Monday, March 5, 2012

Ups and Downs


I really thought these entries would be short, but once I get going there’s so much to say, and it feels so good to get it out I find it difficult to stop. It’s exhausting, but in a good way. The horror show decided to loop itself through my brain again this morning but it wasn’t as scary, and I had several moments of “look! look at what I did there! Get ‘em girl!” which rarely happened before. Mostly what I see is Abby and the things I did to her, or the giant gun of cartoon proportions (in my mind) being aimed at us. Anyway, on with the next bit. I hope you had a good, rest filled weekend. I did.

After I left I went to work, and then partied until it was time to go to work again. After a week of that I lost my job, because I was showing up to work drunk and reeking, in the same clothes, and I wasn’t above cracking open a beer in the kitchen between orders any more. I didn’t care. I was fine. I was having fun. Right? It felt good, or at least better than I had felt in months, right? I did go home briefly after losing my job, to pick up my dog and I took the emergency money mom kept in her desk drawer, something less than $200. When that ran out I came back for more, and when that was gone she’d stopped putting money in the drawer. I made stupid decisions, did stupid things, but at the same time I started calming down. I didn’t have that overwhelming burning anger and hatred rising as often, I was too busy trying to stay alive and whole and take care of Sandy as much as she took care of me.

You can probably guess what life was like living on the street. I gave up and went home just before Christmas, riding a tow truck because my trucks engine had given out in the middle of a below zero night. When I got in to the house Mom came stumbling to the living room and froze, then started yelling at me. I ignored her and walked into the laundry room, stripping. I threw my clothes in the trash, grabbed some stuff and started putting them on. She was still yelling, so I turned around and said do you want me to leave again? Because I can. She stopped and then said no. Please don’t. I’m sorry, I was so worried. We both cried for a while and then I went to bed.

She was there when I woke up, all up on her high horse again, putting her foot down. There were new rules and regulations, which I ignored. I stayed home, not because she dictated it, but because I was tired, and I had a lot of thinking to do. Most of which I did on the back of my mare. I decided I didn’t like what I’d been doing, I had become a person that I was not proud to be. I had been throwing away the things that were the most important to me, my horse, my dog, my life. My relationship with my mom wasn’t something I dealt with at that time, we had an uneasy silent treaty that was fragile and frankly I didn’t have any other place to go so I ignored the problems between us and focused on getting back on track. She didn’t freak at me over the incident any more and I learned how to put a lid on the roiling feelings that rose up. We managed to limp along after a few go rounds regarding my disregarding her new rules. My sister finally stepped in, not knowing why my behavior had changed but realizing that mom was driving me away she talked some sense to her and got her off my back. Mostly.

When the next spring rolled around I decided that I wanted a handgun. I still was only 19, but legal to own one where we lived. At the time the state in which I lived had very strict handgun laws, no concealed carry, if they were being transported they must be secured in a locked case, inaccessible from the passenger area of the vehicle, ammunition must be secured in a separate, locked container, also inaccessible from the passenger area of the vehicle, and the cops I spoke to said that they’d also recommend having the magazines unloaded and separate too. OC was allowed, but again the police that I spoke to said they didn’t recommend it, you risked getting stopped and questioned. Then they said “Why do you think you need a gun? It’s best to just let the police take care of you.” Yeah, that wasn’t going to work for me.

Right or wrong, I looked at it this way. If defending myself and the girls with my truck had been illegal, I didn’t really give a rip what they’d say about a gun in my truck. Rifles and shotguns were perfectly legal to carry on a gun rack in the cab, as long as you had a hunting license and didn’t have ammunition accessible to people in the passenger area of the vehicle. I snagged a bb gun from the stable and decided that a long gun wasn’t a good choice, I barely had enough room to maneuver the bb gun around, a full sized shotgun or rifle would be bigger, heavier, and I would have to unshoulder it to swing it around, awkward and slow. Nope, a handgun was what I wanted.

So, I rolled into the only gun store in our area, one that my father had frequented, with a pocket full of cash from my tax return, looked at the guns in the case, and told the man behind the counter “I want to see that gun, right there.” My dad had owned one just like it, probably purchased in that very shop way back when, and if my dad owned it and liked it I knew it was a good gun. The man behind the counter looked at my choice and said “Oh, no, you don’t want that, that’s a man’s gun. You want one of these” and pulled out a little snubby .38 revolver.”

“No sir, I want to see THAT gun, right there.”

“Hmmmm…I think you’ll need to get your dad or your husband to come out with you and they’ll steer you in the right direction.”

“I’m not married and my dad died 3 years ago. May I see THAT gun please?” By now the case had several sets of smudges from my finger.

“No, I can’t help you.” And he walked away, and stayed away while I stood there, trying to out stubborn him. Once again I was the pink elephant in the room no one acknowledged. Huh. I left and cried in my truck.

Truth be told I didn’t know much about guns back then. I knew the difference between a rifle and a shotgun (sort of, I thought shotguns had to have two barrels and that pump actions were rifles because they only had one) and I knew there was a difference between “pistols” (aka semi-automatics) and “revolvers” (aka revolvers LOL) but I really didn’t know much else about them. I’d only fired my dad’s .22 rifle a few times back when I was seven or eight, until mom found out and freaked, and while I knew not to point a gun at anything I didn’t want to shoot I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have thought to worry about that until after someone showed me how to load it. Yup, prime candidate for gun ownership right there.

So, more determined than ever, I set out to find someone to teach me how to handle a gun. There weren’t many people willing to talk about owning handguns in the area so I asked people to teach me how to hunt, figuring that if I knew how to use one type of gun it wouldn’t be hard to figure out the other. There I was, being naïve again. My brothers, cousins and uncle wouldn’t help, if I wanted game I just had to ask. Hunting, guns, and especially hunting camp, were sacrosanct to them, firmly on masculine turf and if I wanted a man I needed to girlie myself up, not take up yet another masculine activity. They said the same thing when I changed the oil in my truck or replaced the outlet in the laundry room after waiting months for one of them to get around to it. Fuck ‘em.

Obviously the local shop wasn’t going to have anything to do with me, so I started talking to friends, friends of friends, etc. I’m a deeply private person so when I considered asking anyone who vaguely looked like they might have touched a gun at some point in their past you might understand just how frustrated I was. I was told to ask my dad (nope, still dead) ask my husband or boyfriend (nope, still single) and then I was told oh, my girlfriend/wife won’t let me, because obviously wanting to learn to handle firearms was just a ruse to get into their pants.

People asked “Why do you need a gun anyway?” I want to protect myself.

“Get a baseball bat.” No. I don’t want them that close to me thank you.

“A big mean dog’ll do it.” Have one, can’t take her with me 24/7.

“get your dad to give you a shotgun” Hello? You were at his funeral…

“you don’t know squat about guns and it’d be dangerous for you to handle one.” So teach me and we’ll see if I can handle it.

“Women can’t handle guns” Wanna bet? Try me.

“Go find your own man and let him protect you.”

I imagine if I had told someone what had happened to those girls someone might have taken pity on me, but it didn’t happen to ME. It Didn’t. *I* wasn’t raped and I was fine. Good to go. It wasn’t my story to tell and I wasn’t going to use those girls’ pain and misery to my advantage. I think that’s the main reason why I never mentioned it during my quest to crack into the gun world. I felt like if I did I’d be bragging about being a heroine, saving the day, capitalizing on their misery, and there was nothing, not one God Damned Thing good about that night. Oh, and there was that whole going to jail thing too.

I finally found a couple of guys willing to teach me to shoot for a couple cases of beer. I went over to their farm with the beer, and proceeded to watch them get more drunk and start woo hooing shots with their .22 pistol into the air, the fire, and pretty much whatever direction they felt like. Even they thought that my being there was just an excuse and that I really just wanted to party with them. Their lesson consisted of putting an empty beer box on a burn barrel, doing everything to get the gun ready for me to fire, putting it in my hand, aiming it and saying okay, pull the trigger while the one held my hand and the other hid behind a building behind us, just in case. Yay. I stuck it out, hoping to learn something or at least be able to hold the gun by my ownself, until their bullets starting spanging off the pole barn and whizzing over my head. That was scary. Yeah, guns are dangerous and don’t seem to mix well with alcohol, thanks for showing me that, I’m going home. That was a cheap lesson, just 2 cases of Miller.

So by now it’s been just about a year that I’ve been trying to find someone to teach me how to handle a gun. I had been ignored, insulted, called names, patted on the head, chucked under the chin, told I was “cute” and that I should ask my daddy for a shotgun or find me a man to keep me safe.

'”Lord only knows why you‘re worried about that, it‘s pretty safe here”

“Well, *looking me up and down* let‘s just say you‘re more of a rump roast than prime rib, so you‘ll be fine.”

I particularly enjoyed that one. Obviously I didn’t need a gun, my extra pounds and average face would protect me just fine. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know what those bastards would have done to me if I hadn’t been so aggressive, if I hadn’t had 6,000 pounds of steel and glass to hurtle at them, if I had frozen, but they didn’t seem to care that I had a big ass and wouldn’t win a beauty contest. But, if my friends, if my family, if my mom, who knew what I’d gone through, didn’t think I needed to protect myself, I must not. Right? So I gave up. I gave up so hard that I didn’t want anything to do with guns. Rifles were still cool because you could hunt with them, but handguns? Dangerous ZOMG You’ll Kill Yourself. (My mom’s words, I still hear them when I’m at the range. My 9mm drowns them out nicely though.) I wouldn’t even touch a handgun because I wasn’t allowed and I was afraid I’d hurt myself, since everyone I knew and trusted assured me that I would, and from what I’d seen they were obviously dangerous.


Back to when I saw Abby again. After giving her my sincerest and most heartfelt apology for being so brutal with her that night and tearing up over the things I remember saying to her, she said that her therapist and she had talked about it and she understood why I did and said what I did and that there wasn't anything to forgive me for. I'm still uneasy about bullying her like that, but if she's forgiven me I suppose I should try to forgive myself too. When I’m ready. She also said that I was right, and she was determined to never be that weak again. At least not until the bad stuff was over.

I asked Abby if she'd mind talking about what happened after the incident because it had been kept out of the papers, and she told me that they caught 17 of the fuckers at the house, they had all sorts of illegal drugs, two guns, and that the old asshole was a criminal in Mexico. They appeared to use the house as a trafficking/hideout set up because it was right off of a major interstate. That's also when I found out that the old plaid bastard had been pointing a gun at us when the deputies showed up and the giant handgun, muzzle bigger than his head, entered my private picture show. Abby knows all of their names, I prefer bastards and assholes, it has a nice, universal appeal to me. I looked up the area on google maps the other day, it’s gone now, fast food joints are where the house was and a hotel parking lot usurped the wayside. 

Abby said my name had been kept out of the reports and I had only been referred to as a good Samaritan that drove around evading the assholes until the cops got there. I guess they had to explain the holes and tracks and damage to the gravel parking lot somehow. But, if what I did was so good, why was it against the law and needed to be hidden? Why did my active, aggressive role have to be reduced to passive tail-tucking? Why did I need protection for protecting them? There was no jury, just a judge, and the girls gave statements but didn't have to testify. They sent some of them back to Mexico and some went to prison for what they did and other, unrelated crimes. The plaid bastard was one that went to jail, I think the old asshole is still in there, if he’s still wasting my oxygen, that is.

I asked her how Jenny was doing and she said she hadn’t spoken to her since it came out that the bastard Jenny dated told her to bring her friends over for a party and they'd give her all the drugs and alcohol that she wanted if she didn't tell any one. That part confused me for a bit, why couldn't she tell anyone she took friends to a party? So she explained that Jenny probably knew what they were going to do and only tried to interfere when the one she dated raped Abby, and that‘s when they started beating and raping Jenny too. Oh. Well. What do you say to that? I hope she got punished? She did, she went to juvie for two years and had been in and out of trouble since. At the time we were speaking she was on probation. Abby said that she felt stupid because she was the only one of the girls Jenny invited who agreed to go, but I told her she was just innocent and didn’t know better. Now she does. My current husband thinks that they were planning on taking the girls and forcing them into prostitution, and I tend to agree.

Abby said she was in therapy for a while, but she was able to forgive Jenny in a way, addicts do the most messed up things to get their fix and she's heard that she was getting her life back on track after several bouts of rehab. I asked Abby about her life now and she told me she was married and working on their second baby, and her life was good. Hard, because her husband was going to school and working, but she said I'm tough and I survived that, this is cake.

She said sometimes when she just wanted to curl up and wish it all away she would remember what I'd told her, that she had to keep going because it wasn't going to go away and no one else was going to take care of her so she'd better get to it. My ex asked her how she found out who I was, and she said it wasn't hard to find the girl who drove the orange truck around the county, but she never had the guts to look me up because she was afraid that I would be disappointed in her.

I jumped up and gave her a huge hug and said honey I'm SO proud of you! You have worked really hard and you are a survivor! She cried and asked if I really thought that. Of course! I reassured her, and I really do believe it. She had to get back to work and we had to get home to our son and my mom so we left, and we didn’t exchange information. I think it would have been too much for both of us. It was over and it was good between us, but it was also fragile and painful and needed to be closed. I haven’t heard from or spoken to either of the girls since then.

I didn’t tell Abby about the problems that I had coping with what happened. It’s not so much that I’m ashamed of my behavior, I did what I did and I’ll take my lumps because I earned them, but I had the impression while we were speaking that if she knew that I’d had problems it would create problems for her. She kept saying how strong I was and it seemed like something she needed to believe, that I was strong and healthy and fine. I almost let this break me, and I think knowing that might have harmed her after she fought so hard to “be like me.”

My relationship with my mom improved a bit after that. I told her I’d seen Abby, and what she’d said about the official record of my role in the events, and mom relaxed and got teary eyed, then got upset because I’d given my ex a very brief summary. “What if he decides to turn you in??” He hasn’t, and I didn’t think he would have anyway. He’s a good natured perpetual boy, not a jerk, but now that the statute of limitations for both misdemeanors and felonies in that state has passed it’s a moot point.

There’s still more to my story that I will share soon, after all you haven’t heard about my Garand yet. My heart feels lighter so I think the heavy lifting has been done. 


  1. I can not imagine everything you went through. Thank you for sharing your story so far and for being so open with it.

  2. Outstanding. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Wow,girl!! I feel so bad that you had to deal with all of that by yourself. I'm glad you are talking about it now and if you feel "lighter" because of it then it's are doing yourself a favor:)You need to heal just like any other victim of violence. You are so strong, just as Abby views you. Thank you for sharing this part of your life, you are truely, a wonderful human being:) Can't wait to read more.

  4. I'm glad that you and Jenny had a chance to bring some closure to each other.

    I'm very sorry that you had so much trouble getting a firearm and training when you were younger. You encountered a lot of inexcusable behavior. Good on you for persevering. We'd love to see pics of the Garand!

  5. Gods I hate how patronizing my sex is about teaching girls guns.

    I think you did the right thing back there.

  6. Still here and still reading. Your story is a difficult one to read and must be even more difficult to tell, but I see a wealth of lessons already here for others to learn. I anxiously await more segments of this story to see how things progressed, especially about how you finally got the training you sought and selected your first handgun. I am not thrilled about the sexism and condescending attitudes you encountered.


  7. Dang. That county must export sexist arseholes, cuz it just seemed to be overflowing with 'em. There are few good reasons to refuse to teach someone how to shoot...and none of the reasons I read above were called for.

    That bein said...I can't wait to read the story behind the Garand...and, I must admit, I'm jealous. I enjoy shooting my Mosin (and will find a range that'll allow me to pull the trigger on my Enfield one of these days), but the Garand is near the top of my "must shoot before I die" list.

  8. Unfortunately, that sounds like it was a sign of the times. Today, I would rip a new one into anyone that didn't want to introduce a new shooter into the sport. That "this is a man's game" was and still is pretty prevalent in some places. This is an amazing story and I'm glad you're sharing. I also can't wait to hear about your Garand. Great rifle, that one.

  9. There would be something seriously wrong with you if this hadn't hit you hard. You faced evil. You battled it head on. I think you were correct in not telling Abby about the problems. She does need you to be the hero in her story.

  10. Again, thanks so much for sharing this with us. I'm glad that you're feeling 'lighter' with it.
    It's funny how some gun shops can be. I walked into one the other day with a 9mm on my hip (open carry is quite acceptable around those parts) and looked over one of the cases. I was dutifully ignored until my brother (also carrying) walked over, at which point they promptly asked him if there was anything he wanted to see. When I piped up the guy's face went all red. We had a good laugh over that one but it wasn't so funny when I was new to guns. Glad that you stuck with it to now.

  11. I just read all the posts about this. I'll join the chorus of people who've said you did the right thing, because you did. You are exactly the type of woman I hope to meet some day.