Marlene Kurtis Copout #3

Marlene Kurtis

St. Petersburg,Florida Straight

March 1988 to September 1989

The parking lot… I darted for the double doors running as fast as I could. I made it out into the Florida night air and knew someone was on my tail when I felt a blow to the middle of my back. I flew forward and landed on my side on the asphalt with a 6’5″ guy landing on top of me. We were both dazed by the collision. I was screaming and squirming. He overpowered me, grabbed my beltloop and my arm and jerked me off the ground and escorted me right back to group.

This copout would be completely different. After running from the building and getting away twice only to be promptly returned and a few more attempts of being tackled in the parking lot, I knew that wasn’t the way to go so I went ahead and faked my way to 2nd phase. I was an out of towner and staying all over the place in host homes. Normally they would send me where the family was complaining and I would take on all the oldcomer responsibilities to give them a break. Supervising the showers and bathroom as well as reviewing MI’s and giving the newcomers crap about their attitudes and shaping up to get with the program or face the consequences.

Group was the worst I had ever seen it during this time. There were so many misbehaviors. It came out that some of the junior staff members were full of shit. Smoking cigarettes and guys scheming plans with girls even with newcomers. It was all very unstable. People were being pulled left and right, everyone was in an uproar. No one could be trusted. Everyone was full of shit and the core of the group was rocked. It got so bad that after an one open meeting during Friday night OMR, everyone freaked out. There were not enough phasers to control the group. There were too many people that needed to be restrained and just not enough man power to physically control everyone. The parents were brought in from parent rap to help subdue the group. It’s the only time I believe an uprising could have been successful if not for the parents coming in.

After that night, everyone was suspect. Even the most senior straightlings were questioning the validity of “the program”. Third and fourth phasers were being confronted daily pushed for confessions that would send them right back to first phase. I for one had had enough! I was on second phase and bidding my time hoping to get my car soon on 3rd phase so I could make a real run for it but I could not wait any longer.

There were 2 newcomers at the host home I was in and the other oldcomer who lived there didn’t pay any attention to us. I was handling it. The newcomers and I talked and made a plan that we would leave in the morning before the trip to the building. We did leave alright, right out the front door. We just ran right out into our freedom. We scaled a fence and went through neighborhoods to a close by shopping center. I caught a glimpse of a cop car and thought we should split up. They are looking for 3 girls and so we were dead in the water if we stayed together. They got busted right away but I ended up lurking around the shopping center looking for somewhere to hide. I came across an empty store front with an old guy inside dismantling shelves. I stepped inside to get out of sight and asked him if he needed some help with the shelves. I knew my way around a tool box from helping my dad with construction. The old man was impressed and asked me if I could work for him for the day and he would pay me $5/hr. This was perfect!! I was out of sight and needed some cash.

I called the only person I knew would help me. My friend from high school. My hometown was three hours away. He was my best friend and always did everything he could for me. It was my only hope. He would be on his way soon but it would be a long drive to come and get me and so worked for the day and waited. On the long drive back across the state, I told my friend all about straight and what they were doing to me. He couldn’t believe it. It was crazy and through the conversation, we were both convinced that if I could tell my parents the truth, they wouldn’t send me back. They would help me…

The 3rd time is NOT a charm. As I begged them in tears not to send me back, I again I was not able to convey the madness of what exactly happens inside that warehouse. Children forced to berate and beat up on other children… My parents drove me back to the building the next day. It was clear they would never pull me from the program.

Once again, I found myself sitting back in group. At this point all hope was lost in me. I would NEVER get out, EVER. My parents would not pull me and I had nowhere to go. I decided there was no other choice. I had to go through the motions and become a true straightling if I were ever to see sunlight and be free. I knew it would be a long time and I would have to endure awful things and do awful things to other people but there was no other way. I was out of options.

I was sullen for a month just letting it absorb into me, turning it over in my mind. I had played my last card. No one was coming to my rescue. My parents would never allow me to return home without completing the program. I was defeated. I decided I would comply with Straight. It was the saddest day of my life. It was a very conscience decision. I knew what they were doing and I knew I would lose what was left of “me” and so, I decided to let it happen. My mind was splitting in two and I could feel it. I was very aware that I was giving them control to change me and make me into one of them. I was taken out of group on more than one occasion completely out of control with emotional breakdowns. I was broken and they were ripping my soul apart.

I was assimilated and I became part of the machine. I have a complex memory block of the next year with only 2 memories that stayed with me. One of me on 5th phase during OMR standing on the side of group. A 1st phaser on the guy side was stood up to be confronted. The group was in a frenzy. I was called on and all of my anger came out on this guy. I was crying and screaming so loud that parent rap heard me and was disrupted. I was an animal. Tears of anger were streaming down my face, spit was flying from my mouth and words like daggers were coming out of my mouth ripping this guy apart. I was out of control in a fit of rage. I will never forget it. I wonder how many other times I did that and I just do not remember… At least a year is missing from my memory. I would have to guess hundreds of times if not thousands. I cannot write about the other memory that stayed with me. It is about marathoning someone and it is too painful.

Just another day at Straight Inc.


Just another day- Front row, blue chair…. Motivating and scared because I have no idea what I will say if I get called on, I better think quick and come up with something. I’ve been here for a long time…. I stop moving my hands in the air and my brain kicks in for a minute. I don’t want to wave my hands in the air and motivate. I DON’T want to be here. This place is messed up. I think they are brainwashing me.

I put my face in my hands I can’t take what is going on to the right of me or to the left of me. I can’t take it. I should have opted for juvie. I would rather be dead than take one more minute of this. GOD please help me. Somebody please help me. I want to scream, I want to run. Oh, shit they notice I‘m not participating. Here they come. I shake my head violently no,no,no. Fuck you! They grab my arms and pull them away from my face. No, no, no leave me alone, just leave me alone. I’m struggling, I’m losing my mind. Don’t touch me! My nemeses in the tall chair in front of the group gives the order- “take her down”.

I’m on the floor; I hit my head hard on the concrete. No, no, no- don’t sit on my chest, don’t fucking do that. DON’T….. DON’T…. The pressure pushes the air out of my lungs. I can’t breathe. I can’t fucking breathe. I get angrier but I am in so much pain. My arms are crushed It feels like my muscles are exploding. Please stop, Please stop, I scream GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME!!!!! I can only scream for a few minutes. The air is gone from my lungs. My face turns red and I am gasping again. Why doesn’t someone help me? I didn’t do ANYTHING.