I’m so very sorry. I wish I had been brave enough to come forward.

I’m in total shock.

This could have been me.

I’m ashamed to say that I was with this person for 4 1/2 years. He abused me in every way possible. Then when I finally left him, he stalked me for weeks and threatened (to other people) that he was going to blow my head off with a 9 mil. The cops couldn’t do anything about the stalking or the threat.

I didn’t speak up. I may have spared this poor woman (and only God knows how many others) a world of pain and heartache.

Here’s the screenshot. I’ll put the actual link on Facebook. I don’t want the article linked directly back here.

He’s not welcome here. Obviously.

The Veteran’s Day Edition

I am a veteran.

I have a hard time writing that.

In January 1992, The GirlBeater decided to sign up for the Army. He wanted to be an airplane mechanic. While we were filling out his paperwork, the recruiter was making small talk and said, “Have you ever considered joining the Army?”

I said, “Actually, yes; there was a time that I talked about traveling with the Army Band.”

“Reeeeeally?” he asked.

An hour later, we were doing my paperwork, witha  promise for a $1500 bonus upon completion of boot camp. I dreamed of going to college on the G.I. Bill and not having to worry about student loans.

I took the ASVAB and we went to MEPS together. The only part I was nervous about was the hearing test. I knew that my hearing was degrading, but as we did the hearing test, I was relieved to realize that they were sending in six people at a time. I watched the girl next to me, and when she pushed the button, I did too.

The GirlBeater went into the job counselor’s office and came out visibly upset and dejected. He had not been approved for the mechanic job. He had to settle for infantryman.

About an hour later, I was put with a job counselor who told me, sure, I was approved for the Army Band pending the audition. But something else had popped up that he thought would be intriguing.

“Your ASVAB score is fantastic and you passed the physical with flying colors. How would you like to be an MP?”

My jaw dropped. Literally.

“Wow.” was all I could say, at first.

I came out of that office walking on air. I shared my good news with The GirlBeater. He was happy for me, but still quite sad about his results.

He went off to boot camp right away, and I wasn’t scheduled for boot camp until September. I was to start my warrior weekends right away, in February.

Somehow I made it through him being gone for boot camp and AIT. I continued my Weekend Warrior routine in Jackson, MI. I was part of the 303rd Military Police Corps, and I was absolutely loving it. I realized that I initially went in mostly for the G.I. Bill and the signing bonus, but I discovered something much deeper than that. I was proud. I was truly proud to be serving my country.

The GirlBeater came home from boot camp and AIT to do his Weekend Warrior bit, and I shipped off to Ft. McClellan, AL for my boot camp and AIT .

Right away, they said that I had to do Fitness Training Company. I was sort of bummed at first, but quickly realized what an advantage I was going to have over the other recruits going straight to boot camp. I was in FTC for five weeks, and then we were moved across the base to boot camp.

I loved my new life. I was quickly made a squad leader, and got a really healthy dose of good self-esteem and confidence. I asked about switching from reserves to active without consulting The GirlBeater.

I was doing great with the physical part of Army life, but I was having a hard time keeping up in class. If I was fortunate, I’d get a good spot up in front of the classroom and be just fine. If I got a spot in the back of the room, I had to rely on other people’s notes to keep up, as I couldn’t understand the instructor’s lecture from back there.

Then I did something that would change the course of my life. I asked one of my drill sergeants if I could move up to the front of the classroom from the back row. She got a puzzled look on her face, and asked why. Nonchalantly as I could, I just told her I could follow the lesson better up there. She said, “Ok, but you’re going to Noble Army Hospital tomorrow morning to see the doctor. If you have an ear infection, I want it cleared up right away.” We were going on our long march in a few days and she wanted to make sure I had meds before I left.

What could I say? Besides, “Yes, Drill Sergeant!”

Nothing.

Long story short, the doctor found my hearing loss within the first 15 minutes of the appointment, and did lots of testing. At the end, he said, “You can’t be an MP with the level of hearing loss you have. You have two choices. One, you let us choose a different job for you. Or two, you go home with a general discharge.”

I didn’t want someone just choosing what I would be doing for the next six years, so I chose door number two. I was crushed. I was devastated. I cried and cried and cried. Two of my drill sergeants did, too.

One week before boot camp graduation, I was Pulled From Training. It only took a couple weeks for the rest of the paperwork to go through and I was home by Thanksgiving.

