It was a horribly hot night in Fresno, California, but I was shivering uncontrollably in the pouring rain. I was in our backyard, watching my mother being beaten again. She saw me reaching for the locked screen door and warned me with a look to stay out. I wanted to rescue her, hold her, cradle her in my arms. She didn’t deserve this, no one does. Instead, I waited until the beating was over. I felt so helpless and guilty that I had no power to stop him.
I hate you, I screamed. Mom lived with different men who have hurt her. But this one, hands down, he took the cake. I decided right then, when he fell into a drunken stupor to go into the house, pack all our belongings and take her away from him.
My hair was drenched and my clothes wore soaked through but still I waited and made my plan. I knew where he hid his service revolver from the sheriff’s department. It was in the hall closet, next to the vacuum cleaner and other cleaning supplies.
A shout came from inside the house. “You don’t need to be moving around, just stand still and watch,” he screeched, looking directly at me. My Mom’s face was bleeding and her arm was at a strange angle. I didn’t know how much more she could take.
My puppy, Annie, sat beside me, shivering in the cold. She was a stray that wandered up to our apartment. Mom let me keep her, although she was breaking apartment rules. Tonight, before he threw my dog and me outside, he kicked Annie and grabbed me, but my mom stopped him.
I stared into Annie’s eyes. She was whimpering, she knew something was wrong.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he screamed at my Mom. “You have a roof over your head and food to eat. Shut your mouth and do what I say, or you’ll be sorry. I don’t even know why I let you and your brat move in with me.”
“Please stop,” my mom cried out.
“Bitch!” he screamed, running at her with clenched fists. “You think you’re so smart, you’re just a candy ass nobody who’s let herself go. I don’t even know why I married you.”
He jumped on top of my mother’s back, fists hitting her in the back of the head, and then she went still. Her eyes were looking at me and I watched her die.
I knew that now was the time. He was drunk, he dropped his beer can on the piss green, shag carpet. Annie and I slipped into the house, racing past my mom. She was gone, I couldn’t do anything for her, and I had to get out of his house before it was too late. I walked straight into my room where I put on black sweats and a black Oakland Raiders baseball cap. I packed a bag for Annie and myself, I was almost ready. I dashed under my bed and pulled out a hollowed-out encyclopedia. I had been stashing money away in the book since my first babysitting job, and I hid the money in my room. My mom’s husband would never think about opening a book, so I knew my money was safe. He made me pay rent and my doctor bills since I was twelve. I even paid for my own clothes. The rest I hid away for a time just like this. I just didn’t think I’d be leaving way before I received my high school diploma.
Books had always been important to me, and I retained everything I read and particularly what things I saw. I was told I had an eidetic memory. My research varied; I learned how to tie knots, how to shoot BB guns, make fake driver’s licenses (I made money through this at school). I also learned from all my research how to disguise myself, how to disappear, and how to make a passport. Things that would help me now and in the future.
I slipped out my door, shutting it behind me, keeping Annie inside the room. Walking down the darkened hallway I saw the closet door. Opening it slowly, I searched for the gun and spotted the cardboard box where it was kept. I opened the box up and my arm bumped into the vacuum cleaner hose and it began to tip over. Catching it, I put it back upright and pulled the gun from the twisted mess of my mother’s cleaning closet.
I heard snoring in the den, and the TV was on. People in our apartment complex were used to Randy’s drunken outbursts and loud noises that emanated from the police procedurals he always watched.
Walking to his Lazy Boy chair he had passed out in, I pressed the revolver against the side of his temple. Goddamnit, why did this have to happen? I began to sob. I looked down at where my mom lay and knew there was no turning back. Annie was safe behind my bedroom door.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish