A Bit of life Chapter 1 the date
Each season I enjoy certain elements about each one, winter being the first snow fall yet after 3 months of snow I am ready for spring. Now spring is a very special season with emergence of growth, buds alongside weeds, yet still growth. Life stretching it’s arms to the sun, hummingbirds coming to taste the nectar of a blossom.
Well my daughter is going on her first real date at 16, I have walked through the spring of her life learning to walk, and then run, using the bathroom all those moments we hope for yet seem to pass us by so quickly. I am concerned for her to make smart choices, I remember at 16 hormones spoke louder than my parent’s words yet they are compelled to tell us.
I have known this young man since he was a toddler, as well as his family; which lives the next street over; in my neighborhood that is a long way considering a small farm is 100 acres. I and her dad have known the family since we were kids, families hand down the farms to the next generation that wants to farm. I suppose that is why families which live on farms have broods, some want to go off the farm to the big city and make their way others love the life they grew up with, so this could be the makings of another union which stays home and tends to the farm and their families; I am getting ahead of myself this is their first date, I am not naive enough to think there has been no hanky panky in the hay, Claudia said she has NEVER, that is good to hear, we will see.
My husband Jess would want Claudia to wait till she is 17 ; if he were honest she would not date at all he would pick the man and she would marry him, well we can be too protective and that would be to old world protective.
Hearing the truck pull in the driveway I glance out the window I see Butch pull up in his truck, slowly as not to stir up dust, Jess is wiping the sweat off his forehead and hands, reaches out and gives Butch a handshake. Butch gives a firm nod which his hand is probably just as firm when shaken. I can just imagine the word Jess is having with the boy, I have to chuckle.
Jess is probably telling Butch he wants Claudia home by 11pm and if she is late He will get in his truck and find her, if he is inconvenienced in any way and having to go find her he will beat him to a pulp. Something along those lines is what Jess ranted to me this morning over his eggs and bacon. Wow I remember our first date and doing the deed in the back of his pick up after a few swigs of Ripple.
Time to put some motion in that girls caboose, “Claudia let’s get a move on you do not keep that boy waiting”
“First off mom he ain’t a boy secondly keep them waiting a bit is not a bad thing, makes them want ya more”
“Now hold on Claudia, he does not need to be want’n you at all and please the word is isn’t not Ain’t , language is important”
“Yes Mama now don’t you worry about us, we know what we are doing and where we are going and what we want to do, we will not do anything you and dad did not do on your dates”
I laughed and she knew why I laughed then said “Yes darling it worked for us, me having you at 17, but it does not always work that way”
“I know Mama I know now just you wait and see we will be just fine”
“Claudia, “ Jess walked in the door, guess it is her turn “I told Butch to have you home by 11 pm and you make sure you hold him to that”
“I will Papa I will, love you both very much, you two have some fun tonight with no one here to walk in on ya”
“CLAUDIA!!! That is no way to speak to your parents” I know she did not hear my words because she was out the door and in the truck before I could finish my rant.
That girl is smart but sometimes too smart for her own good
“Jess did you give him your speech”
“Yup, same as I told you I would over breakfast, and by the way I like Claudia’s idea what’s say that we have an early dinner and rip off a piece?”
Laughing as he picks me up and swings me around, I still love and lust for this man after 18 years with him.
A bit of Life Chapter 2 The Worry
Time went by quickly after dinner Jess and I spent some special time with each other. Warm Spring evening out on the lawn, loving each other; we now can afford the better wine in a box.
I was the first one to notice how late it was getting, running into the house grabbing my clothes as I went, stepped into the kitchen and my first thought was, that boy is going to pay dearly for this it is Midnight.
Jess walked in moments after me and said “To be honest I figured the boy was up to something, I overheard him at the 5 and dime talking with some of his buddies, he said something along the line; it will not be blue berry hill tonight but Marshals corner”
“Well Jess I guess you know where to start”
“Actually I am going to start by going and having a talk with Norm, Butch’s dad, and he will be going with me so I do not kick the boy’s ass, I will let Norm do it”
“I am relieved to hear you say that Jess”
After kissing me, Jess got into his Ford and pulled out of the driveway kicking up stones and dust, now there is something Butch could have taught Jess.
