Rex Allen Beaumont Jr. (T-Rex) as a young man
“Pick up those post hole diggers and get to work. I want every one of these posts in place before you come in for supper. Do you hear me?” The voice giving the directions was hard and harsh.
“Yes, sir.” T-Rex didn’t argue. He never argued with his father. He knew better. Rex Beaumont Sr. would not hesitate to knock T flat of his ass for talking back to him. Digging the holes was no problem, the work needed to be done and he would do it. A fence across this section would keep the pigs his father wanted to buy from escaping into the swamp. The barrier might keep the gators from getting to the pigs, but T doubted it. A worry he knew to keep to himself.
As he worked, he let his mind wander to what he would do when he was finally able to get the hell out of this place. T dreamed of going to New Orleans, maybe getting work on a tugboat or on a construction crew of some kind. Anything to get away from his old man.
Thunk! Thunk! He pounded the sharp edges of the tool into the dense gumbo clay, forcing the blades deeper, then tugging them out. “Dammit!” With each time pass he stopped to scrape away the thick, sticky mud, there was just no shaking it off. The clay clung to the steel like despair clung to his soul. Over and over he repeated the process, placing half a dozen posts before he stopped to wipe the sweat from his brow and grab some water. As he drank deeply, he let his eyes rove around the swamp he loved so well.
What a shame he’d have to leave a place he cherished to escape a reality he hated.
T knew every square inch of this vast, green, water-logged expanse as well as he knew the back of his hand. He knew the banks where the big alligators basked in the sun and the trees the big snakes seemed to favor. He often took his sister, Alice, on long walks down to the inlet to see the herons nesting, and he gathered his mother beautiful flowers where the hidden fields of purple iris grew.
Anything to get out of the house when his father, Big Rex, was home.
Unfortunately, leaving, keeping his distance, came with a hidden cost. When he was gone, he wasn’t there to protect his mother and sister from his father’s angry fists.
As he mused about the harsh realities of his life, he fanned a mosquito away from his face, his eyes scanning the area. Just standing still in this one place, he could see an array of life on the bayou. The bump of a bull gator’s eyes and forehead broke the surface of the slow-moving waters. A few yards away, a big, black, coach whip snake lay draped over a cypress knee, still as a stick, waiting for a frog to come hopping by. Even closer, a dragonfly buzzed around a palmetto bush, the creature’s iridescent wings reflecting shades of opalescent pink and blue in the dazzling light of the sun.
Draining the water bottle, he tossed it into a nearby wheelbarrow, the sudden noise causing the snake to slither away and the gator to sink beneath the green water. Only the dragonfly seemed unperturbed by his presence. T picked up the post hole diggers to go back to work, when he heard it…
“T-Rex, help me!” His sister’s scream flew from the front porch of their Louisiana swamp house straight to his ears.
At the desperate, heart-rending sound, T started running, post hole diggers in hand. Knowing his father and the rampages he was capable of throwing, the sharp tool might come in handy. “Alice!” he yelled, mainly to let her know he was coming to her as fast as he could. He jumped over palmetto bushes, bounded over bogs, and splashed through shallow water. As he ran, he startled a nutria rat, causing it to rush into the bayou with a splash.
T might be only sixteen, but he was almost a match for his father – almost. Big Rex was a bull of a man, six-foot six, three-hundred pounds. He had three inches and a hundred pounds on his son, but what advantage Rex might have in bulk, T claimed the upper-hand in youth and speed. “Alice!”
When he erupted from the dense undergrowth into the clearing behind his family’s home, he could hear the ruckus. The slaps and blows his father was doling out on his hapless sister rang loudly in the stark, Louisiana, midday heat. “Stop!” he bellowed, rounding the corner. “Stop, Dad!” Now, he could see it wasn’t only Alice in the eye of the storm, his mother was doing her best to stop him, yanking at his arm, earning herself a blow and a fierce push to the ground.
“Stay out of this, woman!” Big Rex snarled.
The closer T came, the hotter his anger grew. Alice barely weighed a hundred pounds, and his father was jerking her around like a rag doll. “If I catch you with that no-count Wilson boy again, I’ll kill him.”
“Daddy, no. We didn’t do nuthin’,” Alice protested weakly between sobs.
Her protest only earned her another punch, a punch so hard she fell backwards off the porch. T raced to catch her, but arrived only in time to help his sister to her feet. “Are you okay?” Alice was a year and a half older than him, yet he towered over her. “God, your lip is bleeding, sis.”
“I’m okay,” she murmured softly. “It’s nothing.”
“Wait and see what I do to her next time,” Big Rex growled.
Having all he could stomach of his father’s cruel tirade, T steadied his sister, then jumped on the porch and seized Big Rex by the shoulders before he could go for his wife. “Stop it! What’s wrong with you? We’re your family!” Holding the big man was like trying to hang onto a mad grizzly.
“Wrong with me?” the older man bellowed. “What’s wrong with you? Are you disrespecting your old man again?” Rex fought free from his son’s grasp and pulled back his fist. His mother, frail and weeping, grabbed her husband’s arm, only to have him fling her to one side like so much garbage. “Get off me, bitch!”
“No! Enough!” Hurt and devastated beyond belief, T just wanted it all to stop. “You’re not going to keep doing this!” Launching himself at his father, T grabbed him around the shoulders and attempted to wrestle the big man to the ground.
“Fuckin’ little upstart!” With a hard yank, Rex tossed T to one side, but instead of walking off, he stalked forward. “You don’t interfere in my business. Do you understand? I brought you into this world and I can take you out.” Taking his son by the collar, Big Rex rammed a fist into T’s face so hard that everything went black.