I pray it’s different now

I don’t remember his face. Not really. I do see his anger boiling off his light skinned cheeks and he had a short Afro. What sticks hard in my memory is that damn Mickey Mouse T-shirt. It was white and fit his muscular arms tight and Mickey stood on the front of that t shirt on his back leg while grinning that shit eating grin.

I thought it was my fault. We went to the store about eight blocks away on a Sunday night. Jose had a pistol on him and it was not loaded. On the way back, under the viaduct, this guy came right up behind us and said “give me your money.” What a joke. We had scraped together enough pennies, literally, to buy a quart of beer for Jose and cigarettes. There was no money. I tried to explain that calmly but Jose decided to play hero and pulled the gun out.

Faster than a speeding bullet this guy grabbed that gun from Jose. The thought that ran through my mind was you shouldn’t pull a gun unless you’re ready to use it. Jose wasn’t. This guy was.

He told Jose to leave, run. And he did. I watched him run down the sidewalk towards home and couldn’t believe he’d left me there. I was trying to talk to this guy but he hit me on the side of the head and told me to shut up. He grabbed my arm and pulled me behind a house and up the slight hill by the railroad tracks. I had no idea where Jose was.

I did what he told me to do. I took my jeans off and then my underwear and I laid on the ground. He raped me all the while holding the gun next to my head. Before he pulled out, he put the gun against my forehead, in the third eye position, and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened, there were no bullets in it. I had prayed that was true when this guy took the gun from Jose. Jose told me it was. I thought maybe someone had left one in the chamber. I know that was a possibility. It had already happened once to me. When I was ten I had shot my brother in the face with a B.B. gun. He told me it wasn’t loaded and I believed him. Turns out there was one B.B. in the chamber.

This guy was so fucking mad he pistol whipped me with that gun. I remembered my high school safety training and turned sideways and put my hands on my face and top of my head. He just kept beating beating beating the butt of that pistol against the back of my head. There were no words, just heavy grunts from him. He was trying to kill me. I felt something warm running down my neck and onto my white blouse. There was no pain, only warmth.

Finally I hear Jose screaming my name. This guy heard it too. He came out of his trance of violence and took off running west along the railroad tracks. I stood up and watched him get smaller and smaller as I put my underpants on, then my jeans. Finally I answered Jose with “I’m here.” I sat down on the ground in my own blood.

Jose had gone home, just two blocks away, and gotten a loaded rifle. He was a mad man. I didn’t tell him where the guy went. I told him I had not been raped, just beaten. Jose screamed at me ‘Are you sure? He didn’t touch you? Where is he?’ over and over.

The cops came and one cop pulled Jose to the side and told him to hide the rifle, he didn’t need to be caught with it. The neighbors were out now, and Jose gave one of the guys the rifle. The other cop wouldn’t listen to me. I told him where the guy ran but the cop didn’t care. I couldn’t feel the blood still running down my head. I only wanted them to go after this guy. The cop just wouldn’t hear it. He said he’d get me to the hospital and stitched up, get a rape kit. He wouldn’t look me in the face. He said I shouldn’t have been with Jose in the first place, then this wouldn’t have happened. White women don’t belong with black men, those that are get what they deserve.

Close to 100 stitches and no rape kit later, I was sent home. My sister in law came and got us. There was no advocate helping me to understand that it would be ok to say I was raped. The nurses didn’t even say “are you sure?” after I said I wasn’t raped. The cop stayed in the room while I got my stitches, sitting in a hard metal chair in the corner while I laid on my stomach on the examiners table getting my head sewn shut. I’m not sure why he stayed in the room. The doctor simply stitched me up, no numbness medicine and no conversation. I held onto the stirrups and kept my chin on the table. I didn’t want to talk.

I was let down by a society that led me to think I was the bad one because I got raped. I was let down by a racist cop. I was let down by a medical system with no patient advocates. I was let down by nurses and doctors who had no problem giving 100 stitches with no numbing medicine and sending me right home.

I think about this often. Should I have been stronger and admitted I was raped? Probably. I was afraid Jose would’ve left me. I was afraid this guy might find me and kill me if he found out I told the truth. I was afraid society would judge me harshly.

I pray that times have changed. That we as a society don’t make women fell this way. That the cops and Drs are kinder. I pray this guy is dead. 40 years later I think I can now tell my story.