is a sunny day in September 1970, and I am in the seventh grade.
At lunchtime I walk home like I often do, to fix myself some lunch.
School is just across the back yard and through a field, and today
the skies are clear and blue.
My mother is not at home but thats no problem. Im
in the kitchen frying a hamburger, when I hear a strange noise,
a howling, screeching type sound. What is it? My heart pounds
I think it is my cat I think Thomasina has been
hit by a car and Im terrified to look. I cannot bear to
see her dead. The howling and screeching sound continues, but
it is muffled by the traffic on our busy downtown street in Lawrenceburg,
Soon I see Thomasina perched on the windowsill, and I wonder again
about the sound. What was it? Relieved that my cat is okay, I
walk next door to Flippos Service Station, my grandfathers
business, to see if my mother is there. Sometimes she keeps the
station for my grandfather, Bampy, while he goes home
Out in the middle of North Military Avenue, Mr. Honeycutts
milk truck is parked catty-cornered and this is strange. I walk
inside the gas station and see my mother propped up against the
counter, covered in blood. I can see no skin on her head or face;
it is literally slathered with blood. On the concrete floor beneath
her feet lies a large puddle of fresh red blood.
Shes been hit by the milk truck, I think to myself. Her
eyes are closed but she is not crying she looks almost
unconscious but I know she is awake because I see her eyelashes
flutter. She looks like a wounded movie star in a faraway land,
about to drift off to sleep. Even in her bloodied and altered
state, there is glamour.
I stare at her and panic my thoughts race and I vaguely
recall men out in the parking lot rushing around doing something.
She is standing alone and I wonder, How is she standing? What
is holding her up? I just stand there fixated on her, and then
I run away.
I run back behind the station to Mabels Beauty Shop and
try to call my grandparents but they do not answer. I then decide
to call my aunt, but the only telephone number I can recall at
this point is our phone number from when we lived in Huntsville,
Alabama, four years earlier.
I run back to school through the same blue skies and open field,
not knowing I am in shock. I go into the restroom and no one is
there. A girl comes in and I tell her to go get Rhonda, my best
friend. The next thing I remember is our principal, Mr. Woneal
Jones, taking me home and parking his car in front of the station
at the scene of the crime. By then an ambulance has rushed my
mother to the hospital.
My mother had around one hundred stitches in her head but she
was going to live, the doctors said. William Wesley Goad had gone
into the gas station while my grandfather was away. Hed
asked for the restroom key and my mother had reached up to get
it off the wall. When shed turned back around, he was pointing
a gun at her and telling her to open the safe, but she told him
she didnt know the combination. He then started hitting
her over the head with his pistol, and she started screaming.
It was the sound of my mothers screams that I had heard.
While I was frying a hamburger and worrying about my cat, William
Wesley Goad was slamming her head with a pistol, over and over.
When Goad began to pistol whip my mother, her screams alarmed
him and made him hit her even harder. She then started kicking
herself against his body to scoot herself into the wide open space
of the asphalt out front, and he panicked. Her screams and her
strength unnerved him and he fled.
It was Mr. Honeycutt, the milkman, who had helped my mother inside
and propped her up like a Barbie doll against the counter inside
the building. When he drove by and saw what was happening, he
stopped his milk truck in the middle of the street and jumped
out. A local man had also been driving by and gotten Goads
license plate. The police caught him at Rockdale Hill, close to
where he lived with his parents.
My mother recovered physically but she was always anxious after
the attack. She stayed inside more and she had nightmares about
Goad. Before shed drift off to sleep at night, shed
see his face hovering above hers, holding a pistol that was about
to slam into her head.
I saw it, too. It is indeed traumatic to witness your mother with
her head and face drenched in red, standing over a puddle of blood
that has already drained from her body. It is only now that I
fully realize this was not a routine event at all, although at
the time it snapped quickly back in place with the rest of my
We later found out Goad had been in my grandfathers service
station before, and he knew when my mother would be there alone.
He knew she would turn and stand on her tiptoes to get the restroom
key from the nail on the wall, and that when she turned back around
to give it to him hed be sticking a gun in her face. The
whole thing was planned except for the screams.
The unanticipated screams changed the course of everything
they derailed Goad and saved my mothers life. I can still
hear them rattling around in my brain like a rickety old ride
in a scary house, bouncing off spider webs and smiling skeletons.
You never know what youll do in certain situations, and
screaming can get you killed. But a scream is a powerful thing
that evokes fear and panic in even a criminal mind. No one wants
to hear a full-fledged human scream directed straight at them
because it is scary. Primitive terror, hurled into the recipient
Ive heard there are two types of people in this world
those who flee and those who face the music. William Wesley Goad
and I both fled on that September day in 1970, due to the echo
of my mothers screams.
All alone in his cell at Brushy Mountain, Ill bet he stills
hear them, too.
Note: My late mother, Patty Pollock, was William Wesley Goads
first known victim. She died of a brain aneurysm in 1987, but
her death was not related to the attack.
William Wesley Goad went on to rob and kill many other victims,
and was at one time sentenced to Death Row at Riverbend Prison
Goad served in Vietnam, and upon his return, his behavior changed
drastically. Due to a previously undiagnosed condition of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder, he later received a resentencing hearing,
and is now sentenced for life at Brushy Mountain Prison.
I do not hate William Wesley Goad, nor do I excuse his behavior.
Perhaps we will meet in Heaven someday; we have already met in
Hell. Julie Gillen
Lee Pollock is a seventh grade English teacher in Columbia,
Tennessee. She also writes feature stories for area newspapers,
and she has just completed her first novel. In addition, she writes
short stories and songs, and she is a member of ASCAP.
Julia Lee Pollock