One good thing that came out that experience was that I found the courage to stand up for myself and confidence that I deserved better than The GirlBeater. I left him January 20, 1993.

But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am technically a veteran, but I have a hard time saying it. When I think of a veteran, I think of a person that has been in combat or in a police action or similar service. I think of a person that gave their life for their country. I think of a guy in the desert that’s seeing his child for the first time via webcam. Not someone who did seven warrior weekends and about 12 weeks of training.

I am a veteran.

I just wish I could have been a better one.

The One Where She Narrowly Avoided a Punch in the Throat a Little Bit

961203_092217So, My Writing Mojo has been MIA for a couple months now. I came just short of putting out an APB when she flounced in unceremoniously this morning, dropped her bag on the floor, flopped on the couch with her feet up on one arm, and turned on the TV.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said the only thing I could think of. “Where the hell have you been, young lady?! I’ve been worried sick! You could have been dead in a ditch somewhere! What, they don’t have phones where you were?!” I spun my mental Rolodex and searched my memory for other similar admonishments my own mother had used on me. “You are SO grounded, missy!”

She smiled smugly in a way that made me want to punch her in the throat a little bit. “Yeahyeah, suresure. Whatever.”

“No, there’s NO whatever. You just disappeared without a trace and not so much as a warning shot for a couple damn months. AND you missed our bloggy birfday yesterday! I demand an explanation! Hell, our readers reader deserves an explanation! They’ve been putting up with only Wordless Wednesday and Tell Me Thursday posts, which are all well and good, but all alone they spell LAME, sister!” I fumed.

She didn’t bother glancing away from The View. “I wouldn’t figure you’re in any position to be demanding anything.” she huffed. “Do you have any Cheetos?”

“No, I don’t have any– Dammit– if I get you some Cheetos, will you fill me in?” I pointed and shot red laser beams out my eyeballs at her.

She gave me her best color-me-unimpressed expression and said, “Throw in a Mountain Dew and a pack of smokes, and you got a deal.” She directed her attention back to Whoopi and Elizabeth who were currently in a heated debate about saving beavers in the rainforests.

I threw my hands up in the air. “Oh, for the… I’ll be right back, you extortionist.” I was secretly pretty proud of her chutzpah; she had something I needed, and she didn’t let that go without making use of it.

As I drove down to the convenience store, my mind whirled. Where had she been? What had she been doing? Images of dirty carnivals and cold Taco Bell and jails danced in my head.

I came back in the house and tossed her first, the Cheetos and second, the smokes. She caught one with her left and one with her right, barely glancing my way.

“Well?!”

“Oh, unclench. Where’s my pop?”

“In the freezer. Spill it, sister.

“Let’s go smoke.”

Twist my arm. I turned on my heel and walked out of the room.

On the way out to the deck, I snatched her pop out of the fridge and grabbed myself a Bud Light. At that point, I was so flustered, it was not a want; it was a need. I paused, thought better of it, and exchanged the Mountain Dew for another beer. Perhaps it would grease the wheels a little. We settled into lawn chairs, not looking at each other, but rather across the backyard and into the timber beyond. I handed her the beer and got a slightly surprised look in return. The expression left as fast as it came, and she directed her gaze back out into nowhere as she packed her smokes on her thigh before she opened them. I cracked my can open and took that best, first pull. She made the sign for “lighter” without looking at me and I lit her up. She took a long, hungry drag and picked at her fingernails.

I said, “I really could’ve used you all those hours I was on third shift instead of sitting there with my thumb up the internet.”

Almost apologetically she said, “Yeah, I figured. I felt kind of bad about that.”

I used one of my therapist’s favorite techniques and remained silent, not breaking the silence for her. Suck it, chivalry.

She risked a glance my way. “Yeah, January was great. We got a lot done, didn’t we?”

I didn’t answer, just took another pull on my beer and studiously avoided looking at her.

“February was bad. Teh Crazie scared me,” she remarked quietly, looking down at nothing.

I nodded slowly. “Me, too. I suppose I probably didn’t handle it as well as I thought I did. But I thought we had it under some semblance of control.”

“Well, then we were pondering The Girlbeater and I got really spooked.”

“That’s understandable,” I allowed. “But we have some important work to do. It won’t be easy.”

“I guess I knew that deep down. I suppose it’s what made me realize I needed to come back home.” She looked at me timidly, needing a pardon.

