Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from my manuscript detailing my own abuse. Please see “My Story of Abuse” under the category link.
Mom yelled up the steps to the top of her lungs, “he’s pullin’ in the driveway—be quiet, get in bed and pretend you’re asleep.” The lights that were on in our rooms immediately went out and we were in the pitch black. We were finishing up our homework and getting ready to go to bed. I don’t know where Darcie was, but Crystal and I were together and she grabbed for my hand in the darkness. She bent over me and whispered, “don’t make a sound; come with me.” I was so afraid to go, but much more afraid to stay in the dark by myself. She led me out into the hallway that was dimly lit from the light downstairs. I could just barely make out the stairway railing and she gently pulled me with her as we crouched down to the floor against the spirals of the staircase.
The scent of the freshly waxed wooden floors still filled the air and my hands ached from holding on to the buffer. I was tightly up against Crystal; my bare feet freezing and the pink foam rollers in my hair pulled my skin on my temples tightly. But, I didn’t care how cold I was or how much the rollers hurt—I was so afraid of my Dad when he was drunk and what he might do to us. Crystal pulled me even closer to her and I was so glad I was with her. I could hear her breathing—like she just ran a mile and I could feel her heart pounding—or, was it mine? We both needed to quiet our breathing—what if he heard us?
We heard the front door open and slam shut behind him. He bellowed, “Hey, where the hell is everybody at?” There was total silence in the house, and we could hear his footsteps on the hardwood floor as he headed for the kitchen. Just a couple of hours earlier I was whining about having to shine those wooden floors. I had gone over the hallway twice because I knew the first time was never good enough to satisfy Mom. She’d say, “now, this time do it right, damn it!” I ended up going over the hallway a third time before she told Crystal to give me a bath. That seemed so long ago now, and so insignificant.
He had reached the kitchen and we could tell from his slurred words that he was drunk again and he was always so mean when he came in drunk. I didn’t know where Mom was and I was so afraid he was going to hurt her. He screamed, “Mara, get the hell in here and fix me something to eat! Where’s supper at? Mara!” I was trembling so and couldn’t catch my breath. I put my hand over my mouth and shut my eyes real tight. Crystal started rubbing me on the arm—telling me it would be okay, but I could tell from her voice that she didn’t believe it.
Then we heard Mom’s footsteps heading for the kitchen. “Where the hell is supper at!” She responded with such malice in her voice, “what the hell did you think I’d cook for supper—you bastard! I’ve been waiting here all evening for you to get home to take me to the store. There’s not a god-damn thing in this house to eat.” We heard a loud noise and then a funny noise like something was sliding and then a crash! “That’s it just tear the damn door off the freezer—what the hell makes the difference—there’s nothin’ in there anyway.”
We heard footsteps in the hallway and then they started up the steps! Crystal jumped up pulling me with her and ran into our bedroom and jumped into bed and pulled the covers up over us. Then a soft light came streaming into our opened bedroom door. Then we heard more footsteps on the staircase, much heavier and uneven steps; we heard him belch. I didn’t move a muscle. He pushed open their bedroom door letting it slam back against the wall. “What the hell are you doing now Joe, put that gun back in the drawer.” I was so petrified—who was he going to shoot? I began praying, “Oh, please God, make him stop it, please God, please. Don’t let him shoot us, please.” He said to her, “Just settle down damn it, and be quiet. You act like I’m a damn idiot. We need money and I’m goin’ go get some. Isn’t that what you want?” Mom replied, “just put the gun back Joe, and get into bed before you have the kids awake.” “I’ve got this plan and they’ll never know it’s me. Do you know how much money that son of a bitch takes in a night at that Peso Club? Do you know how much money he stoled off me tonight and I’m goin’ go get it back? I’m just goin’ walk right in there with my face covered with this here red hankie and pull this gun on him and he’ll give me his money and I’ll just leave. No one will ever know it was me.” Mom was crying now and we could hear her pleading with him, but there was also an edge to her tone. “When them girls are grown, I’m divorcin’ your ass—do ya’ hear me?” She was screaming now and crying. He said, “If you don’t shut the hell up, I’m going to shoot your ass!” He was going to shoot our Mom! Crystal and I both jumped out of bed at the same time and went running to their bedroom. He was standing in the doorway with a revolver in one hand and a red hanker-chief in the other. Mom was sitting in the middle of the bed with her legs crossed like an Indian. He pulled the gun up and tried to cock the hammer, but he was weaving from side-to-side. Mom looked at him with this blank look on her face, and with no emotion in her voice said, “go ahead—ya’ son of a bitch, shoot me in front of your daughters.” I grabbed him by the arm, and began crying hysterically and pleading with him, “please, please Daddy don’t shoot her, she doesn’t mean it. Please tell him you don’t mean it Mom!” Tears were streaming down my face and Crystal was pleading with him too. They just stared coldly at each other and he slowly lowered his arm that was holding the gun. He looked at us and said, “get back in bed now!” We raced back to our rooms and heard their bedroom door shut, and we were in total darkness once again.
Crystal starting rocking me—pushing her foot against the bottom of our bed. She’d put me to sleep most nights that way. She said, “he’s going to bed now—he’ll be passed out in a few minutes.” “Do you think he’ll get back up and shoot her Crystal?” With as much composure as she could conjure up, she said, “no, when he passes out—he won’t wake up until morning.” I prayed, “thank you God for not letting him shoot my Mom. Amen.”