088. the barefoot ballroom.


I hate.

I hate stupid confused thoughts, I hate blabbering and lack of control, I hate not knowing right and wrong. I hate that that man ever came into her life, I hate the way she sobbed, I hate the fact that sometimes she was so distraught she couldn’t talk to the police officer. I hate that she didn’t have the bastard arrested. I hate the terror in her voice, the strongest women sobbing that she was scared, that she’ll never be safe, that the horrors would never end. I hate, I hate, I hate.

I love the beautiful woman who has survived and survived and has gotten bitter, but still laughs and still has room for goofy accents and bad horror movies and the friend of her daughter, a women who continues to try and who has tried to make life good for her and her kids and has succeeded because she loved her kids. She is thirty-five. She has so much life left to live.

I love my soul-sister, who has survived so much as well, and bands together with her mother in the face of a world that is cruel and indifferent. Bashed down by everything she still is a great light, a smart girl who deserves better, who has a wonderful mother who tried to take her from family shit and raise her well and oh, she succeeded, but pain does not leave so easily.

Six hundred dollars. Six hundred dollars was the difference between them keeping their house and losing everything. That man has used their money and keeps them in the negative, and I wish she would get a divorce but it’s so hard to let go, she says, and I know it is. But he was about to hit you. We all know it. You were screaming as he grabbed your arm, against a wall and cornered, the phone out of reach and we came in screaming roaring making the scariest sound, a wordless animal howl that made him pause, and you were crumpled against the wall sobbing and he wouldn’t leave even though you told him to and he pulled the cord out when you called the police.

Your daughter ran. Ran next door, where the off-duty chief of police lived, and I stood there and was there, a witness, and you didn’t touch her again you just raged and raged about how the house wasn’t clean and she didn’t make you fucking dinner and all I could do was stand there, because if I stood there you wouldn’t dare hit her. I couldn’t stop your emotional verbal assault, but I could easily tell the police everything you said when she faltered, and I did tell. My legs were shaking but my voice was calm, and the basset-hound face of the police officer took everything in, the holes in the wall and the way she could speak only in the hysterical voice of one in shock, fear. One of the strongest women I know, crying sobbing “I’m afraid, I’m afraid I’m afraid not safe…” But when police were there she was coherent and she gave a good accurate statement and she collapsed crying after they left.

We distracted her and hugged her, played Uno and cut some watermelon. We drank some winecoolers and the shakiness went away and I pretended to be drunk and giddy instead of just offbalance because the single bottle made it easy to be giggly and stupid, and I pulled out of it as soon as we were out of there because I was barely buzzed- it was a single bottle. And her daughter, my sister-of-soul looked at me, and said, “You aren’t drunk, are you?” and I smiled and my voice dropped back from the childish little voice I adapt when I want to be sleepy or muzzy or high off of any substance, and I told her that of course not, I wasn’t that much of a lightweight, but it helps, doesn’t it? Yes, she said, it helps. Oh good, I replied. Do you think she believes it? Yeah. She does, and it makes her smile. And we smiled sadly and suddenly I was goofy again and we went back and played Uno and played ‘everything’s okay’ and played happy and were there for her.

I am so glad I was there. Because without an outsider, he might not have paused. Without another body, she couldn’t have gotten the police. Without a second person there, she would have been giving the incident report alone and without me there, I wouldn’t have known how close they have come to destruction.

I am such a lucky sod. My parents may be divorced, but they are friends and raised me well, raised me in love and without bitterness and want. My parents love me and support my choices without giving up the parental rights of scolding and discipline, which sometimes I need. I told them, today, that I was lending the family six hundred dollars and could they drive me to the bank? And my dad talked to me and went through all the possible arguments and came out of it with a check. “I owe you three hundred, right? For the dress and the calculator” I nodded. I had forgotten. “Then we’re going in half-half; I pay three hundred, you pay three hundred” And I tried not to cry and hugged my dad, because he is generous and loving and understands.

Tomorrow when I read this over, I won’t understand, so the bare facts in a story would be nice.

