Command’s Toy Soldiers {8}

***Readers Beware***
These are true stories that may shock you — anger and haunt you. Posts under this category may contain disturbing content and language that could upset or trigger individuals.

To read the complete anthology stories currently {1-8} and supporting pieces click below:

Injustice: My Bell Jar Diaries

Just as I chose to share, you chose to read. Thank you for continuing to read and comment!

We were supposed to be a family. We were supposed to be brothers and sisters, not fellow enlisted members of a family unit. Along the way, we decided if we must be soldiers, we would also be our own Army. See, we didn’t have a Father either, we had command. We were raised by Command. Command doesn’t have a family. Command has soldiers. That’s exactly what we were, his little toy soldiers ordered about and expected to follow orders without question or hesitation.

The eldest three of us vowed to protect each other and the younger ones, to do everything in our power to prevent his outbursts, and — one day, we would all go far far away. We were, in our way, the Three Musketeers. Our vow bound us together in a time where fear was our constant companion, injustice a cornerstone, hopelessness was ordinary, and chaos was our normal. His omnipresence caused each day to be a fight or flight experience. Flight wasn’t an option, so we fought. We fought in secret, knowing: only that which is concealed is protected. We took every precaution because if found out the consequences of our actions would be catastrophic.

Our vow bound us together in a time where fear was our constant companion, injustice a cornerstone, hopelessness was ordinary, and chaos was our normal.

I’ve previously mentioned our secret phrase: Don’t rock the boat, which was said under our breath or silently mouthed to each other. Many of you might have realized my penchant for Latin, as I have used it in several other pieces. My love for Latin began at a young age and one Sunday afternoon I realized it could be useful. We assigned code names and created other code words, each serving a specific purpose, but above all, this helped us communicate when we were in survival mode, which was 99% of the time. In a collective sense, our parents were referred to as the parental unit. His code word was semper fi (always faithful) and it sure as hell didn’t mean we were loyal to him. NO! We used semper fi in remembrance of our vow, a reminder that we would stand together as a secret but united front, and always be loyal to one another. It also seemed appropriate to use his sacred motto against him, since he was a former Marine. Here’s a small sampling of our Code Key:

semper fi — Father

fictus (fake) — Mother

vetus (old) — Paternal Grandparents

venator (hunter) — Paternal Grandfather

venatrix (huntress) — Paternal Grandmother

amare (love) — Maternal Grandparents

custos (guardian)— Maternal Grandfather *Papa*

gratia (grace) — Maternal Grandmother

lacuna (pond) — Meeting Place

rabbit hole — Dead Drop

salus (safety) — school

Red — Danger Imminent Yellow — Be Cautious Green — All Clear

We became masters at eye conversations, had eye and hand signals too. A tug on a ear meant shut up, someone is listening, or can hear. We concocted quite the covert op for furthering communication and Papa aided our endeavors. We buried an old Hiland Dairy ice cream bucket under a fallen tree trunk by the pond. We would leave each other messages on scraps of paper because we never knew when or if we would have a safe opportunity to communicate. Usually they included warnings, reminders, or information we came by. Papa contributed an innovative contraption because he too was fueled by desperation to communicate with us. He fashioned a camouflaged PVC pipe container with a pre-paid cell phone inside.

If there was any deviation from the parental unit’s expectation I would get “the speech.” You are the oldest. Your brothers and sisters all look up to you. You are an example. What you do. What you don’t do. What you say. Everything is a direct reflection upon me and this family. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I can still hear the echo of these words in the halls of my head. That was their way, to get into your head, and once inside there was no shaking them. It wasn’t enough to torture and intimidate in real time, they had to do the same within. BUT — There is always a way, I would say, or I always find a way. That little phrase became my life motto and it is one that has served me well. Both now and then.

As the years went by here’s what skittered across my mind — alcohol or drugs, THAT, that I would understand. Yet, neither played a part, neither was a factor. So, what did that leave? Why was this happening? I thought about this incessantly and at night I would analyze and hypothesize as to the what, why, when. That’s where I developed my over-analyzing behaviors. I wrote in my diary: Once again, I pray for the courage to be brave. Once again, I ask. Why? What fuels this fire, his fire??? He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. I don’t get it. WHY?! The abuse we endure comes from a dark place where injustice, pain, evil, and hate abide!

This seemed worse, for me, at least with substance abuse there was a clear reason behind certain behavior. With him, the rationale could not be defined or explained, but his actions weren’t influenced by any mind altering substances. No. He made a conscious choice to torment his family time and time again. Bastard! My mother failed to fulfill her role first and foremost as a mother, which was to protect her children. She never did. She stood idly by without intervention. The lady doth not protest at all! She is just as bad as him due to her inaction. Her inaction is called: Failure to Protect, in other words, neglect, but it was also another form of abandonment.

I am reminded once again of the quote: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. — Sir Edmund Burke. We were surrounded by people who knew or at the very least suspected abuse but their inaction perpetuated our torment.

This is why I became a CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocate for Oklahoma County to represent abused and neglected children in the system. A CASA has the ability to be a child’s voice and make recommendations to a judge. To learn more contact your local CASA office today.


  1. Reading this reminded me of all the code words and secrecy Cuban refugees told about living under the Castro regime. You used your genius to cope best you could. I’m sure you are a fantastic CASA.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have visited the furnace; thankfully you have returned to relate the experience. Thankfully you survived to tell the tale of horror. Thankfully we can enjoy the fruits of your magnificent talent – for this, I, for one, am deeply grateful. Blessings, Peter.


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