Babysitting in Northern Ontario didn’t pay very well back when I was 14. Jeannie St. Clair paid worse than most, often promising to pay later and running up a tab with me. I liked her though, she was pretty cool about giving me smokes and not saying anything if a beer or two disappeared from her fridge while I was there.
Jeannie’s kids were special, too. Barbie was just a little thing at 9, with long smooth brown hair. She was very responsible and if her little brother Danny wet his bed, she would get up, change the bad and change his pyjamas. Danny was a nervous little 7-year-old who loved to have stories read to him. He never complained about going to bed, but I knew he was frightened of the dark, so I would read to him until he fell asleep and I always left the light on in the hall. Danny responded to my attentions with all the love in his skinny little body. When I’d arrive at the house, he’d throw himself at me with cries of “Chrissy, Chrissy, I love you, Chrissy!” Barbie was more dignified about her affections, but Jeannie told me Barbie always insisted I made better cinnamon toast than she did. Jeannie would just laugh about it, she like to pass over the responsibilities of the kids to me. She’d often call and ask me to come early so I’d be there while she dressed to go out. She never paid me extra for coming early.
Babysitting for Jeannie could also be an adventure because of her boyfriends. There was Tony, a tall and really cute Italian guy who taught me how to say ‘I love you’ in Italian and the kissed me and grabbed my breast. I pushed him away and told him I’d tell Jeannie. I didn’t, but she knew anyways. She screamed and called me a bitch and a slut and said she never wanted to see me again, then she pushed me out the door even though Barbie and Danny were begging and pleading with her. She called me the next weekend to babysit for her anyways, like nothing had happened. By then Tony was out of the picture and it was someone else. I think it was Roger, or maybe it was Leo, I’m not sure. There was Paul who screwed around with Jeannie’s sister while he was going out with Jeannie. And there was also Dwight, I think he was the one Jeannie found out was gay.
It was Petey McDougal that I especially remember. Petey was a sort of medium-sized guy with a mustache. The thing about Petey, though, was that he could be really nice and charming to get what he wanted, or he could be really mean – I mean really mean.
When Petey started going with Jeannie, it was like he thought he owned her and could decide what she did totally, but he could do whatever he wanted himself. He’d buy her and the kids all kinds of stuff because he made good money from CN Rail. Other times he’d be really mean to her and would call her a ‘fuckin’ cunt’ and other stuff, he’d hit her and then they’d break up. A few days later he’d be back with some presents again and they’d be back together. Barbie and Danny started calling him ‘Dad’ sometimes because he’d been around so much. It was kind of weird though, because he never acted like a dad. I don’t think they had any idea what a dad was. Not that I did, either.
It was a freezing cold winter night that it happened. A few times before that night Petey had given me a ride home after Jeannie and him got back from the hotel. I thought this was like any other time, so I went with him no problem.
“See you tomorrow, Jeannie,” he said. “I’m givin’ Chrissy a ride home, then I’m goin’ home to catch some z’s before work tomorrow.”
Well, that was a lie. He didn’t drive me home, he drove way out in the country in the pitch dark freezing icy night. A million stars in the black sky and hot air rising from the hood of the car like white smoke when he stopped the car in the middle of nowhere.
I had started feeling scared when I saw he wasn’t going to my house. I knew I was right to be scared when he turned to me and started.
“Chrissy, has anybody ever told you what beautiful eyes you have? Can I kiss you? I been dreamin’ about kissin’ you ever since I first saw you.”
I was really scared but somewhere in my brain was a voice saying ‘you can’t get out of the car and walk home, you’ll die!’
Out loud I said, “But Jeannie’s your girlfriend. How can you do that?”
“Course she’s my girlfriend, but you’re the one that’s keepin’ me from sleepin’! C’mon, I won’t hurt you, I’d never do that. I promise I won’t hurt you!”
All the time, his arm was across the back of the seat, playing with my hair and rubbing my neck. This little scared voice said in my head, ‘one kiss won’t hurt, just make him happy then you can go home.’
“What if Jeannie finds out?” I said desperately.
“Don’t worry about Jeannie, you need to just relax. C’mon baby, don’t think about stuff like that, just you and me.”
“Don’t you feel guilty? How can you do this?”
