“Now tell me everything leading up to the events that got you arrested.”
I looked at the pompous attorney. I knew he wouldn’t believe me if I told him. Silently I sat there, twisting my wrists back and forth inside the cold steel circles of my handcuffs, staring straight ahead.
Sighing, the attorney looked up at me over the rims of his too-large glasses.
“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what happened,” he said.
I looked down at my lap, at my hands clasped together – knuckles white and jutting. I could feel my jaw muscles tightening, clamping my teeth together. I reared back in my chair, my chains clanging against the table and the legs of my chair. I looked this idiot-man-in-a-suit in the eye.
“You won’t believe me! Why should I tell you anything?”
He blinked at me for a moment, withdrawing his hands from the small metal table between us.
“I’ll believe you,” he said, but his eyes said he was lying.
Biting my bottom lip, I thought for a moment; it might be worth telling this smug idiot the whole story, just to see his reaction.
“Okay…” I sighed. “I’ll tell you everything, but you have to promise to sit there and not say a damn word until I’m done.”
Sitting forward, I leaned my arms on the table.
“Deal?” I asked.
The attorney nodded.
I could see he was confused by my abrupt mood change, but I didn’t really care. Let him wonder.
“Well, it all started when I was seventeen. My dad died, and my mom lost her job when the factory closed. She couldn’t afford to take care of me, so I was sent to live with my mom’s sister and her husband. My aunt and uncle lived on a farm; they raised chickens, cows, and pigs.”
The attorney raised his eyebrows and opened his mouth to speak.
I held up my hands and shook my head.
“You promised,” I said.
He nodded and shut his gaping hole.
“Anyway,” I continued. “I was sent to live at their farm. At first it wasn’t too bad: Aunt Tisha was really nice and caring; and her husband was always busy with the animals. Their lives ran like clock work – getting up, making breakfast, taking care of the animals, all the normal farming stuff.
“When I first arrived, school was still in, so I was away from the house for the most part. I remember being eager for that summer to start – I had plans of getting a job at the local diner waiting tables and having some spending money. I’d made lots of friends at school; country people are actually as friendly as I’d heard they were.”
I smiled, thinking about the warm welcome I’d received at Riverside High.
“It seems so childish now, how eager I was to have a summer of fun and freedom before my senior year of high school. I was even thinking about what college I might want to go to – some place fun, but that could also build me a good future through a decent education.”
Sighing, I lifted my hands to tuck my curly blonde hair behind my ear. The handcuffs were a pain, because I had to remember to use both hands all the time instead of just one.
“I was out of school for a week, working at my new job. Life was great. My mom had even found a new job, so I was supposed to move back home in a couple of months. I was actually happy for the first time since before my dad died. Then it happened. I woke up early on a Saturday and heard my uncle yelling at my aunt.”
I paused and took a deep breath.
“He was yelling at her because she’d burnt the bacon. That’s like sacrilege to Uncle Troy. If you burn the bacon, it’s as bad as wrecking his truck or a tornado destroying the house. He was flipping out on her. I’d never heard him yell like that before.
“I heard a smacking sound, my aunt scream, and then a thump. I raced down the stairs to see what was going on. I was scared, but I wanted to make sure my aunt was all right. I would have never gone down there if I’d known what was going to happen.”
I reached for the paper cup filled with water that had been placed on the table for me. I picked it up with a hand that was trembling and took a few slow sips. Setting it back down, I reminded myself to breathe.
“It was horrible. Uncle Troy was standing over Aunt Tisha. She lay flat on her back on the floor in front of the stove. He raised his fist to strike her again, and she was crying and trying to wiggle away.
“Aunt Tisha was a big woman, easily three hundred pounds; she couldn’t move very fast. He hit her hard in the face. Then he hit her again as I ran through the kitchen, yelling for him to stop. With the second blow he’d knocked her out.
