When Kayla arranged to have her breasts reduced and divorce Lyle, it was because she was a Pagan and he was Born Again. That had always been true and became truer. He would not take Prozac and talked Jesus to her as if from a bucket. His Bible was as shopworn as a service manual.
She upbraided me for not counting on him more. I told her that my favorite in the Birthday Book was August 26th, Day of the Supportive Partner. I told her I had promised him I wouldn’t go mushy in emails. I said he was cold. I said I like cold. She said, “You’re cold.”
The fathers hit their daughters who grew up to fear women, fear or avoid them, distrust or blame them, wanting to shock or maim them, the hitting fathers masterminds against lesbians.
One father in thirty-seven—or one in three, depending on the reckoner—thought to have fornicated with his teenage daughter. I have learned to ask whether “fornication” is what is meant or whether that’s a false rumination, wishful insistence on what is dire.
I once sat in therapy sessions with a kind male psychologist who took notes after our visits. Twenty years later, I reread the notes. Whereas I had told him that I had had my clothes torn from me on numerous occasions by boys—what I now call gang stripping—he wrote that it bothered me that a boy had “fondled” me. My sacred boxes contained this misinformation. I called Dr. Hall and asked him to revise his records, shredded by then.
Brad Errett sucked my nipples until I screamed “suck them.” Keith Lammi kissed me in the raspberry bushes at band camp near Moosehead. We met there daily when he wasn’t playing trumpet and I wasn’t playing clarinet. Marco Popp and Robert Raithel kissed me in Germany. Marco Popp pinned me to the sofa in the disco after he’d watched Robert Raithel whisper in my ear. Marco’s pinning me hadn’t upset me so I name them.
What bothered me was the violence of American boys—a Roman conquering by one of them when I was fifteen and he was sixteen—a childhood friend. Son of my father’s friend, paddled by my mother’s friend—neighbors like the Rubbles and the Flintstones—dead. He died of a heart attack at almost 41, days after 9/11. Someone superstitious might say that he’s my husband, I’m his widow. Boys had learned that football is gay.
Mark Jacobson died of a heart attack days before 9/11. Mark Jacobson didn’t ransack “the girls,” meaning a girl, but a tree limb knocked him to the ground as he rode bareback through the park trying to tame the wandering Appaloosa.
Ann Bogle's short stories have appeared in Blip, Wigleaf, Metazen, fwriction review, and other fine journals. Solzhenitsyn Jukebox and Country Without a Name were published by Argotist Ebooks in 2010 and 2011.