Saturday, March 20, 2010

MEMOIRS--Chapter ten-Rattlesnakes of the human kind


Chapter nine

I have found out that I transposed events in my reluctance to talk about the next rather shattering event in my life that happened during the first summer in Salt Gulch after Bill came to work for us. The flood did not happen until the following year.
I had not been paying the slightest bit of attention to Bill. I had been interacting with hired men since I was born. My Grandpa King was known for giving wandering transients a job, a bed, and some good food to eat, so there was always someone I did not know working for him. He seemed to like to talk to men from the outside world as did my dad who had partied up and down the state with an amazing amount of men.
I was sure that whatever went on in the old falling down cabin where Bill lived, sex was only a small part of it. Bill was apparently quite entertaining for my dad to pursue a relationship with him when he was sober, but then he had interacted with his father's hired men, too, all his life, so his dad was the one who had undoubtedly given him a taste for experiencing the world through the eyes of the wanderers.
I did not even realize Daddy had gone somewhere when Bill unexpectedly accosted me out by the corrals where I roamed freely at will. Margie was given to allergic attacks out around the corrals so she wasn't with me. We had found out she had quite a severe penchant for hay fever that was probably going to limit her activities in the hay fields. This was a lot more of a hay producing ranch than Grandpa's Boulder ranch. Alfalfa did not grow nearly as well in that sandy soil, so Grandpa only raised wild timothy. Mother was already helping Daddy improve his alfalfa acreage in various ways.
Anyway Bill suddenly grabbed me by the hand and said, “Do you want to go tend the water with me?” I had never had a hired man ask me to go tend the water, and I was thinking about whether to agree when he started dragging me down around the hill. This forcefulness I definitely did not like and began to get alarmed. I was far more frightened when he headed toward the corn. He thrust me down into it until it almost hid both of us as he pushed me down to the ground and sat down beside me. To my shock and horror he pulled up my dress and I felt his knowing hand inside my underpants.
There he quickly found my small mounds and began to caress them. I had been taught very well by hot tempered adults not to say anything when they were doing something to me I did not like. For a child to argue with them only seemed to incense them more. I am talking about my mother here who went crazy if a child objected to her discipline and thought she was being 'sassed'. I waited for a few minutes before I started to wiggle and say, “I have to go! My mother is going to be looking for me!”
That seemed to frighten Bill so he reluctantly let me up and I ran, almost stumbling, back toward the house. I already felt crippled by what had just transpired. I hurried into the house where I stayed the rest of the day, I still think in profound shock trying to decide what I needed to do.
I immediately thought of Daddy's altercation with the cattle rustler, his former best friend. I thought if Daddy finds out about this Bill is a dead man. I was just sure he would not wait for the law to take care of him. The law played a very small part in our lives being so far away, in the country seat or somewhere. We had no law officers in Boulder.
I thought I had to decide right then and there whether Bill deserved to die for his crime. This trying to decide what to do went on for several days and to my shock, Bill must have interpreted this lack of action as willingness, because he grabbed me again a few days later. This time he went on a little longer with his business in my underpants before I could persuade him I needed to go, that my mother would miss me. Quite a few days went by after the second encounter, and I still did not do anything about the attack, and Bill took advantage and grabbed me again!
As I was sitting down in the corn which by now had grown another six inches and quite adequately covered us from view I tried to think why Bill would take such a terrible chance by grabbing his employer's little daughter, just barely turned six, I had had a birthday, for sexual purposes. I suddenly remembered some information I had heard about Bill just in the last few days.
Mother said that he was extremely angry at Daddy because Daddy would not take him to party with him on the weekends. “He hired him to do the chores,” said Mother, “because I told him I would not do them anymore when he was gone. Bill is crazy if he thinks Clyde is going to take an ugly old thing like him to Escalante to party!”
She was almost implying Daddy could find younger and more handsome men to enjoy his company. I was sure she did not know what she was saying, but now I began to understand that rage and jealousy after all the attention Daddy had paid him during the winter had caused Bill to snap. He was in such a jealous state that imagining how much pain Daddy would feel if he knew what he was doing to his daughter gave him more satisfaction than any possible worry about what could happen to him as a result.
Well, he could die that is what could happen to him, but I knew that I had to do something. The next time he took me he might do far worse than he was doing right now. He actually was causing me to have sexual sensations which I did not know a child as young as I was could have, stimulated by a grown man.
This was horrifying enough to help me to remember the danger he posed to me while he was still working for Daddy. I started staying very close to my mother at all times. I kept Margie with me so he would not by chance grab her. If I went outside I never went further than ten feet from the kitchen door where I would be able to see my mother working.
Bill never bothered me again. As Daddy's interest in him subsided he took to killing rattlesnakes about the fields as a hobby. Pretty soon he bragged he had enough to circle his hat. You are a scary person, all right, I thought and I never thought of a rattlesnake again but what I connected him with Bill, the most poisonous creature I had ever run into or indeed would ever would run into.
When I started school that September and had to ride the bus, I was very worried that Bill might try to way lay me when I got off, so I insisted that Mother and Dad be there to pick me up and when they didn't I got very angry. I would dart along behind the trees, making my way over the hill and down into the ranch as though pursued by demons. I let them think I was afraid of coyotes but my urgent insistence caused them to show up most every day.
I did not worry about him grabbing Margie because once I was gone I figured she would not go out around the corrals for fear of having a hay fever attack. She would stay in the house helping Mother with Baby LaRae.
I still said nothing to anyone about what Bill had actually done to me. He worked for Daddy about a year longer and then by mutual consent they sort of terminated their working relationship as well as their socializing. I was playing once, however, on top of the hill in the middle of the ranch, and looked down and saw Bill and Daddy together shoveling or doing something by the tall corn. I looked back and they had disappeared just like that! I figured Bill had taken Daddy into the tall corn just like he took me. And Daddy had followed along like an obedient child.