“I grabbed his arm, still screaming. He pushed me away and kicked my aunt in the stomach, although she was already unconscious. I grabbed his arm again. This time he grabbed me by the hair and threw me into one of the hardwood kitchen chairs; it fell backward and my head hit the floor. The blow stunned me, but I vaguely remember him correcting the chair and tying me to it. He tied my legs to the two front legs of the chair, looped the rope around my neck and then tied my wrists to the back legs. He had the rope run in a way that made it tighten around my neck if I moved my wrists or legs. I had to sit with my back arched, just to keep from strangling myself. He stepped into the laundry room and came back with one of his bandanas; he rolled it up and used it to gag me.
“After he finished tying me, he went over and drug Aunt Tisha off the floor and put her in a chair as well. He was extremely strong from doing the farm work and moved her like she was nothing more than a limp rag doll. She started coming to while he was moving her, which seemed to please him.
“He used a roll of duct tape to imprison her in another of the kitchen chairs, growling and swearing at her. All I could get out of it was ‘bacon’ every few words – mostly because he would scream the word at her.
“The kitchen was filling with smoke from the bacon that was still on the stove, burning. Uncle Troy seemed to get more and more agitated. He started rooting through drawers, until he found a silicone brush that Aunt Tisha used when she needed to baste something.
“The look in his eyes was psychotic. With a huge grin on his face, he dipped the brush into the bacon grease sizzling in the skillet. He turned toward Aunt Tisha and touched it to the tip of her nose. She screamed, shaking her head like a dog trying to get a certain taste out of its mouth.
“Uncle Troy laughed; it was the most evil laugh I’d ever heard, causing goose bumps to break out on my arms and legs.
“He dipped the brush in the bacon grease again, grabbed Aunt Tisha’s hair and held her head still. He brushed the hot bacon grease down across both her cheek bones, like he was putting blush on her backwards.
“She was no longer screaming, she was shrieking like a crazy person. Her whole body was shaking with the effort to free herself from her bonds. I could smell her flesh burning – the scent mixed with the aroma of bacon. Every breath I pulled into my lungs made me gag.
“I knew Uncle Troy wasn’t worried about anyone hearing the shrieks and screams Aunt Tisha was bellowing – living on a 300-acre farm, he knew no one would hear us, and that no one would come to our rescue.
“Aunt Tisha was begging him to stop, pleading between each massive sob that racked her body. What he did to her was terrible. He just kept dipping and painting, until all the skin of her face was fried. But the worst of it all was when he held her eyelids open and let bacon grease drip into her eyes. I looked away and wished I could disappear. The sounds she made were almost not human. I couldn’t even imagine the pain she was suffering. I felt bad for her, but at the same time, I was praying I wasn’t next.
“I thought the bacon grease in the eye thing was the worst he was going to do to her, but I was wrong. He picked up the entire skillet of hot bacon grease and held her head while he dumped it down her throat. Telling her that she could eat the crap she’d made. His body blocked my view of his actions, but I knew what he was doing, and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop him. I couldn’t even move without choking myself. I realized I was crying, that my tank top was soaked with tears, and that I was trembling.
“Aunt Tisha’s body lurched violently. I heard strangling noises, saw one more violent attempt of her body to fight off the onslaught, and then she was still – too still. Uncle Troy placed the skillet in the sink with a smile on his face and pleasure in his eyes.”
I stopped talking and looked at the attorney. His expression was one of total disgust and blatant disbelief. I’d seen it happen and it was still hard for me to believe. I picked up my water and took another drink. My hands weren’t trembling now; they were shaking, making it difficult for me to drink without spilling water on myself.
“He,” the attorney said, clearing his throat before continuing. “He, your uncle, killed your aunt with bacon grease?”
“That’s unbelievable,” he said, shaking his head. “What happened after that?”
Sighing, I closed my eyes and went back into the horror of my memory, the terror of that day.
“I tried to be quiet, so I wouldn’t draw his attention – I didn’t want him to use the bacon grease on me next. I watched as he cut the tape holding Aunt Tisha in the chair, letting her slump to the floor with a thud. He kept mumbling something about ‘poor piggy.’ He dragged her out the back door, onto the covered wooden porch; he left her lying there, with her feet still sticking though the doorway.
“I heard his heavy booted foot steps as he walked around on the porch, as if he was searching for something he couldn’t find. He swore loudly, and then I saw him strolling toward the barn, just like he was going out to milk the cows; not hurried, but relaxed and enjoying the day.
“I tugged my wrists and legs gently, to see if there was any possibility of getting free, and the rope grew tighter and tighter against my throat. I could barely breathe; I tilted my head back and sucked in as much air as I could.
“I heard Uncle Troy’s steps on the porch again, and watched out of the corner of my eye, as he moved around Aunt Tisha’s body. I heard cloth ripping, and I saw her feet wiggle back and forth like she was being rolled over. Suddenly the feet disappeared.
“I saw Uncle Troy through the window, throwing a rope over top one of the beams that supported the porch roof; he tugged with all his weight. I could hear him grunting and swearing as he struggled with the rope. After a minute or two, I saw that he was hefting Aunt Tisha’s naked body up to hang upside down. She was hung like the pigs, after they were slaughtered. More tears fell from my eyes. My teeth were chattering from my fear and dread. I didn’t want to watch, but for some reason I couldn’t look away and had to know what was happening – almost like if I saw everything he did, I would somehow find an advantage that might save me, even though every movement he made was more terrible than the last.
“He came back into the kitchen, glanced at me, and shook his head. ‘You silly piglet, you’re gonna hurt yourself,’ he said. Coming over to where I was, he loosened the rope so I could breathe without my head being tilted back, but still tight enough that my back had to stay arched; my whole body was aching from the effort of staying in that position.
“Leaning down behind me, he whispered in my ear: ‘I haven’t forgotten about you. Don’t worry, you’re gonna be next.’ He kissed the side of my neck. I closed my eyes and tried not to scream – I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.
“He turned and sorted through the knives in a wooden block on the counter, whistling under his breath. He must have found what he was looking for because he carried a couple of them outside with him.
“Turning my head, I saw him walking around Aunt Tisha’s body, thoughtfully. He nodded, put one of the knives on a small table that was usually used to sit afternoon drinks on when we were relaxing on the porch. With the one he still held, he started cutting into Aunt Tisha’s stomach, just like I’d seen him do when he was gutting a pig or a cow. He pulled out her guts, throwing them behind him, into the brilliant green grass of the yard; they landed with a sickening plop. Scarlet blood flew through the air, dripped from Uncle Troy’s arms and streamed from Aunt Tisha’s carcass.
“After he’d removed her guts, he changed to the other knife and slowly used it to cut off both her breasts, throwing them in the yard as well. He started cutting strips of skin and meat from Aunt Tisha’s stomach, and these went onto the table along with both knives.
“He turned and walked off the porch again, this time around the side of the house. I heard the squeak of the outside faucet being turned on and soon I heard his boots on the porch again. He reappeared with the blue rubber water hose and began spraying Aunt Tisha as if she was nothing more than an animal that was needed to provide food. After she was rinsed, he rinsed the strips of meat he’d lain aside.
“When he was done, he put the hose away and turned off the water. He gathered up the knives, and the pieces, before coming back into the kitchen. He dumped his load into the sink and washed off the knives, putting them back into the block, and proceeded to wash his hands and get out a clean skillet. Placing it on the stove, he turned on the gas burner; he laid the strips of flesh into the skillet, just like bacon.
“I gagged at the smell that rose from his cooking. He turned at the sound and laughed. ‘You don’t like the smell, sweet piglet?’ he asked sarcastically. ‘It’s just a pig frying in a skillet – just bacon. You like bacon.’ I looked away, and tried hard not to throw up on myself, knowing if I did, I would probably strangle to death. Laughing again, Uncle Troy turned back to the stove.
