Hey all! Sorry it has been a while since I have posted. I have been hard at work revising my first novel, The Whisper of a Rose, which was originally published under my pen name Brigid McMahon. I am so excited for the new edition that will be coming out and I hope you will all like it too!
The book is retitled, “Cass Kelly, Girl Detective” and will have an added emphasis on the mystery but still with a lot of humor and romance. The characters and many things are the same BUT other things are different, with new scenes, directions and so much more. So when the book is finally available I hope you will get this new edition even if you’ve already read the original. Stay tuned!
In other very annoying news – I am no longer on Twitter. Some douche bag was impersonating me over there with an account that was the same as mine with minor adjustments. They were sending dm’s to people trying to get them to enter the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. I can assure you, that I have never been a part of PCH and have no affiliation with them. I contacted Twitter for help and they wrote back saying in order for them to do anything I have send them a copy of my Government issued ID! And that is not happening, I’m not that big of an idiot! So I felt I had no choice but to delete my account in order to hopefully protect my reputation. If you are on Twitter and see ANY account in my name, or in any of my pen names, it is NOT me. I will not be returning to Twitter as I don’t feel it is safe. The account that is impersonating me is @_bethfairauthor (note the line in front of my name) My original account was @bethfairauthor Again, any account on Twitter claiming to be me is FALSE. I’m so sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Always know you can come to this blog or my Facebook page for authentic information.
Docia’s Diary update – Currently waiting for the book interior designer to get the proof to me so that I may approve it. As soon as the paper back has been proofed and is ready I will let you know. I wanted to say a word about price too. Normally my books are not priced as high as this one is. But so much research went into this book, it was a lot of work and I feel that needed to be reflected in the price. I hope you will all feel it is worth it!
Crushed – This book, written under Brigid McMahon is now available for ebook only, hopefully the paperback will be available in a few months.
Okay, I think that’s it for now! Thank you so much for your continued support, please always know you can contact me with any questions, comments, etc. I promise to respond!
It’s finally done! After tons of revising and having a new professional cover made, Docia’s Diary is now available for ebook from Amazon.com. The paperback is coming soon. If you decide to purchase and read the book I would be very grateful if you could leave me a thoughtful review on Amazon. Reviews can really help self published authors get their works into other reader’s hands, so thanks so much if you can do that for me!
Many thanks to author/researcher/historian for his help on Docia’s Diary, and to cover designer, Charlene Raddon from SilverSageBookCovers.com She did an amazing job on the cover and I highly recommend her work!
You can purchase the ebook below or you can wait for the paper back. Thanks again for supporting my work, you all rock!
P.S. If you know someone who loves Little House and it’s history please think about recommending my book to them! Thanks!
When August Walgvogel shot Milo Goodenough, his prosecutor in the case was Prescott County District Attorney J.C. Button (he is listed as J.O. Button on some sources, but the J.C. appears accurate). The murder of Milo Goodenough was the first murder trial in Prescott County and Mr. Button was a young prosecutor at the time. He held the office for only two years. Was this young, new prosecutor using what must have been a sensational trial to make a name for himself? Is that the reason behind his zeal in prosecuting what should have been (as far we know) a simple case of self defense? It’s something to think about!
I found quite a bit of information on District Attorney Button. He lived a very interesting, exciting life and had many experiences and adventures. The following is taken from the History of Trempealeau, Wisconsin:
“J.C. Button, for many years a distinguished figure in the legal procedure of Western Wisconsin, is now living in retirement, in the village of Trempealeau at the ripe old age of 84. He has known varied experiences, has seen the world in many lands and climes, has taken an active part in the formation of many of the policies of several Mississippi Valley Counties and has lived to see his fondest hopes and ambitions realized. High thinking and clean living have given him a store of vitality which is still unimpaired, and the world has brought him a full measure of joy and contentment, his only sorrow being the passing away of friends and relatives, whom the passing years have taken one by one. His ruggedness of health and staunchness of character are inherited by a long line of worthy forebears.
The father, Charles button, was of Colonial English stock. As a young man he studied medicine, but never engaged in extensive practice, choosing instead to spend his life in agricultural pursuits. He was married in New York State to Cynthia Watson, who was likewise descended from Colonial Stock.
