The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

I loved them.  Loved them as only a little girl can love.

Especially Illya Kuryakin.  Napoleon Solo was too cocky and full of himself for me.  Too egotistical  Too suave.  He was the guy who always won.  I loved the underdog.  Kuryakin.

I spent my meager allowance to buy posters, pictures and books.  Man From U.N.C.L.E. posters, pictures and books.  Books that I read again and again.  Pictures that I looked at, soaked in and memorized.  Huge posters that I adored and hung on my wall.  The show was a happy place in my otherwise unhappy world.

Robert Vaughn.  David McCallum.  Leo G. Carroll.  Especially David McCallum.  Illya Kuryakin.

I often pretended to be an U.N.C.L.E. agent.  I had an army green messenger pouch I bought from the Army Surplus Store and I filled it with secret documents I was tasked to deliver to fellow agents in enemy territory.  I had a gun, made from a carved wooden stock with a piece of pipe for a barrel.  I carried out my missions, barely escaping T.H.R.U.S.H.

I loved Illya Kuryakin.  I loved  The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

They watched me.    I pinned their pictures to the walls of my bedroom because they made me happy.  They watched over me from there.  From the walls of my room.  They saw everything that happened in that room.  Everything.

I grew up in a small town outside a small city.   We…my dysfunctional, abusive family and I…would often go to that small city to shop and eat on the afternoon before The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would air.  I would go on one condition.  One condition only.  That we would be home in time for me to see my show.   My special show; the highlight of my week.

Back in those days, when I was 9, 10, 11, you couldn’t record a t.v. show and watch it later.  That technology didn’t exist.   If you missed it, you missed it.  I couldn’t bear to miss it.  I loved The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  Loved. Them.

The black and white posters watched over me and made me feel a little safer. 

The show was the one positive thing in my life.

I liked it, mostly.  That they watched over me.  Except.

Except when.

When my father tip-toed into my room at night.  Breathing heavily. When he abused me.  Sexually abused me.  While they were watching.

I was so ashamed.  So ashamed.

I wanted to marry David McCallum.  I was disappointed when I found out he was married.  But I was 10.  I was 11.  That’s the way it is when you are a kid.  Reality is relative.  Reality can be hidden in fantasy and they can easily intertwine.  Especially when reality is too painful.  When you’re a kid.  When the truth can’t be faced.

Most recently he’s called “Ducky.”  He is so old.  As am I, though he is even older.  It was a long time ago.  A long, long time ago.  I can’t believe how long ago it was. But even now, I remember.

I still like him.  In spite of the fact he saw the ugly things; the shameful things.  He saw my father abuse me., hanging there on my wall with his open, staring eyes .  He watched it all.  All of the abuse; the sexual abuse.  He saw.  Everything.

The posters all watched, unblinking ,while it happened. The posters I bought with my allowance and hung with care.  They saw.

I was so ashamed, as time passed, I couldn’t look them in the eye.  Because I knew they knew my terrible secret.  I knew they could see.  They could see him do those sick and awful things to me.

I felt as if it was all my fault.  All my fault.  Somehow.

The shame was overwhelming.  It was so overwhelming, I escaped.  Into nothingness.  I turned over and retreated into darkness.  I faded into a place of total numbness and emptiness.  I couldn’t bear the shame.

I didn’t want them to see; my heroes.  I hated it that they saw my nakedness.  It was too much, knowing they were watching and that they could see him penetrate me.  And so, I blotted out the room and their faces.  I blotted out the universe.

I didn’t want him, my father, to do those things to me.  I begged him.  Begged him not to.  But he did them anyway.  He didn’t hear my pleas, nor did he consider the pain in my voice.  He didn’t know the posters of my heroes witnessed the abuse.  He hid in the night and thought no one knew. He thought no one was watching.

But they saw everything.

I still have good feelings about that show.  I still have a soft place in my heart for Illyan Kuryakin.  For David McCallum. 

I still feel the shame of the abuse.  The sexual abuse that destroyed my soul.  My father was the perpetrator.    And they saw.  They watched.  They knew the truth.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E. agents knew the truth.

Silent witnesses. 

They’re doing a remake of the show.

Wish I could remake my life.

And change what they saw.  Change what was.  Change what happened.

But reality can’t be changed.  It can be disguised.  But it can’t be changed.

In the end, my heroes couldn’t save me.  They could only observe in silence in the middle of the night as the one who should be protecting me raped and  abused me.  They could defeat T.H.R.U.S.H., but they couldn’t deter my father’s lust.

I wish they hadn’t seen.

But if someone had to see, I’m glad it was them.  My heroes.  Heroes who will always have a special place in my heart.  Heroes who watched a little girl being destroyed.

I like to think they wept as they watched.  I like to think they wanted to protect me.  That’s what they did.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  They saved the world.  They would have saved me if they could have. 

But they were only posters tacked to my wall. In the end, they were as powerless as I was.  There’s only so much posters, even posters of heroes, can do.



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