RUNAWAY By Eva Marie Cagley

Updated: Feb 10

Guest writer

Imagine being sixteen all over again back in March 1974. On the run, hitchhiking from state to state. That’s exactly what I did. Back in the seventy’s, it wasn’t uncommon to hitchhike. While it was dangerous, it wasn’t illegal in most states, and you didn’t hear of too many tragic stories. I’d never hitchhiked before, but I remember my father giving rides in the back of his old blue pickup truck to hitchhikers. I always thought that was super nice of him.

I wasn’t happy at home. Two weeks prior to running away, I had gotten grounded for missing a ride to get pizza after a basketball game. My father didn’t believe I ever went to the game, much less want to go for pizza. It’s true I was known to lie on occasion to save myself from consequences. But this time I was telling the truth. Upon arriving at home, my father proceeded to take his belt off and spank me with it over his knee. I was stubborn and refused to cry in front of him, so he kept hitting me until my mother told him it was enough! Naturally afterward, I went upstairs to my room and cried my eyes out.

I had a rage inside of me after that. Oh, he held his temper most of the time with me, but I was sweet sixteen. I was too old to be spanked. That wasn’t the only reason I ran, though there were several. There was the sexual abuse I endured during my childhood as well. For the sake of not harming the innocent, I will not mention who molested me, only that it was a family member. I had major trust issues all my childhood. And this was just one more kink in the chain.

I had a boyfriend back then that used to hitchhike all over the country. So, when he asked me if I wanted to go with him, the answer came easy for me. Yes, I wanted to leave and get away from everything! I never really gave it much thought I was reacting to my environment.

I had just gotten off being grounded for two weeks after the last fiasco. So, I called my dad up and asked permission to go to the shopping center with a friend. He him- hawed around, but I finally got a yes out of him. Well, I did go to her house, but from there I left town with my boyfriend Basil. Basil was short like me, about five’5, and had short brown hair. He had muscles that looked like he’d been lifting 250 lb. weights. Huge and firm. His skin tones a bronze color that glowed in the sunshine. I thought I was in love! Looking back, I realize I had no idea what love was all about.

I thought it would be an adventure. It started pouring down rain before we ever left town, but the first Simi truck that stopped was going to Rockwell, Illinois. So, we accepted it as we had no destination set. We both had little money, and I only had a small bag of clothes with me. I remember Basil having me sit by the huge truck passenger side door. He always sat in the middle. My stomach started hurting and I could feel the fear as I swallowed the lumps in my throat. My heart was racing a mile a min like a train moving down a track. He did carry a big buck knife with him for protection that he showed me after we had gotten into the truck. Just in case! It gave me a sense of assurance; I had never ridden in a Simi before. It was so giant! I had trouble getting up into the slate-gray cab. After all, I’m only five’2 inches. I had long brown hair, blue eyes, and was petite all of 110 lbs.

The truck driver that picked us up was nice! When we pulled over for gas, he bought us both something to eat. I felt so alone at that time and helpless. Not even having any money for food. I started to have second thoughts about having run, but I was more afraid of facing my father’s wrath. The consequences for leaving in the first place were so scary that I remained silent, keeping my thoughts to myself. Basil, on the other hand, seemed very relaxed, and that gave me a sense of security.

He dumped us off at a truck stop in Rockford, Illinois. It was still pouring down rain, and we went up to the interstate, stuck our thumbs out, and waited for another ride. We were lucky. After about a half-hour, a red car came by and stopped. “Where are you heading they asked?” “Where are you going?” Basil replied. “Just so happens we are going to Batesville, Missouri!” Basil then told him that was great we were heading that way. So, we got in the car and, once again, I sat by the passenger door. I remained quiet through the ride as Basil continued a conversation with the guy driving. He was heading to see his mother and daughter. She lived with her grandmother in Missouri. I shivered and just sat there, staring out the window. My clothes were still dripping wet from standing in the rain and my thoughts were a mile away from there, wondering what my parents were thinking. By now, they figured out I had run away.

© Eva Marie Cagley

To be continued:

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