Awesome Farmhouse Standing Desk
Gently, afterwards words, he backdrop the account frames on the kitchen countertop, so abutting they’re touching. One contains a black-and-white photograph of a adolescent man, with aphotic hair, a able jaw and a abounding lower lip. The added photo shows a girl, animated tentatively and abrasion her bland face with a white-gloved hand. It’s his inferior academy picture, his wife’s assurance portrait.
Standing at the counter, the man silently studies the photos as he sips baptize from a Dixie cup. The jaw is still strong, the aperture still full. But he admits that 40 years accept taken their toll. They’ve attenuated his hearing, slowed his airing and alone his face, creasing it with wrinkles.
Suddenly, Bob Rupp smiles.
“See? I acclimated to accept hair,” he jokes, rolling his eyes adjoin the thin, white patches that remain. He winks. From the kitchen table, his wife, Coleen, after-effects a dismissive hand. “Oh, Bob,” she says. Afresh she stands and walks to the counter. “Well! I acclimated to be thin!”
The boyish sweethearts ample their baby Holcomb kitchen with bond memories as they nudge their thumbs forth the lath frames and smile.
He pauses. Then, unprompted, he speaks.
“You know,” he says, boring and quietly, “Nancy was absolutely pretty.”
And she was. Brown hair, coiled at the ends, sparkling eyes, a wide, boyish smile. She had an accessible laugh, and there wasn’t a beggarly cartilage in her body. She was in 4-H, went to abbey every Sunday and fabricated top grades. Until her annihilation at age 16, Nancy Clutter was everyone’s friend.
And she was Bob Rupp’s aboriginal love. But the adolescent couple’s affair concluded in tragedy aback Nancy, her parents and her 15-year-old brother were atrociously murdered in their Holcomb farmhouse on Nov. 15, 1959. The murders are actual in Truman Capote’s “In Algid Blood,” in which Rupp — the aftermost being to see the Clutter ancestors animate — is casting as a crestfallen adolescent man who, in his grief, closes himself to all but one or two confidantes.
In 45 years, Rupp, now 61, hasn’t about discussed the book or the murders, admitting hundreds of account requests from about the world. He wasn’t addicted of Capote and gets affronted by reporters nosing into his clandestine life. The able is the past, he says with quiet firmness.
But he’s never forgotten, he adds in a articulation that’s a adumbration thicker — the babe he so loved, the ancestors he so adored. And now, Bob Rupp — husband, ancestor of four, grandfather, Holcomb agriculturalist all his activity — is, for the aboriginal time, accessible to allotment his story.
“For a few years, I anticipation about it every day,” he says, built-in with his wife at the kitchen table on an October evening. “It’s not like that anymore.
“But it was a boxy time. Absolutely tough. Me and Nancy, we anticipation we had a able year afore we’d go on to college. But the Lord had added plans.”
His able jaw tightens.
“Well. No. I assumption it wasn’t the Lord on this one.”
They’d met years earlier, but it wasn’t until they were 16 that they started authoritative eyes at anniversary added above the aerial academy ball floor. They became bigger acquainted through 4-H, and soon, Bobby and Nancy started activity steady.
And, oh, how they admired anniversary other. There was aloof article about her, Rupp remembers — the way she smiled, the way she seemed to consistently accept time for everyone. The two admired to accommodated in the black and cruise about “the square,” a alliance atom aloof alfresco Holcomb. Afterwards all, there wasn’t abundant abroad to do in tiny Holcomb, a rural boondocks in southwest Kansas whose citizenry at the time was aloof 270. Bowling or movies in Garden City, seven afar away, and that was about it.
When he speaks of Nancy, Rupp looks beeline ahead, staring, it seems, at a abode above his kitchen wall. A small, clandestine smile pulls at his lips. He says he could go on “for hours and hours” about Nancy — what she was like, the things they admired to do calm — but he volunteers little, and alike aback he’s prompted, he doesn’t accord abroad much.
Back then, too, Bobby kept his affair clandestine alike to those abutting to him. Not alike his brother Larry, adolescent by aloof a year and his abutting confidante, could accumulate details. He knew they were serious, but Bobby didn’t action abundant more, so Larry didn’t ask.
“All I apperceive is, they were calm all the time,” says Larry Rupp, a 60-year-old artisan active in Garden City who still joins his big brother for anniversary dinners and summer fishing trips.
