Laughter, pleading, barking; that is what I woke up to this bright and sunny morning causing me to bury my head under my pillow in a useless attempt to buy some more time to wake up. How rude, someone's trying to sleep late and there's a tickle party on the other side of the mattress. I punched blindly out at my husband who had my daughter in a contortion a pretzel would be proud of, begging for mercy while Scruffy, our loyal terrier, used the opportunity to lick Cindy's face, or any exposed body part, as often as he could! I raised the corner of my foam comfort pillow only to have a furry, wirery tail dust the sleep out of my eyes so that I could get an unobscured look at his back side, a sight now ruthlessly etched into my memory forever.
"Okay, that's enough!" I hollered as I jumpd up and grapped my water bottle then poured water on anything that moved onto my side of the bed.
"Hey," Cindy yelled, "Not fair!"
"What's not fair is waking up early on my day off to this."
I complained, good naturedly.
"Mom, dad is so mean! He won't let me go over to Missy's until he meets her parents. Missy's parents never care if she comes over here without meeting you. They treat her like a grown up that can make her own decisions." Cindy wailed, tears still rolling down her cheeks from the physical assault Dad had executed on her to remind her she was still his little baby girl.The physical assault that resulted in uncontrollable, hard, rib splitting laughter.
"Then invite her over here, I know we're good people," Dad said as he slipped out of bed to ready himself for Saturday honey-dos. It was obvious the female population couldn't survive without the male race to install light bulbs, fix drains, and mow the yard, etcetera, and etcetera. Little did he know the female race, being superior, had manipulated man into matrimonial slavery.
Fortunately the bell rang, temporarily ending the fight as Cindy answered her cell. I swear that girl would bring that phone with her at the rapture to text message her friends in the clouds on where to meet when they got to heaven.
"Oh never mind," Cindy groused, "Missy is coming over here butI wanted to play with her WII," she said, tugging her clothes back into shape and making an effort to regain her composure and anger. Laughter somehow seems to dampen a bad mood.
“What’s a wee?” Dad queried from the bathroom door, razor in hand.
“Man dad, don’t you know anything?” Cindy exclaimed before she stormed from the room.
Dad looked at me and I shrugged as I asked, “Aren’t you glad we only have one?”
Scruffy and I burrowed back under the comforters for more snoozing after I heard the doorbell ring; I assumed it was Missy, Cindy’s new friend from school. Her dad was right. We wouldn’t let Cindy visit anyone whose parent’s we hadn’t met, I’m surprised in this day and age parents would ever let their kids go into stranger’s houses. I’ve even answered the door to girl scouts out selling cookies unsupervised, and then I hear the radio or television announcing an Amber Alert. Don’t people learn anything from other’s mistakes?
First it was the laughter and horse playing that had aroused me, this time it was Scruffy’s snoring, right in my ear. I didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in ….(think of someplace hot) …at ever getting any more sleep this morning so I decided I needed to get up and do something domestic, like making a batch of hot fruity pancakes to smother in lots of gooey syrup. Can’t sleep, why waste the time not eating. Works for me.
I passed Missy and Cindy in the living room hooking up Missy’s WII to our very large, very expensive, very unpaid for high definition television. All right you go girl, thanks for bringing it with you, now my husband’s off the hook with Cindy.
Greg came into the kitchen with one hand behind his back. “Honey, is there something you’ve neglected to tell me?”
“Not that I can think of, but I’m sure whatever you’re holding will jog my memory.”
His hand came forward. The tail light came forward. My memory data base came forward.
“Oops, I guess I forgot to mention I backed into our mail box yesterday.” I confessed. I wasn’t deliberately concealing anything from him; I just have selective memory loss, usually in my favor, that’s the best kind to have. I have a hard time remembering routine mistakes and car mishaps are fairly routine for me.
i heard Missy whispered to Cindy, “Do you think we better go someplace else, someplace safe?”
“Huh, why?” Cindy’s attention was only slightly split between her virtual bowling game and Missy’s question.
“So your mom and dad can fight in private.”
“What? Fight over a tail light. Heck, dad has better survival instincts than that.” Cindy responded as she sent some pins into virtual oblivion.
The doorbell peeled through the house in beautiful harmony while Greg informed me he placed the tail light on the honey do priority list.
