The Lord is Close (Part 6)
The little girl just walked. Her mind was empty and she felt numb. She wasn’t really sure where she was walking or why she was walking. She just knew that she needed to get away. She walked up the dusty gravel road over the hard rocks. Finally she passed a few houses but they were quiet.
She just kept walking until she reached a crossroads and she stopped. Something clicked inside and she woke up, or at least that is what it seemed like. All of a sudden she realized that she was standing in the middle of a gravel road and she wasn’t quite sure how she had gotten there.
Feeling confused and scared, she saw a big, green tractor heading towards her so she moved off closer to the ditch so that it could pass. The tractor slowed though and it stopped right beside her. A big man with a plaid shirt and a baseball cap looked down at her.
“Everything okay?” he asked loudly.
She nodded her head, not sure he could hear her over the engine anyway.
He pressed on the clutch, put it in neutral, set the parking brake and stepped down out of the tractor. She backed up almost into the ditch as he got closer.
“Now, wait a minute,” he said. “I just want to make sure you’re okay. You’re Richard’s girl, aren’t you? I’ve seen you in the store with your momma and daddy before. I’m Hank. That’s my Aunt Bessie that runs the store.”
The little girl relaxed just a little since he seemed to know people she knew.
“Where are you going anyway? Does your momma and daddy know you’re out here by yourself?”
She shook her head back and forth.
“You’ve got a cut on your shoulder that’s bleeding. How’d you get that?” he asked.
She looked up at him and searched his eyes to see if he was nice or not. She couldn’t really tell. He had pretty green and brown eyes that crinkled at the corners when he smiled. She thought to herself. Maybe he is nice. Maybe I will tell him. Maybe he can fix it.
“I jumped on my daddy’s back to stop him from hurting my momma and he threw me in the floor,” the words tumbled out. Her eyes welled up with tears from the strength it took to say those words out loud.
“Whoa there,” said the man. “I’m sure that’s not what happened really, is it? Were you wrestling? Sometimes we men don’t know how strong we are. Your daddy told me that y’all liked to wrestle. He said y’all was always getting cuts and scrapes from roughhousing.” He laughed a bit and put his fists up like a boxer and took a few imaginary jabs in the air.
She backed up really fast and pressed her mouth as closed as she could get it. She had decided that she wasn’t going to say another word to this man.
Before she knew what was happening, he lifted her up and put her up in the tractor.
“No,” she said and squirmed to get free.
“I’m just going to take you back home, that’s all. You sit right here,” he said and pushed her firmly down on the tractor seat.
He closed the tractor cab door behind her. She looked down and saw the edges of some magazines with ladies on the cover sliding out from under his tractor seat. She wondered why he had women’s magazines. He kicked them back under the seat with the heel of his boot and smiled a tight lipped smile at her.
It didn’t take very long for them to get back to her house. When they arrived, her daddy’s pickup truck was back in the driveway. The minute they pulled up in the driveway, her Daddy walked out onto the front porch. The man shut down the tractor and opened the cab. Her daddy took his cap off and wiped his head and then walked over to the tractor.
“Is that my little girl in there, Hank?” he said with a forced emotional catch in his voice.
“Howdy, Richard. Yes, it sure is. I found her quite a ways down the road, just a walking. She wasn’t sure where she was going so I thought it would be best if I brought her home,” said Hank in a concerned voice.
Hank handed her down and her daddy grasped her tightly around the waist. Very tightly. So tightly that it hurt a little. As he brought her to his face level he smiled at her but she could see the evil in his eyes.
“I was so worried. Who knows what kids these days are thinking? Thanks again, Hank,” said Richard.
Richard tried to wave him off.
“No problem. But Richard…,” said Hank.
“Yes, Hank? asked Richard.
“She told a whopper of a tale when I picked her up about you hurting her momma,” Hank said nervously.
Richard looked angry for just a second but he replaced that with a smile quickly.
“Nothing to that, Hank. We was just playing around. You know how it is?” he winked.
Hank looked down for a moment and then seemed to change his mind.
“Well, you better put something on her shoulder. She’s got a bit of a cut there.”
Richard squeezed his daughter close and said, I”ll take care of my baby. She’ll be just fine.”
Hank smiled and let out a breath.
“Okay, see you at church on Sunday?” asked Hank.
“As usual,” said Richard.
Hank started the tractor back up and began to maneuver it out of the driveway.
As they were walking back into the house, Richard leaned down and whispered to his daughter, “You’ll pay for this.”
A shudder ran through her for the second time that day.
To be continued…