I had a sudden vision in my mind of Daddy when he was not a lot older than I was following a hired man kind of like Bill into the corn or wherever he wanted to take him. Daddy was a boy and could not have escaped a hired man hungry for sexual contact as easily as I had. I even recalled one who worked for his family for years who had never been able to find a woman to have anything to do with him. It could have been somebody like him who taught my dad the ways of men with boys. His dad would have made him keep on working in the fields no matter what kind of rattlesnake he might encounter there.
About ten minutes later I turned my attention back to the corn field and Daddy and Bill had reappeared and were innocently going on with their shoveling. So that is how Daddy does it, I thought. He is a sly cuss. Daddy seemed to be a very sexually active man at that age, because it would not be long until Mother was pregnant again!
I told Daddy I was sorry I did not think I was old enough to drive Old Pet and her teammate hooked to the hay wagon. I did not want to get that close to Bill. I said I would wait until I was a little older, thank you. Daddy did not object. I was a girl after all and there was plenty for me to do in the house with Mother who seemed a lot safer right now than a rattlesnake like Bill.

Connie made the top graphic, Connie, who always 'gets' my story, as a good supportive friend will do. Denise Yagmourian who lived with my son Raymond a number of years painted the picture of the predators in the tall corn. I was so struck by it I bought a print of it from her. I hope she will not mind me posting it in this entry.


Connie said...

Denise is a marvelous artist and how apprapo...

LaRena said...

My word, I miss a day or two getting to your blog and lo, you have written so much I can hardly catch up. i found your account of you, Bill and the tall corn very touching. i just wanted to cry for you. An innocent little girl put in such a terrible position. Corn seems to be symbolic of a lot of rather dark happening.Maybe because it can hide people so well. I thought it was used very effectively in the movie,"sightings) Hiding the dark presents of aliens. Terrifying thee adults as well as the children.

Denise captured this feeling so well in her painting. I enjoyed the one I bought from her called 'blue moon', until someone fell in love with it hanging on my wall so I gave it to them. I like to do that with paintings. I was very surprised when I was at a friends house in Scottsdale who had belonged to our writing group. In her bathroom was Denise's painting which I had loved called "Sofa Cats.'She had bought it at an art show.

Incidentally I like the picture of you in white with the bouquet of yellow flowers. You still look rather innocent in this photo so it fits well. Stay our of the tall corn.


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