Once upon a time, there was a girl and her friend. Girl had been unable to visit Friend in a long time, and was happy to be coming over. Girl and Friend and Mother of Friend went to the movies, laughing and choosing the scary movie that had looked decent in previews. The movie was bad, and they made fun of it. Girl and Friend and Mother drove home. Friend wanted to take dog for a walk. Girl’s foot hurt, so she grabbed her gameboy and chilled in Friend’s room. Suddenly, Girl hears raised voices. The Asshole husband of Mother was home. He was angry. Because he came home and Mother wasn’t there to cook him dinner, nor was the house clean yet. (I wish I was kidding, that the sitcom-esce situation didn’t really set him off so badly) Friend came back in, saying that she couldn’t leave Girl alone in the house with a fight, and Girl was happyish not to be alone.

They sat in silence, listening in to the fight. It kept getting worse. “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE” Mother. She has paid for the house, it was under her name. Although Asshole had a job, he never brought home the money- he only took hers. “YOUR house, YOUR house, it’s MY HOUSE, YOU GET OUT” Asshole. Girl and Friend wince, because he is refusing to leave and his voice is angrier. Something thrown. Girl says to Friend, “If he hits her we kill him” Friend points to wall. An ornamental sword, metal and heavy, hangs there. “He’s never hit her before, but I get to kill him if he does.” They joke weakly. The shouting gets louder, and suddenly both of them are on alert. Although Mother has been crying for a while now, something in her voice has changed, and neither like it. There is the sounds of a phone and yelling and slamming it away, and suddenly Mother screams, terrified. Girl and Friend race out of the Friend’s room, into the tiny kitchen. They see Asshole, standing above Mother, cornered and against a wall, crumpled and screaming and terrified, and his arm is raised and they scream wordlessly. Maybe the word was “NO” at somepoint, but it became an animal howl of rage and fear and pure ager and defensive instincts. And he stops, and he swears about how this was unnecessary and now look you’ve gotten them into this and he’s cussin’ and trying to make it out like he’s the victim.

They retreat slightly as soon as they see he won’t hit her. They are both still scared, and Friend whispers that the chief of police lives next door. Girl knows that she wouldn’t know which house, and tells her to run. Friend races out the door. Girl stands near Mother, trying to keep Mother in her line of sight. She does not look directly into Asshole’s face. The phone rings. Asshole answers it, in a pleasant voice that sends chills down Girl’s spine. Did that voice really come out of the man who had just sounded so deadly? Chameleon. Chameleon. No one would believe a man that speaks so nicely had just grabbed Mother’s arm hard enough to bruise. But there were witnesses and they would not refuse to speak.

The door is knocked on, and the rest is a bit blurrier. The off-duty policeman talks Asshole out of the house. It is revealed that Mother and off-duty policeman have known each other twenty years, and Mother is ashamed because Asshole kept going on about how bad a mother and wife and person Mother was. And she tells Girl that he wasn’t like this before the accident, that he was kind and sweet, and maybe it’s true but Girl only met him after the accident, after he started throwing things and having fits and taking money. Girl told her that Mother was safe and anything else she could think of to stop her shaking, anything that was true, but Mother told her she’d never be safe that he’d come back and Girl’s heart broke. Then the police officer came in and walked her through the report, Girl answering anything that she didn’t think was answered enough. Mother was amazing, coherent and smart in her answers even through the shock and the sobbing hitches. As soon as the police left, Girl left to get Friend, Mother’s daughter.

The night ends with a happier scene. Mother, Friend and Girl sitting on a bed, playing Uno. There is a plate of watermelon, and both of the girls have drinks. They were shaking and couldn’t sleep. Mother has no drink. The girls act silly and goofy and make Mother laugh. They all fall asleep.

The next day most of everything needs not be said. Until Asshole comes back and grabs his things. He is leaving for at least a month. He doesn’t know where he will stay, And she cries and tells him to leave, and he berates her and finally leaves. Mother goes outside, where the insane heat has finally died to a nicer day. Friend comes in, and Girl is worried. “What happened?” Friend shakes her head. It takes some coaxing to get her to tell but it’s obvious that she needs to say it. “We’re going to lose the house. We need to come up with six hundred dollars in three days, and I don’t think we can.” He’s used up all the credit. The blame is silently known. Girl blinks. She knows how much pride Mother and Friend have, and knows the question unasked. “Hon, you know I will. I have enough. It’s not even my parent’s money – it’s mine, I’ve been working for a year, and I haven’t spent it.” Mother was never going to ask, and Friend knew Girl well enough to know she wouldn’t mind at all. Girl and Friend go outside to convince Mother it’s okay. It takes work. It takes jokes and laughter and love and promises that if they truly want to, they can pay it back when they can. “It’s an investment, I want to come watch movies again.”

