“Hey, Dan! How are you doing? Looking good these days! I saw your ex-wife yesterday with someone in her car.” Cathy told her friend when they met at the gas station. “I didn't recognize him but he was a big guy.” Then she added with a bit of a wink, “He wasn't bad looking either.” She had been pumping gas as he drove up to the tanks.
Dan couldn't even manage a weak smile. “Where did you see them? Where were they going?”
“Oh, I don't know! I was leaving the grocery store parking lot when she drove past and I recognized her car. I was just wondering if she had a new boyfriend.”
“How would I know if she had a new boyfriend! She doesn't tell me anything. How could she think about bringing a stranger around our children?!” Dan's face was turning red, but he tried to conceal his emotions.
“Hey,” Cathy said. “It's no big deal! You guys have been divorced for 6 months. It's about time to start new lives. It will be good for both of you.” She was finished pumping her gas. As she placed the nozzle back she added, “I gotta get going. Have a great day!”
As she drove off she couldn't see Dan seething. Nor could she have anticipated his next moves. Dan peeled out of the gas station parking lot and headed to his ex-wife's apartment. Her car wasn't there. His emotions ran wild.
“Where is she? I bet she's with him.” He muttered under his breath as he sat parked in a position he could see her pull in and know when she returned home. His head was filled with crazy thoughts.
How dare she find someone else already? We never should have divorced to begin with. If she had listened when I told her to do something she wouldn't have made me angry. I never meant to throw those scissors at her, but she wouldn't stop ignoring me when I wanted her to do something.
All I ever asked her to do was keep the house clean and have my meals ready on time. How hard can that be? Instead, she made our 6 kids do her housework while she was busy flirting with guys. She wouldn't have had time to talk to anyone else if she was doing everything I told her to do.
At least she doesn't have the kids. She's already corrupted them enough. That damn judge was an idiot allowing her to spend any time with them. Can't he see she's a horrible parent? What kind of parent makes them do her chores? There's no reason she can't do the dishes every day. Why does she have to make them do them?
When Dan looked at his watch, he saw he had been parked there nearly two hours. He couldn't give up. He needed to talk to her now and find out what she was doing and who she was with. He could text her, but she ignored those. Besides, the last time he did text she went running to the police claiming he was harassing her. He just wanted to talk to her.
Every time he tried to talk to her she threw that recorder in his face. He had to be careful what he said because they always turn his words around on him.
He saw her car approach the drive to her apartment building. Finally, the bitch was getting home. Where the hell had she been so long? Who had she been with? She wasn't working on a Saturday. She had no friends. He'd seen to that. He made sure to tell everyone what a horrible person she was, and how she treated him so badly. He'd been so good to her. He bought her things to replace the ones he broke when she made him mad.
He followed her car in and parked in the spot next to hers. She was alone and he saw fear on her face. Good. She should be scared. She's a mother. The mother to HIS children. She shouldn't be out running the town. He caught her in the act. He KNEW it! She was out whoring around again.
“What do you want, Dan? You don't belong here.” She had already pulled out that damn recorder and was holding it in his face as she asked him those questions.
“Why do you always have to have that thing in my face?” he asked as he pushed it away from him. “I just want to talk.”
“You always just want to talk, but you never have anything nice to say. If you aren't attacking me, you try to take my words out of context and pretend I said something I didn't. So, we can't have a conversation without this recorder so there is proof of what we both said. It's as much for your protection as it is mine.”
“Where were you today? Who was the guy you were with? Was he one of your boyfriends while you were still MY WIFE?” The recorder wasn't going to stop him this time. He needed answers.
There were cars in the parking lot but nobody was coming around. Carol looked around her nervously, realizing Dan had gone into “the zone.” That's what she called it. He was out of his head and one of his rages was coming on. There was no way to talk sense into him when he was in the zone.
“I don't know what you are talking about. I was alone! I went shopping and out to dinner ALONE. There were no boyfriends when we were married. There are no boyfriends now. Where are my kids? It's your weekend with them.”
“NOW you want to worry about MY kids? Where were you all their lives when they needed you? What were you doing while they were doing your chores?”
“You're delusional. The only reason things didn't get done as you wanted them to was because YOU insisted I spend every waking moment with you so I couldn't do the housework. All these boyfriends you claim I had are all in your own head. I didn't even have time to be with my children, much less have time for boyfriends, as you call them.”
His face twisted up in rage. He'd heard about all he was going to listen to. This bitch had broken up his family, hurt him and his kids, dared to leave him and now she was talking back, blaming HIM for all of their problems. HOW DARE SHE!
Before she knew what happened, she was dead. From out of nowhere, a knife had appeared in his hand. He'd killed and gutted out plenty of deer when he went hunting. He knew where the most effective arteries were to make it quick and clean. It was over.
Carol never had a chance to scream for help. Her neighbors were aware of their divorce and that he was abusive. If any of them had seen him in the parking lot with her, they would have either been watching with a phone in hand ready to call for help, or gone to stand outside to be closer in the event she needed quicker help. But, this time, this one time, they never saw a thing.
Dan was long gone by the time one of the neighbors came out to go to his car and found her lying half under her car where she fell. He saw the pool of blood before he saw her body. He broke down as he called it in to 911. They had become friends in the short time she lived there.
Would Carol still be alive if Cathy hadn't told Dan what she saw? Maybe. Maybe not. If it hadn't been Cathy, it might have been other friends saying something. They both still lived in the same hometown. Dan was jealous of anyone Carol talked to. He had spread lies about Carol when she left him. He didn't want any of their mutual friends taking Carol's side. They had to know he was the victim. He had trusted people back up his lies to make them seem more real.
Domestic abuse is like an invisible illness. From the outside, everything looks healthy. On the inside, everything is breaking down and falling apart. For this reason, when a victim suddenly leaves an abuser, it takes a lot of people by surprise. It's a simple thing for the abuser to win friends over by playing the victim. They never knew the hidden truth.
The rumors and lies spread easily until it's hard to figure out what is true and what isn't. Dan told everyone that Carol left him and had been running around behind his back. Because they had never seen problems in their marriage from the outside, friends sympathized with him and often repeated these lies until most of the community believed his story. Who would believe her now when she told the truth?
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