I opened the door to an exceptionally handsome young man who claimed to be looking for Missy, who I called front and center then went back to the kitchen to beat my pancake batter. There had better be no more interruptions into my cooking frenzy as I was mass producing saliva in anticipation of a exceptional dining experience that couldn’t be rivaled in any public diner.
I stopped my spatula in mid air as I caught drift of the conversation going on at my front door.
“I got off work so we can spend the day together,” a male voice said.
“I planned on spending the day with Cindy,” Missy explained.
“Of course that was before you knew I wasn’t going to be off today, get your things and let’s go,” the male voice suggested.
Missy; “I really want to stay here, let’s get together latter.”
“Listen I don’t have any money and I don’t want to waste the day at home with my old man, so at least spare me some of your change” male voice.
Missy; “I spent it all on our dinner last night.”
This conversation was beginning to disturb me a little, no; it was disturbing me a lot. I held the spatula with a death grip, I needed something more threatening, if I walked out into the living room with a spatula bathed in pancake batter all I could do was..was….slap his cheeks with it and challenge him to a cooking duel.
My reverie cost me the last few word exchanges before the door shut. Drat it, at least Missy was still here, thank heavens she held her guns.
I peeked out into the living room where Missy was back at the WII with the controls in hands that trembled. Scruffy sensed someone needed some loving and jumped up her legs; there is no better boost for morale’s than dog kisses accompanied by a wagging tail, which on Scruffy extended all the way from rear to tongue.
“Ow!” Missy moaned, pushing Scruffy away.
Cindy looked as startled as I did, Scruffy, weighing all of 10 pounds after a shampoo, couldn’t bruise a flea, which is why we kept him flea free; try saying that ten times in a row.
“What’s the matter, Missy?” I asked coming into the living room.
“Oh it’s nothing. I just have a sore spot from gym yesterday.”
“Well, let me have a look see,” I volunteered my nursing services often
“No, that’s okay.” Was said way to slow for me as I already had Missy’s pant legs up to knee level. Gasp. Gasp. Double gasp.
“This happened in gym. What were you doing rock climbing” I asked as I examined a very bruised, very angry looking shin. I suddenly had a perturbing thought; Missy was completely concealed with clothes, long sleeves, long pant legs topped off with a turtle neck t-shirt. This was July for God’s sake.
“Missy, I want to see your arms.” I said, gently. There was going to be resistance, but I was going to be a tough wall to beat against.
Missy surprised me, she rolled her sleeves up. Gasp. Gasp. Why was I shocked, I knew what I was going to see. Cuts, scrapes, bruises; not all from the same gym class either. Some were almost healed, some were newly acquired.
“I think I’ll give your gym teacher a call,” I said knowing what the response would be.
“That’s not necessary, mom took care of that.” A lie if ever I heard one. I’m a mother of a teenager, I can spot lies from the first word out.
“Missy,” I pulled out my most understanding voice and expression, “is someone hurting you?”
Missy’s eyes started to glitter, snot started to drip from her nose, her shoulders began to shake, “Mark and I horse around a lot, and I’m just not good at horse play yet.”
“This isn’t horse play, Missy, this is abuse, I want to take you home and talk to your parents about this so we can stop this.”
Missy’s eyes opened wide. That was the wrong thing to say.
“Missy, your parents need to know. Let’s go.” Cindy was awestruck, she had never seen this side of life up close and personal.
I got Missy to her house, but not like feeling as though I was taking her to death row or like I was the criminal here. Missy and Cindy stayed behind in the car as I marched up the driveway past a car with a crumbled passenger door, to the back door where Missy’s father answered my knocking, if you call opening the door to the limit of the chain lock, answering the door. I tried to convince the half of a face I could see that I needed to speak with him and his wife but he insisted she was busy elsewhere in the house and he could manage whatever concerned me without his wife, however I could hear someone in the kitchen behind the door sobbing, I think. Something was wrong on the other side of this door.
“Mrs. Melville, is that you!” I hollered through the partial opening before the door was slammed in my face. I can take a hint. I can also take a hint and ignore it just as well. I pounded on the wooden structure; I mean pounded; curtains separated on neighboring windows, cars slowed in passing, kids stopped riding their bikes. In other words I was being noticed and bringing attention to this house.
