Boy ‘Howdy’ and Girl Jenkins
By Garland Davis
Shortly after WWII ended a girl named Jenkins gave birth to twins, a boy and girl in one of those Southern states that only uses A’s for vowels. She died a couple of days afterward without naming the boy and girl nor indicating the name of the father. An overworked clerk in the County office issued birth certificates in the names of Boy Jenkins and Girl Jenkins.
A caseworker from the county placed the children in a short term foster home for babies. They were there until the age of two when a relative of the twin’s mother offered and became the guardian of the twins. Shortly afterward they were moved to the other state with A vowels and the boy was passed on to another relation and the girl to another and she was moved to a Southern state known for peanuts and peaches.
Boy Jenkin’s memory of his childhood was a montage of playing and the farm animals. It was a normal memory of the time leading up to starting school. Shortly before his sixth birthday, another relation came to take him to live on his farm and to make sure he got his schooling. This was the point where his boyhood changed.
As soon as his new “Uncle Rex” got him home, Boy was told that he would be expected to work before and after school and he would be expected to get good grades in school. Uncle Rex said as he took a belt from the top od a dresser, “If’n you don’t do your work or do as you are told, this’ll happen.” He grabbed Boy by one arm and beat him viciously with the belt.
“You understand me Boy? And stop that Goddam crying. Jest ta make sure.” He beat boy again. “Now git yer ass down ta tha barn. We got milkin’ ta do.”
After milking four cows and receiving another beating for takin too long, he was led into the kitchen where he was given a plate of beans and fried potatoes and a hunk of cornbread and a glass of milk by a girl who was probably a little older than Boy.
He asked her, “Who are y’all?” right before the woman who gave him the food slapped him on the side of the head, saying. “Keep yer Goddamn mouth shut, you are here to work not socialize.”
He and the girl were locked into a room for the night.
The next morning at sunrise, he was whipped out of his bed to find the girl already up and frying fatback to make gravy. He was drug off to the barn to milk the cows and then shovel the cow shit and soiled straw to a manure pile. He was told to wash up in the watering trough and get to the house for breakfast. He was whipped again for not moving fast enough. Breakfast was a biscuit a slice of fried fatback and a glop of lumpy gravy. The rest of that first day he shucked dried corn which he would feed to a mechanical sheller turned by the girl. He learned her name was Rachel and she had been there a little over a year
That night, he ran away to a house about three miles away to get help. The next morning, he was awakened by Uncle Rex who, with his belt beat him every step back to the farm. His life settled into hard labor and beatings. The only respite from the torture became school. He quickly learned that poor grades in school meant more whippings.
Aa he approached his seventeenth birthday, Boy determined to join the Navy. He cut school to talk to the recruiter in town. They got all the paperwork completed except for Rex’s signature which was needed unless he was eighteen. He knew the only way Rex would sign was if he was forced to. He determined to make it happen on his seventeenth birthday.
Boy was as tall as Rex and strong from the arduous labor of throwing hay bales, digging holes, and setting fence posts. When they reached the barn that morning, Boy said. “I’m seventeen years old today, I want you to sign for me to go to the Navy.”
Rex laughed and said, “I ain’t signing a Goddam thang, now got yer ass to work before I kick it.”
Boy hit him in the face and then in the stomach, knocking him down. He scrambled to rise, yelling, “You thank you man ‘nough to whup me?”
Boy kicked him in the ribs saying, “I am man enough to put your worthless ass in jail for the rest of your life when I tell the sheriff what you have been doing to Rachel. Now you are going to sign them papers or I’m going to take you to jail.”
“How in fuck da ya thank you gonna get me to town?”
As Rex said that Rachel came around the barn to gather eggs from the hen coop. She didn’t say anything. She kicked him in the ribs, saying. “I am going to kill you, you son of a bitch.” She then asked, “What are you doing Boy?”