From New York they went to Lorain County, Ohio, and there, JC, the subject of this sketch was born June 3, 1830. When he was an infant they went to Oakland County, Michigan, and settled on the Stony Point Road, not far from Pontiac. In 1836 they moved to Illinois and settled on a farm 12 miles south of Ottawa.
From there in 1843 they came to Green County, Wisconsin and took up their home eight miles east of Monroe, the county seat. The father died in 1844 and the mother in 1878. Living in pioneer communities and fatherless at the age of 14, young JC had meager opportunities for schooling, most of his schooling being obtained in a little log schoolhouse.
In 1848 he entered the Academic Department of Beloit College and was graduated from the Collegiate Department in 1852. Then he started out for California in search for gold. The parting with his mother was a pathetic one. Standing hat in hand, with his mother’s arm about his neck, he promised never to use profanity, never to indulge in any game of chance, and never to taste or handle intoxicating drinks of any sort. This promise he has kept to this day and to it he attributes his health and happiness. His goodbyes said, he joined his party and continued west as far as Salt Lake City, Utah. There he and a friend struck out alone and located in Salem, Oregon for a time.
From there a young Button went to Portland and from there by ship to San Francisco. After a trip to San Francisco and neighboring mines, he embarked on a ship which carried him to the west coast of Panama, where he secured a team to take him to Graytown, on the Gulf Coast.
Then, touching at points at Florida and Cuba, he reached New York and returned to his home. Desiring to further perfect his education he went to Janesville, Wisconsin and entered the office of Sleeper and Norton where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. It was in 1858 that he opened an office in in St. Croix Falls, Polk Cty, Wisconsin, and started housekeeping in a home which he erected with his own hands.
In the Fall of 1859 he was elected to the office of District attorney and moved to Osceola, the county seat. At the expiration of his term he moved to Prescott, and entered into partnership with J.S. White, a partnership which lasted until 1876. Soon after his arrival in Prescott he was elected District Attorney of Pierce County, a position in which he ably served for a term of 2 years.
Having been in continuous practice of his profession for 20 years part of the time as a public official, Mr. Button determined, in 1877, to take a well deserved vacation traveling in Europe and Asia Minor. Accordingly, he set out and visited in turn, England, Scotland, France and Spain, Egypt, the Holy Land, Turkey and Albania, Greece, Italy, Alsace-Loraine, Germany, Russia, Holland, Belgium, Wales and Ireland.
Among the many notables whom he saw may be mentioned Queen Victoria, and it is remarkable that he attended the funeral of King Victor Immanuel of Italy who died January 9, 1878 and of Pope Pius IX who died in February of the same year.
Upon his return to America Mr. Button came to Trempealeau County in the fall of 1878 for the purpose of assisting his brother, S. W. Button. SW Button had been in partnership with Judge Newman and upon the elevation of Judge Newman to the District Court bench found the work too strenuous for his failing health and so called his brother JC to his assistance, going himself to the panhandle country in Texas, where his health was restored, after which he took up the practice of his profession in Sparta, Wisconsin.
Accordingly, JC Button took up his home in Trempealeu Village, where he has since resided. For one term he was District Attorney of this county. He is a man of sincere conviction, and his highly honored and respected throughout the community. Mr. Button was married, June 16, 1858 to Charlotte Wheaton, daughter of Cyrus Wheaton of Green County, Wisconsin.
Mrs. Button died in December of 1890. Their only child, Charles, died at the age of 4 years and ten months of age.”
Button died May 3, 1922 in Trempealeau, Wisconsin, taking his reasoning behind prosecuting August Walvogel with such a vengeance to his grave.
I like to dig deep. Deeper than I need to probably, but it does help me get a feel for the story I am telling. In my upcoming book, Docia’s Diary, Docia’s first husband, August Waldovogel’s criminal case is prominently featured. It was, of course, a big part of Docia’s life. Everything changed the minute August picked up his gun full of duck shot and fired it through the door into Milo Goodenough’s face.