An elderly neighbor stepped out on her porch next door and explained that she had seen the couple fighting in the drive way earlier over the dented vehicle. Mr. Melville had been livid and relentless in his verbal abuse to his wife.
“Just horrible. Just horrible.” She proclaimed. “That poor thing was crying and shaking, and then he dragged her inside. only the good Lord knows what happened in there. She’s come out of that house bruised so often I don’t know what her natural skin color is. Just horrible.” The lady clicked her loose dentures in disgust.
After that revelation I returned to door pounding,“Mr. Melville, open this door right now or I’ll call the police!”
“Just send Missy in, we’ll take care of whatever her problem is from here.” Came the only response from behind the door.
I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so at all. I wasn’t stupid, contrary to popular opinion, even though kidnapping is still a federal offence, being an accomplice to injustice is off my personal agenda. I didn’t move, feeling some inner strength.
“I’m not leaving till I see your wife. Mrs. Melville! Answer me, are you alright?”
I heard some scuffling, some groaning, and some sobbing in the space beyond my reach.
“Cindy, call 911!” I yelled from the porch. Cindy already had her phone in hand, of course, probably texting friends about me making a public scene.
“If you call the police, I’ll give my wife more what for when I get out like I do every time and it’ll be on your conscience.”
That did it, I was really enraged now. I had adrenalin pumping out of every pore as I reared back and side kicked the door. Nothing. How foolish of me to think I was karate momma. I heard chuckling from Mr. Melville. Oh boy, I wonder how many neighbors saw that. Well why not go for the gusto. I cranked my leg in and sent it flying one more…………crack. The door mechanism snapped; a little too easy, I thought, and I went flying off balance into a very messy kitchen and landed on my belly. That’s not the way it happens in the movies.
There was Mrs. Melville, cowering in the corner, battered and beaten, the fire gone from her eyes and Mr. Melville, with fire in his eyes, came at me with serious intentions.
“Listen, you can hit me if you want, but let me tell you, I’m not your wife and I will press charges, and they will stick.” I threatened, as I rose to thwart the oncoming blows, one of which landed on my shoulder; I was so infuriated I wouldn’t feel any pain till tomorrow. I side stepped another flying fist grabbed a kitchen chair and swung it up and down. Bingo; dead center of his back. He collapsed onto the floor as sirens wailed into the driveway.
Two officers ran in and cuffed Mr. Macho female beater and read him his Miranda rights while I held Mrs. Melville in my arms, and just her cry. Missy ran in and joined the huddle followed by Cindy who I almost didn’t recognize without her cell phone. Missy and her mom received counseling from a female officer who had arrived about a woman’s haven in the area that would help them, mother and daughter, get on their feet. I told them once they were steady and ready to face the world again; my home was open to them. We had lots of room; they wouldn’t be the first strays I brought home.
Back at home Cindy flung herself into her dad’s sweaty arms, he had just finished mowing the yard and reapplying the tail light and stunk to high heaven with body aromas that should never be bottled and sold for anything except biochemical warfare.
“Gee, dad, I’m so glad you’re my dad. I for one don’t think I’ll go wrong marrying a guy like the one dear old mom married!” Greg looked over Cindy’s head to me. I signaled I’d explain it to him latter, I didn’t want him yelling at me about how unwise I’d been going to Missy’s house by myself. He may get angry with me, but he’d never ever dream of hurting Cindy or me, for one thing I knew karate, and other helpful words. Inwardly I sent a prayer of gratitude heavenward to the God that helped some wounded people today.
Meanwhile, two angels who were sitting on the divan in Cindy’s living room, wings folded across their chests, legs crossed, discussed the day and their behind the scenes roles in helping things unfold.
“They just don’t make door locks like they used to” Angel number one said, pulling splinters from his feet.
“No, thank heavens; these modern ones are easier to break!” angel number two laughed.
“Hey, Why did you let Cindy’s mom fall on her stomach and take that blow to the shoulder”
“You don’t think I wanted her getting out of control and going super hero on me did you. My job is hard enough just keeping her alive when she drives!”
With that the two guardian angels took flight and went home for the night content that they had led Missy and her mother to the right family for guidance and comfort, proving that once again, all things work together for good to those who love God.