The cell darkened as the lights dimmed for the evening. Tina sat on her bunk smirking at ‘Lady’. “You know, Lady, you ain’t half bad for a virgin. I coulda swore you liked it toward the end there.” ‘Lady’ had her back turned, her hands covering her face as if by not seeing, she could become invisible. She had been revolted by the rape. She choked back the vomit that insisted in rising to her throat. She had swallowed the acidic liquid for fear, Tina would beat her if she puked. ‘Lady’ held back the sobs but could feel the salty bitter tears as they traced once again down her face.
“Ain’tcha gonna talk to me, Lady? It ain’t like you was a real virgin. You’ll see soon enough. You’ll need a friend in here. With me yer safe. Just do what I say and you’ll be okay.” Tina’s voice actually sounded sincere to ‘Lady’. “Pretty soon yer gonna have to talk to me but I can wait. We got all the time in the world in this place.” Tina lay on her bunk, closed her eyes and fell to sleep.
‘Lady’ could not think of sleeping. She had to find a way to escape this nightmare. Her only answer right now was to take her mind as far away as possible; back to Brian and the kids and home. Somewhere in the darkest corner of her mind, she would find safety.
They married one month after graduation. She lost her virginity that night. The frightened little Baptist girl who had pushed him away so many times saying, “Wait. We cain’t do it. I promised to stay a virgin til I got married. It just ain’t right.” Brian would pout, pressure a little more but eventually back off. He knew she was serious and if he wanted her, he had to keep it in his pants or lose her. But tonight was their wedding night. This night she would be his. She was ready. No girl had ever wanted a man the way she wanted him. They made love three times that night before he figured out how to get the result he wanted; a woman in ecstacy who would never leave him ever after this. Once she discovered an orgasm, her orgasm, she became a welcoming, enthusiastic lover.
When he enlisted in the service, she understood. He had no chance at college and no chance at more than a unskilled laborer’s pay. When he was called up, they saw it as a way out. Away to make a better life for themselves and the family they might someday have..
When he returned, he was changed like so many of the boys who had been away. He had seen and done things that went against his upbringing, his sense of humanity. Children, women, old men, young men dying all around him. It wasn’t the war that bothered him. It was the death, the needless death that haunted his nights and hung in the shadows all day.
The steady boy had become a man with a resume. He was offered a job at the plant as warehouseman and moved up over the first few years to assistant manager. His future was not one of wealth but he certainly earned enough to buy a small fixer upper and rear those two kids of theirs.
One afternoon on break, Brian heard two guys talking on the loading dock. They were laughing about some firefight in Iraq. One of the guys thought it was real hoot how he and a couple of his buddies had set an old man on fire and then shot him as he fled, his body in flames. They laughed about how the old guy’s “cunt daughter” had run to the body, trying to extinguish the flames. They laughed harder about how they set the “I-raqi cunt” on fire, too. It got really hilarious when they cut up her body, boobs first, then face, then snatch and then had to quit when an officer came too close.
Listening, not believing, not registering how his mind had disconnected, Brian jumped the biggest guy, beating the shit out of his face, beating the guy senseless. The second man could not get Brian off his friend. The screams were loud and terrified and high pitched. The screams were Brian’s. When it took four guys to finally get Brian pulled off, the guy on the ground was almost unconscious. Brian was shaking, the adrenalin almost bursting his heart. He couldn’t catch his breath and his did not know how he got to where he was. He had snapped, gone ape shit.
He was fired on the spot. Charges of assault were filed, the victim suffered a concussion and required several sets of stitches. Brian had broken three knuckles and needed stitches on both hands. Three weeks later, Brian was sentenced to 18 months suspended on the condition he see a psychiatrist, pay all medical expenses, make restitution for the victim’s lost pay and complete 240 hours of community service at the veteran’s hospital in Oakville, 40 miles away. His clean record, his local history and his military service saved him from prison time.
Brian was a defeated, humiliated man who could no longer provide for his family. He found part time work in Oakville, thanks to a friend from high school. His wife became distant and afraid. She did not know this man who came home from work that day with a broken hand and a pink slip. No severance, no vacation, no compensation was due him. It was forfeited to the victim. They had no money to pay the court ordered psychiatrist. VA benefits wouldn’t cover the crazy actions of a lunatic with a conviction, suspended or not. She could not understand or forgive what he had done, not to the man on the loading dock, but to his family, to her.
All they had known was gone. The house needed repair, the car needed new tires, the children needed clothes and shoes. How would they ever crawl out of this hole? And so, ‘Lady’ went to work as a maid at the local Motel 6. For months on end, she dragged her kids to her mother’s, worked an 8 hour shift, picked up the kids, went home, did all the household chores, cooked what meagre meal she could and dragged herself to bed. Brian spent most of his time in Oakville.
Working at a minimum wage job, working with the old vets and seeing the shrink once a week, left Brian a hollowed out man. He ended up with the recommendation he go to anger management, another expense. Some nights, Brian slept in the garage at work instead of driving home. He was as exhausted as his wife. He missed his kids, his wife's arms around him when he walked in the door; her right leg thrown over his hip while they slept at night. Her glorious body was no longer his to have. Neither had the energy or the emotional strength to begin to understand what had happened to them.
When Brian returned to face the judge after 6 months, he had completed all the requirements of the court. The shrink had signed off. He was ready to start his life again; they were ready to start their lives again.
The problem with a small town is that memories are long. Brian continued to drive to Oakville to work while he tried to find work at home again. ‘Lady’ continued her arduous routine but at least Brian was home each night and able to help with the kids. His job was finding a better job, while he tried to keep up the car and the commute each and every day. He added more hours on the weekend hoping to earn a little more but more commuting meant more expenses.
Would this ever end?
To be continued...