Those kids what are they thinking; there would be no repercussions? Or did they think that whatever repercussions, it would be worth it.
Normally nothing much bothers me but now I am actually scared; it is 2am no word from Jess or Norm, I called Sarah, Butch’s mom and she is on her way over, bringing some brownies and I am making coffee.
As Sarah walked in the door my phone rang, it was Sheriff Hackle, “Rose this is Sheriff Hackle” as he said this, my stomach dropped, knees started to buckle, Sarah dragged a chair over just in time for me to sit.
“Sheriff what can I do for you?”
“Thought I should tell you that Jess, and Norm are here they found Butch’s truck but no sign of the kids, we have called the marine division; they will take a look at the river, it is just a precaution we have no indication that they fell in or whatever; but we should look early may be they just need help.”
Sarah was putting coffee in a thermos, she grabbed the brownies and we headed to the sheriff department.
By the time we arrived the Marine division had already been dispatched. I wanted to go and stand by just in case but Sheriff Hackle suggested we stay at the department in his office.
Looking at Jess I know he was thinking what I was thinking as soon as the Sherriff left the room we headed out with Sarah and Norm right on our heels. We would be climbing the walls if we stayed in that room.
“Jess please slow down I am as concerned as you are please”
“Sorry Rose I did not realize how fast I was driving”
Jess slowed to the speed limit, on these roads at night with all sorts of critters crossing the road you’d be smart to slow down more.
Norm passed us like we were standing still; I shook my head and took in a breath. We only have 5 miles to cover no sense taking chances I am glad Jess is cool headed about these things, Norm never has been all that cool headed, and sure hope Butch takes after his mama.
Our lights picked up something around the curve it was a fresh road kill, large Buck, Jess and I looked at each other with dread, unfortunately we were right. Norm and Sarah’s truck was flipped over into the culvert, Jess was the first one out of the truck sliding down on his ass into the culvert, on hands and knees went to the passenger’s side first. I got on my cell phone and called the Sheriff’s department.
By the time EMS left, Jess and I were digesting the fact that Norm and Sarah was DOA, and Butch would have to live with this for the rest of his life. Sheriff approached and said they did not find hide nor hair of the kids, but they will check more in the morning.
“This has been a helluva night sun is coming up why don’t you two go home try to rest, I have an all points out on the kids and a missing persons, I will let you know if we find out anything”
Jess and I got back in the truck it was such and eerie silent ride home, window down, even though there was a chill, I needed the air to breathe.
A bit of life Chapter 3 A past truth
After calling all of the kids friends, co-workers, spoke to anyone and everyone we could think of. Sheriff’s department was not having any more luck then we were.
Saturday is the Funeral for Norm and Sarah, they have 3 more kids who moved out of town soon after they graduated. The oldest did good for himself, Josh put himself through college and became a dentist.
Then there is Marge she owns a small Boutique in another state she also left the state before she graduated, received her GED took business courses left with her Brother Josh. Larry is a year behind Marge soon as he graduated he joined the Army and has made a career out of it. Sharp shooter and I hear he is very good at it.
Neither of them could be in town for the search, I have been in constant contact with Josh, since Larry is out of country and no one really knows where he is. Josh and Marge will be in town for the funeral and take care of the house, clean it check on the critters.
It is a Dairy Farm, Butch has been doing double duty, taking care of the cows and our farm, along with some help from the other neighbors, everyone doing a little; goes a long way.
Josh came by as soon as he got into town on Friday afternoon, we had coffee chatted, it was odd though he did not seem too torn up about his parents passing, and none too concerned about the kids. I am eager to speak with Marg her and I had a rapport when she lived here. I was surprised when she left without saying goodbye.
I did not get a chance to talk with Marg but did ask her to stop by before she leaves so we could catch up. She did not shed a tear at the funeral. Very proper business like and congenial but like Josh no signs of sadness I just do not get these kids, I thought they were a close knit family.
“Rose have you had a chance to speak to Marg yet?”
“No Jessie, she came in late and was busy being the hostess, is it just me, or does something seems off about those two kids?”
“Not just you Rose, do you mind if I sit in on your conversation with Marg? I would like to know what she knows about Claudia and Butch.”
“You are not suggesting the kids helped Claudia and Butch leave town do you?”
“I do not know what to think, the funeral was odd, we had not seen anything nor heard anything, all we have is Butch’s truck, foot prints going towards the water nothing coming out, by now they would have floated to the surface.”
The knock at the door interrupted our conversation.
“Hey Marg I am so glad you took the time to come see me, how are you holding up?”
“I am good Rose and want to thank you for staying in touch with Josh so we were informed about the situation with Butch and Claudia”
“Here sit down, you remember my husband Jess?”
“Hey Jess, you and the neighbors have been taking care of the cows and farm work that is such a blessing to us. I suppose you would like to know why Josh and I have not shed a tear for our parents passing”
She paused as she sat; took a sip of coffee looking very uncomfortable
“Well when I turned 13 was the first time my dad came into my bedroom at night, I will not give all the gory details but my 15th birthday was the last time, by that time Josh had found out and he told me to pack and we would leave as soon as he received his diploma, unbeknownst to me; Larry being 1 years younger than I am, had seen mom at the door watching, had either of the boys intervened dad would have beat them too an inch of their lives, Josh never said but I believe he was abused as well, same as I was, we all just left that evil son of a bitch”
It seems as if I was holding my breath the whole time she spoke, so much was running through my head I did not know what to think or where to start, Jess was already speaking when my ears caught up with his words.
“Do you or Josh know where Butch and Claudia are?”
“No but it would not surprise me if they just took off Jess, those two were real close, Butch stayed in contact with me weekly, I believe Butch was in love with Claudia since they were in grade school”
Jess and I both sat back in our chairs letting air out of our lungs, shoulders slumped, I believe some relief and a glimmer of hope that nothing nefarious happened to them.
“Marg do you think Butch was abused the same as the rest of you?”
“No because before Larry left town he had it out with dad, do you remember dad was in the hospital for a week? He told the doctors that he got caught between the cows and was bruised up pretty bad when he fell and they stepped all over him, well Larry never was abused, he was always small and skinny, he waited till he had the strength and beat the crap out of dad and told him if he found out that he touched Butch, he would kill him. Dad believed him, Butch told me that dad gave him a wide birth, and never even yelled at him.”
Jess did not say a word he just sat and listened, my numbness must have been visible; Jess came over with his chair and put his arm around me.
“Thank you Marg for being so open and honest with us, I am sure it was not easy”
“Jess, it has been a long time, I have had years to work through things, I went through counseling as soon as I could afford it, I just got married last year to a very sweet and understanding man, he too owns a business, we have the same goals, make enough money to retire, there is no retirement for farmers.”
We both nodded in agreement, and then I said “Marg I wish you would have said something to me, I could have helped”
“It is odd Rose I felt such shame and fear, I had no idea mom was a part of it, in part I was protecting her, I only found out later, after I left she had a part in it.”
After Marg had left the thought occurred to me of the chance Claudia might have been raped by Norm, I pushed that thought out of my head with anger starting to seep through my heart, the deepest anger a woman could have for such evil.
A bit of Life Chapter 4 Welcome- story-Fiction
I have successfully at least for the time being have pushed thoughts of Claudia being hurt by Norm. I am getting on with daily living; a prayer in my heart and on my lips that those two kids are all right and will come home soon.
Jess is showing some fatigue with the double duty of taking care of 2 farms, some of the neighbors had stopped helping, seems that everyone will help as long as the help that is needed is not for a length of time; just short term , still 2 other neighbors are helping doing things in shifts.
Marg gave me her contact information I wanted to wait and see if the kids would come back; on their own, but now I still think one of Butch’s siblings are helping them out. The only one I have not spoken to about any of this is Larry, being that Marg and Josh say they do not know where Larry is and assume he is out of country, call it mom’s intuition, I am not buying it!
I left a message for Marg to call me as soon as she could, I told her my gut says that either she or her brothers know the whereabouts of Butch and Claudia, and that Jess is happy to take care of the cows but he could sure use some help.
I was just finishing up dinner dishes when the phone rang; I hear Jess’s part of the conversation
“Hello? Oh, Larry how yah kid?”
“So you have heard from Butch where in the hell are those 2”
“Married, ok now what? Am I still expected to work both farms?”
