Skip to content

By Laura Moncur in The Disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde

Underwater CaveI had never seen an underwater cave in the Ohio River. I explored that area far more than any child should have and certainly more than my mother was comfortable with, but I never found anything like what I found in the Colorado River back in 1928.

As dangerous as diving with my Wondrous Water Breathers was, I never considered how exponentially more dangerous exploring that underwater cave would be. Aside from risks of becoming trapped under layers of rock, what we found in that cave would have appalled the locals of the Grand Canyon area. I had no thought of any of those risks. Despite the exhaustion from the rafting down the river, I was enthralled and eager to explore the cave.

And Glen followed me in.

Imagine our surprise when we found an underground beach, carved out by human hands. We dropped the Wondrous Water Breathers near the water and waddled onto the artificial shore. As we ventured deeper into the cave, struck with awe and excitement, we were struck by something else: rifle butts.

“There, there, girl. You gotta mighty big bump on that head. Lucky you it was Rupert who hitchya. He’s kinda soft on the girls.” The woman treated me like I was a child, but she couldn’t have been much older than I was. Her rough hands left my head and touched the young girl hovering over me. “Get ‘er a wet cloth, Rosie.” The child rushed off and I looked around me, trying to figure out where I was. Then I remembered everything.

“Glen…” My voice felt like a sledgehammer in my head. My new companion shook her head. “They take the boys to Orphan Mine. We’re stuck here. What’s your name, girl?” I tried to sit up as the little girl placed a wet rag on my forehead. The cool of it stirred the pain into a frothy haze. “Bessie. My name’s Bessie Hyde.”

“My name’s Georgie and this is my daughter, Sommona Rose, but we just call ‘er Rosie.” I tried to place their names into my bruised brain, but the facts kept spilling over me. “Gotta get on Rupert’s good side, Bessie. If you do, it’ll be lots easier for you here.” I looked around at the cave walls around us.

“Are we still under water?” Georgie looked at me with a strange grin. It was like looking at a sister with a larger nose. I had only looked at my face on brothers, so seeing a woman who looked so close to my appearance was an odd feeling to me. “We ain’t under water. We’re in a mine. This one didn’t do nobody good ‘cept for Cameron, ’cause he can hide us here.”

The name rang a bell. “The politician?” Georgie nodded with a sense of awe. “He’s been minin’ the Grand Canyon for near on twenty years now. He ain’t gonna stop, no matter what Teddy Roosevelt tells ‘im. Now, listen, Bessie. It’s mighty important that you git on Rupert’s good side.”

“I’m not staying that long. Where did you say they take the men?” Georgie shook her head at me. “Ain’t no way you can git to ‘im. They probably took ‘im to Old Orphan by now.” I shot up and headed away from Georgie. She and Rosie followed after me, shaking with fear. “You can’t leave. Rupert’ll be real mad at me.”

I wandered while Georgie tried to pull me back. I pushed her aside and kept searching until she finally gave up. “This way. Maybe they’ll let you say goodbye.” I could tell that she didn’t believe her own words, but she led me to my beloved anyway.

There were two men, herding Glen onto an old truck. Without thought of my own safety or even a plan of escape, I started throwing rocks at their heads. Years of brotherly love and wrestling never prepared me for the assault that advanced toward me. Georgie huddled away from us, distancing herself from the violence, but I fought as best I could.

Glen’s wiry frame attacked the big one from behind while the smaller man pulled a knife out of his waistband. “Georgie! I’m gonna gut you like a pig when I’m done with these two!” Georgie called out to him while I threw another rock at the small man’s head. It missed, but knocked him in the shoulder pretty hard. “It wasn’t my fault, Mr. Cameron! I couldn’t git her to stay put!” I started aiming the rocks at Cameron’s nether regions, but he dodged them easily, injuring only his hips and thighs.

I was so busy fighting off Cameron, that I couldn’t see Glen fighting off Rupert. It was a quiet fight of grunting that barely registered in my crazed and terrified mind. Finally, one of my rocks hit home, skittering the knife out of Cameron’s hand. I lunged toward it, snaking it away from him. I fully expected Cameron to attack me and reclaim it, but he backed away in cowardice. Instead, he unleashed his wrath on Georgie.

I started toward her to keep Cameron from her, but at that moment, Glen squealed in pain. Rupert had his meaty arms around Glen’s throat. I had to choose between saving an innocent woman who was in harm’s way because of my actions and my beloved.

I’m sure you have no question in your mind who I chose.