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Woman with the Hoofed Feet
Sidi Benzahra

Dreamscapes Story of the Month' 03

John Erickson and his "wife," Kim, lived in a farmhouse, two miles off Highway 90, not very far from Murdo, South Dakota. They had eighty acres of land, a dozen of cows, about two dozens of pigs, a horse, some chickens, and no children.

Kim was young and beautiful–about twenty–and John was almost twice her age. Kim had the face of an angel and the hair of a princess from an imaginative kingdom. But that year before, she had gone through a calamity. In a collision with a semi, she had lost her brother, both of her parents, and half of her right leg. It was told that the semi had come speeding, carrying lumber and pipes from Canada, and knocked their car off the highway, and thrown it upside down into a deep ditch, and kept on moving. Her parents had never had any insurance and the semi and its driver had never been seen ever since. Now, Kim and her dog, slim, were the only one left in the family.

John was a sick-in-the-head man. He was afflicted with schizophrenia and paranoia. Afflicted by violent mood swings, and no psychologists or psychiatrists in Murdo, or the whole state of South Dakota, had been able to explain the reason of this anomaly. Sometimes he would be quiet and nice like an old librarian, and other times, God saves us, clouds of sin would come upon him, and he would snap like a switch and stare at Kim with his big red eyes and hit her so hard that she would fall on bed, weeping loudly.

John had been a friend of Kim's father for so many years, and when Kim had been only nine, John had once grabbed her from the back of her neck, when she had been in the barn, milking a cow, and thrown her on a hay stack like a pet and raped her between her legs so no blood could be seen. He had threatened her with a large knife, placing it two inches away from her small, scared face, and warned her that if she had had to tell her parents or somebody else about it, he would have to kill her and her family and bury all of them in a mass grave in his big red barn. Kim had been scared green ever since she had seen that big of a knife, flashing before her big blue eyes.

Fearing retaliation, she had embedded all of that bad memory in the back of her mind and had never tried to dig up for it and tell the truth to anyone. Even Slim, who wouldn't understand a thing about human affairs, she thought, wasn't told about that routine rape.

John had kept on raping Kim whenever he had gone to visit her father, and his visits had been occurring so often. Whenever his testicles gave him a tingle, he would come for a visit.
Several months after some people had buried her parents and brother over the hill in Willington Cemetery, John had taken Kim to Murdo's Methodist Church and married her automatically. No questions were asked, no rice was thrown, no kisses were blown, and no rings were exchanged.

The government had paid for an artificial leg for Kim, but then, fearing she would walk straight and leave him alone in his farmhouse, John had snatched her artificial leg away from her body and sliced it with his chain saw like a lobe of ham. Kim couldn't call anybody, for they had no phone back then, and therefore settled in with her two wooden crutches.

Kim hated John, but she had never thought of killing him, for she believed that killing somebody in thought is the same as committing a crime. She also believed that if she had killed him, the Holy Ghost would have to come down from the heavens above and fork her from her breasts and throw her in hell and she would never be able to meet her parents and brother in heaven.
She was very gullible and a nice Christian girl, one might say, but John would care less about her God or about her Christianity. He would just beat her whenever he wanted to, and interrupted her whenever she wanted to complain or explain herself. And sometimes when he would come drunk, smelling like a pig, he would lie down on top of her, all two hundreds pounds of him, and rape her as hard as he could and then go to sleep in his king-size bed. He would snore on her through the night and his breath would stink from heavy drinking.

She would go outside after that rape and cry and cry and look at her severed leg and then into the dark sky, praying for God to come and protect her from this vicious farmer of evil. But no god had come so far for her help, and no new leg of flesh had materialized.

On one leg, she would cook him breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On one leg, she would make up the bed, dust the furniture, and do the dishes for him. He had never had to clean up one cup from coffee stain, or bake one lousy potato for himself.

On one leg, she would tend the rabbits for him, and the chicken, and she would feed the pigs, the horse, the cows, the dog, and even the hamster they got inside that little small cage outside the kitchen door. In short, the poor woman was his slave, his whore, and his cook. And a good cook she was.
Kim once decided to run away to Boston and never see John again. She had heard, somewhere, that in Boston, people sell their art on the streets, go to fancy restaurants to eat, and at night listen to Jazz music in crowded bars. She also heard that people there, go to old colleges, sit in warm, cozy chairs, and study ancient history. She loved to study ancient history.

