Getaway (Chapter 8)

30 03 2009

By the time Hunter hung up they had agreed that he and Trish would come up for a visit. Randy’s body was being cremated and after a simple service, they would take the train, leaving them both free to enjoy the trip without hassle.

When Grey’s call came through it hadn’t lost any of its luster even with the news. Bren filled him in and then he offered his downstairs apartment to Hunter. One more check mark in the reasons to ‘keep Grey around column’, as if she was still in doubt. 

Bren’s family had recently experienced the devastating loss of their aunt…. She touched their lives so completely and was, indeed, Mrs. Social Butterfly… always telling others, “I got this!” And she did.

Bren missed her and found herself reassuring Trish in a similar way, bringing smiles of recognition to the faces of Hunter and Jai.

“Let us help you, Trish,” Bren said, insistently.  “If you break, who’s going to put you back together again?” Hunter nudged Bren prompting her to clarify her words. “I mean, err, uhh, of course Hunter would be by your side, all the way, but we don’t want you to get to that point. You do a great service every day of your life — don’t do your emotional, physical and mental health a disservice by not allowing for periodic breaks.”

Just as Trish seemed to be softening, her phone rang. It was an urgent, insistent ring that filled the room. Trish answered…

“Monica, what? Where?”

She paused, listening for more information before she hung up.

“Hunter we have to leave, Monica is missing!” Bren extended a cautious arm across Trish, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Bren said. “Slow down… what is wrong?”

Trish’s’ eyes were cloudy with concern and she shook her head.

“All I know is Monica is missing and her note said she was going to see her mother!”

Bren, Hunter and Jai looked at each other, not fully understanding the emergency.

“Well?” Bren questioned.

She recalled the guidance for new residents– visiting is discouraged but it is not forbidden… So, Bren asked the obvious, “Did anyone try to contact her mom?”

Trish fingered the scar on her face and replied, “Her mother is dead!”

The phone call was about to unravel a very nice week away from the shelter for Trish and Hunter was not having any of it.

“Ok, Trish sit for a bit let’s think this through,” he said leading Trish towards the love seat.

“I shouldn’t have left, Monica needed me and I wasn’t there in her moment of need,” wailed Trish. “You can’t blame yourself Trish. You have a qualified group of counselors who have been taking care of things. If Monica wanted to leave, there was nothing you could have done to make her do otherwise,” Hunter admonished.

Trish knew he was right. The women were encouraged to stay the entire tour of duty but they had the right to leave the shelter if they didn’t want to, or feel they could stay.

Bren walked in with a tray of tea and muffins, making sure Trish’s plate was stacked high.

“Eat first then we come up with a plan,” said Bren. “We can do our best to get her to return but she has to want it Trish, remember?”

“Yes, I remember you tried this more than once. So if anyone can get through to her, you can Bren,” she replied.

“Uhh, me. That is not what I had in mind but let’s see…Where would I go if I wanted to escape a restrictive, boring, shelter with lots of crying women?”

Trish response was to toss piece of the carrot muffin at her.

While the women brainstormed on the best strategy to woo Monica back to Hope House, Hunter and Grey took a walk around the house. Hunter had noticed stacks of old wood piled in a corner of the yard and he wanted to remove them before they headed back to LA.

Without a verbal consent both men began to tackle the debris, which had accumulated in the years the girls lived in the family home with no men to do the heavy lifting. Grey had two of his employees remove the trash in company vehicles and by the time the ladies showed up with cold drinks and warm sandwiches, the yard space had literally doubled.

The sight of two sweating black men covered in dirt and wood chips didn’t seem to faze the two women who had known their share of filth. Without hesitation Trish walked to Hunter offering him the cold can and stepping even closer to offer her lips up for a kiss. Grey refused Bren’s soda, preferring instead to rub his sweaty face all over hers, and planting kisses everywhere he could as she faked a struggle for release. Grey and Bren’s antics were interrupted with the beeping sound of a truck reversing into the back driveway. Now that the yard was clear, Grey thought it needed some furniture and amenities to make it another place the women would enjoy spending time.

