I was raised on a farm in rural Eastern Oregon; three miles from the nearest town, with its two grocery stores, single gas station, lumber yard, hair salon and bar. Not quite Mayberry: we had neither sheriff nor jail. My sister and I helped out on the farm from a very young age, and we considered the adult neighbors our friends. We used to “help” Jim when it came time to harvest his corn, running through the field, picking up ears of corn the harvester had missed, and tossing them onto the flatbed. Jim gave us a penny per ear, and sometimes, a stick of gum, which was the real treat.

Our dog Duchess had nine puppies. Two of us were thrilled about that.

Our dog Duchess had nine puppies. Two of us were thrilled about that.

Despite the relative safety of our surroundings, or perhaps because of it, Mom felt it was important to stress the dangers inherent in the larger world. It’s OK to accept gum from Jim, but not from someone you don’t know. If someone other than Noma tries to give you cornbread, just say no. So begins the story of The Cutterman.

There had been a story on the news of an event that took place far away from our safe land – probably in California, because that’s where all the Bad Things happened. A child was kidnapped by a stranger who offered candy, and that child was later found murdered and cut into many pieces. This story was horrific, and our mother hoped hearing it would prevent Julie and me from getting into cars with strangers. If you know Julie, you’ll know why our parents were worried (I only wrote that because I know she’ll read this, and we’re on opposite coasts, so she can’t slug me).

And so it was, on a sunny spring day, that we found ourselves riding our bikes (hers a two-wheel bicycle, mine a child’s tricycle) up and down our long driveway, to the paved road and back to the house. On one loop, as we neared the paved road, a big, scary car pulled into our driveway. A stranger! In a Volkswagen Beetle! We, naturally, were in his way, and the driver got out of his car to a) ask us to move to the side, b) ask whether our parents lived in that house, c) ask for directions or d) lure us into his big scary car with candy, then cut us into A MILLION PIECES!!!!!!

I think we all know what his intentions were. Which is why Julie and I dropped our bikes, turned and ran back up the driveway, screaming: “THECUTTERMANTHECUTTERMANTHECUTTERMANTHECUTTERMAN!!!”

Evil Cutterman moved our bikes out of his way (Ha! We slowed him down! He won’t catch us now!), returned to his car and slowly followed us up our driveway.

Mom, hearing the infernal racket, stepped outside to learn what terrible evil had befallen her beloved daughters. We ran past her, into the house, screaming, “THECUTTERMANTHECUTTERMANTHECUTTERMANTHECUTTERMAN!!” Stunned, and having no idea what we were screaming about, she watched us

Back when life was fun. Before the brothers arrived.

Back when life was fun. Before the brothers arrived.

run past, and into our bedroom, where I’m quite sure we hid under the bed or some equally secure location. When the man got out of his car, he was equal parts stunned and apologetic. He had no idea what caused us to run screaming away from him, he was very sorry, he hoped he hadn’t done anything to alarm us, he just wanted to sell encyclopedias, or Fuller Brush or something. At that point, realization dawned, and Mom burst into laughter as she realized why we had been screaming, and what must have caused it. The Cutterman did not try to sell Mom encyclopedias that day, or any other day. He drove away, somewhat rattled, and never returned.

Ever vigilant, Julie and I remain in full possession of all our limbs.

20 thoughts on “The Tale of The Cutterman

  1. Ha ha! Well told, and only slight deviations from my recall…this one was so powerful it will probably remain imprinted on our brains until we die! The poor, very young insurance salesman! I wonder if he changed jobs after that? Mom always said he just kept repeating “but I LOVE kids!” (of course, that is what we were afraid of, right?) Do you remember how the cutterman story was revealed to us? Grandma thought we were entirely too brave venturing to–and worse, lingering at–the end of our driveway. So she told Mom she had to do something. So Mom led us into the bathroom, where Dad was shaving, and he had to tell us the story. Mom got to be absolved of all guilt!

    I couldn’t slug you for telling the truth. I never have recognized a stranger. Everyone who smiled and spoke to me MUST be wonderful and therefore my friend. Except the cutterman.

    • “But I love kids!” For dinner.
      I’m curious why WordPress (aka FUWP) has chosen to publish a previous version of this post, and not the final. Oops. You didn’t want to see the edits anyway. Or a headline, or anything like that.
      Thanks for not punching me. I knew you couldn’t do it. (heehee – next blog post topic: chosen).

  2. Well, we must have heard the story a few years after you heard it, but thankfully without the gory details. We were at my Aunts house in a larger small town. My younger cousin and I were riding bikes on the “big road”. We were literally told the story, then sent outside to play. We made it maybe 50 feet down the road and a car stopped. We immediately panicked, screamed and rode home. The guy was just asking for directions. Why he thought us little kids might now is baffling, but we made it home safe. I also remember telling our parents that it almost happened to us.
    Like Julie, that memory has been imprinted on my brain forever.

    • Oooh, they allowed you to play on the “big road?” That’s just bad parenting. A car must drive on that road at least twice a day! I’m glad you were safe. Childhood would have really sucked for me if I only had your brothers to play with.

  3. But you see: he left — AND NEVER CAME BACK. So you were right! Your mother may have acted all nice to him and stuff, but he knew better than to show his face again. He knew better. (My mom had an equally formidable hairdo in those days, and none of her kids were ever cut up in pieces either!)

  4. Oh…how absolutely excellent! I also was VERY amused Julie was the first comment…Julie, even if she had a point, must.always.slug.sister. ;oD All the pics were great, but the final one, “happier before the boys arrived” made me laugh quite hard. Nice work!

    • Lily, whatever my sister says, the slugging was always for boys. Only for boys. Except once. And if my sister is telling the truth, you’ll read her version of that story in the near future. If it’s as entertainingly told as this one was, I won’t even correct the parts that she so falsely remembers! She does have a way of remembering me as the vile, evil villain when in truth I was the innocent victim MOST of the time. 🙂

    • I was amused she commented right away, as well. I had set the post to automatically load at a certain time, and hadn’t even checked to make sure it did when I got an email that she’d commented. Defending her honor, and whatnot. 🙂 She actually never slugged me (though as she points out, there was the pitchfork incident). She really REALLY wanted to a couple times, but thought better of it. Probably because she didn’t want to mess up my adorable face. Thanks for reading, love your comments!

        • After two kids in 13 months, I imagine my mother flirted with birth control, too. Take that, Pope! As the younger daughter, I never got any of the things I wanted. Like a baby sister. So Julie and I had to make the best of it, and dress the boys in the prettiest dresses we could find. They were adorable! Don’t tell Julie, but having a sister can be fun. Especially when she beats up the boys at school who mess with you. 🙂

          • #HeartMelts: ” Don’t tell Julie, but having a sister can be fun. Especially when she beats up the boys at school who mess with you.”

            #PeePantsWithLaughter: “dress the boys in the prettiest dresses we could find. They were adorable!”

            Guess I am not so strange, after all, pushing my baby brother around in my doll stroller! Yaaaay, younger boys!

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