“It is the same thing: killing, dying, it is the same thing: one is just as alone in each. He is lucky, he will only die once. As for me, for ten days I have been killing him at every minute.” - Jean Paul Sartre
That morning I sat with Gina swathed amongst a mist of misery, as she recounted the dreary details. While she described the assault, I jotted down each sentence nearly ripping the paper with the tip of my pen. I remember feeling out of my mind with anger, mostly for the fact that I had been experiencing the very same shit at home. But for the fact that Gina had not reached my same boiling point. I was the ticking time bomb that had already gone off. Where my collateral damage merely laid in wait.
When I wrapped things up with Gina I called out to Jay, once he came into the apartment I approached him and whispered in his ear, “She says he hit her, admits he put those marks on her arm and face, signed the statement too. Looks like this is gonna happen. You wanna go break the news?”
Once Jay approached Ron, he replied with the anticipated response, “No, this is bullshit! She doesn't want me to be arrested! Go ask her, she doesn't want it this way! I'm sure of it!”
As Jay began to grab Ron's right hand to put him in cuffs, Ron defiantly pulled away. The fortitude of Ron's pitiful physical challenge matched his pitiful stature, and only seconds passed until Jay's patience wore thin. Jay slammed Ron to the floor pinning his meager frame to the shoddy filth laden carpet as Ron's left cheek smashed against the baseboard of the hallway. The commotion swiftly serrated what shred of serenity remained in those dimly lit hallways. The hastened turbulence careened through the hallway like a bulldozer, shaking the building to its very core.
Jay's thick stodgy knee pinned Ron to the floor as he cuffed him. That day Ron laid in the hallway of his decrepit castle blubbering like a little girl. It was a sight to see...indeed. During our ride to the station, Ron muttered his useless pleas of innocence. Booze does brings out the best in people; sometimes emotional hogwash. Sometimes... if you're lucky, you'll get a peek at their innermost sissy pants. This was always enjoyable, especially when countering with the likes of Ron Steenley. There seemed to be a use for these kind after all...entertainment.
While Jay endured the booking process with Ron, I granted myself a few moments of solitude at my desk under the guise of drafting incident reports. Truth is, I was in dire need of aspirin, as my earlier dosage had worn off and a headache was slowly creeping in. Jay and I shared a desk, but I noticed that my assigned voicemail was blinking. I had shut off my blackberry for the day, and of course as expected, a message from Alex loomed behind that red blinking dot. -I detested his loathsome predictability-
Reluctantly I hit the button only to hear his caustic voice resonate through my head, “Hey, hunny it's me, I just wanted to call and let you know that I heard from this guy, Carl, he works at HP. Anyway, he called to tell me I got the job I interviewed for last week. He said I could start next week, Monday morning. So I want to go out for dinner tonight to celebrate! Maybe you can wear that black dress you wore to dinner on our anniversary? I love that dress.”
Notice the complete omission of an apology? I hadn't expected one, and it wouldn't have mattered. Even when he offered an apology it was always followed by a caveat, 'I'm sorry, but you shouldn't have done....'. Who could be bothered with such utter crap? I saw no justice in his actions, and neither would anyone else if they had known what happened behind our walls. Frankly, If he had told me the Queen stopped by to use our toilet, I would have sooner bought that over an apology from his hateful lips. It was no matter, the only thing I wanted from him those days was an obituary with his name on it.
Now I had the remainder of the day to dream up reasonable excuses as to why I was turning down his gracious dinner invite; for which I would have undoubtedly paid. By nightfall my stomach was mangled with anxious knots; rendering myself a rather poor dinner companion. At the time, I would have preferred the company of a stinky hobo, rather than enduring the agonizing tales of Alex.
As I later discovered, his new job was merely a glorified shipping position with a smattering of IT knowledge. For a few short weeks, he would call himself an “IT organizational tech”. His detestable existence was only justified amidst the the cloud of his sociopathic mind when showered with recognition for a mediocre job well done. 'Hey look at my piece of shit job! I'm important! Look at me!' He was plagued with the most abhorrent case of LAM syndrome -a.k.a.: look at me syndrome- This particular affliction seemed to plague him worst than an army of toddlers.
When I opened my front door that night, there Alex stood at the top of our stairs, ready for our “date”; all five foot five of him. He was sporting his super fly button down shirt and a pair of tan jeans (circa 1992). Just when you thought there was no end in sight for the comic relief...enter stage right with one brown leather bomber jacket. The only thing that could have topped this dreadful fashion statement was a “members only” jacket. -surely he had one of those stashed away-
On his feet were ankle high leather boots with a one and a half inch heel. Along with his crippling case of OCD, he could never bring himself to throw away the most useless of trash. These particular boots had likely seen the streets of Boston since Reagan was in office. In fact, one day I caught him shamelessly scribbling black sharpie marker on the backside of a boot. I called these bad boys his 'man heels', they would make him appear just a bit taller than me; so as not to bruise his effeminate man boy ego.
