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Stories of Abuse and Survival




Thanks to Abuse No More
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to this anthology of survival stories.

© 2012-2013 H Maria Perry
All Rights Reserved


***






Happy Birthday Mikey! 


She folded and re-folded the brand new pajamas her friend Carolyn bought for her. She rearranged the new slippers her friend Laura bought for her. She made sure all the baby things her friends bought for her were arranged neatly on the diaper changing table that her neighbor gave her. The used baby crib her friend Laura gave her was clean and ready to receive Mikey when he came home with her. 

Martha managed to stuff the big fluffy robe given to her by another friend into the bag. There was a big box of newborn diapers, powder, and baby lotion on a side table. Martha selected a cute fuzzy sleeper for Mikey to wear home from the hospital. She carried the used car seat, again given to her by her friends, to Jack's brand new Mitsubishi. It was a nice car, but Martha was upset Jack bought it. They shouldn't have gone into debt $25,000 with a new baby on the way, but Jack HAD to have that car.  

Martha and Jack arrived at Clarksdale hospital at 3:00 PM on a Friday afternoon. Today, Mikey was to be born by C-Section. Jack started the celebration early. He was drunk before 11:00 AM. Martha paced the floor all day. When Martha and Jack arrived at the hospital, her older sons and her best friend were waiting for her. Jack made an ass of himself, telling inappropriate jokes, boasting to the boys about how me "knocked up" their mother. Everyone was uncomfortable and concerned. Martha put on a happy face but inside she was terrified and embarrassed. 

A nurse directed family and friends to a waiting room and then escorted Martha and Jack to a small room just off the operating room. Here, Martha was prepped for surgery. Martha could smell the booze on Jack. She was sure the nurse could smell it too. Jack was laughing too loud and continued to make inappropriate jokes. Martha put on the hospital gown and climbed into the bed. Jack donned the scrubs the nurse gave him while Martha was wheeled into the operating room. After several painful attempts the anesthesiologist finally managed to get the needle in her back for the spinal and her lower body went numb. Jack then entered the operating room escorted by a nurse. Jack was seated to Martha's right. The surgical nurses erected a barrier between Martha, Jack and her belly and then draped it with sterile cloth so that neither Martha nor Jack could actually see the surgery.

The surgeon entered and reassured Martha that it would be over quickly and she would meet her beautiful baby boy in a few minutes. Jack continued to make inappropriate jokes and sexual innuendo. Martha was horrified when Jack boasted to the nurse standing at her head about the "power" of "his seed." Jack kept twisting and fidgeting around on the swivel stool where he was seated. At one point during the surgery, Jack accidentally pulled down the sterile barrier causing the whole thing to fall across Martha's face. Jack loudly announced, "I see your guts! Cool!" The nurses quickly lifted the barrier off Martha's face and re-erected it. Martha was certain that Jack would be kicked out of the operating room. 

A few seconds later, Martha heard Mikey's first cry. She closed her eyes and tears streamed down her face.

"He's a big boy!" the surgeon proclaimed.

Mikey was born at 7 months. Martha expected a tiny, sick baby. She was overjoyed at the surgeon's words. Soon the nurse brought Mikey to her. Martha couldn't hold him since her arms were strapped down but the nurse held Mikey's head close to her face and Martha kissed him on his forehead.

"Happy birthday, Mikey," Martha whispered.

The nurse then left with Mikey while the doctor sewed up Martha's belly. Martha looked around but Jack was not in the room. He left behind the nurse. Martha was wheeled to recover where she stayed alone for an hour. After she was taken to her room, she was alone for another hour. Jack eventually wandered in for 15 minutes and then he left. 

Martha did not see Jack again for three days. On the third day Martha was discharged from the hospital but Mikey was not released. He had some fluid on his lungs at birth which caused him difficulty breathing. He had to stay an extra two days. Being discharged meant that Martha would not receive meals. The hospital administrator allowed her to stay in the room because she was breastfeeding Mikey, with the understanding that she would be out if another patient needed the room. 

On day four in the hospital, Martha called Jack and asked him to bring her some food. She had no money and the hospital was no longer providing meals. Jack was drunk when she called. She begged Jack to pleased bring her some money so she could go to the hospital cafeteria or bring her something to eat. Jack said he would try and then hung up the phone. Martha sobbed quietly. One of the nurses heard Martha begging Jack to bring food or money and took pity on  her. The nurse bought some potato chips and a candy bar from a vending machine at the end of the hall and brought it to her. Martha was both grateful and humiliated, but she ate the snacks. 

Later that night Jack showed up in the hospital room. Martha was shocked by Jack's appearance. He was clearly drunk, and he stank. Martha could smell piss, shit, booze and another woman on him. Jack tossed a frozen dinner on the bed and told her he couldn't stay but would be back the next day. He then left. One of the nurses came in and asked her if she wanted her to heat the frozen dinner in a microwave in the employee lounge. Martha nodded her head and then lay down and sobbed into her pillow.

This would not be the last time that Jack would leave Martha and Mikey alone and hungry.

***


My Sons Love Me! 


"My sons love me!" Jack insisted. "They love their father. I have always taken care of my sons!"

Martha knew this was a lie.

Jack never sent a single penny in child support to his first son who was now in his twenties. Jack would not have sent anything to his second son except the state of Florida garnished his wages for child support. He never bought a Christmas or birthday present for his older sons. He never even sent a birthday card to them. Jack did not give a damn about his children except when it suited him to play the devoted father for some gain. It made Martha sick to watch Jack use their son, Mikey, for his personal gain. He told his co-workers that Mikey was sick and that the medicine was so expensive and not covered by insurance. His co-workers took up a collection to help buy medicine for Mikey. Truth was, there wasn't a thing wrong with Mikey. Jack lied. He collected money from people who could barely afford to take care of their own and used the money to buy booze. Martha often thought to tell his co-workers how he lied to them to get some money, but if anyone ever revealed she outed him, Jack would surely murder her. 

"And I will be taking care of little Mikey too!" he shouted in her face. "You can count on that."

Martha looked at her feet. The nail polish was chipped here and there. She couldn't make eye contact with Jack. Eye contact would be perceived as a challenge and any challenge would be met with violence. She had no nail polish remover and no money to buy any. She would have to touch up the chipped polish and hope she could save back a few dollars to buy some polish remover next week. 

Martha was snapped out of her focus on her chipped toenail polish by a sharp poke to the side of her head.

"Did you hear me, bitch?" Jack snarled. 

Martha looked up at Jack who was looming over her with his fists clenched at his side, his jaw set and his nostrils flared. Jack was looking for an excuse to choke her and punch her in the head. Martha's forehead was still sore from the last time he punched her in the head. Jack was always careful not to give her a black eye. He never hit her in the face. Jack punched her in the side of her head a lot. He also liked to pull her hair and slam her head into the closest wall. 

"I'm listening, Jack." Martha said. She tried to keep her eyes fixed on her toenails and her chipped nail polish. 

"That fucking crack whore takes my child support and gets her hair done, gets her nails done, and my son does without!" Jack shouted. "Man, fuck that crack whore. My son knows I love him. He knows his mother is a fucking cunt whore! My son knows his daddy is a real man!"

My fucking god! Martha thought. That son-of-a-bitch never calls his son and complains about every cent that is garnished from his wages for child support.  

Martha wanted to call him out and tell him she knew what he was really mad about. He was angry that he had to support his son because the state of Florida finally caught up with his deadbeat ass. He was calling the mother of his child a "crack whore" because that's what stupid people do when they have no valid argument -- they call names and make false accusations. According to Jack, every woman he ever knew before her was a crack whore. Every. Single. One. A. Crack. Whore. The mother of his oldest son was a crack whore. The mother of his second son was a crack whore. Martha figured if she lived long enough to escape him she too would be deemed a crack whore. 

