He wanted it powerful.

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Ellis would also punch his wife in front of us. I witnessed this man punch his wife so often that I became accustomed to it. It embarrasses me now, but I couldn’t understand how Ellis’s wife didn’t become more accustomed to it. This embarrassment has led me to be sympathetic to the effort behind ending spousal abuse. As with everything else in life, exaggerated claims can dilute the horror of crimes. That has never entered my purview regarding this particular crime against females. I used to hear Ellis’ wife scream and cry as he popped her, and I would laugh at first. What else is there for a powerless, little kid to do but laugh, I now ask myself as I look for a defense of my own actions. I also note, in my defense, that some psychologists say that when something shocks our fundamental understanding of the world so much that we don’t know how to react, we either laugh or cry. My parents argued, and they did screamed at each other, on occasion, but all that fighting ended in apologies, kisses, and hugs. Boring. The very idea that a man would punch his wife was so shocking to me, and my sheltered world, that I could’ve cried. I laughed instead. I didn’t give it thought. I laughed. There were never any kisses, hugs or apologies in the aftermath of a Reddick family fight. The fights Ellis had with his wife were never about establishing ground, or boundaries, in a relationship. I didn’t get it, and some part of me needed to understand. Some part of Ellis Reddick’s actions told me that I needed to know the constructs of the Reddick home, so that I would know how to act, and so no one would start hitting me. I couldn’t find it. I found only chaos. I found a man acting on his wife and daughter in a manner that I, now, define as the man releasing some of the frustrations he had for not living the life he wanted to live. I also found another motivation for Ellis Reddick’s actions. He liked it. Had I the interest in the subject of spousal abuse, as it pertains to the deep psychological reasons why one man strikes his wife while another does not, I am sure I could find a myriad of explanations regarding why Ellis Reddick did it. If I sat down with the man, I’m quite sure I would hear tales of his father beating his wife to handle a family crisis, or some stories of bullies bullying him, but I don’t think any complex theories and hypotheses would dispel this notion I had, and still have, that Ellis Reddick just enjoyed punching his wife. Some truths are complex, they have qualifiers and facets that a 7-year-old boy cannot grasp, and some truths are self-evident and simple. Julie would scream an eardrum-rattling scream when Ellis would punch her mother. She would cry those all hope is lost tears, begging them to stop. “Please stop!” she would scream. I wondered if that worked earlier. I wondered if Ellis would look at his only child and realize what he was doing to her, and stop. I wasn’t there all the time, so there may have been a time when such desperation worked. By the time I got there, it no longer worked. After a number of these incidents occurred in front of me, Julie stopped crying and screaming, and pleading for it to stop. She got used to it after a while. The wife never stopped screaming however. Even on those occasions when it was obvious that Ellis wasn’t using all his force, she would scream. She screamed, in a manner that suggested that she was hoping someone might hear her. I thought that she was being a tattletale without tattling, and I hated tattletales. I brought this disgust to my interactions with my brother. When I would pick on him, he would scream. He would never tattle, but his screams suggested that he was hoping someone might hear him. I told him that that was equivalent to tattling. I picked this childhood profundity up watching Ellis Reddick’s wife scream. By the time I was a witness to this spectacle, her preemptive screams weren’t working anymore either. More than anything else, I think the daughter and the mother screamed, because they thought they could appeal to the man’s humanity. They thought wrong. He liked it. I think I may have joined the chorus of screams and cries during the first couple beatings I witnessed, and I may have even screamed or yelled out for him to stop, but I got used to it too, over time.