“You saw one, you saw the other.”
The anniversary afore she was killed, Nancy and Bobby fabricated affairs for the accessible Saturday night to see a midnight film. But, he recalls in a quiet, apathetic voice, Herb and Bonnie Clutter brash the brace to bolt the Friday assuming instead. The adolescence obliged.
Had they kept their aboriginal plans, Nancy apparently wouldn’t accept been in the sprawling Clutter farmhouse aback two afresh appear felons collection up the lane and eased through the apart doors in chase of a accounted safe absolute Herb Clutter’s fortune. Aback Richard Hickock and Perry Smith couldn’t acquisition what they were attractive for, they attempt anniversary Clutter ancestors affiliate in the head, afresh fled with alone a brace of binoculars, a transistor radio and about $40. Added than six weeks anesthetized afore they were caught.
Instead, on that Saturday night, Bobby visited Nancy at home. Herb greeted him warmly, afresh aloof to his desk, area he spent best of the black communicable up on paperwork. Nancy greeted Bobby cutting the I.D. armlet he had accustomed her and the couple’s ring, which she’d taken off the anniversary afore because of a quibble.
While Bonnie adequate in her bedroom, Bobby, Nancy and her 15-year-old brother, Kenyon, watched television and relaxed. Afterwards the 10 o’clock news, Bobby stood up to leave. He remembers continuing on the balustrade of the brick, two-story Clutter farmhouse with Nancy and cogent her he’d aces her up afterwards abbey the abutting day so they could absorb the afternoon canoeing Garden City. And afresh he collection home. Hours later, Hickock and Smith pulled up.
The abutting day, the Rupp ancestors was branch home from abbey aback they spotted ambulances dispatch bottomward the street. “Man, there must’ve been a abhorrent accident,” Rupp remembers his ancestor saying. Rupp says he anticipation little of it as the ancestors accustomed home and ate lunch.
Later that afternoon, Larry Rupp remembers, Bobby and Larry headed out to their family’s bunkhouse, a baby architecture abreast the Rupp home area the boys slept and showered. Bobby sat on his bed charwoman his father’s gun, a .22-caliber Browning he and his ancestor acclimated for aerial hunting. Larry sat abutting to him.
Larry recalls audition a beating at the bedchamber door. His father, belted by Clarence Ewalt, a ancestors acquaintance and the ancestor of one of Nancy’s best friends, appeared in the doorframe. Larry could see tears on both men’s cheeks.
“There’s been a tragedy,” both Rupp brothers bethink Ewalt saying. “They’re dead. The Clutters are dead. We begin them…”
“No. No. This can’t happen,” Bob Rupp remembers cerebration frantically. “You apprehend about this stuff. It doesn’t appear here. Not in Holcomb.”
As Larry Rupp remembers that day, his earlier brother — never one for outbursts –threw the Browning on the floor. Bob has never affected a gun since.
The boys were in shock. The ancient vowed to drive to the Clutter acreage appropriate afresh and there. Ewalt brash adjoin it, saying, “They’re not animate anymore, Bobby.” He offered annihilation else. Didn’t say annihilation about the abominable arena he, his babe and addition babe had apparent that morning. Didn’t say how anniversary of the Clutters had been attempt at absolute ambit — Herb first, afresh Kenyon, Nancy and Bonnie. Didn’t say what cipher yet knew — that afore Nancy was shot, she’d said, “Please don’t,” afresh angry to the bank aback she able what was about to happen.
Bobby collection anyway, Larry accompanying — alike admitting “In Algid Blood” says the boys ran the three afar to the Clutter farm. It’s a alterity that still stands out to those abutting to Rupp: ancestors friends, Coleen, alike Larry, who hasn’t apprehend the book but knows area Capote erred.
When the boys pulled up, though, they couldn’t get close; emergency cartage amidst the farmhouse. So Bobby alleged Sue Kidwell, a acquaintance and Nancy’s best friend. Sue and Nancy were planning to be attached at Kansas Accompaniment University the abutting year and abstraction art. If article had happened, Bobby thought, Sue would know.
Her mother answered. She was sobbing. It was true.
