“Wakeup,” said Jerry, to Chick Evens, an echo bounced in Evens’ head-ear to ear-as if shot through a tunnel…
He had been staring into his cards for several minutes while the group gossiped, his mind had stepped into a dark storm of thoughts: he had been beating Larry’s cousin with a beer bottle over his face, they were over on Indian’s Mount, off Mississippi Street, across the old wooden bridge (this all took place several months ago), a gang of them-a few kids his age the rest a year or two younger, just graduating from High School-celebrating, not really the Donkeyland Gang, a few kids from Rice Street, a few from the East Side, all from a variety of different High Schools (Washington, Johnson, Central, etc)and a bonfire was burning high on top of the mound-the mound being the size of a football field, with an encircling embankment of a hundred feet or so, with old skeleton foundations of houses that used to be, reaching out of the soil, dotted all around the mound: and Mike L., had went into the foliage with Sandy-they had been eyeing each other up throughout the evening, right into the beginning of twilight until this moment, both standing on each side of the fire, across from one another and she followed him-and now several minutes had passed, and she was screaming rape from a hundred yards away in the foliage as music was blaring from a battery operated radio, and Evens went to find out what the sound was about, that sounded like either crying or sighing for help, and here was Mike L., on top of Sandy pinning her to the ground, he looked like some kind of savage beating the palm of his hand across her face to submit.
Everyone else, everyone at the campfire, was disbelieving anything was really happening-taking place, a few said they couldn’t hear a thing: Evens assuming, that if indeed they heard something as he was hearing something, she was just enjoying whatever Mike was doing, and they pretended to not hear-out of sight and out of mind that kind of mannerism: a spirit of unruliness diffused with those sitting around the bonfire, and to be frank, they could have cared less.
Evens remembered Sandy saying, “Please come to the party with me, I really want to go but I fear without you they’ll take advantage of me.” How right she was, especially now Evens looking down at the situation, and Mike saying “What the fuck do you want?” And Evens saying, “She’s telling you to get off her, you’re raping her, can’t you hear her, she’s protesting, she’s three inches from your fist!~”
Boldly, Mike said, as if not hearing a single syllable of what Evens had said, was telling him: “Get serious, fuck off,” and went back to his robustness in securing his lustful desires while Sandy continued to try and move, wiggle, push him away, to push him off of her-while she was crying and protesting-: actually she was in the middle of a dissent, that is to say: pleading now with Evens to stop him.
Evens now remembered several guys and a few girls by the campfire-why hadn’t they come to help, to stop Mike from doing this repulsive thing? Surely they all could hear this entire ruckus: all acting as if nothing was wrong-even the girls; matter-of-fact, he even had asked one of the guys: no two or three of the guys-yes, two or three before he left to investigate: leaving the campfire-and all the intoxicated, he said while in motion: “You hear anything, you hear someone crying for help?” No one heard a thing, or would admit hearing a thing, nor took a moment to go investigate, as if this was staged; perhaps they had on their minds a gangbang.
But he was raping, trying to rape Sandy-and that was the bottom line, his Sandy, well it wasn’t his Sandy then, they had parted ways, but parted well, they were still close friends, in a way, always to be friends.
The last rebuke was again, fruitless, and although Evens was more sober than Mike-perchance not all that much, he didn’t realize he had a beer bottle in his right hand, pulled Mike back by the hair with his left hand, pulled him off Sandy so she could escape room his clutches-he resisted coldly jerking his hand and shoulder and all his weight forward, and then Evens hit him a few times with the bottle in the face, breaking the resistance. Now Mike had a confused puffy face, awakened but confused, not confused in what he was doing, he knew exactly what he was doing, but what Evens had done-perhaps he was a little delirious: he no longer had restraining influence over Sandy, Evens stepped back-saw the beer bottle in his hand and dropped it onto the ground, and Sandy stood up, completely.
‘Escape’ evidently raced through Sandy’s head because it didn’t Evens’, matter of fact, he just noticed he had the beer bottle in his hands, and had just dropped it, but Sandy was thinking: these are Mike’s friends over yonder over by the fire, more so than Evens’ and they were now coming to investigate, oh yes, now that Mike was in pain-screaming pain-perhaps wanting someone to rescue him, like Sandy wanted, forget Sandy, she was of no consequence to them, but Mike, yes, Mike, it was now a different story, justice must be done, prevail; funny how everyone heard Mike’s cries and not Sandy’s.
That night Chick slept badly, in the morning his mother received a phone call from Mike’s mother, she had said they were seeking compensation for the hospital bill, if not ready to call the police for the damages Evens had done to Mike-which they were contemplating; so she said in so many words: it was a crime what your son did to my son-and perhaps it was. But surely no less a crime what Mike had done to Sandy, but like two peas in a pod, she never mentioned the rape in progress.
It was a mild sunny morning, and Sandy’s mother called Chick Evens, saying:
“I admire your courage for standing up and stopping that animal from raping my daughter; I wanted to thank you personally.”
Diligently, Evens told her what Mike’s mother had told his mother-what she was intending to do-not sure why she was holding off on doing it, perhaps she had some good insight-and she said, “I’ll fix that, and if you talk to her before me, you can tell her I’ll call the police and tell them you were protecting my daughter who is seventeen years old, from this Mike who was trying to rape her, and he’ll be spending his days in Stillwater Prison,” Mike had turned eighteen, it was no longer St. Cloud Reformatory for such a crime, it was the big house. Now Mike’s mother, and Mike, and Mike’s father had food for thought, as they say.
“All right, swell!” said Chick feeling some weight lifted off his shoulders, and not feeling helpless, and as guilty as Mike’s mother portrayed him, if not redeemed, then told his mother, then made a phone call to Mike’s mother and all went silent, but the stifling of her hot breath over the phone.
(It would be twenty-years past, when Evens would bump into Mike L., again, walking down Rice Street near Lexington Avenue, when he’d say to Evens, ‘You didn’t need to use such force on me, that day. You could have beaten me with your hands, your fists, you were tougher than me.’ This was true, Chick said, ‘…if only I had known, or recognized, I had a beer bottle in my hands and was thinking rational at the time, but who’s to say what goes on in a person’s mind when you’re watching someone raping someone, and telling him several times to stop, and he says, Fuck off to you three times, I mean, you were no saint.’ But Mike just couldn’t get that next to last statement stabilized in his head, it was a mysterious voice telling him, Sandy was luring and that was justification for rape that his wrong was not as wrong as Chick’s, and although he might have done wrong, what Evens did was unjustified, that is to say, Evens’ excessive force was not necessary, Mike never apologized to Sandy or her mother. And as Mike walked away, evidently that monotonous voice, was repeating that over and over to him, because he was shaking his head every-which-way.)