Child abuse happens everyday. Often we see clues to what might be going on, but tell ourselves it's non of our business what happens in other peoples homes. But sometimes, what happens behind closed doors is our business. This is the story of what might just be happening in your neighborhood. Do you have the courage to look?
Behind Closed Doors
by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Some people deserve to die. It’s just as simple as that. God gave them life, free will to choose what to do with their life and then, when they make a mess of it all, chance after chance to turn themselves around. Then, when they fail at that, well let’s just say that’s where I come in.
My name is Gabe and God is my boss. That’s right, roll your eyes, laugh, it doesn’t matter. Eventually we’ll meet again and if you’re lucky it will be quick. I know what you’re thinking, what did your grandmother do to deserve the horrid end to her life? Nothing. She was one of the lucky ones. I was sent to put an end to her suffering. She was a strong woman, trust me. Your grandmother or whoever your loved one was that despite all their suffering, managed to hang onto their faith, grew stronger because of the suffering. My presence at the end was their blessing.
There are others though who’s suffering only begins when I show up. See that woman over there…yes, the one downing her drink like a dehydrated camel; she’s the reason I’m here. I know, she looks happy, she and her friends are celebrating, but by the end of the night, she’ll be screaming.
To help you understand, we need to go back a few months to a day when a little girl said a prayer.
SIX MONTHS EARLIER
“Man, she is a feisty little thing!” John was laughing as Alex struggled to get out of his arms. John was Alex’s mom’s newest boyfriend, but not an improvement over any of the others. In fact, he was just like all the other men Misty had brought around.
Alex flailed her arms and legs as John held tight, and then tried to go limp; hoping she’d be able to slip under his arms before he realized what she was up to. When that didn’t work, the ten year old renewed her effort to free herself. Somehow she managed to connect an elbow to his nose, leaping out of his arms as he loosened his grip under the impact.
Alex didn’t waste any time, making a beeline towards her bedroom. She saw Abby peeking through the crack in the door, ready to swing it open and let her in. Once in and the door was relocked, she should be relatively safe until morning. Hopefully by then their mother’s friends would be gone and Misty and John passed out from the alcohol and drugs.
It had worked in the past. Misty and her friends would pound on the door, making a show of breaking it down, then give up for something more entertaining. Out of sight, out of mind. It always worked, except for this time. Abby and Emma had made it into the room, but Alex, who had been pushing her younger sisters ahead of her, hadn’t been so lucky. John had anticipated her move, his memory apparently better than his predecessors, and had cut her off, placing himself between her and her sisters.
A temporary setback, Alex thought, as once again she seemed to be on her way to safety. Then something snagged her hair and she felt herself falling backwards, as her head was yanked back with tremendous force. Her mother pulled her up off the floor, her fingers still wrapped in her daughter’s long hair. Misty slapped Alex across the face, leaving a red imprint of her hand behind.
“YOU TELL JOHN YOU’RE SORRY!” Misty screamed in the girl’s face, her rancid, alcoholic breath making her feel nauseas. Misty pulled her hand back, preparing to strike Alex again if she refused.
“I’m sorry,” Alex mumbled, rubbing her hand over her cheek. She was fighting back the tears, refusing to let Misty’s friends see her cry.
“Awww, poor baby,” Tina, Misty’s best friend said, putting her arms around Alex and giving her a hug. “Aunt Tina will kiss your boo boo and make it all better.”
Alex cringed as the inebriated woman kissed her cheek, then slid her tongue out of her mouth and licked the child’s face. Alex pulled back as the woman’s foul breath assaulted her nose. From the blackened, broken appearance of Tina’s teeth, she doubted the woman ever brushed them.
“Hold her down,” John ordered Misty. “I have something that will calm her down and make her a little more cooperative.”
Misty and Tina held Alex down as she struggled to get away. She’d been through this before and her heart raced as she fought against them. She screamed as she felt the needle push into her arm, then, almost immediately, the room began to swirl and her vision blurred. She felt as though she was floating as someone began to undo her shirt and take her pants off. She tried to protest, but the drugs numbed her tongue and she couldn’t make it work. She heard someone tell her mother to go get a camera. She felt tears on her cheeks.
Later, Alex woke, her senses slowly coming back to her. She was naked and she felt around in the dark for her clothes. Moving was difficult, she was sore and just lifting herself into a sitting position caused pain to shoot through her body. Most of her mother’s ‘friends’ were passed out, but from some of the sounds she was hearing, not all of them. Trying not to draw attention to herself, she crawled through the debris of bottles that littered the floor, feeling ahead, sweeping her hands back and forth to make sure there were no sharp objects in her path. She heard her bedroom door open as she got close and her sister’s whispered encouragements for her to hurry. She ran the last few steps into the room, breaking into sobs as soon as the door was closed.
The three sisters huddled together in the single bed, holding each other, the two youngest trying to comfort their older sister. Alex cried softly as she prayed, begging the God their neighbor had told them about to send someone to rescue them from their home. She really wasn’t sure if she would get an answer, but she felt strangely at peace as she drifted off to sleep.
Sometime later she was woken by a banging on the door. She heard screaming coming from the other room, her mother’s voice calling someone a bastard and John cursing. A strange voice she didn’t recognize yelled “Get down!” Alex grabbed her sister’s hands and pulled them to the corner of the room. The three of them sat on the floor, watching the door. Suddenly, something hard slammed against it and the door broke inwards, revealing a large man on the other side. He held a gun in front of him as he entered the room. Swinging in their direction he held the weapon still for a moment and then lowered it, calling to someone behind him, “I have three children in here!”
The rest of the night was a blur to Alex. A woman who said her to protect children took the girls to a large house and showed them a room where they were to sleep. There wasn’t much to the room, four small beds and a few dressers, but it was better than the room they had at home. The fourth bed was occupied by a sleeping girl who whispered a quiet hi to them. The woman hushed her and told the girls to get into bed and try to sleep. Alex was sure she wouldn’t be able to. She was scared, not knowing what would happen, but somehow she knew her prayer had been answered. Alex, Abby and Emma looked at the three beds, one for each of them, something they had never had before, then without discussing it, they climbed into the one farthest from the door and huddled together.
To be continued in Behind Closed Doors Part 2
copyright 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar