by Leigh Lundin
As I was writing Bullies Part I, my dear, dear friend told me her story. I feel humbled she shared it with me and has given me permission to share it with you. Like the original Bullies article, the names have been changed as a condition of publication.
In middle school it started verbally, the wrong shoes, a lack of designer labels, boobs that were taking their sweet time to present. Honey Barrette was only fourteen, a waif, a wisp, small for Bad River Junior High.
Classmate Alexis, oversized in attitude and altitude, had been held back a grade, then held back again. She wasn’t stupid. She’d mastered a cruel vocabulary of peculiar biology beyond the ken of 7th and 8th graders, phrases to gobsmack an adult.
Honey did her best to avoid her in the eddies of students swirling through the halls, but Alexis glided the currents like a shark. A head taller than her classmates, she sought prey unerringly, She found little Honey Barrette easy pickings and confronted her.
“What you staring at, slut?”
“Uh, nothing. You lunged into me.”
“Retard, you grabbed my jacket, bitch.”
“You calling me a liar?”
“N-no. I was calling you mistaken.”
Alexis stabbed the girl’s chest with a hard finger.
“You’re the mistake. Christ, I had more tits when I was two. What’s with this sweater? Is this a fashion statement from your granny?”
“You two, break it up.” The hall monitor approached. “Alexis, get to class. You, whats-your-name, move it. Don’t cause trouble with Alexis.”
The bully honed her hunting instinct to a science, cutting victims out of the herd like a rodeo cowboy, especially Honey. She upped the ante in violence, secretive judo chops, rabbit punches to Honey’s kidney, slams and slaps to the back of the head.
“What’s the matter, little twat? You gonna cry? Want your mommy? Jesus, I can’t stand touching… what do you call them? Clothes? You never heard of Tommy Hilfiger? You steal them from Goodwill?”
The biggest girl in the class escalated to hair grabbing and tripping, hard shoves, hard punches, hard nipple yanks. One morning Honey couldn’t take it. She lashed back, throwing the bigger girl into the lockers. Naturally the hall monitor spotted them.
“You two, stop. Whats-your-name, you’re on report. Alexis, you’re suspended for the day.”
“Great. I can catch up on General Hospital, which is where this little bitch is headed.”
Seeking protection, Honey began to hang out with older kids from Bad River High School. They acted more mature and less mean. One hanger-on was no longer a student. Dick was a bit older. High school students looked up to him, a cool guy. Dick grew interested in the group’s youngest, Honey.
Later the Barrette family determined Dick must have stalked her, learned Honey’s schedule and route home from school, and found a lair to stage an assault.
The rape wasn’t spur-of-the-moment, it wasn’t accidental. It came as a blatant, broad-daylight attack in the middle of town. One afternoon Dick walked with her, then lured her into a copse beside the courthouse.
When Honey realized his full intentions, she fought back, but his height, weight, and strength dwarfed hers. Afterwards, he threatened to kill her and her family should she tell. With that, he abandoned her.
Honey gathered her wits and her clothes. She stumbled toward home, crying.
En route, a woman sat on her veranda, rocking, looking out upon the world. She noticed a slight girl hopelessly sobbing.
“My dear, what’s wrong? Come, come here so I can see you.” She drew the young one to the porch. “Dear, why are you crying so hard?”
Honey didn’t want to talk, she merely wanted home with her family. When the woman pressed her, Honey improvised the first of a series of devastating, spur-of-the-moment lies.
“Nothing’s wrong. I’m late, missing my curfew. That’s all.”
“My child, yours aren’t tears of a girl missing curfew. Your shoulders are shaking like… What’s that on your back? Is that blood? How did that happen? Oh my, oh my. I’m calling an ambulance.”
As they waited for paramedics, the woman, no mean amateur detective, drew the essentials from the girl’s trembling lips. Honey admitted she’d been raped, but refused to name her attacker.
By big city standards, Major Hospital was minor, but for three quarters of a century, it had served rural residents in three counties. They were expanding their facility and the small physician group, but the Women’s Health Center wouldn’t be completed for another two years. Whether the staff was trained in rape analysis isn’t clear, but they couldn’t state with certainty Honey had been sexually assaulted. They treated scratches and bruises separately before releasing her to reluctantly talk to police.
With Dick’s threats ringing in her ears, the last thing she wanted was to speak with authorities. She simply wanted to go home where it was safe, where she could curl up with a blanket over her head.
Not wanting to get anyone in trouble, she made up a pretend name for the rapist. The police ran with it, unsurprisingly not finding a perpetrator. Eventually, they figured out the real rapist and questioned him.
Naturally, Dick denied assaulting her. He opted for the consensual sex fiction, claiming she was all in and all over him. Afterwards, he implied, she suffered buyer’s remorse.
Life was about to grow far worse. She’d been raped by an amateur; now she was about to be gutted by a professional.
Tomorrow: The rapist, anagram of Therapist