Freshman Chris Carter knew his life would take on new directions and challenges, but he has no concept of what lies before him when he steps foot on the small college campus in Shreveport, LA. His simple, safe and structured world of black and white is quickly turned into shades of gray as he must deal with an entrenched fraternity system, sexual involvement that violates his strict Baptist upbringing, and what literally become life-altering and life-threatening decisions. An unwilling participant in the many forms that bullying takes, Chris' life is totally transformed in nine short months. His journey takes place in a time of presumed innocense sandwiched between the sexual awakening of the 50's and the sexual revolution of the 70's, a time affected greatly by uncontrollable external forces.
Drawing The Line is alarmingly intense, often humurous,highly sensual with adult situations and a realistic snapshot of today's Baby Boomer's life in the 60's. Boomers will surely pass on this book to the next generation so they will realize that there are some things that never change.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)|
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Drawing The Line
By Leonard Critcher
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Leonard Critcher
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFall, 1963
The pungent smell of pine was as oppressive as the stained, white pillow case that covered his head. Even though it was a cool October night, Chris Carter could feel the trickles of perspiration work their way slowly down his face until they disappeared in the drenched collar of his torn tee shirt. His loosely bound hands were resting between the small of his back and the rough bark of the tree he was resting his bruised body against. The ride had lasted for what had seemed like an eternity, but his rational mind told him it had likely been no more than thirty minutes.
The blur of events that had brought him to this unknown place were now coming back to him as he tried to free his perspiring hands from the constraints. Before he had fully awakened from a deep sleep he was lying face down on his single bed with his face buried in his pillow, someone straddling his waist while his hands were being bound and his ankles encircled with rope. Using every bit of strength his athletic body could muster, he had been able to raise his head slightly only to have his assailants cover his eyes with a strip of torn material then force his head back down in to the recesses of the pillow. A whispered warning, delivered so close to his ear that he could smell the rancid odor of stale beer, told him to not fight the inevitable. As the adrenalin that had kicked in spontaneously slowly subsided he relaxed his muscles, looking for any opportunity for escape. There was none.
He had been pulled roughly from the bed, stood up straight on his bound feet while his pillow case was being pulled over his blindfolded eyes. Two sets of large, strong hands had encircled his torso while another set had lifted his legs in to the air. The sensation of blood rushing to his covered head had told him he was being carried down the three flights of stairs. He remembered car doors opening and being pushed in to the empty backseat. The eerie silence had been broken only by heavy breathing, his and the two occupants in the front seat.
After being pulled from the cramped back seat he had been helped to his feet, his legs wobbly from riding in a fetal position. While two hands helped him gain his balance, he felt the back of the pillowcase lifted just enough for the blindfold to be removed. The circulation was returning to his legs, and the increased blood flow gave him the confidence to ask, "You pricks mind telling me where I am and what's going on?"
There was no response, only the sound of feet moving on pine straw. In an instant the rope had been removed from his ankles, and for the first time since the ordeal had begun Chris felt cautious optimism about his plight. He had sensed a presence in front of him, and for a brief moment considered striking out with his freed right foot. Before he could shift his weight two hands grasped his arms from behind, and a breathy whisper had told him, "Don't even think about it, Carter."
As the hands were slowly removed Chris broadened his stance for greater balance. His breathing had become deeper as the anger welled up inside him, his fists clenched in a futile effort of revenge. The rapid crackling of footsteps on the pine straw and car doors opening and closing had told him he would soon be alone. He had taken a deep breath as the engine started and the car slowly made its way through the forest of trees, headed for some unknown highway.
The silence surrounding Chris was at first deafening, but the sounds of the night began to engulf his senses. The melodic chirpings of crickets ceased as suddenly as they began. The eerie tranquility was interrupted with subtle rustling sounds, coming first from his right then behind him. Chris tensed every muscle in his six foot, two inch body, knowing his vulnerability to what was watching him. He had shuffled his feet backwards, one small step at a time, until he felt the girth of the pine tree.
He had known his first priority was regaining his sight. With his hands tied behind his back he had to find another way to free himself from the pillowcase. A sixth sense had led him slowly away from the tree toward an invisible bramble bush that had started its life as a seed carried by a passing bird many years before. As he got closer to the unseen thorny plant Chris could feel his heart racing, as much from the possibility of relief as from not knowing what might be lurking in or around it. He had instinctively recoiled when a thorn pierced the skin on his right forearm then turned slowly around so he could gauge the height. Carefully he had backed in to the bush, wincing as more thorns pierced his exposed arms and his tee shirt. Chris had felt only the cool night air on the top half of his back. He knew this would work.
Moving ever so slightly away from the bush, he had spread his legs for support and tensed his thigh muscles. In his mind he had done a simple calculation and lowered his body to where he thought the top of the bush would be parallel to his shoulders and then backed the inch and a half gap between him and what he hoped would give him relief. The thorns that had pierced his back and arms felt like a thousand needles. After uttering an obscenity Chris said a quick prayer, leaned forward and slowly knelt toward the ground. He had felt the pillowcase press against his face, and as his body got closer and closer to the ground the stained, white material remained stationary, attached to the brambles. His knees were eight inches from the musky forest floor when his head broke free. Thinking quickly he had turned his right shoulder down to absorb the fall.
The dampness of rotted foliage had penetrated his tee shirt and momentarily soothed the red whelps caused by the thorns. When his breathing had become normal again, Chris maneuvered himself in to a sitting position and slowly surveyed his surroundings. The light from the full moon had shined through the multitude of limbless trees like dozens of flashlights, teasing him with the hope for a way out.
Chris had rocked backwards, then forward, then back once again before using his chiseled calf muscles to propel him in to a standing position. He turned and looked back at the bramble bush and saw the pillowcase, now a crumpled heap, still attached to the thorns. He had made his way to the large pine tree and rested his weariness against the bark.
The sounds of the forest resumed their orchestrated melody but were suddenly interrupted by the distant but distinct sound of voices. Chris cocked his ear toward what he hoped was the direction of the muffled interchange and started walking as he listened.
Innately cautious for most of the eighteen years of his life, Chris approached the sounds slowly. He had been raised by a mother, who in many ways had coddled both him and his younger brother, and a father whose erratic work schedule at a steel mill in Pasadena, Texas left the day to day guidance of raising his sons to his wife. As the sounds became audible his mother's many admonitions about everything that can go wrong rang out in his mind.
With his hands still tethered behind him and his tee shirt now soaked from his exertions, he slowly made his way up a small rising, moving from tree to tree as if they would be barriers to harm. As Chris neared the top of the rising he dropped to his knees and crawled awkwardly toward the sounds that now seemed no more than thirty yards away. He angled his approach toward a scrub tree that he hoped would keep him concealed from what lay ahead.
The scene before him was surreal. The first thing he recognized was the truck, but his attention was quickly drawn to the prone body writhing in pain on the ground. The knees were drawn up almost to the waist, and the hands had disappeared between tightly clenched thighs. A long piece of rope was attached to one of the ankles, and as the body would flip from side to side it looked like a snake trying to escape a predator. His first instinct was to yell out at the two figures bending over the prone body, hoping the surprise of an angry witness to the scene would cause their retreat. His mother's admonitions overrode his emotion.
He saw one of the figures lower his head to the prone body and then stand upright to a height of at least six feet, six inches. He nodded at the other, who, when he stood fully erect, was taller than the first. The two walked slowly to the truck, each turning once to glance back at the now still body on the ground. He knew who they were, and his anger began welling up inside him again.
After the truck lights had disappeared Chris maneuvered himself to a standing position and waited for the blood to return to his cramped legs before traversing the distance between his hiding place and the bound body. He saw the body jerk, tense and attempt to look in his direction as the sound of the pine straw under his feet became evident. Chris called out from twenty feet away, "Don't be scared. I'm here to help you."
The body responded immediately, "Who the hell are you?" Chris recognized the voice immediately.
"Eddie, it's Chris Carter. Hang loose, buddy. You OK?"
Chris was close enough to his friend, Eddie, to see his body relax and the bound hands reappear from between his thighs. As he raised himself from the ground he said, "Man, am I glad to see you!"
Despite the circumstances, Chris couldn't help but chuckle when he responded, "See me? You can't see squat! You're blindfolded, you idiot!" There was a short silence before the two friends broke out in simultaneous laughter, giving each much needed relief to what they had just endured.
When they stopped laughing reality set back in. Chris had eyes and legs; Eddie was blindfolded with his hands and arms tied in front of him in such a way that he could not raise them above his chest, which explained why the blindfold was still in place. Chris' organized mind kicked in to gear. "Eddie, we've got some work to do. First off, you OK? I saw you holding the family jewels."
Clenched teeth replaced the momentary laughter when he answered, "Yea, I'm OK now. When those bastards got me out of the back of the truck I tried something stupid. I had loosened the rope from one of my legs and as soon as I got my balance I took off running. Right in to the back fender. Hurt like hell."
"Sorry, man. Listen. Here's what we're gonna do. First thing is to get that blindfold off you. My hands are tied behind my back, so you're gonna have to get on your knees so I can back up to you and untie that thing."
Eddie was serious when he said, "Just make sure of two things, that you back up to me and don't fart." They laughed a second time. It took Chris several minutes to loosen the tightly tied piece of material. When Eddie's sight was restored, the next step was for him to start untying Chris' hands. Luckily, they were bound loosely and relief came within a couple of minutes. Chris then returned the favor, and ten minutes after Eddie's abductors had driven off they were free from their constraints, each contemplating to himself what to do next.
The sounds of the forest returned, and Chris broke the silence that hovered between them, "Got any idea where we are? And, don't say, in a pine forest."
"Not a clue. North Louisiana pine forests are a little foreign to a Houston boy."
Eddie Cantu, who had been raised in the small, central Louisiana city of Leesville, didn't know either. The two of them had pledged the same fraternity the first week of college and had quickly formed a friendship strengthened with many hours competing in pickup basketball games at the college gym. They had caught the eye of the freshman basketball coach, who invited them to try out for the team. Centenary's freshman team was made up of five highly recruited players and three walk-ons. The coach needed two more bodies, and the two athletic freshmen fit the bill.
The new recruits had not been welcomed with open arms from the other eight team members, who had all endured the annual ritual of being humiliated with customized, atrocious haircuts by the varsity team. Forced by tradition to sport their new dos until after the freshmen-varsity game was held, they had all been recipients of good-natured but hurtful ridicule. Chris and Eddie had not been afforded the same treatment as their heads had been ceremoniously shaved to the scalp during class registration along with every other freshman boy. The two had quickly felt the brunt at their first team practice, both being the recipients of well placed elbows and unnecessarily hard fouls.
Chris was leaning his six foot, two inch body against the truck of a large pine tree watching his friend pace back and forth, shaking his arms loosely in front of him, encouraging the blood flow to pick up the pace. Without stopping he asked Chris, "What happened to you?"
Chris shrugged his shoulders and said, "Probably the same thing. Pounced on in the middle of a great dream, tied up, blindfolded and dumped wherever we are." Eddie just nodded then said, "Any idea of who they were and why?"
Chris nodded his head, pulled himself away from the tree and answered, "Yep. Recognized them right off. Two of our illustrious teammates. There were three that got me, but only two hauled my ass out here. The why is easy to figure out. Newbies need to be subjected to some form of good old athletic hazing."
Eddie looked around him and asked, "What do we do now?" Chris started walking in the direction the truck had taken and answered, "As far as those assholes, nothing now. As far as getting back to campus let's head that way and see if we can get some sense of where we are."
The two friends walked about fifteen minutes along the single lane road used by logging trucks, being careful to avoid the numerous potholes created by the overloaded trucks. The road took a sharp turn to the right, and twenty feet ahead was a two lane highway. A sign told them it was a farm to market highway but little else. "Which way?" asked Eddie. Chris responded, "Have no clue." He held up his hand, then said, "Be quiet a minute and see if we can hear any cars."
At first the only sounds they heard were the nocturnal ones coming from the woods behind them. In an excited voice, Eddie said, "Listen! That way. I heard something." Without speaking they both began walking briskly toward what they hoped was civilization. They had walked no more than five minutes when two headlights appeared suddenly. Ignoring his mother's voice in his head, Chris began waving his arms at the approaching vehicle, hoping whoever was out at this time of night could see them in the darkness. As the lights got closer they could see it was a pick-up that had seen its better day. It slowed then came to a stop a few feet away. They heard the creak of the window being lowered and saw an arm then a head stick out.
A deep voice broke the silence of the night, "What you boys doing out here this time of night?" Chris walked tentatively toward the voice, and the moonlight revealed a large black face with a two day growth of salt and pepper whiskers. The full lips showed no emotion while waiting on Chris' answer.
Chris stayed a good four feet from the open window, Eddie two steps behind him. Chris was the first to speak, "Evening, sir. My name is Chris Carter. My friend and I are both students at Centenary." The reference seemed to mean nothing to the expressionless face. He went on, "We got dumped out here by some guys at the school. Do you know where we are?" As soon as he asked the question he realized how dumb it was. Of course, he knew where they were.
The face stayed silent as the driver of the truck looked at them for what seemed an eternity. Finally, he spoke, "Centenary, huh? Know that place. I did a little work for them a few years back. Good folks there. As far as where you are, it sure ain't Shreveport, closer to Logansport I reckon." Chris and Eddie looked at each other, neither of them having heard of a place named Logansport. The face began again, "I'm headed toward Shreveport for work. Don't think I gots time to drive you all the way to the college, but I can drop you off near downtown. Jump in the back."
Without looking at the other for agreement, Chris and Eddie walked quickly to the pickup and climbed in to the bed. The deep voice called out to them, "Name's John, Big John. You boys hold on to something. Gotta move it before I'm late."
Excerpted from Drawing The Line by Leonard Critcher Copyright © 2011 by Leonard Critcher. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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