When I was nine years old, what was left of my dysfunctional family moved to Lock Seven, West Virginia. My mother ran away shortly after the move and I became the target of a particularly nasty bully. Our house had no bathroom, so we made frequent trips to an outdoor toilet. Spiders were not the only nasty things I feared on those daily and nightly trips, for the neighborhood bully was usually hiding nearby to expose his penis and convey a litany of dirty words in harsh whispers.
This was in the fifties, when girls wearing jeans was still a novelty. If Jimmy caught me or another girl out by ourselves, he would sneak up, flip the hem of our dresses up to see our panties, then run off laughing. His bullying got so bad that I was afraid to go out of the house alone, so I usually tagged along after my sister, Carolyn. Although two years younger, she was taller and forty pounds heavier than I. She was also a self-proclaimed tomboy, who refused to wear dresses except to school. Most of the time, she wore a pair of faded and patched overhauls. She also had a reputation for being able, and willing, to take care of herself with both fists.
One day, she and I were on our way to the neighbors who befriended us for a cookout in their backyard. As we walked along the dirt road, Jimmy jumped out from behind a tree, ran up behind me, flipped my dress up, then ran on ahead chuckling. While I began crying, Carolyn ran after him. She chased him into the neighbor's yard, then pursued him up the trunk of a tree. Jimmy climbed fast, but Carolyn climbed faster. Catching Jimmy's pant leg, she jerked hard, nearly knocking him out of the tree.
Arriving beneath the tree, I watched her climb down, Jimmy's pants clutched triumphantly in her hand. “He's bare-butt naked,” she said, then burst out laughing. Wadding up his pants, she stuffed them beneath the bib of her overhauls, then sat down beneath the tree, still laughing. A few minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Paul came out of the house to set up the nearby picnic table, unaware that a near-naked bully perched in their tree.
The party went on for several hours while nine adults and nearly a dozen children ate, listened to music, and laughed beneath that tree, unaware its thick foliage camouflaged a bully's naked behind. I guess it was after dark before Jimmy finally climbed down and returned home.
As far as I know, he never bothered Carolyn again. Even though her action that day didn't entirely stop Jimmy from bullying, her implied threat to de-pants him again did stop him from flipping up our dresses.
~Treetop Bully, by Linda Regula