Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Stir with a Knife ~ Part One

The dance let out into the chill night air with lighthearted smiles and laughter. The night was brightly lit by the moonlight and no one needed a lamp to take the road home. But they all had taken these paths thousands of times before and knew them as they knew the the path to the outhouse back at their own homes.

Bessie smiled and waved goodbye to them all. The preacher patted her golden head and said, “You’re a good girl, Bessie. You tell your mother I hope she’s feeling better real soon.”

“Thank you, Preacher.” Bessie smiled up at him. “I ‘preciate you letting me come tonight. I don’t get out much since Mommy’s been sick.”

Bessie took off home with a song in her heart and the music from the dance still sounding in her head. She tripped along the gravel road, humming “Turkey in the Straw”, her feet still tripping to the tune.

The man walked behind her on soft soled boots making no sound. Bessie had no reason to look behind her and was caught up in her own little world. She didn’t hear the man gradually catching up with her and when she felt his hand cover her mouth it was too late.

He grasped her around the chest and pulled her to him…his breath sour with moonshine blowing close to her ear.

“Mmmm,” he said, “I bets you want some sugar, don’t you?” He rasped breathily to her.

Bessie struggled against him. He had her firmly from behind and her thrashing didn’t seem to be doing anything to free her. She smelled the strong scent of tobacco on his hand and it was hard to breath with it against her mouth. Finally she was able to stamp her heel against the man’s foot.

He screamed in pain and relaxed enough for Bessie to escape. She whirled and faced her attacker, her eyes flashing in anger. She hauled off and punched him across the face, hard, then pulled her hand back and shook it out.

“Damn you, Bart Roach!” She hollered. “You leave me alone!”

He brought a hand up to his face where she had hit him. It was going to leave a shiner, for sure. Enraged, he advanced on her, grinning and spitting.

She stood with her arms rigid in indignation. Her fists clinched tight. Her face was flushed in fury as she breathed hard.

He grabbed her again and forced an open mouthed kiss upon her.

Bessie bit hard down on his tongue and kneed him in the groin. He stepped back holding his mouth, with blood dripping from his lip.

“Damn you! Damn you! Damn you!” He screamed the words out in pain, running them together so they sounded like one word.

She scrubbed her mouth with the back of her hand and spat in the dirt. Then she turned on her heel and ran for all she was worth.

She ran so fast that she didn’t hear Bart Roach hollering after her, “I’ll git you Bessie Stark. Just you wait, you’ll be sorry!”

Bessie just kept running, her happy evening now ruined.

She pounded the path up to her house and came in the door bolting it behind her. She threw her back against the door and stood there breathing hard and tearing.

“Bess, is that you, honey?” Her mother called weakly from her bed.

“Yes, Mommy, it’s me. Nothin’ to worry about, go on back to sleep.”

Bessie’s mother was the only family she had left. Her Pa had died in a mine cave-in and her two brothers had died a year later, working in the same dangerous mine. Now it looked like she was going to lose her Mommy, too. She often wondered why God seemed to take the good and leave the evil.

Bessie sat down at the kitchen table and put her head in her hands. Silent tears streaked her cheeks. She wondered if her life would ever ease up. She wondered if she’d ever meet a fella who would strike her fancy who she’d marry and have babies with. But she knew that life was likely to get harder, because that was the way of life on the mountain.

When she curled up on her bed that night, the scent of the wood fire embers drifting in and out of her consciousness, she couldn’t know the terrible form that Bart’s retribution for her rebuke of his attentions would take, or the price she would pay.

Stir with a Knife ~ Part Three

1 Comment:

  1. Bad Alice said...
    I liked the way she fought back. Good for her. Too bad there's only herself to rely on. I hope she's going to emerge victorious. The ending sounds very ominous. Maybe I just want fluffy happy stories right now! Thanks for stopping by so faithfully. I'm finally here with my calling card.

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