| I open the door to the apartment quietly and shut it just as quietly. I walk down the dark hallway and find the rest of the apartment to be just as dark. All the lights are turned off and all of the shades are pulled down. I find myself in the middle of another war zone as I enter the living room. Gwen is laying on her back and Victor hovers over her and he is holding a clump of her oily black hair in his fist. Victor is panting and sweating and cursing at her for stealing money or something from him. A small movement in the corner of the living room catches my eye. It is Tom and he takes a step forward and I shake my head no. I can see that he is limping and he has a black eye. I am furious.
Victor raises his free hand to punch Gwen in the face and I clear my throat. Victor ignores me as he slams his meaty fist into Gwen’s face. Gwen does not cry out and I clear my throat again. This time Victor hears me and he lets go of Gwen’s oily black hair and Gwen’s head bounces off the floor. Victor glares at me as Gwen moans. I hold Victor’s stare and I take a few bold steps toward him. Victor closes the gap between us and he stands less than five feet from me.
Victor demands, “Where the hell have you been?”
I reply, “You don’t care where I was. All you care about right now is that I am here and you are gonna try to beat the shit out of me.”
Victor demands, “You show me some respect.”
I laugh, “Respect? I don’t respect anybody that beats their kids to bloody pulps on a daily basis.”
Victor lashes out at me with a punch to the face which I suffer a laceration above my right eye. I almost topple over but I regain my balance and I straighten up and ask if that is all he has. This sets Victor off and I shove him hard and Victor being as fat as he is hits the ground hard. I take advantage of this and I kick him hard in the groin and Victor doubles up. I then kick him in the face and I feel his nose break under my foot. Blood and mucous spray all over the floor around Victor’s head. Victor calls me a fucking bitch and I laugh as Victor climbs to his feet slowly.
Tom panics. My brother takes a step out of the shadows of the corner of the room as Victor stands up. Blood covers Victor’s face from his bloody nose. Victor raises a heavy arm and Tom screams for Victor to stop. Victor and I both look at Tom for he never raises his voice never mind screaming. Victor demands to know what this is all about and Tom orders Victor to stop hurting me. Victor starts laughing and I kick up and hit him in the groin again and he, the monster, falls to the floor. Victor says, with his voice tinged with pain, screams for us to get out of his fucking sight. Tom and I scramble to the room that we have always shared.
Once we are in our room and the door is locked, Tom sits on the end of his bed, and I look him over. Tom is just bruised and he states nothing really hurts like it is broken. I nod. I still retrieve my medical bag that I keep in my room. I look in the mirror and I clean my face up for I had blood that ran from the gash just above my right eye. I put my medical bag away and Tom is still staring at me. I raise an eyebrow as if I am asking him what the hell is going on.
Tom asks, “How the hell do you do it?”
I ask, “Do what?”
Tom asks, “How the hell do you stand up to Victor like that?”
I admit, “Today I had it. I made the decision before I even entered the apartment that he wasn’t gonna do this to us
anymore. I mean that Tom. No more of the bullshit.”
Tom looks up at me, “He was gonna kill you Max. Victor is unstable and enraged.”
I honestly reply, “I don’t care anymore Tom. He cannot keep doing this to us.”
Tom stands up and looks me right in the eyes, “We have to get the fuck out of this hell hole before he really does kill us.”
I say, “I don’t have enough money saved to get us out of here Tom.”
Tom says, “I have been saving money too you know.”
I say and not really hearing what Tom said to me, “I still don’t have enough.”
Tom goes over to his dresser and retrieves a small booklet. It is his bank book and he hands it to me. I open the book and I look at the current balance. Oh shit. If Tom and I combine our money we could escape this horrid place. I hand the book back to Tom and he asks if the balance he has helps and I nod my head. Tom wants to know if the money he has saved can get us out of here sooner rather than later. I nod my head again. Tom demands to know when we can leave.
I ask, “When do you want to leave?”
Tom does not even think twice about it, “Right now.”
I agree. Victor could have killed me today but he did not but the beating that I will get later will be a hell of a lot worse for I humiliated him. So Tom and I dash about the room and we each pack three duffel bags. I grab my medical bag as well, even though I have one in the car as well, an extra medical kit will not hurt. Tom opens the window next to his bed wide and we exit the room onto the fire escape that we have used several times in the past to avoid Victor.
Once we are on the ground we run for my car with our bags. We place our bags into the trunk of the car and we climb into the car. I start the car and look around for a moment. Tom stares at me and then I shift the car into drive. Our first stop is South Boston Cooperative Bank. We enter the bank and the bank manager is concerned on why we are withdrawing our entire accounts until we state that we are moving out of state and then the man’s attitude changes. The whole ordeal at the bank takes us about a half of an hour.
When we climb back into the car and I start it, I realize we only have a quarter of a tank of gas. We make a stop at the gas station that Tom works at and I fill the gas tank as Tom makes us each a cup of coffee. Armed with a full tank of gas and caffeine we are back in the car and before we leave the station I turn to Tom. I ask my brother if he is ready for this for once we leave we are leaving for good. There is no turning back. Tom says with confidence that he has been waiting for this day for the last three years.