Me and My Danny

By JULIE SMITH | Published: March 15, 2009

Early evening comes with welcome rain; my ears are on alert. Thunder booms from a distance. Then the sound of truck tyres scraping on the gravel driveway before slushing to a halt. He is home.

My son Danny hears the familiar truck and runs for his room. He is frightened and with good reason; it’s Friday night and Dad is home.

I walk quickly to the kitchen. It’s 7:00, near tea time and sweat drips down my back. I start cooking; anything to fill his stomach to counter the effects of his pub crawl. He slams the front door and walks into the kitchen grabbing two beers from the fridge. Smells of alcohol and cigarettes percolate from his body. I keep my face towards the frying pan, faking concentration. He leaves and sits on the couch in front of the television like a blown-up jellyfish; jowls folded on his chest, red-laced eyes at half-mast.

“Danny, get in here!” he screams after belching like a walrus stranded on a beach.

No, you can’t do this anymore! I scream in my mind, walking to meet the beast. Not my Danny or me anymore.

“Get away bitch!” he roars when I kneel and take his hand. Keep calm.

“Don’t John…I won’t let you hurt us anymore.”

The jellyfish wiggles as he laughs. A hand comes from nowhere and crashes across my face. I fall over backwards and hit the television and Danny cries from his room and opens the door. “Mummy, Mummy, you alright?” Blood flows from somewhere and a copper smell invades my space. At least it’s not Danny but I know he could be next.

I grab Danny and pull him into the kitchen. I seat him at the table and give him dinner, talking softly, gently. The phone book beneath the bench top provides an abuse emergency number and I dial, shaking…the police never help. Abuse towards women is the biggest killer, the worst country for it in the world. A woman answers and I tell her, “Enough! I’m going to kill him to protect my child and myself. No one cares what happens to us!” A matronly voice fills my ears.

“Pack your essentials and wait somewhere on the street. It shouldn’t be too long. Look for car lights to go on and off, then run to the car. What is your address?”

I give her the details in a quiet roar and sit down wiping my face. It’s hot and perspiration is dripping all around me; the walls, ceiling, windows.

“Danny, go into the shed and wait for me.”

“Why? Is Dad going to hurt you again?”

“Go and wait.”

He slides quietly off the chair and gives me that look.

“Trust me Danny. I won’t ever let him hurt us again.”

As he creeps out the back door I will always remember his expression as shadows cross his face…like a whipped dog not knowing where to go, confused and without a choice.

From the front room he roars, “Danny, get in here now!”, knocking a bottle to the floor. Usually I rush to clean up his mess and keep the peace but now I need to buy some time or stop it. I stick a boning knife in my back pocket and walk towards him and sit down, trying to ignore the moral conflict of my wanting – no, needing to take a life. There’s no choice, it’s raw survival. Such evil cannot ever be cleansed it can only be destroyed.

He grabs me by the hair and throws me on the floor. I feel a shift of emotion − transfixed and focused. I reach for the knife as my heart thuds hard enough to crack ribs. The blade reflects light and then all sense of reality is gone. I scramble up and pounce, stabbing with senses numb - I am out of control. A blow hits the side of my head and I float on the edge of darkness. Knocking at the door brings me back to to a grey reality. The screen door flies open and I see Paul Hutton and Larry McFay in uniform, two cops in town. I roll into a ball when Larry takes him bellowing out into the night, blood dripping; Paul puts a cushion under my head while giving reassurances.

“Where’s Danny? I look out the doorway with the screen door banging. The front yard is a sea of lights competing with red and blue strobes, police and ambulance. The backdrop of rain and thunder create a psychedelic lighthouse cautioning lost ships at sea, warning of calamity just conceived. We’ll be safe now but it was almost too late. Softly, gently, I hug myself and start weeping. Then an hysterical laugh pushes through my mouth. I remember one life-changing moment almost 8 years ago. I regretfully look back; a joyful but short-lived period of time; one night with desperate need of acceptance, love-words, promises, excitement, daring and immense pleasure. I was only 17 and in love…



Comments

1. janie on March 15, 2009

The story brought tears to my eyes. Very moving and well done Julie.

2. Doris on March 17, 2009

I found the story compelling reading and descriptions given make the story come alive.

3. Betty Eastman on March 19, 2009

A beautifully expressed story. Hope there are more to come.

4. Allie on April 12, 2009

Congratulations on capturing the reality of domestic violence in this short story. Well done Julie!

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