The qualities one could lend to his Napoleanesque type traits, were his stature that matched the pathetic length and girth of his stubby little penis. In fact, our first time together I wasn't sure if he had penetrated me or poked me beneath the covers with a vienna sausage.
On our first date, I thought he was kinda cute; even though he carried on about himself nearly the entire evening. When he asked to go dutch treat he conveniently miscalculated his share for the three gin and tonics he threw done his gullet. Admittedly, he was fairly charming at first. I tried to look beyond the bad.
We were a rather odd couple, and left most people baffled scratching their heads in utter amazement. Alex would pride himself on being a “ladies man”, but in all likelihood the women that threw themselves at him were either drunk or mentally challenged. To date I'm still trying to figure out what this said about me, but at one point in time I allowed myself to somehow be charmed. That ship had long since sailed. In fact, it had capsized....with no lifeboats to speak of.
After a few short months of dating, he proposed insisting on a quick marriage. Now when I reflect upon that time, I believe he rushed the marriage as he could no longer hold back the ugliness that lurked inside. The one that most of us knew and despised. The ugly I came to know in time. Coincidentally, at his wake only two of his siblings showed -he had eleven-. It was a rainy day and the maple trees that hovered overhead sprinkled more tears from their leaves than any eye had shed that day. The only tears were mine... and were manufactured for effect. His children came bearing cold hugs and shallow sentiments.
In the beginning, for Alex and I, everything was fairly peachy keen. Until he slowly unveiled the monster inside. Once the children and I were invited to live in “his home”, a calculated list of do's and dont's were presented to us. Albeit not a written list, but a list that would eventually reveal itself with time. We were merely guests in his home. Guests that couldn't step or play on his grass. Guests that had to wipe themselves down with an assigned towel before stepping onto his bathmat. Guests that had to endure slaps and shoves should the remote turn up missing.
Now Alex was on borrowed time. He would continue to try and salvage the laughable union we shared. Much like tonight's request to go out for dinner. Too little too late. Nothing could save this asshole now. Not a damn thing.
That night as he stood there eagerly awaiting our departure for dinner, he approached me with a fake grin and exclaimed, “Honey, I got a job! I got it! Wahoo!”
He embraced me with his half assed hug and then pecked my cheek with his tightly pursed lips. It was the kind of kiss you give your great aunt or grandmother when you saw them every third year for Easter. His sickening kisses were yet another reminder of our situation; which was merely a convenience that kept him out off the streets when he fucked up gainful employment. When this happened, I would be there to hold down the fort; a much needed yet unwanted houseguest. Soon enough he wouldn't have to concern himself with bills or the like. Soon enough his foremost concern would certainly be the nine inch buck knife I planned to lunge through the back of his head. Thankfully, the last woeful concern to plague his simple mind.
When he stepped back and looked at me, my face surely relayed my restrained enthusiasm. It was a long day, I was off my game and I just didn't have it in me.
He stood back and looked at me saying, “What's the matter? Aren't you happy for me? You still want to go out for dinner with us tonight, right?”
I replied, “I'm sorry Alex, I'm happy for you I am just so tired after work today. Can we just schedule this for another night? This weekend my mom can take the boys and we can go out, just you and I. We can go to a nicer place. You know, like that nice Italian restaurant you like. How's that sound?”
No sooner had I spoken these words, within a nanosecond his face blossomed like a freshly steamed radish. His complexion would change drastically whenever his temper was about to boil over. This effect made for a rather accurate asshole barometer. You could generally predict when dread was forthcoming, as his complexion would gleam with the likes of Chernobyl.
What came next was one of his favorite side show acts, what I came to know as the “wedding ring toss”. All he needed now was a super mini-sized car so he could join the circus with a myriad of midgets adorning their best clown like attire. This particular side show, as he had a few, consisted of him ripping his wedding ring from the grips of his bulging finger fat and then tossing it wherever it may land. This charade was always accompanied with a fresh bouquet of profanity clinging to the air. After he wrestled the ring from his finger he sent it sailing, as it ricocheted directly up and pinged off his eyebrow...much like a foul ball -only more entertaining-.
After his rousing display of infancy he stormed off to his office and yelled, “You are so selfish! You knew how much I was looking forward to this! I was looking forward to this all day, and all you can do is think of your goddamned self! God, I am so sick and tired of your bullshit! Don't come talk to me, just leave me the fuck alone! You useless bitch!”
I daydreamed about him losing his foolish ring. He operated under the misguided impression that I continued to wear mine as a symbol of allegiance to delusional dictatorship. He was mistaken, I only continued wear it so as not to arouse suspicion when I finally him released him from the clutches of his miserable existence. I had considered baking his ring in a cake, and then gleefully watch as he choked on the foolish thing. I had decided against it, since Saint Peter would most assuredly scratch my name from his blessed list.
