You didn't know Norman Bates had a sister? Well, he did, because I said so!
|When Marian Bates' little brother, Norman, peeked into the bathtub while his sister was taking a shower, she responded the way thirteen-year-old girls typically respond in such a situation. But, later, after she had finished the shower, put on some clothes, and calmed down a bit, she did something a little less typical. You see, the difference between Marian and most girls her age was that she had no father and her mother was not a particularly pleasant person. So, on most days, her adorable little brother seemed like all she had and she couldn't bear to stay angry with him.
She knocked on the door to his room."Can I come in?"
Norman was sitting quietly by himself. "Listen," said Marian. "I'm really sorry about how I talked to you before."
Norman didn't answer.
"Can I have a hug?" She gave him one without waiting for a response.
"You know," said Norman quietly, "you've been mean ever since you stopped taking a bath."
"What?" said Marian with some disbelief, but she sort of understood what her brother was saying. Ever since the two were little,Marian and Norman had been best friends. Marian had taught Norman how to rollerskate, ride a bike, and throw a ball. Moreover, bathtime had been Marian and Norman's favorite time of day. They loved being in the warm water and splashing each other. But about a year ago, Marian had realized that every other child her age had long since outgrown baths, so she had begun taking showers by herself instead. That might not have been such a big deal, but it happened right about the same time that Marian had begun to take less interest in her brother and more interest in things like clothes, makeup, and boys her own age.
"Look Norman," she said, "I understand how it is, but I'm growing up. You will too, soon enough." A mischievous smile crossed her face. "You can help me with something. How'd you like me to pick the best shade of lipstick?"
Norman looked alarmed. "You're not allowed to wear lipstick, and anyway, I'm not interested in it."
"You will be," Marian promised. She quickly pulled a lipstick out of her pocket and applied some. Then. she leaned over and gave her brother a long kiss on the cheek. "That's one shade." Then she began trying several shades and giving Norman a kiss after each one. "There," she said when she was done. She held up a mirror so Norman could see all the prints on his face. "Which do you think is prettiest?"
Before he could answer, a shrill voice said, "What's going on here?" Both children turned to see their mother skulking in the doorway. "Well?" she said. "What's that on your face, Norman?"
Norman swallowed. "It got there when she kissed me," he said nervously.
"I understand that," said Mother. "But how did cosmetics get on Marian's lips in the first place?"
Marian tried to roll her eyes and look bored. "The usual way, mother." She didn't really succeed.
"Is that so?" said Mother. "And what are the rules about cosmetics in this house?" She didn't bother to wait for an answer. "Norman, go to the bathroom and wash your face. Then, bring me the belt. Your sister and I going to have a little talk."
Norman did as he was told. He always did. That was the thing that Norman could never understand about his sister. Everytime she acted up, Mother beat her with the belt, so why didn't she just do what she was told? But his sister never did.
* * *
It was about a week later that Marian came home from school excited. "I'm going to a dance tomorrow," she shouted to nobody in particular as she dashed into the kitchen where Norman was reading a book about birds.
"What do you mean?" asked Norman.
"I mean," said Marion calming down a bit, "There's a school dance tomorrow night, and Billy Merkle asked me." Then she gave her brother a hug just because he was there.
But Norman was not so happy. He was thinking about his mother and wondering what she would say about this.
He didn't have to wonder long. From the kitchen entrance, a shrill voice called out, "Is that so? Have you asked for my permission to go to this dance?"
Marian was less excited, but she kept her cool. "What would you have said if I had asked, Mother?"
"I'd have said, 'Are you crazy?' No daughter of mine is going to go raising her skirts like a strumpet to some strange boy."
Marian shrugged. "That's exactly why I didn't give you any say in the matter."
Mrs. Bates seemed to get a bit angrier. "Of all the-- Do you want me to get out the belt?"
"Get it out, Mother. You can beat me all you want, but you can't stop from going to that dance." Then she stormed up to her bedroom to pick out a dress.
* * *
On Saturday night, Norman and his mother were left alone. Norman tried to comfort his mother by telling her some of the interesting things he had learned about birds, but she just sat in a corner chanting, "Nothing good will come of this."
At about 10, Marian came home. She did not look well. Her hair and makeup were a mess, her dress was torn, and Norman could tell that she had been crying. "Oh Mother!" said Marian, "It was terrible." Then Norman and Mrs. Bates were both surprised when she threw her arms around her mother's neck.
"What happened?" asked Mrs. Bates.
"Billy Merkle. . .He was always so sweet to me. . .and he was sweet at the dance too. But then, he asked me if I wanted to go outside and get some air. "I said, 'sure'. So we went out into the parking lot behind the school. . .and he. . .he. . .threw me on the ground, and he ripped off my dress, and he tried to put his penis into me."
Mrs. Bates was stone cold. "Did you fight him off?"
"I tried to," Marian sobbed, "but he was too strong." I can still feel him inside of me. "Oh, Mother," said Marian. "I'm so sorry, I disobeyed you."
"Being sorry won't give you your virtue back," said Mrs. Bates simply.
Marian was a little surprised by that. She sighed, took a moment to give Norman a hug, then quietly went upstairs.
"This is serious," said Mrs. Bates. "She's ruined. We have to deal with it. Norman, I need you to fetch somehing."
An alarm went off in Norman's head. His mother usually talked that way about the belt, but why? His sister had not done anything wrong, this time? Had she? TImidly, he asked, "Do you want the belt?"
"Of course not?"
For a moment, Norman was relieved.
"The belt is for correcting her. A ruined girl is past correction. Go to the kitchen and get me the chopping knife."
"Yes, and while you're at it, you might want to get the mop and bucket. You'll have a mess to clean up after I'm done."
Norman sighed and went to get the knife. From upstairs, he could hear the sound of running water. His sister must be taking a shower. . .