The story ends here. Girl is still in disbelief over her amazing luck in the parental lottery. And Girl grew up a little, too. Her mother left home at seventeen, while she is still living with her parents. And the money she has in an account, eight hundred dollars that has been saved for a year off her own wages, has barely been touched. She bought a video game with it, a calculator for her mother and a dress. Her father wanted to pay for the dress and calculator, and is applying that to the halfsies, so really all she’s ever used it for was a video game and a lunch. And it’s just sitting there and she doesn’t need it to stay alive to pay bills to keep a house to eat food, because she is blessed and doesn’t know need. Girl realized the power of money both spent and saved, used well and used badly, and she knows this is the right thing. Girl wants to grow up to be the one who can afford to give a bit away when others need it. Girl wants to be the type of person her parents are. Girl grew up, and saw a bit more of the ugly in life. But she saw some of the beauty, too.

And Uno finally became a game that wasn’t pointless.

The End.


3 Responses to “088. the barefoot ballroom.”

  1. 1 katling


    Just…wow. In both good and bad, wow.

    Is everyone, if not completely alright, at least doing alright now? I know there’s really nothing I can do to help from here, but I’ll at least think of them. Jeeze…I’m GLAD you were there…dear gods…

    Thank you for the much needed knock on the head too.

  2. 2 vividaudio

    Katelynn, that is a truly selfless and compassionate thing that you did. Friend is lucky that she has such a kind and giving soul-sister, and conversely, you’re just as lucky to have her. It’s amazing how everything works out in the end.

    I was too young to remember my mother and father fighting, but apparently it happened a lot…But I did experience Jack and Lori fighting, and it only ever came down to threatening to call the police. But that was in the early years, right after they were married, when Jack had no inhibitions about hitting us. Until the amazing human being known as my grandfather beat the living shit out of Jack when he almost broke JJ’s back in a particularly horrifying incident at my mother’s birthday party. And Grandpa said, if you ever hurt those kids or my daughter again, I won’t just give you a few a bruises, I will murder you, and if you think I’m lying, you’re wrong.

    I have nothing but admiration for my grandfather.

    I really only have a few memories of any abuse, and Jack has become a rather upright individual in recent years. I still hate him, though, for constantly yelling about ridiculous stuff and being overly critical of absolutely everything. But he has improved immensely, and the yelling is only rarely serious.

    I’m very lucky…I complain and bitch all the time, and I know it’s annoying. I guess when people treat me bad like my father and stepfather used to do a lot, I’d get this horrible feeling of injustice and self-righteousness. I’m really working on it, and I try and practice what I preach and realize that I have it better than millions of other people. And if anything, the experiences I’ve had with abuse, poverty, familial indifference…it will make me a stronger woman in the long run.

    I’ve known Friend for many years, and her strength and optimism is so bewildering after all that she’s been through. You’d expect that someone with her history would be bitter, angry, and negative all the time, and the fact that she’s so funny, so positive, so kind and strong after everything…Bob, what an amazing person she is. I admire her. I think Friend is fabulous at slapping people with a reality check, too. XD

    You as well are an amazing individual. People search there whole lives to find a friend like you.

  3. 3 Pip

    You are an incredibly strong woman, with a generation of strong women at yer back. I admire you for your passion, your sense of justice (someone needs to have it). You are someonewhom, if I had never met, my life would be farfarfar more dismal. I am just as lucky to have you as I am lucky to have Friend. Both you are Friend are amazing people that have come out of shit smelling like roses, damaged, but in the most beautiful way possible because you make something of it.

    Can you try and get together with her a few times this summer? I call, but it is paltry fare from a visit. She has a job now, though! And, something that I don’t believe I mentioned: Bastard is back. And it sucks and he’s on his very best behavior but I don’t trust the sonnuva bitch and he’s applying for a gun permit for his job and this scare the shit out of me. So. Yeah. I have her new phone number, call her, see her, something to let her know the outside world still cares for her.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: