"Her Father's Daughter" (Part I)

Reads: 876  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
In 1949, a rape victim struggles to recover and reclaim her life. Rated PG for strong language and mature subject matter.

Submitted: October 11, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 11, 2012

A A A

A A A


Her Father's Daughter (Part I)


(from The Loves of Natalie Greenbaum)

DISCLAIMER: This story is the original work of Jeanne D'eau. Except for references to historical figures and events, any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

NOTES: This is a (more-or-less) self-contained episode from a novel (actually a series of related short stories) in progress. The character of Natalie Greenbaum was first introduced in a previous story, The Band Singers, which takes place in 1937. This episode takes place several years later, between 1949 and 1951. It centers around Natalie's daughter, Peggy. I was inspired to write this episode after a certain politician made the most calloused, outrageous, vile and misogynistic (not to mention completely idiotic) comment one could ever imagine about the most unforgivable violation and indignity a woman can suffer. I hope this story both angers readers and inspires them.

Comments and feedback are always appreciated. The author can be reached at JeanneKaye@SapphosFlame.com.

=Prologue: June, 1950=

“I'm going to bed, Peglet,” said Natalie wearily as she walked by the two girls on the sofa. Except for the brief, ugly scene when the unpleasant man who was the husband of her new friend and neighbor Helena came over (what a piece of work, Natalie thought), the family barbecue had been a great success – and Natalie was glad to see her own seventeen-year-old making friends with Helena's Chinese step-daughter. “You two – don't stay up too late.”

“We'll be fine, Mom,” Peggy replied. When her mother had left the room, she leaned back in the cushions and looked at Julia. “Alone at last,” she grinned.

Julia gazed back at her. Peggy was a striking redhead, whose emerald-green eyes were framed by “cateye” glasses. Julia slipped her hand into Peggy's, their fingers interlacing, then leaned back against her. Peggy began running her fingers through Julia's ebony hair absently.

This is nuts, Peggy thought. Three days ago, she didn't even know that Julia existed. Now, she couldn't imagine ever being without her. Every time over the past weekend she'd seen Julia – every time she looked into those deep brown, almond-shaped eyes, Peggy felt like her heart was going to drop into her stomach.

It was scaring her. She knew she liked Julia – more than she ever had liked anyone. Peggy had a few friends at school among the outcasts – the colored boy and his sister, the boy who had to walk with a cane that everyone called “Gimpy,” and Bruce Pollard, who everyone thought was queer. I wonder if he still has that girlfriend, Peggy wondered, considering how mean the other kids were to her – almost like they resented the fact that her relationship with him was proving their assumptions wrong.

But, aside from the fact they were all excluded from Port Landers High School's mainstream society, they had little in common. Peggy still felt very alone...she hadn't had a real friend she could connect to since she and her mother had moved back to the mainland from Hawaii after her father's death.

Until now.

It hadn't helped that she had gone on that date last year with Dexter Ormand...which in retrospect, had been mostly about trying to be accepted and “cool” like the other kids.

She had paid dearly for that...in more ways than one.

-1-

Dexter Ormand was considered a sort of “outlaw,” like some of those veterans (including Peggy's Uncle Alan) who'd come home from the war and started riding motorcycles around in gangs. Dexter didn't ride; he had an old Ford V8 coupe he worked on sporadically, his ultimate objective being to turn it into a “hot rod.” He liked to affect the image, however, often wearing a leather jacket over a white tee shirt, jeans and heavy boots, his hair slicked back into a duck tail. Dexter Ormand had been in and out of trouble most of his life – but it was invariably for breaking school rules or committing some misdemeanor violation. None of it had ever risen to the level of a felony.

He also smoked cigarettes and drank beer. He hung out with the “tough guys,” and while he too was on the fringes of Port Landers High School society, he commanded a certain respect among most of the other kids. Girls especially were drawn to him, while many of the boys secretly wanted to be like him.

In retrospect, Peggy would never understand why she had agreed to go on the date he'd asked her on – except for the fact that he happened to sit near her at lunch one day.

Peggy usually ate alone, with a book for company. That day was no different. She sat by herself in the school cafeteria, reading a book about China's Han Dynasty – which was roughly contemporaneous with the Roman Empire in the West, the subject currently being covered in her World History class. Peggy had always been fascinated by the Orient.

She smelled Dexter before she saw him – a mixture of leather, Brylcreem and cigarette smoke. Her mother Natalie, a former band vocalist, was not a smoker. She had threatened Peggy with dire consequences if she were ever caught doing so. However, her father, a Naval commander who had been killed during the war, had enjoyed his cigarettes. Despite her mother's views on the subject, the smell of cigarette smoke was one Peggy found comforting. It made her feel safe.

“Ya know, yer one hunka tomato,” Dexter said.

Peggy looked up. “Hi,” she said briefly before looking back down at her book and continuing to nibble at the chicken salad sandwich she'd brought with her.

“Wanna go out some time?”

“I don't even know you,” said Peggy. Except by reputation. She knew he was popular with many of the girls, despite (or because) of his “bad boy” image.

“Lotsa people have the wrong idea about me,” he said. “Mind if I bend yer ear?”

“Feel free,” said Peggy, continuing to read her book.

As Dexter told his story however, Peggy started to take more interest. According to Dexter, his older brother Benjamin had survived the landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day, only to be killed during the Battle of the Bulge six months later. His parents had worked in a ship yard, putting in many hours – and leaving Dexter to fend for himself. After the war, both of them – like many others – found themselves unemployed. Dexter's father worked occasional odd jobs, but had taken to drinking since the day the telegram had arrived from the War Department in early 1945. His mother barely supported them by working in a laundry.

“I know what that's like,” she said, sympathetically. “My Dad died at Guadalcanal...then Mom took off to Europe with the USO for almost two years.” She patted Dexter's hand. “It's hard, isn't it?”

“Ya wanna go out some time?” he asked again.

Peggy was taken aback. She'd never had a boy ask her on a date before. In fact, the idea had never really crossed her mind. Nonetheless, she was flattered. “Sure,” she replied.

“How's about Friday night? We could go see Twelve O'Clock High down at the Bijou.”

“You really like those kind of movies?” asked Peggy. Twelve O'Clock High was a movie with Gregory Peck about the recent war and the bombing planes like the one in which her Uncle Alan had almost died. Peggy wasn't sure she wanted to see that. “How about In The Good Old Summertime?” Peggy liked musicals, and thought Judy Garland was almost as good a singer as her mother.

“That stuff? That's a drag,” Dexter replied.

They finally agreed on The Big Steal with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, which was a mixture of crime drama with some comedy. Afterward, they would go to a soda shop for burgers.

-2-

Natalie had her reservations about her sixteen-year-old daughter going out on a date with a boy she herself hadn't met. On the other hand, Peggy had an independent streak – partially due to having lost her father and being away from her mother for months during the war. Natalie's own mother Emmaline had noted it during the months she and her father Isaac had taken care of their granddaughter. Upon discussing it with Natalie, Emmaline had convinced her that if Peggy's independence were carefully nurtured and channeled, it could serve her well later in life.

Peggy did have greater maturity than many girls her age, and Natalie had learned to trust her daughter's judgment – to a degree. That night, however – and for many nights afterward – she wished more than ever that her husband Thom was still alive. In many ways, he had been a much wiser parent than Natalie.

Despite her misgivings – which did not ease, seeing Dexter Ormand at the door when he came to pick Peggy up, dressed in his usual outfit of a leather jacket over tee shirt and jeans – she allowed her daughter to go. “Make sure she's back no later than midnight!” she called after them as they walked out to the idling '34 Ford coupe out on the curb.

Natalie had been in bed reading when she dozed off with the light on and a copy of Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn in her hands. She was jolted awake by the sound of the front door opening.

She looked over at her bedside clock.

1:35 AM. What the hell? she thought, getting up and slipping on a robe.

Peggy had closed the front door and was walking – very slowly – across the front room, her head down. Her clothes looked as if she had been rolling in the grass.

“Peggy – where have you been?”

Peggy mumbled something and walked past her mother.

“Peggy – you're over an hour and a half late! Where have you been?”

Peggy turned. Her eyes were red – whether from crying or something else, Natalie couldn't tell. “I don' feel so good,” she mumbled. Then, she turned and continued toward her room.

“Peggy!”

Peggy went into her room and shut the door. Natalie followed. She knocked on the door. “Peggy, I want to talk to you!” she said. She opened the door. Peggy was lying on her bed, still fully clothed, in a fetal position. “Peggy...”

“Go away,” Peggy mumbled.

“Talk to me! Why are you covered in dirt and grass?”

Peggy rolled over, facing the wall.

Natalie sighed; it was apparent she would get nothing more out of her daughter tonight. She still had a very bad feeling, however. She sat on the bed and placed a hand on her daughter's shoulder. “Baby, did that boy do something to you?”

“I'm just sick, tha's all,” Peggy mumbled again.

Natalie slept little that night.

The next day, Peggy did not get out of bed until nearly noon, which was unusual; even on her “lazy” days, Peggy did not normally sleep past nine. It was Saturday, one of the days Peggy normally worked a shift in her grandfather's kitchen at the Blue Note Cafe.

It was also strange that Peggy did not come directly to the kitchen after using the toilet and washing her hands and face as she usually did. Instead, Natalie, who was cleaning up in the kitchen, heard the shower go on. Peggy usually showered or bathed at night before bed, or sometimes in the late afternoon – and it was always short, never more than five or ten minutes. This day, the shower kept running for almost an hour. Natalie finally had to stick her head into the bathroom. “Peggy, are you alright?” The hot water would have been long gone.

Peggy poked her head from behind the shower curtain. “I'm fine,” she said in a dead tone of voice. She then pulled the curtain once again.

“Peggy, are you coming in to work today?”

“Tell Grandpa Isaac I don't feel well,” Peggy said listlessly.

Again, Natalie sighed and went into her bedroom to change into her server's uniform and get ready for her shift at the Greenbaum family business.

The shower finally stopped running. A few minutes later, Natalie heard the door of Peggy's bedroom open and close. When Natalie had finished dressing and applying her makeup, she went across the hall and tapped lightly on her daughter's bedroom door. “Peglet...?” She opened the door slowly.

Peggy had changed back into her favorite pink-and-rose colored pajamas and was under the covers. The blinds were drawn.

Natalie sat on the bed. “Peglet, do I need to call Doctor Howard?”

