I should be jumping for joy. I should be extremely happy. I should be dancing with excitement. I should be skipping with ecstasy. I should really be ecstatic. I should be bouncing off the walls with delight. Today was the last day of school for the summer and come September I shall be a senior, my last year of high school, and this makes me so happy that I could actually start to cry. I have waited so long for this moment and it is finally here. I am so proud of myself. I worked all year long at a full time job and I still managed to hold a solid ‘B’ average.
Tom, my brother, will be a junior at South Boston High School come September. My brother is a straight ‘A’ student and I am more than proud of him. Tom and I should be making pleasurable plans for the summer like camping, going to the water parks, going to the various beaches, going to the movies, going to concerts, and so much more. We are doing none of that at the moment. We will never do any of those things this summer. We are not jumping for joy nor are we on cloud nine. Instead of being ecstatic we are filled with fear and dread. We are not thrilled about going home because of Victor, our horrid father, will be home waiting for us so he can torture us and beat us until he is content.
Victor Mason, our horrific father, is an extremely offensive man and he is more than a little disgusting. Victor is rude and vicious and he does not seem to care. Victor gets his kicks and his thrills by beating Tom and I into bloody pulps on a regular basis. Victor is supposedly the top drug dealer here in South Boston Massachusetts or so he says. Victor, the demented and twisted soul, is also a massive drug addict. Victor is always high on one thing or another and this frustrates me to no end. I really do not like drug addicts for I feel they are a bunch of liars and extremely cruel. There is not a time that I can remember that Victor is not high on something. Victor’s drugs of choice are heroin, coke, ecstasy, angel dust, LSD, PCP, meth, speed or anything he can get his hands on at the moment. Victor is pretty much addicted to any kind of drug that there is.
Ninety-nine percent of the time you cannot reason with Victor while he is high, believe me I have tried to reason with him, and I have failed a great many times. Victor just does not listen to us or anybody else when he is in this frame of mind. Actually I should say one hundred percent of the time you cannot reason with Victor while he is high. Victor thinks he is always right and everybody else is wrong. It does not matter whether he is sober or high when you attempt to talk to him. He will slur his words when he talks to you and it really is pathetic because you never understand what he is actually talking about. I try to ignore Victor when he is slurring his words but he always drags Tom and I back into the mix.
Victor is just a freaking monster and I cannot deal with his off the wall attitude or the abuse we receive. Victor is five foot ten inches in height and he weighs in somewhere around three hundred and something pounds. Victor has black hair that reminds me of steel wool. Victor also has cold black eyes. Victor is a vicious son of a bitch and Tom and I have suffered enough over the years. We have had cuts, bruises, self esteem issues, and broken bones because of Victor and his spur of the moment beatings. Our lovely father never says he is sorry for he has no conscious. I doubt he feels guilty about what he is doing to his children. If he felt guilty he would not beat us any longer.
Gwen, our devil of a mother, is not much better than Victor. Gwen is an evil woman who adores the mind games that she plays with Tom and I. My favorite game is the one she tells us she regrets having us and that she hates us with her entire being. What a nice thing to tell your children. Gwen does not touch Tom and I physically but mentally her fingerprints are all over us. Gwen is an exotic dancer and she is also a prostitute. Victor controls who Gwen sleeps with and who she does not sleep with. A husband should never have to give his authorization for his wife to sleep around on him. Why Victor does this I have no idea. Why would Victor allow Gwen to do this? I do not understand how they do this nor do I really care. I believe in loyalty, devotion, and love in a marriage. Tom believes the same way I do. A marriage is a two way street and should never be dominated by one person. If someone cheats on you, they are likely to cheat on you again and again, and this is just how I see things.
Gwen, our affectionate mother, is also a severe drug addict just like her husband is. Gwen cannot function unless she is high on something. Maybe this is how she can get through her day. Maybe this is all she knows. I do not know nor do I care. I still do not like my parents because of the abuse and the drugs. They never give Tom and I any thought and do not care about us. Gwen’s drugs of choice are heroin, coke, angel dust, LSD, PCP, ecstasy, meth, pain killers, and speed. Gwen’s favorite drug, I have heard her say this many times, is heroin and she says she loves the high it gives her.
