Chapter 4: Discovery

For those who are returning to continue the journey, Welcome back! For those who are just finding us, Welcome to you as well. In the previous sections I have been giving an in-depth analysis of the motion picture Black Snake Moan: By Craig Brewer. It is one of my all time favorites due to it’s bold look at the realities of Anxiety & PTSD that so many abuse survivors have. This particular story also has some resemblances to a Missing Child case from Palatka, FL. The little girl who is missing is Haleigh Cummings. She is now 6 yrs old and has been missing since Feb 10 2009. She was last seen in the care of her father, Ronald Cummings,live-in girlfriend/babysitter Misty Croslin. It is Ms. Crosiln nee Cummings that I find so similar to Rae. It has been reported that Misty had spent the prior weekend in the company of another man, Greg Page who also resembles a character in this film. Both Nay-Nay, Misty’s friend, and Greg admit there were several different drugs and alcohol used that weekend. The trio are so familiar to me I start to wonder if it is a coincidence. Could Haleigh have been hidden so that Ron, Misty, and Greg come out looking like Ronnie, Rae, and Tehronne? Thereby exposing Misty’s infidelity and putting her in a bad Spot light? Anything, at this point, seems possible. If so, then the next questions would be who? and Why? There are several possibilities.

Our last segment left off with Rae being beaten, bloody, and unconscious laying on a cold, dark, remote, dirt road. Her watch starts to beep and we see Ronnie asleep on a plane. He is awakened by his neighboring soldier & told his watch is beeping. He listens for a few seconds then turns it off.

Las’s phone is ringing loudly. He answers wearing a look of hangover and dread. He answers to hear his BFF the Reverend R L say “Laz, you’re people are here for you.” Laz’s attitude is that it seems to be his old life. Laz grabs the large black bags of Rose’s remnants and takes them to the roadside garbage cans. As he turns to head back he sees something down the road. As he gets closer he starts to realize that it’s a person. He quickens his pace. He stops at Rae”s limp body. He looks around confused. Trying as if to see who had left her here, as if they might still be around or another might be watching. He looks down at the beaten & bloody body laying at his feet. He takes hold of her arm and pulls so that she is now face up. As her face rolls into view we see it covered, black, blue, & bloody from Gil’s attack. He checks to see if she’s breathing, a pulse. As he leans in closer Rae gasps loudly and sputters then gasps another long breath. As if she had been almost suffocating on her face. Her gasps startle Laz and he jumps back in fear.  As if he had expected for her to be dead. He starts to run away, then stops. He turns toward Rae and we hear her loud wheezing.

In the next scene we see Laz bursting through his front door with Rae in his arms. He puts her down on his living room couch and checks to see if she’s conscious. He asks her to open her eyes. She coughs loudly & deeply and says “Tehronne? Tehronne?” as she reaches for Lazarus. Laz is frightened, it’s written all over his face. “Tehronne? He didn’t?..He didn’t do this to you?” half question, half statement. Rae continues to cough deep, jarring coughs. Laz tells her he’s going to town to get her some medicine and to “stay right there”.

There are those of us who think “Why not call an ambulance or police?” Well, there are a couple of good reasons. First off being the South is still the South 2)it never looks good for a white female to be beaten by a black male. This is NOT what occurred but it is what it looked like or would appear  to LE. Consider this, the only name Rae has given is Tehronne’s, his DNA is inside her from before, and if Rae didn’t really remember what had happened to her some fine DA might convince her that Tehronne HAD been the one that beat her and left her for dead with DNA backing it up. 3) Laz is of an age wherein he would have been at least a young man if not grown during the Civil Rights Movement. A time when the majority of black people felt mistrust toward police.

Lazarus enters a pharmacy looking for cough syrup and medicines. A woman wearing a pharmacist’s white jacket sees him and approaches. We learn that her name is Angie and Laz attend the same church, they’ve missed & worried about him. He tells her his “little niece” has a bad cold, no money for Dr. She says for him to wait a minute.