Peggy shook her head. Tears were leaking down her cheeks. “I wish Daddy were alive,” she said.

“So do I, baby...” Natalie replied, stroking Peggy's cheek. “So do I...” Increasingly, she was getting a very bad feeling about what had transpired on Peggy's date with the Ormand boy. “Baby, I have to go to work...are you going to be all right?”

Peggy nodded. Natalie bent down and kissed her cheek, then left the room.

Before she left for the Blue Note, Natalie noticed the shiny new Buick Roadmaster convertible sitting in the driveway across the street. It meant her neighbor, Barbara Vickson, was home. She decided to go over.

Though she did not exactly consider them close friends, Natalie was on good terms with Barbara and her husband, who owned and operated a automobile dealership downtown. It had been Ross Vickson who had sold her the used 1940 Dodge pickup Natalie drove – not fancy, but it was cheap and had proven to be reliable, basic transportation. Natalie sometimes coveted the nice Buick her neighbor drove, however.

Today, the Buick was the furthest thing from her mind as she rang their doorbell.

Barbara, who at twenty-four was closer to Peggy's age than Natalie's, opened the door. She was a drop-dead gorgeous, blue-eyed blonde with her hair done in a sexy Veronica Lake style that hid one eye. She could fill a tight sweater like a Hollywood goddess. It was easy for Natalie to see why Ross, who was twice her age, had wanted to marry her. (And she, him: though theirs was a modest, middle-class home, Ross Vickson definitely had more than two nickels to rub together.) “Mrs. Greenbaum!” she said by way of greeting.

Thirty-nine-year-old Natalie chuckled. “Please – you make me feel like an old lady...call me Nattie.”

“Okay,” said Barbara. “What can I do for you?”

“Barb, I have to go to work, and my daughter isn't well – I was just wondering – if you think about it – would you please look in on her from time to time?”

“Sure...or if you like, she can come over here.”

Natalie shook her head. “She'd think she was being baby-sat,” she replied. “She's sixteen...you remember how that was.”

Barbara smiled and nodded. “I'll check on her.”

Natalie smiled and turned to leave. “Thanks – I'll leave the door open. Please call me at the Blue Note if you think there's anything serious!” she said over her shoulder as she walked back toward her own place.

“I will!” Barbara called before closing her door.

Barbara Vickson was as good as her word, going over to look in on Peggy about every two hours. Each time she entered the Greenbaum home, she either found Peggy sleeping in her bed or on the sofa in the front room with the radio on, or she would hear the shower running. According to Barbara's reckoning, Peggy Greenbaum had taken at least four showers over the course of the afternoon and evening. It was something she commented on to Natalie when she returned around ten o'clock that night. “If nothing else, your daughter is probably the cleanest teenager in Port Landers,” she said.

“Thank you again, Barb,” Natalie said before going up to her own door.

When she opened Peggy's bedroom door to look in on her, Natalie found her daughter once again asleep under the covers.

She decided that if something didn't change by Monday morning, she would be calling Doctor Howard.

She might have a talk with the Ormand boy as well. She didn't even want to think about what he had done to Peggy – but the thought kept pounding relentlessly at the walls of her consciousness.

-3-

The next morning, Sunday, was traditionally mother-daughter time. Natalie would make omelets with fried potatoes and onions and Peggy's favorite blueberry pancakes, which she always topped with orange marmalade while looking at the Sunday funny pages. Afterward, Natalie and Peggy would often go to the beach or waterfront (depending on the fickle Pacific Northwest weather), then to the movie house for a matinee. Once again, Natalie had to call her daughter out of bed.

Peggy wandered in, still wearing her pink pajamas, looking disheveled. She sat down at the table, expressionless.

Natalie smiled brightly. “I made your favorite, baby – cheese omelets with bacon and mushroom and blueberry pancakes.”

Peggy nodded. Natalie set the food in front of her, along with a steaming cup of coffee – black, the way she had come to prefer it – and whipped orange juice with a dash of vanilla.

Normally, Peggy would have dug in like a hungry horse and been talking up a storm about what she had learned in school, or what book she had been reading, or even what movie they might take in that afternoon. This morning, Peggy simply picked at her food silently, resisting all attempts on Natalie's part to make conversation during the meal.

When Natalie had finished her breakfast, she said, “Okay, Peggy – we're going over to that boy's house and have a talk.”

Suddenly. Peggy became alarmed. “Mom, please don't – ”

“What did he do to you?” Natalie demanded, as if she hadn't finally figured it out. Natalie enjoyed an openness in her relationship with Peggy that was rare between teenagers and parents. In some ways, they were more like sisters than mother and daughter; if Peggy had been thinking about having sexual relations with a boy, surely she would have talked to her mother first. Natalie would have advised her not to, of course – or at least to wait until she was a little older (Natalie's own first sexual experience had come at nineteen) and make certain the boy was using some kind of protection.

Natalie still did not want to believe her dear baby girl Peglet had been raped – but the fact that she had come home that night covered in dirt and grass and her odd behavior since was leading her to the inescapable conclusion.

Ignoring Peggy's pleas to drop the matter, Natalie looked up the Ormands in the phone book and drove over by herself after breakfast.

She was greeted at the door by a young man dressed in mechanic's coveralls, who looked to be about twenty-four. She noticed he had a cane. “Can I help you?”

“May I speak with Dexter Ormand?” she asked.

The young man shook his head. “He's down at our Pa's machine shop today,” he said. “I'm his brother...something I could help you with?”

Further back in the house, a woman's voice asked, “Bennie, who is it?”

“Some woman wants to talk to Dex, Ma,” Bennie replied.

There was the sound of footsteps. Natalie heard the woman say, “Oh Lord, what's that boy done this time...? Tell her I'll be there in a moment!”

Bennie turned to Natalie and smiled. “You heard?”

Natalie nodded. Looking at the cane, she said, “You were in the war?”

Bennie gave Natalie a pained smile. “Almost,” he said. “Didn't quite make it.”

“What happened?”

“Stupid training accident,” Bennie said. “I was practicing mobile combat maneuvers at Pendleton down in California and the jeep flipped – landed on my ankle.”

Natalie nodded. “You were lucky,” she said.

“Still wish I coulda taken a shot or two at those Nazi bastards – pardon my French, ma'am,” he said.

“No you don't,” Natalie said, thinking about her poor brother Alan, a waist gunner on a bomber that had barely made it back from its last mission over Germany.

At this, a matronly-looking older woman – about fifty or so – appeared at the door. Bennie stepped aside. He nodded to Natalie, picking up a metal toolbox with his free hand. “Nice to meetcha – uh...”

“Natalie Greenbaum,” she replied. As Bennie walked past her, the older woman – presumably Mrs. Ormand – said, “Tell your father I'll have supper ready at six.”

“Okay, Ma,” Bennie said, walking out toward the street where a prewar Army surplus Ford sedan stood.

Mrs. Ormand looked at her son affectionately. “He's a good boy,” she said. “Still helps his father every day at the shop, even though his leg pains him.” Then, to Natalie, she said, “I'm Mrs. Ormand.” She offered her hand.

Natalie took the hand. “Natalie Greenbaum,” she replied.

“Please, come in,” Mrs. Ormand said. As Natalie entered the home, she asked, “Can I offer you some tea? Coffee?”

“No thank you, Mrs. Ormand,” Natalie replied. As she looked around, she was surprised. The home was not lavish, but neat and comfortable, with old, but well-cared for furnishings. There were family photos on the wall depicting domestic bliss. All-in-all, an average, hard-working, stable and comfortable middle class family.

As Natalie sat at a dining room table, Mrs. Ormand got herself a cup of tea. “You wanted to know about Dexie?” she asked.

Natalie replied, “Your son went out on a date with my daughter the other night.”

Mrs. Ormand nodded as she returned to the table. “I suppose...I rarely know what that boy is up to,” she said with a sigh. “I – I hope he hasn't gotten your girl 'in trouble'.”

“What do you mean, Mrs. Ormand?” Natalie asked rather testily.

Again, Mrs. Ormand sighed. “My Dexie has a tendency to run with the wrong crowd,” she admitted. “It's our fault...his father did contract work for the Army during the war and I worked over at the textile mill – you know, where they made the uniforms?”

Natalie nodded. Many women on the “Home Front” had gone to work at paying jobs, doing their part for the war effort.

Mrs. Ormand continued: “When his brother enlisted in the Marines, he was left alone most of the time...I'm afraid he started running wild.” She rolled her eyes. “He always seems to find the 'loose' girls – ”

At this, Natalie spat, “My daughter is not 'loose', Mrs, Ormand.”

Mrs. Ormand chuckled. “I hate to say this, Mrs. Greenbaum – but if your daughter consented to go on a date with my Dexie, she must be just like the others – ”

Natalie stood up. “Your son forced himself on my Peggy!”

Mrs. Ormand looked genuinely shocked. “Surely you are mistaken, Mrs. Greenbaum...I know he was accused of getting some poor girl 'in trouble' last year – ”

“You mean, pregnant?”

“Mrs. Greenbaum!” said the other woman, shocked and offended.

“Let's call a spade a spade, Mrs. Ormand...I know my daughter, and she would not casually spread her legs for someone like your son!”

At this, Mrs. Ormand stood up. “I'll thank you to leave, now, Mrs. Greenbaum.”

Natalie nodded. “We're not done, here,” she said, turning to leave.

“Don't come here again!” yelled Mrs. Ormand as Natalie stalked out the door, angrily.

-4-

When she got home, Natalie heard the shower running. Peggy was showering for the second time that day. She stuck her head into the bathroom. “Peggy, get dressed! We have somewhere we need to go.”

No response. Natalie sighed, then went into the living room and turned on the radio. There was some news about the ongoing civil war in China. Those poor people, she thought. At least the war had come to an end for America. Eventually, she heard the shower stop and doors opening and closing. After a few minutes, she went to Peggy's bedroom. She knocked on the door. “Peglet?” No response. She opened the door to find her daughter buttoning her pajama top. “Uh-uh, Peglet – you put on some school clothes.”

“Mom – ”

“We have somewhere to go.”

A terrified look came into Peggy's eyes. “Mom – please...”

Natalie looked at Peggy for several seconds. Suddenly, Peggy broke down sobbing, her entire body shaking. She collapsed onto the bed. Natalie sat down on the bed and gathered her daughter into her arms, holding her and rocking her back and forth as if she were still a little girl. “Baby...it wasn't your fault...”

