Sunday, February 20, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 9: Bill, the hired man, grabs me and makes me go down into the corn with him!

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 a lot of men.
I was sure that whatever went on in the old falling down cabin where Bill lived having sex, if that is what they did, 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 own father's hired men all his life, too, so his dad was the one who had undoubtedly given him a taste for enjoying the world through the eyes of wanderers.
I did not even realize Daddy had gone somewhere when Bill unexpectedly accosted me out by the corrals where I roamed freely. Margie was given to allergic attacks out around the hay so she wasn't with me. The family had found out she had quite a severe allergy to hay that was probably going to limit her work activities in the out of doors.  The Salt Gulch ranch was a lot more of a hay producing one than Grandpa's Boulder ranch. Alfalfa did not grow nearly as well in the sandy soil, so Grandpa only raised wild timothy in Boulder. Mother was already going to help Daddy improve his alfalfa acreage by planting more seed and buying good fertilizer.
Anyway Bill suddenly grabbed me by the hand out by the corrals 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 I should agree to go when he started dragging me down around the hill. This forcefulness I definitely did not like and I began to get alarmed. I was even more uneasy when he headed toward the corn with my hand grasped firmly in his. He thrust me down on the ground where the corn hid me.  Then he set down beside me. 

 To my shock he pulled up my dress and I felt his hand slip down inside my underpants. He quickly found my two 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 thought was very wrong. For a child to argue and resist determined adultgs only seemed to make them more determined. I am talking mostly about my mother here who went crazy if her child objected to her disciplining. She always thought she was being sassed, which was a terrible crime in her eyes. I made myself wait a few minutes before I started to wiggle, saying, “I have to go! My mother is going to be looking for me!”
That thought seemed to make Bill nervous enough that he reluctantly let me up, and I hurried back toward the house. I was feeling almost crippled by what had just transpired. I could not even run very well. I went into the house I think still in profound shock trying to decide what I could do.
My first thought was of Daddy's altercation with the cattle rustler, his former best friend. I decided immediately that if Daddy found out about him molesting me, Bill was as good as dead. I was 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. Besides that, Daddy might think it would be best to take Bill out before he landed in jail. Bill was very nervy and might do a lot of reckless talking when he should keep his mouth shut if he knew what was good for him.  
I just could not make up my mind that what he had done was bad enough to deserve the death sentence, so I didn't do anything for several days. Bill must have interpreted my 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 now, my mother would be missing me. 
Quite a few days went by after the second encounter, and I still could not decide whether Bill should be executed. I thought my mind was going to crack with the strain. So Bill naturally took advantage of me being in such a quandary and grabbed me again! 

As I was sitting down in the corn which by now had grown another few inches so it quite adequately covered us both from view,  I tried to think of the reasons Bill would take such a terrible chance grabbing his employer's little daughter, just barely turned six a couple of days before, for his sexual purposes. I recalled some information I had just heard about Bill.
Mother said that Bill 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 handsomer men to enjoy his company. I was sure she did not know what she was saying, but I began to suspect that after all the attention Daddy had paid him during the winter rage and jealousy over Daddy's weekend partying still going on without him had caused Bill to go crazy and go after me in revenge. He was in such a state that imagining how much pain Daddy would feel if he knew what he was doing to his little daughter gave him more satisfaction than any possible worry about what Daddy might do to him as a result of his crimes.
Well, he could be killed, that is what could happen to him!  I knew now beyond a shadow of a doubt I had to do something before Bill did something even worse. He was actually causing me to have sexual sensations this third time around which I did not know a child as young as I was could have, as stimulated by the fingers of a grown man.
This was finally horrifying enough to help me to remember the danger he posed to me while he was still working for Daddy. In this emergency situation, I came up with a plan. 

I started staying very close to my mother. I kept Margie with me so he would not have the 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.

My constant vigilance was the only thing that paid off. Bill never got the chance to grab me again. As Daddy's interest in him appeared to have waned, he took to killing rattlesnakes about the fields as a hobby. Pretty soon he bragged he had enough to circle his hat. I never thought of a rattlesnake again but what I connected it to Bill, the most poisonous human being I ever ran into or would ever encounter again in my lifetime. 

When I started school that September and I had to ride the bus, I was very worried that Bill might try to way lay me when I got off the bus over the hill from the ranch, so I insisted that Mother and Dad be there to pick me up. When they did not show up I got very angry at them. I would dart along behind the trees, making my way over the hill and down into the ranch as though pursued by a demon. I let them think I was afraid of coyotes but my urgent commands caused them to show up almost every day.
I did not worry about Bill 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 may have even warned her not to go far from the house, I don't remember.

I said nothing to anyone about what Bill had done to me. He worked for Daddy about a year longer and then by mutual consent they terminated their working relationship as well as their socializing one. I was playing once, however, on top of the hill in the middle of the ranch a year later when I was still six, and I looked down and saw Bill and Daddy together shoveling or doing something in the field next to the corn. 
 I glanced back and they had disappeared! I figured Bill had taken Daddy into the corn just like he took me which was tall enough to cover them. Daddy had followed along like an obedient kid.
I had a sudden vision in my mind of Daddy when he was not a lot older than I was following hired men like Bill into the corn or wherever they wanted to take him. Daddy being a boy could not have escaped a hired man hungry for sex as easily as I had, even. I recalled one who worked for the Kings 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 work in the fields no matter what kind of poisonous men might mess with him 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, when he is on his own ranch.  He goes into the tall corn. 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 didn't tell him I did not want to work with Bill. I just said I would wait until I was a little older to drive the team, 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 to me than a rattlesnake like Bill.

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