“Well, I’m glad you did. I kind of missed you, you crazy bitch,” I chuckled a little.

“Yeahyeah, suresure,” she shot me a mischievous grin.

“Are you ready to get back to it?” I wondered.

“Yeah, I suppose. I’ve got some great stories for you.”

“I bet! Gimme a taste, girl!” I sat back in the chair and put my feet up on the little end table between us, immensely glad to see her and thankful she found her way home.

“You asked for it!” She put her feet up on the other corner of the end table and held out her beer can. I gave it a clunk with mine, and extended my closed hand to invite a fist bump. She smirked and bumped. “So, there I was, in a dirty bus station in Utah, a used spark plug in one hand, a Red Bull in the other, and a drunk slumped onto my shoulder and mumbling about being on a porn set with Martha Stewart, some midget clowns and a Zamboni…” she began.

I settled in with the first of many, many beers and cigarettes, and some really fantastic stories. A couple hours in, some Chinese delivery was added to the equation.

It’s so good to have her back.

What’s my name again?

“Someday I’ll fly, Someday I’ll soar
Someday I’ll be so damn much more
‘Cuz I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for
I’m bigger than my body now…”
–John Mayer, Bigger Than My Body

I’ve been blogging since 2003. I started out on LiveJournal, and used my given name. I only commented on other LiveJournal bloggers.

Then I became aware of the blogosphere. When I made the move to Blogger in 2007, I used my nickname, Dory, and I went out of my way to never use my real name, and kept mum on the rest of my family’s real names. I began commenting on blogs all over and cultivating relationships with other bloggers. 

Then I became aware of Social Networking, and that blew apart my M.O. I got on Facebook, and only used the name “Dory.” But then I began wondering how many people I might miss out on reconnecting with if they searched for me by my given name. I decided, eh, screw it; I’ll use my and Tom’s real name and still guard the boys’ names. I put my real name on my Facebook account and moved onto more earth-shattering matters such as the best buy on 85/15 Ground Beef and switching from Bounce to Downy. 

Now my Facebook has links to my blog, and my blog has links back to Facebook.

I told you that to tell you this.

I wrote a couple of posts about my experience with domestic violence, and I met Maggie, the Bonafide Innernetz Aingel who started up Violence Unsilenced. The experience of actually writing those posts was painful. I physically shook while I poured out my pain, but knowing that I may be able to give someone that little oomph to exit an abusive relationship was worth it. I mulled over writing more, but I have a couple concerns.

First of all, parts of my memory are fractured.

For instance, I remember getting into a fight with The Girlbeater over “our” money. He demanded that I sign over my wages to him, and I refused. Before I knew it, I was laying face up on the bed with him straddling me, my arms and shoulders pinned by his knees, one hand hobbling my wrists and the other fist drawn back poised to strike. The bedroom door opened and his father asked, “What’s going on here?”

“Nothing that’s any of your business. Shut the door,” he directed in a voice low, deliberate, and strained with rage. 

And his father, without a word, SHUT THE DOOR. 

I hate to leave you hanging there, but that’s where the memory ends. My therapist explained to me that’s sometimes how our brains deal with trauma that’s just too much for us to handle. If or when I’m ready, I may receive the conclusion of that memory.

I want to write more about my experiences, but how can I possibly tell you a story like the above? Either I leave you hanging, or I pretty much make shit up. Neither option lends itself to the authenticity I want to bring. 

Secondly, the other factor in the equation is The Girlbeater himself.

A couple weeks ago when I was on Facebook, his face popped up on the People You May Know box. I almost threw up. Literally. This meant that one of my friends from my high school graduating class is friends with him. How can I handle the possibility of him finding me on Facebook and then heading on over here, if I have such a visceral reaction just to his face popping up unexpectedly? 

I have a tangled knot of thoughts and I can’t find either end.

I want to speak, to be unsilenced.

But I’m gagged by the possibility of him showing up here. I just don’t even know how I would handle it. What if he *gulp* contacted me? What if he challenged my memories to a debate? 

He’s currently awaiting trial for kidnapping and rape. It’s amazingly easy to get my physical address. What is he capable of? 

I don’t know.

He has no right to know of any details of my life, but here I am, waving them all over the damn internet and hanging big flashing neon arrows pointed towards them. 

I want to tell you a story about a young woman finding her first love and being battered by him in every way possible.

I can’t.

It’s not fair. 

Thoughts?

I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard or read the word HOPE today.