My voice was losing strength and he could tell. His two hands reached over and pulled me to him and he was kissing me and his hands were pushing off my jacket and reaching under my shirt. I struggled and kept trying to tell him that he shouldn’t do this, but he just muffled my words with his mouth, his tongue shoving at mine. I tried to push him, but soon he was laying on top of me on the long front seat of his Buick. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding and when I tried to hit him he just grabbed my wrists and used his teeth to push my bra up off my breasts.
I was saying, “No, please stop, no, no, no!” but he kept on, he never stopped. And I was crying and saying stuff about Jeannie and how could he do this. Then he got mean like he did sometimes with Jeannie and he called me a fuckin’ cunt and he hit me in the face.
I cried harder but he didn’t care, he pulled off my jeans and he raped me and he bit my breasts and other places, too. A while later he turned on the car because it was getting so cold and he raped me again, but this time he was talking like he wanted me to enjoy it. I just stopped crying and saying anything and soon he finished, told me to get dressed and pulled up his own pants.
Still we didn’t leave. He just sat there, the exhaust streaming up in the cold night sky. I fixed my clothes with my fingers that felt like lumps of dough and I kept shaking and shaking.
He handed me a lit cigarette and then he started talking about how good a fuck I was with a great cunt and kept saying stuff like as though we had both wanted it. I never said anything and I just felt really dirty and sick as I sat as far away from him as I could on that long front seat of the Buick and smoked that cigarette.
It felt like a really long time had passed since he had first stopped the car out there in the middle of that night. He finally started driving and all the time he was acting real nice and kind and talking sexy about what had just happened and handing me smokes.
I never told nobody what happened even though the next day I had bite marks all over my breasts and shoulders and a big bruise on my jaw. I hurt something terrible down below, too, but I never told nobody. I wore lots of foundation for a couple weeks and turtle-neck tops to hide the bites on my neck and hoped nobody would ever know.
I tried real hard to pretend it never happened but I was awful scared when Jeannie called a couple weeks later and asked me to babysit. But I said I would so she wouldn’t suspect nothing and I walked over to her house for 8pm like she said.
I was real glad when I saw that she was alone. She was watching tv in jeans and an old sweater and didn’t even look like she was going anywhere.
“Hey, Chrissy, c’mon in,” she said, real friendly.
“Hi Jeannie, where’re the kids?” I sat down on the battered chair next to the sofa.
“Danny’s playing with his cars in the bedroom and Barbie’s next door at her friend’s house.” She tossed her smokes at me and we smoked in silence for a bit with the tv blasting some dance music.
“Me and Petey broke up,” Jeannie said.
I jumped, then tried to pretend I hadn’t.
“He fucked you, didn’t he?” she said.
“What?” I felt sick and dirty all over again.
“I know he fucked you. He told me and said you were a great fuck.” She laughed. “I don’t give a fuck about it, so you don’t have to pretend, you stupid little bitch.” She got up and brushed past Danny who was standing in the entrance to the living room. She called back to me from her bedroom, “Just don’t ever mess around with my guys again, cunt.”
“Hi, Danny,” I said, “d’you want me to read you a story?”
“Why’s my mom mad at you?”
“No reason, c’mon let’s go find Barbie.” I took his hand and we went and put our coats and boots on to go outside. We found Barbie next door like Jeannie said. She got dressed and we headed back to their house. We were just going into the door when something made me look over my shoulder. I was Petey’s car going by real slow, I’m sure it was him, I’d know that green Buick anywhere.
I grabbed the kids’ hands and pulled them into the house real fast.
I didn’t tell Jeannie, but I found out he was after her, not me. He started coming over drunk and pounding on the door. Jeannie’d call the cops and they’d come and take him away. At the bar he’d start yelling and swearing at her and he’d have to be thrown out. He’d call her house in the middle of the night and make horrible threats. I was just glad for myself that he wasn’t after me.
It was about that time that I got a new babysitting job for the Stewarts. The boy, Todd, was a nice little kid, there was always lots of food in the fridge, and they paid a lot better than Jeannie.
So, I started turning Jeannie down when she called and I had already been called by the Stewarts.
One Friday night in March, she called me and asked me to babysit for her. Mrs. Stewart had already booked me for that night, so I turned her down. She called again a little later and said she really needed me, she couldn’t find anyone else and the kids really wanted me to come. I said Mr. Stewart was picking me up at 6:30. I wasn’t too sure how long they needed me, so I said if I got off early I’d give her a call.
Mr. and Mrs. Stewart were just going out for dinner. They got back at 8:30. Mr. Stewart drove me home and I decided to call Jeannie and see if she still needed me.