So while John was drinking and getting wasted in Murdo, Kim was packing her belongings and moving about in the house hurriedly. She put three of her left shoes in a black plastic bag and placed the bag in the corner of her suitcase. She then wrapped a few framed pictures of her family, with two of her old outfits, and placed them on the top of a folded blanket in the middle of her suitcase. She was moving back and forth hastily, crutches knocking on hard-wood floor, eyes looking for valuable things to take with her to Boston. But the only valuable thing that seemed to be in that living room was John's rifle; the big rifle that he would, every now and then, knock down a deer or a goose with, during, or not during the hunting season.

The rifle was hung lonesome on the wall when Kim looked at it. She grabbed it; studied it for a moment; and then unloaded it. She decided to break it down on the grounds that John would use it to shoot her if he found out that she was leaving him. And she knew that he would rather kill her than set her free, if he had to choose between these two choices.

She made sure the rifle was unloaded and placed it on and between two sturdy chairs and slammed it as hard as she could with her crutch. The rifle hardly broke and her crutch bounced back at her, almost hitting her head.
Standing on one leg, Kim pulled a large sledge hammer from the bottom draw of the kitchen counter, scooted over by the two chairs, and lifted the hammer high above her head and swung it steadily down and heavily on the rifle, splitting it into two pieces. She now stood straight and tossed her blond hair back, her eyes were full of anger. She combed her hair with her little white fingers, grabbed one of her crutches and leaned on it, shifting her body like a seal to the far wall where John's large picture was hung. She stared at the picture momentarily and then knocked it hard with her crutch. But the picture only shook violently against the wall, wobbled a little and then settled down, still hanging. Kim then swung her crutch from right to left and hit the picture from the side and the picture fell to the floor, making a crashing sound, glass flying everywhere. She went back to the bed, grabbed her suitcase and went to the door. She looked back to say good-bye to the interior of the house and then pushed the screen door on her way out. The screen door banged behind her and banged again. She now stood on the deck, looking across the distance. She looked up at the moon and then looked down at the corn field and then scrambled down the few stairs and plodded, boosting her crutches forward into the darkness of night.

On the dirt road, she moved heavily, swinging her body between her two crutches, blond hair blowing, suitcase dangling. Her eyes now were fixed on the Zeemanns' farmhouse as she was approaching it.
Mrs. Zeemann, Mary was her first name, was a good friend of Kim's mother. The Zeemanns were poor and always borrowed money and tools from John Erickson. They had been living in their house for a long time now, and their house became old and gray, sand-scoured by the Dakota wind, and buckled under its heavy weight. The ridge of its roof was cracked and arched and, sooner or later, if they couldn't move, the roof would succumb to gravity and collapse on them.
Kim knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" a female voice cried from inside the house.
"It's me, Kim."
"Come on in, Kim," the same voice ordered.
Kim squeaked the door open and got in. She looked tired and withdrawn when she leaned on those crutches, and her blond hair was dangling loosely over her face.
"Kim! What are you doing here?" squawked Mary.
"Is Mr. Zeemann here?" Kim asked.
"No, he isn't," said Mary. "Dick is out in Murdo. Come on in to this room, I'm sewing. I need to finish this piece before Dick comes in."
Kim clacked her crutches to the room behind Mary, and Mary sat down at her sewing machine. The machine was black, foot-operated, and old. Mary started sewing and talking at the same time.
"How is John, Kim?" Mary depressed the treadle with her tendony feet and the needle began to dip up and down, side wheel spinning. The machine was loud, but Kim's voice was so soprano that it could make it through that noise.
"How is-"
"I'm running away to Boston," interrupted Kim.
Mary blocked the treadle; the sewing machine creaked and the side wheel slowed down to a halt.
"What?" Mary's eyes fixed on Kim and her jaw hung.
"I need you to lend me money, Mary. I'll send it back to you in a month. I swear Christ Jesus."
Dick came in. He heard them talking in the room and fell silent. He tip-toed to the door and stuck his ear against it, listening. He knew Kim was there.
Meanwhile, Kim went on. "John beats me all the time, Mary. I had enough. I'm afraid one day he'll kill me. I'm gonna go to Boston and try to go to school. I heard they got good schools in Boston."
Mary started sewing again, needle dipping up and down on fabric and her head nodding with the beats of the machine. "How are you gonna get the money to live on, honey?"
"I don't know," Kim said broodingly. "But I need to borrow three hundred dollars from you, Mary, if you can. Please. I swear Christ Jesus, Mrs. Zeemann, that I'll send it back to you right away."
Dick darted for the exit door, quietly crossed the platform of the deck, and jumped into his pickup and drove silently away to go look for John Erickson.