"You shouldn't accuse her of being a crack whore, Jack." Martha said. "You are morally and legally obligated to support your son. You shouldn't attack his mother because you don't want to pay support."

"The fuck!" Jack screamed at her.

Jack lunged forward and grabbed Martha by her throat. She instinctively grabbed his wrists as his long, strong fingers closed around her throat. Martha looked up at the face of the monster who was choking the very life out of her. His teeth were bared like a feral dog. There was spittle running from one corner of his mouth to his chin. Martha noticed that Jack had a really nasty blackhead in the corner of his mouth and his mustache was drawn on badly today. She closed her eyes and just waited for the darkness.

Maybe this time he will be merciful and just kill me, she thought.  

Jack released his grip on her throat and Martha gasped for air. 

"Fuck you," he spat. "You fucking bitch. What the fuck do you know about shit? Stupid motherfucker."

Jack walked out the front door. A few minutes later she heard the car start and Jack drove away.

Please let him crash into an utility pole and kill himself, she pleaded with whatever power controls the universe. 

Jack came home after 2 AM stinking of booze and shit. He had pissed himself again. The front of his baggy jeans was wet from his crotch to his knees. Martha could smell cheap perfume and another woman's sex on him too. 

"Hey baby girl," he slurred his words as he crawled into bed. "Make me some Ramen noodles, baby and put some of that chicken in them for me, baby. Love you baby. You my girl? You my girl, baby? I love you baby girl. Yeah, make me some noodles baby."

Fuck you! You stinking drunk! Martha thought.

She fled their bed before he could put his filthy hands on her. She went to the kitchen to heat water for the noodles. Martha heard his monstrous snoring before the water started to boil. She turned off the stove and then went to the living room and turned on the television. Christy Brinkley and Chuck Norris were demonstrating how to use an exercise machine that will give you fabulous abs in only a few weeks or your money back. Martha fell asleep on the sofa. She dreamed of life before Jack and it was good. 

***

Furious Jack


The days and weeks after leaving an abusive relationship are the most dangerous. The abuser is often a narcissist, controlling but filled with fear and self-loathing. The only way an abusive narcissist can feel good about himself is to belittle and beat someone smaller, physically and emotionally weaker than him, and vulnerable. Jack was a textbook abuser. He was insecure, angry and frightened. His heart was filled with hate and his soul tortured by memories of being a small boy, unable to defend himself against an abusive father.



Jack spoke of his father and mother with hatred in his eyes and a vile tone in his voice. Martha understood, intellectually, why Jack abused her. She did nothing to deserve the violence he perpetrated against her, but that didn't matter. Martha was a stand-in for the people he really wanted to hurt: his parents and every woman before her who had found the strength to leave him. Sometimes when Jack was abusing Martha, he would call her Arleen, his first wife, or Betty, his second wife. Once he called her Elly, his girlfriend before Martha met him. 

Jack told Martha about a time when his father was beating his mother. Jack said he tried to protect her and Jack's father punched him so hard in the kidney that Jack pissed blood for days afterward. Jack also claimed that his father stabbed him in the back once. Jack showed Martha the scar. It was hard for Martha to sort the truth from the lies. Jack was always lying. That's another thing about the abusive narcissist. He will twist history and events to place himself in the most favorable light while making others out to be the wrongdoer.

According to Jack, he was always the victim of some whorish woman, a lying cheating father, an indifferent, disconnected mother and ungrateful children. Jack was always the victim. Poor Jack. Poor, poor Jack. Everyone is always lying on Jack. Everyone is always trying to hurt Jack. Jack is a good man. Jack doesn't deserve the hand that fate has dealt him. Truth is, Jack is an evil, lying, manipulative narcissist who uses every person around him for his own gain.

Martha was sickened by the memory of the time that Jack told his co-workers that Mikey was very sick and they could not afford the medicine for him. Jack's co-workers stepped up and donated money. The truth is Mikey was not sick. There was nothing wrong with Mikey, but Jack was broke and needed money for booze and cigarettes. She wondered how many times Jack had played that hand at work to get money to buy beer. Probably more often than she could imagine. 

"If you think you're going to divorce me," Jack hissed as he pressed his fingers around Martha's throat. "I will fucking kill you!"

Martha sank back against the sofa, hoping Jack would release her.  Martha learned that if she took a subordinate position, if she just humped up her back and buried her head, Jack would feel powerful and let her go -- sometimes. Jack released his grip on her throat and Martha instinctively drew her knees to her chest and made herself as small as possible. She didn't dare make eye contact with Jack. Eye contact was interpreted as a challenge and any challenge would be met with extreme violence.

"Maybe I don't gotta do it to you," he said. "Maybe I do it to one of your children."

Martha felt like her heart would explode at those words. Jack had never threatened her children before. He always belitted and threatened her. Mikey was hiding behind Martha on the sofa and witnessing the violence and hearing the vile abuse his father heaped upon her. Martha knew that what was happening to Mikey would leave emotional scars that might never heal.

An hour earlier, Jack had gone upstairs to use the bathroom. When he returned he brought Mikey with him. It was after 1:00 AM when Jack brought Mikey downstairs to witness his abuse on Martha. Jack made Mikey sit beside him on the sofa. 

"This is how you do a bitch," Jack told Mikey. "When you gonna give me some pussy bitch!" 

Martha thought she would die from fear and humiliation but mostly she was terrified for Mikey. Martha reached out to Mikey who ran to her and hid his face behind Martha's back. 

"Don't play that shit," Jack said. "Bitch."

Martha felt Mikey shaking as his tiny hands clung to her shirt. Martha could protect his eyes from the sight of furious Jack prancing around with his chest puffed out and shaking his fist at her, but she could not prevent his ears from hearing the vile abuse heaped upon her by Mikey's father.

"Motherfucker," Jack said. "I swear I will fucking kill you."

Jack threatened to murder Martha's older son and then threatened Mikey."I will put a bullet in your fucking skull," he hissed at then six-year old Mikey.

Mikey's whole body shook. She felt the unmistakable warmth of urine on her thigh as Mikey peed himself from fear.

Martha left Jack as soon as he passed out drunk on the sofa. In the days and weeks that followed she knew she had to be very careful. Jack was enraged that she finally left him. He didn't seem to give a damn about where she and Mikey had gone. He was pissed off that she took the car. Jack sent twenty or more emails demanding that Martha return the family car to him. Martha returned the car but that didn't satisfy Jack. He wanted to get even with her for leaving him. He wanted to punish her for daring to defy him. He wanted to kill her.

Martha won a domestic violence protection order for three years against Jack. He was prohibited from contacting her or Mikey. Jack didn't even bother to deny anything that Martha testified to in court. He admitted what he did. He admitted that he was an alcoholic and eluded to blackouts as an excuse for his behavior. In the end, the judge saw fit to grant Martha and Mikey protection from him. 

Martha was very careful about her movements. She enrolled Mikey in school and set about looking for a job. Martha tried to create a normal environment for Mikey. Sometimes late at night, Mikey would wake her up and tell her he was afraid that Jack was going to find him and shoot him in the head. She knew that Jack could show up at any time, but it was more likely that he would send someone else to do his dirty work for him. 

"Hey, how are you?" the voice on the other end of the cell phone call asked. 

Martha immediately recognized the voice.

"Hey! So good to hear from you. I'm hanging in there," she responded.

"Listen," the voice insisted. "Do you have a court date with Jack on October fourth?"

Martha was a bit stunned, "Yeah. I do. Jack hasn't paid his child support. We are going to court because I filed a motion to hold him in contempt for failing to pay. What's up?"  

"Just watch your back," the voice warned. "Jack called me. He is trying to get me to come to Kentucky on the third to help him take care of a problem before the fourth. He wants you taken out of the game. Just watch yourself." 

Martha pleaded with the voice to contact the police and report what Jack did, but the voice refused.

The call ended and Martha was left holding the silent cell phone in her trembling hand. Soon Martha would find out that Jack told some alleged gang members that Martha had published their photos on the Internet and outed them as drug dealers in an apparent attempt to induce them to murder Martha. Martha lived in terror for months. 

***
Birthday Bologna

Mikey was four months old when Martha celebrated her 46th birthday. It was a miracle that Mikey was born healthy and that Martha had survived the pregnancy. Jack refused to buy enough food and refused to buy her pre-natal vitamins during her pregnancy. Martha's doctor gave her a handful of sample packages of vitamins, otherwise she would have had none at all. Martha's friends from her job at the plastic factory and her step-son often brought her food because they knew she was hungry and Jack was not buying food for her while she was pregnant. Martha was hospitalized once because of malnutrition while she was pregnant with Mikey and his twin sister. Of course, Jack told the doctor Martha refused to eat to cover up his evil act of depriving her of food.

Martha woke up early on her birthday. She checked on Mikey who was sleeping soundly. She went to the kitchen of the small apartment she shared with Jack and whoever happened to need a place to stay at the time. Her solace was coffee. Most of the time a hot cup of coffee helped. She put on a pot and opened the refrigerator. There was nothing to eat. Martha caught a half cup of coffee from the brewer and then went to the living room to enjoy her treat and watch some news before Mikey woke up. She could hear Jack snoring in the back bedroom. Sundays were always dreadful for her. Jack would be in a sour mood because he had to go to work on Monday. Jack would be complaining about the "bitches" he worked with, he would take it out on her, and she would catch it all day.

Martha's mind was racing. "Forty-six years old with a four month old baby and a drunken bastard for a husband. Yay me!" she thought. Mikey was the only thing in her life she gave a damn about and it was him that kept her going. In all the years she had been married to Jack, he never bought her a birthday present. He never bought her an anniversary gift either. Come to think of it, Jack never bought her a Christmas present. It was clear Jack didn't give a damn about her. Martha put her head in the crook of her elbow and sobbed quietly. Thinking back on the past years made her miserable. Jack never even bought her a single maternity outfit to wear. Every stitch of clothes she had were given to her by friends and family. It broke her heart that Jack gave less than a fuck about her and Mikey.

Martha watched television for an hour before Jack woke up. Jack's son Jared had been sleeping on the sofa. He was rousing too. Jack spent the next 3 hours complaining about the Sunday Blue Laws and expressing his disgust for Christians who, because of their fake piety, deprived him of his Sunday morning beer. As the clock neared 1:00 PM, or beer o'clock as Martha secretly called it, Jack grabbed his car keys and started for the door. 

"Jack?" Martha asked. "Can you bring me something to eat? I'm really hungry and I have to eat something to keep Mikey healthy."

Martha was breast feeding Mikey. It was a good thing she did too, because it was highly unlikely Jack would pay for baby formula. 


"Sure," Jack said as he went out the door.


Martha and Jared talked and watched television while Jack was gone. Jared had brought food to Martha before, he knew that she often went hungry. Jared wished Martha a happy birthday and apologized because he had no money to buy her a present. 

Soon, Jack returned from his Sunday morning beer run. He tossed a paper bag on the love seat beside Martha and said, "Happy birthday." Jack continued down the hall to the bathroom.


Martha looked inside the bag. There was a loaf of white bread, a package of bologna and a small container of mustard. Martha burst into tears. 

"What's wrong, Martha?" Jared asked. 


"Fuck me!" Martha cried. "It's bologna! I got fucking bologna for my birthday! I got birthday bologna!"

Jared and Martha laughed and cried together. It was pathetic and profoundly sad at the same time. For years afterward on her birthday, Jared teased Martha about the birthday bologna.


"Did you get your birthday bologna again this year?" Jared would ask. 

For years afterward, Martha could not walk past the deli isle in a grocery store without both laughing and crying at the same time. 


***

Jack Tried to Hire a Crackhead Hitman


Jack sent email to Martha from his job every day. Usually he was complaining about management or an employee or he was pressuring Martha to write more articles to earn some money so he could buy beer on his way home. Martha often worried that Jack would get into trouble at work for sending confidential documents from his job to her email, but she kept her worries to herself. 

Recently, Jack had been sending complaining emails about "snitch ass motherfuckers" at work. She figured he was being reported to human resources again for his behavior. She knew that he was coercing women at work to buy him food and give him money, but she did not know he was involved in more sinister and criminal activity.

Sunday mornings were stressful in Martha's house. Jack paced the floor, cursing the Christians for Sunday Blue Laws, his hands shaking from the DTs. He checked the time over and over, waiting for 1:00 PM when the convenience store on the corner could sell beer. 

"Fucking Christians!" Jack spat. "Why the fuck can't I buy a beer before one o'clock? Goddamn hypocrites. I'm gonna see most of them at the liquor store after they get through praising their white Jesus! Fuck!"

"It's just another hour, Jack." Martha said. "Surely you can wait one hour for a beer."

"I shouldn't have to wait!" He shouted.

Jack had it bad today. His hands were shaking and he was drenched in sweat. Martha noticed the whites of his eyes were yellow and blood shot. She thought perhaps he would die from liver failure, but she wasn't about to pin her hopes for freedom on his demise. Evil people have a way of surviving against the odds. Martha busied herself playing a video game with Mikey and tried to tune out Jack's ranting and raving in the background. Later, Martha heard the door slam. She peeked out the window and saw Jack getting into the car. He was on his way to the convenience store to buy beer, the one he called The Arab Store

Jack was gone longer than usual this time. She figured he was hanging around at the convenience store, telling tall tales and boasting of acts he only dreamed of actually doing. After nearly thirty minutes, Jack pulled up in front of their house. 

"You ain't gonna believe this shit!" Jack announced as he entered the door. "I fired this motherfucker last week. And he showed up at the Arab store when I got there. He drove up to my car and threatened me! He threatened to kill me. That motherfucker!"

"What did you do, Jack?" Martha asked. 

"I waited till that fucker drove off then I went in the store," Jack said. "I didn't see him when I came out. I don't want that motherfucker knowing where I live."

"Why was he threatening you?" Martha asked.

"Cause I fired his lazy ass," Jack responded.

Jack cracked open a Steele Reserve and downed half of it in one swallow. "I'll be back," Jack said and then went out the front door. Jack walked next door to visit with a fellow he called Goldie. The police were often raiding Goldie's house. Martha did not know why the cops raided Goldie's house and she did not want to know. Jack returned from his visit with Goldie about 20 minutes later.

"I'm going to get that little motherfucker who threatened me," Jack announced. "All it will cost me is $200. I'm gonna get his ass."

"What are you talking about, Jack?" Martha asked.

"I can get that fucker taken out of the game and it will only cost $200," Jack said proudly.

"Jack," Martha said. "Are you talking about hiring someone to hurt that fellow?"

"Oh he's going to get hurt alright," Jack laughed. "Goldie knows a dude who will do it for me. No questions asked." 

Martha was stunned. For a few seconds she was utterly speechless. "Jack!" Martha said. "You did not try to hire someone to kill that man?"

Jack laughed.

"Jack, look. If you are afraid of that man call the police. If he is harassing you make a report and get a restraining order," Martha explained. "Are you crazy? You can't hire some crackhead for $200 to commit murder because some guy is harassing you!"

"Bitch!" Jack shouted. "I ain't no cop calling motherfucker!"

"No," Martha agreed. "You are a crackhead hitman hiring motherfucker and you are going to end up in prison! Are you crazy?"

"Bitch I'll kill you and I don't need no crackhead to do it!" Jack spat at her.


***

It wasn't until after Martha left Jack that she learned the real reason the man at the Arab store was threatening Jack. According to one of his co-workers, Jack made the man front him dope at work on threat of firing him. When the fellow refused to front anymore drugs to Jack, Jack fired him. The man ran into Jack at the Arab store and threatened to kill Jack unless he paid him. Martha would think back on that time and thank the Universe that she and Mikey were not killed because a drug dealer decided to spray the house because Jack did not pay his drug debts. 