Gwen has bluish black hair that is forever oily because she only showers once a week if that and she has muddy brown eyes. Gwen is five foot six inches in height and she weighs around one hundred and fifty pounds by my best guess. Gwen is just as hideous as Victor is in her own way. She may not physically touch us but her words bite big time. Sometimes words hurt worse than the physical violence that Victor delivers. I hate it when Gwen plays her mind games with us. There have been a few times that I have made comments that have made her stop the games and she would leave us alone or she would actually leave the room. I try to figure out what will stop Gwen in her tracks but it is by sheer luck that I make her stop playing these mind games. I swear the games are getting worse and worse as each day passes. Gwen is a spiteful woman and I know that she will always continue the games whenever she can. I know these games will continue on and on until the day we leave this hellish apartment. I cannot wait for the day I can move out for that will be a joyous occasion and I will leap for joy. I will also be taking my brother with me. I refuse to leave him here in this horrible place alone. I owe my brother so much.
Tom, my sweet heart of a brother, is the most sweet-tempered soul I have ever met in my life. I love my brother very much and I am very protective of him. Tom will always have a soft spot in my heart. There is nothing I would not do for my brother and he knows this. Tom works a part time job down at the local gas station as a clerk. Tom does not make a lot of money but it is something for us to live off of. Tom also loves working with the people. Like myself, Tom despises drugs and what they do to you. Neither one of us would ever do drugs. The only drugs we would actually take are the ones prescribed to us by a doctor and it has to be life or death.Tom loves running, walking, swimming, movies, music, concerts, school, and any type of adventure. Tom really loves running and school and he does excellent with these two things. I really wish Tom would join the track team because he runs four or five miles a day and he runs less than a ten minute mile. If Tom did join the track team that would interfere with work and he says he has to work or so he says. Tom is strong, very determined, quiet, honest, incredibly smart, down to earth, and it breaks my heart that he is painfully shy. Tom is six foot three inches in height and he weighs exactly two hundred pounds. I think Tom could use another five or ten pounds but he will not gain it because he has such a high metabolism. Tom has soft black hair and warm gray eyes.
Both Tom and I work very hard at our jobs and at school. Tom and I do really well in school. As far as work goes we rise up and made ourselves excellent. Our bosses trust us and we are the first to get over time which really helps since we are saving up our money to get out of this hell hole. The both of us save the majority of our checks and we only use the money in case of an emergency. Tom and I want to escape from this place as soon as we possibly can.
Tom and I cannot stand being in this apartment any longer. We cannot stand the games and the abuse any more. Victor and Gwen should never have had children and I despise them for the abuse and the mind games. Gwen is right about one thing, she should never have had us, Tom and I suffer immensely for being alive and it use to hurt that our parents were so cruel. I use to try to do what I could to make Victor and Gwen like Tom and I but it never worked. My brother and I should never have lived like this. We deserve better than this and it took me a long time to understand this point. Tom and I have had enough of this abuse and we have felt this way for a very long time.
Victor and Gwen do not have health insurance, obviously, so with a lot of work and dedication I was able to add Tom to my insurance plan for a small fee. I work for Boston City Ambulance Company as a basic EMT, emergency medical technician, and I have worked for them since I was fifteen years old and I am seventeen now. Boston City had been running a junior EMT program back two years ago and I was lucky enough to be accepted into the program. I passed the classes with flying colors and I found the state exams to be a lot of common sense and very easy. Other members of my class found the exams to be very challenging. Half the class failed the state exams and never retook the exams because they were so disappointed.
