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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Domestic Battery: Side-effects include...

I had an interesting, albeit, a frustrating conversation with a fellow resident of Nord End today. In response to the Saturday morning homicide on Dana Street, he said that the mayor has got to do something about “all of this crime.”

In response, I asked, “Like what? Outlaw domestic violence? Station a cop in every household?”

As a result of my queries, I was told not to be a smart-ass. Trust me on this, I was practically raised on domestic violence. It’s not something I take lightly, and not something I am even remotely tolerant of.

When I was in the first grade at Oxford Elementary, my step-dad surprised my mom with a brand new stove. He and his buddy brought the thing home in the back of a pickup truck. Being someone who absolutely loved to cook and bake while yodeling away, my mom was not only surprised, she was thrilled.

After Leo’s buddy drove off, he disconnected the ancient stove from the gas line. Much like it always did over even the most mundane of things, then it started. He wanted my mom to help him carry the old stove up the steps and into the unfinished attic. She suggested that they simply slide the thing out onto the back porch until it could be disposed of.

Voices were raised. The insults and vulgarities flowed from his lips like rounds from an automatic weapon. The more she argued, the louder and meaner he got. And being a well-decorated veteran of their frequent domestic outbursts, I took my sister by the hand, retreated to the open attic steps and took a seat.

As was almost always the case, my mom threw in the proverbial towel by agreeing to help hump the thing up the steps and into the attic. At that point, my sister and I watched from the doorway to the kitchen.

Needless to say, my mom was having a bit of trouble with carrying this ancient half-ton stove up the steps. They’d lift it a step at a time, put it down, scream and yell some more and then repeat the process. About half way up, Leo had heard enough from her and pushed the stove down towards her. Yes, believe it or not, she was supporting the bulk of the weight on the lower end.

The stove drove her backwards, tumbled right over her and she followed it by rolling down to the bottom of the steps. She was obviously injured, but she somehow found the strength to get up, take a 30-odd-6 off of the gun rack, point it right at Leo’s face and proceeded to pull the trigger. And when we heard the click rather than the explosion of a round out of the barrel, she collapsed to the floor sobbing.

He told the police as well as the ambulance guys that the stove had simply gotten away from him. And as was always the case until their relationship grew even stormier at the end, she covered for him. But I know what I saw. And what I saw was uncontrolled rage converted to violence. And as a direct result, I saw an attempted homicide that just didn’t work out right.

The last time I saw him as a cohabitant, he had been released from the local veteran’s hospital after a similar incident with my mom. Amazingly, someone from the hospital had called to warn her that he was just released, and he seemed none too happy. She called the Derby police and begged them for protection. They told her to call if and when he actually arrived on seen.

After that call ended, she was hysterical and started barricading the doors and some of the windows. She was frantic, she was sobbing all the while, she knew she was in for it. After piling furniture against the front and back doors, she had me spot for her as she backed the Datsun up against the garage door in the basement. The thinking being that the bumper would prevent him from raising the door after he had unlocked it.

As his taxi arrived and pulled into the driveway, she called the police screaming for help. He unlocked the front door, but very quickly realized that the pile up against the door would deny his entry. So he stated yelling, “You’re effing dead, Dot.”

At the back door, he came up against yet another unmovable pile, and the verbalized threats continued. As he walked back around to the front of the house, my mom told me to take my sister into my bedroom and to lock the door behind me. I locked Sue in my room, but I ran into their room to see if I could watch him through the front windows.

After he unlocked the aluminum garage door, and after he realized it would not raise more than a foot or two, he went into a crazed rage and pulled on the door until it buckled in the middle. He pulled and pulled, it buckled and buckled and then it just kind of popped right out of the track.

I heard him pounding his way up the steps, the basement door burst into pieces and my mom then took the worst beating of her entire life. I came to her aid, and I remember being awakened by a police officer. That was my fourth one-punch KO thanks entirely to the step-dad. And at the tender age of 12.

After 4 police officers fought with him before taking him into custody, and after they put her in an ambulance for the very last time by his clenched hands, the cops asked me where my nearest relative resided. “Uh, Wilkes-Barre,” came out.

When she got out of the hospital, she had finally smartened up and filed for divorce. We brought to Pennsylvania with us only what would fit in a 1966 Datsun (not very much), and we were living with my grandparents by that September of 1971.

With these sorts of remembrances, I could go on and on and on and to the point of being accused of being a writer of fiction. I’ll spare you.

I have two thoughts on all of this domestic battery nonsense.

First of all, there aren’t any mayors or any police departments that can foresee and then prevent any of these sorts of needless incidents.

And secondly, honey, if he hits you once, he’ll do it again. In fact, if he hits you but once, you’d be smart to expect to get hit again and again and again. The more precise point being, honey, if he hits you once…get the hell out of the relationship. Leave. Split. Vamoose. Go!

Because the side-effects of domestic battery are physical injuries, psychological trauma, undo suffering, emotional detachment, familial upheaval, oh, and sometimes premature death.

Them’s my thoughts. The thoughts of a kid who got hit in the head one too many times.

And yet, they wonder why I was diagnosed as having auto-hostility issues.



Anonymous said...

Scary stuff

Anonymous said...

Indeed, harrowing. Thanks for sharing that, Mark.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was a tough story,well told. Usually when I hear things like "auto-hostility issues" my skepticism-alarm starts buzzing. Not in your case.

zorcong said...

Those were the easy-to-digest stories.

Want to hear about the really bad stuff?