The breakfast almost didn’t happen. We were there but the food wasn’t. IHOP was supposed to cater but thought we were going to pick up the food. We thought they were going to deliver it. A couple of phone calls later our sort of warm eggs, which I shouldn’t be eating, with the biscuits and gravy ,which I never order, and the fruit cups arrived.
The meeting of the elders’ wives and the prospective minister’s wife went well. She talked, we listened.
We dropped a chair off at the wood shop, filled the gas tank, and came home. Stan worked some more on the end tables he built for the kids in Minnesota while I hopped onto the Track. I was relaxing on the sofa and decided to call my friend Donna who was down with a bad back to find out what the doctor was going to do with her.
As we talked, I looked out the front window to where Stan was watering the bushes and saw a blond woman run onto our porch and sit on the bench, sobbing. “Hon, come out here, we have a situation.”
He beat me. He choked me and kicked me. A man shouldn’t hit a woman and I don’t want to go back there ever. It’s just not right. He kept hitting and hitting me!!”
It took a while to pull the details out of her. We got the kleenex, a glass of water, led her to the back porch and eventually into the house. As she babbled and repeated the same stuff plus more, and still did not manage to regain composure or cohesiveness, it became clear she was not a full deck. Words like custody and phrases like group home again and hitting myself crept into her explanation. As for the kleenex, it was disregarded in favor of her shirt collar.
We took her story af face value and called the sheriff’s department, assuring her that she would not have to go back to that house, the authorities would know what to do to protect her, and, being 19, she could indeed live with her mother instead of her dreadful uncle who had beaten her.
After an interminable length of time, the deputy rolled into the driveway. He was gentle, matter of fact, attentive and patient. He took pictures of her scrapes and scratches. He assured her that he would put her uncle in jail for at least 12 hours, that she could take her belongings and go anywhere. I want to go to my mommy’s house.
She couldn’t remember the phone number or the address. She called her brother-in-law where he worked at Shoney’s and wrote the number down wrong. When she called back, he’d clocked out.
I’m special. My mind is slow. I don’t want to go back there! I don’t want to see his face again!
The deputy called for backup to pick up the uncle. While the first deputy was filling out paperwork, the backup officer was scoping out our collection of movies. Don’t take me back there! If she would go with them, they wouldn’t let her out of the back seat of one car until the uncle was safely locked into the other car’s back seat. No. I don’t want to go back there. He’ll beat me up again. Could we leave her with you folks and come back for her? Of course.
She jumped a foot in the air when Stan or I went in or out of the doors so we locked them. No thank you to popcorn, don’t want to see a movie, I don’t want to go back there and get beat up. Men shouldn’t beat up on girls.
When the deputy came back, he brought Angela’s mom with him. After mother and daughter left, he gave us the whole story. Apparently Angela is bi-polar and has the mind of a 7 year old. She hadn’t taken her medication, went over the edge and it took her uncle, a sister, and a brother-in-law to subdue her. During the struggle, she got away and ran. The marks on her and the other three bore witness to the story.
I was comforted that we did the right thing by taking her in, calming her down, and believing her. While waiting for the officer to return, for a small moment, she wasn’t fearful or wiping her nose on her shirt, or telling me he beat her or showing me her scratches, and she thanked me for being nice to her. I told her we were Christians and were supposed to be nice to her, that it was not problem.
I was not comforted by the deputy telling us that when there are not marks, he doesn’t jail anyone and if the story doesn’t “wash”, he doesn’t jail anyone. Neither is there a trip to the station for an order of protection. Hmm. So, in East Tennessee, if you’re in a dangerous relationship and there are no cuts or bruises, run. Or call a different deputy.
After he left, I realized if Angela, at 5’1″ and somewhat pudgy and out of control, needed 3 young adults to force her to the floor ………..
Well, we did it right. We’re fine.