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The First Time We Tried To Escape
There were many times that my brother and I tried to escape from our guardian. But I still remember the first time quite vividly. I remember that I was about 6 and my brother was 10. One thing that we both knew was that I was very allergic to milk. I was so allergic that every time I drank milk it made me sick and I got terrible rashes on my body. I had never been to the doctor about it but there was no doubting my allergy to milk. That allergy became my daily torture as our guardian would always make me drink it anyway. She said I was too skinny and that milk would fatten me up. She didn't want the social worker to think that she wasn't feeding us. So, one morning she poured a tall glass of milk and stood over me with the strap. She said drink that or I am going to whip your ass. So, I drank it. As soon as I drank it my stomach rejected it and I threw up the milk and all the food I had eaten all over the table.
Then, she got angry and started beating me and told me to eat all the vomit. So I tried to scoop it up and eat it but I kept gagging and throwing it back up. Every time I did this she beat me some more and made me eat up the vomit. Finally, she got so mad that she made me strip out of all my clothes and stand in the bath tub while she ran the shower over the fresh bloody sores on my body. Then she took her leather belt and laid it in the water so the leather would draw up and she began to beat me with the belt while the water ran over my body. I know this sounds pretty bad but it was actually a welcome relief from eating the vomit. Then , after about a half an hour of getting beat in the tub with the water running on my bloody sores she took me to the other room, grabbed a rope and tied my hands and legs to the foot of the bed on the brass bed post. She then put a saucer of milk on the floor by the bed and then grabbed my brother and they left. I struggled and struggled to get free from the knot she had tied but it was way too tight . So I sat there with nothing but the saucer of milk for what seemed like hours and hours. It was as if I was an animal or something. As I sat there tied up I began to cry and I kept asking some unseen entity why this was happening to me.
When they returned home she untied me and made me go to bed. She went into the other room and that's when my brother eased up to me and told me that we were going to leave that place. He was crying and he said Toney, tonight I am going to get you out of this place. My big bro. was and still is to this day my hero! So, we waited until she fell asleep. It was about 10:00 PM when we quietly crept out of the house and began to run. I remember my brother kept saying come on Toney (what he always called me because he couldn't say his S's) you can keep up!. Suddenly we were out on a main street called Vermont Ave. It was so cold out there but we hadn't thought to bring coats. All we wanted to do was escape!
As we walked down this huge street in Los Angeles I asked my brother where we were going. He told me that we were going to the social workers office. You see my brother was very smart., He had paid very close attention to where the social services building was located the last time we had been there. So he knew how to get there but I don't think he realized how far it was from our house. It was actually about 15 miles away.
I remember that it was so cold out there and the traffic in the streets was confusing. All I could see was the city lights everywhere. Its amazing that people were driving by two tiny little boys walking the dangerous streets of L.A. and didn't even stop to see why were out there. I guess nobody really cared. Anyway, we walked and walk and walked and walked for hours. I remember my brother holding my hand so tightly and saying "Don't worry Toney, I'll take care of you" as we walked. By the time we finally arrived at the office it was about 5:00 in the morning. We were both totally exhausted. The doors to the place were locked but Glenn kept banging on the door until finally a security guard showed up. He opened the door and looked at us with this puzzled look on his face. He asked us what we were doing out in the streets alone. My brother told him that we had come to see our social worker and told him her name. My brother also told him that we had escaped from our guardian and asked him to call our social worker. He got the social worker on the phone and she gave him the number to our guardian. Its obvious to me now that the social worker didn't care about us. After all, we were just a couple of little Black kids that didn't have parents.
Anyway, about a half an hour later our guardian showed up and put on this big act about how worried she had been. She took our hands and led us out of there as we protested that we didn't want to go. Once we were in the car, the beatings began all over again.
Although we paid a heavy and painful price for what we had done, we also gained some satisfaction in knowing that we had made her get up out of bed late at night and come down there to get us. The social worker never came to find out why we had run away. Like I said, she didn't care. Nobody really cared. The teachers at school all saw the fresh bloody sores on our bodies everyday but they didn't report it. The school nurse once saw all the bloody scars on my Penis and testicles but she didn't do anything either. Nobody cared about us and what we were going through. It was like a nightmare that would never end. However, running away that night gave us hope. We now knew that we could get away. We just didn't know where to get away to.
I often think about that night with a sense of pride. We were just two little kids but we walked 15 miles in the dark on the streets of one of the meanest cities in California. I know that God was watching over us all the way. I also know that God was preparing us for many great things to come in our lives. My brother is now a film director. He also works at a shelter for abused and abandoned children. God is so good isn't he? He takes hardship and turns it to victory. He takes people with the deepest of scars and turns them into people of faith and hope. He made me a man of compassion when I had every reason to turn into a monster like the monster that raised me. God made me, looked at me and said I was good. Now, everyday of my life I strive to bring hope to the hopeless, love to the loveless and peace to those who are at war with themselves.
When my brother was twelve he ran away to juvenile hall. He went there and turned himself in. He refused to ever come back to live in that house. They tried everything to make him come back but he would not. My hero became my inspiration for my many escapes later in life. He always came back to check on me though. Sometimes he would stay a while and then leave again. His freedom was always the one thing that kept me sane. I kept saying some day I'm going to get big and strong enough to run away and never come back. That day did come but I will save that story for another time. In the meantime, if you are so inclined, please buy my CD as the sales of my music keeps me able to continue on my journey and my work for God.
Love You All, Stoneman