***
Jack Ain't Scared of Prison


It was a quiet Sunday evening in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Jack had been gone for hours and Mikey was sleeping. Martha was taking photos of water drops and had been working on the internet print on demand store where she sold her photographs. There was a knock at her door. She looked through the window and saw three men, one fat black fellow, one short white guy with a shaved head, and one fellow who looked mixed. She put the chain on the door and opened it a crack. 

"Can I help you?" she asked through the crack.

"Yeah," the fat black fellow said. "Is Jack home?"

"No," Martha replied. "He isn't here. I don't know where he is, but if you tell me your name I will tell him you came by."

The fat black fellow pushed the door breaking the chain and forced his way in her house. Martha instinctively jumped on the sofa and covered Mikey's sleeping body with her own. She was terrified and expected she would now be raped or murdered.

"You have the right to remain silent . . . ."

What the fuck? Martha thought. 

The three men identified themselves as narcotics agents and presented her with a search warrant for her home. They didn't search the house though, they kept asking for money and drugs. Martha insisted she didn't have money or drugs and they were free to search the house to confirm it, but they would find nothing. The police demanded she tell them where to find Jack.

"One call bitch, and you will never see your kid again," the short white cop with the shaved head threatened. "Where's the money motherfucker?"

"I swear," Martha said. "I don't have any money. There is no money here and no drugs either. Please. . . "

"Oh you'll be saying 'please' alright bitch," the fat black detective said. "Tell us where the money and the dope is and we'll be gone."

Martha was in tears, "There are no drugs and there is no money." 

"Don't lie bitch!" the fat black detective shouted. "I'll lock your motherfucking ass up and you won't see that little bastard of yours again." 

Martha was thankful that Mikey was sound asleep and couldn't hear what was going on. The narcotics detectives, for all their shouts and threats, had not disturbed Mikey's sleep. The cops poked around the house and found nothing but they refused to leave. Martha asked to call the local police and have them send over a female officer because she felt threatened by three male officers in her home and she was all alone. They refused to allow her to use the phone to call for help, but they forced her to call Jack and tell him he had to come home immediately. Martha called Jack, but he didn't answer his cell phone. He was probably over in Kentucky visiting his latest whore du jour. The cops said they would wait for Jack to return home even if it took all night. Martha told them to execute the search warrant on the house and be gone, but they refused to leave her home, refused to allow her to call a lawyer and refused to have a female cop come to her house. The police waited and eventually Jack came home. As soon as he opened the door to Martha's home, the cops grabbed him and put him in handcuffs. They patted him down and led him to the kitchen table and forced Jack into a chair. Then the interrogation began. 

"Yes, Sir" 

"No, Sir"

"I don't want to go to jail, Sir"

"I am telling the truth, Sir"

Jack sat at the kitchen table with his head down while the the narcotics detectives called Martha a bitch, a whore and a motherfucker. He said not one word while they verbally abused her and threatened her.

The black detective pulled a pill out of his pocket and announced, "Look what we have here! Prescription pain pills!" 

"Please don't lock me up," Jack pleaded. "I will lose my job."

Big, bad ass Jack was one ass-kissing son-of-a-bitch when faced with a drug charge. Martha thought Jack was going to cry.  It turned out that Jack had been selling over-the-counter pain pills as prescription drugs to some fool in the next town over who got pissed and ratted Jack out when he discovered he had been taken by Jack. 

"Please, Sir," Jack was begging now. "I'll do whatever you want, I just can't go to jail."

The cops told him they would "let it go" if he would make a buy for them. He was instructed to call the "boss cop" back at 9:00 PM to set it up. The cops took down some names that Jack gave them and promised to come arrest him unless he called with a name and a place to buy at exactly 9:00 PM. Jack watched the clock and when 9:00 PM ticked off he was calling the cops' cell phone so fast his fingers were a blur. Jack gave out names but the cop was no longer interested in having Jack make a buy for him. Maybe the detective found another stool pigeon to set up someone, Martha surmised.

It was that day that Martha realized that Jack is a fake, a liar and a frightened little man. Jack would tell the story very differently in the weeks and months to come. In Jack's version of events, he told those cops to fuck off and go to hell and kiss his ass. In Jack's version of what happened, Jack is the hero who stood up to "the man" and fought for his "girl's honor" but Martha knew the truth. Jack cowered and kowtowed and kissed ass and pleaded with the law not to lock him up because he has a job and a wife and a son who need him. Jack was only worried about his own ass, scared and about to piss his pants. The truth is, Jack was a pussy who only felt like a man when he was choking his 90-pound wife. 


***



The Drill Instructor



Jack walked around the house with his chest puffed out, fists clenched at his sides. He drew his lip to one side in a half-sneer, half-grin. He probably thought it made him look tough. He didn't look tough at all. He looked like one of those professional wrestlers puffed up on steroids and playing to the camera. He was a caricature of a man. If he wasn't so frightening, he would be hilarious. 

"Bitch, I was in both Gulf wars," he boasted. 

"Both Gulf wars?" Martha thought. She knew better than to question him or challenge him in any way. Whatever he said, she had to go along with it unless she wanted to be choked and slapped around. 

Jack stuck his chest out as much as he could as he tried to suck in his beer belly. He succeeded only in making his man-boobs look larger.Martha figured he was at least a C-cup by now. She kept her face serious and stifled a giggle. He looked ridiculous. Jack's pants sagged off his behind showing his underwear halfway down his butt. There was a brown smudge from crotch to waistband. Martha went from stifling giggles to trying not to gag. Jack was one disgusting human being when he was drunk. She would have to wash those nasty underpants in the morning. 

Jack marched up to where Martha was sitting on the sofa. "I was a fucking drill instructor! I had those privates pissing their pants! I am fucking hard!"

"Too bad your cock isn't hard anymore," she thought and stifled another giggle. Martha buried her face in her hands and drew her knees to her chest to hide her face. If he saw Martha smiling he would knock her through the wall. Jack thought Martha was crying. 

"What the fuck are you crying about bitch?" he demanded.

"I don't know," she whispered.

Jack grabbed Martha by her  long hair and hoisted her to her feet. She stopped smiling abruptly. "Here we go again," she thought. "Maybe this is the time he kills me." Martha imagined her obituary when he wrapped his hand around her throat: 

October 20, 2009
Mary Butler, age 49
Services at Brown Funeral Home 9:00 AM
Burial to follow at Heaven's Gate Cemetery

That's all. Short. To the point. No one outside the police, the prosecutor and my children would ever really know what happened to her or even care. Jack shoved Martha by her throat back to the sofa. He marched off to the refrigerator for another beer. Her throat hurt and when she tried to swallow it felt like there was a lump right in the middle of her throat.

Martha went upstairs to check out her bruised throat in the bathroom mirror. As she passed through the kitchen on her way upstairs, there was Jack standing at the kitchen sink. He had his cock out and was pissing in the sink. Well, when he was pissing in the sink, what he was really doing was  pissing at the sink. He was so drunk he was swaying side to side and back and forth. His stinking piss was splattering all over the front of the cabinet and on the clean dishes on the side board. Martha knew better than to say anything to him. She learned my lesson the first time she called him out for urinating somewhere other than the toilet. Usually he pissed in his bed or in empty juice bottles he kept in his room for when he's too lazy or too drunk to navigate the stairs to the bathroom. Occasionally he pissed in the refrigerator or in the range. Martha never understood how he could mistake the refrigerator for the toilet. He had to open the door and a light came on. Can anyone get so drunk they really think a refrigerator is a toilet? 