“I shouldn't have gone out with him!” Peggy wailed.

“No, you shouldn't,” Natalie said gently. “But you didn't deserve to be – violated this way...” before long, Natalie was sobbing as well.

Several minutes later, as the tears began to subside, Natalie asked, “How did it happen? Did he attack you?”

Peggy shook her head. “He....he put something in my soda, I think,” she said tearfully. “I – started feeling really funny...maybe it was like being drunk, I don't know...I barely remember going out to his car...and the next thing I remember...” she broke down sobbing again.

Natalie held Peggy tight against her bosom. “It'll be okay, Peglet...we're going to the police...”
“Mom, no!” Peggy cried in alarm.

“Baby, do you want him to do this to someone else?”

Peggy didn't have an answer.

Natalie put a hand under Peggy's chin and looked into her green eyes. Her father's eyes, she thought, fondly. “You're my sweet baby girl...but you're also Thom Ivarsen's daughter,” she said. “He loved you with all of his heart – but he knew when to be tough...and he'd want you to be tough right now...can you do that, baby?”

Peggy sniffled and nodded.

“Good,” said Natalie. “Get dressed now...and let's bring this miserable fucking piece of dog shit to justice.”

Despite herself, Peggy giggled at her mother's colorful obscenity.

As Natalie left Peggy's room to allow her to get dressed in privacy, she thought at that moment that perhaps it was for the best that Thom wasn't around.

Peggy's father would have literally torn the boy limb from limb – and then beaten him into a pulp. And Thom would have done so before castrating and killing him.

-5-

On the drive over to the police station, Peggy asked her mother if she'd seen Dexter.

“No – I saw his brother, though,” Natalie replied.

“What??”

“You sound surprised.”

“Mom, Dexter's brother was killed at Bastogne during the war.”

“He looked pretty alive to me,” Natalie said. “Except for a limp – he said he got it in a training accident – he never saw action.”

Peggy thought she was going to be sick all over again. “Mom – did you see his dad drinking? Were they poor?”

“Didn't seem like it,” Natalie said. “His brother was heading down to their machine shop – ”

“Was his mother there?”

“Yes.”

Peggy folded her arms across her chest. “That son-of-a-bitch bastard was feeding me jive,” she spat.

Natalie smiled. It was good to see her daughter getting angry.

She would need that anger for the ordeal that lay ahead.

-6-

“These are very serious allegations, Mrs. Greenbaum. Are you certain?” said the desk sergeant at Port Landers Police Headquarters.

“What do you mean?” asked Natalie, testily.

The desk sergeant looked at Peggy. “She doesn't look like she's been assaulted,” he said.

Peggy suddenly screamed, “I told you – he put something in my soda! He slipped me a mickey!!”

Police Sergeant Phillips said, “Miss Greenbaum, you need to calm down...” He then turned to Natalie. “Mrs. Greenbaum, can I have a word with you privately?”

Natalie looked over at Peggy and nodded, squeezing her hand. “It'll be okay, sweetie,” she said. She handed Peggy some change. “Go get yourself a soda or some coffee.”

Once Peggy had left, Sergeant Phillips said, “Mrs. Greenbaum...I don't know if you're a person of faith – ”

“You mean, do we go to church? No, and I don't see how that's relevant,” Natalie retorted.

“I just wanted to make sure you weren't offended by what I'm about to say,” Sergeant Phillips said, gently. “Look, I know what the Bible says about Adam and Eve and how she offered him the apple – but I think they got it wrong.”

“What are you talkin' about?” Natalie said, starting to get angry.

“I think – if the truth were told – that it was actually Adam that offered the apple to Eve,” he said.

At this, Natalie stood up. “What are you insinuating? That my daughter willingly had sexual relations with this little bastard??”

“Mrs. Greenbaum, a lot of girls make mistakes they regret later – and some of them cry rape – ”

“My daughter was raped!” Natalie screamed, drawing the attention of other officers and people in the room. “You apologize, or so help me, I'll have your badge – ”

“Calm down, Mrs. Greenbaum!” Sergeant Phillips said. “Look...I'm sorry. I'll take the report and we'll investigate. I have to be honest with you, however – these things are very difficult to prove.” He paused to take out a form, which he handed to Natalie. “Will your daughter be willing to submit to a physical exam by a doctor?”

“Why?”

“Because, if the DA's office files criminal charges and this matter goes to trial, I can guarantee that the defense will demand medical evidence that your daughter was raped.”

“It wasn't forcible, though – he drugged her.”

The sergeant nodded. “You say this took place Friday night?”

“Yes.”

“Then I suggest you get her over to the hospital for a blood test right away. Traces of the drug in her system might support the prosecution's case.”

Natalie nodded. “I understand,” she said as she proceeded to fill out the complaint.

Unfortunately, Peggy's ordeal had just begun.

-7-

Natalie took Peggy to the hospital that afternoon. There, she was examined and had blood drawn. Ultimately, the blood test would reveal nothing; whatever drug Dexter had used had long left her system.

In the meantime, Natalie allowed Peggy to stay home from school for a few days. When she returned, she found kids looking at her, whispering to each other. A few of the boys gave her leering looks. One of them even asked her if she'd do him that weekend.

Later that morning, she found that someone had slipped a note into her locker with a single word on it: slut.

At lunch, she tracked Dexter down. He was sitting with a group of boys. “Hey!” she demanded.

As the boys leered at her, Dexter turned around. “Well – ol' Give-It-Up Greenbaum...how's it going?” he chuckled. “Ya know, I was telling my buddies here how you screamed when I made you come off – ”

FUCKING LIAR!!” Peggy screamed. Suddenly, she picked up her book bag and started swinging it at Dexter, hitting him in the head. “FUCKING, GOD DAMNED LYING PIECE OF SHIT!!” she screamed, hitting him again.

Dexter held his arms up. “Jesus! Cool it, babe!” he shouted, trying to grab the book bag away.

By this time, almost everyone in the room was watching, cheering and egging them on – they'd never seen a fight like this one.

Dexter finally pushed Peggy away. She fell on her backside, to great peals of laughter. Dexter turned away – and Peggy attacked again, climbing on his back, grabbing his hair. “I'LL KILL YOU, YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!! I'LL KILL YOU

And she well might have, had not several teachers rushed in to break up the fight.

Peggy and Dexter were summarily escorted to the principal's office and parents contacted. When Dexter's father showed up in his work coveralls – very neat, complete with a patch that contained his name and a logo for “Ormand Machine Shop” – he looked quite sober. In fact, he looked like he'd never taken a drink in his life.

Before he left with Dexter, Peggy shouted, “You might wanna know your son's tellin' people you're a drunk!” When there was no response, she got up from her chair in the secretary's outer office and shouted, “And he's tellin' everyone what a war hero his brother is!” Before they disappeared around a corner, Peggy screamed “My father was a goddamned hero! My uncles are heroes! You Ormands didn't do SHIT!!”

“Miss Greenbaum!” Peggy turned to see the principal glaring at her. “You're not making it any better for yourself with that potty mouth. Get back in here and sit down!”

-8-

Peggy Greenbaum was suspended for the remainder of the school year – meaning she would have to take summer classes in order to advance to junior status for 1949-50.

Dexter Ormand was back in school the following week.

On the way home that day, Natalie said, “It's for the best, Peglet...it'll give all this a chance to blow over, and next year – ”

“I don't want to go back to that school – ever,” Peggy spat.

“Peggy...”

“I'm sorry, Mom...”

Natalie sighed and took her daughter's hand as she drove. “You are so much like your father,” she said. “There's far more of him in you than there is of me.” Then she grinned. “I'm actually proud of you, Peg,” she admitted.

“Why? I got into a fight, I used swear words, and now I'm out of school for the rest of the year,” Peggy replied.

“You fought back,” Natalie said. “It – might not have been the best way...but at least you're not taking it lying down.”

“I did take it lying down,” said Peggy, miserably.

“Only because he drugged you, darling,” Natalie said. “And he's going to go to jail for that – for a very long time.”

-9-

Natalie's prediction was not to come true. Dexter was eventually arrested, but then released on his own recognizance and placed under house arrest with his parents' supervision until the case came to trial that summer.

Before that however, Peggy had yet another ordeal.

One morning, about three weeks after Peggy had been raped, Natalie woke up hearing her daughter in the bathroom wailing and sobbing. Alarmed, she sprinted out of bed and across the hall. Beating on the bathroom door, she cried out, “Peggy...! What's wrong, baby...?”

Peggy opened the door, tears streaming down her face. “Mom...I'm late...!”

“What do you mean...?” Natalie started. Then she realized what Peggy was saying. “Oh, no... Peggy...” Yet again, Natalie wound up taking her daughter into her arms, holding her as great sobs racked her body – and she cursed the name of Dexter Ormand.

Thirty minutes later, Natalie and Peggy sat together on the sofa in the front room. Natalie had made her daughter some chamomile tea. For a long time, nothing was said. Finally, Peggy spoke: “I – I can't have this baby, Mom...”

“What are we going to do, Peggy?”

“Find somebody to get rid of it!” Peggy spat.

“Sweetie, that's not so easy – ”

I WON'T HAVE THAT THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE'S BASTARD!!” Peggy screamed.

“Listen, baby – we can send you to Colorado to stay with your cousins – ”

“I'd rather DIE than give birth to Dexter Ormand's baby!” cried Peggy. “Please, Mom – there's some people downtown that know how to handle this!”

“No, Peggy – absolutely not,” Natalie said.

“Mom – ”

Natalie reached toward Peggy, putting her arms around her daughter and drawing her close. “Baby, it's too dangerous...do you know what those men do?”

“They get rid of mistakes,” said Peggy.

“They put a wire coat hanger inside you!” Natalie said. “It could kill you!” She started to cry. “Women die from that! Baby, I couldn't handle it if – if you...” she couldn't finish. Then, she said, “And even if you survived...if anyone found out, you could go to jail...”

“Momma, I can't do this!” Peggy wailed.

Natalie looked at her daughter and saw the desperation in her eyes. Dexter had committed the crime – and Peggy was paying the price.

It was beyond unfair.

Again, she held her daughter close. “We'll – we'll figure something out, Peglet...I don't know what...”

