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He didn't know how to handle his turbulent emotions. Last summer he felt them mounting. "It was getting worse and worse," he says. "I was getting meaner and meaner, angrier and angrier. For no reason whatsoever, I'd fly off the handle. I was a real crybaby in the jocks' room; things would happen to me in a race and I'd scream and holler at the other riders. I was getting scared of myself."
Davis was carrying all that unchecked baggage from his childhood when, on that fine October afternoon, Venezia fell in front of him, Davis peered into the ambulance and then ran off to hide. As his life flickered before him in that closet, the scenes of violence and abuse, something in him seemed to die. A kind of serenity came over him, as if the accident, in catharsis, had suddenly slain all the old torments in his life. "It pulled a trigger," he says. "It shot off inside me and went through me. I never loved people more in my life than that moment right there. All the hate I had for everybody, it just all went away."
With that began the craving to head home. Davis says, "It's hard to explain, but there was something pulling me back to Pocatello—to my values. I was packing too heavy a load. There was too much I had to get off my mind."
There was that delicate matter of unburdening himself to his wife. They drove to Edwardsville, Kans., and spent two months, off and on, with his mother and sister. They spent $85,000 on a huge motor home. They took a skiing trip to Colorado before Christmas, and then one night, after all those years of keeping it in, Davis finally let it out, first telling Marguerite of the deaths of Lindauer and Lords and how hard it had been growing up and how low he had been at times.
"I took a lot of abuse when I was young," he said.
"What kind?" she asked.
"Sexual. I was sexually abused by a man my mother was married to...."
It was easier than he had thought it would be. They talked about it into the night. "It just flowed out," Davis says. "We were both crying. She was so understanding. We tied the knot that much tighter. She held me all night and we went to sleep. It was such a relief. It was like a new beginning."
On Christmas Day, Davis talked to Lenny Goodman by telephone—he had taken over the rider's book early last year—and Goodman reminded him that Gulfstream Park was opening soon. Davis was not ready. "Only millionaires take off like this," Goodman said. "You're taking the longest vacation in history!"
Speaking to one of America's leading riders, a 27-year-old whose mounts had amassed lifetime earnings of $37,382,325, Goodman may have been right. But Davis was still too involved in sorting things out and looking for answers, unfolding his childhood bit by bit to his wife, and just being with his family and wheeling around the West. They finally came to Pocatello on Jan. 10, hooked up at Sullivan's motor park and lived there for nearly two months. They never connected their telephone—a blessing, what with all the people looking to talk to Davis—but you could reach them here and there if you tried. At the laundromat on Fifth Avenue. At the home of Bonnie Lords, Tim's widow. At the Whitworth home in Inkom. At the ski lodge at Pebble Creek. At the home of Buddy Jones, an old pal from the days when he and Davis worked at the bakery. At the skating rink. At the Downs for the races on weekends.