Daisy's Red Badge of Courage
A Prequel to “Daisy and Phantom Nurse”
Act III: A Bloody Red Badge
I felt myself being lifted off the ground a few moments later. At this point I felt a fever starting to form, and my fingers and legs were starting to tremble. I slowly opened my eyes and noticed two faces were peering down at me. Both belonged to teenage girls, one had blonde hair and blue eyes, the other had black hair and blue eyes. Angels? Had I really died and gone to heaven?
“Make me as beautiful as you two..” I said, trying to breathe a little. “I want to be a girl too..”
A moment of silence followed. And the blonde hair teenage girl or angel just blinked and the raven haired one blinked as well. Neither said a word as they gently rolled me to the side. I noticed they were rolling me toward a blanket of some kind.
“Easey does it now.” Another voice says. “The beast worked him over real good.” This voice was male. A boy with short brown hair and brown eyes was peering down at me. “Man this is bad.. But I don't think we need to take him to the hospital. Just get him to the tailgate of my truck and we can work on him.” He said, sighing.
“I got the first-aid kit here.” Another voice echoed in. This voice belonged to a teenage girl with long brown hair and deep blue eyes. “Mom on her way she wants to take pictures to show the paper! Oh GOD..” The voice echoed. It seemed so far away now.
“Him or her?” The blonde angel said as she gently pushed back my hair. “I guess it does not matter now, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Jesus, I thought it was bad when Linda slapped the dog shit out of me. Every inch of him or her is covered in bruises.”
“Was it really worth it? Are we really worth all this?” The raven haired angel said as she looked down. “If I knew all this trouble would have come from me wanting to be me, I would have just remained a boy.” She said, sounded on the verge of tears.
“He seems to think you're worth it.” The male voice said. “Now, stop with all that and get him on the tailgate of the truck and lay him down. Gotta get his pants and his shirt off of him. I think there are some wounds that need dressing under there. Look at that blood. Y'all get some plastic gloves on. This is going to be brutal.”
“I really think we should take him to the hospital! Him or her! It does not matter!” The raven haired girl said as she peered toward me.
“He'll be fine, just fetch me everything I have. Plus I don't trust those doctors at that band-aid station anyway. If we need to take him to some place, we'll place him in the back of my truck and take him to one of those good hospitals in Jackson or Madison. Last Spring Joe LeRoy snapped his ankle and that fellow down there at King's Daughter said he only had a bad sprang. Man went to school for eighteen years and can't even read a X-Ray. Jesus help us.”
“Ben.. let's focus on helping Daisy.”
“Yes.” The male voice said.
“The boy should have called me, I would have been right there with him.” The male voice added. “Jesus, I think I'm going to be sick. I've never seen shit like this. And I've cleaned deer before.”
“Get out of the way! Move it! Move it.” Another female voice. “Cerridwen fetch me that first aid kit. Ben! Get me your aid kit too you're in scouts too with him, so I know you got an advance first aid kit! I need everything you guys have.”
“Yes ma'am.” I heard a voice call out. The voice seemed so far away.
“I want to be a girl in the next life..” I muttered. Again silence. Cerridwen was she here? Was she in heaven with me too? Did the bullies get to her? I forced myself to sit up and I felt myself being pushed down.
“Easy, easy. We'll get you patched up in a jiff.” The female voice said in a soothing voice.
“Cerridwen fetch me that bottle of witch hazel.” I heard a female voice say. “And a roll of bandages please! Once I've applied the witch hazel to his or her chest, wrap them up for me please.”
“Madeline, take off his shoes, and socks too.”
“Ben, do you have a blanket or towel in your truck?”
“I gotta have a blanket.”
“Get it, something to rest his or her head on.”
“Girl, his toes or her toes.. they are bleeding! Cerridwen fetch me some rubbing alcohol.”
I tried my best to follow the conversation but my head was spinning around. My mouth was dry. I then something wet being pressed to my lips. I slowly opened my eyes and in front of me was Jamie. I blinked.
“I'm sorry for what I said..” I said slowly. “I'm so very sorry, you're a special person.. please take care of Cerridwen for me.. treat her like a sister, please..”
Jamie blinked and then pressed the top of something to my lips.
“Here is some water, drink it slowly. And here.. here some aspirin will bring down the swelling and help reduce the fever.” Her voice was gentle. I then felt somebody take my hand into their hand and I looked down and there was Cerridwen. She was stroking my hand and nuzzling it.
“Cerridwen.. I'm cold..” I said as I closed my eyes.
“Well..” The female voice said. “He or she is going to need some new socks. These are soaked with blood. Give me some plastic gloves and I'll remove them and see if we can't bandage these toes. I bet he or she is going to lose the nail to them anyway.”
“Shit! What was that guy wearing steel toe boots! He must have crushed the fuck out of them! Cerridwen turn your head!” The female voice said.
I then heard somebody vomit. I shuttered, it sounded wet and thick, and the smell of peanut butter and tuna fish and bacon. And oddly enough the smell conjured the mind of a wet wolf cub. I shuttered a little and slowly opened my eyes. And there hovering above me were two women. I noticed the outline of Cerridwen and then I noticed the outline of Jamie. Both seemed to be hovering around me.
“Hey..” I said, blushing a little. I noticed I was now shirtless. And the horrible smell of rubbing alcohol seemed to hang heavy around me and seemed to conjure up images of nurses and hospitals. I also noticed a roll of bandages being taped around my chest.
“Hey.. if it's fine if you want to be a girl, I can help you.” Cerridwen said smiling. “I love you, for who you are on the inside, not who you are on the outside.”
“Oh God..” Jamie said, looking down at my fingers. “Cerridwen! Cerridwen look away!”
“They're black and blue!” I heard her yell.
“More rubbing alcohol.” The female voice said as she splashed something on them. “A lot of it, Cerridwen, another bottle and more bandages!” She cried out.
I felt a shiver run down my spin as I felt my pants starting to slide down. “SHIT! His balls are the size of grapefruits! Jesus, how many times did he kick you down there!” It was a male voice. I wanted to die. I really did want to die.
“Come on there not.. holy shit!” It was Cerridwen again and I whimpered a little. “Oh GOD!”
“Get you mind out of the sewage ditch girl! Madeline there is an extra large t-shirt in my trunk kind of my sleeping shirt, get that for me please. I'm not touching that, but his pants are soaked.. There are some lightweight sleeping pants there too. There baby blue so.. go ahead and get them too.”
“Yes ma'am.” Madeline said as she pushed me down on the gate. I was awake now, groggy but awake and I could feel the warmth of the late afternoon sun shining down on me. I noticed that Cerridwen was bandaging my fingers, she was doing one at a time so I could still move them. A few seconds later Madeline returned holding a bag of clothes.
“I found a pair of plastic sandals in there!
“Slip the sleeping pants on her and tie them. Daisy I need you to stand up and try to hold your arms up straight.”
I did as I was told and felt the warmth of the pants and the warmth of the shirt. They both smelled like Jamie, or her body spray.
“They smell nice.” I said blushing as I felt her pushing me down.
“I spray all my clothes with my body spray. I'll buy you a bottle next time we're in the mall. I figured if you're going to a girl you need something beside old spice..” Jamie said, grinning a little.
“Speaking of old spice..” A male voice yelled.
A moment later I yelled. My head felt like it was on fire. My pain echoed and I wanted to really die. I saw red and my whole body started to tremble. My fingers and my body started to twitch. What the fuck had just happen.
“Sorry.. that's all we had. We need to clean the wounds on your head..” The male voice said looking down. “Y'all should do something with his hair too! He looks like a girl, and I figured that he going to need to get a lift back to town with one of y'all since mom would ask questions if she saw me with him. Plus, with that hair of his, and his blue eyes I think you and Jamie could pass for sisters.”
“I'll take her home.” Jamie said blushing. “I'll tell mom about this and we'll tell her uncle is out of town and his aunt is visiting somebody in Memphis. And I don't want to leave her alone. Mom and dad would want her to stay with us anyway. We have a spare bedroom too. Lily home for college too, so she can help me watch her.”
“What with all this 'Her' and 'She' stuff. I thought Daisy was a boy. A girly looking boy, but a boy nonetheless.” Ben said as he peered toward Jamie.
“Ben.. at this point I'm not sure. But given the way they are dressed. I think it's best if we keep using 'Her' and 'She' at least in our own little group. I'll give Cerridwen a lift.. no scratch that, she stays too. They can share a bedroom. I doubt anything would happen given the..”
“I guess..” Ben said, sighing. “You know, I'll look after them both. Madeline, why don’t you go ahead and send Matthew a text message saying that he and I need to saddle up and ride the bounds. It looks like there is going to be a war before long. And damn I thought all that trouble was behind us. I'm getting too old for all this bullshit, I'm a Junior.”
“Right, just don't end up like Daisy.” Madeline said as she pulled out her phone. “Mom says she got held up in traffic. But she is going to raise hell at the next board meeting with the town selectmen. She blames that wacko pastor down at South Side Baptist Church for getting everybody stirred up.” She said, sighing.
“And I'm going to tell Daddy what happened. Daddy is on the board of directors. I'll tell him what happened. I guess I let my guard down. Daisy was right though, I do sometimes forget that I have certain privileges.”
A dead silence filled the air. And then Jamie bent down and kissed my forehead.
“But I guess God made little sisters to keep us big sisters humble.” She said smiling. “So girls, I need a vote! Pigtails or a braided ponytail!”
“Braid.” I heard Madeline say. “Tie this at the end of the braid.
Through the haze I saw Madeline hand Jamie a ribbon. The ribbon was stripped, the ribbon had two layers of blue, two layers of pink and one middle layer of white. I blinked. I have seen that type of ribbon before and seen that kind of flag flying around Benton before.
“Here Cerridwen I'll braid your hair too.” She paused. “And tie a matching ribbon at the bottom of your braid.” She said as she motioned for Cerridwen to sit down on the ground in front of her.
“Okay..” Jamie said blinking. “I'm not following.” She said as she placed the ribbon to the side. Then saw her reach into her purse and pull out a brush. She then started to brush the tangle mess my hair had become out. I almost purred as she did so, the soothing strokes of the brush did more to ease the pain that any of the foul smelling potions.
“We will all wear our hair braided. All of us will have this ribbon tied to the end of our braids. Us girls anyway.. sorry Matt and Ben but your hair is a bit too short.” Madeline said.
“Why the ribbon?” Cerridwen asked. “I know what the ribbon means, but..”
“Because Daisy might one of us and we want her to feel included. Plus we want to show the bullies that we all stand together! One arrow along can be broken, but when bundle three or more together it's almost impossible for you to break them. I think what Madeline is saying is we are like those arrows, together each of us can be broken. But if we all stand together then none of us can!” Jamie said as she started to braid my hair. I felt tears starting to form at the edge of my eyes.
“Each bruise Cerridwen.” Ben said as she leaned over and peered down at me. “Was a bloody red badge of courage. Each bruise is proof of I guess I'll say her courage. That ribbon, though I guess shows she belongs to a sisterhood.”
“Jamie?” I think I heard Madeline say as she peered toward Ben.
“Yes?” Jamie seemed a bit on edge.
“Make sure Ben marries you and not some other guy.” Madeline paused. “I think you struck gold when you stumbled upon him.” Madeline said grinning. “Anyway we've done all we can. So we either take her Jamie's and let her rest. Or we take her to Kind Slaughter's Hospital, and let them put her through the ringer.”
“King Slaughter's Hospital?” I said finally managing to open my eyes enough to see where I was. “Why do y'all call it that.” I said, shivering a little. Jamie's sleeping clothes felt nice and comfortable. And smelled really nice too. Looking down I noticed I did kind of look like a girl, though I would have wanted something more loose fitting, light a cotton nightgown or something.
“Cause, it's a slaughter house. Everybody in Benton has their own King Slaughter's horror story. Mine came when I just moved here around five years ago. I was helping Kayla clean out a barn when I stumbled into a nest of Red Wasp and they stung shit out of me. Anyway long story short she drove me to the ER and I spent nine and a half hours waiting around. And when they finally saw me, they kept throwing up my dead name like it was some kind of sport.” Madeline said with a sigh.
“We're not taking her to King Slaughter's..” Cerridwen said. “I hate that place!”
“Dead named you too?” Madeline said with a grin. “They love to do that to us transgender kids. I would have her taken there just so she can get checked out. But given how she dressed right now. And how well we've gone and bandaged her up. I think the most they will do is give her a handful of pills and send her up the river to Jackson way. You know the head doctor down there, he gets kick backs for every person he sends to Jackson to get their head looked at.”
“What?” I said I was barely catching a word in ten.
“I'm saying the head doctor would take one look at you sweet pea, and say you're confused in the head that you need a proper haircut and need to man up. He would then use his power as a doctor to have you strapped down and put in the back of a flying meat wagon and next thing you know, you will be locked up in a room covered with pillows and wearing a jacket that makes you hug yourself. And all of that pretty hair would have been cut from y'all head.” Madeline said with a shrug of her shoulder.
“Anyway..” Jamie said.. “Let get our sister home.”
“I'll carry her..” Cerridwen.
“What won't she be too heavy for you?” I heard Madeline ask as she peered toward Cerridwen.
“She is my heroine.” Cerridwen said. A few seconds later I felt her lifting me up. I did not know she was that strong but she carried me in her arms. Without thinking I started to nuzzle into the crook of her arms.
“She is a heroine to us all.” Jamie said smiling.
“She is one tough cookie for sure. Little too much pepper at times. But what can you do, I guess we need to work on curving that a little.” I shifted my eyes toward Madeline and then closed them.
“But I agree with Cerridwen and Jamie, she is a heroine to all of us. She stood up for what she believed in, took one heck of a whooping for it, and yet she was still standing. She has plenty of grit, and as my mom would say 'She's full of piss and vinegar'. I don't agree with that saying now. But y'all know my mom is just a simple old fashioned farm girl Grandmother worried herself into the grave trying to make her a proper southern belle.” Madeline added.
“She's going to need all that fire for the task ahead I'm afraid. But we've all been through the ringer. This big old word has tried it best to force us to be something we knew we were not. And like Jamie said, we're not alone in this fight. We have each other to lean on. And some mighty fine fellows, true gentleman of the south they are. But still, each of us are sisters. And she is the newest sister.”
That was the last thing I remember hearing. I fell asleep soon after. Little had I known that I might have taken the first few steps to becoming who I'd wanted to be all along. I still have that cord of ribbon they tied around my braid. And I've since ordered a full size flag in the same colors to hang on the wall of my bedroom. It is a symbol for me, a badge of honor more sacred to me than I've earned as a scout. Because it connects me to a world wide sisterhood.
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