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It?s Thanksgiving in Birmingham, Alabama and I?m working the late shift at the diner.  I?m feeling blue, as I?ve been separated from my husband Drew for about six months now, and he?s got our two children, Syndee and Jeffery, and I?m missing the gathering of the souls around a nice roasted turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  The rest of the family is gathered at my monster in law?s house, where I am not welcome any longer, like I ever was.   The last of the patrons are leaving, heading for home, so I can now finish the closing and hope that my roommate gets here on time with my car.  I don?t know why I let Chelsea borrow my car, she?s so irresponsible, and she never remembers it?s my car and that she needs to pick me up.  I gaze out the window and see the snow starting to fall, Oh great, now it?s snowing, looks like I?ll be walking home in the snow.  When am I going to learn?   The bus boy is leaving, ?Good night, Rose, is your ride coming??  I hope so Beau, she?s supposed to be here by now.  You take care getting home now; the weather?s taken a turn. Thanks Rose, I?ll see you tomorrow. Nite Beau.   I finish marrying the catsups, filling the salt, pepper and sugar dispensers, and Chelsea still hasn?t shown up.  Damn her!  I know the apartments only ten blocks, that isn?t the point; the point is she?s done it again.   The point is, I knew this would happen, and I let her ? I mumble to myself  ?burn me one, shame on you, burn me twice shame one me?  I could forgive her if it had only been twice.   I turn out the lights, put on my coat and made my way out the front door, as I turn to lock the dead bolts, I hear a car pull up to the curb behind me.  ?It?s about time, I though you?d left me walk home again.?  When I turn around it?s not Chelsea, it?s Chandler the DA?s son and two of his drinkin? buddies.  ?Hey, hey Rose, looking good girl!? ?Thanks Chandler? ?Need a lift?? Now instincts tell me to say no!  Anger tells me ?why the hell not!?    I?ve always had a tendency to follow my anger, or should I more appropriately say let my anger lead me.  That?s why I?m in Alabama instead of California.  If I hadn?t let my dad get me so worked up and angry with my mom, I could still be in California, but no I let him convince me that I?d be happier in Alabama with him.  What he wanted was a built in maid, after the divorce he wasn?t going to have my mom to kick around any more.  So here I am, I married Drew at 16 to get out of the house and at 22 I?m separated and have two kids, my life?s pretty much in the crapper right now.  Drew?s got the kids, and I don?t get to see them very often, between his work schedule, my schedule and his mother who makes sure they are inaccessible to me.  I spend a lot of time missing people.   As I get into the car, the smell of whiskey permeates the air.  Chandler tells me that he needs to drop the boy?s off first, cause they?ve got commitments, then he?ll take me home.  Why not I?ve got nothing better to do.  After all I have a cold empty apartment to rush home to.  Maybe a little fun is just the ticket.  The boy?s offer me a beer and I accept, one beer might feel good. ?God my feet hurt sure wasn?t looking forward to that walk home thanks for the ride Beau.?   He flips a U turn in front of the diner, and heads the opposite direct from my apartment, a slight alarm went up in my senses, but he told me he had to drop the Duffus brothers off for a commitment, so I didn?t say anything.  I was tired, the beer felt good on my throat and I closed my eyes to relax and unwind.  I must of dozed off in the a quick cat nap, cause next thing I knew the car was stopped, and the guys were getting out, Chandler say?s come on in for a minute, I have to pick up something and then I?ll get you home.  I shake off the sleep, and haul myself out of the car.    The place is a shack, unkempt and smelly, like a garage, there are a couple of beat up old sofas strewn here and there and a sheet hung to separate a king size mattress thrown on the floor as a bedroom.  Between the beer and the cold, I really need to pee, where?s the bathroom?  They direct me down a hall to the door at the end.  When I finish and rejoin the guys, they are all on the couch, they are sniffing lines.  I roll my eyes, come on Chandler you promised to get me home.    Duffus brothers yell, ?Shut up Bitch!?  That does it, ?thanks but no thanks, I?ll find my own way.?  With that I turn to go out the door when I get grabbed by my hair, and am being pulled backwards.  I start to scream, and I am now being hit, and hit hard.  The three of them are taking slugs at me; I can feel the blood racing down my face.  One of the punches lands so hard I am thrown back off my feet and I hit a table.  The pain is searing, my shoulder is on fire.  My eyes are swollen shut, I can hear muffled voices, but my ears are ringing so loud, it?s hard to focus between the pain and the throbbing in my head.   I can feel someone pick me up and throw me, I land of something softer, the mattress, and then I hear the ripping; they are tearing my clothes off.  The cold assaults my naked body, and then I am covered.  Covered by an unwelcome body, he is raping me, attacking my viciously, it is violent and incredibly painful, I scream out again, only to be pelted with more fists.    I am floating in a gray world, I can hear the sounds, I can her their laughter, I can hear or maybe it?s I sense what?s happening to me, but I don?t feel anything anymore.  I have been able to tune out the pain and the attack.   Hours pass, and still it continues.  And now there is silence.  No sounds, have they passed out?  I try to raise my head, but the pain is enormous, like nothing I have ever felt before.  