A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2016 Karen Lockhart
The announcer read the judge's choices, “In the open Western Pleasure Championship, the Champion is, number 142, Pecos Bill, ridden by Judy Miller from Berlin New York! Riding to the Reserve Tricolor is Number 23, Trigger, ridden by Cathy Taurisi from Newbury, Massachusetts.”
With the announcement of Cathy's name Ellen ran into the ring to help pose her for the flowers to be placed around Trigger's neck. As she passed me, my name was called for fourth place!
Ellen started to hop up and down in her excitement shouting, “Ginny you did it, you did it!”
I rode up to the ringmaster for my ribbon, tears streaming down my cheeks, I had won a fourth place riding against professional horse trainers on my first time out.
As I exited the ring everyone surrounded me, patting me on the legs and feeding my horse treats. I got more attention than Cathy did when she finished her victory pass!
Well, it was an excited group at our stalls. The horses were whisked away and Cathy and I were still in our show clothes as other exhibitors and trainers stopped by to congratulate us both.
I was overwhelmed by the kudos I was getting. I decided right there and then, I liked showing horses!
Eventually we came back to earth. Things had to be packed away, but first the 'after-glow' exhibitors' party!
Everyone filled a plate with food, and most of us grabbed a cold beer while we mingled with the other exhibitors. Pete and Tom stayed at the stalls, taking down the decorative stall drapes and getting as much as possible done that night, leaving less to do in the morning.
Ellen and Cathy brought back dishes loaded with food for the boys, and I had a cold six pack of Budweiser for them.
Eventually the rest of them came back and we finished breaking everything down for packing the next day. It was just like a carnival; one minute the site was occupied, the next, only trampled grass was an indication someone had been there.
We had all the tack and gear in the trailer, and started loading horses by 9:30 in the morning.
We got rolling by 10am, and arrived home a little after noon. Back to reality.
Before leaving, Pete took Tina aside,and filled her in on what happened with her father at the bar in Salisbury. He told her Vinny didn't have a gun, so no new charges were filed and the cops were looking for him with the original BOLO (be on the lookout). Pete begged Tina, that if her father got in touch with her to please call him.
Morales was in more danger from the Guatemalans, than anyone else.
Ellen and I were headed home by 1:30. All the way home, I chewed poor Ellen's ears off. Why not? My first time showing especially as a girl and I cleaned up!
Now I was hooked. All my spare money would go to horses, saddles, the farrier, the veterinarian and various horse shows. I think I needed to rob a bank. Failing that I had better start buying lottery tickets!
Monday morning when we got to work, Steve's truck was parked in front of the office and he was leaning in the doorway with a coffee cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
“Look who's back,” he shouted. “How many ribbons did you two win?”
Ellen knew if we told him, Steve wouldn't believe us, so we brought our blue ribbons with us to work.
When he saw the ribbons Steve started beaming as if he had won them himself saying, “I knew my girls would do it, you two kicked ass, huh?”
We went inside and filled Steve in on the UPHA horse show, and what Pete Smith told us about Morales. Steve's eyes were the size of tennis balls as we related the shoot-out in Salisbury the previous week.
“You mean Vinny was tending bar at a drag queen strip club and a local yokel recognized him?”
“Yes Steve,” we answered, a little miffed this was more interesting than our blue ribbons.
Eventually, Steve filled us in on the progress of the job while Ellen and I were away. We could see the floor slabs and the short walls were poured and uncovered to cure. Pallets of concrete blocks were stacked off to one side, with pallets of red bricks near the security gate waiting for the masons to start.
Steve could never resist telling us how an expression came to be. “Hey, do either of you know how the name 'drawing room' came into use? Well, in times past, after a formal dinner, the men stayed in the dining room to enjoy brandy and cigars, while the ladies withdrew into a different room to drink sherry and talk. Eventually, 'withdrawing' was shortened to just 'drawing room'.”
Ellen looked at me and groaned, “Thanks Steve, I wasn't taught that in school, now I know. Oh, Steve, I need the date the masons are coming so I can co-ordinate the electricians to work with them.”
“Don't worry your pretty head, I've already done that,” Steve said as he stepped inside his pickup truck, “All set.”
From my desk, I could hear Ellen's teeth grinding.
“Steve only does that because he knows how much you hate it,” I smiled. ”You're too easy.”
“I realize that, but it still pisses me off royally, and he knows it!” Ellen stamped her foot on the floor as she said it.
For a moment, I thought I heard a noise coming from the closet. It must have been the carpet vacuum cleaner shifting from the force of Ellen's little tantrum.
All the laborers had left, and we were enjoying a final cup of coffee before going home, when I heard a sneeze. In unison, Ellen and I said “God bless you”.
We looked at each other, paused, and quietly stood. I signaled for her to check outside, while I got a powerful flashlight from my desk. Hey, I don't like the dark, okay?
I joined Ellen at the skirting around the office trailer. It was designed to hide the waste water holding tank under the office, and to keep rubbish from getting caught in the weeds that would grow. We walked to the access door and quickly throwing it open I looked inside with the light in my hand.
What I saw was a ball of rags moving away as fast as it could go.
“Freeze!” I yelled. “And slowly come out here showing me your hands.” (I watch a lot of cop shows on television)
Ellen and I stood back, expecting some homeless guy had made a nest below our office trailer. What came out surprised us both. It appeared to be a dirty girl wearing a mish-mash of clothes that were too big for her slim frame.
Once she stood up in the sunlight, we got another surprise, I thought 'she' was a 'he'!
Ellen closed the hatch door, and I told him to follow me into the office. Once inside I motioned him to sit on a folding chair, not one of the upholstered ones.
“What's your name?” I asked. He just muttered something softly. “Speak up” I said, this time not as kindly.
“Try again,” Ellen said, “Or I'm calling the police.”
“Okay, okay”, said the rag-bag, “My name is Francis Heart, but I want to be called Wendy.”
I exchanged glances with Ellen and signaled that I would question “her”. Looking more closely at Wendy's clothes I noticed she wasn't that dirty. She must have been lying on cardboard or something insulating herself from the cold and damp ground under the trailer.
“How old are you, and please don't lie to me,” I ordered. “Maybe we can help you.”
She looked first at Ellen, than at me, figuring I was closer to her size, and less intimidating. Wendy decided to answer my question.
“I'm sixteen and a half,” she sniffled as she wiped her runny nose with a dirty sleeve. “Old enough to be on my own.”
“Look, we know under that pile of dumpster clothing and dirt is the body of a boy who wants to be a girl, am I correct? We don't care if you are Wendy or Francis, are you alright, not hurt or anything?”
She gave a shrug, “I guess so.”
“Have you been beaten up or abused?” I asked in a soft voice looking at Ellen.
Wendy started to cry, her shoulders heaving as she murmured, “Yes, yes to both!”
With that I put my arm around her and gave her a hug, “What ever happened, you are safe with us honey, get it out of your system, go ahead just cry.”
After five minutes, she stopped, and started to hug me back. Ellen handed her a box of Kleenex to wipe her tears and runny nose.
I smiled and said “Tell us how you ended up under our office, but first, how about a hot cup of coffee, or would you prefer tea?”
Ellen heated up the Keurig putting in a k-cup of tea, and getting two coffee cups for us.
“I was looking for a place to hide, and I saw the door. When I found out it wasn't locked, I grabbed some plastic bags and cardboard and made a bed in the corner, figuring no one would see me. I've got this cold, and I started sneezing, and I guess you guys heard me.”
Ellen handed the tea to her, and gave me a mug of coffee. “I mean start at the beginning; how did you end up on the streets?”
“My father died when I was three years old, leaving me and my younger brother with Mom, and nowhere to live. She had to work two jobs just to pay for the apartment. One Sunday at church, she met a nice man called Simon after services in the annex while having coffee and stuff. Billy and I were eating cookies and drinking Cool-Aid. One thing led to another, and my mother and Simon started dating and this led to them getting married.
We all moved into Simon's house. He has a daughter; she is two years older than me, and four years older than Billy. It was great for a while. Every now and then I would sneak into Dawn's room and try on her clothes. I loved the feel of her panties against my skin. Billy knew I did this, but kept quiet.
One day everyone came home early from shopping and caught me. Simon went from a nice church-going guy to a monster. He grabbed me and threw me against the wall, shouting “This is an abomination, are you a queer too?”
I tried to explain I really was a girl trapped in a boy's body, but the more I spoke the harder he hit me. Mother tried to stop him, but he slapped her too telling her to sit and shut up. He finally stopped, and grabbed a beer before leaving in his truck.
I was so badly hurt, Mom called an ambulance. After spending hours in the Emergency Room, I was placed in a bed next to another boy in the hospital. My mother told the staff that I was beaten up by three older boys who called me a fairy as they beat me, covering for my step-father.
I was sent home three days later to face Simon. He said that no queer was going to live in his house and I was to be sent to a foster home. No matter how hard my mother pleaded, he was adamant, saying she and my brother could stay, but the queer freak had to go. When I called him an asshole, he started to beat me again. This time my mother called the police. As soon as he heard her talking to 911, he stopped, and I ran out the door. It was two years ago that I left.
To be continued.
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