But there are so many questions surrounding this case. Why was Milo Goodenough at August’s house after dark on that May evening in 1866? Who was the other man with him, who ran off into the woods? Just what, if any, was the relationship between August and Milo? Or between Milo and Docia??
Unfortunately there is a lot of conjecture and very little evidence. But there are clues and they start not with Milo, but with his father.
Milo’s father was Stillman Hebron Goodenough (1818-1911). His mother was Flora Angeline Wood (1820-1852). She was the first of three wives. Stillman and Flora had three sons, John R. (1839-1916) Milo, and William H. 1844-1862). There is not much info available about the Goodenough family prior to Flora’s death in 1852. Perhaps they just farmed and behaved themselves. Or perhaps not. After Flora died in 1852, Stillman married his second wife, Celia, in that same year. At this time the family lived in Dodge, Wisconsin.
In 1857, Stillman, along with his son John R., decided to take up a new occupation. Apparently farming wasn’t as lucrative as they’d hoped. The following is a news article from the Milwaukee Sentinal dated December 29, 1857: (I’ve left the article as printed, errors included!)
Gang of Robbers: Milwaukee Sentinal Dec. 29, 1857 Editor: I recieved a notice of an attempt to rob and murder near this place, and thinking that your readers would like to have it reported in length, I give you the following: On the 18th, four young men, named Frank Sanders, George Sanders, John R Goodenough and John Barnes, went to the homeof Mr. Guy living in the town of Achippun, three miles south of Neosho, with intent to roband murder. Mr. Guy was supposed to have about $1000.00 in his home; they went to the house, Guy asked what they wanted; they said,” Clinker”, Frank Sanders said to his conrad to strike a light. They immediately lit a lantern and Frank commenced pounding the old gentlemen with a large club while in bed. Guy succeeded in getting out of the house after a scuffle and being wounded in the head with the club and recieveing a sevvere wound on the thigh with a corn cutter, he raised a cry of Murder, upon which the ruffians fled. The wounds were considered dangerous. One of the Sanders lost his cap, which showed their direction. On the 17th, Frank Sanders, George Sanders, Stillman Goodenough and John R. Goodenough were arrested and taken before Squire Harris for examination. Frank and George Sanders, in default of $1000. bail each, were committed tothe county jail to await trial, the others were discharged. The community being satisfied that they were different ties with the affair, by their united story proceeded to find John Barns and from him got all the particulars. John Barns broke out of jail about the 10th and came immediately to Stillman Goodenough for help to flee the country, and while there he was initiated into a band of bandits with signs of recognition and act. The forms of recognition were quite interesting to this community. He was sworn over a testament and a bottle of whisky to be true to the gang and never divulge any of their rascality under penalty of death. the gang composed of Stillman Goodenough, President:John R. Goodenough, his wife and Elizabeth Sanders, all living in that neighborhood and others living in Watertown and still further south. Upongetting this information, Stillman, his wife Celia, JohnR. his son, and Elizabeth Sanders were arrestedand committed in default of bail. There was considerable stolen property found on the premises of Goodenough: also a pass book found belonging to John R. in which was found the following to wit: Van Colts Jewelry Store, can be broken into with little labor and $3,000. worth taken: Jewelry Store in Saukegan can be broken into byLib, or someone else– no one sleeps in the store: McHenry Co.Ill. good open bays– barn 50 yds from the house with door on back of barn–never discovered, and etc. They concocted a plan to kill and rob a man by name of Elliot living near Watertown and also Dr. John Goodenough, when he started for Berlin, as he was about to move his family there, and was to carry considerable amount with him. Their plans have been somewhat interupted by their timely arrest — you will hear more soon. great credit is due Mr. D.S. VanOrden and Mr. Davis of Neosho for their activity in ferreting out this gang/ Neosho, Dec. 23, 1857 Note: Fred Moses Goodenough as a baby went to jail with Celia. “
*Stillman had two sons with Celia, Moses and Silas, and none with his third wife, Hannah.
Stillman went to prison at Waupun. The same prison that August would later be sent to after Milo Goodenough died. (not sure if John R. went to prison or not, he and the other two boys are listed in the 1860 census as living with other families and working as farm laborers.)