It was Barbie that answered the phone. “Chrissy, is that you? I’m so glad you called. Our mom’s not here and Danny’s scared and we’re all alone and he’s crying and I don’t know what to do because Petey came a few minutes ago…” She gave a gasping sob and started crying for real. “Chrissy … he was so mean … and he was swearing … and I think he was drunk … oh, Chrissy I’m so scared … can you come over?”
“Barbie, listen to me. Did Petey hurt you? Please don’t cry…”
“Chrissy, he said he was going to kill Mom … he ran into the neighbour’s garbage can when he drove away … Chrissy please come…”
“I’m coming as soon as I can. Lock the door, Barbie, don’t cry, I’m coming.”
When I hung up the phone, I stood for a minute, trying to decide if I should call the cops. Finally I picked up the phone and dialled. The dispatcher asked me all kinds of questions. When she heard it was Jeannie St. Clair’s house, she sounded kind of nasty. She kept saying, “Are you sure there’s a problem?”
“You don’t know this guy, please send someone, please!”
“I’ll send a patrol car around.”
I put my boots back on, pulled on my jacket and mittens and started walking fast to Jeannie’s. It was a long walk, usually about 40 minutes and I’d walked about half-way there when I first heard the sirens. I started running when I saw an ambulance and several cop cars heading towards Jeannie St. Clair’s street.
I started running faster, pulling the cold winter air into my lungs, gasping out great gobs of steaming air. I ran and ran, stumbling in the hard snow on those frosty sidewalks, crying ‘oh no, oh no!’ It was like I knew something terrible had happened. Down 10th street and turn at 5th Avenue. Cop cars everywhere and I ran and I started screaming, ‘oh no, oh no, oh God, oh no!’
They’d already strung up the yellow police tape, but I ducked under it and past the arms of the cop who tried to stop me. I yelled, “Barbie! Danny! Where are you?”
Another cop made a grab for me as I went in the door and into the living room. It was like a strobe light in my head. Flash: a big hole in the tv screen. Flash: a smashed lamp. Flash: broken glass on the couch. Flash: a little boy with pink jelly-like stuff coming out of his head lying in a big pool of black.
I stumbled and fell down beside Danny, crying, “Oh Danny, what did he do to you?”
A lady cop tried to move me away, I shook her off with a great flailing of my arms then I screamed, “Oh no, where’s Barbie, oh no, oh please!”
Cops made grabs at me, people shouted, “Stop her!”
But I got through.
She was in the bedroom, her eyes staring at the ceiling, her neck bent in a funny direction, her nightgown around her waist. Between her spread legs a bloody, mashed place…
I was down on my knees, my mittens bloody, blood on my jacket. “He raped her! He raped her! Oh, no! Not Barbie, too! Not Barbie, too! Oh no, oh no, oh no!”
I screamed and screamed and they finally got hold of me and dragged me away. I kept screaming and screaming and kicking and kicking and hitting and then someone pricked me with a needle and I went all limp.
They brought me to the police station and they asked me questions for a long time. They asked me if I knew who did this? How did I know Petey? Where was Jeannie? Why would Petey do this? They kept asking, “Why did you say ‘not Barbie, too’? What did you mean?” They tried real hard to make me tell but even though my head felt like it was frozen and my lips were thick and numb I never told. I never told.
I saw them bring Jeannie into the police station in handcuffs. I saw her look at me like it was all my fault. I heart her swearing and crying and then they shut the door.
They made me go to court when Petey’s case came up. I heard that Petey was picked up the same night and he tried to pretend he didn’t know what happened even though he had bits of Danny’s brains on his clothes and Barbie’s blood on his body. I saw Petey again there in that court room and I couldn’t look at him it made me so sick. I just glanced and I saw that he was all bruised in the face. Later I heard that he’d been beaten up at the prison real bad when the other guys found out what he’d done to two little kids. I was so glad, so glad.
I had to testify about the phone call. I was so scared they’d succeed to make me tell about what he’d done to me, but what scared me the most was when the district attorney looked at me and said in her sharp lawyer’s voice, “Young lady, do you know how lucky you are? If you had been there that night, you would have been one of his victims.”
I hadn’t thought about that. It could have been me, too. I could have died, too, that night. But she was wrong; I was one of his victims.−−−−−−−−− These events are true, the names have been changed and some of the timeline and characters modified. But it really happened.