Martha flipped the light switch in the bathroom. She was shocked by the appearance of the woman that stared back at her from the mirror. Her hair was sticking straight up on one side. Her eyes had deep circles underneath. The dark circles were almost the same deep purple as the fingerprints on her throat. Martha remembered reading somewhere that unless someone dies from strangulation, the bruises on the throat clear up within a few hours, a day at the most, due to the large number of blood vessels in the throat. All evidence of his attack on her would be gone by the next afternoon. 

The house was eerily quiet now. The music was off and Martha couldn't hear the television anymore. She strained her ear and heard Jack snoring. He snored so loudly that they had separate bedrooms for years. It's impossible to sleep next to someone who sounds like a bulldozer when they sleep. Martha crept downstairs and saw Jack on the sofa. He passed out with his pants around his knees. Jack was lying on his back. His flaccid dick flopped to one side. For a drill instructor he sure had trouble making that little private stand at attention.  Martha usually covered him with a sheet but tonight she left him there and headed upstairs to bed. She saw her old briefcase in the corner of her bedroom. Martha kept important papers, like birth certificates, social security cards and their marriage license in that briefcase. She remembered Jack's military discharge papers were in that briefcase too. She had never questioned his claims of military service, and just assumed he did all those things he said he did -- saved lives, killed the enemy, fought bravely for his country. It dawned on her that she had never seen a photo of Jack in his uniform, not one medal or a single letter of commendation. She opened her briefcase and found Jack's discharge papers. Martha tried to laugh but her throat hurt too much. He was discharged after 8 years in the army as an E-4, and he was discharged before Saddam invaded Kuwait. 

Martha pulled back the covers on her bed and crawled in between the cool sheets. She turned on the television and flipped through the channels until she found a program that she must have been destined to watch that night. The show was called Who the [BLEEP] Did I Marry?  Well if that isn't the $64,000 question! As she fell asleep she thought, "I hope I have enough bleach to clean up the sink in the morning."

***



Honey, That Ain't Juice!



Martha opened the refrigerator and leaned on the door. This was the fourth time in the last hour that she had looked in the refrigerator and the sight was still pathetic: one-half dozen eggs, left-over Ramen noodles, two greasy chicken legs, strawberry jam and two pieces of white bread. There was no milk or juice and Mikey would be awake soon. Mikey loved apple juice. He would drink apple juice all day. Martha felt like crying because there was no juice for Mikey, but instead of crying she headed back to her computer. If she could finish these last two articles before Mikey woke up, she would get paid and then the two of them would walk the three blocks to the market for some milk, juice and cereal.

Martha loved the quiet of the house between the hours of 5 AM and 7 AM. Jack was gone to work and Mikey was sleeping soundly. She could write without distraction or interruption. Martha glanced at the time in the lower right corner of her computer screen. It was 6:57 AM and she was just putting the finishing touches on her last article for the day. She heard Mikey walking upstairs just as she finished uploading the last article. 

"Good morning, baby!" Martha said as she opened Mikey's bedroom door. 

"Momma!" Mikey shouted and leaped into her arms.

"I want some juice." Martha's heart sank. "We don't have any juice, honey."

"Do we have milk?" he asked.

"I'm sorry, Mikey," Martha felt like crying again.

Mikey stuck out his lip for a few seconds, then said "It's okay Momma."

The two of them went downstairs. Martha popped the last two slices of bread in the toaster and opened the jam. Mikey used to love scrambled eggs but he wouldn't eat them anymore. There was no point in cooking the eggs for his breakfast. Mikey turned on the television and then sat at his little school desk in the livingroom. Martha gave the toast to Mikey who started eating. 

"I wish I had some juice," Mikey said. 

"We will go to the store when I get paid, baby. I will get you some juice and milk today," Martha promised. 

Martha set about sweeping up the crumbs after Mikey finished his toast. Mikey asked to play on Jack's computer. She dumped the crumbs in the trash and then went to Jack's room. She started up Jack's computer and pushed the heavy wooden desk chair close enough so that Mikey could reach the keyboard. The room was a complete disaster. There were empty Steele Reserve and Natural Ice cans everywhere. Jack had knocked his cigarette ashtray onto the floor and didn't bother to pick up the mess. There were plastic bags all over the place and a dirty towel, filthy socks and crusty underwear in one corner. The room smelled terrible. 

"You wait in the livingroom Mikey," Martha said. "I have to clean up this room before you can come in here."

Martha went upstairs to get the broom and some disinfectant spray.  She heard Mikey calling her name as she descended the stairs with the cleaning supplies. 

"I found some apple juice Mommy!" 

What? Martha thought. 

As Martha rounded the corner from the kitchen into the dining room she saw Mikey holding a half-gallon apple juice bottle. It was about half full of apple-juice-colored fluid. 

"Were did you find this?" Martha asked as she took the bottle from Mikey. 

"I found it in Daddy's room," Mikey said. 

Martha twisted off the cap and was assaulted by the unmistakable odor of urine. 

Jack took empty juice bottles from the trash and urinated in them. He would hide them under his bed or under a pile of dirty clothes because he was often too drunk and too lazy to make it upstairs to the bathroom. When he wasn't pissing in juice bottles he was pissing in the kitchen sink. Martha often worried that she or Mikey would become ill with a disease due to Jack's disgusting filthy habits.

"Can I have some juice now, Mommy?" 

"Honey," Martha responded. "That ain't apple juice." 




***

Now, Jack!



In 2004, Martha was working at a factory that made plastic parts for Toyota cars. Jack was on short-term disability from work, so he stayed home and drank all day long. Jack didn't want Martha to work, but Jack wanted beer more than be wanted Martha to stay home, so he allowed her to work here and there, but not for long. Jack's short-term disability was based on his having high blood pressure. Truth be told, Jack's high blood pressure would disappear if he stopped drinking, lost about 25 pounds and quit smoking, but no one dared tell Jack the truth.

Jack, Martha, Jack's son Jared and Martha's son Zed were all living in a 1 bedroom apartment in a small town in Indiana. Jared and Zed had beds in the basement and Martha and Jack lived upstairs. It was cramped, but Martha tried to keep it clean and work 8 hours every day. 

One Friday night, Martha came home from work to find four men from the neighborhood sitting in their small living room. One man she recognized, the others she did not know. She knew Jerry from the neighborhood. He lived across the street and was a crack addict. Martha did not like any of Jack's friends. They were all convicted felons, drug addicts and drug dealers. Martha could smell the crack and beer when she opened the door to her apartment. 

"Hey!" Jack said. "Here's my girl! Hey baby, go get us some beer."

"I just got home, Jack." Martha said as she walked toward her small bedroom.

She dropped her purse on the bed and sat down to remove her shoes. Her feet were killing her. She stood at an injection molding machine all day watching the parts pop out and fall into a cardboard box. The machine was hot and it smelled and it frequently gunked up which meant Martha had to stop the machine and clean the mold. Every time the machine was stopped the plant manager came over and cursed at her because she was holding up production. Martha was exhausted and in no mood to listen to Jack tell his lies about his imaginary exploits as a gang banger and drug dealer and boast about all the people he allegedly killed during his OG days in Florida. 

"I said I want some fucking beer," Jack said. "You going to go get it or what?"

"Jack, I'm tired. I just got home. Give me about an hour or so, then I'll go okay?"

"You'll go now bitch!" Jack said.

Martha got up and walked into the livingroom where Jay's four pals were sitting. "Where are the kids?" Martha asked.

"In the basement playing video games," Jack said. "So, you going or what?"

Martha sighed. "In a minute, Jack."

Martha felt a thud to the side of her head and she fell to the floor. Jack punched her in the side of the head with his fist and she fell to the floor, not quite unconscious, but not fully aware either. Instinctively, she curled her body into a ball and put her arms over her head. She felt no pain as Jack kicked her in her back, buttocks, shoulders and head. The blow to her head must have disconnected her brain from her body because she was aware that Jack was kicking her, but it didn't hurt. He stomped on her legs a few times too. She felt something in her ankle "pop" and she thought, "I hope it isn't broken."  