More often than I care to admit, when I came home to this shit, I wanted so badly to pick up the phone and vent to mom and friends. But I squelched this desire and internalized every heaping dose of crap he served up. As most women would surely attest, internalizing all of these feelings made for one nasty mess to eventually clean; for now, I swept it under the rug. Now my mess had become an unsightly carpet covered white elephant planted square in the center of my home.
That night Alex wouldn't receive any complaints from me as to his request for silence. Actually, I rather enjoyed not sitting across from him that night, affecting my engagement with the crap that dribbled from his mouth. I was happy to pay the price for a quiet night at home... or what I had thought was going to be a quiet night at home. I had predicted a little game of “wedding ring toss” but not that evening's main attraction.
That night once my boys were tucked in bed, I went downstairs to our room where Alex loomed with a beer in hand and his back squarely against our headboard. He sat stoic and unmoved and continued to dismiss my presence altogether, as I crossed the room to my bureau. His festering anger was so thick, it was as though I was enveloped with a sheath of rage as it dripped from our maroon walls. For the moment he seemed unmoved by my presence, but just beneath the surface lurked a maelstrom of obscenities.
I wasn't sure what I was in for that evening, but I knew I had to sleep in that bed to avoid another all night brawl. As I pulled my shirt overhead to change into my pajamas, a smattering of bruises were revealed just above my elbow. I had forgotten about these particular war wounds of sorts, but now with their ripening yellowish hue...they were hard to miss. Briefly, I ran my hand down the side of my arm to feel the subtle bumps that were raised just beneath my multi-colored skin.
For a fleeting moment, I could feel his eyes on me. Then quickly his eyes averted toward the TV screen as he raised his beer to his lips. He always pretended they weren't there, the bruises that is, and if the were, they would always somehow be my fault.
After about ten minutes of welcomed silence he asked me, “So, are you just going to sit there and ignore me all night?”
With Alex I always felt as though I had spiraled back in time to seventh grade. There was no accounting for maturity with this man. His outward appearance was not foretelling of the actual paucity of common sense he accumulated throughout the years. It was clear, he never learned when to leave well enough alone.
As I sat on the foot of our bed slipping socks from my feet I replied, “I just don't have anything to talk about, and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow so I would just rather relax and talk about this later.”
He replied, “Doesn't it bother you that we don't talk anymore and that you go around ignoring me all the time? I mean what is your issue? You used to want to talk about it when we fought and now all you do is avoid me?”
The first thought that entered my mind, 'it's because I hate your filthy rotten guts.'
Of course, like always, what I wanted to say, was exactly what I couldn't say.
I quickly conjured up something of substance in an effort to ward him off, “It's not that I don't care, Alex. I just don't want to talk tonight, ok? Can we just talk about this later, please?”
Immediately after my response he stood to his feet and ripped the blanket from his body to the floor, as he stood in the middle of the room purposely obstructing my view of the TV...seething with clenched teeth. Here we go, I was in for it tonight.
It didn't matter that my children were sleeping, his nut had finally cracked, and then came the yelling, “You just want to go to sleep?! Don't you ever think of how I am feeling?! You know I have been depressed and you refuse to read those articles I printed about depression! You refuse to go back to counseling with me! You refuse to go to dinner with me and refuse to talk to me when I ask?! What the fuck is going on with you?! You aren't going to keep sweeping this under the rug and ignoring me! What are you cheating on me?! What is going on, Mira? Unless you talk to me right fucking now you aren't getting a wink of sleep! I will make sure of it. I will make your night hell, like I did last night!”
With the shred of gumption that remained in my quickly wilting spirit, I made my way to the bathroom for refuge. I locked the door hoping for peaceful solitude in the one place where one would should reasonably expect. Quickly, I engaged the lock behind me with trembling hands and tried to soothe my contorted tummy. Sadness, Fear and loathing consumed me, it overwhelmed me daily, nightly and by the second more and more as the days had passed. I hadn't expected tears to flow...yet they had. They spattered onto the flat surface of my blackberry clutched in my hands, and then slid onto my cool shivering knees. Restraining muffled sobs only further rendered my body aching with what seemed like a crippling angst.
Before I had a chance to soothe myself with a spell of mind numbing web browsing on my blackberry, he startled me as he rapidly pounded his fist against the door jarring its entire frame.
Once I collected myself I replied with a cool refrain, “Please just leave me alone, I just want to be left alone.”
In his unrelenting quest to antagonize me, he continued with the berating and profanity. That's when my youngest son, Anthony, came out of his room and asked, “What's wrong?”
To which Alex replied “Get your ass back in bed, and mind his own damn business!”
Such a swell guy. Unfortunately, regret and shame was the expensive price I now paid.