Jess’s volume went up a bit, yet I know he is trying desperately to control his temper. One of the gifts my husband has given me, even tempered at times I do not know how he does it.
“Tonight, absolutely tell them no matter what time, we would like to speak to them.”
An hour later a truck pulled into the drive, newer than Butches truck but same make, it was dark but I could make out 2 people in the front seat. I think I flew off the porch, I do not remember my feet touching the ground, I pulled Claudia to me and just squeezed tight, I know she will yelp but she deserved that, and I needed the hold of this hug.
Jess sauntered out, hand out to shake Butches hand, Butch reached his hand in return. They stood silent for a moment just looking at each other like two roosters. Men, just start talking or something darn it.
Butch spoke first “Sir I guess we need to have a talk, would you like to do it here or in the house”
We went into the kitchen I put a pot of coffee on, did not know what else to do, then leaned back on the counter arms folded and listened.
“Well sir, I know my brother Larry told you that Claudia and I are married, even though it is legal in other states, if you choose to make a fuss they will annul it, but sir I have loved Claudia since the first day I laid eyes on her, it took a little longer for her but I am not one to give up.”
“Ok, it would have been nice had you come to me man to man before running off and scaring the hell out of us”
“Yes sir, yah see we really did not plan on it, what we had planned is to get engaged and wait till graduation, next year, but that night I had forgotten my wallet at home and swung by the house to pick it up, Claudia stayed in the truck, when I came out the side door to the house I see my dad by the window of the truck, leaning in and talking to Claudia his hand was in the window, she smacked him and said something not so lady like.”
Jess and I both looked at Claudia at the same time I asked softly
“Did Norm ever touch you or hurt you even before this incident?”
“No Mama, never, Butch told me about Marg just the day before, I was going to talk to you and dad about it the next morning, that is when Butch went over to his dad and said if he ever touched me again he would have to call Larry and tell him about it and he said he would add that Norm had walked into his room one night”
“Yes, mam, dad never did, but I knew dad was afraid of Larry, you see Larry when he was in State on leave he would stalk dad, being a sharp shooter dad was really paranoid , Larry figured dad should not go on with his life in peace since he never gave anyone else anything but nightmares.”
“So Sir, Mam, I asked Claudia as soon as I got back in the truck if she would marry me that night, I knew Larry was on leave so we took off to the next state, which would allow those our age to marry and got married, I had a boat in the river, took it as far as it would take us, I originally planned to just propose in the boat, I called Larry he met us downstream, he stood as my best man and the wife of the minister was the maid of honor”
“Mama, Pop, sorry for the scare but we did not trust Butch’s dad and we so wanted to be married”
“I get that Claudia, but a phone call would have been nice, knowing we would worry and all”
“Sir, that was my fault, I was afraid you would contest the marriage and I wanted some time with Claudia, yah see sir, Claudia is 3 months pregnant. I plan on running the farm, I will also finish my last year in school, and go to college for animal husbandry, dad ran the farm by the seat of his pants, I want to know more and do a better job, there is insurance money to help in daily expense’s and for the college fund, all my brothers and sister have no need for the money so they gave it to us for a wedding present”
“Ok, Butch even though I am disappointed at how this was handled, I have to admit you did a fine job with what you had going on, from now on you call me Jess, you are as much of a man as I am. When Rose and I were married, she was already pregnant with Claudia, you at least have a plan, I only wanted a plan yet no ideas, I inherited this farm from my uncle, just 3 months after Claudia and I were married, that is the only reason we came back to this town.”
We made plans for the next day, Jess and Butch would get a schedule started; Jess suggested with some of the insurance money hire part time help, there were always people needing the extra cash.
We told both the kids we would like to give them a wedding present, Butch said the help with the farm was gift enough, I knew better, Claudia had her eye on this Mahogany sleigh bed at Jamison interiors she was thrilled when I told her.
Claudia wants to finish school as well, go on to college wanting to be a social worker or a counselor, to help others with abuse. Jess suggested she talk to Sheriff Hackle, get his opinion on the best career choice that would have the most impact on the problem.
I so wanted Claudia to be older but I suppose age is a number and these two though the whole ordeal shows some lack in decision making, at least they came home and we are here for direction in the future. That is as long as they listen..We can only suggest and pray.