1973 “You have to be hurt to understand!”

1973 “You have to be hurt to understand!”

While I was in Washington, mom and George had moved to Upland California and my mom had remembered the program for Psychiatric Technicians and apparently she had done some research and found a program that was within driveable distance from where she and George were living. She called me and let me know about it and said that if I wanted to do this, that she and George would help me out with a car.

When I came to Upland, I was initially living with my mom and George in a small house they were renting at the time. I was sleeping on the couch and getting enrolled in the Psychiatric Technician program at Valley Vocational at La Puente. Mom and George would eventually get me a small, used, red Volkswagon stationwagon and we were looking for an apartment for me to live in as George and Mom would be going back to Washington State before long. I would attend La Puente Valley Adult Schools, Valley Vocational Center Psychiatric Technician Program from January 29, 1973 to January 15, 1974.

There was absolutely nothing to do in Upland and there was no real transportation system to speak of. The only way for me to get anywhere was to hitchhike. I missed other gay people and by this time, I was used to having sexual partners on a fairly regular basis. I was restless and bored while waiting to start school and sometimes I just had to get out of the house.

One evening I was hitchhiking, I think just for something to do, hoping I would meet someone more than anything. I was on the corner of desolation and desperation in the middle of nowhere dead suburbia with very few cars coming by. I don’t think there were any pedestrians. A large boat of a car from the 1950’s came up to the light. and I could see there was a man checking me out. He wasn’t really my type or attractive but he did seem interested and that was really all I needed. He pulled over and I got in.

I think he must have asked where I was going and I probably told him that I was just out and about and not really going in any particular direction. He asked if I wanted to come to his place. He was probably in his late twenties or early thirties, white and thin. He was definitely not a hippie. I think he had his hair combed back in a fifties style and gave me a trailor trash or appalachia impression. He was not what I would think of as hip at all but what could I expect in Upland California?

I agreed to go to his place. I think he said he had some grass, too and that would have even made the offer better back then. We drove out into what felt like the country on a two lane hightway or rode. Suburban houses gave way to open feilds and fog. It was dark and I wasn’t sure at all where we were or where we were going as we made awkward small talk.

We arrived at a small cabin surrounded by fog and occasionally through the fog I could see a cow or two. The cabin was very small. There was a door which led to a small galley kitchen that was probably about five to seven feet. On the other side of this small galley was a doorway that led to the only room. I think the bathroom must have been on the other side of the wall from the kitchen. The main room, though, was probably eight by ten if that. There was a small, twin bed on one end of the room and a space heater on the floor. There was a wood chest of drawers next to the doorway that led to the kitchen that was probably about five feet high. The place was messy and tattered.

Either we smoked a joint on the way there or smoked it when we got there. We had a little more small talk and then got undressed and got into bed. We kissed and made out and rubbed our naked bodies together. When two men come together like this that are not familiar with one another, there is sometimes a question as to who might be “the top” and who might be “the bottom” if there is going to be intercourse. At that time in my life, I usually preferred being “the top” although I tried to be versatile. He did not seem to be making any move to take a dominate position though, and so I started in that direction.

Suddenly this strangers body froze and became rigid and pushed me off and jumped out of bed and in the darkness, I heard silverware rattling. I didn’t know what was happening but it frightened me and so I jumped up to and had my pants back on as the light came on and he was standing there, in front of the only exit by the kitchen door with a large butcher knife. I picked up the small space heater. He said “put it down.”

“I’m really sorry,” I said. “Whatever I did, I’m really sorry.”

He replied, as he stuck the knife into the top of the wood dresser, “You have to be hurt to understand.”

I continued to apologize profusely and I put down the space heater. I rambled on about wanting to go to school to help people and that I was a good person and he just kept repeating, “You have to be hurt to understand.”

I told him that I would walk home, that did did not have to drive me back to town. Something seemed to click in his head and his facial expression seemed to relax a little and he said, “no, I will drive you back.” Then he asked if I wanted some coffee as if nothing had happened. I think that I accepted his offer since it seemed to have distracted him from terrorizing me and we might have even talked for a minute or two before we left for the drive back to Upland.

I had him let me off a block or so from where I was staying with mom and George and then ran to their place after he pulled away. I was shaking when I came in and I guess I made some noise or something and mom came out to see what was going on. I think she must have seen how shook up I was and sat with me as I drifted off to sleep.

I did make a call to the police the next day but I didn’t really want to give details about my identity and I didn’t know the guys name or where it was that he had taken me so I didn’t really have a lot of information to give and it was obvious that the officer I talked to wasn’t interested anyway. For years I have wondered how many bodies were buried in that cow pasture that I visited and felt that I had only narrowly escaped in 1973.

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