After losing every effort to regain my parental rights to Brittany and Joshua in a Montana court, prejudice and unfairness bolstered by the popularity and money of the Ladenburgs, I was resolved to the fact that the world’s gods (the collective free will of everyone else’s own brain) was too powerful to fight and win.
But I was pissed. I was hurt. I was greatly saddened and missed being Brittany’s and Joshua’s father. But through it all, I only once … almost … wanted to harm another person. Long story, short …
When Joshua was about 12 years old, his mother called me out of the blue, was very upset, and informed me that Joshua had spit in her face and refused to do what he was told. She was distraught.
She took away all of my rights, had her attorney legally change their birth certificates to reflect that Carl Ladenburg was their father, not allowed me any contact with them, and now she wanted me to do something about an attitude in Joshua that she created?
Remember that conscience that Grandpa told you about … the one that felt sorry for Marcee and wanted to help her get away from the control of Mormon Fundamentalism?
Well, my conscience actually loved innocent children more than myself. Yeah. Really! My conscience might have made me a lousy husband, but it also made me an incredible dad.
I could have easily told Paula to go fuck herself and deal with the problem that she and Carl Ladenburg had created. But I didn’t. I was kind and cooperative.
Paula asked me to intervene and help her with Joshua. I went to Montana, met with Joshua for a few days, got him thinking straight … the best I could … and told him I had to go back to Utah. Joshua didn’t want to live in Montana, and refused to behave if he couldn’t live with me. At their rope’s end, the Ladenburgs didn’t know how to handle an adolescent’s purposeful rebellion to get what he wants. I did.
I tried to explain to Joshua that I had no legal right to him, and that he would have to stay in Montana. Joshua refused, cried, threw a fit, and convinced the Ladenburgs that maybe he would be better off in Utah with me.
As Joshua was packing his bags to come to Utah with me, I was sitting out in my car waiting for him. Ladenburg came out and confronted me. I rolled down the window and listened:
“This is all your fault, you Ass!” yelled Ladenburg. “You could stop this and convince Joshua to stay here.”
That was one of the few times in my life that I almost lost my temper. There was this fuck who had taken my kids from me, changed their names to his, called me up to fix the mess he caused, and telling me that it was all my fault!
My hands clenched the steering wheel. Tighter and tighter. I could have gotten out of that car and beat the living shit out of Ladenburg. I was bigger, stronger, and I was a father who he had been maliciously hurt by this fuck!
But remember that conscience Grandpa told you about? It wouldn’t allow me.
I held my temper and calmly reiterated that it was Joshua’s choice. I explained … as calmly as I could … that they were his legal parents and would have to be the ones to convince him otherwise.
They could not.
Had I let my temper get the best of me, I would have been put in jail, maybe have inadvertently killed Carl Ladenburg unintentionally, as my grief of losing my kids was pumping up my natural adrenaline.
But this isn’t Grandpa.
You’ll come to know that I treat my enemies just like I do my friends. The only difference is, I don’t hang around my enemies and avoid them at all costs. I would no more hurt to an enemy than I would to anyone else.
So, if you judge me, then judge me, not how I have treated my friends, but how I have treated my enemies. Then judge my enemies, not by how they treat their friends, but how they treat me.
Brittany was into her teenage years and would not speak to me while I was up in Montana dealing with her brother. The fact is, Brittany and Joshua were FUBAR … fucked up beyond repair.
The Real Truth about my life will give details of how Ladenburg abandoned Brittany and Joshua after he divorced their mother, and how I intervened to save their lives and put them both on a path to having a normal and successful life. Without me having the conscience that I have, Brittany and Joshua Ladenburg would not be who they are today. I know this. They know this. And if the Ladenburgs were honest, they would admit this. (We’ll talk about this in a later chapter when the events of how I intervened to save them began.)
Joshua only lasted a few weeks in Utah with me. He was spoiled rotten … Fubar. The Ladenburgs had ruined the little boy who was once more like his dad than he was like the world. Now he was Joshua Ladenburg, not Joshua Nemelka. Although he never spit in my face, his attitudes about life, about things, about values were far different than mine and those of his siblings. (Joshua lived with me, Jackie, Brandon, Caleb, Sariah, and Ryan when he came to Utah for that short time.) I would not see or be in contact with Joshua again until he was 16 years-old … the time when I began my intervention.
You can judge me however you want, Grandkids, but judge me on the real facts, but only after you’ve investigated the events and thought about them carefully.
After Jackie and I returned to Utah, we rented an apartment in Sandy. Little did I know at the time that the apartment was a stone’s throw away from … Guess whose house? Yep. Vicky Prunty Batchelor’s. I had visited her home before, but the decision to rent an apartment in the same suburb was not made on remembering anything about her or where she lived. I didn’t think about where she lived when I looked for an apartment, and I had no idea what had happened to Marcee.
Marcee had left a few things in Montana with me and Jackie, so I decided to take them to her mother’s house. Her mother, Vickie Jaynes, was an incredibly nice woman. Naive as hell, but as kind and compassionate of a human being that you could ever want to meet.
Vickie Jaynes was not a Mormon Fundamentalist … that shit came from Marcee’s father’s side. Although Marcee’s father was pretty cool himself, having nothing to do with religion and very liberal in his views, Marcee’s parents had long divorced when she was young. It was Marcee’s desire to have a normal family that attracted her to Batchelor.
I don’t know what Marcee had told her mother about had what happened in Montana, but Vickie Jaynes greeted me with the kindness that she always had. I gave her Marcee’s things. As I did, a look of sadness and grave concern came over her face.
“How’s Marcee?” I asked.
“Chris, you got to help her. She’s living in a house this old polygamist man gave her. She’s back in that group!” her mother said with great concern written all over her face.
Ah, shit! My conscience.
Fuck! My conscience.
Tears were swelling up in Vickie Jayne’s eyes.
What the fuck was I supposed to do?
“Do you have any contact with Marcee?” I asked.
“Yes. She talks to me a lot,” she responded.
“Will you ask her if I can meet with her sometime?” I sincerely asked, but wanting only at the time to assuage her concern that I didn’t care about her daughter.
“Please, Chris. Help her!” Vickie pleaded.
Ah, shit! My conscience.
Fuck. My conscience.
When I returned to Jackie, I told her about what Marcee’s mother had said. Jackie felt very sorry for Marcee, but I don’t think she had any intention of supporting an idea that we should let Marcee back into our “family.” Jackie encouraged me to intervene and at least speak to Marcee and see what we could do for her.
Long story, short … I won the Mormon Fundamentalists yet again. I did the best thing for Marcee. Or did I?
Marcee moved in with us into our two-bedroom apartment, and sometime during the winter of 1992, she got pregnant. When Marcee found out that she was pregnant, she reported that it was the best day of her life. I remember her telling me that after she had found out, after visiting the doctor, she started skipping and singing, “I’m the happiest girl, in the whole U.S.A … It’s a skippidity do da day!”
Jackie was devastated.
I have no clue why Jackie didn’t take her kids and leave me. We weren’t legally married at the time. Her … and my family … would have LOVED to get her away from me. But she stayed. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment. Jackie had one room with Brandon, Caleb, and Sariah, and Marcee had the other. I would stay in Jackie’s room one night and Marcee’s the next … What a fucking emotional mess. Right?
But Jackie stayed.
What Jackie doesn’t know is that I only felt right, comfortable and proper sleeping with her. It was an emotional chore to be with Marcee and try to treat her with the same love and respect that I had for Jackie. But I did my best.
So the games of mortal life began.
I was still working full time for the Webster family as their Estate Manager, which provided us with just enough to live. Neither Jackie nor Marcee worked. Both were on government assisted medical care. I was supposed to be paying court-mandated child support to Jackie … but the divorce was just “on paper.” Jackie’s and my relationship didn’t change after we filed the mock divorce so that I could legally be with Marcee without breaking the law.
Later on in this autobiography, you’ll learn how Grandma Jackie became so mean, so bitter, so angry towards me, that she used the fact that I hadn’t paid her child support since our divorce against me in court. It landed me in jail. Yep. I went to jail for not paying Jackie child support from 1992 (when we divorced) through 2000 (when we finally separated for good). I was living with and supporting Jackie the entire time! Jackie lied in court. Jackie was angry, hurt, and determined not to let me go unpunished.
Could you blame Jackie?
I can only imagine what it must have been like for her to know that I was on the other side of her bedroom wall having sex with Marcee. I don’t know if she ever heard us having sex. I was pretty quiet. But Marcee … Oh my! Up to that point in my life, I had never been with a woman as sexual as Marcee, bar none! But Jackie didn’t know this … I don’t think. I loved Jackie. I didn’t love Marcee like I did Jackie. But obviously my love for Jackie wasn’t normal or what Jackie needed and deserved. If I had loved Jackie the way that a woman is supposed to be loved, how a woman should be loved, I could have never slept with Marcee … or Vicky Prunty.
Oh, yeah. Vicky Prunty. Let’s get to her.
Gary Batchelor had strictly commanded his wives that they could have no contact with Marcee or Jackie … of any kind. Marcee lost all contact with her cousin Mary, Vicky, and their children, as well as the rest of the Mormon Fundamentalist community.
Marcee hadn’t been living with Jackie and me for a month, when there was a knock at our door.
I opened the door and there stood Vicky Prunty.
Surprised for a second, I greeted her kindly and let her in. Marcee and Jackie greeted her with open arms. Vicky proceeded to explain how she was tired of the lifestyle she was living and how she was being treated by Batchelor. She was thinking about leaving that lifestyle and going up into the mountains to let God take care of her and her six children. Yeah. Really!
She was visibly upset and distraught as she explained what had been going on during the past year since I had met her husband. Jackie, Marcee, and I sat there feeling evermore sorry for her as she went on.
Ah, shit! My conscience.
Fuck. My conscience.
(To be continued …)