“Whatcha doin’, Mike?” I asked as I stood watching, partially obscured in the shadows. I walked toward him as he looked up from the motionless calf laying at his feet.
“I had to put this one out of its misery”, he replied as he looked up with a start. “It was born with his hips twisted and couldn’t move. I think his back was broken.”
“How’d you put it out of its misery? All I heard was a crunchin’ sound.”
“I just broke his neck….that’s the easiest way. And they don’t suffer much that way.”
“You must really be strong to be able to do that.”
“Not really. It’s pretty easy to break the neck of things that small.”
I looked down at the dead animal, its body lying in a limp mass at my feet. Even though it was a newborn, it was still bigger than I was, and its neck was certainly thicker. I turned to leave and told Mike I might see him later on.
“Hey Mark. Would you like to come by my trailer and have some pizza with me some time?” he asked as I reached the concrete steps that led up out of the milking parlor.
“I’ll have to ask Mommy”, I said as I opened the wooden door and stepped out into the sunlight, “but hopefully she’ll let me. We don’t get to eat pizza very much and its one of my favorites.”
It was only a few weeks later that it worked out that I could go to Mike’s and have the pizza for lunch. I was looking forward to getting to be in his trailer and eat one of my favorite foods. I knocked on his door and waited…shuffling my feet with my hands stuffed into my pockets. He opened the door and invited me in and I entered the dimly lit trailer he called home. The space was small and had the smell of a room that was kept closed up. The windows were covered by pull-down blinds and the small kitchen table was covered with papers and books.
“I thought we’d eat over on the couch,” he said as he walked over into the kitchen area. “It will be more comfortable there than at the little table I have.”
I walked over and plopped down on the couch…older, yet it still looked newer than anything we had in our house. I was filled with excitement as only little kids can be as I sat there waiting for lunch. The smell of the basil and marinara sauce on the pizza drifted in from kitchen as Mike opened the oven to take it out, making me realize how hungry I was.
“It will just be a minute to let it cool and then we can eat,” I heard him call out. “Would you like some root beer or do you have to have milk?” he asked.
A choice? I was thrilled that I’d be able to drink something other than the water or milk that it seemed I had to drink at every meal.
“Root beer, please,” I said as I sat on the small couch that was the only piece of real furniture in this small space. In a few minutes, Mike came over with a plate with the pizza and a glass of root beer and sat down beside me. We sat and ate while Mike told stories of his work and asked questions about how I liked living on the farm. After gobbling down two pieces, I was full and started to get up to take my plate and glass into the kitchen.
“I’ll get that for you, Mark” he said as he stood up and took the dishes from my hands. A moment later, he returned and sat back down beside me…closer it seemed than he was before. As he sat and continued to talk, I felt his fingers run through my short crew cut and down along my neck. My body responded with goose bumps as his fingers touched my neck.
“That tickles Mike!!” I said as I leaned away from him.
“Oh, you’re ticklish are you?” he responded as his hands and fingers started to move across my young body. I twisted and squirmed on the couch as he continued to touch me all over, not containing himself to my neck or my arms and chest. My body shuddered as his fingers touched my private area the first time. The touch was electric and I stopped all movement…barely breathing as the sensation coursed through me. His hand stopped and started to rub and stroke me more deliberately.
“Does that feel good?” he asked as his fingers touched me in a way I had never been touched before. I stammered as I replied that it did and just sat there on his sofa. He slowly unbuttoned my pants and slid down the zipper, his fingers sliding inside my underpants. I gasped as I felt his rough fingers touch me. “I bet it would feel really good if you touched me like this too”, he said as he looked at me and continued to caress me. “Would you touch mine for me, Mark?”
My mind raced as I sat there, enjoying the pleasure but feeling and emptiness grow in the pit of my stomach. There seemed to be something wrong but I had no idea what it might be. I nodded that I would do that for him as he unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants. I began to touch his privates with my small fingers and could hear him begin to moan. His hands stopped touching me and I soon felt his hand move up to the back of my neck. I suddenly felt the pressure of his hand pushing my head down toward his lap. As I tried to pull away from him, his fingers tighten their grip on my neck. My face was soon pressing against his groin.
The next several minutes were a blur as he forced me to perform oral sex on him. Tears burned my eyes and streamed down my face as I did what he told me to do…his hand continually on the back of my neck. When it was over, he released his grip and I pulled away…slinking into the corner of the couch.
“I gotta go Mike”, I said as I drug my sleeve across my face to wipe the tears away. He fastened his pants as I stood up to leave. “Just a minute”, he said as he stood up in front of me. He slowly leaned down until his eyes were at my level. Resting his hands on my shoulders with his fingers touching my neck, he stared directly into my eyes.
“This is something you can NEVER tell anyone…ok Mark!” he said. I stood there trembling, feeling his strong hands on my neck. Suddenly my mind saw Mike kneeling over the calf…and the sound of a snap and a crunching sound. It felt as though my heart stopped for a moment and I stood there frozen. “It’s pretty easy to break the neck of things that small” was suddenly screaming in my ears.
“I promise I’ll never tell anyone Mike. I promise, really I do! Ok?!” I spit out as I stood there more afraid than I’d ever been in my life. He stood up and stepped out of my path. I quickly walked to the door and out into the late afternoon air. The shadows were falling as I walked up the hill toward the house. What I didn’t realize then was that the events of the fall afternoon were also the beginning of a perpetually darkening shadow in my own life.