The obviously nervous young eighteen year old girl sat on the upside down bucket glancing now and then over her shoulder to make certain none of the playful brats of Mother Grace were sneaking up on her to embarrass her in front of the probing eyes of full-grown men.
In some ways, Selena still thought with the mind of a child as well, but now she was of an age when most girls were wedded and expecting the arrival of their first young one, there was no doubt in her mind that she was expected to join the ranks of the weary housewives reduced to a lifetime of forever being in a family way and never in need of decent shoes to go anywhere other than to church on those Sundays when the circuit rider was in the valley.
It seemed far in the past that she had left the side of her ailing mother and rode the jackass up to Hobson’s gorge to help one of Mama Grace’s sons carry on the family line with a litter of his own sons and daughters. The dark mountain headquarters was populated with plenty of homesteads filled to the brim with Slaughter family bands of troublemakers that kept strangers out of the area knowing they didn’t take too kindly to uninvited guests.
It seemed so long ago now to the young eighteen year old girl called Selena by most and bitch behind her back by certain female poor souls that envied her good looks. It was hard to think back on that long-ago time when she followed her wide-eyed sister Clementine up high into the mountains to join the mail-order bride customer who had agreed to allow the younger sister to accompany the new twenty year old prospective spouse into the high country.
Selena was only seven when she made that first arduous journey up the steep grades of the mountain chain to her new home to a nearby farming community of mostly Slaughter kin eking out a living far above the sweet bottom land spoken for by supposed civilized folk. It was populated by educated folks with book learning and lots of hidden cash to tide them over when times were bad. Her mother was healthy in those early days and was eager to please her new husband. She told her daughters to never speak out loud unless they were spoken to by an adult. It was a practice that shy Selena followed to this very day and it had kept her out of trouble and allowed her to blend into the background and out of thought and mind of grown-ups most of the time. She could easily see why that was important to her survival in the wilderness when the most dangerous animals were mostly two legged and had a soul that needed salvation.
Now her sister Clementine was about to get hitched to a mountain of a man that seemed to have a whole lot more interest in sitting down at the kitchen table for serious eating than in tending the fields or procreating like they were all taught was the purpose of men and women to exist in the first place. She suddenly found her thoughts all jumbled up and wandering in different directions when the idea of procreating with one of the Slaughter boys popped into her mind. Selena was not overly fond of any of those troublemaking hard drinkers in the shadows that were constantly out “hunting” or “fishing” or tending the family stills hidden deep in the thick forest land.
It seemed to her that the moonshine produced in such quantities was the ruination of the male population because they were addicted to “tasting” it to test for quality more often than any person in their right senses could ever think necessary.
Selena sat silently on the bucket hoping that her sister Clementine was holding up under the questioning by Mama Grace to determine her level of innocence in marital matters. She knew it was more traditional than practical because most of the mountain girls were well acquainted with boy’s peckers long before they were really nubile and ready to start a family. In fact, she was certain Clementine was educated in all aspects of making a man happy because she had kept their Uncle Thomas more than satisfied for the past year after his wife of more than twenty years had died in the childbirth of her eighth child. That was a saddest week ever in Selena’s memory and she did her best along with her other sisters to tend the unruly brood of youngsters or at least keep them organized enough to keep grown-ups from being stirred up by their discord.
Clementine’s nocturnal duties were an unspoken fact of life in the tiny cabin and the others tended to avoid looking her straight in the eye after Uncle Thomas finished his business with her behind the closed bedroom door. Selena wanted to ask her some questions that were uppermost on her mind but she was afraid to trigger a negative reaction from her older sister because she was ashamed of her use as a substitute wife until Uncle Thomas could find a suitable replacement from one of the older unmarried females further down the mountain.
Their ailing mother knew it was time for Clementine and Selena to move on to another wing of the family when Uncle Thomas started to fondle Selena’s tempting cheeks right out in the open in front of the other family members. It was time for them to find their own husbands from the eligible young studs in the Mama Grace litter of unmarried males needing a stable lifestyle of their own. Uncle Thomas was sent out on a wife-finding tour of older unmarried female family members and a couple of widows with children to raise and no husband to warm their bed at night.
Selena squirmed her soft female backside on the hard metal pail but didn’t move from her spot because she knew Mama Grace would be wanting her next after she finished with Clementine’s questioning session. She hoped that Clementine was smart enough to gloss over the duties with tending Uncle Thomas’s needs after his wife crossed over to her reward in a better place. That was downright humorous to Selena and made her smile to consider any place ever being worse than right here on this Godforsaken mountain with a pack of randy males and females worn to a frazzle tending young ones and making a home for their lazy spouses good for nothing except making trouble both night and day. It seemed a mite unfair that Clementine might be faulted for submitting to Uncle Thomas’s normal manly needs because it was the Christian thing to do to bring solace to the widower deprived of his spouse’s nocturnal tending. Besides, it was better to keep such things in the family so outsiders didn’t know their weaknesses and their personal urges for such matters. Selena desperately wanted to ask her sister if Uncle Thomas had sought the comfort of her backside as well as her feminine folds because she had an uncommon itch back there for something big and thick to stretch her limits of acceptance after hearing the girls at the back of the church discuss “taking it” in the same way the dogs in the yard did it right out in the open. It just seemed so dirty to her that she didn’t understand why she had such a terrible urge to drop down like one of the bitches and let nature take its course. It surely seemed to be the worst sin possible but it solved the need to avoid getting in the family way and there were advantages to closing her eyes and pretending the weight on her back was a handsome prince with riches and power to make her a queen on top of a golden pedestal. She had imagined Uncle Thomas riding her in such a fashion and knew it had triggered a reaction she couldn’t explain except that she had to change her night shift because it was so wet with her sinful juices.
Clementine’s new spouse-to-be was called Rufus and he purely looked exactly what Selena pictured in her mind what a Rufus would look like. His close-together beady black eyes squinted out over his broken nose like twin beacons of shifty evasiveness that crowned his bulk beneath. She tried to imagine the somewhat petite Clementine smothered by his weight when the lights went out and felt sorry for her sister despite the many dirty tricks she had played on her just to get her dander up.