I groaned as I soon as I got the call. Most policeman dread getting domestic violence calls. The situation is usually volatile and could escalate out of control at any moment. Since I was closest, I was first to respond. All I knew was a woman had called in complaining that her husband had hit her, pushed her down and was threatening her.
I approached the house with caution. All looked calm except for the loud blare of a television set. I stepped onto the porch, glancing in a front window. All I could see was an elderly woman who was knitting, sitting in a rocking chair.
I was just getting ready to knock when the door flung open. A distraught woman was staring me in the face. “What took you so long?” she barked, waving me inside. “There he is,” she said, pointing at a man sitting on the sofa drinking a beer. “Take him away.”
The man simply cocked his eyebrows and raised his beer in a salute. “Like a cold one, Officer?” he asked.
“No, thanks. I’m on duty,” I replied. My eyes quickly surveyed the scene. The man didn’t appear to be a threat – at least for the moment. The elderly woman was rocking in rhythm to the clicking of the needles in her hands. Without pausing, she glanced at me and smiled.
It was the lady standing with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face that I focused in on, though. She had disheveled hair, a black eye, a busted lip and the meanest look I’ve ever seen.
“You want to tell me what’s going on?” I asked her.
“See that baseball bat?” she asked, pointing to a bat lying on the floor. “Boom, right here in my eye,” she snarled. “His prized bat from high school. Macho baseball player, right, Arnie?”
“Yep, babe, you’re right,” he said. He pumped a fist in the air and shouted, “Touchdown!”
Sunday football – one of the things I missed most about pulling a shift on Sunday. And attending church, of course.
“Oh,” the lady hissed like a steam engine, pulling my thoughts away from Sunday football. “You hear that, Mr. Policeman? I’m dying and all he cares about is football. Hey, Arnie! Do see my eye, my lip? Quit looking at those cheerleaders shaking their fannies. Do you care I’m hurt?”
“Sure, honey. Put some ice on it. Ask your mom to get it for you.” Arnie never took his eyes off the television.
“He pushed me down and pulled a whole fistful of hair right out of my head. Take him in and lock him up.”
I took a step backward. The lady was talking so fast, she was spitting in my face. “So, this is your husband? He hit you in the eye with the bat, pushed you down and pulled out some of your hair?” I asked.
“Yes, he’s my husband. Can you see my face? You think I did this to myself? All because I said we weren’t watching football today. And quit laughing, Mama!”
I hadn’t noticed the old woman in the corner who was, indeed, smiling and snickering. At this point, I wasn’t sure what to think because something wasn’t setting right about this whole scene. Obviously the missus had injuries, but the husband, Arnie, appeared unperturbed about whatever was going on.
“Sir, did you attack your wife?” I asked Arnie, repeating it twice before he pried his eyes from the football game.
“Nope! Sure didn’t,” he answered.
The old woman kept rocking and smiling. I decided I should get the story from her, so I asked, “Can you tell me your version of what happened?”
“It’s the same thing every time there’s football. He’s glued to the t.v and Maggie’s mad. She tells him today, ‘Over my dead body will we watch football all day.’ When Arnie heads for the t.v., Maggie slaps at him like a wild woman. He tries to step around her, and their feet get tangled. She’s falling and he grabs her to stop her fall. She twists and all he grabs is her ponytail. Out comes the band and hair. Maggie hits the shelf where Arnie’s bat is displayed. It crashes down and hits her in the eye, knocking her forward onto the corner of the doorway where she split her lip.”
My mouth is open. “Uh, so, is that the truth?”
“Yes, sir,” she answers. “Straight from the horse’s mouth.”
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