When I try to move I am reminded that my shoulder in not functioning.  I am finally able to get to my feet, and I vomit, as I hang my head I am loosing my balance again.  I grab for anything to help hold me up, I find it the door jam.  I lean against the jam for support and try to get my bearings.  The bathroom, I need the bathroom.  The pain is making me feel like I?m going to pass out again.  I manage to shuffle myself down the hall to the bathroom.  There is a broken mirror in there, and I can see through the small slits that were once my eyes, that my face is badly battered.  I don?t even recognize myself.  I see my red hair, but every other feature, is swollen, bruised and bloody.  I start to sob, and that makes my head hurt even more.  I vomit again.  I try to rinse my face off; the cool water makes it feel a little better.  I find a hand towel and I fill it with water and hold it to my forehead.  That makes me feel a little more stable.  I realize that I am bleeding everywhere.  I am a mess, I need to get to the hospital, and I need help.   I move back into the main area of the house, cautiously, I don?t know where the guys are, they may have left me for dead, and seeing I?d survived, might try to finish the job, and that wouldn?t take a lot right now.  I am able to find my uniform but it?s ripped so badly I can?t put it back on.  I take hold of the sheet hanging as a divider and pull.  Rip?. and down it comes.  I wrap myself in the dirty sheet, small comfort, but at least I?m covered.  I search for a phone.  No phone.  I put on my shoes, and step out the door.  I don?t recognize this place; how far out did they take me?   My anger flares back up at Chelsea, if she?d have been on time none of this would have happened.  If I hadn?t of accepted the ride, none of this would have happened.  Beau was the DA?s son, I should have been safe.  I went to school with him, known him since we were kids, this isn?t the Beau that I grew up with.  As I tried to see around the area I spotted a pay phone pretty close by, I went back inside and found my purse; at least they didn?t take all the change, although I noticed all the bills were gone.  I hobbled over to the pay phone, praying all the time that it was in working order, the last thing I wanted to do was be here if they came back.   I picked up the phone and it worked, I called the police and described what I could see, told them that I had been raped and beaten and I was standing in the snow in a sheet and my shoes.    The officer arrived in due time, with an ambulance.  I was taken to the hospital, examined asked all kinds of questions.  My shoulder had been dislocated and my arm was broken, my face was basically hamburger and I had a concussion.  I had lost massive amounts of blood and vaginal wall had been badly torn.  They gave me pain medicine, put me into a room and called Drew.  I cried, even that hurt.  A couple hours later Drew showed up took one look at me and had the nerve to say:  ?Are you satisfied now!?  What was that supposed to mean?  He?s insinuating that I asked for this!   The police go out and picked up Chandler and the Duffus Brothers, and they tell a different story.  They tell that I was a willing participant.  That I strip danced and provoked them, that I supplied the drugs and that I kept taunting them to beat me, because I liked it rough.  Beau is after all the DA?s son and he is a member of high standing in the community.  Me I am just some red headed low life waitress from the downtown district who was looking to get even with her husband, by taking on three at once.  They had their bases covered; they had their stories tightly woven.  I was not believed; I was treated like trash, like a common whore, not worthy of being considered a reliable witness.    I was left to lick my wounds and try to heal.  Drew let me move back into our home to heal after the attack.  He never questioned if I had been raped or not, but he did treat me like I had asked for it.  That I had somehow brought this on myself.  I called my mother who was now living in Washington, and told her what had happened.  She believed me, but she wasn?t in a position financially to come out, and my family wouldn?t have welcomed her in any case.  They always took Dad?s side, even my brother.  It was better she stay in Washington; I just needed to hear someone believe me.  Someone to say, this wasn?t your fault, all you did was accept a ride.   A month later the doctor was doing some follow up work, I was feeling really tired all the time and he felt I might be anemic, after all the blood loss anything was possible.  He was also checking for hepatitis I been given a transfusion while in the hospital.  What he found was my death sentence.  I tested positive for HIV.  I had AIDS.   Did someone just suck all the air out of the room?  Did they hit me with a sludge hammer?  Why can?t I breathe?  Wasn?t the rape enough?  The anger is rising again, and I can?t do anything except stare at him in disbelief.  I can?t breath, someone help me breath!  Is this what death feels like?  In that instant in that very nana-second I knew that this was once battle that I would not win!  What a horrible reality.  I have two small children, Syndee is 5 and Jeffery is 2, how am I supposed to leave them?  Will they even remember me?  Will Drew tell them about me, keep me alive, or will he and his family burry my memories and me?  I want my mother, I want to be held by her, I want her to kiss it and make it all better, and I want to cry on her shoulder.   I wanted them to pay for what they had done, but that wasn?t going to happen, not to the DA?s son, and not to his friends, because if they were found guilty, then his son would also be found guilty, and he wasn?t having a slice of that.   A few months later, our threesome attacked another girl, but they chose the wrong family, this family had clout.  They were taken to court and they were prosecuted.  I asked that they be tested for AIDS because of my circumstances.  I was told that they did not have to agree to a test and that I didn?t have a right to their personal information.  I did contact the family of the other victim, I told them what had happened to me and that I was now HIV positive, that they needed to have their daughter checked also.  She was tested positive, they couldn?t tarnish her reputation, the girl was only 13 years old when they abducted her, and she was a virgin.  Now she?d been violently violated and had tested positive the HIV virus.  If the police had done their job, if they had believed me, this young girl could have been spared.  Her family could have been saved the exposure to the ugly and violent side of our society.  She was young, she was innocent, and she will never be the same.  You can?t get back innocence.   A couple of month after I tested HIV positive, I was diagnosed full blown AIDS, mine was fast moving.  I didn?t have a lot of time to prepare things.  I was accepted into several different blind study groups, nothing slowed down my fast forward track to death.   I spent as much time as I could with my children, I wanted to give them special memories, more that just a mother who was always sick, and tired and cranky.  I wrote letter to them for different ages to be opened at the right time.  I prepared them and myself for my departure.  I?ve done all I can do, and am left with the hope that Drew will keep these letters and give them to my children when the time is right.  We managed to heal some of the broken emotions in our marriage, we built a few new bridges and have repaired the ones we could.  I only hope and pray that he will walk over those bridges to allow my children to maintain a memory of their mother.     I had to accept the fact that Chandler and the Duffus Brothers were not going to pay for what they had done to me, I had to accept the fact that another young woman was attacked because my story was believed.  But I do get some solace from the fact that I know these three will die the same kind of death they have sentenced me too, and all three of them are showing AIDS positive.    I am weak and tired, I have fought the battle for as long as I could, it?s only been two years since my attack, in some way?s it?s made me stronger, I can talk to people about the attack, share the experience, warn others that predators come in all shapes and sizes and status groups.    It is time to let go, to move forward, I realize that I had a job here on earth, it was to become a spokesperson for AIDS awareness, to bring to focus, it doesn?t matter how you contracted the virus.  You?ve got the virus, you fight for you life, and you share your experiences so that others can learn from your story.   I was a Girl Scout Gold Award Project:  I didn?t want my passing to go without notice; I wanted my life to have an impact of some sort on young women.  I gave my permission for my story to be presented by a family friend.  Her project was well accepted, she presented one to the community and one to the high school kids in her area.  Here is the write up given to her, as her project was acknowledged by the United Way.   ?A can-do attitude is the fruit of seeds that were planted when Girl Scouts first became a going concern in 1912.  With a mission to help literally every girl fulfill their respective promise - - - whatever it may be  - - - Girl Scouts established a high aim for itself.  18-year-old Karrie is a fine example of girls making a difference in their community.   A few years back a family friend of Karrie?s contracted HIV after a physical assault.  While her friend lived the rest of her life to the fullest possible, it was hard to watch her go.  Karrie never wants to watch anyone else be a victim of this horrible disease.  The experience made such a significant impression on Karrie that she decided in initiate an AIDS Awareness day.  Karrie?s Girl Scouting experience helped develop personal skills and courage, necessary to successfully gather community resources for this endeavor.  Karrie felt that the community needed this.  It was a lot of hard work and research.  Karrie even learned a few more skills along the way.  It was worth every moment when she recognized that others were educated and safer because of her efforts.  The first AIDS Awareness day was so successful that she decided to do more.  She then took it to her peers at the High School.  After the presentations, kids walked up to Karrie, shocked and amazed by what she had shared with them.  There was a new buzz in the community and accurate information was being spread everywhere.  As a result, blood donations were higher at the next blood drive.?    Karrie has also presented her information at some colleges.  As long as she is able, she will share Rose?s story, it?s a promise she made, and one that she can keep.  It?s her way of making sure Rose didn?t die in vain.     Article quote from: Annual Report 2001 United Way of the Great Basin   The story you have just read, is based on actual facts, the names have been changed to protect the families that were affected by this incident.   The thing that I hope will stick with you, it shouldn?t matter how a person gets the virus, they still need the support and the understanding of not only their families but of the community as a whole.  The better this disease is understood, the better the chances of survival will become.    
Hilarious Birds
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