I used to wake up to the sounds of my mother screaming nightly as a child. My older brother had grown accustomed to the soundtrack, and learned to sleep through anything. I would pretend to be sleep, but silently prayed for my Daddy to come back. The man in the next room, choking my Mommy within inches of her life, looked just like my Daddy. Minus the growls, screams, obscenities he hurled at my Mommy, you’d think it was him. In the morning, that bad man was gone and my loving Daddy would wake me up to watch Steve Young clips on ESPN with him before work. I felt it was all just a bad dream for so long.
One night, my nightmare became reality. This night was different. The screams weren’t coming from their bedroom next door, but far away. I knew the bad man was behind this, and I couldn’t fathom why my father was nowhere to be found. He always told me he’d be there when I needed him. But now, when I needed him most, he was nowhere to be found. The search for my Mother led me to the closed basement door. I was always taught the basement was off limits. But this situation was different. My Mommy needed me! As I descended the stairs, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
My beautiful Mommy. Sitting hogtied to a chair, naked, covered in blood and bruises. Her eyes were closed, her face twisted in pain. I was still, too scared to move or think. Behind her, holding her throat like a wad of cash, was my father. He was stoic, yet his normally hearty tone was replaced by a sinister voice movie villains would envy. “I told you to fucking listen to me, you dumb bitch. You always gotta question some shit! Now look at you.” I gasped. My Daddy didn’t curse. This further proved this man was a stranger! My father turned around and gazed into my eyes. He was so empty. Soulless. “Go to sleep, Court. We’ll be up in a few” is what he told me in a voice dripping with evil intentions. Even though I was only four years old at the time, I knew there was a chance my Mommy wouldn’t be coming up with him.
I ran up the stairs, grabbed our brand new cordless phone and called one of the only numbers I knew- my Grandmother, my father’s mother. Those 5 rings seemed like an eternity, and when her answering machine picked up, my heart fell to the floor. She was my only hope, and it seemed to be lost. Thankfully, her sleepy voice came over her greeting. “Daddy hurt Mommy. She’s sleeping in blood”. I’ll remember those words for the rest of my life. Those words saved my Mother’s life.
Cops arrived at my Rosedale Park home and broke down our front door before my Father had the chance to come up the stairs. He was immediately taken into custody, my Mommy rushed to Sinai Hospital. 3 days in the hospital, 4 broken bones, internal bleeding and plenty of scars, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I didn’t see my father for 3 years after that. I don’t know where he was. I spent hours calling him and leaving the “823911” code on his pager for emergencies that he taught me, wondering why he didn’t respond. I felt abandoned. Unloved. Lost. But for the first time, in a long time, I wasn’t afraid to go to sleep.