Bren was pretty much speechless as the men offloaded, outdoor chairs, tables, a barbecue grill and other accessories to be placed on the new deck that was quickly going up under the instruction of her boyfriend.

“Boyfriend. I got a boyfriend,” she realized doubling over in the freshly mowed lawn.

Trish’s thoughts weren’t much different, except the word boy didn’t enter her mind. Hunter Renford Adams was all man and he was definitely hers. She took a moment to be grateful for being with Bren and watching her bloom, knowing it was because Trish had been able to love her back to herself, she was confident enough to welcome a man into her life and so much more.

It would be so easy to dwell on Monica leaving the shelter. Her assistant had called a few hours later to say that Monica had chosen to return to her husband. There was nothing more they could do but pray for her eyes to be open and that when she was ready, the shelter would receive Monica.

“Please God, keep her safe. Don’t let the enemy win this,” she prayed out loud.


Monica was almost ashamed that her many attempts at freeing herself from domestic abuse always lead her back to her abuser.

“Why am I back in this house?” Monica asked herself aloud.

She looked around at the furniture and paint selections that she thought about for months, before making her decisions. Monica ran her hands along the picture frames that held smiling photos of her family. How many times is he going to be sorry? How many black eyes, bruises and broken bones will it take for me to be gone for good? Monica knew the answer to these questions. She would never leave her home and take her children into a life of instability. Never.

The doorbell must have been ringing for quite sometime, because the delivery guy was about to leave, when Monica finally opened the door.

“I was going to come back later,” he said, as he placed a clipboard in front of Monica.

She signed for the big bouquet of flowers, as he was eyeing her obvious bruises.

“No problem,” Monica said as she signed for them. Adding thank you as he turned to leave.

Monica thought about how many times she has received flowers from her husband, and for what occasion. It was always to apologize for a beating, for a shove and a slap, an unnecessary misunderstanding, but never because of an anniversary, birthday or “just because.” The phone rang, and jolted her from her dark thoughts.


An unwelcome voice was on the other end, and it had all of the urgency of “right now.”

“I need to see you and Mr. Carver in my office, right away,” the vice principal said. “I have been patient, and now I see no other recourse but to remove your son from this school, if I can’t get the both of you here tomorrow morning before school starts.”

She went on to say, “Daniel Jr. has bullied his way thru elementary school, and I will not allow him to continue in this Middle school without some sort of professional intervention. Something has got to be done, right now!”

“How can I go to this meeting alone? This is not going to be good,” Monica thought, as she made a grocery list.


Monica decided to get a wash and set, as well as treating herself to a facial before returning home from her monthly shopping spree, three communities over. After putting up the groceries, and cleaning the house, Monica prepared a several course dinner, with all the trimmings. She dreaded the melodrama that would definitely follow when bringing up the discussion call from the vice principal, but braved the waters and dived right in anyway.

 “They’re always picking on me,” Daniel Jr. shot back when the subject arose.

 Mrs. Miller was determined to have DJ removed from the school, and she had countless reports from teachers and children of his ill behavior to back her up.

“He needs help Mr. and Mrs. Carver. He is constantly picking fights, and his behavior borders violence,” she stated. “He has no more chances in this school, because I’m done with his disruptive behavior in his classes, his total disregard for authority, and his violence towards teachers and students. I fear the next call will not be from me.”

Monica watched Daniel from the corner of her eye. He was silent and she knew what that meant. Finally Daniel spoke.

“Why did you not defend him,” he asked.

Monica was almost afraid to answer, because she could see Daniel was trying to pick a fight.

“DJ does have a temper Daniel, and I feel that maybe Mrs. Miller, may have a point,” Monica said, just above a whisper.

Daniel drove the car over two lanes to pull into a parking lot. Before Monica could brace herself, Daniel was all over her, slapping and choking her until she felt she would lose consciousness. She tried to scream, but no sound would come.