Suddenly we are taken back to Laz’s living-room. Rae is on the couch acting fearful in her sleep. She thinks that there’s somebody at the door. She sees a hazy man approach. We can’t see his face or any details. The man reaches out with his hand, in it is a zippo type lighter. As the hand draws closer everything becomes more clear, more real. The hand strikes the lighter just as it reaches Rae. She’s startled but we see that she is really alone. To her though he is there, in that moment. One hand on her chest holding her down, the other hand reaches for her white cotton panties and rips one side to remove them. She cries out and thrashes as if fighting him off. She struggles and breaks free. She flops to the floor and starts crawling away, toward the door. We see her as the only person in the room. Rae looks around searching for him. She lies down on her chest and passes back out.

Initially I had planned to give a separate in-depth description of a real PTSD flashback episode I had recently of my own. I still plan to do so but later in the series. For now I just want to point out that there is a sense of “haze” when one first starts to enter a flashback episode then suddenly  BAM! You’re there, in that moment in time all over again. All the sights, sounds, textures, feelings, pain, rage, embarrassment…all of it and all at once! It’s very scary and upsetting while it is going on and even after it is over. I sometimes say it reminds me of a type of epileptic seizure. You can feel one coming on, you can’t fight it off or stop it once it reaches a certain point, you thrash and scream uncontrollably, you feel exhausted & drained afterwards. Severe episodes can land a person in the ER and/or hospital. A major episode  can definitely derail a person for anywhere from a day or two to months of depression.

Once again we are in the pharmacy with Angie and Laz. Angie tells him that she has copied her sister’s prescription. He asks her if she will have trouble over it. She laughs and says”Not if no one finds out about it.” It’s obvious that she likes him very much. He seems to like her as well. As Laz leaves the pharmacy he looks over at the Pool Hall. We see him walking towards the front door.

Chapter 5: Fevered Dreams

Laz enters the pool hall and a man is sitting by the door. Laz tells him he needs to speak with Tehronne. The man calls to Teh and he OK’s Laz’s entry. Laz walks over and they give each other pleasantries and hellos then Laz asks him if he “knows a girl, blond shoulder-length hair, split up the middle?” He means parted up the middle but Tehronne laughs and replies “Split up the middle all right. Yea, I know her. That’s Rae But I don’t pimp dat. She’s on her own.” He goes on to tell Laz “Yea, I been with her, who hadn’t?”  Laz counters “What cha mean?” Tehronne answers “Girl got a free minute she’ll snatch up anybody” Laz asks “She like that rough stuff, ya know beaten on stuff?” Tehronne jumps up and angrily points his fingers, pistol style at Laz and says “There ain’t none of that, that what you’re into? Listen! That girl’s in MY favor, you hurt her you’ll have me to deal with!”
Normally Tehronne’s character is not one I would side with but one almost has to respect his statements. That she’s “in his favor” and “If you hurt her you’ll have me to deal with”. He has no commitment or responsibility toward her yet he is clearly threatening Laz with all of his “resources” if he harms her. Laz interjects “Whoa! Collar that dog, boy! I ain’t tryin to hurt her. I’m just tryin to find out who she is.”  T says “Well, it don’t matter no way. That switch of hers has been all over town anyway.” Laz questions “What yo mean?” Teh replies “She’s got that sickness, you know?” Laz asks “What sickness?” Teh says “She gotta have d*ck or she goes crazy!”

Here I want to add some information about what is commonly known as “Nymphomania”. This website from the Mayo Clinic defines nymphomania as:

“Excessive sexual desire in women which can lead to promiscuity. The problem usually has an emotional origin which means that the underlying emotional problem often needs to be treated in order to treat the condition. The emotional problem may stem from and unconscious conflict about their own adequacy. ”

A full list of symptoms are:
Persistent thoughts about coitus or sexual images
Compulsive masturbation
Promiscuous sexual activity
Out of control behavior
Personality change
Low self esteem
Substance abuse
Repeated unsuccessful relationships
Person becomes obsessed with obtaining sexual gratification, to the detriment of their normal (social, occupational, recreational activities); often repeated attempts to cease behavior are unsuccessful.

Laz walks back into his living-room to find Rae face down on the floor. He sits down beside her on the floor. He rolls her over and props her up against his knees, facing him. Rae chokes and coughs deeply again and Laz exclaims “Girl, you’re burnin up!” He speaks to her, trying to comfort her. He says to her “My name is Lazarus. There ain’t no harm here chil, there’s no harm here. All I want to do is help you get well.” Rae rasps “Lazarus?” “Yes, Lazarus” he replies. Suddenly Rae forcefully plants her mouth on his. This kiss is symbolic of her belief that sex is what all men ultimately want and she is acquiescing to it. Lazarus jumps and pulls away. Rae starts repeating his name and has a flashback start. She sees the guy from the touch-football game on top of her and shoves at the air yelling “get off of me!” This statement gives us insight into the fact that Rae really didn’t want to have sex with him but was unable to do anything about it at the time. We see Rae and Rose simultaneously exclaim “See if I give a shit about any of you people!” This terrifies Laz so much he runs out of his front door and does not stop until he reaches the road. He throws his Bible down on the ground in front of him, opened. Like a ward, protection, or talisman against what must surely be a possessed girl writhing on his floor. He believes this partly due to the fact that Rae was screeching the exact last words his wife had said before she left, to the people in the restaurant. From inside we hear Rae screeching and calling out “Lazarus, Lazarus” Once again she returns to full PTSD mode.

We then see Laz putting several bags of ice into his tub adding water as well. He tosses Rae in. At first she shrieks and thrashes but she calms down and kind of sinks right in. Laz tells her “Whew girl! You had me as scared as a kid on Halloween night, in a grave yard.” As Rae drifts off to sleep Laz sits on the floor by the tub, opens his Bible and starts to read silently. I think this is a possible reference about how as “good Christians” we are supposed to help our fellowman/woman and not take advantage.

In the dark we hear a watch beeping. Then we are in a field at night. Rae is crawling through the dirt and vegetables of Laz’s garden. She asks questioningly “Ronnie?” “Ronnie?” Then she starts shrieking “Ronnie! Ronnie!”  The sound of her screams brings Laz out. He asks her “Is you hearin the sound of my voice? Come on back girl, you’re travelin now”  Rae starts to run but Laz catches her and she starts to struggle and fight. She realizes she can’t win so she starts to draw up her knees and cry.Laz places her back on the couch as Rae shivers and whimpers. It is obvious that she is very sick and in a lot of pain. As Laz starts to cover her with a blanket, she grabs his hand and places it on her stomach pushing it lower. She tells him “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.” As she repeats it the last time she starts to cry. This once again is showing just how damaged she is. She is still trying to convince him that it’s OK to have sex with her when it clearly ISN’T. Laz comforts her and shushes her sobs. He strokes her hair and face, as if she were just a child. He then places one hand over her eyes and starts to sing her a lullaby. She seems comforted and drifts back off to sleep. Laz covers her with the blanket once more and moves to stand in front of his large, metal radiator. It’s heavy and bolted to the floor. Laz appears to brace himself against it.

I wanted to expand on the term traveling that Lazarus used. For me it meant a couple of different things. 1) She was physically traveling away 2) She was mentally travelling. Like her fever had made her delusional. Another thing I want to point out is when Laz asks her “You hearin the sound of my voice?”. This is a real phrase used to help a person who is experiencing a PTSD episode. The “helper” determines their state by their response or a lack of one. It is what is known as a grounding technique. It helps to ground the person in the here and now as apposed to “floating in time” in an episode. Another grounding tactic is for the person in the episode to plant both of their feet firmly on the ground/floor. Just these two thing used in conjunction can “pull” someone out of episode.  I found out recently that if once the voice is acknowledged, if an absurd question is asked it confuses the mind and the episode slowed. The absurd question was repeated and the confusion of answering the question “snapped” me the rest of the way out without the damaging after effects due to ending the episode early. I can’t say that this will work for everyone with PTSD, but it worked for me.

This concludes part V of this series. We have made our way to the starting point of chapter 6. We are not quite half of the way through the DVD, there is still a lot more to share.  I hope you continue forward with us in the next installment.

Haleigh Cummings Amber Alert information:

This DVD can be purchased at Amazon.

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