This wasn’t a new feeling, this heart stuck in the middle of her esophagus feeling; she had grown disturbingly familiar with the pseudo-lump in her throat by now…just a little over a year’s time. Her thoughts drifted hazily back through time, trying to confirm the accuracy of her perception of time passed since she first became this way – since she lost herself in the midst of an existence under the control of a very angry, pathologically violent, faultily hardwired and precariously unstable man…her husband.
It had, indeed, been over a year, she silently decided with a slow shake of her heavy, down turned head; she was shocked to realize that she had let it get so far out of her own ability to act – to protect herself – to survive. The very notion of survival had taken on a new face in her mind these days. The recurring raccoon eyes, especially in combination with the non-healing broken jaw and collar bones that she still painfully lived with began to seem like a cake walk, in comparison to the things her husband often did when he was on a psychopathic bender.
Mr. Americano’s unacknowledged, intrinsic rage and deeply seeded hatred towards ALL women on Earth manifested differently, depending on the type of bender he was riding out; but the manifestations most certainly always involved degrading her, physically and sexually assaulting her – no matter the way things played out. Lately, he was obviously escalating quickly to a level which he’d never gone before; the terror and tension she now endured from one moment to the next, waiting like a nervous burglar near the front picture window in the darkness – searching the yard for any sign of movement, fearfully anticipating the headlights rolling over the pane of glass behind which she sat like a scared animal, stiff with fear.
He had been highly upset over Christmas; his anger had oddly been deflected off of her that time however, and he had gone on a rampage all over town to supposedly “collect” what people owed him.
“It’s bullshit that I don’t have no money for Christmas gifts for my girls while they [by “they”, he meant several of his longtime friends who were each struggling much more than we were, financially] have cash to celebrate and shit…”
He had grown increasingly irritable over the few hours prior to finally leaving that night, the night before Christmas Eve, to go “take what was his” from people who he had known since his childhood that supposedly owed him money (she never knew that part of it for sure, though). He left with a handgun in his door panel, and he was out of his mind with this fit of enraged anger over money owed to him; the entire blow-up seemed random as Hell to her, but nothing really made sense anymore.
He had returned early the next morning covered in blood, beaten half to death and looking quite defeated. He looked like a zombie walking up the path to the front door, literally – clothes torn to shreds in some places, one shoe falling apart with every shuffling step he took towards her, the other shoe missing altogether. His face had been smashed worse than he had ever smashed hers; his eyes were both nearly swollen closed (she wondered how he was able to drive home in that condition, but said nothing of it).
Her heart had fluttered at the sight of him that way: broken, bloody and betrayed by his own cockiness and temper; such a short-lived glory plummeted just as quickly as it caught air however, upon the chilling reminder that she would ALWAYS pay the price for the mistakes others made when it came to her husband; she had always bore the burdens of the stupid things people would say or do to piss him off and make him passively violent the instant that they were behind closed doors.
It was with that thought that she snapped back to the present moment: heart still planted firmly in her mid-esophagus, fear still flash freezing her every particle while she waited for Mr. Americano to return tonight. She had no idea where he’d been or who he’d been talking with – there was no telling which off-the-wall fancy he was going to bring home with him this time. One way or another, she would get the wrath for whatever had him so balls-out angry again, she was sure of that much. At some point in between an onslaught of the panicked breaths her body was reflexively forcing her to take and the all-consuming terror and anxiety attached to the anticipation of his homecoming, she actually fell soundly asleep from emotional exhaustion.
When she made the mistake of resting her head with her “good ear” (the one that he hadn’t beaten the ability to hear from) against the mattress or sofa cushions, creating the encompassing silence appreciated only by those with true hearing LOSS, it was inevitable that she would drift off to sleep every time. She loved quiet time; she loved it more with each second of her life that flew away in the wind; it was the only time she was able to think at all, the rest of her time felt like it was spent on a different planet with an alien companion that made bi-polar disorder look like a week-long bachelor party in the Glades.