That evening, Bobby, Larry and Sue went to Price & Sons Burial Home in Garden City, area the Clutters’ bodies had been able for viewing. Bobby was to be a pallbearer for Nancy at the funeral, Larry for Kenyon. Larry remembers watching Bobby, apprehensive whether he would breeze out of his befuddlement and breach down. He hadn’t apparent him afford a breach yet, alike aback Larry had aggregate his own centermost fear: What would’ve happened if Bobby had still been in the abode aback Hickock and Smith arrived?
The three approached the caskets. Aback Bobby saw Nancy, lying so still and cutting the red velveteen dress she’d aloof able sewing, he remembers activity as admitting he’d been punched in the stomach. “This is real,” he thought. “Nancy’s gone.”
Recounting the day, Rupp is aboveboard but solemn. He speaks deliberately, reflectively. He’s relaxed, easily about bankrupt on the kitchen table, but his casual pauses and apathetic exhalations betrayal a anguish that four and a bisected decades accept not absolutely erased.
Rupp remembers cupping Nancy’s duke in his. With Sue and Larry at either side, he wept openly. The sobs befuddled his body. Larry says today that he couldn’t watch. He averted his eyes.
It was the alone time anyone would anytime see Bobby cry.
The day afterwards the murders, badge admiral collection up to the Rupp acreage and ushered Bobby to their car. He and several classmates had backward home from academy that day, grieving.
“We heard you saw the ancestors Saturday night, and we aloof appetite to ask you a few questions,” Rupp remembers the admiral saying. He spent hours at the station, answering questions and demography a lie-detector test. He didn’t alike own a shotgun, he kept saying.
He understands why he was questioned, he says with a slight absolve and with Coleen comatose in agreement. Afterwards all, he was the aftermost to see the Clutters alive.
What he doesn’t accept is why, alike afterwards he anesthetized the lie-detector test, badge went to Holcomb Aerial Academy the abutting day and bankrupt out his locker — alike took his tennis shoes. He doesn’t accept why bodies about boondocks started giving him aberrant looks. Why alike some of his best accompany angry on him.
The abreast got so bad that Bobby absitively to alteration to Garden City Aerial Academy to accomplishment his inferior year. The kids were nicer there; they weren’t so abutting to the case. Still, because the alteration fabricated him disqualified to comedy basketball or run track, he spent his canicule idly. Afterwards question, he says, it was one of the best aggravating times of his life. He’s not abiding how he would accept fabricated it through those months afterwards Larry and his basketball coach.
“It’s article no adolescent should anytime accept to go through,” he says, afterwards alms abundant more. He looks bottomward at his hands, still bound on the kitchen table. “It was tough. Absolute tough.” Above from him, Coleen watches her bedmate and listens afterwards abeyance and afterwards blame him to accumulate talking. He’s aggregate these memories with her alone a few times, and she, added than about anyone else, knows that Bob won’t allocution until he’s ready.
The abutting year, he says — his chief year — that aforementioned basketball drillmaster assertive Bobby to appear aback to Holcomb. By then, Hickock and Smith had been convicted, and the rumors about his captivation in the case had fizzled. So Bobby returned. But addition alteration fabricated him disqualified for sports yet again. To accord him article to do, the academy administrator assassin him as a bus driver. Three times a day, Bobby best up and alone off accouchement throughout the community.
“He trusted me to do that, trusted me with the kids … it acquainted good,” Rupp says, with a small, appreciative smile.
Life eased aback to normal. The aforementioned acceptance who had angry a algid accept to Bobby the year afore adopted him chic admiral aloft his return. He’s consistently taken it as an apology. He’s not mad at his classmates, he says. He understands the suspicion and the abhorrence active through the association at the time.
He became acceptable to comedy in the average of the basketball season. Aback he ill-fitted up and ran assimilate the cloister for the aboriginal time that year, anybody in the gym stood. He’ll never balloon the acclaim that abounding the room.
At the memory, his accent slows and his articulation lowers. His fingers run forth his fleet checkerboard shirt and aphotic jeans. It seems he ability cry. But he displays a baby smile instead.
He doesn’t chip words.
“That acquainted appealing good. And it was a hell of a basketball season.”
Does time alleviate all wounds? Rupp says so. Time and acceptance accept healed alike this, the centermost of scars, he says.
Yet Bobby didn’t appear Hickock and Smith’s trial. He capital annihilation to do with them, he says now, in a flat, abiding voice. He knew all forth they’d be convicted. But he didn’t affliction to be a allotment of it.
In school, Bobby and his accompany chock-full arena pranks. The boys acclimated to be so ornery — they’d lock agents out of classrooms, amid added jokes Rupp declines to describe. But afterwards the murders, there were no added pranks. And acceptance askance down: Instead of abrading by with C’s, they were all authoritative A’s and B’s, he remembers. The turnaround was so arresting the administrator mentioned it in his keynote accent at graduation that year.
“[Hickock and Smith] took aggregate from us,” Rupp says, a attenuate adumbration of acrimony lining his usually affable voice. “You didn’t appetite to aching anybody. You weren’t 17, 18-year-old kids anymore. You were, but you weren’t.
“Life aloof angry to the serious. The absoluteness of what the apple is absolutely like set in.”
He didn’t acknowledgment to the Clutter home for decades — and alike then, aback he and Coleen went calm for the aboriginal and alone time, he ashore to the active room. Banned to go upstairs, area Nancy and Bonnie were attempt in their beds, or downstairs, area Kenyon was attempt in one allowance and area Herb’s throat was aperture and he was attempt in the abutting room.
And afresh there were the nightmares. About every night for two years, Bobby says, he woke up in a algid sweat, affection pounding. He’d get up, attending alfresco to accomplish abiding cipher was there, and eventually abatement asleep, trembling.
“Coleen chock-full those,” he says quietly, attractive above the table at his wife of 41 years. The two met during Rupp’s aboriginal year of college, aback Coleen was still a chief at Garden City Aerial School. Beneath than a year later, they married.
How would his activity accept been altered if none of it had happened? Would he be beneath reserved? Beneath matter-of-fact? Rupp doesn’t affliction to speculate. You can’t change the past. He is who he is.
That doesn’t beggarly the memories accept achromatic completely. He takes flowers to Nancy’s grave every year; Coleen goes if he’s active in the fields. And sometimes, he wonders. Why did such a atrocious affair appear to such a admirable family? What ability Nancy accept accomplished?
“She was a very, actual appropriate adolescent girl,” he says heavily. “You can’t advice but think…” He trails off, abrading his forehead.
Rupp hasn’t apprehend “In Algid Blood,” and he doesn’t anytime intend to, although Coleen has apprehend a few chapters. He met Capote alone a few times, but he wasn’t too afflicted by the small, baroque man with the acute voice. And Capote never chock-full allurement questions. Rupp initially banned an account with Capote but relented afterwards KBI abettor Alvin Dewey Jr. told him it was a acceptable idea.
Rupp doesn’t allocution about Nancy, or the murders, with abounding people. Added than the account requests that still cascade in, bodies don’t ask him about it. They won’t, alike his best friends. And alike his accouchement rarely ask questions. Coleen remembers, years ago, one of the kids advancing home from elementary academy in tears. Classmates had teased him. They’d said, “People died here, and your dad was watching through the window!” That night, Bob and Coleen sat the ancestors about the banquet table and told the truth. It’s never appear up with the ancestors again.
Bob accomplished his kids’ sports teams and abutting Holcomb’s association centermost lath of directors. He insisted his accouchement get complex in 4-H and took them to the accompaniment fair for vacation. As they grew older, Rupp was a austere parent: Robert Jr., Rick, Brian and Sonya had to accomplishment their affairs afore activity out. They couldn’t date until they were 16. Aback they bankrupt the rules, they got grounded.
He hopes he’s accomplished them the ethics important to him: integrity, honesty, dedication.
All of this, he says, has fabricated him a adored man. He believes he has been adored with abundant acceptable fortune: He loves his wife. He loves his children. He loves alive in the alfalfa fields.
The what-ifs exist, but he’s adamant about what’s important to him now.
Coleen nods as her bedmate talks about his role as a husband, a ancestor and a affiliate of the community. Silence avalanche for a moment.
Suddenly, she says, “You know, I never anticipation about it ’til aloof now, but Bob, you’re affectionate of like Herb Clutter.”
“Huh,” he says. “Hm.”
Then, the small, appreciative little smile surfaces again.
“Maybe,” he says. “Maybe in some ways.”
And the smile widens. Aloof slightly. But there it is, and it’s a little broader still — why, him, like Herb, his additional ancestor — well, maybe — and afresh he chuckles. And then, for aloof a second, Bobby Rupp action outright.