“Why didn’t I say something?” she thought as she stood shivering from cold and fear at the top of her driveway, waiting for the school bus. It was the first day of the school year and her first time waiting alone because her brother started junior high today and she was still in elementary school. She had located all the guns in the house the week before, checked each one for bullets. The rifle at the back of the closet in the guest room was loaded. The pistol her grandmother kept under her bed was not, but she found the bullets for it in the nightstand next to the bed. She learned how to check guns to see if they were loaded from TV. She did not load the empty guns and she did not know to check if the bullets fit the gun. For her first day of 5th grade, she had armed herself with a butcher knife hidden in her book bag, but she feared it would not be enough if she had to defend herself against him. Every sound, the chirping of birds, the rustle of trees scared her because they potentially muffled his approach. She did not know his name. All she knew was that he was a white man with red hair who drove a yellow Toyota pickup truck.
A month before, she had convinced her grandmother that she was old enough to go to the store by herself. “It was only a half mile down the rural road”, she pleaded when her grandmother hesitated. On her pink Huffy for her bike, she could cover that distance in no time. Before that, she only got to go to the store if her older brother or her older sister accompanied her, but they had already spent their $10 monthly allowance and did not want to go. “OK, Bridgette,” Grandma said, “You can go.”
She first saw the man in the yellow truck on her way to the store. He had pulled his yellow truck on the side of the road. There was a barn on his side of the road and a cornfield on the other side of the road. There were no houses and no people. He asked her if she knew where a Mrs.. Whitmore lived. “I don’t know who that is”, Bridgette told him with a friendly open smile. He asked her if she was sure. “Yes,” she said. He thanked Bridgette and she continued her journey to the store.
She arrived at the store and leaned her bike against the outside wall of the store. She bought 10 bubble gums, 10 chocolate footballs, 10 caramels, 10 bubble gum cigars and a bag of potato chips. She spent .97 cents. Her older sister told her to make sure she counted her change because the store owner sometimes tried to cheat kids. She gave him a dollar and he gave her back three pennies. She counted to be sure. She left the store, got on her pink Huffy for her bike and started her journey home with a bag full of candy and chips clutched in one hand.
As she approached the area where she had seen the man with the yellow truck, she saw that he was still there. She thought nothing of it. She was nine. He said, “hello again.” “Hi,” she said with a smile. “Can you come over here for a second?” She thought nothing of it. She was nine. She went over to the yellow truck straddling her pink Huffy. He asked her if she would like to make some money. “Sure,” she said. “What do I have to do?” “Feel this,” he said pointing down at his lap. She leaned into the truck and looked down and saw his erect penis (though she did not know what an erection was at the time). He had no pants on. She paused for less than a second and then looked up at him. He was reaching for her.
She peddled away on her pink Huffy for her as fast as she could. She never looked back to see if he followed her, but she assumed he had. She did not slow down to enter the driveway, but years of riding bikes helped her to stay in control for the most part. She skid and crashed into the door of the storage shed under the car port of her grandmother’s ranch house. When she walked into the house, her grandmother looked at her strangely and asked what was wrong. Bridgette said, “Nothing”.