There is no evidence that Milo or William H. were involved, as they would have been younger teens. But I am guessing they sure knew about it and were being groomed in some fashion by their father for future exploits.
The Dr. John Goodenough, whom they planned to rob was in fact, Stillman’s older brother. Apparently family ties did not matter much to them!
By the time the Civil War erupted Stillman was out of prison. He and all three of his sons, served in the War.
Stillman, Milo and William were listed with a Wisconsin Company, while John R. is out of Minnesota. Unfortunately William H. died in the war that year, while Stillman was severely injured (no details on this). And guess where this family lived in 1863? Concord, Jefferson County, Wisconsin. That’s right. Right along with the Ingalls and the Quiner families.
Did the Goodenough’s know the Ingalls and Quiners? We have no evidence of this BUT…in 1865 Milo married Sophia Fischer in Milwaukee…and by 1868 he and his wife were living in Section 28 of South Rock Elm, Wisconsin, with neighbors Lansford Ingalls and family living not too far way in Section 26.
Only one section between them in a small community. It’s not too far fetched to think that the two families were at least aware of one another if not intimate. They must have seen each other at various town functions, meetings, in town at the General Store, the Mill, etc. And we know August was in Rock Elm at that time as well because that’s when he met Docia, marrying her in 1866.
James and Hiram Ingalls were in the Civil War, as was Milo. James and Milo would have been around the same age. Were they friends? Or was Milo the type of guy you really didn’t want to know? Was he a thug, a tough guy? Dishonest?
It’s hard to say. We know of his past, we know his father was less than honest. Prison may have reformed the guy but was it only the war injuries that kept him from robbing again? Maybe, just maybe, dear dad passed the torch to his young son.
Milo Goodenough and his family, which now included baby daughter Flora, born in 1867, were living in Rock Elm. By this time Docia and August had settled in Plum Creek, some 11 miles in between. By horse that would take 2-3 hours, maybe less if the horse is racing and depending on the terrain. It wasn’t a short distance in those day in other words.
What was Goodenough doing in Plum Creek, after dark, 11 miles from his wife and child? With another man. Pounding on August’s door, or trying to get in.
Robbery? Revenge? Was he drunk?
Here are the facts: August was the paymaster at the mill in Plum Creek. Goodenough lived in the same area as August’s inlaws. Goodenough comes from a family of thieves. The second man who with him has never been identified, never came forward as a witness.
I have my own theory(s) which I will be exploring in further posts.
We have some more digging to do!
In my next post we’ll be looking at the Prosecuting attorney in this case!
Hi everyone! I’m excited to announce some changes to this blog and my writing “plan”. I’ve been writing under the pen name Brigid McMahon for a while now. I like Brigid, she’s cool and I plan to keep her. I also plan to add some other names I’ll be writing under. I write in many different genre’s because that’s just how my mind works and my husband would like me to keep my writing separate from our family/personal life. And like it or not, my writing is my business, so I really want to keep things under one cohesive heading to make things a little easier for myself.
So from now on, on this blog, on Facebook, Twitter, etc., you will see me under my real name, Elizabeth Fairweather (Author). Better known as just Beth! That’s the name I’ll be using to communicate, promote, etc., because, that’s who I am! And I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and what I will accomplish in the future. But my books will be published under these different pen names, which I’ve outlined below. Some books might not appeal to everyone, some will only appeal to a certain sector, and that’s fine. Pick your favorite author, or pick them all, whatever you like!
Brigid McMahon – The revised Whisper of the Rose and it’s series. Brigid writes fun stuff, historical stuff, and sometimes edgy stuff. For instance, the upcoming Twelve Weeks in Teeterville is pretty edgy, but it’s still Brigid!
Lindsay Regan – My romance novels for the most part will be written under this pen name. This is the more steamy stuff so if that is not your cup of tea, you might want to give Lindsay Regan books a miss!
E.F. Rice – This guy (or girl??) writes the scary stuff. It’s horror, it’s paranormal, it’s weird, it’s intense and it might be edgy. Only the brave will want to read E.F.!
And I’ve decided my upcoming book, Docia’s Diary, will be written under my own name, as will any other “prairie” titles that I write (and yes, I have some planned!).
