No One To Save Me – Chapter 4
Before indoor movie theaters there were drive-in theaters where everyone parked outside in front of a large wooden screen. You would set the speaker inside your window. The theater our father would take us to was on Hwy 59. He would sit for a few minutes, get out and leave us in the car and come back later with some snacks from the concession stand.
I don’t know how old I was, as usual, and I don’t rightly know if it was before or after the river incident. All I know is that I was young and still in elementary school. Walter had taken us there and I sat in the back seat. I noticed that he was watching a car with a young man and young girl inside. The girl started to squirm like she needed to go to the restroom. When she got out I saw that she was a pretty girl with thick, long brown hair and not very tall. Walter told us that he was going to get us some snacks and he got out to follow after her.
I saw him coming back in a hurry but he checked his pace as he got closer. He glanced toward the young man as he passed. When he got in our car he tried to sit nonchalant but seemed agitated. My sister asked him why he hadn’t brought the snacks.
There was a commotion going on up front and someone ran up to the young man in the car and he went running towards the concession stand. Walter quickly decided that we had to leave in the middle of the movie. I felt sad and disappointed and wondered why things this always happened. As we were leaving, the only car to do so, we saw a young man being posted at the exit by another man. He was supposed to stop anyone from leaving and he seemed a little panicked. He put his hands up to stop us but Walter nodded his attention towards me and my sister. He seemed confused about what to do and he let us leave.
Again, the crime was in the papers. The report said that there had been several rapes at the women’s restroom and that the theater owners were aware of it. The owners said that up until now, no one had been hurt, a statement which brought strong criticism. People wanted to know why they hadn’t posted a guard.
A man had tried to rape a girl at the theater stalls and when she started screaming, he stabbed her. She made it to the hospital alive but shortly thereafter, died. The article ended by saying that the family were going to miss her. She was only 15 years old. When I’d heard about what happened, I felt sorrow for the family, what a loss. But as odd as it might sound, I didn’t at the time make a conscious connection that my father had been the man who stabbed her. Maybe, I was still too young or maybe I blocked it. It is only as an adult and in hindsight that I am capable of piecing it together and see it in its totality.
A week or so went by before our dad decided again to venture out to the drive-in theater. When we pulled up, we found that the place had been closed down, the high wooden gate boarded up. He sat there for a minute not knowing what to do before slowly driving home.
I can't believe that he could be so unconscionable about this girl’s death as to have the audacity to go back with intent to continue the same activity. Where was the remorse? Many years went by and we heard that they had reopened the theater under a new owner.
On some unconscious level, when these things would happen, I felt guilty of the crime by association. Just by my presence alone, and because he was my father, I was somehow involved. He had used us to lure a child to her death. He had used us to throw off suspicion and escape when he stabbed and killed this girl. I was the one who told on Pearl, that she had been on the couch all day. I remember the shocked look of betrayal she gave me. It was my silver coins that the German babysitter had stolen. Each incident made me more depressed and withdrawn and I developed a feeling of being inherently bad. It caused me to want to stay away from people because people around me got killed.
When I was 8 years old in 1966, Walter sold me for sex to a truck driver at a truck-stop. You read that right. I don’t know if this was the first time he sold me because I might have been too young to remember, except for that old house full of men. And it wouldn’t be the last time he sold me either. In fact, Walter was selling both me and my sister for $350 at a time. He enjoyed a sense of god-like power having something he knew other men wanted and they had to go through him to get it.
This is the only memory that I have of the truck-stop but my sister says he took us there many times. She remembers the bright lights and all the activity and that she liked it there. To my surprise, she said that our mother had worked there. This must be how Walter had become associated with it. Were they still seeing each other? Sometimes, I wonder why I was so damn oblivious as a child. Why didn’t I remember more about the truck-stop, and why didn’t I know my mother worked there?
I know for a fact that the year was 1966 because the song, “What’s New Pussycat” was a hit. My dad had bought us a vanilla ice-cream cup and sat us at a table near the female cashier. Once settled in, he told us to wait there. The song came on overhead and I started singing along, “Pussycat, pussycat, I love you, yes I do. You and your pussycat eyes. Meow. Meow. You and your pussy cat lips. Meow. Meow. You and your pussycat nose”. My sister looked at me funny and I told her that I liked that song because I had green eyes like a cat.
I glanced behind me and saw my dad standing at a table talking to man. He came and got me and took me outside where this man stood near an 18 wheeler. They said, “Isn’t this a big truck? Would you like to look inside?” Thinking that they were doing me a special favor, I said, yeah. The man opened the back, got in and taking me by the arms lifted me into the truck. He commented that I couldn’t weigh more than 80 pounds. There was a recessed bed with a low overhead from which he took a blanket and spread it out on the floor. On seeing this, I asked if we were going to take a nap. I lay down and he lay down and he snugged me close. I didn't feel frightened, but felt comforted. No one ever snuggled with me like that.
It was late at night, dark outside, and I felt sleepy so I must have dozed off to sleep because I don't remember anything else.
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