As I was sitting on the couch snuggled up with Hunky watching the inauguration, I felt it… A glimmer of hope. I felt hope that I could start to believe my government would do the right thing for its citizens. It seemed inconceivable that in one day’s time, my perception could change so dramatically.

But the inaugural activities aren’t the point of this post. As I watched the news coverage of this historic event that will stand in history, the date flashed across the screen. January 20th. Then it hit me. I will always remember January 20th, 2009 as a day of hope. But to me, this was the second January 20th that was filled with a feeling of hope.

January 20, 1993…

A little back-story… after I came home from the Army in November 1992, there wasn’t enough room in my Mom’s house for me, and my Dad had packed up and moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. So I moved in with The Girl Beater and his family. 

I started the day as normal. TGB was getting ready for work, and I was getting him some breakfast. He sat down at the table and started shoveling. In between bites, he said, “What are you going to do today?”

“Look for a better job,” I replied.

He nodded. “Good. You should stop by the Court House and see about getting a marriage license.”

My heart stopped a moment, and I managed to croak, “Why?”

“Well, we should just do it.”

Before I left for Boot Camp at Ft. McClellan, AL, we had discussed that maybe we’d get married in between Boot Camp and my AIT (Advanced Individual Training). What we didn’t see coming is the Army discovering my hearing loss and sending me home one week before Boot Camp graduation, and the marriage discussion had not even come back up in conversation again in the two months since I had returned. 

“We should just DO IT?!” I parroted back, my voice squeaky. This wasn’t exactly the proposal of my dreams.

He stopped eating and looked up at me. “Yeah, sure. If it doesn’t work, we can just get a divorce.”

My heart literally stopped a moment and I struggled to take my next breath.

I didn’t have to worry about formulating a reply, because he wasn’t looking for one. As usual, he made a statement, and I was to submit.

“I’ll see you after work. Make me something good for dinner.”

He left his dishes on the table for me to take care of and hurried out the door.

I turned my head and watched him out the window as he got into his Monte Carlo and sped off. 

I turned my head back and looked down at the old, dark beat-up table. I breathed in, I breathed out. I felt like my life was a movie, and someone had hit the pause button.

I heard his statement inside my head again, echo-y and drawn out, like a 45 record playing at 33 speed. “Yeah, sure. If it doesn’t work, we can just get a divorce.”

What was he thinking?! I couldn’t enter a marriage with that frame of mind! Most of our four and a half year relationship, I had spent grieving for my parent’s divorce. When we met, he was one stable element in my world shaken by the earthquake that was the disillusionment of a marriage. I had told him time and time again, that I would never get divorced; that when I got married, I was determined that it would be forever. 

Again, I heard his statement inside my head. “Yeah, sure. If it doesn’t work, we can just get a divorce.”

In that moment, I felt my whole life shift.

On one side of the moment, I was with him. On the other side of the moment, I left him.  One side; I feared him and the shackles he held me enslaved with. Other side; the chains disintegrated with a small POOF into harmless powder. 

I realized I was going to have to move quickly. I had a lot to do to get out, and I couldn’t risk his father discovering me packing. He’d call TGB for sure.

I wouldn’t be able to stay where he could find me; I didn’t trust either of us. I didn’t trust him to let me go without manipulative speech to wear me down, or physical pain when that didn’t work. I didn’t trust myself to stand up to his physical presence and promises of change that had never been honored in the past.

As quietly and as quickly as I could, I threw everything I owned into black garbage bags. Every time I opened and shut a drawer, it sounded to me like it was amplified through a megaphone, and I nervously listened for the TV volume to go down which would be my warning that his father knew something was up and would think nothing of knocking down the locked bedroom door.

As softly as I could, I opened the rarely used side door, and the old metal creaked a little. I held my stance and my breath simultaneously, and listened.

Nothing.

I put the first bag out, and repeated that shaky maneuver a few more times for the rest of my belongings.

My heart was banging in my chest; I was shaking furiously. 

I went out to the kitchen, held my voice as steady as I possibly could, and called, “Hey, Dad; I’m going to the store for a pop. Want anything?” All the while, praying fervently that he wouldn’t detect a tremor in my voice or God forbid, tell me he was going along.

“No. When will you be back?” I heard his meaning hang in the air. Damn, I had 30 minutes, tops, before he’d call TGB and rat me out.

“I’ll go straight there and straight back. I’m not stopping anywhere else or seeing anyone else.” 

The next few moments felt like an eternity. Finally; “Alright,” he conceded.

I tried not to rush too fast as I left the house. I knew if I was nonchalant enough, and pulled it off right, that it may buy me an extra 15-30 minutes before my absence was reported.

The snow squeaked under my feet and it hurt to breathe, it was so cold; especially since these were frightened, jaggedy breaths. I got in my car and tried to steady my shaking hand as I attempted to meet ignition with key. She started right up. I put her in gear and made sure not to drive too fast out of the driveway. I placed as calm a look on my face as I could muster; I knew it would be observed as I passed the living room window. 

I rounded the corner and passed out of sight of the house. Ok, what’s next, I thought as priorities bounced around in my brain like a dozen racquet balls. There was so much to think about, and the clock was ticking. I had nothing except my wallet and the clothes I was wearing. Who can I get to pick up my stuff, I need gas, where will I go, ohmygod where will I sleep tonight, was Dad suspicious, what the hell am I doing… if he catches me… Gas. To get anywhere I need gas. Shit. I had just gotten paid, but as usual, TGB had taken my signed check and put it in his account but had not yet dispensed my “allowance”. Because I was so stupid with money, you see. 

Once one decision was made, the others fell into restless but somewhat orderly place, like busy kindergardeners in a single-file, indian-style line. 

I drove into town like I had the hounds of hell on my tail. I turned into the driveway of the car dealership where a month before my father had worked, before his entire life changed. I stepped softly into the office and the secretary, Vicki, looked up and smiled at me brightly. “Well, hi there! What a nice surprise!” Her expression changed as the look on my face registered with her.

“I have to leave him. I don’t know where to go. He can’t know where I am, at least for a while. He’ll hurt me. I can’t go to my Mom’s because her house is full, and Dad’s moved, and I’m pretty sure he knows where the domestic violence shelter is.”

“Well, you call your Dad, and we’ll figure it out,” she said as she gave me a reassuring hug. “It’s going to be ok now,” she added.

I dialed my Dad’s new number and hurriedly brought him up to speed. He said, of course, that the safest plan would be for me to drive to Iowa and then decide the next step once I arrived. “One step at a time,” he said. “Ok, put Vicki back on for just a minute, and then as quickly as you can, safely, I want you to go straight to the gas station and then get on the interstate, ok?” 

“Ok, Daddy.” I paused. In a very small voice, I said, “I’m scared.”

His voice took the tone he used to calm me down after I had woken up from a bad dream. “It’s going to be ok now. You just get here.”

“Ok, Daddy. I love you.”

“I love you, too; put Vicki on, ok?”

I handed the phone to Vicki, and less than five minutes later, I had $50 for gas and lunch, and directions written out to get me to my Dad’s. A quick hug from Vicki, and I was out the door.

I got in my car and looked at the clock. Forty-five minutes had passed already. I started shaking again. I was in the danger zone. I decided that I would go straight to the interstate and go as far as I could and then get gas. 

As I went through town, I looked left and right at my surroundings. All the familiar old buildings that made up my town. The Hallmark store, where I had gotten keepsake ornaments. JcPenney, where I had gotten my graduation dress. The silk-screen place where I got band t-shirts, my letter jacket, and senior t-shirts. The jewelry store where I had gotten my class ring. The pharmacy where I had worked for a couple years. It felt surreal. But I knew that that moment, right then, would be a defining moment of my life. 

I reached the interstate and got on I-69 South. I put the cruise on 70, and for the first time since I had sat at the breakfast table, I took a long, deep breath in. And exhaled. Now I had time to think.

I had done it. I was fairly confident that Dad hadn’t called TGB yet. He would, soon. But by the time he called him, and he left work, and started looking for me, I’d be gone. The only people on earth that knew where I was, was my father and Vicki. And they weren’t sayin’ nothin’. 

Then I felt it. 

Hope.

Hope that he would no longer hurt me; physically, sexually, verbally, or emotionally. 

Hope that I could learn to live without him. 

Hope that he had not “institutionalized” me, and that I’d be able to live my own life without someone telling me what I could wear and where I could go and who I could see and what I could buy andwhenandhowandwhy. 

For the first time in almost five years, hope washed down over me like a hard spring rain, and it was unbelievably overwhelming. The tires hummed on the road and the hope-rain cleansed my soul. And as the mile markers flew by, I sobbed. 

The world around me was different. It was like, for five years someone had been slowly turning down the saturation dial of my life; and in three seconds, cranked it all the way up past normal. It was… staggering. Everything around me and inside me was bigger, deeper, heavier, just more.  The snow was whiter. The sky was bluer. My tears were wetter.

A semi-truck passed me; slowly, but he passed me. As he drove ahead, through my tears, I saw on the back side of his trailer cab, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA. He was going where I was going! Up to that point, I thought of the town as kind of a Never Never Land. But this CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA did exist, and I would follow him there. 

I cried for miles and miles. Emotions that I thought were dead inside of me surfaced, and it was like I had been underwater for too long and had just broken through to the air and I gasped and gulped, drawing it deep within my core. Those emotions were so overpoweringly real, they actually, physically hurt inside my chest, and all I could do was sob and feel.

Righteous indignation.

Relief.

Happiness. 

But most of all… hope.

Hope.

His name was Dice.

Today I had to drag my sick, achy ass down to my Iowa Workforce Development office (i.e. unemployment office) to sign a paper about getting my hearing aids. Neither rain nor sleet nor creeping crud was going to keep me from completing this task. But it was hardly the in-and-out-done errand that I anticipated.

I was asked to take a seat at a table a little uncomfortably close to a job counselor and another female client. I can’t eavesdrop on someone’s conversation. I couldn’t hear any of their conversation except one part when she said (had to be loudly because hello, I heard it!) “I can’t leave without my dog!” and sobbed. For a moment, I was sucked back in time.

One reason a woman may refuse to leave an abusive relationship that you may not have thought of before is because they can’t take their pet or don’t have anyone who can take it/them. Do you think if someone is abusing you, that they would hesitate to abuse something/someone near and dear to you, such as your dog or cat? Fluffy or Fido; that’s the first thing on the mind of an abused woman and the last thing on the mind of everyone else. If I leave, what will happen to them?

As this woman cried quietly, I closed my eyes for just a moment and I was back there. Packing quickly, my heart thumping wildly in fear. Since I didn’t even have time to get boxes, I was just throwing things into black garbage bags; breathing so ragged, I was working through a stitchy cramp in my side. I threw all those bags out the back door onto the snow-dusted porch for my step-dad to pick up shortly; I would already be on my way out of town. Before I left, I thought, what will I do with the puppy? I paused a moment and thought, his family won’t let him hurt the puppy, no matter how enraged he was going to be when he found I was not home. We lived with his mom and dad and two brothers, and I felt that they would take care of him until I could send friends for him in a few days.

The wave of crisis rose and fell that weekend. I left. Police were called, tearful conversations were had, promises that had rang empty in the past waived their tattered banners for the final time. This time I had made sure that I didn’t meet him alone while I knew I still couldn’t trust my own judgement. Yet I felt free for the first time in almost five years.

The people who I was staying with had agreed to let me have my puppy with me at their house, and my best friend and his father went out to The Girl Beater’s house to get him. I waited for them to return, still reveling in the rather exhilarating feelings, almost manic, that I hadn’t had in years. As I emptied black bags and put things away, I had a small nagging doubt niggling in the back of my mind, but I batted it away, determined to enjoy my new found lightness of being. I heard the truck rumble up the driveway and I hurried out, anxious to see my pup after five days away from him.

But something was wrong.

My best friend and his dad walked up to the front porch where I had burst out of the door, cold air zinging my lungs.

As they raised their faces yet said nothing, I knew.

It was too late. He was gone.

I shook my head, hard, angry at the tears that were squeezing from my eyes. My best friend’s dad hugged me close and let me cry. “We buried him properly. We’ll take you to say goodbye.” he almost whispered, as my best friend wiped tears from both sides of the top of his nose, guy-style. “I’m so sorry, honey,” he said.

They told me later that The Girl Beater, his mother, his father, and two adult brothers had simply put the puppy in the basement and ceased to provide water and food. You see, those were the “consequences” of my leaving without making arrangements for his care and feeding. Five adults listened to a puppy cry until he couldn’t anymore.

I opened my eyes, the moment over; and was almost surprised at my surroundings, the flashback was so vivid. The woman was still crying quietly. The counselor sat across from her, cool and detached. My guy popped around the corner and said, “Hey, Dory, you ready?”

I got up and on the way back down the hallway, I shook, just a couple jerks, as if I could shake off those old recollections.