The domain name will take 72 hours to change so if you are still seeing “Brigid McMahon” don’t worry, it will change soon.
I just discovered that some of the information I relied on for research while writing my book Docia’s Diary is false! Because I want to publish the best book possible I have made the difficult decision to un-publish the ebook and to halt publication of the paperback until this can be rectified.
I am working with an amazing Ingalls family researcher, John Bass. John has the best records of accurate information in this field and has spent over 30 years collecting, researching and sharing his amazing work. I am so grateful to be working with John in this endeavor. Thank you John!!!!
Please keep following this blog for updates, I promise the book will get done and out there eventually!
I’ve just been feeling “off” lately. Life is busy and it’s sad right now and fraught with lots of bad news and crappy vibes and people doing horrible things. And that is definitely part of it. But that’s not what’s really had me down.
Lately I’ve had to do my “chores”. My Publishing chores. If you’re a self published writer, then you know all about these “chores”. This is the stuff you gotta do, the business stuff, the letters and the queries and the promoting of your work. And I’m not gonna lie. It’s a drag.
I’m not a business person, not one bit. I don’t enjoy this part but I know it comes hand in hand with self publishing. I’d rather be writing. That’s the reason for my current funk. I’ve spent very little time writing and a whole lot of time promoting my book “Docia’s Diary”. I want it to get seen and read and shared, so I have to do these little things that traditionally published authors take for granted. There is no team editing my books or proof reading or playing around with layouts. There is no media department writing press releases and a sales department getting book sellers to stock my books. That’s all me. And I pretty much suck at it but I do the best I can.
Today I’d finally had enough of the business side of things and I WROTE. I finished a manuscript I’ve been struggling with for months and I felt so GOOD! Like a jolt of creative electricity had shot right through my heart and my mind. I realized THIS is what’s important. The writing. All that other stuff can get done or not done, whatever. But the writing, for me, HAS to happen. Whether it gets published or not, read by many or read by only me, it must happen. Because I could no longer stop writing than I could stop breathing.
So thank you, my creative subconscious, for reminding this girl why she still exists in this crazy world and just what her purpose is. I’ll try not to forget it!
When this craziness with Covid-19 first started and I learned I would be homeschooling my ten year old twins I will admit, I went a little crazy. I don’t understand their stupid math. It makes no sense, no matter how many times teachers tell you it does, it does not. Not to us who learned the “old fashioned” way. But it turned out not to be that big of a deal. Most of what they do is online and the teacher is able to check it from her end and then we do some independent reading and take nature walks and make crafts. I now kind of enjoy it to be honest, and so do they.
This isn’t my first homeschool rodeo. When our oldest daughter was a Freshman in high school she had a breakdown. My over achiever burnt herself out and one day the girl just walked out of school, into town and called me to pick her up from a cafe. She told me, “I just can’t do it, Mom.” And that was that. What choice did we have? Make her go to school and possibly find her dead from an overdose? No thank you! So we made the choice to homeschool her that year. I found an online program that had low monthly payments and everything she needed from online teachers. We used Khan Academy to help with the math because she only knew how to do the “new” math and the homeschool program taught the old stuff. She loved it! She zipped through her freshman year and part of her sophomore year with plans to graduate early.
She ended up deciding to go back to school because she missed her friends and wanted to graduate in 2020 with her class. (Little did we know how that would pan out!) And when she returned she did so with straight A’s, 4.0 GPA (higher actually) and graduated tenth in her class. Homeschool did not harm this child one bit. Instead, it gave her a huge advantage she would not have had otherwise.
More importantly, it kept my kid alive and for that I am eternally grateful.
So when the CDC released their guidelines for returning to school in the Fall I flipped my lid. Number one, I think it’s a mistake to go back before this thing is completely under control without the need to wear masks. My children cannot wear a mask for very long, if at all. My son has breathing issues and severe anxiety, my daughter has sensory processing disorder. I can hardly get her to wear clothes let alone a mask!
