Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from my manuscript detailing my own abuse. Please see “My Story of Abuse” under the category link.
Dottie had awoken early one morning with her stomach growling, but she ignored it as she hopped into her blue jeans, western-style shirt and cowboy boots. She was only 7 years-old and was fond of looking like Annie Oakley. She hurried to get ready so she could get out of the house before anything started.
Dottie heard her father cussing and slamming the door as he came in from outside. Joe was screaming, “Mara, where’s my god-damn gun at?” Dottie’s insides immediately started churning, and she felt like she was going to be sick. Her mother, Mara, answered Joe, “Ah hell Joe, what do you want the gun for?”
“Those god-damn dogs killed all the chickens and you should see Sam (he was the Muscovy duck); they’ve torn his back out and the gander is dead too! Where the hell is Dot at? “Dot! Get your ass down here this minute!”
Everyone was in a tizzy by this time and the middle sister, Darcie went running out the back door to retrieve her dog, Renny. King and Renny were German shepherds that normally were kept chained to their boxes, but they’d broken loose and eaten all of Joe’s chickens. They were probably hungry; they rarely had dog food. The dogs were fed scraps from the table if there were any left. Dottie thought, “They’re in big trouble now.” She was standing and crying and shaking as she saw her father raise his shotgun to shoot Renny. Joe was furious, as he often was—Darcie was stooping down with her arms around Renny’s neck; begging her Dad not to shoot her dog. She was crying hysterically.
Finally Joe shifted himself and pointed the gun toward King, Dottie’s dog. Even Mara was pleading with him not to shoot. She apparently convinced him and no one got shot that day. But, the banty rooster was not to be found. Joe searched for his carcass. As he walked down the side of the house; he heard the banty rooster squawking beneath it. They lived in this huge, old, white farmhouse that had a limestone foundation. There were only two small openings on each side of the house. It had no open basement; just a crawl space through which the rooster made his escape from the pursuing dogs. Joe knelt down on the ground to tell Dot she was the only thing small enough that would fit through the hole.
“You’re not afraid, are you Dot?” “No, Dad.” I’ll just hold onto your arms and drop you down there, and you get the rooster and hand him up to me.” Do you think there’s anything in there Dad?” “Ah nah, just the rooster Dot.”
He eased her down the side of the limestone wall. It was pitch black and Dottie couldn’t see anything! The air was still. She couldn’t feel the floor beneath her yet, and she felt the rough limestone against the front of her thighs, scratching as Joe continued to lower her down. She was so afraid as she thought, “God, what would I do if there were a pit of snakes down here? They’d get me.” She felt something wet beneath her bare feet now. Joe yelled, “Are you down yet?” “Yes, I think so.” “Well, do you see him?” “No.” The mud was oozing up between her toes and it was slimy and cold. She couldn’t see the rooster or her hand in front of her face. She was so afraid that at any minute a snake would wrap itself around her or that she’d step on the nest, and they’d all bite her. She was petrified and she couldn’t find the banty rooster. Dottie’s heart was pounding—she thought it would come out of her chest. She heard the rooster squawk and went in that direction. It kept moving away from her and she didn’t think she’d ever catch him. Finally she grabbed for the rooster and caught some of his tail feathers. He was really squawking now. She put both hands firmly over his wings and held on tightly as she made her way back over to the opening in the wall.
She heard her father yelling, “Do you have him?” “Yes, I have him.” “Now, reach him up here to me and be careful you don’t hurt him. Is he hurt?” “I don’t think so Dad.” She stretched as far as she could on her tip-toes until Joe finally grasped his rooster.
Dottie yelled, “Dad, are you still up there? Get me out of here!” “Oh, all right,” Joe answered nonchalantly. Joe reached down for Dottie—who could barely touch his fingers. He stretched a little more until he had her by the wrists and he started pulling her back up the wall. Dottie was never so relieved in all her life when she poked her head through the hole. She was full of mud and had blood running down the fronts of her legs from the limestone wall and the rooster’s scratches.
But the banty rooster was okay.