I remember sitting there that night with my ass cheeks pressed against my cool wooden toilet seat cover, silently praying for what seemed like hours that he would just let me be. Then suddenly a clamorous bombardment of his fists pounding on the surface of the door sent my heart palpitating so loud that its beat became the only thing I could hear amidst my terror filled mind.
For a fleeting moment once the pounding ceased, I felt like I could breath again, as I though I had been breathing through a thick wool sheet. Then the sharp wooden crackle of the door's frame unexpectedly collided with the solitude that was my space. Where I thought I had solace had quickly become the stomping ground for his unrelenting rage; as the door suddenly careened from its hinge sending shards of wood toward me, and with a impetuous slam it smashed against our tiled floor. With intent force he charged toward me as he plunged his feet against the door's surface sending a deep crack down its center splitting it in two. Within seconds I was dangling from his fist as he pinned my vulnerable frame against our bathroom wall.
Instantly he rendered me gasping for air, with his hands grasped tightly around my neck like a tautly strung leather brace. With my body pinned against the wall, he shoved his body against mine and placed the bridge of his nose directly on mine.
A scented warm rush of hops and weed hit my face along with random spurts of frothy spit as he screamed in my face, “You think you are going to put me through this? You're not going to do this, you bitch! You are my wife! This is not ending with divorce! I waited years to remarry and this isn't going to happen like you want! I will fight you to the end and make your life hell! So you better straighten your ass out and change your fucking attitude, because I have had enough of your shit! Don't play fuck fuck with me because I will make your life a living hell!! You got that, bitch?! Got it?”
At that moment despite my state of near unconsciousness, he expected me to promptly answer. Amidst a cloud of an unmitigated rage, the reality of the situation at hand seemed to allude him; as though we were having an ordinary conversation and I was expected to immediately reply. As he continued to ask through tightly clenched teeth, “Huh, well do you get it? Do you fucking get it or not?! Answer me!?”
That night I remember thinking, while pinned against my wall wearing my best Wal-Mart pink laced jammies, that I was going to die that night. That I was going to die just a foot above my toilet. Toiling with regret for not killing him first. I remember thinking how much my kids would hurt, how my mother would cry; and as I peered into his widened eyes filled with hate, everything began to fade. Everything was was on mute as a legion of black dots began to infiltrate my eyes.
Despite his being a raging sociopath, a sudden stroke of conscience compelled him to release his grip from my neck. Too little too late, and apparently he didn't realize that by then, I had been rendered unconscious. Once he released me, my body abruptly fell as my forehead cracked the back of the toilet. Come to find out I had laid there for three hours, while he desperately tried to revive my consciousness. That stupid son of a bitch could have killed me that night.
Hours later I awoke with a sore throat and an indescribable headache. Once I finally sat up the first thing I saw was Alex crouched over me as he leaned forward and tried to caress my face with his hand. Instinctively I shied away. Once a sharp sting pierced my forehead, I lifted my hand to discover the culprit, my fingers grazed a shard of porcelain that had lodged itself in my now blood encrusted eyebrow. I sat on the floor trying to collect myself. Then it occurred to me, 'Why hadn't he called for help? Would he have sooner let me die than call for help? Sick bastard'
I recoiled from him on the cool tile floor and brought my knees up to my chest as I wrapped my arms around them. I sat staring at him in amazement as he began to sob, carrying on about how sorry he was and about how it would never happen again. I wasn't really listening, in fact all I clearly remember was thinking about how he could have killed me. He could have killed me next to the damn toilet! But most importantly what I remember that night was a strange sense of elation wash over me as a cool shiver ran through me. The irony of my happiness was that I knew this was the last time. The last time he would ever do this to me or anyone else.
When I was finally able to speak my voice rendered a scratchy tone. In order to fend off any further attacks I hastily rendered a nearly inaudible plea, “Ok, Ok, you got it, Alex. You know what, don't worry about it, this will all get better; I promise. I will go back to counseling with you and read the articles you gave me. I will try harder. Can we just please go to bed now.”
He sat with me on the floor, and cupped his face in his hands.
As he quickly conjured up a batch of fake tears he looked up at me and said, “That's all I want. I just want this to be better. I don't want to lose you. Don't make me mad like this anymore. It just isn't worth it, hunny. You know what I mean?”
I couldn't believe how this man's mind worked. How fucked up he truly was. That he had expected this to continue... forever.
When he finally helped me up from the floor, I made my way to our bedroom where I would curl up and pray that this was all a bad dream, and that he would quietly die in his sleep. Forever dissipating into the realm of to be forgotten by all, much like a bad dream, and then to resume life as it should be. I had said that prayer for many nights, for so long I couldn't tell you when I had begun. God never answered my prayers, I figure this was his way of making me stronger...forcing me to take care of him on my own.
I now knew this was a journey I must make on my own.