Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Issue #17: November, 2011

by Marie Shields

Today I received an invitation to my thirty-year high school reunion. My initial thought, as it was twenty years ago, and ten before that was, What could I possibly have in common with anyone from Devil’s Fork, Texas? But today another thought crosses my mind. Besides being raped by Deputy Witherspoon.

The night it happened, I was working the late shift at Frenchy’s truck stop about a mile out of town and got off at eleven. We wore white nylon nurse’s dresses that came above the knee, black aprons edged with white lace, an uncomfortable bandeau to match in our hair. It was the owner’s idea of how a French maid would dress, but in truth we looked like women with bad fashion sense.  I wore canvas tennis shoes without stockings to work, as did the other girls. The older women, whose arches had already fallen, wore practical oxfords and support hose.

The deputy’s car pulled up beside me. He rolled down the passenger window and in his best Texas friendly way, said, “Hop in and I’ll drive you home. Young girls shouldn’t be out walking this time of night.”

He was an authority and a police officer. I hopped in.

He called his police car Trigger. He patted the steering wheel and said, “Yep, old Trigger and me give many a young lady rides home when they out alone at night or about to get they self in trouble.”

He took the next side road off the highway. When I asked why, he said he thought it was a nice night for a moonlight ride. 

“Y’all got yourself a boyfriend?” he asked.

My face felt hot and I was sure I was blushing, although he couldn’t see it in the dark. “No. Mama says I can’t date until next year.”

“Betcha when that time comes, ever boy in town gonna be after you, fallen in love. Don’t I know, ever time I see you, I think, ‘now there’s a girl I could love.’ You about the prettiest girl this town ever seen.”

He pulled off into a grove of cottonwoods and parked. Slide the seat back and put his arm around me.  “You ain’t shy now are you, Sugar?”

It was then I noticed his rifle wasn’t in the gun rack. He wasn’t wearing his uniform or the heavy belt with his pistol, hand cuffs and night stick attached. He had on blue jeans and a cowboy shirt with the sleeves cut off. Not so unusual. The sheriff and his deputy had full personal use of their police vehicles and could make arrests in or out of uniform.

His hand hovered over my right breast. I turned toward him so he couldn’t touch it. Even though I’d necked with a couple of boys, I never let them touch my heavily padded bras.

He pulled me closer and kissed me. I let him, flattered a grown man would be attracted to me. He was probably in his mid-thirties, with muscles high school boys hadn’t yet developed.

When he slid his hand under my skirt, I pushed it away.

Then he raped me. Pushed me down on the car’s bench seat, roughly spread my legs apart, and jerked the crotch of my underpants aside with a two finger hook. It was over so fast the pain didn’t register until he was sitting up adjusting himself. It felt as if he’d ripped open everything from my navel to my tailbone. Then, the cramping started. I’d heard horror stories about the birthing of a child, but nothing could possibly compare.

“Ain’t no girl in this town ever been with old Deputy Whit and remained a virgin,” he said.

With another notch in his gun belt, he drove me home as he said he would.

I stumbled into our house and ran a bath as hot as I could tolerate, eased into it and turned off the cold and let the hot continue to trickle into the tub. Scrubbed every inch of my body and hair and rinsed. Again and again.  By the time my mother came in to use the toilet, the water was tepid and had gone from bright red to a pale pink. The cramping was easing, but I was dizzy and felt weak, afraid my legs wouldn’t hold me up if I tried to get out of the tub.

“Why in the name of God’s good grace are you taking a bath at this hour?” Then she saw my bloody uniform and panties on the floor. “God have mercy. Now you done it. Who was it?”

            I’d been crying before she came in, now I cried harder. “Deputy Witherspoon. He raped me, Mama.”

“Don’t try to use that as an excuse. If you wasn’t leading him on with your bare legs and short skirt, this don’t happen. Men know. They can smell a slut jest like a dog smell a bitch in heat.” Mama pulled up her pajama bottoms, flushed the toilet, sat back down on the lid. Then she started to cry. Between sobs she sputtered, “How could you do this to me? I’ll never be able to hold up my head in this town again. Don’t you never ever tell anyone about this. No decent man will marry you now. Don’t you know that?”

Three months later I graduated from high school, picked up my diploma from the principal’s office and boarded a bus to Los Angeles with the $874.16 I’d saved from my job and the $2000 Grandma Phyllis gave me to further my education. College in California was practically free at the time. I got my degree and taught elementary school for twenty-five years.

For the past five years I’ve been Dean of a private school; am happily married to the owner of a small chain of gourmet grocery stores. Our son works with his dad and we have a daughter still in college.

I’ve never been back to Texas, but as far as I know, no rapes were ever reported. My mother wasn’t the only mother who believed in the value of virtue. The sheriff, his deputy, the mayor, and the judge were above the law. There were few trials by jury.

No, there’s nothing I want to be reminded of or have in common with the folks back in Devil’s Fork.

by Marie Shields

The next group was called for jury selection and the last two people at the table where Marlene was sitting left the room. She started to move to one of the more comfortable chairs. Her ankle twisted as she stepped on something beside her chair; looking down she didn’t immediately see what she’d tripped over…a wallet. She set her purse on the floor, looked around the room to see if anyone was watching her, and  stretched as far as she could. She touched it, but couldn’t grab hold of it. She kneeled down, put her hand on the wallet, scooted back and pushed herself to a standing position with a grunt.

A man at the next table covered his mouth. The girl sitting next to him giggled. Marlene bit her lower lip and clump-clomped after the handsome man who’d been sitting next to her.

