The close-knit family was not showing up for work. I tried to find out where they lived but I had no success until I arrived home three weeks later. Rebekkah did not look well. Her eyes were swollen, her hair tangled, and her clothes wrinkled.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she replied.
I kept asking and finally Jacob called me aside. “This is something we cannot talk about. It’s painful and terrible. We haven’t found the end of the problem yet. Just so you know, two weeks ago Joe was with friends at our house and they took too many drugs. Joe and his friends raped Rebekkah. Some of our family are looking for Joe. It’s about family honor and revenge. We are trying to get back to normal but Joe will never be safe.”
“Where is he staying?” I asked.
“We heard he was heading for California but we lost his trail. We’ll find him.”
That night I was awakened from a sound sleep by a man’s voice. “Help me,” he pleaded. “I didn’t know what I was doing. My cousins want to kill me. I need money to fix my car so I can get away. Do you have more trees I can cut down?”
I looked down the hallway. A man sat hunched over on the floor, his arms around his knees. “I didn’t mean to hurt her.”
I walked towards him but he disappeared before I got there. After a few minutes of searching I gave up. Twice more I heard him and twice more he was not really there. “Hide me,” he whispered.
The house was built against a cliff and there was a small space with a door left between concrete and rock. I didn’t intend to ever open that door because many copperhead snakes thrived there. I never saw Joe again nor did I hear his voice. I wanted no part of their close-knit family.
june 24, 2017