Boston City had paired me up with a seasoned EMT and I fell in love with the job on the spot. I loved everything about the job. I even loved the difficult calls even though I got depressed at times. Boston City had terminated the junior EMT program several months after I graduated from the program due to lack of interest. Most of the junior EMTs were able to keep our jobs because we were grandfathered into the company and the state had granted the junior EMTs that were working permission to keep their jobs because there was a shortage of EMTs at that point in time. I work full time plus a lot of overtime and I love every single second of my work. There are moments that I wonder why I do this job because of horrid calls that I have had to deal with but then there are the calls that are truly amazing as well. I have pronounced people dead but I have also delivered two babies as well. I love my job and the challenges that it holds.
Tom and I cannot stand being here in this apartment anymore, living with Victor and Gwen is intolerable, and the abuse we are subjected to each and every day is not fair to us. Between the constant abuse and the exhausting mind games we are at our wits end. Tom and I want out of here so bad. Tom and I know we need to get out of here and as fast as we can but I do not have enough money saved yet. I am working harder than hard to reach my financial goal. I have enough motivation to reach that goal and once I reach it I will be able to get Tom and I out of here. I figure it will be another six or seven months before I have the money to get us away from the psychotic duo. I dream of the day that we can leave this apartment, Victor, and Gwen. We deserve to live a normal life.
Victor is going to be extremely upset with me because I am over an hour late getting home. I had to stop at the main EMT station to pick up my intense summer schedule. I love my summer schedule for it keeps me away from Victor much of the time. Victor, my horrid father, is not going to care about why I am late. All Victor will care about is that I am late and I am nervous of what he is going to do to me. I am always worried about what Victor might do to me for he is so unpredictable.
I park my car in the pot hole infested parking lot, I climb out of my ten year old station wagon sport, and I lock the doors like I always do. We live in a high crime area and I do not trust anyone. I glance up at the five story apartment building and I feel bad. The building should have been condemned decades ago. There are many bricks that are missing from the building, there are a lot of chipped bricks as well, and there is ivy scaling the building. The apartment building has a dirty feel to it and I hate that. It has always felt dirty to me and the building is also run down. I take a few deep breaths and I decide that it is time to face the music. I do not want to go inside but I have to. Tom is in that apartment all alone and I know Victor is home for his car is here in the parking lot. Victor does not go anywhere without his car. I can only imagine what is going on in there. My blood boils as I think about Victor hurting Tom.
I enter the red brick building and I would take the elevator if I could but it has been broken for several months now and of course we live on the fifth floor. The landlord has been fined for not having the elevator working but he still will not have it fixed. I am sure he will be fined for it again but he obviously does not care. People in this building pay good money for rent. Not having the elevator working is a bad thing. I begin my climb up the stairs and I start thinking about everything that has happened to Tom and I over the years which is also not a good idea for me to be doing.
The department of child services has been to our apartment more than several times over the last fifteen years. Each time they would investigate the accusation of abuse they never even glanced at the medical records from the hospital or from our primary care physician. Plus it was a doctor from the Massachusetts General Hospital who called the department of child services initially and child services never even gave the medical records a shot. Nobody seems to care about this simple fact. It frustrates me that these people can be so dense but they are and I do not know why.
The social workers have always favored Victor and Gwen because my psychotic parents would bribe the social workers with the drug of his or her choice. I have made many calls to the department of child services and I have reported this fact, thinking that I could change matters, but I only made matters worse. The social workers came more frequently and Victor had lost money in the drugs that he was giving away. Victor would beat me severely after these visits from the social workers. Finally in March of this year, the department of child services permanently closed our case, and the judge had believed the social workers and all of the false reports these social workers have made. Why wouldn’t the judge believe them? The social workers are supposed to investigate and honestly report on what they observed. In our case the judge could not be so wrong about our case but there is nothing that we could do. The reports did not work, they did not even drug test these people, and I am disappointed. By the department of child services closing our case only aggravates me because the system has failed Tom and I. The system does not always fail but it did for Tom and I. The system fails more people then we realize. I remember kicking the end of my bed and breaking a couple of my toes because of our case has been closed. It angers me that the system has failed Tom and I. We are in a hostile environment and it is getting worse and worse by the minute.
