“Ummm, Hello, Dad? I need a place to stay for a little while, Trusty hit me again”.
There is a familiar sigh on the other end of the receiver.
I am 19. I dropped out of college a year ago. I hated college and I hated hearing my father talk about what a burden it was on him financially, even though he was taking his girlfriend and mistress out to $200 dinners. My mother had made me move out my things from the house I was raised in on my 18th birthday because her words “child support had run out and I was my father’s responsibility now”.
I didn’t want to go to college and the “independent kids” who got allowances from their parents to redo their rooms with all kinds of cool accessories, able to eat out and party all the time while I was sleeping on my little brother's Charlie Brown sheets, had a black and white TV from my great uncle who had gone into a nursing home and $25 a week to live off of for essentials, gas and food; I wasn’t real popular. Growing up privileged, I didn’t know how to cope with less. My only thought was “you’re on your own baby, make it happen”. So I dropped out, moved to South Carolina, got jobs as a cocktail waitress, dancer and did the bikini contest circuit. I didn’t have to rely on anyone anymore. You would think my parents would have been alarmed I was moving a state away at 18yrs. old in the day of no cell phones, but they weren’t. They were too busy dating and discovering themselves post-divorce.
I met Trusty shortly after I moved to Myrtle Beach. He was older, bought me drinks and always ready to have a good time. We made love as passionately as we fought. He loved me and we moved in together after a brief romance. His good time soon became an issue. He would get so drunk and irate over any little thing like me asking him what time he would be home or if a guy talked to me out in public, even if he was merely taking my order at a restaurant. Trusty once piled my clothes in the middle of the bedroom floor and poured acetone over them, lit his cigarette and then flung the match onto the pile. I was able to save some, but most were scorched and ruined. After being caught in one of his numerous infidelities, he hit me in the face and lay on top of me, his face sweaty only inches from mine and pupils huge from whatever drug he had ingested, “This is what I’m going to look like when I fuck other girls” he said to me as I tried to turn my head away from the grasp of his hand.
The police were called many times by our neighbors. Trusty would answer the door and they would have a good ole boy conversation about keeping it down while I was crouched in a corner crying. They never looked to see the blood on the walls or the broken glasses that had been thrown around the room. They would ask me if I was okay in a mocking voice. I would say yes, knowing if I had said no, I would really get it once they left because there was no way they would take him in and in the rare chance they did, they wouldn’t keep him for long because his father, a pastor at a local church, would be able to get him out without an issue and he’d be back out looking for me.
I did finally leave and it killed me to do so. I had grown so dependent on this man, so wrapped up in the love and hate. I was comfortable, the abuse and hate part especially from my home life growing up, it's what I knew. I was able to save and get my own small studio apartment near the beach. I could hear the ocean at night luling me to sleep. I was safe.
At 5am one night, there was a knock on the door. It was Trusty. I opened the door but kept bolted the little security lock that looked like a bar and ball found in most hotels and asked him to leave. He was drunk and convinced I had a man with me, I didn’t. He came at the door with his full body before I could close it and broke the hinges knocking me out of the way. He searched the room and upon finding no one slapped me across the face for making him angry. He lay on the bed and passed out. I called the police. I saw the smirks on their faces as I sat in the carpeted hallway outside of the apartment; the door hanging from its hinges, wooden splinters sticking out, my face still red from the imprint from his hand. They laughed when they saw him on the bed asleep. They woke him up and escorted him out of the building. I heard them all talking friendly and shallow like guys do when heading to a sporting event as they walked down the hall. Trusty called me from outside and asked me to drive him home. I didn’t. But I did have to pay $500 for the door and was asked to leave the apartment. I stayed with a friend and received flowers and invitations for romantic dates from Trusty. I went back to him and we decided to start fresh, move to Clearwater, Florida. After all, it was his friends that made him drink so much and he loved me, more than anyone ever would, he told me so.
In Clearwater he found new drinking buddies, alcoholics always do I suppose. While looking for a job, I had entered a bikini contest at a local bar and won some rent money and a certificate for $50 worth of drinks. The next day Trusty stole it along with my car, the only one we had and went out. I locked the door to our duplex apartment and decided it would stay locked. He could sober up outside for the night. Around 3am the banging on the door started. I ignored it. Then I heard a crashing noise of broken glass in the bathroom only a few steps from my bed. I had forgotten I had left the window partially open. Before I could get up, Trusty is on top of me. I apologize for not getting the door in between sobs, sorry that I locked him out. I’m scared, that look is in his eyes and there is no love there for me. He tells me I’m a whore and worthless slut. He puts one hand around my neck to strangle me and the other covers my nose and mouth to muffle my screams. I try to fight, but he towers over me at 6.2 and 180 lbs. to my 5.7, 115 lbs. I feel a cool tingle, a chilly sensation starting from my toes, up my legs and in my fingers. It’s a foggy feeling, I don’t hear anything anymore and I begin to feel peace. I think to myself, I am dying and I’m okay with that. I must have passed out. I come too with a bucket of cold water thrown onto my face and Trusty slapping me, begging me not to be dead. I turn to the side of the bed and throw up. Trusty locks me in the bedroom for 3 days. I am nice to him and he is to me. We pretend nothing happened and I plan my escape. When he takes his shower, I leave with my cat and my car.
I move to West Palm Beach and work a night shift job at a place called T’s where I make a lot of money as a dancer. I call to check on Trusty because I'm worried about him and because I miss him, even after everything he has done. He tells me that he has changed and he loves and misses me so much that he is in physical pain. He has gotten help, but he needs me to keep him strong because I'm the only one who can truly save him. I go pick him up from the apartment where he is crashing on a friend’s couch. His friend’s girlfriend is delighted to see him leave and pulls me aside and tells me to drop him off in the nearest ditch and drive away, but she doesn’t understand him I rationalize. I am here to help him and he loves me.
Trusty and I move into a cute cottage in West Palm. I work nights and he stays home. Across the street is a house that has 10 -12 foster kids. They play happily outside all day, noises of balls bouncing and girls squealing in delight as they dash through the water hose is a sweet melody. The drinking and fighting start again; I come to the understanding it always will and all the love I have to give will never make him well. As Trusty sleeps off his hangover from the night before on the sofa, I pack my bags and quietly walk to the door I decide for the last time. The door creaks ever so slightly but I made it out and I’m smiling, walking down the front stoop. I feel his hand grab hold and jerk my long hair as my foot grazes the sidewalk that leads to the drive-way. He drags me up the 3 stairs by my hair to the front door. He snatches the suitcase from my hands, unzips it upside down tossing it onto the front lawn. The foster children are looking at me, but they are either too young to understand or don’t know they should be alarmed as I’m sure many had seen the worst in adults. Once inside the house, I try to run to the back door, but Trusty stops me. I grab the first thing I see, a flashlight to use to defend myself. We circle round and round like a boxing match. He is enjoying his power, like a cat playing with the mouse before he devours it. And those eyes, those eyes so black that the blue iris cannot be seen, with a blood lust in them. Trusty tackles me to the floor, sitting on my chest and upper arms so I cannot fight back. He strikes me, pounding my face repeatedly. I can hear popping noises within my skin and bones. Suddenly, as if he sees what he has done, he tells me in a chilling voice “Go now or I’m going to kill you”. I run to my car with nothing except my keys. I call my girlfriend and tell her I’m coming over. She answers the door, but doesn’t recognize me. I just saw her 2 nights before. The swelling, red and purple bruising has begun to show from my neck to my eyes and all over my back. She tells me I must call the police. I have little faith they will do anything, but I comply.
She drives me to the cottage, we stay in her car. Her toddler in the back, his feet are beating like a drum against the back of my seat, but I don’t care. I don’t feel anything anymore. We are parked close behind a bush, not close enough to draw attention from Trusty. It’s a sunny day, but the foster children are not outside anymore, the air is very still. The police officer drives up and asks me to get into the front seat of his patrol car, it smells like dirty leather. I tell him in detail what happened with little emotion, I am numb. He asks if I want to press charges. This makes me worry about Trusty, will he be okay? I say no, I do not want to press charges. The officer points his rearview mirror toward me. He says “look at your face”. This is the first time I’ve had the nerve to look at the damage. I’m in denial it’s really that serious. My flawless skin is swollen, a unflatering green, black and brown color. My eye on the left side is nearly shut so that you can’t see my pretty dark eyelashes, my delicate neck has a bright red mark on it as if someone had been scribbling on me with a large sharpie, a small cut on my cheek and the throbbing in my temple is nearly visible, I am ugly. The officer says, “Do you think someone who loves you would do this to you?” Words that will stay with me I’m sure until I die. He tells me he is pressing charges anyway.
I watch from the safety of my friend’s car as Trusty is escorted out of the cottage in handcuffs. I worry he will be hungry or that he may be cold because of the cement floors of the jail because he is wearing shorts and flip flops. Will the other inmates be mean to him, will he be sad and lonely. I cry because I care more about him than myself and because he is the only one that loves me.
“So Dad, can I come to your house, just to recover? I can’t go back to work with the bruises. I don’t need any money or anything, just a safe quiet place to get my head on straight.”
“Stay with your friend until the bruises heal, then you can come to the lake house. I don’t want people to see you with bruises.” Click
A week later, I drove the 12 hours to my father’s house; it’s lovely, quiet and the bruises aren't quite healed, but easily covered with make-up. I like to sit by the water and feed the catfish bits of bread in the late afternoon. My father, a political figure, spends most of his time out of town in his condo, so I don’t see him much. He gives me a check for $100; he does this instead of talking to me about what happened because he thinks money fixes everything. He tells me to find a therapist and he will pay for it. Then he gives me a blank check and tells me to call West Palm PD to see how much it will cost to get the case dismissed. I ask him why and he tells me that a judge would look at a girl like me with my reputation and assume she deserved it, and he left for his condo.
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