Mary pulled an old, cylindrical cookie box from underneath the bed, and rummaged inside it for a moment, and then she pulled out three rumpled hundred-dollar bills and one fifty-dollar bill.
"Here!" she said. "This is three-fifty. Make sure you take care of yourself. Fix your leg and find you a good husband. You're very beautiful, Kim. And I mean it."
"Thank you, Mrs. Zeemann." Kim held the four rumpled bills, looked at them with some admiration, and straightened them, pulling them together with her both hands.
"Thank you, Mrs. Zeemann," she said again. "I'll make it up to you, Mrs. Zeemann. I swear, Mrs. Zeemann."
"Go on! Leave before Dick comes. He will tell on you in a minute. I know that slimy chicken; I've been with him for almost thirty years. Thirty damn long years."

Kim poked the three hundred-dollars bills in her jean pocket, hugged Mary tightly, tears in her eyes, and clutched her suitcase and crutches, and head for the door. She carefully clambered down the deck and then walked with her three legs on the dark dirt road. Mary stood on the deck, looking sadly at her, wondering if she could make it in Boston.

The wind was blowing angrily around Kim's head and the moon was shining and watching as Kim was hastily walking. She pressed on for a mile or two. The poor, young woman kept on walking and walking and her hand would get wet and loosen its grip on that heavy suitcase and she would stop, leaning heavily on her crutches, and swing the suitcase clumsily to the other hand and start walking again. The stars in the sky were low and the night was moon-blanched and the dirt road looked purple and dark and very scary. Even though the moon was shining, there was some unexplainable darkness hovering over the field and over the dirt road. And if you looked to the sides of the dirt road, you would see corn fields, hissing and squeaking to the power of the wind.

Kim could hear an engine sound. The sound seemed to be coming in from the back, and approaching in crescendo to an absolute and loud hum. The headlights' were now very bright. Kim turned her head and saw John's Ford pickup. She knew it was his, because the front of the pickup had been dent in a collision with a large deer, when John had once been driving on his way back from Murdo.

Kim started to run as fast as she could now and then realized that she was helpless and that the pickup would catch up with her in a matter of seconds. She helplessly dropped her suitcase onto the dirt road and went crashing into the corn field, her crutches beating the ground and tangling with cornstalks, and her only leg bouncing in the little clearing between the stalks.

John stopped the pickup, killed the engine and ran after her. He was fast and angry as he moved hastily between lines of cornstalks. He reached for her, his face twisting with anger, and grabbed her hair and pulled it so hard that her head jerked back in a snap. Kim grunted and then screamed. Her scream blasted the night, but the nearest farmhouse was so far out to hear, and the corn fields were all around them, vast and long and dark, protecting him, sucking up all the screams. He now pushed her with both arms and she fell forward to the ground and rolled over on her head, her only leg swung over her. She was helpless now. John then picked up one of her crutches and began to swing it at her. Swing it from above his head down to her torso. He was beating on her like a madman. You could hear the thuds of the beating even if you stood as far as the dirt road, and the dirt road was very far. And from here, all you could see in that corn field was the crutch going up for a moment, way up high, and swinging back down, and then going up again. He kept on hitting and whamming, and slamming until she fainted. He then carried her and her crutches to his pickup, her only leg lolling behind his back. He was vicious and mean and his eyes were red with alcohol and anger, when he shoved her in his pickup.

He now pulled the pickup over in front of his house, entered the bedroom, breathing heavily, carrying Kim, and dropped her from his shoulder onto his bed. Like dead meat, Kim fell on her buttocks, leaned backward and her head dropped and sunk onto the pillows, eyes closed.

John went outside to chop up some wood for his woodstove. The house was cold on that night. But, once he descended the deck and, walking, realized that there was a white goat in that darkness of night. The goat was trotting down the hill that loomed across the corn field. John saw the white goat and his eyes widened up like an owl. I wanted it badly, he said to himself. An extra animal to add to my collection, he said again to himself. He was collecting animals like a kid would collect stamps of foreign countries.
He knew his neighbors owned no goats and decided to own this one. So he ran after the white goat and the white goat looked puzzled momentarily and climbed back the hill, trotting, boosting its self up. John ran fast. He zipped through the corn field like a wild pig, and charged on the hill like an athlete in the middle of a cross-country race, and ran a little further down and jumped on the ground right behind the goat and grabbed its hind legs. The goat struggled and complained, but John squeezed its legs so tight that the goat stood still like if it was giving up and wanted to cooperate. John flung up the goat on his shoulders, and the goat relaxed heavily, dangling his head, making John buckle a little.
They scrambled down the hill, their head bouncing, and now they reached the corn field and moved along between the cornstalks.

