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An Excerpt from

Beyond My Wildest …

I was just getting used to doing things on my own when Rick showed up in Barstow. He begged me to take him back.

Well, now we have a house. I have a job that’s going really well. Maybe I should take him back? He says he loves me and he’s so sorry, he was just stressed, getting used to having a family. What if we could make it work? But … I can’t go through that again. What if he turns mean again? I can’t let Randy go through that. He’s just two years old and he’s seen enough. But Rick’s so sweet to me now. It would be so nice to have someone here, to be a family, a real family. It really looks like he’s changed.

Nothing changed. Within days he was drunk, high, possessive, jealous … we fought all the time. Little Randy would cry. Every day was another day deeper into hell.

My family couldn’t believe what I’d done.

“Peg, if you’re going to stay with that man, you can’t come over for Christmas.”

My heart was breaking.

“Brenda and Cliff won’t come over if you bring him with you, so either come without him, or spend Christmas alone with him.”

I cried and cried, but what could I do? I was married to Rick, and that meant Christmas with Rick. My mom tried to help by bringing over some food for the holiday. Christmas morning came and there we were: the three of us, a meager little tree, the few presents we could afford for Randy, and a whole world of heartache.

The fighting got worse. Rick’s violence escalated. I’d finally had enough and kicked him out. At last, I could get on with my life.

But then the phone would ring. It would be Rick, begging me to take him back, apologizing up a storm. When I said no, he’d go from sweet and sorry to bitter and violent. He’d call me names, use every awful word known to mankind, then tell me he was going to kill me. Hang up. Repeat. Hang up. Repeat. For weeks. Months.

One night he came over, hit me, beat me. I escaped with Randy and went to my parents’. My dad said that was it. He was going to protect his daughter and grandbaby if it killed him. He went out looking for Rick, scoured the town. Half-relieved, fully terrified, I was grateful when my dad came home empty-handed. If he had found Rick … well, my dad probably would have ended up in prison, or worse.

***

THUD, THUD, THUD!

The pounding startled us out of our pot pie routine.

“You can’t come in Rick!”

The door was throbbing, I thought it might cave in.

“Just go away Rick. I’ll call the police!”

CRASH! A metal chair came flying through the front window. He was in the house now. The lamp. The coffee table. The refrigerator. Anything he could find, he hurled. Then it was my turn. Randy backed into the corner. How much more can this little boy endure? There was nothing I could do to spare my sweet boy this scene. Rick was stronger than me, and he was on a rampage.

The neighbors were in the street. Finally the police arrived. Eventually it subsided. No arrests, no penalties, but at least Rick left. Randy and I were alone in the carnage. His puppy, the one I’d given Randy to somehow balance all the turbulence in his life, the one he loved – that I loved – was gone. Did Bongo run away? Did someone take him? We looked for little Bongo for days. Randy cried big sobbing tears. I joined him. When would this nightmare end?

***

What’s happening? I can’t breathe! I can’t scream! I can’t see anything! Is this a dream? Damnit, this is real. I’m going to die. Rick’s finally going to do it. Where’s Randy? I can’t hear anything. Please God tell me he’s just sleeping. That Rick’s only coming after me. I can’t let Randy die, too. Hell no Rick … not today … you’re … not … going … to … kill … me!

Somehow I yanked the pillow off my face, wrenched Rick’s hand from my throat, and ran for Randy’s room.

Just get out the door Peggy. Run, scream, make noise, whatever you have to do. Just run!

I sprinted all the way to Brenda’s house. My feet grinding into the gravel. Randy bobbing, bouncing, frantic. I pounded on the door. It wasn’t until Cliff cracked it open that I realized how late it was. And that I was in nothing but my bra and panties. He was stunned. I was wild with fear. Randy was crying. We just stood there looking at each other, my wheezing filling the night air. Finally Brenda came to the door and said, “Well, let her in!”

I barely slept. Luckily Randy did. The next morning I packed him up and headed home.

Rick was still in there. With a gun. He was refusing to leave my house?! The house I had bought all on my own. The one without his name anywhere on the papers!

No amount of going to the police office every day, begging their help in removing the abuser who was squatting in my home, yielded any help from the authorities. In fact, none of the calls I had made when Rick was beating me generated response from the police. They said it was a domestic dispute, not their problem, nothing they could do.

About a week later, I decided I had to find a way to get Rick to leave our house. I left Randy at my sister’s and went over by myself.

“Rick, open the door. I need you to get out of my house.”

Nothing.

“Rick, damnit! This is my house. It’s where Randy and I live. You haven’t paid for any of it. Just get out! Please!”

He let me in, but then the fighting started. Things escalated quickly, and I grabbed the phone to try the police. He yanked the receiver out of my hand and hit me in the face with it. Then came the chair, which I dodged. And then, the bullet. Luckily I took a step back, and it just missed me, lodging itself in the paneling.

When the police arrived, Rick threw a vase. It hit one of the officers, and finally, after so many incidents and so many calls for help, the police actually arrested him. Not because I was getting beaten, but because they had been assaulted.

I took pictures and went to the police station to press charges, but they told me again it was just a domestic problem. I couldn’t take it.

“How can this be a domestic problem when I’m not even married to him? This isn’t his house. It’s not domestic. What’s it going to take? For me to be dead?!”

I had two days of peace while Rick was in jail … but then the fear set in again. After work, I started heading to my neighbors’ home first. Ron and Nancy were so kind; Ron would come over with me and go through every closet, look under every piece of furniture to make sure Rick wasn’t there.

I got a gun, which wasn’t even like me, and I marched right back to the police station.

“I just want you to know right now that I bought a gun. You clearly won’t do anything to help me, even though he’s tried to kill me. So I swear if he shows up at my house again, I will shoot him. I’m scared to go home. I’m scared to sleep. I’m terrified for my son. So … I just wanted you to know.”

They were unfazed. But I was armed.