“Excuse me,” she hollered. “Sir. Sir…you…”

He turned halfway around and said, “Jesus, Lady. Give it a rest. I’m married.” He hurried after the group who’d been called.

The bailiff was standing at the door of the juror’s waiting room. Rushing around like this made Marlene sweat profusely. She could smell her own foul odor and the wet trickling down her back and sides and worse, between her legs. Knowing it looked as if she’d wet her pants, she covered her crotch with her hand and the wallet.

“Excuse me,” Marlene held out the now damp wallet, “that man…he dropped his wallet.”

“What man?”

“He was sitting at the table where I was sitting…”

The bailiff cut her off, “I don’t have time for this. Turn it in at the information desk in the lobby. And you can go. We won’t be calling anymore jurors today.”

“Should I come back tomorrow?”


Marlene was sure they’d let everyone else come back, just not her.

As she headed for the elevator, some of the other potential jurors rushed past. The elevator was nearly full by the time she got there and squeezed in. Oh, my god. She felt it coming, there was nothing she could do to stop it. One loud smelly wet fart. She stepped back  and waddled as quickly as she could toward the ladies room.

Inside the stall, she opened the wallet; five fifty dollar bills, four twenties and some fives and ones. She shoved the bills into the pocket of her sweat pants, wrapped the driver’s license and everything else in the wallet in a copious amount of toilet paper and stuffed it in the sanitary napkin receptacle. She wrapped the wallet in toilet paper too, put it in her purse and on her way out of the building, dropped it in a garbage container.

by Marie Shields

“There ain’t nothing in the world like a slope-eyed girl. Oh, she steal my money, but she calls me Honey,” Richard sang in his reedy voice.

Ahn Thi stood close to the front door, holding her car keys, her purse on the table beside her. She felt safer here, less likely to be trapped. Two hours ago she’d picked Richard up at the airport, home from his latest tour of combat duty. They’d stopped at the commissary so Richard could get a bottle of Maker’s Mark 46. He’d opened it in the car and babbled on about how you couldn’t get it ‘over there’, how many of the guys he’d gone over with had returned, how many hadn’t. She hated hearing it. When she’d first come to the United States with him, she spoke almost no English and nothing he said bothered her. He said everything with a grin on his face so she didn’t have a clue.

On the drive to base housing, Richard gesticulated wildly, bottle of Makers in one hand, as he spoke, “These fucking rag-heads come over this rise, see, twenty or more a them bastards.  I raise my M-16, an got every god-damn one them fuckers. Then we charge that hill - -”

Ahn Thi tuned out. She’d gotten the call that his unit was on their way home on the day she’d started a letter to him to let him know she was moving out of base housing and filing for divorce. It had been a hard letter to write, but not nearly as hard as telling him in person was going to be.

He poured two large glasses of the bourbon and held one out for her. She shook her head. “We need to talk now.”

“How about some sucky dicky long time for the old man?” he said, setting both glasses on the table and reaching for his zipper.

“You’re an idiot,” said Ahn Thi.

“Yeah. But you love me anyhow.” He slapped her butt. “Now, my slope-eyed girl, she is just a pearl.”

“Shut up.”

He slipped his arm around her waist, took her hand and tried to waltz her around the room as he continued to hum his tuneless song.

She put both her hands against his chest and shoved. “Leave me alone. I wish you never come back.” She was crying now.

“What did you just say to me?” He straightened his uniform jacket and touched the fruit salad on his chest as if to remind himself who he was. “You stupid little slope. I married you. Brought you here. You owe me big time.”

 “The price is too much.”

“What’s your problem, Ahn Thi?” Richard sat on the sofa, slumped over as if burdened by a tremendous weight. He covered his face with his hands for a moment. Looked up at his wife. “This is one hell of a homecoming.”

She watched him open the drawer of the end table. He pulled out his old service revolver and the cleaning kit. Richard never cried, never yelled, never hit. He made jokes. When he was angry, upset or when his nighttime terrors of battles and men lost under his command became too much, he cleaned his gun.

He was still slender and rock-hard. Ahn Thi noticed a little gray in his blonde crew cut now. She fell in love with him because he brought happiness and laughter into her ‘Sucky dicky long time. Five dollar’ world. Would she still love him if he hadn’t done this last tour of duty in Afghanistan? If she hadn’t fallen in love with someone else? Someone who treated her with dignity and respect. She no longer thought Richard was funny. He was a buffoon and she had been the butt of his jokes for more than thirty years.

 “I am not a slope-eye girl. Not a zipperhead. And I am not your little frog. I am Eurasian woman.” She turned her back to him. “And, I want a divorce.”

He said nothing. He began to reassemble the gun. He watched his wife open the front door and get her purse. She put her house keys on the table. The front door closed.

She did not hear the gunshot as she pulled onto Olive Street.

For the past eight years I’ve been a full time fiction writer and student, writing, loving, cooking, and living in the Pasadena area with my husband Michael. My short stories and novel chapters have won awards and contests, been published in anthologies, print, and online journals. The New Short Fiction Series http://www.newshortfictionseries.com/ will present an evening featuring several of my short stories May 2012.  mizshield@gmail.com


  1. Captivating flashes into the three women's lives. Each short has its own sharp punch.

  2. These are very sharp stories. I especially like the last one. Hope to see more of your work around the web.

  3. Thanks for sharing these with us, Marie. Thanks also for being a pioneer. After Chris Rhatigan takes over, folks should expect more flash fiction (one of at least two interesting directions Mr. Rhatigan is planning on taking ADR).