As they moved along, the goat, for some unknown dark reasons, began to get heavier and heavier till John started to breathe heavily through his mouth. The weight of that beast just kept on growing and growing; and John just kept on walking and buckling, his legs barely could stay straight. He hurried himself now, trying very hard to get the beast to the big red barn and throw it onto hay and turn the key to lock him up. But it wasn't that easy, because the goat was getting heavier and heavier and very fast.

Suddenly, John heard a female voice saying: "Am I too heavy for you?" and John froze in his place. The voice seemed to be coming from the goat. John dropped the goat off his shoulders and started to run as fast as his legs could go. But, he wasn't lucky, because two legs seemed to be running right behind him. He couldn't turn his head, for fear it would be a bad picture; a picture that would make his heart jolt. He kept on running and pumping his arms in that purple night and the two legs kept on running behind him. And now, as he zipped out off the corn field, the woman with the hoofed feet came out with him.

She looked fierce and mean and dirty. Her red hair was on her face and the sockets of her eyes were full of terror. She right away kicked him hard with her right hoof and, before he could even register looking at her, she kicked his face once again. He turned around to run, but she was too quick to even let him turn, and kicked him on his side and John arched sideways, making a painful face. She kicked him again and again on his stomach and John fell like a bag of dirty diapers to the dirt road and the woman stood on him. She was heavy when she stood on him and very mad when she looked at him. She was as mad as somebody who wanted to avenge the torture of Kim. To avenge the suffering he had been inflicting upon that innocent, young woman.

He slithered underneath her hooves and the woman with the hoofed feet pounded on his chest with her big hoof and made him still again. It was like when the lion bites on the Hyena's neck once more, so that it stays still until it dies.

She felt his heart beating against the bottom of her right hoof and with the other hoof she hammered straight on his chest and busted his ribs. She kept on hoofing him until he couldn't breathe anymore. Oxygen around him seemed to have turned into carbon monoxide mixed up with pieces of glass and asbestos. His lungs seemed to have shrunk, shrunk to two small pouches, full of dirty smoke and old, saggy cobwebs. He was squawking when she landed her big hooves on him again. John didn't croak yet, for perhaps, the woman with the hoofed feet didn't want him to die yet. She wanted him to feel an extreme pain.

She bit her tongue as she jumped on his chest, and her right hand became bony and her knuckles stuck out and her fingers turned into claws. She jumped off his chest and bent down and pulled his pants off. John was lain still, but not dead. He could see her working on him, but he was too hurt and too shocked to say anything. He was even too shocked to scream.
She grabbed his penis now, his saggy white penis, and pulled it and stretched it as hard as she could; making his body arch in the middle. She twisted his penis and twisted it and kept on twisting, till John began to beg for the angel of death to come and take him somewhere. Anywhere would be better than where he was at now.

She enveloped his testicles with her claws, her eye sockets staring at him, and tugged at them, popping his balls off the pouch. John lifted his head in pain-that's all he could do-and then dropped it back onto the dust. Blood squirted from his crotch and dripped from her hand. She stood by his face and dropped the testes beside his dead face and saved the skin. She then walked away, leaving his body lying there on the dirt road.

Now her hooves stood on the deck of his house and her right hand turned back to its normal shape. She opened the door and gently closed it behind her so that it wouldn't bang. Slim saw her and sat down politely looking at her as though he was scared. He somehow knew how to behave. The woman with the hoofed feet slowly walked to where Kim was lying and stood by her bed, looking down at her face. The young woman's face was all bruised and she looked she had gained ten years of hardship. Ten years of beating.

Her blond hair was messy and spread on the pillow. Her eyes were closed up and her mouth was slightly open. Her face looked sad as she slept in deep pain, pain of agony and suffering. Her right hand dangled from the bed, pale, veins showing.
The woman with the hoofed feet transformed her face and made it look like that of an angel, an angel who had turned into a Goddess; a Goddess of love. She crouched down and gently held Kim's right hand. She looked sad and withdrawn when tears rolled off her beautiful eyes. Tears rolled and rolled and fell one by one on her white skirt.

Kim opened her eyes and saw this beauty peacefully looking back at her. The woman with the hoofed feet slowly stood up, locking her eyes at Kim and walked backward, smiling as an angel. She then went out the door. Kim tried to lift her upper body, but then she couldn't even find the strength to lift her head. Her head seemed to be as heavy as a large ball of lead. She closed her eyes again and laid there till morning, wind blowing outside her window, Slim lying beside her bed.

© Sidi Cherkawi Benzahra November 2003

Part Two of The Women with Hoofed Feet

My First Kiss
Sidi C Benzahra

Sidi C. Benzahra
I decided to confront my fear and go to the white shack - see all that blood and gore.

Sidi Cherkawi Benzahra
Sidi Benzahra

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