” I’m seventeen today. I got all the paper done to go to the Navy. All I need is for him to sign. He will do it or I swear I’ll kill him. I got his pistol. I’ll shoot him full of holes and let his blood run out.”
Rachel kicked him again, yelling, “This is for fucking me and putting your dirty old dick in my mouth you son of a bitch.”
She picked up a stick, hit him in the head with it and said, I’m gonna beat Bertha because she let you do it and watched,” as she turned for the house.
“I’ll get the keys to the truck. I am going to get my stuff. I’m leaving here too.”
Boy showed Rex the pistol and told him to get up and walk to the truck. Rex said, “You ain’t gonna shoot me Boy, “You ain’t got tha balls.”
Boy fired the pistol into the dirt between his feet and told him, “One of two things is going to happen today, you are either going to sign that paper or I am going to jail for shooting you. It’s your choice.”
As they walked around the barn toward the truck parked beside the house, they could hear screaming from the house. Rachel came through the door carrying a carpetbag.
They could hear Bertha screaming, “You ungrateful bitch, we took you in and raised you.” Rachel dropped the bag and went back through the door and Bertha’s scream changed to, “No, don’t hit me no more. I’m sorry.”
Boy sat Rex in the bed of the truck, pulled himself in, and sat opposite him with the pistol in his hand. Rachel drove them into town and stopped at the post office. Boy raised and pointed it at Rex’s head and cocked the hammer and said, “Don’t believe, I won’t shoot you if you don’t sign.”
He uncocked the gun and placed it back in his pocket. They walked into the recruiter’s office and Rex signed the papers without a word, dropped the pen on the desk and walked out the door where he was met by Rachel and the Sheriff. “That’s him. He’s been fucking me since I was fourteen and making me suck his dick since I was eleven.”
Rex tried to run but a deputy was waiting and handcuffed him.
An hour later Boy was waiting with an envelope for a bus to Little Rock where he would fly to Dallas and then on to San Diego for Boot Camp. Rachel came to say goodbye. She told him that she would be living in a rooming house at state expense until after the investigation and trial.
They wished each other luck and said goodbye.
Shortly after two-year-old Girl Jenkins went to live with relatives of her mother she was given up for adoption and was chosen by a highway patrolman and his schoolteacher wife. She lived a normal life as an only child.
Her parents told her that she was adopted and asked if she wanted to change her name from Jenkins to Barnes. They told her she could keep the name Girl or change it to another name. She thought for a while and decided on the name Sara Lee Barnes. So, at four years of age, she became Sara Lee Barnes.
When Sara was seven, her father was hired as an Assistant Chief of Police for Memphis and her mother as an Assistant Principal in the local school system.
Sara grew up as a normal young girl/teenager with a teen’s interests like cheerleading and boys. She rarely dated because the boys were intimidated by the fact that her father was a cop and carried a gun.
In the fall of her eighteenth year, she enrolled in the NROTC program at the University of Memphis. After four years, with a degree in Liberal Arts she boarded a train for Newport News, and on to Newport, RI where she would attend Officer Candidates School and be commissioned an Ensign in the Navy.
Fourteen weeks later, Sara L. Barnes, Ensign, USNR left Newport for fifteen days leave with her family and then on to an assignment as Assistant Personnel Officer at Naval Base Charleston, SC.
After a pleasant visit with her parents and friends, she arrived in Charleston. A taxi from the airport to the base deposited her at the Administration building where the Personnel office was located. As she walked toward the entrance, a Second Class Petty Officer came through the doors walking toward her. He snapped a proper salute and said, “Good Morning Ma’am.” She returned the salute thinking there was something familiar about the sailor.
BM2 Boy ‘Howdy’ Jenkins had completed the two year shore tour in Charleston that the detailer had fucked him with. He had orders to a CLG out of San Diego which was headed for Westpac. He couldn’t wait to get back there.
He saw the female Ensign as he exited the building. He shifted the envelope to his left hand and snapped a salute while, saying, “Good Morning.” He thought for a minute that he knew her but shook his head and thought no way.