“He switched on the radio and grabbed a fork from a drawer. He sang along to the country western songs, flipping his ‘bacon’ as it cooked. I closed my eyes, and prayed that he wouldn’t kill me, that he wouldn’t hurt me, and that this would end somehow, soon!
“Uncle Troy spilled some grease from his wife-bacon on the stove when he tried to drain it off, and it splattered on the floor; he swore, stepped around it, and continued to cook.
“When the wife-bacon was done, he put the strips on a paper towel to drain, and cooked himself two eggs in the same skillet. He plated his breakfast and sat at the table to eat, directly across from me. His eyes watched me as he ate, slowly, seeming to enjoy every bite like you would slowly sip a fine wine. After watching him eat the first couple bites, I stared at the floor and tried to think about something else.”
The attorney gagged. I looked at him and noticed he was actually turning a sickening shade of green.
“He ate her?” he asked.
“That’s so. . .so. . .” He gagged again.
“Yes,” he exclaimed. “How did you get away?”
I smiled gently and continued with my story.
“Uncle Troy sat and ate every bite of his breakfast – chewing and watching me. The look in his eyes gave me chills; I saw him watching my breasts as I tried to breathe and yet not move because of the rope. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see him watching me, but it was almost worse somehow, because with my eyes closed all I could do was smell and hear – I smelled the aroma of what he’d cooked and I heard his fork clink off the plate as he took each bite.
“Eventually the clinking stopped. I opened my eyes as I heard the scraping of a kitchen chair on the hard wood floor. I watched as Uncle Troy took his plate to the sink and washed it, as well as the other dishes he’d dirtied. He dried them and put them away.
“He walked over beside me and began stroking my hair; leaning down he kissed my forehead. ‘I’ll be right back for you,’ he said, and went outside again, to the barn. At least that was the direction I saw him go. When he reappeared in my line of vision through the window, I saw a silver metal bucket in his hand as he headed toward the pig pens.
“My mind was working a mile a minute, but I still couldn’t think of a way to escape. I prayed again, for God to help me out of the mess I was in. I was just finishing my plea to God when I saw Uncle Troy again; he had mud smeared on his shirt and hands – the bucket was half covered with mud as well. I remember thinking: Mud? Why mud? But, I didn’t have to wait long to find out.
“His boots thudded slowly on the porch and the screen door screeched as it opened. He stood there – in the doorway – staring at me for what felt like hours. I stared back, which seemed to excite him. He grinned and advanced into the room, walking around the table and over to where I sat. The bucket made a loud thunk as he sat it on the floor beside my chair. He knelt down in front of me and placed his hands on my knees, making me jump. He laughed.
“He squeezed my legs. I never realized he was so big, I’d never been so close to him before. One of his hands was big enough to cover my knee and half of my thigh. He didn’t say anything for the longest time, but just kept squeezing and rubbing my legs, his breath coming faster and faster. I was trembling, not only from fear, but from the continued strain of my physical position; it had to have been over an hour since he’d tied me to the chair.
“Finally he said something: ‘I’m gonna play nice with you, my sweet little piggy.’ He dipped one of his hands into the bucket, scooping out a big handful of mud – at least I hoped it was mud, my nose had been burning ever since he’d made his breakfast, and I could no longer smell anything. He rubbed his hands together, caking them both with the thick, brown slime. He put his hands back on my legs and began to smear the filth from my knees to the edge of my shorts. I felt his fingers slip further and further under them each time. I was crying uncontrollably; sobs wracked my body and I felt the rope tightening, but I didn’t care anymore, I just wanted it to be over.
“At some point he must have decided that my legs were brown enough, because he stopped, moved around to the back of the chair, and stood behind me – I could feel his breath against my neck as he bent toward me. He stuck out his tongue and licked from the base of my neck up to my ear. I gagged, jerking on the rope.