That night after the Blue Note closed for the evening, Natalie went into the business office where her own mother Emmaline was going over the night's receipts.

Emmaline Greenbaum had been raised by two women – one of whom was a full-blooded Tsiwahan Indian named Tsyanna Tiix'whana, or Moon Feather. Moon Feather's lifelong lover and partner – Emmaline's birth mother – was Sadie Huffman, who had run a “pleasure palace” in the Colorado mining town of Cottonwood Gulch. The Centennial Palace had been a very swank, very exclusive sporting house where women sold their bodies to a very exclusive clientele. Back in the 1870s, it had been the only option open to Sadie. Both she and Moon Feather had once been part of a Mormon harem, from which they had run away. In later life, Sadie half-jokingly said it had given her the idea and the experience. The girls who worked at the Centennial were treated far better than at any establishment run by a man out of a saloon. Sadie made certain her girls were protected, well fed, comfortable, and paid generously – so if they saved their money, they might one day be able to move on to a better life. Moon Feather, whose brother Sun Bear (Emmaline's biological father) was a shaman, tended to the girls' health, making certain their clients were clean and did not carry any disease, keeping the girls' from becoming pregnant with the use of herbs – and when necessary, using different herbs to end a pregnancy.

That had not been an uncommon practice among the Tsiwahan.

Emmaline listened to Natalie's story with a grim expression on her face. “Nattie, I wish you'd come to me with this sooner,” she said when Natalie had finished. “Peggy's my granddaughter, after all.”

“I know, Momma,” said Natalie, miserably. “I just didn't know what to do.”

Emmaline nodded. “My Mamma Moon Feather would have known how to deal with it,” she said. “Problem is, I'm not rightly sure what she would have used.” Moon Feather had died of a heart attack thirty-five years earlier when in her sixties, and Sadie had passed on in the mid-1930s at the age of eighty-five. “It's been years since I spoke with my cousin Rosie – and I doubt she'd know anything about it.”

“What are we going to do, Mom?”

Emmaline thought about it. Then she remembered something. “When I was growing up in Cottonwood Gulch, I remember this Chinaman...what was his name...?” She struggled to remember her childhood over six decades earlier. Then she brightened. “Li Fong...that was it...my Mamma Moon Feather used to get some of her herbs from him...”

Natalie nodded. She remembered Chinese doctors back in Honolulu. They had different ways of doing things than Western doctors. She had actually gone to one on a few occasions when her menstrual cramps became unbearable. “You think I should find a Chinese doctor?”

“It's worth a try,” Emmaline counseled.

It was how Peggy Greenbaum came to know Doctor Kang-tse Wong, practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

-10-

“It's good that you came to see me when you did,” Dr. Wong said. “If such a procedure is to be successful, it's best to have it done as soon as possible – the more advanced the pregnancy, the less likely it is that the medications will be effective.”

Natalie nodded as she and Peggy sat on the Mandarin-style divan in Dr. Wong's apothecary. “Are there risks?” she asked.

“Any kind of procedure entails some risk,” Dr. Wong acknowledged. “Even Western-type surgeries...however, if Peggy is otherwise healthy and strong, she should suffer no serious long-term physical effects.” Natalie noticed how he emphasized the word “physical.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but Peggy said, “I'd rather die than have this bastard.”

Dr. Wong nodded. “She could just as easily develop serious complications in childbirth – or even simply carrying the child,” he said. “It is of course, up to you as Peggy's mother.”

“Please Mom,” Peggy appealed.

Natalie sighed. “This still scares me, baby.” Then she turned to Dr. Wong. “You said she should suffer no long term physical effects.”

Dr. Wong nodded. “The herbs that are used to induce huatai will make Peggy very sick for a few days...but as I said, as long as she's otherwise strong and healthy, there should be no lasting after effects on her body.” Then he looked grave. “The effect on the spirit is another matter,” he added.

“What do you mean?”

“Mrs. Greenbaum, many women who undergo induced huatai feel a great spiritual pain long afterward.” He paused to let that sink in. “I won't discuss the moral issues here,” he said, glancing at the statue of Buddha that sat above an altar at the back of the room. “That's something that all of us must wrestle with individually.” He looked at Peggy. “I simply want you to be aware that there may be … psychic consequences.”

“Please don't tell me some god is going to punish me,” Peggy said, rolling her eyes.

Dr. Wong shook his head. “But you may very well feel the urge to punish yourself.”

There was silence for several seconds. Finally, Natalie said, “Peggy...this is your choice.”

“I can't bring Dexter Ormand's child into this world,” Peggy said. “You said – I came about because of an act of love, Mom.”

Natalie nodded. It had not been the kind of “romantic” love that Peggy was thinking of, but she remembered the tenderness and closeness she and Thom shared the night Peggy had been conceived.

Peggy continued: “This baby is the result of a violation – and someone I hate with all my heart and soul.”

Dr. Wong nodded. “It may be best to end this pregnancy.” He looked at Peggy for a long time. “In our tradition, we treat the mind and spirit as well as the body,” he said. “Once the treatment has been completed – I will do my best to assist Peggy with any – spiritual – fallout.”

Natalie nodded.

Dr. Wong examined Peggy thoroughly and judged her to be in good overall physical health. He sent Natalie and Peggy home with some tea and told them to return the following day.