Monica lost consciousness and track of time as well, because when she woke, Daniel was turning onto their street. She was unaware of the neighbors as Daniel was yelling and struggling to pull her from the car. With neighbors watching, Daniel opened the front door and pushed her inside. Monica doesn’t know how long Daniel abused her, but when she heard his car pull out from the driveway, she prayed for what seemed like, the first time, in such a long time.

“Please Lord. Please help me,” she wept.

Monica didn’t know how long she lay there, before DJ and Angel came into the room.

In between Angel’s tears she said quietly, “Mama, the police are at the door.”

Monica was always ashamed to open the door and tell the police of the abuse she endured at the hands of her husband, so it was even a surprise to her when she stumbled to the door, and let them in.

“Where is he Mrs. Carver,” the female officer was asking.

She could barely hear all that was going on, and her eyes were so swollen she could not see either.

 “She’s bleeding,” she could hear someone say.


Monica awoke in the hospital, and was hitched up to tubes going in all directions. She could barely see from her swollen eyes, but could feel someone’s’ gentle hands on her shoulder.

“Its okay, it’s okay,” a familiar voice said softly.

It was Leah, and she whispered to Monica that the children were okay and Daniel had been arrested.

“Daniel stabbed you severely and you lost a great deal of blood, but the doctor said you will be fine. You had massive internal injuries and you’ve been unconscious for more than two days,” Monica could hear Leah say, as she drifted off to sleep under heavy sedation.


The thought of Trish being able to save Monica if she was there was no longer valid. Trish knew that only Monica and God could save Monica. Even though she knew this, it did not ease her pain knowing what Monica had gone through while she was away.

“She will be in the hospital for more than two weeks, and we will be here when she comes home to Hope,” Trish told the women as they listened intently of Monica’s condition. “Now that you have been updated on Monica’s condition, let’s talk about what’s really important in your lives,” Trish said in a firm voice.

“Domestic abuse can take on many forms, and it almost always escalates from one form to another,” Trish told the group of women, some dabbing their eyes with their sleeves and rolled up tissues, partly because of the thought they could have lost Monica and partly because they all knew too well from first hand experience how close they too had come to the same fate.

“I want you to think about, what makes a woman leave after the first blow, and another remains in the home to be broken and bruised at whim. What reason would a woman have to stay because she is holding on to what could have been, and another woman leaves because she knows what can be?  Are you so attached to materials things that you put no value on your life? Or your children’s lives? What is your life worth? Some are afraid of starting over and some just can’t wait. Why would a woman allow herself to be abused? All of us here, as well as our family and friends have wanted to know, why did she let him do this to her? Is it genetic? Learned behavior” Trish was on a roll, and wanted these women to search deep and help find the answers that would set them free.

“You know, courage is a strong word, in fact, it’s my favorite word,” Trish continued. “It holds such power over life’s choices — yet, it’s a seldom used word and even more seldom as a personality trait. How many women, on their ‘this-is-what-I-want-in-a-man-list’ — want a man with courage? 

“Courage is moral and it is tenacious. Courage lacks cowardice because it calls upon a strong mind… to have courage. It doesn’t take courage to be fine but it takes courage to do great things. It takes courage to take control of your lives when you’ve been beat down! It takes courage to become strong in spirit when all you feel is weakened flesh. It takes courage to gather strength… to consider your child, your lives and your future…. Most of us crept away in the middle of the night… How courageous is that? And I couldn’t be more thrilled! You took control and I applaud you!” Trish liked to call this her preacher-rhythm…

After the meeting, the residents cleaned the group area and one by one they began to drift off to other chores or personal time, until only Trish and Leah were left. “I love how you inspire us, how you want us to be empowered and not embittered, you want us to recognize our possibilities and not dwell in our problems,” Leah said as she smiled at Trish.

Leah took Trish’s hand and patted it, as she said confidently, “You need not worry. We will be okay, when you leave.”

It was as if Leah was reading Trish’s mind. She knew she had to prepare herself and the women for her departure. She had been there for seven years, and had known her time was coming to a close at Hope House.

“How did you know?” Trish asked.

“You have been doing everything to prepare us for your leaving and the other residents have felt it as well,” Leah answered quietly.




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