I was only 4, but I vividly remember being awestruck by this long-haired, bohemian beauty that stopped by our home/office in Pacoima, California. She wore a long flowing skirt made out of mis-mismatched materials and a short top that exposed her flat belly. Even at that young age, I knew I wanted to grow up and be her; a free spirited natural beauty that could cause men to move mountains just with a smile.
The beautiful gypsy asked for a brief meeting with my adoptive mother, Doc. Doc was a strong willed, independent women who graduated from medical school in 1941. Doc struggled in a man’s world, and she had a hard time being taken seriously, but she plowed through and paved the way for other women doctors. I’d have to make the assumption though, based on what she told me later in life, that she delivered babies cheaply at her office or in the home, and did illegal abortions as a way to make ends meet. When she was sober she was full of bravado and spoke of the abortion as just “removing a blob, it’s not anything but tissue.” But get some drinks in her and she would cry over lost lives. I feel that part of the reason she drank excessively and took drugs was to not feel the guilt the of murdering a child, but I’m sure being a lesbian in that time didn’t help matters.
I remember watching the beautiful fairy saunter out of the house and I wanted to follow her; I wanted to be as free and alluring as she was
Doc looked down at me with a puzzled look. “Well, that was strange.”
“Well, I guess I’m pretty famous for doing home births with this commune of hippies near Simi Valley and they want me to come out and deliver their babies.”
She seemed to proud in the fact of being well known.
“Stefi, you wanna go for a ride?”
I was always eager to go any place and shook my head quickly up and down.
Doc smiled, “Well ok lets go.”
Doc got me dressed and we hopped into the blue Ford wagon and headed down Van Nuys Blvd to Denonshire then up Topanga Canyon and finally a left turn onto the old road to Simi Valley.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“There is supposed to be a ranch out here on the old road on the left. Keep your eyes out for someplace that is supposed to look like an old movie set.”
Now I was really excited, a real movie set! My vivid imagination immediately dreamed up Indians riding around on beautiful appaloosa and pinto horses, and when I got there they’d want me to be in the movie too.
I looked out at the rolling hills and day dreamed, but then suddenly started feeling afraid. I didn’t know why, but I wanted Doc to stop and turn around. I didn’t want to go there any more.
“That must be it” Doc said.
I looked and the buildings looked like they where right out of a cowboy movie , but instead of excited I feel cold inside.
Doc turned left onto the dirt road and my anxiety and fear grew. This didn’t look like a cowboy movie at all. There where hippies all over the place and they seemed like mindless zombies as they walked around the set. Their blank faces scared me. At 4 I didn’t know how to interpret what was going on, but I know I was very frightened.
Doc seemed to be uneasy now as she told me sternly, “You stay right here in the car. Make sure you lock the doors and don’t let anyone in but me, understand? No one!”
“No one, do you understand me?” she raised her voice for emphasis.
I wanted to scream “LETS GO” but instead I meekly said “yes.”
She shut the door and I locked it behind her.
A tall, scraggly looking man came over to Doc and motioned for her to wait there in front of the car. Everything seemed so weird and I just wanted go to. A few minutes later a short man with wild hair and crazy eyes walked over to her. I was petrified with fear just looking at this man. I could “see” his evil. I remember thinking, “how cant people tell he’s pure evil?” Somehow, at 4 years old, I knew this man had destructive and heinous soul. The whole time my mom stood there talking to him, as strong and brave as she was, I was afraid for her life.
Doc was pissed off when she got back into the car.
“Just who in the hell does that jerk think he is? Asking me, a doctor, to deliver his babies for free to be part of some stupid cause? That stupid son of a bitch, I should have punched him in the face”
Doc complained about most of the way home.
That moment burned a memory deeply into my mind. I forever wonder ed how all those people could not tell Charlie was pure evil. How didn’t they see it? Feel it? Maybe they did. Maybe they just hated society and its rules so much that they choose to be with someone who preached hatred for all things “normal.” Whatever the reasons, they all chose to follow Charlie and act out in the worse possible way – murdering innocent people. I look back now and I cant believe that the beautiful gypsy believed in Charlie’s bullshit too. I guess there are certain people that will blindly follow anyone no matter how evil or how grotesque their beliefs are. Charlie’s group never questioned, they just followed blindly. One thing I learned in all this, if someone gives you the creeps, it’s a real feeling and believe in it. Get away while you can. I also learned to never be a follower; don’t blindly let other people tell you what to do and how to live your life. Instead, be a free and critical thinker.