But still, the government and schools are pushing to reopen. Why? Well in a nutshell – money. Yep. I am convinced it comes down to the dollars. Teachers want to go back to work, even though the majority are still being paid their normal salaries to work from home. Parents want to go back to work to support their families, and many use schools as babysitting services. So I get that, people want to work, people need child care. And I also understand some parents are perfectly willing to send their kids back to school wearing a mask, gloves, Hasnat suit if necessary. These are the parents who will do whatever their school says because they have “SCHOOL SPIRIT!”
I find the school spirit parents the most disturbing. These are the ones on the PTA, the sports parents, the cheerleaders, the ones who are always shouting “I stand behind my school!” Well guess what? I stand behind my children. I will do whatever I need to do to keep them safe and comfortable and if that means homeschooling till this is over, then so be it.
People will argue that our children need socialization. Well how much socialization are they going to get in school when they have to remain six feet apart, in a mask, are not allowed to share toys, books, and can’t have recess, gym, etc? Not much! Here at home they’ll have each other and me and their sister and dad, pets. Plus I plan to take them for walks and they’ll see people then. Not the same as real socialization, but better than nothing.
Reopening the schools in the fall, not only in my opinion, but based on models from health officials, will do this: START THE WHOLE DAMN THING OVER AGAIN! You send the kids to school in their little masks, you tell them to stay away from each other and wash their hands, etc. And you know what is going to happen? They aren’t going to listen. Because they are freaking kids. You are not going to be able to keep eyes on them at all times. You going to follow them into the bathroom? Those masks are going to come off, there will be huddling to whisper so they don’t get caught, laughing, talking, sneezing, coughing, nose picking, touching of faces.
And those miracle masks everyone loves? Well, once the little ones sneak them off then put them back on, they are now chock full of germs, right up against your kids mouth and nose, going right into their systems. Then they will bring those germs home to you, but not before sharing them with all their friends.
That’s the reality of what is going to happen if you re-open schools. People are going to get sick again, your child is going to get sick and they are going to spread that sickness to vulnerable people who are going to die. Plus we will still don’t know just how this effects children. I’m not willing to let my child be used as a guinea pig while they sort this shit out.
I know there are some people who simply cannot continue to homeschool because of their situations. I wish everyone had the option to keep their kids at home. But unfortunately the government has been and always will be pro public school no matter what evidence there is to back up the benefits of homeschool.
If schools insist on reopening, then at least give parents an option of whether to continue at home or go back to face to face learning with the teacher. I can do it on my own but it would be easier for my children to be able to remain with their class until they are able to go back to school normally and safely.
I sincerely hope all schools will consider this option. Parents have a right to keep their children safe and no child should be used as a pawn for our ridiculous government.
We never stop learning, whether we are writers or someone else, the learning (hopefully) continues. I did not go to college for writing. Instead I did the “practical” thing and took business classes and became a secretary. So I don’t have the formal education that people with a degree in writing have.
But, I have tried to educate myself throughout all these years and I’ve found some great material. For many years I collected and read every single Writer’s Digest book available. And I do recommend these, they are awesome!
The other day I discovered the Self-Editing Master Class by Jerry Jenkins. I’ve been struggling with editing my manuscripts for a while now so this came along at just the right time. The course is only $27 and you get some great info. Check it out here at Jerry’s website (he has many other classes as well!) https://jerryjenkins.com/
One of the instructor’s in Jerry’s class is author K.M. Weiland. She was fascinating to listen to and has some amazing tips for editing your manuscript. And, she also has a very cool program you can purchase and use to help with your editing. I purchased it yesterday and got it up and running on my computer and away I went. You will not be sorry if you buy it, I kid you not guys! *I’m not being paid or rewarded in any way for endorsing these programs, I’m just sharing the good news!* You can see for yourself just what Weiland has to offer by going here: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/
Finally, I made the plunge to Scrivener a few days ago. I’ve been wanting a better program than Word for working on my novels and Scrivener allows you to have all your material in one place so you don’t have to keep hopping from screen to screen. It is a little hard to learn so I am not to the point where I can use it properly but I am watching numerous online videos and it’s helping. I think Scrivener is a very good tool for writers, even with the high learning curve. Check it out here: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview
I hope you find a program you like, I have all three of these and they work together, so that’s cool, right?
