The Round Waterbed

It was summer in Grant County. The days were long and hot with the dry heat of the high desert of Eastern Washington.

The giant round waterbed was in the middle of the living room. It was the old fashioned kind with brown leatherette padded edges, and it was about 7 feet in diameter. It was covered with one of those brown furry blankets with horses on them and many cheap pillows. It would have looked at home in a seedy Las Vegas honeymoon suite motel, but instead, it was in the living room of a family home. The family had three generations living under the same roof. The grandparents, two grown daughters, and their boyfriends and kids. My best friend was 16 and lived in the attic.  

In the attic, she had a single bed, one lightbulb, and some old milk crates to store her clothes in. The attic had wide plank 2x4s with plywood for the walls. My friend Irene* came from an abusive home and to avoid her family, she had been staying with friends. Now she was staying with "Uncle". Uncle, the patriarch of the household, was not her real uncle but a family friend that apparently had taken in foster kids in the past. They told her as long as she helped around the house she could stay there. There was one bathroom in the whole house. The toilet seat was novelty - clear plastic with hypodermic needles and drugs embedded in the plastic. 

"Uncle" was an obese Mexican man. He was about 62 years old and drove an old yellow Cadillac with fins like something out of the movies. His wife was a shy, quiet woman who rarely said anything. Uncle had a favorite granddaughter that lived with them.  She was very spoiled, and Uncle bought her a lot of toys. My friend told me that Uncle had murdered a few people in his day and dabbled in drug dealing. I never saw anything, and Uncle was friendly enough to me. I spent the night in the attic with my friend a few times and one time one of the daughter's boyfriends bought us a case of Budlight for $5. I did not speak Spanish so they did not really talk to me. 

"Uncle" would often sit int the living room in front of his TV next to the round giant water bed. He drank Coca-cola "on the rocks" as he called it, he would ask his wife or my friend to bring him the big ice cubes.

One day Irene told me she was going to Seattle with Uncle. He had to go downtown Seattle to do some business, and she was going to get a ride to check it out. She was excited. I was staying with my Grandparents in Fall City, Washington, about 30 miles outside of Seattle. I let Irene know that she could stop by if she wanted to visit me.  A few days later, she called my Grandparents house. She was crying and wanted to come to stay with me. Apparently "Uncle" had asked her for sexual favors at the hotel the night before in downtown Seattle and it did not go over too well.  I gave her directions to my Grandparents house and "Uncle" pulled up in his Cadillac a few hours later to drop her off. I never saw him again. 

School started, and we went back to high school. Irene was still living with Uncle and his family. One night our wall phone rang. Irene was on the line and said she had just swallowed a whole bottle of pills and drank a bunch of hard alcohol with it. She sounded super drunk and disorientated. I yelled for my Mom to take me over to her house. We called 911 and drove the 15 miles to the house. I found her in the attic in a fetal position. The ambulance came, and the sirens brought all the neighbors out of the woodwork. 

I rode in the back of the ambulance with her. I stayed by her side in the ER while they pumped her stomach. She never went back to Uncle's house. Social Services came and placed her in a local foster home where she thrived and went on to live her life.

To this day I am not a fan of Cadillacs or cheesy Las Vegas-style water beds in the living room. 

*names changed for privacy


CarlzUp said…
Glad your friend survived her experience.

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