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‘I never realized how short you were,’ were the first words on the tip of my tongue when I met this man when decades later. We were both standing in a line at a deli to get a sandwich in a planned reunion between Julie and me. I didn’t know Ellis would be there, but now that he was, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I forgot all about the effect this man had had on me, and how he had intensified’ average men prone to horrific acts of violence’ characters in horror stories for me, until he stood before me as the visage of all that had once horrified me. Now that he stood before me, I not only noticed how short he was, but that he appeared to have an intangible sense of smallness about him that caused me to feel disillusioned. This man that that had once defined for me how cruel one man could be to their fellow man, even when the subject of his cruelty happened to be his loved ones, happened to have no stature about him. The man still wore the truckers’ hats that he wore throughout my youth, but it now appeared to be a pathetic attempt to cover his baldness now, as opposed to a part of an ensemble that I had associated with creepy whenever I saw them on other men. He had replaced the gold cap on his front tooth with a porcelain cover that appeared more natural, but it did little to improve his overall appearance. He was still creepy, but that creepiness was equivalent to the creepiness of the Golem character in the Lord of the Rings movies, as opposed to the indefinable characteristics that I associated with the worst, most horrific characters in fiction.  He was so little that I accidentally loomed my average adult male’s height over him. I looked at the top of his head, and I had to stifle all the ridicule I had building up. ‘You’re so little,’ would’ve been the theme of that ridicule, and’ You’re the cute, little feller that I’ve spent so much of my life fearing from afar?’ would’ve been one of the comments that I delivered. I didn’t feel bad about having these thoughts about the man that had inflicted such pain on other people, but for reasons concerning the description of my own character, I refrained from actually saying any of them. He smiled a ‘what are you doing?’ smile when I began accidentally lording my average male height over him in a physical manner. I did not intend to loom over him, as I said, but seeing him again brought back all those old 7-year-old feelings of helplessness and fear. Now that I was older and taller than he was, I felt the need to prove some sort of superiority that required an internal struggle to avoid acting on it, or giving voice to it. I was so wrapped up in these thoughts that when a voice spoke to me, a voice from a checker informing of me total for the meal I had ordered, I was out of sorts. It was as if I so wrapped up in bringing this matter to a conclusion that the outside world would have to wait until it was complete. “I’ll pay for it!” Ellis Reddick said, stepping up to pay for my meal. This action, I can only guess, was Ellis Reddick’s way of apologizing for a past that everyone in his inner circle chose to forget. A person that wants to have a family often chooses to forget things and move past everything that occurred when they were kids. They want their children to know their grandfather, and they’ve learned that there are so few that genuinely care about what happens to them, so they forgive past transgressions, and they move on. I, of course, was not a part of that movement, as his actions didn’t affect me directly, and as a result, they didn’t plague me either. There was this sense between us, however, that the matter required some form of resolution, before we could move on. In his own way, I think Ellis Reddick thought that paying for my meal might have accomplished that for us. I was the child of friends, and as a result none of Ellis Reddick’s actions were directed at me, but what he did to his loved ones caused the 7-year-old boy that witnessed them to grow up with the belief that he was evil incarnate. He defined for me how an ordinary, and by many standards a less than average, man could go about committing acts of atrocity without the least amount of guilt. Standing with him in a checkout line, at a deli, led me to believe that he was not evil in the purest sense of the term. He did not have evil emanating off him in a manner one might imagine a Mao Tse-tung, a Stalin, or an Adolf Hitler may. Ellis Reddick, in fact, had an intangible sense of smallness about him that I can only imagine may have caused him to need a presence of power he may have found only in the unpredictability and chaos he could create in the confines of his humble home. I also sensed that for all he did to other people, and all that he got away with doing, his punishment was available to anyone that wanted to see it. My average height, and my regular guy presence, intimidated him. He had a near-palpable air of loneliness, sadness, and an overall sense of being confused about life that was palpable to the young child-turned full-grown man looking at him. Most of the adults I knew, at seven years of age, were consistent, moral, upstanding citizens that had a drive to do what was right in life, in a manner that bored the hell out me. The Ellis Reddick I knew at seven-years-old, stood out as an exception on all of those fronts, and I think that that dichotomy was the core to the horror enjoyed exploring. He liked it, for the power that unpredictability granted him, but more than that I think he liked it because in the in the real world, or the world that existed outside his four walls, he was a small, powerless person that would have to find some way to leave a mark. He would do so, of course, leaving literal and figurative marks on all those associated with him.

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