I don’t know what has me thinking about childhood bullies tonight. But that’s where my mind is going for some odd reason. Kids today have bullies of course, but I’m not sure they are the same kind we had when I was growing up.
I was a kid in the 70’s, a teen in the 80’s. I lived in a small rural Mid-West community, a village actually, too tiny to even be called a town. We lived on roads, not streets and those roads were dirt and rutted with deep potholes and washboard bumps that rattled your teeth when you rode your bike over them.
In our neighborhood, which I guess could very loosely be called a “suburb” we had our own gang of jackasses who made the lives of shy little kids like myself miserable. These boys were older, probably in their early to mid teens. I was around ten and I hung around with the other kids my age and younger. I steered clear of the bad boys. They scared the shit out of me.
There were probably around eight of them all together, all tough guys, with feathered long hair or crew cuts. They wore jeans with chains hanging out of their back pockets and white tee shirts and did stuff like smoke cigarettes and swear and sneer and crack their knuckles at us younger kids. One look from one of these morons and you nearly peed yourself.
One particular day, that is burned into my memory, I was out riding my bike with one of my friends. I had her on my handle bars, such as you did in those days, and we were pedaling along down the dirt road behind my house, perfectly happy, when what did we come upon? Four members of the bully brigade, all on their bikes, parked in the middle of the road.
I should mention here that although I was a shy kid, I was also a little mouthy and very stupid. Because when I pedaled past these ogres, they made some comment and brilliant me came back with, “Shut up!”
You did not tell these boys to shut up. Especially if you were a scrawny ten year old girl.
The road dead ended so I had no choice but to turn around and ride back and they were waiting for us.
No, scratch that. There were two of us on the bike but those bastards were waiting for ME!
This time there was no going around them, they had their bikes and bodies smack dab in the middle of the road so I had no choice but to stop my bike and my friend got down from the handlebars.
The biggest, Jamie, looked at me with cool, dark eyes. “Did you just tell us to shut up?”
I don’t remember if I even said anything. I think my tongue was paralyzed and my eyeballs had gotten so big they now took up most of my face.
My friend didn’t say anything either. She just stood there, frozen, mute. She was younger than I was and was probably even closer to pissing than I was.
One of the other guys now spoke up, looking at me with a smirk. “That wasn’t very nice, now was it, boys?” This one scared me the most. For the life of me I can’t remember his name, but he had a pretty bad reputation in our neighborhood for beating the shit out of people on a regular basis. He was actually kind of cute, but at that moment I wasn’t crushing on him, that was for sure!
They wouldn’t let us go past. They sat there on their bikes and talked about how they were going to knock the shit out of us. They said all this to each other very casually, like they were making dinner plans. I don’t know how long we stood there or exactly what all they said. I just remember how I felt. I was freaking terrified. They probably would not have touched us but we didn’t understand that they were just messing with us. It didn’t matter. I was literally in fear for my life, figuring they’d find my battered and bruised body afterwards in one of the deep ditches that lined the roads.
Finally I started to cry, which seemed to give them the twisted satisfaction they wanted. With a subtle motion of his head, Jamie let me pass and I booked it out of there. I’m ashamed to say I left my friend in the dust as I rode like the wind home. (don’t worry, she made it out unscathed!)
I can’t remember if I ever told my parents about what had happened. I don’t think I did, I was embarrassed that they had turned me into a blubbering little idiot. It was not one of my finest moments but it’s also a moment I have been unable to forget.
Those boys all grew up to be middle aged men now. I’m sure they are all married with children and possibly grandchildren of their own. I think a few of them are actually dead. When I was in high school I was reacquainted with the cute bully, who then was perfectly nice to me. WTF? It was all I could do not to ask him if he remembered scaring the shit out of me when I was ten. But I didn’t. I guess I was too entranced with his looks to care.
They weren’t the first bullies I’d ever encountered and they also weren’t the last. Even as an adult you run into bullies, in the form of bosses or other people. It’s sad, but it still happens. But I no longer allow jerks like that to take away my power. I almost feel sorry for them, because I’ve come to realize a person has to really hate something within themselves to be so hateful to another human being.
So I can’t forget my bullies and I’m not real sure I can forgive them either. The question is, can they forgive themselves?