Born Beautiful, Rachel's Story #11bySusanJillParker©
The Horror Hidden in the Barn.
A time of massive changes and social unrest, 'twas the season of mass discontent
'Twas the summer of the German Revolution and the advent of the second Industrial Revolution with women wanting equal rights adding to the upheaval of social unrest. Confused by a slew of social, economic, and political changes that effected most who held a job, manufacturing or otherwise, workers no long knew what to expect after being thrown from their comfort zone. Even when at home with their wives, girlfriends, and/or daughters all talking about women's rights and equality, there was no peace for the frustrated men who were reeling from having too much change thrown at them all at once.
Seemingly with massive, world-wide changes happening every 50 years in the lives of most people, there was no other time like their own. With no other era like it, since the first Industrial Revolution in the 18th century and the dawn of automation with the advent of the modern day computer in the mid 20th century, there was a lot happening in just a short amount of time during the 40 year span of 1840 to 1880. With men being replaced by machines and machines doing a faster, better, and cheaper job than men, most Germans were against the changes that came with big, mechanical factories over small businesses. Even though there were those who embraced modernization of factories, generally factory owners standing to make more profits, most men, especially those losing their jobs and having to start over again with retraining, were in disfavor of the second Industrial Revolution.
Some men tried single handedly to stop progress and sabotage the new technology by disabling machines in the hopes that their jobs would return to the old ways of making things by hand instead of by machine. Working on the factory floor and being pressured for more production by the floor supervisor, they had to work harder and faster to increase production and to keep their jobs. No longer rubbing elbows with the owner of a smaller and more employee friendly business, most workers missed the good, old days of personally being recognized for a job well done. Now they weren't even a name, just a number.
A time just before mass production, no job was easy back then and not all employers, whether big factories or small companies, treated their employees well or even fairly. Yet, with industrial injuries and work related accidents and deaths on the rise, working conditions were even worse than better on a big, factory floor that now housed, smelly, noisy, and dangerous machinery. With owners looking to increase their profits by lowering their costs per unit produced, production was more important than hand assembled craftsmanship, the talent of skilled workers, and the experience of valued journeymen. The safety of men wasn't even a consideration. When working side by side with a few hundred employees instead of a dozen, the workers already felt as if they were just another employee and not someone significantly important to the company.
Hand assembly and job satisfaction in doing a good job well done were replaced in favor of machinery producing more units. It wasn't the men that worked the factory floor that mattered, what mattered more were more units that met established quality control standards. After putting out so much money in capital investment to fill their factories with machines instead of with men, more units to earn them more money and not the job satisfaction and/or the safety of their employees was the only interest of the owners.
With Socialism having a stranglehold on Germany, change was in the air. Germans were fleeing their country and their mad, homosexual King Ludwig II, along with his insane brother Otto for the hope, the promise, and the freedom of America. Why stay here to be worked like a dog when you can go there and not only be free but also be rich?
Those friends and relatives who went ahead of them wrote them what to expect after surviving the long, hard voyage. Surely, America was no utopia but, at the time, it was better than Germany. It had to be. Surely, things couldn't get any worse than what they were enduring now. Besides, welcoming immigrants with open arms, America needed people, workers, and citizens to grow its country.
"God Bless America!"
A devoted patron of the composer Richard Wagner, King Ludwig was quoted as saying, "I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others." Now that's an understandably fine philosophy if you're a crazy composer commissioned by the King and locked away writing a symphony. A mad scientist in the way of Dr. Frankenstein working in a laboratory day and night to invent the latest and greatest invention may also have such a philosophy so that he could continue his work and his research uninterrupted and in privacy. Even a writer of erotica in the way of the Marquis de Sade, who wrote stories and poem that were pure and utter blasphemous against the church, against religion, against men, against women, against animals, and against his cousin, the King. Yet, even the Marquis went out to sample the fair maidens and gay men of landscape by deflowering women and men. Certainly, even if the King so wanted to be one, he was no enigma. Everyone knew what he was.
"Long live the King!"
Alas fame comes with riches or in the case of the King, notoriety begets fame and riches. Yet, on the other hand, a very public figure and not so much of a private one, King Ludwig was the ruler, their leader, and their King of Germany and other faraway lands and peoples. Without having a clue what he was doing and when he was doing it, his personal philosophy was not a good one when his people looked up to him for his assurances that things will get better instead of worse during such troubled times. Long live the king soon turned into the king shall die.
Putting everything in a pot, heating it, and mixing it with lots of alcohol to further stoke the fires of change, confusion, and discontent, as if annoying gnats before biting, the public protestations of the Women's Rights Movement didn't help men's already unruly mood. Having no control over their King, their government, and their job, now losing control of their women in their own households was the last straw. If it wasn't bad enough on the streets, now with women riled up to believe that they were men's equals, even at home, there was no escaping the conflict that men faced outside and that continued inside their homes. With women given false hope of ever being equal to men, the dialogue continued from the streets, to the kitchen, and into the bedroom.
"God Bless America! The land of the free and the home of the brave," quoted Germans from a the poem, The Star-Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, when boarding boats in the mid 19th century to take them to a better place and to take them to America.
Angered by loyalists' speeches on one side and by revolutionists' bashes on the other, their words were fueled by as much passion as they were by beer. A close personal friend of the King, composer Richard Wagner captured the emotion of the time by playing the unintended music that orchestrated the mass exodus of multitudes of Germans in the background. As if a resounding heartbeat of the Germanic country, it was the thumping sound of Wagner's tuba that musically interpreted the reverberation of machine pounding metal that proclaimed the advent and the progress of the second Industrial Revolution.
"The Revolution introduced me to art," said Albert Einstein decades later, "and in turn, art introduced me to the Revolution!"
With more than just suffrage at stake, it was a time when women wanted the rights to own land, divorce, retain custody of children, maintain sexual independence, obtain birth control, and receive fair payment for their work. A lot for women to ask all at once and too much for men to digest and swallow all at once, sadly, after more than one hundred fifty years later, still wanting equal rights, the issues are still the same, just the names and faces are different. These early feminists of 1830 to 1890 wanted full equality with men.
Going against the grain, hoping to change so much in such a short amount of time, these early feminist did nothing more than enrage the men and confuse the women. Yet slow to change and with just the reverberations being felt throughout the country when women's rights groups splashed their headlines in newspapers, they gave farmers reason to worry about their own women turning against them and killing them in their sleep. The social changes that were happening in Berlin hadn't yet reached Germany's rural areas and farmlands.
Rachel regretted her decision to enlighten her mother in the hopes that she'd stand up against the abuse of her father. Now with her mother taken to the barn and in her ignorance to be accepting of her fate, Rachel never should have taught her mother how to read. In hindsight, she never should have brought home that Women's Rights flyer. Now that she knew how many other women were suffering under men's iron fist, she wished she had never heard of the Women's Rights Movement. In 1860, the only rights that women had were to obey, bleed, and die.
"There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers," said Susan B. Anthony, a 19th century pioneer in the United States Women's Suffrage Movement.
Her father and her brother had been drinking and, no doubt, were drunk again. When they grabbed her and touched her where no father should grab his daughter and no son should touch his sister, they invited her to have a drink with them, something they've never done before. God knows what may have happened had she accepted their invitation to have a drink and they got her drunk. Rachel knew by their randy mood and luridly lascivious behavior that something bad was about to happen. She went to bed early, before their inappropriate touching turned to groping, their groping turned to stripping, and before things got out of hand. Now that she had gone to bed so early, too early to get up to begin her chores, she was wide awake sooner than she needed to be.
Frightened for her mother, she was frightened for herself too. Fearing that they'd be coming for her next and taking her out to the barn too, she pushed her heavy, maple chest of drawers against her bedroom door. The barrier would have little effect on the animal like strength of Karl. Yet, delaying them from opening her bedroom door, her temporary barricade would give her a chance to slip out the window and jump to the grass below from the second floor and run.
Run? Run where? Hopeless in her escape, with no place to go and nowhere to hide, where would she run? In the way that they looked at her, touched her, and tried feeling her through her clothes, the same way they did with her mother when their sexual assault started, she was surprised that they haven't taken her out to the barn already.
The barn was their secret place to take her mother and now scarred and scared, it's because of all that happened to her in the barn that her mother never goes out to the barn to feed the animals anymore, even in the daytime. Instead she sends Rachel, but she waits until her husband and son are already gone for the day working the fields. Now that they're not working the fields, not wanting to be trapped with them so far away from the safety of the house, especially not in the barn, even Rachel refused to go to the barn.
Of little consolation, she was glad that her father and brother didn't do their dirty deeds in the house. By not hearing what they did to her mother in the barn, only imagining the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, she could better pretend that it never happened. Except for her mother's loud screams that emanated from the barn to shatter the quietness of the early morning, and with the impending storm looming with the soon to be swirling and whooshing sounds of the sudden wind, she didn't hear anything, not even the chirping sounds of those incessant crickets. It was just too damn quiet for there not to be something wrong.
Bad enough that they felt the sick need to beat, strip, rape, and whip her mother at all, she couldn't bear it if she was forced to listen to every dirty word and watch every foul action had they been doing their incestuous perversity downstairs in the kitchen or upstairs in their bedroom. If they were going to treat her mother like an animal, at least they had the common decency to take her out to the barn with the rest of the animals. Only she couldn't help but imagine what they were doing to her mother and what she imagined paled in comparison to what they actually did to her mother. Knowing that her father wanted to strip her and touch her, knowing that her brother wanted her to suck him and her to fuck him, Rachel couldn't help but imagine what they'd do to her should they drag her out to the barn too. With her life so out of her control, her life was always so full of fear.
Hoping to hear her scream again, she listened in silence for evidence that her mother was still alive. Should her mother be dead, with no one there to protect her, not her father or her brother, with no one to act as a defensive buffer should they turn their incestuous lust to her, what would she do if her mother was dead? She softly sobbed while clutching her pillow as if she was holding her mother. Afraid to let her go of her pillow for fear that her mother would be gone forever, when her father and brother finally killed her mother, she didn't know how to stop their abuse or how to prevent the inevitable.
In the past, not wanting to hear, pretending that this torturous physical, emotional, and sexual abuse wasn't happening, she pretended she didn't know what her father and brother were doing to her mother out in the barn. So early in the morning, when even the rooster and the dogs was still sleeping, it was too early to arise to start her day. As if her father and brother were nomadic kidnappers roaming the countryside at night in search of a female victim, they beat, tortured, stripped, raped, and whipped her mother.
Creating a monster within, her mother now turned against her husband to plot and plan his demise for the sake of her daughter and to be with her son as husband and wife. After someone has suffered and survived that violent of an assault, there's nothing more that anyone can do to them. Instead, as if she's had a lobotomy, the only happiness her mother felt was when having sex with her son, Karl. When not in the barn naked with her son, her mother closed down her emotions so as not to feel the abuse. She was a shell of her once happy self.
Other than to listen, other than to be careful not to be alone with them, and other than to volunteer that they take her instead, there was nothing that she could do to stop the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of her mother. Berating herself for not doing more, at only 18-years-old and still a virgin, she wasn't brave or sexually experienced enough to offer her body to save her mother. Desperately wishing she could fall asleep, so as not to hear her mother's frantic screams, she put her pillow over her head and stuck her fingers in her ears while thinking of how happy and how pretty her mother used to be. Hoping to sing over her screams, she sang the Cradle Song, the song her mother used to sing to her every night to lull her to sleep when she was a little girl before the song became Brahms's Lullaby.
Yet, helpless to save her mother, lucky if she could save herself, there was nothing she could do not to hear her mother's pleas of mercy for them to stop. 'Twas a time when men were superior and in control and women were inferior and frightened. Seemingly more annoyed with her mother's screams for disturbing her sleep than with her father and brother for causing her mother's pain, without doubt, she'd prefer listening to the crickets rubbing their legs together than having to listen to her mother's piercing screams. As if there was a big, bad boogie man emerging from her closet, instead of coming up from the barn, hoping that sleep would come for her again but unable to block out the loud cries to sleep, she stayed awake too frightened to go to sleep. Off in the distance, as if what she heard was a bad dream and what had become her all too frequent nightly nightmare, she could hear her mother's pleas for mercy.
"No! Stop! Please Hugo. Please Karl. Don't do this. I beg you," cried Olga to the deaf ears of her husband and son. "Let me go! Please let me go!"
To be continued...