-TRIGGER WARNING IF YOU READ AHEAD-

The second biggest time I was assaulted was by two brothers.

We lived in Lewiston, on Maple Street, in another dilapidated fourth floor apartment. Our backyard was a dirt lot where tenants from three or four different apartment buildings parked their vehicles.

As kids, we would play in the lot, and on one side – there was a patch of woods where wild rhubarb grew. I would sometimes bring a Ziploc bag of brown sugar with me and dip the rhubarb in, coating it with the sugar.

I was around ten years old.

These two brothers were well-known in the area for their cruel ways, their incestuous habits, their filthy appearance. When I first saw them outside, I was heading to my rhubarb oasis. The brothers were laying on a dirty couch someone had left out in the lot. The one with short hair was wearing corduroy pants and had his crotch in his brother’s mouth. The front of his pants were wet, probably with his brother’s saliva – the one with long hair.

I kept my distance, they paused their activity and regarded me as I passed. I disappeared into the grove and made my way to the rhubarb, checking to see if I had been followed every once in a while – but it didn’t seem like I had. We had little in the way of food at home, so the rhubarb had become a real treat, something I looked forward to. And so, it wasn’t surprising that I didn’t hear the brothers. I didn’t know how long they had been there, but the one with short hair spoke and startled me.

“What’cha got there?” He asked.

I almost choked on the sugar. I took in the scene before me – a brother on each side, boxing me in. I felt a sinking feeling in my gut.

“Rhubarb,” I said. Then, trying to lessen any hostility, “You just dip it in the sugar.”

The two of them pretended to be interested in the sugar, the rhubarb, all the while moving closer. Finally, the long-haired one grabbed the bag of sugar and threw it into the trees. It had taken a lot of work for me to procure that brown sugar, so I grew agitated.

“Hey!” I yelled. I started to run, but the short one grabbed my arm. The long-haired one punched me in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me. I dropped, and then was kicked over and over again. At one point, I braced myself against the ground, lashing out with my legs, and I kicked the short hair one in the knee, causing him to cry out and curse.

“Motherfucker!” He said.

Long-hair grabbed a rock, holding it over me, about to strike. “I’m gonna’ knock your fuckin’ brains in!”

“Don’t hit me! Please!” I pleaded, holding my hands up in defense.

Short-hair came over and kicked me a couple of times. I ignored the pain and my mind raced. What was I going to do? How was I going to get out of this mess, since the both of them together easily overpowered me. They were both slightly older, and had the advantage of numbers. My skinny, malnourished body was not really a match for them then in my life.

“Get the fuck up, or I’ll kill you,” said Long-Hair. He emphasized this by looking like he was going to hit me with the rock.

I shakily stood up. My adrenaline was pumping. I was scared, I was angry. My eyes darted around for means of escape. Short-hair had grabbed me by the arm, and was looking around to see if anyone was seeing the events transpire.

“Only way you’re getting out of this alive,” said Long-Hair, “Is if you suck us off. And you’re not gonna’ tell no one.”

I had already started crying out of desperation at this point. My childhood trauma was at play again. Short-Hair was pushing me toward the trees, but I was resisting.

“Wait, wait, wait,” I said. “Please don’t do this.”

“C’mon you little faggot,” said Long-Hair.

I was frozen, terrified. Despite my better instincts, I began to yank my arm after letting them think I was going to walk into the trees after all. Caught off guard, my hand slipped out of Short-Hair’s grasp. I bolted. I had never run so fast in my life. The world turned to blur and echoes as I darted around trees, over rocks, and through brush. I could hear them yelling after me, their feet stomping on the ground behind me with determination. I couldn’t see them, but I could somehow feel them, right behind me.

I burst from the treeline, into the dirt lot. I never looked back once, but by the time I had reached the steps to our apartment building, they were nowhere in sight. My chest was heaving, and tears were running down my face. The tears soon turned into pure anger. Pure rage.

I walked into the apartment and stewed. I punched my wall a couple of times. I ignored my siblings, not even seeming to hear or notice them in my fog of anger and fury. Finally, my common sense leaving me – I went into my mom’s bedroom, and I grabbed her boyfriend’s pellet gun. It was heavy, it was metal, and it shot both darts and pellets. When you pulled back the top of it, it made a convincing sound, and it also looked like a real handgun. I grabbed it and put it into the back of my pants.

My heart was hammering inside my chest. I knew what I intended to do, but I couldn’t go through what I had gone through before. I knew these boys, I knew their type, and I knew that if I didn’t act now – they would antagonize me for months, for years. They would try to force me to do something I didn’t want to do, something I’d been forced to do before.

And, before I knew it – I was back near the patch of woods, walking back into the tree line. I found the brothers – they were eating rhubarb, and using my bag of brown sugar. Without saying a word, they started toward me.

I yanked the dart-pistol from the back of my pants and pointed it at them and my hands quivered.

“Stay where you are,” I said, the anger seeping from my voice.

“That’s not real,” said Long-Hair, but he seemed to waver when I did not. Short-Hair let out a nervous laugh.

“Yes it is, asshole,” I said. I pulled back on the top part of the gun and it made a convincing metal click. I pointed it at them again. “Get on the ground,” I said calmly.

They seemed to hesitate. “GET ON THE GROUND, NOW!” I screamed. I had begun to cry again, my emotions emptying and giving credence to my performance. I seemed unstable, dangerous, vengeful. Why would I come out here and point a fake gun at them when they had so seemingly overpowered me before? And so, nervously, they began to kneel.

“NOW, OR I’LL FUCKING SHOOT YOU,” I screamed again.

“Okay, okay, okay!” Said Long-Hair.

Short-Hair had started crying. I had a vengeful, hate-filled smile that was beginning to spread across my face under the tears.

“Now, put your hands behind your head and lay on the ground.”

The two of them reluctantly did as I asked. I moved to stand over them. I let them wonder what I was going to do for a few moments before I placed the barrel of the fake gun against Long-Hair’s head. He felt the weight of it, and began shaking, realizing that the feel of the gun and weight of it made it seem that I was telling the truth for sure.

“WHY DID YOU ATTACK ME?!” I screamed. They flinched. I kicked Long-Hair in the side. “WHY THE FUCK DID YOU DO THAT?!”

Short-Hair began to blubber as I pressed the fake gun against his head.

“DON’T SHOOT ME, PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME,” he wailed.

“The only way I’m going to shoot you, is if you ever talk to me or touch me again. I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU!” I said. To emphasize this point, I struck Short-Hair in the backside of the head with the hard metal butt of the gun. Not hard enough to do serious damage, but it hurt. I had the urge to do so much more. I wanted to torture them, to make them hurt as much as I was inside. But I settled for striking Long-Hair with the gun as well. I wanted them to remember the weight of it, to remember the pain it caused them even with a strike by a malnourished boy, let alone the imaginary bullets that would rip into them if they went against my wishes.

I walked away from those boys that day, still angry, still full of rage. They never touched me again, or even looked at me sideways again – but they didn’t have to. They had done their damage, they had made me feel weak, insignificant, powerless. Despite winning the battle that day, I had been waging an inner war since I was four years old – when I’d been raped and assaulted and manipulated the very first time, and unfortunately – there’s no bullet that will work on that front. No physical gun to fend off the mental damage done by such actions. And, I was lucky. My gamble with the pellet gun could have gone a completely different way had I been just the slightest bit wavering in my confidence and anger. But it worked that time, and I escaped that time. Just that time.