Byron Kendall – Part 1

(Note: I’ve been battling a diffuse medical issue for the last several months, well years honestly, but it was finally diagnosed last month. Now I’m on medication and doing better. I’m finally doing well enough to write again. #fuck multiple sclerosis)


I was born in
Machesney Park, Illinois. Where you say? Machesney Park, Illinois.
It’s a suburb of Rockford, which itself is an exurb of Chicago. Thank
Gaia for that. There’s nothing to do in Rockford. You can only climb
the social ladder so far in a town like Rockford. An easy two hour
drive and I’m in downtown Chicago shoulder to shoulder with power
brokers and decision makers.

But I’m getting
ahead of myself, you want to know all about me.

Mom wasn’t your
typical Midwestern woman. It wasn’t until later in my teenage years
that I found out who she really was and why it was so important in my
life. She was of an average height but she was a strong stocky woman.
Many people mistook her for a farm wife when we were out and about. I
learned at an early age not to cross her or else I’d incur her
wrath.

Dad was a line
manager at the Chrysler plant in Belvidere. He was a union man and
had risen up from being a line worker. Plant management had a respect
for him that had been earned. Dad knew how to work both sides and he
made sure that his workers, his fellow union brothers, were treated
fairly and paid well.

A couple of years
after Dad had gotten promoted to line lead, Mom got pregnant. She
started to make plans to birth me at home and raise me in the ways of
Nature. I can hear you laugh at the thought of a strong independent
woman raising a child in the ways of Gaia. I don’t mean the weak
aimless ways of the hippies or flower children. She wanted me to
understand and respect Nature and Gaia.

I had a normal
childhood or so I thought. The part that was odd was that looking
back at it, I spent a lot of time in parks and in the woods. There
aren’t a lot of real “wild” forests left but we took a lot of
vacations up to northern Wisconsin and camped in the “North Woods”.
Now, I have to tell you, people in Wisconsin have a strong dislike
for people from Illinois. Given the nature of most of the people from
Chicago, it’s well earned. But no, not all people from Illinois are
from Chicago and no, we are not all FIBs (Fucking Illinois Bastards).

In my early teen
years, I started to figure out that there was something different
about my family. They were respected up north as well. If there was a
minor medical emergency, they would call my mom. She always carried a
small leather bag with her. It didn’t matter if it was grocery
shopping or hiking in the woods, she always had that bag with her. It
wasn’t unusual for people to come up to our cabin at 3am for a
medical problem and Mom would be up and ready, bag by her side, and
out the door in just a couple of minutes. She wasn’t a doctor or a
nurse, but she just seemed to know what to do and could help the
person until a doctor or ambulance arrived.

Dad was more
‘normal’ if you could say that about a factory man. He had his
“Wolf’s Den” as he called it. Mom never went in there and it
was like a secret “man space” for Dad and I. I learned a good
many things while I was in the den. I learned how to keep a straight
face and how to mislead people while playing poker with him and a
couple of his work friends. Right before I started high school, I was
finally aware enough to realize that Dad and his friends that played
poker all shared a common trait. They were all “power” men. Be it
poker, management at the plant, or just how they lived life, they
were all seeking physical strength and power in the relationships
with those around them.

Other than those two
things, I never really noticed anything odd about my parents. My home
life was as normal as could be and seemed like all the other families
I saw on TV. It’s what I deserved as a smart only child.

Everything changed
when I was 15. It was the summer after my freshman year of high
school. We were at a family get together over Memorial Day weekend
with my mom and her folks. We were going to be staying up there for
two weeks to get away and enjoy the woods. It was somewhere up in
Wisconsin. Rainland? Runtland? Oh yeah, Rhinelander. Call it what you
will, it was still a podunk small town surround by woods. I enjoyed
going there for the woods, but the people there? They are about two
cousins away from being fully inbred and showing obvious signs of it.

We had been up there
for a couple of days when it was decided that the men would take the
boys out into the woods for a couple of nights.


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