Martha could feel herself slipping into the darkness of unconsciousness, but she could clearly hear everything that was going on around her: the thud of Jack's boot on her body, the ugh sounds she made when his boot connected with her flesh, and Jerry. Jerry was repeating over and over, "Now, Jack. Now, Jack. Now, Jack."The tone of his voice was like the voice that a parent uses to scold an unruly child. He might as well have said, "Now, Jack. You stop that you naughty boy." 

Jared and Zed came upstairs when they heard the commotion. Jared grabbed Jack in a bear hug to try to stop him from kicking Martha any more.  Zed grabbed a frying pan off the stove in the kitchen and whizzed it at Jack. The pan missed Jack and struck Jerry in the shin, breaking his leg. Martha mercifully passed out. When she woke everyone was gone. She could not move. Her entire body ached and every inch of her back, buttocks and legs was bruised. She looked around the living room and everyone was gone. Martha crawled to her bedroom on her hands and knees and pulled herself into bed. She fell asleep wearing the same clothes she wore to work and didn't care.

The next morning, Jack took her to the emergency room. He told the doctor she fell down the basement stairs. 

***


Ramen Noodles: Only $50


Martha heard Jack's alarm clock. "Can it be 4 AM already?" she thought. Martha turned off her computer and went to the kitchen to make more coffee. This would be the third pot of coffee Martha made, and drank, since 6 PM the previous night. Martha had not been allowed to work outside the home since she became pregnant with Mikey. Little Mikey was now 5 years old. Martha hoped to get a job after Mikey started school, but Jack would not hear of it. 



"I don't want my son going to public school," he told her. "You can home school him. Besides, no wife of mine is going to work. I'm the man of this house and I will take care of my family."

Jack always claimed he would "take care" of the family, but the only person he ever took care of was himself. Martha started doing freelance writing and trying to sell her art online after she left Jack the first time. She and Jack broke up back in 2007 when Mikey was about 18 months old after Jack choked her in front of Jack's son from a previous marriage. Martha packed up little Mikey and left Jack the next day. She had a protective order from the court, but it didn't stop Jack from coming around all the time to see baby Mikey. Martha found a job, got a house and even had a car by 2008. She managed to earn a little extra money writing and selling art, which she used to buy food and clothes for little Mikey. Things were looking up for her and the baby, but Jack was persistent. He refused to leave her alone. One morning Martha woke to find Jack sitting on her front porch steps crying like a baby.

"What's wrong with you Jack?" she asked.

"I need help, Martha," Jack whimpered. "I'm alcoholic. I've lost everything. My car got repossessed. I lost my apartment. I'm living in a halfway house. I'm on leave for short-term disability at work to keep from losing my job. I need help, Martha."

Martha brought him into her house and started making calls. She found a local psychiatric hospital, Wellspring, that could take him in immediately. Jack agreed to go to the hospital. Martha loaded little Mikey in the car and she drove Jack to Wellspring. After he was admitted to the inpatient program, Martha took Mikey to the daycare and went to work. For the next two weeks, while Jack was in the psychiatric hospital, she had some peace and quiet. No more drunk Jack pushing his way in her house. No more threats of violence one day followed by pleading pledges of undying love the next. She wanted to file for divorce and be rid of Jack, but he told her he would murder her if she ever thought about filing for divorce. Martha knew he would kill her if she filed for divorce, so she just held out, hoping that he would find another victim and decide he didn't want her back after all. Jack screwed around a lot and with a number of different women, but he always came back to Martha, threatening to kill her and then pleading to reconcile, then threatening her again.

Martha found herself in an impossible situation when Jack was released from the hospital and back at the halfway house. Jack showed up at her house late one night, drunk, and he refused to leave. He was threatening to kill her in front of little Mikey, who was only 2 years old at the time. Martha called the police to have him removed. Two cops showed up. One talked to Martha while the other talked to Jack. Jack managed to convince the police that Martha had invited him to her house and then called the police just to try to get him into trouble for violating the protective order. The police believed Jack and left, leaving Jack in Martha's house. After that, there was no getting Jack out of her house and Martha was once again trapped. That's how Jack and Martha reconciled. 

Martha poured a cup of coffee for Jack. 

"Here you go," she said and handed him the cup.

"I don't want to go to that motherfucker today," Jack said.

No, oh no, no please don't stay home from work again today! Martha thought. Please go to work! Please go to work!

"You already called in once this week, Jack," Martha said. "You really shouldn't take off again so soon."

"Yeah," Jack agreed and started toward the bathroom for a shower.

Thank you Universe! Martha thought.  

Martha had worked all night to earn $50 for food. Jack paid the rent and the utilities, but every cent that was left after he paid the bills was spent on Steel Reserve, hair dye, cheap tee shirts, a couple of new hats and foul smelling cheap cologne for himself. When Martha and Jack first reconciled, Jack gave her a food allowance of $150 every two weeks when he got paid. Jack stopped giving her money for food when he started drinking heavily again. Now, Martha either earned the money to buy food or she and Mikey didn't eat. Even when she did earn money for food, Jack spent the lion's share on himself. 

"Did you finish those articles," Jack asked. 

"Almost," Martha said.

"I need money for gas and cigarettes, Martha," Jack demanded. 

"I promise you will have money for gas and cigs before you get off work today, Jack,"

And hair dye! Yes, hair dye to cover your grey so you can continue to tell people you are only 45 years old, like anyone is going to believe that you fat old drunken fuck! And beer don't forget your beer. Get another cheap tee shirt and a hat from the convenience store down the block too, she thought. 

"I need an eyebrow pencil," Jack called from the bathroom. "You got one?"

"No, sorry," Martha replied. "You took my last eyebrow pencil last week," she said. 

Jack could not grow a proper mustache or sideburns, so he drew on a mustache and a thin line from where he should have sideburns down to the few hairs sticking out of his chin. 

You look fucking ridiculous! Martha thought as she watched him use the stub of her eyebrow pencil to draw on his mustache. He started drawing on facial hair after a fellow at the barber shop told him that all the young fellows were drawing on a pencil thin line from ear to chin, sorta like Prince's facial hair.

Except Prince doesn't use women's makeup pencils to draw on his beard and mustache, she thought.

Many times Martha wanted to tell him, Jack, you aren't fooling anyone with that ridiculous eyebrow pencil line across your lip and along your jawline. Of course, she couldn't say that and wouldn't dare say such a thing unless she wanted to get her head slammed into the bathroom wall again. 

After spraying half a bottle of cheap Dollar Store knock-off cologne all over his body in a vain attempt to quell the stench of cheap malt liquor he was sweating through his pores, Jack was off to work. Martha went back to her computer to finish the last article. It would be after noon, maybe as late as 2 PM before she got paid for the night's work. Mikey would be awake in a couple hours and he would be hungry. Martha didn't even bother to go to the refrigerator. There was nothing in there except an open, half-finished Steele Reserve that Jack left in the refrigerator from the night before, 2 eggs and 3 slices of bread. There was a can of creamed corn and 2 packages of Ramen noodles in the pantry. Mikey could eat the eggs for breakfast and have the noodles for lunch. By the time he was hungry again, Jack would be on his way home from work and would stop for some food -- she hoped. Martha worked until 7:30 AM to finish the last of her freelance writing assignments and then sent a request for payment and more articles. She lay down for an hour before Mikey woke up and it was time to start home-school.

Today we are just going to read a book and then play some educational games on the computer, she thought.  Martha was completely exhausted. She fell asleep almost immediately after laying down. 

Martha woke a couple hours later to Mikey jumping on her bed and the telephone ringing. She jumped out of bed and grabbed the phone.

"I've been sending you email, Martha!" Jack sneered into the phone.

"Why haven't you answered my email?" 

