Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Book Review and The Rest of the Story

I just finished a book I got through Amazon that my friend Constance Albrecht alerted me to over a year ago. I was prepared to be angry, upset or at least offended but I wasn't. In fact I was pretty sympathetic before it was over. Turns out we basically had a common enemy and tragedy came to all through that person. The book is Son of A Gun by Justin St. Germain. I pronounce it well written, disturbing and powerful. However, it only told the story from one point of view, his and that of his mother, as best he could reconstruct that, so I had to give another view.  That follows. It is long and not pretty but then life sometimes isn't.  Here is

The Rest of the Story…

               In September 2001, just a few days after 9/11, a young man of twenty going to the University of Arizona, lost his mother. She was murdered by her fifth husband. In 2013 that young man, now grown and an English and Creative Writing professor, published a book about this tragic event. It became a “best seller” and garnered the author his fifteen minutes of fame if not a little more. The title of the book is Son of a Gun and the author is Justin St. Germain.
           This book came to my attention in the spring of 2014 when I was in Silver City. I had gone over to help a friend who I had met a few years earlier when I lived in that area as she packed up to move. She mentioned a book she’d discussed with others in a book club there. As she talked about it, a faint prickle of concern slipped down my spine. Finally I had to interrupt her. “What did you say the author’s name was?” When she told me, I sank onto a stack of boxes, briefly stunned beyond speech. I could hardly believe my own ears. There really are no coincidences...
            Although it is not likely to get published, much less gain any fame and gushing reviews, here is the rest of the story. In 1983 my husband and two younger step children were living in Olivehurst, California, about forty miles north of Sacramento. I was working at McClellan AFB in a job I disliked but had promised my daughter she could finish high school there.  When she did, I had already begun to search for a place to transfer and move to. The same year her brother enlisted in the Marines.
            We moved back to Arizona that fall and eventually settled near Huachuca City. Jennifer went to Cochise College for awhile, ran through a few boyfriends and even managed a small thrift story for a charitable organization in Tombstone, just about twenty miles east of our home. Our VFW Post was often involved in joint activities with the Tombstone American Legion and one school district encompassed both communities.  So we almost had a foot in each community..
            David did a total of eight years in the Marines, getting out 1991. Over the course of his enlistments, he brought several friends home on visits. The last one was a few years his junior and also on “Motor T” or transportation. The guy’s name was Ray Hudson. For some reason, Jennifer and he hit it off and seemed to fall in love very quickly. We suggested she postpone marriage until he did the year in Okinawa for which he already had orders. She did and they were married on September 25, 1988.
             When he returned from Okinawa, Ray was stationed at Yuma, where my husband had ended his Marine career in the early 1960s and become a city policeman for several years before coming back to Bisbee. On November 14, 1990, Jennifer’s first child, Jarrod William Hudson arrived. After a year or so, Ray did not get the promotion he needed to continue in the Corps and they moved back to Huachuca City. He drove a beer truck briefly and then became the animal control officer in Huachuca City while he completed training to become a licensed police officer in Arizona. Then he joined the small force in Huachuca City. In January 1992, they had a second child, Rhiannon Mehgan. Within a few months, Jennifer was pregnant again. Ray wanted her to have an abortion as he said they could not afford another child. She refused. Caitlynn Marie was born a year and two weeks after her sister. Ray never did make the third child feel welcome.
            Not too long after that, Ray left the Huachuca City department and became a deputy to the Tombstone City Marshal. A few months later, he left Jennifer and moved in with a woman about ten years his senior who lived in Tombstone. Her name was  Her name was Deborah St. Germain, mostly known as Debbie. Rumors gave her an unwholesome reputation and she was called “the black widow” for an alleged practice of taking up with men, getting everything from them that she could, and moving on. She may just have copied ZaaZaa Gabor who said she was always a fine housekeeper: when she split with a man she kept the house.
            After some unsuccessful but mandatory counseling, few sessions of which Ray attended, Jennifer filed for divorce. Before it was final and child support orders were issued, Ray quit his job by the simple expedient of not going to work. He did not get unemployment since it was voluntary and thus had no income to be attached when he ignored the court order. He also made himself scarce as he and Debbie traveled around the country camping and riding horses for many months.  
            Jennifer could not pay for the van or the mobile home they had bought or much else with no income. We could not pick up those debts either. Things were very rough for her and the kids for some time. For all practical purposes, Ray disappeared although he was seen off and on, always in the company of the woman he now lived with. They seemed to be virtually joined at the hip.
            Meanwhile Jennifer struggled, having few marketable skills, limited no work experience, and three children in the five to ten year old age group that required supervision. Her dad and I helped as we could and her former husband’s mother and step father did also, but it was still hand to mouth for the small family. It was not an easy time for any of us.
            Then nine eleven happened and a few days later, a deputy sheriff came to our house. My husband had been in law enforcement most of his career and knew many local law enforcement people. By then David was employed by the Cochise County Sheriff as well, working in corrections. We learned that Ray Hudson’s new wife, since they had finally wed in May 2001, had been found shot multiple times and messily dead in their travel trailer parked in the desert near Gleeson, east of Tombstone. Their truck and Ray were missing. He was the prime suspect.
            We kept Jennifer and her three kids at our house for several days and all adults  went armed since we had no idea what might happen. After a week or so we deemed it safe for them to go home. Jennifer had now rented a mobile, less than a mile airline from our home though a bit more by road, still near enough to call for help if she had to.  Finally in December, close to twelve weeks after the murder, a red Ford diesel dually was found near Caballo Lake in New Mexico. Inside was a decomposing body with a suicide note and the Arizona driver’s license of Duane Raymont Hudson.
            Due to the state of the corpse, dental records had to be used for positive identification. Jennifer offered to go identify the body but the NM police told her no, she emphatically did not want to do that. I expect it was gruesome. The sordid tale was in and out of Arizona news for a short while but was soon eclipsed by newer scandals. For the living, life went on as it does.
            Less than a year after that, the following summer, Jennifer and a girlfriend packed up their households and a total of seven kids between them and moved to North Carolina. Local kids at Huachuca City school had been nasty to our three grandchildren since  nieces/nephews of Debbie lived in the area and knew her killer was the Hudson kids’ father.  People did tend to “take sides” as small towns are wont to do. Thus Jennifer felt she needed a new start. Jim did not see his daughter and grandchildren again since he died just a year and a bit later, in November of 2003.
            We had always thought of Debbie St Germain as a home wrecker since there was no question Ray was still married when he took up with her. I find it hard to believe she did not know this. Our theory was there may have been drugs involved since many local law enforcement people have gotten sucked into the same issues they were supposed to be curbing although we did not know.  At any rate, how they managed for a couple of years mostly with neither employed is an unsolved mystery.
            We had also theorized that Ray had told Debbie he was the sole heir of his maternal grandparents who lived in Montana and were fairly well off and of  his mother, who had a high level job with Southern Bell and her third husband who was the senior civilian in the FAA. They all changed their wills after Ray abandoned his three children but he may not have known that at once.
            If any of her reputation was factual, perhaps Debbie found this out. Having by then run through the money she apparently had when they became a couple, she decided her ‘toy boy’ was not so attractive after all and told him to take a hike. He would not have taken that well… Again, we don’t know nor does Debbie’s son since there was no one around but the two of them when the killing took place. Few had even observed them a lot since they had been generally reclusive or traveling all over the country. She was discovered by a friend some hours after she had been shot.  
            We also learned that Ray had been cheating on Jennifer almost from the start despite his great avowals not to be a bad father like his own etc..  He had always told us said how devastated he was by the fact his father had left when he was very small and that he would never do such a thing to his kids. Well, he lied. I am convinced he was a totally sociopathic person and like many such could do a wonderful Jekyll and Hyde act so as to appear kind, mild, charming and nearly too good to be true.
            That he was totally amoral is hardly subject to question, looking back over the situation. At least in dying he did one good turn for the children he abandoned since Jennifer was able to collect Social Security for them until each one turned eighteen which made life at least possible if not comfortable for her and them.
            Finally this past week I got a copy of Son of a Gun on Amazon and read it. I was surprised in a few things, hardly shocked and of course saddened. Too many damaged lives had occurred because of two people’s selfish acts.
            Yes, the author is a good writer… I suppose that is not surprising although he came from mostly uneducated people; even he calls them trailer trash at times in his memoir.  Of course Justin presents his mother in the best light possible although admitting she had bad taste in men and an inability to make a relationship last and work. He managed to pull himself out of the mire of this rather sordid early life and upbringing. I admire him for that and do not begrudge or resent him telling his—or his mother’s as he recreated it--side of the story.
            Still, as a Vince Gill song says, “There’s three sides to every story, your side, my side and the truth.” I suspect the truth of the Hudson/St. Germain affair lies somewhere between her son’s book and my recollection of the events from the point of view of several other people who were traumatized by the situation.  Jennifer has never remarried and only had one relationship in the years since her divorce. It also ended badly but not with any horror, thank goodness. Her kids are now grown and only Rhiannon has a semi-serious boyfriend. The other two still live with their mother and barely got through high school. They were surely damaged by losing their father not once but twice. I doubt she will ever trust a man again.
            In case you wonder, yes, I do plan to send my version to Justin, not that it will make any difference to or impression on him. I just think he needs to take at least one look at some other people’s pain besides his own. For me, I am glad Jennifer was out of Ray’s life before he finally went berserk or whatever happened.  Her father and I were both very thankful for that. She lived as did her children; in that she had the ‘last laugh’ although it is rather hollow. 

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