I stand outside of the apartment that I share with the psychotic duo and my darling brother. I debate about not even entering the apartment and just leaving for good. I can fill up my car, stop at the bank, and disappear for good. I cannot do that though. I could just leave and disappear for good. I have enough money saved that I could disappear and never see Victor or Gwen again. I cannot do that and would not do that. I cannot leave Tom behind. I know that would not be right to leave my brother alone to deal with the psychotic duo. I would feel guilty for leaving Tom behind. Tom and I are in this thing together and we always will be.
Tom and I are much too close for me to just leave without him and I would never forgive myself if I did that. I open the light wooden door of the apartment and I close it gently behind me. When I close the door it does not make a sound. The first thing that I notice is that the apartment is darker than normal, all the lights are turned off, and the shades are all pulled down. I walk down the short hallway that leads from the front door to the living room and I find myself in the middle of another war zone which is not surprising. War zones are extremely common in this freaking apartment.
Tom is hiding in the shadows in a corner of the living room. I can sense my brother’s fear and I just want to hug my brother. I wish I could Tom everything will be okay but I would only be lying to him. Gwen is lying on the floor and Victor is standing over Gwen. Victor’s back is towards me. Victor is holding Gwen’s head up by a large clump of her oily black hair. Gwen moans loudly as Victor slams his meaty fist into her face. Gwen only moans again, she does not cry out in pain, and her nose is bleeding like crazy. Gwen makes no motion to wipe the blood away so it trails down her face and neck.
I clear my throat and it goes unnoticed. Victor usually hears every little sound but today he did not hear my throat clearing. Victor is in his own violent frame of mind. Victor kicks Gwen in the stomach a few times and then he kicks her in the chest. Gwen tries to roll away from Victor but he will not let her do so. Victor is a brutal monster that is relentless. Victor does not care about anything and nothing at all. Victor has never had to pay the consequences for anything in his life and I think it is about time he did. I have attempted to call the police on Victor but he always managed to blow smoke and pull the sheets over the police officer’s face.
I bring myself back to the here and now and I clear my throat again. This time Victor does hear my throat clearing. Victor turns around to face me and I decide at that very moment that I am going to fight back with everything that I have. I feel like I have to do this. I have to show Victor that I am not afraid of him anymore. I am going to stand up to Victor for the first time in my life because somebody has to do this. Everybody else has abandoned Tom and I so I figure that we must rely on ourselves.
Victor and I meet in the center of the living room. I stand strong and I am very determined but Victor smashes me in the face with his fleshy fist. I do not cry out nor do I sway. I stand strong and I glare at Victor with hatred. Victor has no right to be doing this and I am sure on some level he knows this. My bottom lip has split open and blood gushes from the cut on my lip. I still stand my ground, I do not sway nor do I react to the punch, and I know this angers Victor beyond belief. I can see Victor shift his weight, he is getting ready to clobber me again, and I shove him so hard that he topples to the floor with a loud thump. After a few moments Victor picks himself up off the floor and he punches me in the stomach. I double over without making a sound and then I stand up straight which is difficult for me to do for the discomfort in my stomach is unreal.
“Where the hell have you been? You’re really very late. You know I hate it when you are late.” Victor states and I can hear the irritation in his voice.
“I was picking up my summer schedule down at the station.” I reply and I am determined that he is not going to bully me.
“You should have come home first.” Victor bites.
“I needed to know if I was working tonight so I stopped on my way home. It made more sense the way that I did it.” I say.
“You bitch. I said you should have come home first and I mean it.” Victor says.
“Like I said it made more sense to stop at the station when I did. I can make these decisions for myself.” I reply.
“You know how I feel about you disrespecting me. I said you should have come home first and that is that.” Victor says.
Victor slaps me across the face and I laugh. Victor is panting now and sweat drips from his face. I kick Victor in the groin and he doubles over. When Victor does double over I knee him in the face and I can feel his nose crunch beneath my knee. Victor gasps for breath and he curses me as blood gushes from his nose. Victor is about to punch me again when Tom steps out of the shadows. I wish Tom would have just gone to our bedroom and lock himself in there but I know he would not do that unless I was with him. Tom’s loyalty is stunning and I am just as loyal to him. Tom and I are extremely protective of each other. We are a year apart and we have a bond that is unbreakable.