“He laughed and loosened the rope to keep me alive. Bending over, he got more mud from the bucket and started to massage it into my shoulders and around my neck, getting closer and closer to the neckline of my shirt. ‘Squeal like a piggy for me, honey,’ he growled in my ear. I jerked my head sideways and the rope tightened again. This time he didn’t loosen it right away, but let me sputter and gag as he shoved his muddy hands down the front of my shirt. I started to black out and was thanking God for allowing me mercy, when he loosened the rope again.
“At that moment a truck pulled up in front of the house, drawing his attention to the living room windows; he swore and walked over to see who was there. I heard a truck door slam and heard him swear again. He turned, heading back toward me, passing by the stove. His boots were muddy and he slid in a bit of the grease that he’d spilled earlier. Grabbing a chair he righted himself, grinning. ‘I’ll be right back, my little piglet, to finish taking care of you,’ he said. I cringed.
“He’d turned to go outside when he slipped again, going down this time. Both of his muddy, booted feet flew up, hitting the underside of the kitchen table. He twisted in the mid air and his right temple hit the corner of the stove with a sickening crunch; he fell to the floor and didn’t move.”
Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath.
“Was he dead?” the attorney exclaimed. “When he hit his head… Did it kill him?”
I nodded as more tears slid down my face.
“A neighbor from the next farm over had come to see if Uncle Troy had a part for his tractor. You see, Uncle Troy and the neighbor had the same model and Uncle Troy had a couple of junk ones he kept for parts. When he didn’t find Uncle Troy in the barn, he headed for the house. He spotted my aunt and came running. He came through the door and saw Uncle Troy on the floor, and me, tied and gagged with mud all over; he untied me and removed the gag, before going to the phone and calling 9-1-1. He kept saying, ‘Oh, Gawd! Oh, Lordie! Oh, Gawd!’
“By the time he’d untied me, and made the call, I’d passed out. I don’t know if it was from exhaustion, relief, or trauma; it took me two weeks before I was able to tell the sheriff what had happened.”
“Wow, that is terrible,” the attorney said. “Two people were dead, and for what? Burnt bacon?”
I laughed harshly. “Yeah, burnt bacon. What a world, huh?”
The attorney sat there for a moment shaking his head, trying to wrap his mind around something that no sane human could ever understand.
“I don’t get it though,” he said frowning. “What does that have to do with you being here now?”
“I was engaged to Mark – which was great. We were in love and he was considerate and romantic. A week before we were to be married, he told me that his favorite food was bacon and that he would like to have it every morning for breakfast. I was stunned. He went on to tell me how he would like it cooked and that I better not burn it, or I would be punished – then he laughed. If I would have thought about it a moment I would have known he was joking, or at least I would like to think I would have known. But it was too late.
“I walked into the kitchen and took out the biggest, sharpest knife we owned. I came back to the living room and stabbed him; I don’t remember how many times. All I could think about was that day at the farm when Uncle Troy had killed my aunt and was about to rape me, all because of bacon. I guess I just lost it.”
I pushed my hands into my hair, resting my forehead on my palms.
“Holy cow,” the attorney whispered. “You killed him because he liked bacon? Because of your uncle and how he snapped because of bacon? This is almost too ludicrous! I’ve never had such a case before! Are you pulling my leg here? Because I really don’t have time to be sent on a wild roller coaster of lies right now – I have a huge case load.”
Dropping my hands, I looked at him with tears in my eyes.
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me,” I accused. “You want proof? Call this sheriff.”
Grabbing his pen and a piece of his paper, I wrote down the name of the town and the sheriff who’d investigated the farm incident.
He took the piece of paper, read it, re-read it, and looked at me and blinked.
“I’ll look into it,” he said, stuffing his files and papers back into his leather briefcase. “If this is all true, we have a good chance of pleading temporary insanity.”
I just sat there watching him; he was almost comical in his rush to get out of the cell.
“I’ll be in touch,” he said over his shoulder as he dashed out the door when the guard opened it.
I saw him lean toward the guard and say something; I didn’t catch all that he said, but I heard the word bacon echo down the hall.
I threw my head back and laughed at the absurdity of it all. The death count was rising – three were dead on account of bacon.
©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.