"I'm sorry, Jack," Martha's voice pleaded. 

"Did you finish the articles?" he demanded.

"Yes, I finished them, but I won't get paid until after noon, maybe not until 2 PM," she explained. Jack knew Martha never got paid before midday for the previous day's work. He watched her account like a hawk, logging into PayPal from his work computer so he would know exactly when and how much money Martha had in her account. 

Jack then proceeded to tell Martha about how awful it is for him at work, how much he hated his supervisors and how all the "bitches" were always lying on him. In the past year, women had filed two sexual harassment complaints against him but he somehow managed to weasel out of the charges both times. Martha knew that he was forcing women to buy him food on the threat of losing their jobs. He had the women at his work buying him food while his wife and child lived on Ramen noodles and cornbread.

Jack boasted about weighing 220 pounds and being "a beast" while his child's ribs were showing and Martha's size 2 jeans were falling off her bony body. Martha knew better than to complain unless she wanted to be choked unconscious again. Mikey would get a few good meals when Jack got paid on Friday. Jack would go to the store and buy a few things. Mikey would eat good for a few days and Martha would do her best to save every left-over and make it go as far as possible. 

"I'll pick something up for you and Mikey on my way home," Jack said.

"Okay," and with that Martha hung up the phone and went to read her email and start work on the next batch of articles. 

Jack walked in the door after 4 PM with 3 bags. One bag was from the convenience store down the street, containing beer and cigarettes. The second bag contained a new white tee shirt, a blue ball cap, a new eyebrow pencil for Jack's drawn-on goatee and some more stinking Dollar Store cologne. In the last bag there were 2 packs of Ramen noodles, chicken flavor, and a candy bar for Mikey. Martha cooked the noodles and warmed up some left-over cornbread for Mikey. He was not eating most of the noodles these days. Mikey always ate all of his cornbread though. Martha checked the balance in her account and there was only $2.45 left. 

Fifty dollars! Martha thought. I worked all night for $50 and all my son gets is a pack of Ramen noodles and a candy bar!

She opened her email to find 5 more articles waiting to be written. 


Well, at least I'll have another $50 for a couple of packages of Ramen noodles and Jack will have money for another new shirt, a new hat to match and a new eyebrow pencil, she thought. 

***

Hair Dye and a Hammer

Jack was taking a shower at 9 o'clock PM on a Saturday night. That could mean only one thing: he was dying his hair again. Jack always made a terrible mess in the bathroom when he dyed his hair. He stood in front of the tiny bathroom mirror with the door opened and applied the dye to his greying head. He slopped it in his hair, dropping black blobs onto the white and blue floor tiles where it left an ugly black stain. Then he would comb the dye through his hair giving the comb a little flick when he reached the back of his head. When he flicked the comb the hair dye spattered all over the white door. It looks like blood spatter that you see in crime photos, Martha thought as she surveyed the newest splats and splatters on the bathroom door. 

She opened the door slightly and peeked in. Black gooey hair dye was on the floor, on the sink and on the wall behind the mirror. In the sink was the wide-tooth green plastic comb that he always used to make sure that dye reached all his grey roots. Jack was 50 years old but often told people he was 40 years old. He had to dye his hair to keep up the ruse that he was decades younger than his actual age, but Martha figured anyone with half a brain could see that Jack was years older than he claimed. The comb left dark stains in the blue porceline of the sink. Martha knew bleach would clean that up. Jack never washed that comb after using it with the hair dye. He just stuck it up in the medicine cabinet behind the two dozen or so used disposable razors he kept in there. Martha never understood why he saved used razors. Once there were so many used razors in the medicine cabinet that they came tumbling out into the sink and all over the floor when she opened the door to get some fever medicine for Mikey. Martha picked them up and tossed them into the waste basket. Jack hit the roof and told her to stop throwing out his razors. 

Martha stuck her head farther into the bathroom. There on the floor was his shit-stained underwear and the baggy blue jeans he had worn that day. The pants were open and Martha could see the crotch and backside of his jeans. Jack never wiped his ass. The shit had come through his shorts and left a long, crusty, brown smudge up the seam in the back of his pants. Once Jack had several of his friends over to their apartment for a night of drinking and singing. Jack always fancied himself an undiscovered rock star and never missed an opportunity to sing to a captive audience in his living room. Jack went to the bathroom and when he came back he had taken off his outer shirt. He was wearing only a white tee shirt and was sagging his jeans below his butt. Jack turned around and Martha saw that he had a shit stain on the tail of his white tee shirt. All the men in the living room saw it too, but no one said a word and they let Jack walk around with shit on his shirt. No one said a word when he left wearing his shitty shirt to buy more beer either. Everyone was afraid of Jack. He often boasted about beating people, but the only person Jack ever beat up was Martha. 

Martha's eyes lifted from the filth on the floor and saw her white shower curtain that she had just installed the previous day. There were large black stains all along the side of the curtain where Jack had pulled it back to get into the shower and carelessly allowed the curtain to fall against his dye-covered head. There were also black hair dye stains on the powder blue curtains over the bathroom window too. Martha burst into tears. She had worked so hard to make the tiny bathroom look nice and now it was ruined. Martha should have known better than to put anything nice in a bathroom that Jack would be using.

"Jack?" Martha called.

"Yeah?" he responded.

"You ruined the shower curtain and you ruined my blue curtains with your hair dye," she said.

"What the fuck Martha!" Jack shouted from behind the ruined shower curtain. "I'll get you another motherfucking shower curtain bitch!"

"Jack," Martha started. "All I ask is that if you are going to dye your hair to please not make a mess. It's so hard to clean it up and it stains everything."

Jack was enraged. He threw the shower curtain to one side getting even more dye on the curtain and on the floor.

"Didn't I say I would get you another fucking shower curtain? Didn't I? DIDN'T I SAY IT BITCH! Get the fuck on, stupid fucker."

Oh I'll get the fuck on,  Martha thought. I will get the fuck out of this hell and away from you and your hair dye and your shitty pants. You will come home one day and I will just be gone. 

"Alright," Martha said timidly as she closed the bathroom door.  

Soon Jack finished his shower and came downstairs where Martha and Mikey were watching television. Jack was wearing only a towel and dripping water all over the floor. He gave Martha the I'm going to choke a bitch look and Martha instinctively cringed. Mikey saw it too. He pressed against his mother and put his head behind her back. Martha imagined that Mikey thought if he couldn't see Jack then Jack couldn't see him either. Martha held Mikey close until Jack was through glaring at her and left to get dressed. 

"C'mon Mikey," Martha said. "Let's go upstairs. It's bedtime."

Martha carried Mikey upstairs to the ruined bathroom and helped him put toothpaste on his electric Spiderman toothbrush. Mikey brushed his teeth and Martha set about taking down the shower curtain. She thought perhaps she could use some bleach on the stains and salvage the curtain. Martha brought a hammer into the bathroom with her because the shower curtain rod was broken and she had to nail it to the wall on each end. Martha stood on the edge of the bathtub and pulled the first nail. She put the hammer on the toilet seat and shimmied to the other end of the tub.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Jack appeared in the doorway wearing only a pair of baggy jeans and sneakers.

He had oiled his upper body with Vaseline. He thought it made him look sexy and buff. Jack was wearing the same blue jeans that he wore before his shower. Wait till they get a whiff of you! Martha thought to herself in the voice of the Joker. She imagined Jack's face painted with a grotesque red lipstick smile saying, Wait till they get a whiff of me!

"I said . . . " Jack hissed through clenched teeth, his fists also clenched at his sides. "What. The. Fuck. Are. You. DOING?!?"

"I'm just . . . ." Martha began.

Before she could finish her sentence Jack lunged forward and pushed Martha off the bathtub. She fell against the rim of the toilet and knocked the breath out of her body when her ribs connected with the unforgiving porceline. Jack grabbed the hammer off the toilet seat.

