[Reminder to new readers: This is the draft of a fiction novel being written by the owner of this blog site and copyright. Thank you for visiting.]
Dad is scheduled to work until seven. There’s barely time to cook supper. Normally, I have it at least started by now. Mom is washing the fish while I dice up fresh cabbage. Heather is laying in the middle of the living room floor reading a book to the boys trying to get their mind off of what happened today. All they know is their brother has a boo-boo and the doctor was going to make it go away.
In a soft voice, Sally opens the conversation, “What happened today, Jane? Why was Kevin and Allen near the road?”
I’m not sure if it was from dicing the onion, or just a release, but I started bawling.
“I told them they could play in the front yard, but not with the balls. They were drawing chalk squares on the walkway and playing hopscotch. Tommy wasn’t feeling good and had gone to the back room to lie down. I was checking on him to make sure he wasn’t getting a fever and to give him a glass of water. I took my eyes off of them for just a few minutes.”
I’m not really surprised when I hear Mom say, “I understand. Things sometimes happen in spite of everything we try to do. We were lucky this time, he’ll be okay. Here, have a bite of honey bun!” This woman has never raised her voice at me, and the love I feel for her can never be deserved by any kid.
I had to blow my nose before I could say, “You’re so silly – it’s almost time for supper!”
Dad walks into the house, tired as usual. Plumbing is not an easy job when you’re good at it. Generally, he doesn’t talk much for the first hour, but he does expect supper to be ready. Heather and I fill the serving dishes and put them on the table while Mom talks to him about the situation.
Well, the truth is, Dad has a temper. Not a normal kind of everyday temper, but one that explodes like a time bomb with no warning clock.
He said, “When are you going to pick up Kevin tomorrow?”
I could tell Mom was on edge, “I don’t know yet. I planned to go stay with him tonight, but they said I should be able to bring him home tomorrow.”
Without looking at her, he said, “Tell me again where you were. Did Jane understand she was in charge while you were gone?”
“I went to get the fish and honey buns like I always do on Fridays. Yes, she knows what to do, and she did everything she could.”
Suddenly, Randy leaps out of his chair and yells at her, “Well evidently she didn’t do what she was told, or my son wouldn’t be laying in the hospital tonight.”
He’s ripping his thick leather belt out of his pant loops, and wrapping the belt end around his hand screaming for me to come to him immediately. I see Heather quickly gathering the boys and scurrying them off to the back room. I hear the door close behind them.
I stand up as straight as I can and silently walk to the living room to face his wrath. This time, I am determined not to cry.
Dad is still yelling, “I think you forgot what responsibility is, and you need a little reminder,” as he grabs my arm, with the belt buckle flying against my back, fanny and legs. I can feel the whelps swelling as the buckle cuts into my skin. I start to count silently and clench my jaw in defiance, one, two, three, four, five, six … I can hear Mom sobbing. I know she is helpless to do or say anything. If she did, he would beat her with his fists, and somebody has to be able to take care of the kids … seven, eight, nine, ten …
I look up to see my body being whipped. I turn and walk out of the house and immediately into my safe haven.
Finally, it stops. Sally knows this will not be the last. She is feeling desperate, because she knows Randy will never change. She questions every reason she ever thought she loved him, as she led Jane to the bed.
Those who could, ate the cold supper in silence.
When Sally went to the bedroom to check on Jane, her eyes were open but she did not respond; so she tended to her wounds and washed her face. Sally had seen the expression before, and she knew this kid was different.