I stood there trembling. I looked into my mother’s eyes as she sat in the dining room chair, my father standing over her with a gun to her head. As she stared back at me, I could see her fear. But mostly I saw the pain she felt seeing the fear in my 6-year-old eyes. I tried so hard not to let her see it on my face but I couldn’t t hide it when I looked at her. My heart was pounding and my breathing was quick and shallow. I glanced at the hole in the wall where my father had punched it in a rage. A phone wire dangled from another hole where the phone had hung only moments before. A failed attempt at a 911 call. My Grandmother, sister, aunt and two cousins stared silently, too afraid to move. The chaos of the night had led us to this moment.
I looked back at my mother. She winced as my drunken father lost his balance and pushed the gun into her temple as he caught himself. I stared at him. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me weak and afraid so I glared at him. But he knew how to get the reaction he wanted. His eyes stared back at me and he smirked.
“I want you and your sister to go into your room, and when you hear a loud noise, don’t come out.” He slurred.
Just as he wanted, my expression changed back to fear.
“Why?” I asked. My voice now shaky and my chin quivered.
“Cuz I’m gonna blow yer mother’s fucken brains out!
Everyone in the room gasped.
“NO!” I pleaded. “Don’t kill Mom.”
“I said get in the fucken room!
My sister and I cried and held on to each other as we began to walk toward the bedroom. Through my tears, I looked into my mother’s eyes one last time. The pain and sadness on her face, as she looked at us for the last time, is something I could never fully understand until I had children of my own.
“I want to go in there with them.” My grandmother said.
“No. You’re gonna stay here and watch me splatter her brains against the fuckin wall bitch”
My sister and I went into the room and sat on the bed. We held each other so tightly. We just squeezed each other and sobbed, trying to drown out the sound of the gunshot that we anticipated at any moment. Through our cries, I heard a loud crash that startled us and we both jumped. It was followed by yelling and strange voices. Our cries grew silent. The voices were loud but muffled. I heard my Dad yell and there was the sound of a struggle. The stranger’s voices would yell out my fathers name and he would yell back. The voices grew faint, then silent. We took turns wiping our tears from our eyes and sniffling as we wondered what had happened. Was my mother dead? Was my father gone? Were we safe?
The sound of footsteps came down the hall toward the door. As the door opened, my mother’s face appeared. We ran to her. We didn’t need words to say what we were feeling. The firmness of our hugs, the trembling of our bodies, and the uncontrollable tears spoke for us.
The police, my father’s co-workers, had finally returned and removed him from the house. They had been called to our house earlier. At that time they simply instructed him to get in his truck and follow them away from our house even though he was drunk. When they drove off, he turned around and was back at our house within minutes to continue one of the worst nights of terror I can remember. It wasn’t the first and certainly not the last, but one of the worst.
When he returned, it took the police 20 minutes to get back to our house after my mother called the Chief again. He told her there was nothing they could do because he hadn’t broken any laws. The restraining order my mother had filed was never served. Instead, he was notified it existed and was told to come and pick it up as they didn’t want to embarrass him by serving him at work because he was, after all, an officer of the law. She demanded that it be served that night and it was. It took 5 officers to serve him the papers at the bar they had dropped him off at after they removed him from our house. Yes, he was one mean son-of-a-bitch when he drank.