Mikey threw himself on Martha and screamed, "NO!"

Martha instinctively rotated her body so that she was between Jack and her baby. There was less than 24 inches between the rim of the toilet and the bathtub. Martha and Mikey were trapped. There was no way to escape the hammer weilding Jack. 

"Didn't I tell you I would get you another shower curtain?" Jack shouted.

Martha cowered and tried to protect her head with one hand and hold Mikey underneath her body with the other.

"I said," Jack continued. "Didn't I tell you I would get you another motherfucking shower curtain?"

Martha was crying. Mikey was crying. Jack was murderously enraged.

Martha peeked from under her arm that she had instinctively thrown over her head to ward off the blows and saw Jack's reflection in the mirror. What she saw there was not human. It was a monster. A big, Vaseline covered monster with shitty pants who was going to kill her.  

"Please!" she cried out.

"Please what, bitch?" Jack responded. He moved closer to her with the hammer.

"I said please WHAT bitch," Jack repeated. 

"Please, don't," Martha cried.

Jack got on his knees on the bathroom floor, still holding the hammer in his hand. He lowered his voice, as he always did when he wanted to drive his point home. 

"Bitch," he hissed in her ear. "I will fucking kill you. Do you understand me? I will fucking kill you. I don't mind going to prison for the rest of my life if it means I'm rid of your stupid ass. Do you hear me?

Martha continued to cover her head with her arm and covered her son with her body. Her ribs were really hurting now. Each breath caused a sharp pain just under her right arm. 

"Did you hear me?" Jack repeated. 

Martha knew the game. Jack would demand an answer and not stop until she said something. Then he would threaten to kill her if she said another word. Martha did not want to play this horrible game with him again. It always ended the same way. Jack would terrorize her until he was satisfied he made his point or until he needed another beer. 

"You better answer me bitch," Jack's breath was hot on her ear. "I'm going to ask you one more time. Did. You. Hear. Me?"

"Yes," Martha whimpered. She felt Mikey shift beneath her and knew she had to get him out of this situation.   

"Yes, WHAT motherfucker?" Jack hissed into her ear.

"Yes, I hear you," Martha responded through her tears.

"Shut up!" Jack screamed in her ear. "Say something else! Say something! I fucking dare you! Say something motherfucker! Say something else and I fucking swear . . . ." 

Jack punctuated each word by poking Martha in the head with his finger. When Jack was sufficiently pleased with his terrifying performance, he stood up and left the bathroom taking the hammer with him. 

*** 

Piss in the Fridge

Martha left Jack in 2007 after he choked her unconscious in front of his teen son from a previous marriage. Jack's son Jared was living with them in their small apartment. Martha's pregnancy was difficult. She was pregnant with twins, a little girl and a little boy. Jack didn't hit or choke Martha while she was pregnant but he abused her verbally and psychologically. 

One night Jack was drunk again and he was parading around the house as he was prone to do, with his chest puffed out acting like a tough guy. He fancied himself a gangster and often referred to himself as an "OG." An "OG" or "original gangster" is a common street thug who has been around a while, sort of a 1970s stereotype. An OG's only claim to fame is avoiding life in prison or getting shot dead in the street by rival gang members. OG Jack enjoyed terrorizing Martha for hours when he was drunk. He made her sit on the sofa and would not let her get up, even to go to the bathroom, while he marched back and forth in front of her proclaiming his greatness and demeaning her. Today, Jack was angry because Martha told him that making his son steal was wrong. 

"I'm an OG bitch. You don't question me!" Jack shouted. "You gonna question me, you stupid fucker! I killed motherfuckers for less." 

 The only thing you ever killed was a 24 ounce Steel Reserve you coward! Martha thought.

Jack took his son, Jared, to Dan's Market and made him put a corned beef in his pants and steal it. Then Jack made Martha cook the corned beef for him. Martha was 4 months pregnant with twins. She had already had 3 children by C-section and it would be a miracle if she carried her twins to term. Her doctor was already planning to do an early C-section because Martha was at risk for a ruptured uterus after all the surgeries she had endured. At 4 o'clock PM Jack pushed Martha onto the sofa and dared her to get up. He marched back and forth in front of her for several hours, occasionally shoving his fist in her face and threatening her. 

"I will fucking kill you bitch!" Jack spat at her as he pressed his fist against the side of her head. 

Martha pleaded with Jack to let her go to the bathroom. The babies were pressing on her bladder. 

"You will get up when I fucking tell you that you can get up!" He said. Then he punctuated his pronouncement of power with "Bitch." 

Martha kept her head down and cried quietly in the bend of her elbow. She had to pee so badly, but Jack was not going to let her get up from the sofa. Martha looked at the clock on the front of the Bose stereo that Jack had just gone in to debt to buy. The time was now 9 o'clock PM. She had been trapped on the sofa for 5 hours and needed to pee for the past hour and half. 

"Please, Jack," Martha pleaded. "I really have to go to the bathroom. Please let me go pee." 

"Shut the fuck up, bitch!" Jack screamed. "You don't fucking move. You don't fucking breathe. You don't fucking speak unless I say you can. You got me?" 

Yeah I got you, you bastard! You're a big tough guy terrorizing a pregnant woman. Real gangster there buddy! 

Martha put her head back into the crook of her arm and pulled her knees toward her chest. She felt the babies kicking against her thighs. Martha's friend Lisa showed up at the door with some gifts for the babies. Martha was so relieved. Now Jack would settle down and she could go to the bathroom. Lisa came in and sat down on the sofa with Martha. Martha told Lisa she was going to the bathroom and would be back in a minute. As she started to stand up, Martha felt something warm and wet between her legs. 

"Oh god," she thought. "I've peed my pants." 

Martha looked down and the crotch of her maternity jeans was dark red. Martha was bleeding profusely. Jack asked Lisa to take Martha to the hospital because he didn't want to take her. Martha got her coat and pleaded with Jack to take her to the hospital. Lisa agreed but then Jack said he would take her. Martha lost the baby girl at the hospital but the little boy was okay for the time being. Martha was put on bed rest and told not to leave the bed for any reason. The doctor sent a bed pan home with her and made her promise not to get out of bed. Martha had a few days peace until Jack decided she needed to be punished for losing one of the twins. 

"You lose my son and I will fucking kill you," Jack promised. "When you gonna be able to give me some pussy?" 

When hell freezes over Jack. "Jack, please!" Martha begged. "You know I can't. Why are you doing this to me?"

"Fuck you," was his answer. 

Martha had a C-section when she was 7 months pregnant because she could not carry the baby any longer. It took a while for her to get on her feet after the surgery. Jack invited a lot of men into their apartment to show off his new son and boast about what "he did" to make that baby. He would get drunk and piss all over the house. Martha got out of bed early one morning to find Jack still drunk from the night before. He was telling tall tales about his OG days to his teenage son in the living room. Martha checked on Mikey who was sleeping peacefully and then went to the kitchen to make some coffee. The floor was wet around the range and the refrigerator. Jack had pissed inside the refrigerator and all over the front of the range. Martha started crying again, but she set about cleaning up the kitchen. Jack heard her crying in the kitchen, 

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" He demanded. 

"Jack," Martha said. "You pissed inside the refrigerator again! There is piss everywhere! The is where I make our food. Why do you do this?" 

Jack lunged at Martha and grabbed her around the throat. Martha slipped in Jack's piss and fell back against the wall. Jack was like a maniac, a madman. He squeezed her throat and hissed insults. His spittle landed on her face. Martha didn't hear his words. Her own thoughts were screaming at her. "I am going to die," she thought. "Who is going to take care of Mikey?" 

Just as the blackness enveloped her, Jack's grip on her throat was released. Jack's son, Jared, had Jack in a bear hug from behind and was trying to pull him off Martha. The next day while Jack was at work, Martha called a friend and left Jack. This was the first time she left him.




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