“STOP!” Tom screams.
“Shut your fucking mouth.” Victor barks.
“I said stop and I mean it.” Tom says firmly.
“No.” Victor says.
“I need to speak to Max in private.” Tom says.
“What do you want asshole?” Victor demands.
“To speak to Max.” Tom says again.
“Absolutely not.” Victor says.
“It is urgent that I speak to her. It is about work.” Tom stands his ground.
“You can tell her right here in front of me.” Victor says with annoyance and he is getting angrier by the second.
“Dispatch called and they need you to work tonight.” Tom lies and Victor has no idea that Tom is lying to him.
Victor has his back to me so I kick Victor behind his knees and this causes Victor to collapse to the floor once again. Victor slowly gets up to his feet and he back hands me hard. I do not cry out nor do I sway from side to side but I want to cry out. I glare at this man that is supposed to be my father and I silently curse him. Finally Victor gives in and he allows me to go with Tom down to the bedroom that Tom and I have always shared. I am surprised that Victor is letting me go so easily. He has never done this before and it makes me a little nervous but I am relieved that I get to go to the bedroom. I do not know if I could have handled any more torture. I am strong but I have my limits.
Tom and I unlock the door to our bedroom and we enter our bedroom. Once we are inside the room I lock the door from the inside, in order to keep Victor out, and Tom sits on the edge of his bed. I grab my medical kit that I always keep here in the bedroom and I tend to the gash over Tom’s right eye. Once I have taken care of my baby brother, I put my medical kit back where it belongs, and I stand in front of my brother. I ask what dispatch has said to him and Tom admits that dispatch did not really call. Tom says it was just a ploy to get me away from Victor before he killed me. That was quick thinking on Tom’s part and I am happy that he came out of the shadows. Tom saved me from more of a beating and I am grateful for that.
“How the hell do you do it?” Tom asks me.
“Do what?” I ask and I am not sure where my brother is going with this.
“Stand up to Victor like that. I would be too terrified to do that. You are a hell of a lot braver than I am and you always have been.” Tom says to me.
“Victor is nothing more than an over grown bully and you know this. I decided before even entering the apartment that I was not going to let him do this to us anymore. I can’t do this anymore and I know you can’t either. We have taken Victor’s abuse for much too long now. I also knew he would beat me harder for standing up to him but I really didn’t care.” I honestly say.
“Max, we really have to get out of this hell hole, and we need to get out before Victor kills one or both of us.” Tom says.
“I don’t have enough money saved Tom. I am almost there though. I should have the money saved in six months.” I say.
“That is not soon enough Max. Six months?” Tom asks.
“As soon as I have the money I will get us out of this place.” I say to my brother.
“I have been saving my money too you know.” Tom says to me.
“I know you have been.” I say and I am curious on where Tom is going with this.
“I have a lot more saved than you think Max. You will be surprised. Maybe it will help.” Tom says.
Tom goes over to his dresser and he retrieves his bank book. Tom hands the book to me and I look at the balance. There is a lot more here than I thought there would be. My mouth drops open and my mind races for a few moments. Wow, can this really be happening? Am I really seeing the balance right? What if we combine our money? If we do combine our money we will have enough to make our escape from this horrid hell hole. I hand the bank book back to Tom and I am lost in thought. I am thinking what it would be like to be free of this place.
“What if we combine our money?” I ask my brother.
“That is what I thought we would do. I want us out of here as soon as possible just as much as you want us out of this insane place.” Tom says.
“You really amaze me little brother. I never imagined you had that much saved.” I say.
“When can we leave Max? I really want us out of here as soon as possible.” Tom says to me and I think for a moment. Any time would be an excellent time to leave this place.
“I want us out too.” I say.
“So let’s get out.” Tom says.
“When would you like to leave?” I ask and I already know the answer to my question.
“Now, right now. We need to leave now Max. Victor is not a happy camper at the moment and I want to avoid his tirade. Victor is out for blood and he wants to really hurt one of us and it most likely will be you. I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you.” Tom says all of this without hesitation.
“I was hoping you would say that.” I say.
“I mean it.” Tom says.
“I cannot stand another moment in this goddamn apartment and getting beat up like some punching bag and having Gwen mess with our heads.” I say.
“I know what you mean.” Tom says.
“We both know that being used as a punching bag is not fun. We are not bad ‘kids’ nor are we evil like Gwen says we are.” I say and I know my brother is right. We need to get out of this place and we need to get out now.
Tom and I grab our duffel bags and we are filling them with clothes as quick as we can. We each fill two duffel bags each and I also take my medical kit that I have here in the bedroom. Then Tom and I exit our room via the fire escape. We can hear Victor yelling at Gwen and Gwen is yelling back at Victor. The arguing never ends. Victor and Gwen are always yelling at each other.
Tom and I would never get out the front door with all of our stuff with Victor and Gwen in the living room. Tom and I have used the fire escape so many times to get out of the house without Victor or Gwen knowing that we were gone. We climb down the fire escape with great ease and once we are on the ground we hurry to my car. We toss our bags into the back seat and I look around before climbing into the car. Victor and Gwen are nowhere in sight, I sigh with relief, but I am scared that they will come after us. I am afraid that Victor and Gwen somehow know what Tom and I are doing. I know, logically, that Victor and Gwen do not have any idea of what we are up to. I climb behind the wheel of the car and we fasten our seatbelts.
Our first stop is South Boston Savings Bank. I park in the bank’s parking lot and we enter the bank. We sit with the bank manager and we explain that we must close out our accounts because we are moving out of state. This answers the bank manager’s questions of what is going on. For a brief moment I am worried that the bank manager might call Victor or Gwen but I realize that they will not do that. Victor or Gwen are not on our accounts. The bank manager is very sorry to see us go because we are good customers and he wishes us luck with the move. The bank manager does not question us about our move or anything like that which is good and I am relieved. Tom and I leave the bank a half an hour later with all of our money.
Our next stop is the gas station, I only have a quarter of a tank of gas at the moment so we need to fill up the car, and I drive to the gas station that Tom had worked at. Tom gets us each a fresh cup of hot coffee as I fill up the gas tank. I pay the cashier for the gas as Tom pays for the coffee. Tom and I climb back into the car, I am a little anxious about all this because I am still afraid that Victor or Gwen will find us and force us to come back, but making this escape is for the best for Tom and I. We really need to find peace in our lives.
Tom and I have to leave, we really need to move on, and we need to salvage what is left of our teenage years. Tom and I cannot take it any more with Victor and Gwen. We have been through enough in our short lives. We have been abused for a great many years, ever since I can remember, and now we are taking matters into our own hands. I sip my coffee as I merge onto the highway and I head south to route ninety-five. Tom and I are very quiet as we cross the state lines into Rhode Island. Tom then turns on the radio as we pass Providence and he finds a classic rock station.
Tom finishes the last few sips of his coffee and then he reclines his seat back. Tom turns to his side, he is facing his door, and he dozes off within minutes. I know my brother is exhausted both mentally and physically. The both of us are actually very tired and we could use the sleep. The last couple of hours have been extremely stressful for the both of us. This has been a big day for the two of us. Leaving Victor and Gwen is a great thing for Tom and I and we know this but that does not mean we are not unnerved. We are still worried that Victor and Gwen will somehow find us and make us go back to the apartment.
Tom and I are now free of the abuse and the mind games. I should be getting some sleep too but one of us has to drive right now. I want to put as many miles between us and Victor and Gwen. We need to put as many miles between us and them. Once we have enough miles between us we might stop and get some real sleep. This is actually great that Tom is going to sleep for a little while for I will need him to drive later so I can get some rest too. Once Tom is sound asleep, I turn the radio down, and I get lost in my own thoughts as I drive. I am thinking of what life is going to be like for my brother and I. I am hoping for all the best.