The Worst Step-Father EVER, part 4
We had moved on in silence, yet again, and were preparing for the new school year, shopping for clothes and supplies, etc. I was looking forward to my senior year.
About a month before school started Les pulled another disappearing act. He worked for the newspaper, in their printing plant, and the union went on strike. There had been a lot of discussions between mom and Les about the what-ifs prior to the strike.
He mentioned several of the guys at work were going to take positions in St. Louis or Cincinnati if they could get in. He never mentioned he was thinking about leaving for work elsewhere. He just left.
After a week mom was getting very nervous about the finances. She went to the bank and discovered Les had pulled out every last dime they had.
We were in full crisis mode now. My grandparents came to stay for a while, helping with groceries, kids, and keeping mom calm, etc. Granddaddy took mom to the welfare office to see if we could get aid for dependent children and food stamps. It was the first time she’d ever had to do such a thing. She was humiliated and beaten down by the entire process. I truly felt sorry for her.
School began and Les was still gone. Mom had to go back to work. The only thing she really knew how to do was tend bar. She found a truck stop on the state line that hired her. I was babysitting again. We managed.
A few weeks after mom started her job Les came back. No warning, no fanfare, no explanation. I came home from school and there he was. I wanted to throw up.
They both looked like they’d been crying. The newspaper strike had ended and he was back at his old job. She insisted she was going to keep her job and he wasn’t thrilled about it. I knew this was going to be trouble.
A few nights later I woke up to a loud banging and mom screaming. I ran out of my room and saw him beating her head against the closet door. I immediately ran to the kitchen to call the police. I didn’t have a chance to dial before he came up and grabbed the receiver from me and punched me in the stomach with it.
Mom came running in yelling at him and the next thing I knew we were both against the wall and he was beating the crap out of us. I remembered someone telling me once if a man attacks you knee him in the groin. That was impossible because he was dancing around like Ali and we were trapped.
Then, as if someone turned a switch, he stopped and walked out of the kitchen. I looked at mom. Her face was a mess. She was bleeding around her mouth and had at least one black eye. I led her to a stool at the kitchen counter.
As I stood on the opposite side of the counter looking at her I opened a drawer and saw the meat tenderizer (a metal hammer like utensil with sharp teeth on one side). I seriously considered pulling it out and whacking him over the head with it. Then a thought ran through my head… what if you miss? He would have killed me with it, I’m sure.
As I was having these thoughts he came back into the kitchen and began making coffee as if nothing had happened. I said, “Come on mom, let’s get out of here.”
He said, “Yeah, you better get out of here.” And out of my smart-ass mouth, as I reached down to retrieve a shred from my nightgown, came “Right!”
He was right on my heels and when I reached my room he spun me around and punched me square in the nose. Blood was spurting out all over me and I was sure it was broken. He turned around and walked away.
As mom and I sat there looking at each other, trying to figure out what to do he walked back in and said to mom, “I think you’d better come to bed now.”
“I can’t leave her like this.” She said.
“She’ll live.” He said.
I told her to go because I knew it would only get worse if she didn’t.
I snuck into the boys’ room and found them huddled together in one bed scared out of their minds. I tried to assure them we would be fine but I hadn’t looked at myself in the mirror yet. When I did it was obvious my appearance hadn’t reassured them!
Les was the only one who slept that night. He got up showered, had his coffee, read the paper, and left for work like nothing had happened. As soon as he was gone I called my uncle who came immediately and took us to the hospital first and police station second.
Mom had a broken jaw. They wired it back together and patched her up. My nose, thank God, wasn’t broken but they were concerned about internal bruising in my abdomen. We were given medication and left.
The trip to the police was much less helpful. We spoke to a very nice policeman who displayed as much sympathy as he could muster but ultimately couldn’t do anything. We learned our state had a 48hr. waiting period for domestic abuse cases. “In case the ‘little lady’ changes her mind”!
We went home, packed some things and moved in with my aunt and uncle until we could figure out what to do next.
I would love to tell you that the laws regarding domestic abuse have improved since 1967 but I can’t. I’ll get into this further at the end of this series.