|Benton Lutheran Church (Rural Crooks, South Dakota) - Image borrowed from Christian Begeman|
Down This Road
Down this 1980 road, I danced with Dancer. American by a Quarter, she was my greatest love. Dancing Snow Bear strolled, stuttered and stomped. A retired Rodeo Queen, she fought against the years of barrels against her knees. I had Rodeo Queen Dreams myself, but she could not take me there, and there was no other way.
Down this 1978 road, I clamped tight to Lee’s waist. Ripping, roaring, weeeeeeeeeeeeeee with full throttle, he sped to get us to baseball games on time. The Crooks Merchants, because that is what we all were. Toilers. Farmers. Slaughterers. Slaves. I did not dream to be the only girl, but shortstop I was and girl they deemed me. I just wanted to play.
Down this 1985 road, I clung tight to my own liberty. Jimmy once pulled the brake on my Datsun 200X, which he borrowed from the space where it was parked in front of the bar next to the VFW. Keys left in the ignition, he swerved, nearly flipped the vehicle, scaring the hell out of Tim. I was off with his cousin Mike…fumbling toward adulthood beneath boot cut Levi seams. They loved my car. And they loved my horse. But I could never dream that any one of them could love me.
Down this 1800’s road, my father’s mother’s mother’s parents settled in a sod house. The Johnsons direct from the old country. They founded this Lutheran church and this community. I attended Sunday school in this church for a very brief time until my father decided he was wronged by someone there. It didn’t take long. Proclaimed Atheism and years of him antagonizing everyone, drove them away. Years of him antagonizing my Mom, drove her away. Years of him antagonizing me, drove me away. Years of him antagonizing my brother, drove him to suicide. I never dreamed that this could affect so deeply and for so long.
Down this 1983 road, we did donuts and rosies and we played chicken. I drove the old B John Deere with cultivator attached. I rode atop hay racks piled high in the unforgiving summer heat. In the fields beside, I ploughed with a terrible case of pink eye. I walked for hours with my corn knife, chopping down amazon height sunflowers which bore amazon size grasshoppers. I watched my brother race and flip motorcycles and snowmobiles and me on the toboggan. Concussions for everyone and often. My dreams did not include a life without my brother.
Down this 1980 road, my brother flipped the truck on a gravel row left by the maintainer. Yet another concussion, blood running down his face, he didn’t know where he was or what happened.
Down this 1981 road, my step mom pulled out in front of my high school Accounting teacher, Mrs. Andresen. She too incurred a concussion from the shot gun that fell out of the rack, hitting her on the back of the head. My two year old step brother, wedged on the floor after impact.
Down this 1981 road, my step sister walked with suitcase and teddy bear, age 10, running away.
Down this 1985 road, in darkness of midnight, I sought refuge in the Geppart’s house, using their phone to call Patty to please pick me up. Aged 16, I was told to “Get the fuck out!” No purse. No keys.
Down this 1979 road, my mother drove away in her small brown car, an independent example.
Down this 1982 road, my brother fled like the Duke Brothers, evading police pursuit. Taking the ditch in lieu of the barricade, they drew and shot upon him. With headlights out, he coasted down the driveway and crawled into bed.
Down this 1982 road, on my first solo pursuit, I drove to my Steinfurth cousin’s farm. Colliding with a rendering truck along the way, falling sideways, totaling the pick-up, and breaking my nose.
Down this 1981 road, came fire trucks and neighbors both helpful and nosy when our barn burned down in Junior High. So came the school bus that dropped me off as I gasped at the billowing smoke and a man from Crooks stopped his truck to smirkingly inform me, “I guess you won’t be milking the cows tonight.”
Down this 2009 road, I tried to erase it all when I ignorantly invited the world to witness my wedding amidst the alfalfa blooms under my brothers Cottonwood tree.
Down this 2012 road, my husband and I in our rental car drove to support his third farm sale where he angrily expressed his lifelong disappointment in me.
Down this 1982 road, came more fire trucks and the ambulance that took my brother away. But not before I was told to go pack a bag so I could stay at my Uncle Harlan’s that night. Going up the stairs past that bedroom door where my Uncle stood with my Dad inside and my brother’s bare foot and leg in my direct sight. Lying off the side of the bed in some strange way.
Down this 1975 road, my father drove us – my mother, my brother, our three dogs and me. Turning down the drive, bragging and dreaming, selling us on this Johnson family farm where we would live and grow and cultivate a gorgeous family life.
Down this 1975 road, my mother drove us, my brother and me, shotgun shots ringing in our ears. Reloading the gun for each and every one, he shot those dogs and their puppies. He shot each and every one. Except for Pirate, the girl dog that got away down this road, like my 1979 mom and like 1987 me.
07/14/2015 @ 2:24PM