I have been spending a lot of time with Beverly lately. She really took care of me after my ordeal in the hole. Well, Katherine patched me up, but it was Beverly that changed my bandages, cleaned my wounds and helped me get around. She really opened up last night about herself and her past.
Her biological father was killed in Hurricane Katrina. Her stepfather was a friend of the family that took Beverly, her mother, brother and her two sisters in. Her youngest sister was sick with pneumonia. Her future stepfather was a nurse and helped take care of the child. Despite numerous hospital stays several courses of antibiotics she continued to get worse. In the spring of '06 she passed away. By July her mother and stepfather were married.
It did not take her stepfather too long to show his true colors. And as eldest child Beverly took the brunt of it. I won't go into details here though.
Like most child abusers, her stepfather was adept at making Beverly feel like the abuse was all her fault.
But when her stepfather was caught stealing drugs from the nursing home he was working at he lost his job and lost control. He beat up Beverly's mom so bad she ended up in the hospital. She filed charges and he skipped town. Beverly never saw him again.
She spent most of her high school life trying to avoid drawing too much attention to herself. So she was caught completely off guard when Steve Bledsoe, aka Steamroller, began showering her with attention. He was the running back on the high school football team. He earned his nickname obviously by his ability to steamroll his way through opponents lines.
They married right after graduation and in '20 a baby boy was born. They named in Joshua after Steve's grandfather. He took a job selling cars at his father's Toyota/Lexus dealership. She became a stay at home mother, wife and prisoner.
Her husband turned out to be a kindred spirit to her stepfather. This particular breed of monster seems to leave marks on their victims that others of their kind can read. Her husband told her in no uncertain terms that he would kill her if she left him, he even threatened to make Joshua pay for her sins. He had a big family, his father was one of the wealthiest men in the county and two of his brothers were sheriff's deputies. She was trapped but good.
But, his drinking and steroid use in high school contributed to his declining health. He was diagnosed with diabetes and congestive heart failure a couple of years after they were married. After years of "walking into doors" and "falling down stairs" she found life to be easier if she always made sure that was plenty of whiskey and beer in the house. As a diabetic he was supposed to stay away from alcohol but he would beat her when there wasn't booze available. The alcohol would lower his blood sugar and he would eat a few Snickers bars to compensate. If it overdid it with the candy, he would shoot up with insulin. This kind of up blood sugar roller coaster really took its toll on his health. By '25 he was dead.
She moved to Little Rock and Leanne Bledsoe, her former sister in law, a woman quite aware of her brother's abusive nature and the only sympathetic member of her deceased husband's family, took her under her wing and taught her accounting and tax preparation so she could support herself. At the time of the disappearance they were full partners in a thriving little business with close to 250 regular clients.
Despite everything she is a remarkably resilient and caring woman. She is stronger than she thinks and has absolute patience. Where other women would have broke and run, she watched and waited. When the time was right she saw to it that he had what he needed to put himself out of her misery. All it took was just to make sure that he ran out of candy bars some time when the family knew he had forbidden her to go shopping for some reason or another, and make sure he had plenty of whiskey. It was not a clean death, but it was a mess of his own making.
At the time of the disappearance, she was sitting in the operating room of an oral surgeon's office to get a tooth pulled. Fortunately they had been finished. She woke up alone and nauseous from the anesthesia. She wandered the building for a few hours not even sure how to find her way outside. She wound up sleeping on the floor of the waiting room for a couple of hours. When she awoke the second time her head was clearer, but the hole where her molar had been was hurting like mad. She found her prescription at the front desk and filled it herself at the pharmacy on the first floor before heading out. She left payment in cash for medication at the desk. It did not even occur to her at the time how much trouble she could get into for going behind the pharmacist's counter. Her first thought was that the building had been evacuated for some reason. But the Park Plaza Mall was huge and would not have been easily evacuated. The mall was completely silent except for the fountains and a muzak system in one of the nearby shops. She tried to call out on her cell phone and only got voicemail and recordings. 911 was just giving out a recording.
Leanne had given her a ride in and was supposed to pick her up. Beverly's car was still at the office. She had no transportation. Out in the parking lot it was evident that there would be no cabs or buses running. The parking lot was a mess of wrecked cars. The intersection of Markham and University was a mess and there were several car fires burning there under the traffic lights. There was a bus lodged in the IHOP. She went to the parking garage and found a key fob for a small electric scooter. She made her way as fast as she could to Joshua's school, but no one was there. Paint and brushes littered the floor of the classroom. They were in the middle of art class. She found Josh's backpack at his desk. It was open and his drawing tablet was on his desk. A picture of a horse was laid out on the table. It was not quite finished but it was still good. Joshua loved horses.
She pulled the picture out of her purse. She smoothed it out. There were tear stains on the paper, and I knew there would be more before we were done. The kid shows or showed some real talent for a 7 year old.
She cried on my shoulder, I comforted her as best as I could.
On a more positive note, Beverly and I are going to go Christmas shopping tomorrow.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride