A Secret Grave 150: Taboo


Joe’s father, Edward, was not a man to mess with. He was fair and forthright in all his dealings, but he ruled his household with a heavy hand and had no tolerance for wrongdoing or aberration. On the farm his word was law, and everyone did exactly as he told them. Religion was a big deal: church every Sunday, the Bible’s preeminence over any other book, no dancing, drinking or card playing (pastimes that could lead to the devil), and certainly no cussing. Sex outside of marriage was taboo, and was not even discussed. And drugs? Cigarettes were allowed – Edward was a heavy smoker – but anything else was unheard of. When Joe’s stash was discovered in the derelict shed, he was fucked. One of his sisters, fifteen-year-old Martha, had gotten pregnant out of wedlock the year before, and the result hadn’t been pretty. She’d tried to abort with a coat hanger. When that didn’t work (her mother found her doubled over, weeping in bed), she was sent to a home for unwed mothers in Wisconsin, where the baby was adopted out after birth. Unwelcome in the family, Martha found excuses to remain in Wisconsin, and her life drifted downward – to this day Joe has no idea what became of her.



Pro-choice Activists Demonstrate Against The ‘Rally for Life’, William Murphy, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/


Joe was busted on his eighteenth birthday, which made the event particularly memorable. His mother made his favorite cake, and he received a suitcase, a shaving kit, socks, and a dictionary as gifts. Everything seemed fine, except that his father, seated at the head of the table, was even quieter and grimmer than usual, which robbed the occasion of any real warmth or happiness. But that was par for the course in the Bennett family. Joe went upstairs after dinner, and on his bed he found the bag of reefer he’d hidden in the shed, plus rolling papers and a book of matches. He closed his eyes and silently swore to himself, knowing something bad was coming. When he opened his eyes his father was standing there.



Edward Bennett


Edward did not raise his voice or slap him. He said, “You have two choices. You can stay here and go to jail. Or you can enlist and go to Vietnam.” Joe was supposed to start classes at the University of Iowa a few weeks later. Even though he was a poor student, he’d been looking forward to it – dormitory life, girls, football games, freedom. Excitement had been building in him for months. And now this.


To be continued…


Cover photo ~ https://journal.hautehorlogerie.org/en/most-taboo-watch-marketing-ever/

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