I went downstairs listening to Becky slam stuff around her room. I don't know how she could have gotten this bad! I mean, Dad always kept us in line, and mom did her share to, or used to. She looked awfully tired when I picked Becky up. Maybe Dad leavin' hit her harder then I realized, I know she would have never let me get away with what Becky's been doin'. She'd'a taken a switch to me! I sighed. This wasn't going to be easy. I could see Becky didn't trust me, though I wasn't exactly sure why. I guess I prolly should've been there for her more after dad left, she needed a man in her life. But with Mel leavin' me, I guess I just sorta ignored her. Well, I was gonna have to make up for it now. I ran my fingers through my hair. There would probably be alot more whippin's before she realized I meant business, but that also meant I have ta show her I ain't just doin' it in anger, but outa love. It sure wasn't gonna be easy. I heard her comin' down the stairs. "If I have to be up at the ungodly hour ya said, I guess I'd better go ta bed now." She said. "That's a good idea." I said. "Well G'night." She said, then she started up the stairs. "Becky? " "Yeah?" she stopped and turned to look at me. "Love ya girl." She just looked at me, kinda sad, then she turned and ran upstairs. I went into the kitchen an' got a drink, then I went into my bedroom stripped down into my boxers, pulled on a pair of pajama pants, and climbed in bed. I turned off the lamp and settled down ta go to sleep. The house was quiet except for the occasional owl hootin'. Suddenly I heard somethin'. It was a muffled sobbin' sound, and it was comin' from Becky's room. I climbed out of bed and went quietly up the stairs. "Becky?" I whispered. No answer except a sniffle. "Becky are ya alright?" "Jist g'way Jake." came the reply. " I don't need ya." I walked in and sat on the edge of her bed. "Well, like it or not, I'm here. Now when ya do decided ya need me, I'll be here baby." And with that I went back downstairs to my room. The next mornin' I woke up with my alarm it was six fifteen. "Becky!" I hollered up the stairs. " S'bout time ta get up!" No response. oh well, she still had fifteen minutes anyway. So I went and started cookin' some scrambled eggs and bacon. At six twenty-five I went to the edge of the stairs. "Rebecca Perry, ya got five minutes ta get yore butt down here! Ya hear?" "Yah I'm comin'" I heard. I headed satisfied into the kitchen. Becky came stumblin' in lookin' like she hadn't slept in a year. "Here, eat somethin' "I said dishin' her out some eggs. "I don't eat breakfast." She shuddered. "Well yore gonna today so eat. " I said. "Jake I ain't gonna eat this!" She said pushin' her plate back. "Food makes me sick in the mornin'! " "You'll be sick later if'n ya don't eat, 'sides yore brain don't wake up proper 'til ya eat. So get with it!" "God you're stubborn!" She muttered. "It runs in the family." I smiled. "Now." I said. "After breakfast, you'll do the dishes and straighten up your room, then I'll drop ya off at school. " She put up no arguement, and by seven thirty, she was ready to go. She climbed into the pick-up with her backpack and buckled up. The trip to the school was a silent one. Neither of us said a word 'til we got to the school. "D'ya want me ta pick ya up, or d'ya wanna ride the bus?" I asked her. "I'll ride the bus." She said quickly. "A'right, see ya tonight then." I watched her go into the schoolbuildin' before I left.
2:30 in the afternoon, the same day.
"Jake!" I looked up. I was in the workshop beside the house, but even from there I could see the flashin' blue lights. "Wade, how many times have I told ya not ta drive up here with yore lights on." I said to my friend Wade, the sheriff. "Well, this ain't jist a social call this time Jake." He said nervously. "I wish it was but- " "What is it Wade? Spit it out!" "Well, I caught Becky'n' Mason Crawley down at th'beach, they was skippin' school. " "I'm gonna-" "That ain't all." Wade interuppted me. "They was jist talkin', but they had some beer out there with'em. " I was boilin' mad by this time. "Where's she at?" I asked angrily. Wade nodded to the patrol car. I stalked over there and opened the door'n' the back. Becky was sittin' there arms crossed, starin' straight ahead. "Becky get out." I ordered, barely controllin' my anger. "What for?" she demanded. "So ya can beat me again?" "Rebecca, ya know I didn't beat ya, I've never beat ya, but if'n you don't get outa there within the next ten seconds, I'm gonna do some serious considerin' on it!" I guess she knew I was serious, so she climbed out. "Get in the house an' wait fer me in the livin'room!" I said. "Fine!" She said, i could smell the beer on her breath. She stormed up to the house and slammed the door. "Wade, were they drunk?" "Naw, jist a little tipsy's all. " "Dang girl!" I slammed my hand down on the hood of Wade's car. "Ya know I think that girls hurtin' still from yore pa leavin' ya. "So what? I'm still hurt from him and Mel leavin' me, do I just go off an' get drunk? " I exclaimed. Wade looked down at his fee and scratched the back of his neck t. "Alright!" I exloded,"So I did it once or twice. I'm twenty five, and she's sixteen!" "Yah, I know." Wade said. "I ain't sayin' she shouldn't get her butt beat, just lettin' ya know what I think's wrong s'all. " "Well, thanks Wade." I said. "Do me a favor, and don't tell mama 'bout this, she don't need nothin' else worryin' her. "Not a word." Wade said gettin' in his car. " Catch ya later." Then he left. I stood there for a minute, tryin' to get rid of some of my anger before I went in to deal with Becky. I knew if I went in as angry as I was, I might end up hurtin' her, and that was the last thing I wanted. I counted to ten and breathed in slowly. "Wa'll Bear," I said pattin' my big old hound. "No use puttin' off what has ta be done." I walked into the house. Becky was sittin' on the couch, arms folded 'cross her chest, and her feet up on the table. " Git yore feet down!" I said. She didn't move. "Rebecca. Do. It. Now. " I said. She didn't do nothin'. My anger rushed back. "Rebecca Lynn, I swear if it takes me beatin' you to kingdom come, yore gonna learn to obey!" I said through clenched teeth. I walked back behind the couch. "C'mon." I ordered. "Listen Jake Perry! " she said turning so she could see me. "If you think I'm gonna come like a good little girl, ya got another thing comin' !" I thought about going over there and draggin' her, but I decided against it. "Alright." I said, more calmly then I felt. " You either come over here and take your medicine, or we'll skip this and go out to my shed and use Daddy's old strap. I saw her start at this. When I was 'bout sixteen, me'n' Melanie skipped school and went out an' did some things that my daddy wasn't happy 'bout. He'd jerked my britches down, grabbed that strap, and laid into me like it was his mission in life. That was one of the worst whuppin's I ever got, and even though Becky was only seven, she remembered. She'd always been afraid of that strap ever since then. I had run over and picked it up from Mama's after droppin' Becky off at school, cause I figured it might help me out a little. And I was right. She got up slowly an' walked 'round the couch, dropped her jeans, and bent over. I placed me hand on her back, and laid into her good. This time she broke down. "Jake, please stop." she sobbed. "I ...I won't do it again." I gave her two more whacks, then stopped. I pulled her pants up and picked her up. I walked over the the couch and set down, with her in my lap. She sat there cryin' "It's alright baby girl." I said pullin' her into a hug. "it's alright." I stroked her hair. She finally started to relax in my arms. She snuggled up to my chest still cryin' softly. "I..I'm sorry I disobeyed ya Jake." She gulped. " I just..." "Ya just what?" I asked. "Nothin'" she said pullin' away. "I"m sorry's all." She stood up. "Becky ya know I might understand." I said. "No you wouldn't .' she said bitterly. "No one does." She took off up the stairs and into her room. I sighed. Right back where I'd started. At least she'd opened up a little. Maybe Bobby Ray could help, he'd always been Becky's favorite of my friends. I just might try him.