by Dawn Staples

When I was 11-years old, my mom got a call from my Grandpa. I don’t recall ever meeting him before then; maybe I did once or twice, but I’m not sure. Well, he wanted to take me to Tennessee. My dad did not want me to go, but the decision was left up to me. (I was a homesick kid, bad!) My mom figured Grandpa wanted to make up for all the time he had missed with his grandchildren. She told me that if I decided to go, I could pull the “homesick” thing and decide I wanted to come home for no reason. I wanted to go. It was Tennessee! Country, horses, cowboys…all the things I loved. And he said we would go to Dollywood. I was all for it. I told my mom and dad I would be a good girl. I promised not to get homesick and make Grandpa bring me home. And I promised I would be good.

Grandpa came to pick me up in a big-body blue car. I don’t remember the exact kind, but it was nice. The inside was all plush and the outside nice and clean. It was only obvious, in more ways than one, that he had money: on all of his fingers he had those really nice horseshoe rings, most of them with diamonds and rubies or emeralds, and gold nugget rings. At one point, he told me they would all be mine one day. He caught me staring at them. After many hugs and kisses to mommy and daddy, we were on our way. We stopped before we were out of town. We listened to county music, I enjoyed the scenery, and it was nice.

I’m sure I asked a million questions. I always have been a curious person. Even when I was a little person. One memory that sticks out is when we stopped at the store. Grandpa wanted some roast beef and something else, I can’t recall exactly what. He sent me in the store with a 50-dollar bill. I don’t think I had ever handled that much money before in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever really been responsible with money, and while I was supposed to be buying his stuff, I bought myself a Beanie Baby and a Mountain Dew. He said that was okay. And we were back on the road. I was staring out the window watching the scenery and I didn’t really notice when the car stopped. It took me a minute. When I realized the car had stopped I looked over to see why. My Grandpa was peeing in his cup-thing that he was supposed to use. He had been shot close to his spine, and he didn’t walk all that well. But, he hadn’t warned me not to look. When he saw that I saw him, he just laughed. I looked away and thought it was just an accident. We were soon back on the road again.

It wasn’t too much further before we crossed the Kentucky state line. I distinctly remember going under an overpass that said, “The Bluegrass State” in big blue letters. Not long after that, Grandpa stretched and said he was tired and that we should stop. It was still the middle of the day. We stopped at a fast food place and I got French fries. Then we went to a hotel – one of the ones with the big orange eight ball. We got inside and made ourselves comfortable. I still had most of my Mountain Dew left, and he started drinking his MD. He opened the grapefruit first and gave me a glass of “juice.” I didn’t like grapefruit so he opened the other kind – Banana Red. I didn’t like it so he mixed it with my Mountain Dew. I drank the whole pint! He gave me a “vitamin” because I was so small and it turned out to be speed.

Even though I was torn down and should have been dead, I remember what happened so clearly. He started telling me he was gonna stick his penis in me. He told me this over and over. He got a French tickler out of his little black bag and told me he was going to use it on me. At one point, I had gotten up and he grabbed me and put his hand down my pants. He asked me if it felt good and wouldn’t let me go. I told him “yes,” so he would let me go, and I went back to my chair and folded my legs up and wrapped my arms around them. He took his thing out and played for…I don’t even know how much time passed.

I was bewildered. I didn’t know what to do. I got up and started walking forward and I fell sideway on the bed and passed out. I woke up around 1:30 in the morning. We rented a two-bed room, but he was in bed with me. I had puked all over myself and we were both naked. I couldn’t find my clothes. I started calling home. I must have called 30 times between 1:30 and 5:00. The last message I left on the answering machine was, “Mommy, I think I’m dying. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. You have to come get me.” Between calls I got up to use the bathroom. I puked all over the bathroom floor and broke down crying. After I composed myself, I found some clothes in my duffle bag and put on my cowboy boots. I’d say that I looked silly in pajamas and cowboy boots, but that wasn’t on my mind at the time.

Once he woke up, I knew I couldn’t use the room phone anymore. I told him I wanted to go home. He kept trying to talk me out of it. I knew my mom got up at 6:30 for work, so I went to the receptionist and she let me call my mom. Mom said that she and Beth. were coming to get me. When I got back to the room, I was sitting outside the door and my Grandpa came to the door naked to get me. I was so embarrassed that he was standing at the door naked that I went in. He told me that if I loved my mom, I would have let her go on to work. I flipped out on him. I screamed and cussed at him, and when I was done we didn’t speak.

My mom got there and he left as soon as she did. I lay down in the backseat, and all I could do was stare at the floor. I didn’t know what to do. About 15 minutes into the ride home, my mom asked me what was wrong. She knew. I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t know how to say it, so she asked. I remember her saying, “Baby, did he do something to you?” I said, “Yes,” and she lost it. She kept saying, “I should have known, I should have known,” and kept talking to Beth and freaking out.

We stopped at a rest stop and she got me Graham crackers and milk, and I told her what happened. She took me to the hospital. There were no signs of rape. I don’t think he could ever get an erection. The doctor said that with my size and the amount of alcohol I consumed, I should have died.

I forgot about the pill until after we left the hospital. We had to go back. They messed up my urine sample, so I had to pee again. I still tested positive for fastin and I could finally go home. My mom threw my Beanie Baby out the window on the highway doing 70 miles per hour.

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