For four days after Dr. Wong's ministrations, Peggy felt as if she would die. She had never felt so sick in her life – nor so terrified. The bleeding was profuse; though Dr. Wong had advised both of them that it was to be expected, both Peggy and Natalie nearly panicked.

On the fourth day, Peggy finally miscarried before passing out.

Natalie never told Peggy that there had actually been two embryos.

For several days after the ordeal, Peggy felt weak and empty inside. She would cry for hours on end.

When Peggy had recovered physically, Natalie took her back to see Dr. Wong. He gave her the Four Examinations and pronounced her physically fit. “How do you feel inside?” he asked Peggy.

“I don't know...” Peggy said, tears coming to her eyes.

“I think you do,” said Dr. Wong. He turned to Natalie. “Could you – leave us for an hour?”

Natalie nodded. She kissed Peggy on the forehead and said gently, “I'll be back soon.”

When Natalie was gone, Dr. Wong took Peggy over to a cushioned chair. He placed a table in front of her and a lighted candle on top of that. He then lit a censer with some kind of incense that made Peggy feel calm. Dr. Wong said softly and evenly, “Peggy...I want you to breath deeply...in...out...and as you do so, concentrate on the candle...empty your mind...just focus on the candle and your breathing...in...out...in...out...”

Once Peggy was in a trance, Dr. Wong said softly, “Let whatever comes to your mind come...don't force it...let go of your control...” Then, he was silent. He sat and watched Peggy for the next forty minutes. By then, a small smile came over Peggy's lips. Tears began to fall from her eyes. She nodded. “I...understand...thank you...” she said – but not to Dr. Wong.

Dr. Wong then left the room.

A few minutes later, Peggy called to Dr. Wong. He returned. She was fully conscious. “How are you feeling, Peggy?” he asked.

“I'm not sure...I don't even know what to make of what happened,” Peggy replied, distantly.

Dr. Wong nodded. “That's to be expected. It may come back to you later.”

When Natalie returned, Dr. Wong advised her, “Whatever Peggy feels like talking about or sharing – pay close attention. Don't judge – you don't even have to reply...just listen and be there for her.”

Natalie nodded. “Thank you, Dr. Wong,” she said.

“Bring her back if you feel she needs it,” he replied. Then, to Peggy, he said, “In fact, I would like to see you in a few days – not for long, a few minutes at most – but please come by.”

Peggy nodded. Then, she placed her hands in front of her and bowed. “Xièxiè,” she said.

Dr. Wong grinned. “You speak Mandarin?”

Peggy nodded. “Some,” she said.

Q?ng n? zài cì f?ng wèn w?,” Dr. Wong replied.

-11-

Peggy came by to visit Dr. Wong on her own a week later.

J?n ti?n n? g?n jué z?n mo yàng?” he asked. How are you feeling today?

“H?o du? le xièxiè n?,” Peggy replied. Much better, thank you.

Dr. Wong brought out tea and the two sat down. “You seem much better,” he said.

Peggy nodded. “It was strange...when you...hypnotized me?”

Dr. Wong chuckled. “I didn't hypnotize you, Peggy...I simply got you to relax and listen to yourself.” He took a sip of his tea. “Did you...learn anything?”

Peggy said, “I...I saw two little girls...they had red hair...like me...” A tear fell from her eyes. “They said...that they understood...and...that...I'd see them again, one day...”

“And did that mean anything to you?”

Peggy shrugged. “I...I don't know...”

Dr. Wong nodded. “It may mean nothing...or it may have relevance in the future...or perhaps it was symbolic of something...the important thing is, has it brought you peace?”

“In a way, I suppose,” said Peggy. “I still hate that boy.”

“The one who forced himself on you?”

Peggy nodded.

Dr. Wong said, “In my faith, we believe in balance in all things...do you know what karma is?”

“Sort of,” said Peggy.

Dr. Wong continued: “The Buddha teaches us that there are always consequences to our actions.”

“So...Dexter Ormand will be punished for what he did to me?”

“Let's just say there will be karmic balance.” With that, Dr. Wong stood up and went over to a desk. He opened a drawer and took out a small card. “The other problem you will have to come to grips with, Peggy...is your own fear and feelings of powerlessness.”

“What do you mean?”

Dr. Wong returned and sat down. “When these things happen to us, it is natural for us to feel afraid and at the mercy of others,” he said. “Haven't you felt that way?”

Peggy nodded. “In a way...I guess you're right.”

Dr. Wong nodded. He handed Peggy the card. “This gentleman is a good friend of mine.”

Peggy looked at the card. It said:

Hikaru Onotashi

Instruction in the Art of Kara-Te

345-A Pacific Avenue

Port Landers 4, Oregon

HArborview 6-3893

Peggy noticed the name was Japanese. She was a little ambivalent. On one hand, when she and her family had lived in Hawaii before the war, her best friends, Shun and Keiko Mishimoto, had been Japanese. So had her “Auntie” Marilyn, who'd been married to that piano player.

On the other hand, Japanese had killed her Daddy.

“Dr. Wong, what is this?” Peggy asked.

Dr. Wong replied, “Go see him. He...may offer you a way to...overcome your fear...and regain your power.”


© Copyright 2019 JeanneDeau. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Historical Fiction Short Stories