More often than not, she found herself stunned to uselessness, unable to comprehend what was happening at any given time, as it was 9 times out of 10: an exceptionally unforeseen act of violence (often torture) against her, at the hands of her monstrous husband. It was during these times of sheer Living Hell that she became numb to the physical damages being done to her body somehow. During the most painful of instances, she would will herself to stand up again – over and over and over until her feet and legs refuse to follow her brains command to lift her up once more. The rest of the time though, she unfailingly did nothing but to sit in a daze and focus on the unspeakable levels of cruelty and sadism that the man who fathered her only child enjoyed to watch her squirm beneath.
She had been through all of the stages akin to this type of a female domestic hostage: denial, enabling, disbelief, self-loathing and guilt, the defensive, the law, and lastly – resignation. It wasn’t long ago that she had realized she would die this way, in this house with her years’ worth of blood stains soaking into each bedroom’s every plank of wood; she understood that this had been her fault, the decision to marry an illiterate, psychopathic giant with ZERO self-control. That was her bad choice and she owned that much of things; it was about all she owned, and she held on to it fiercely.
The night he had come home beaten and defeated, three of his “friends” in three different locations had surprised him with self-defensive responses to his bullying tactics; one had overtaken him with a club from a dark corner in a garage, one had put up the fist fight of his life and eventually got the upper hand when his two brothers showed up and joined in on his side to knock Mr. Americano unconscious. He finally proceeded to go to “Rooster’s” house (this had been the genius who introduced her to her captor/husband a few years back) and pull the gun he had stashed in his truck door as he had left the house on him in the front yard of his house.
Rooster told her at a later time that Mr. Americano had, indeed, chambered a round and aimed the gun at his face before attempting to shoot him dead then and there. The gun jammed and Rooster was close enough to grab for it. After a short scuffle, Mr. Americano found himself at a disadvantage – already worse for wear and without his gun. Luckily for him, his longtime friend has better morals and standards than he ever could have cultivated or maintained, and let him get away without further incident. It was because of this insane incident that Rooster wound up coming to the house just a few days after Christmas to speak with her while he was at his father’s with the girls to exchange gifts etc. True to his imposing notoriety, he just walked right through the front door and came in to where she was folding laundry on the sun porch out back, first startling her and then, scaring her beyond words with his story about the night before Christmas Eve and the terrifying implications behind its events.
“Look…I know things are bad for you now, but if you stick around here much longer, things are going to only get a lot worse – really fast; if you don’t beeline for it soon, you’re gonna take a dirt nap somewhere in the desert, girl…”
Dirt naps in the desert were sadly a common way for a bad person to get rid of somebody for good; she knew that. Her husband had commented about this several times in the past in reference to other people who had crossed him. She often wondered if he had already buried anyone in the Mojave out there. Miserably, it would not have surprised her to learn that he had.
All she could do was shake her head and stare at the floor as Rooster summarized a dread warning of life or death to her. The thoughts flooded in once more: the pathetically redundant cycle of possible escape plans, the law, and any trustworthy individuals who would not give her up if she ever actually got out to safety and away from him; it was a hideous, dead-end display of her paralyzed state of mentality. After several minutes, and without lifting her gaze to make eye contact in any way, she simply said:
“You better go, Rooster. If he comes home and finds you here while he’s gone, my head will roll, you know?”
Her husband had continued to behave more and more erratically and unpredictably over the few months between then and the present; disappearing for hours without word and then returning livid and explosively violent towards her. She staged a “visit” for their daughter up north with her parents, a desperate attempt to assure the baby’s own emotional and physical safety. He had never laid a hand on the girls, but that was liable to change at any moment now. One night, while she sat terrified in the front window, waiting for him to return and beat her until he grew bored and tired with the effort it took, she decided to go through with an escape. She had finally realized and accepted the fact that if she did not act, she would die…and likely soon.