A CHILD'S NIGHTMARE
My family and I live one mile from a small town in the northeast part of Georgia nestled in the most southern part of the Appalachian Mountains. We were members of an old, established, Baptist church. Dad was a Deacon of the church, and mother was a member of the choir. If you were a Christian and attended a Baptist church, drinking alcohol was considered a sin. It was that simple. I guess this is why my father would only drink on weekends in the seclusion of our home.
We were well thought of by our neighbors and friends. Dad was the town's court clerk and had been elected by the people for two, consecutive terms. He was tall with black hair and the custom, made suits he wore gave him the look of southern gentility. Kennedy had just been elected as the President of the United States and dad had political ambitions of his own. Some people thought he should run for the congress seat of our district. Mother was a beautiful, petite woman with blond hair and blue eyes. She copied the Jackie Kennedy look with the short suits and pill-box hats. People would always say what a beautiful couple they were. I was a mixture of both. I have my father's dark hair and my mother's blue eyes.
At an early age, I dreaded the weekends. I always hoped the next weekend would be better, but they never were. My father would start drinking when he arrived home from the courthouse each Friday. He would mix burbon and water in a small glass with exactly two, ice cubes. The next two hours he would have four or five of these drinks and be jolly and flirt with my mother and play with me. I would enjoy these two hours of fun because I knew he would change and become violent. He always did.
As the evening wore on, he would switch from drinking burbon and water to straight burbon in a larger glass. I knew when this ritual happened, the fun and play would stop. It would start with sarcasm and accusations directed toward my mother. She would look at me, and I understood what I was supposed to do. I would walk slowly toward my bedroom. Once inside and the door shut, I knew she did not want me to come back out. We had never talked about this, but we both understood. I would sit on my bed waiting and listening. I could hear him cursing and my mother crying. I would then hear her cry out in pain. I would place my hands over my ears so I could not hear the insanity coming from the living room. Sometimes it would be almost quiet except the sounds of low sobbing from my mother. Without warning, dad's booming voice would vibrate the walls. Mother would scream , and it was a scream of a hurt animal cornered.
I picked up my pillow and crawl under the bed. Pressing the pillow down on top of my head, I started singing a song I had been taught in church. "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so." I would eventually fall asleep and awake in the morning still under my bed.
Saturday mornings were always the same. Dad would come out of the bathroom with a big smile on his face, "Have you all noticed how beautiful the day is?" Mother and I did not answer because we knew it was not expected of us.
Mother placing a platter of bacon on the table looked up at my father and smiled, "Bruce hurry up and sit down before everything gets cold."
Dad rubbing the top of my head as he passed my chair stated, "I have the best son in all of the world." Walking up to my mother's place at the table, dad leaned down and gently kissed her on the cheek. "Joan, this breakfast is fit for a king!"
I would sometimes wonder if the night before really happened or did I just have a bad dream. Deep within, I knew it was not a dream. Somehow I knew not to say anything about the previous night and act as if nothing had happened.
Mother was in a quiet mood all day and her eyes were swollen from all the crying the night before. She was standing in front of her tall mirror wearing only her panties and bra when I walked in. She did not see me at first as I gazed at the black and blue places on her body. It scared me to see her like this.
"Mother! Did daddy do this to you?"
I started crying as mother came and took my shaking body into her arms. "Bobby, your daddy does not mean to do this. He is always sorry and he tells me he will never do it again. Please honey don't cry. Everything will be alright."
If Friday nights were especially bad, I soon learned Saturday nights would be a little better. Dad would drink, be loud and obnoxious and say horrible things to my mother. I felt like it was a good night if I did not hear screams coming from my mother.
Sunday mornings we would dress up and go to church. I always enjoyed church very much. People were so happy and good to each other. We would usually stop at the local restaurant after church and have lunch. Mother and dad would have conversations with friends who were having lunch also. I think mom and I cherished these good times more than most people. I soon realized just how much our lives evolved around his behaviour.
When father was intoxicated and began beating mom, he never striked her in the face. It would be as if something in the back of his crazed mind would know not to leave any marks where people could see them and know the dark secrets our family had. Mother always dressed to conceal any bruises from the beatings she received almost every weekend.
The beatings became more severe and sometimes resulted in broken or cracked bones. Mother had excuses for these times. When the doctor was putting a cast on her broken arm, she told him how stupid she was for tripping and falling into her rock garden. The cracked rib she suffered as a result from my father's fist was explained away as a fall she had while hiking with friends in the mountains. No one suspected anything and completely believed my mother.
I hated my father and only dreamed of life without him. I now understand completely what was taking place in our home. I love my mother but I feared my father.
I saw dad pulling out of the driveway heading into town and I decided to talk to my mother. I found her in the backyard tending to her flowers.
"I wish he was dead. I hate him and I wish he would die. If he can't die, then I wish we could."
Mother pulled me down to the ground next to her. I was not crying and I did not want to cry. My body was stiff and rigid as she held my shouders.
"Your only twelve years old honey. Where has my little boy gone?"
I did not want to speak. I slowly got up and mother let go of my shoulders and I walked away. I stopped, turned around and said, "Today is Friday and it will be night soon. It will happen again."
I saw the fear in my mother's face as dad drew back his fist to hit her full force in her stomach. I watched in horror as she fell to her knees unable to breathe. Mother had just told him she was taking me and leaving him, that she could not stand living this way anymore.
Dad sitting in his chair and holding his drink was comsumed with anger and shouted, "I will kill you bitch before I'll let you leave me and take my son away! You selfish slut, you don't appreciate anything I have done for you."
Standing in the hallway, I watched my mother slowly crawl to the couch. She tried to pull herself up but could not. Dad kept screaming and cursing at her. He was foaming at the mouth.
I slowly made my way to their bedroom and took the loaded pistol dad kept in the top drawer of his dresser. I heard a loud slap and then screams that should only be heard in a horror movie. Walking back into the living room, dad was standing over mother laughing. He was laughing like the biggest bully would laugh.
Dad stopped laughing when he saw me holding the pistol and pointing it directly at him. I don't know if it was the pistol or the look on my face that made fear come into his eyes. The fear I saw in him made me shake with wild pleasure as I pulled the trigger and shot him in the chest. Father fell to his knees and I heard more gunfire as he hit the floor.
Somewhere in the distance I heard my voice screaming, "He's dead, he's dead, he's dead!"
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