The crack of the baseball bat against Jason’s knees incites power I’ve never felt, but I should have smashed his jaw. He drops to the floor, profanity spewing from his mouth. My grip tightens on the bat. I know what comes after verbal abuse. It will take more than a bat to fend him off. But I prepared for that.
“Attacke,” I shout.
The Rottweiler at my side leaps at Jason. She sinks her teeth into his arm and drags him across the floor.
The dog releases Jason but she stands over him, growling. I hold the bat at arm’s length. My hands shake. Usually, it’s me on the floor after being battered for something as simple as being late with the evening meal. I would have left Jason years ago, but shame and a belief I was to blame made me stay. For a long time, the physical and psychological abuse made me believe the happenings in my marriage were normal. Except on Sundays, when I’d sit with the congregation and listen to my husband’s sermon. What God does he ask us to bow our heads to as he preaches about righteousness? If it’s the same God that sees the bruises beneath my long sleeves or feels the ache in my thighs where I’d been ravaged by my husband, then I’ve no fear of divine retribution for the sin I’m about to commit. My biggest problem is nobody would believe Jason was capable of such abuse. In the eyes of our church, he’s the epitome of God. To my family and friends, he’s a saint. He was, until our wedding day. But he made another vow, one only I heard—if I ever left him, he’d hunt me down and kill me. Knowing an AVO or a plea for help would incite him to exact that vow, I was forced to hide behind silence. But after what I discovered today, I’m not hiding anymore.
At a click of my tongue, Rosie returns to my side. Seeing Jason’s eyes dart between Rosie and the bat makes me smile. Does he sense the shift in power? I should just get on with it but I want him to know why I’m finally making a stand. “Meet Rosie. She’ll make a nice pet for the family, don’t you think?”
“Donna, please,” he says, clutching his bleeding arm. “What are you doing bringing home an aggressive dog? Think of the kids.”
“I am thinking of the kids, you bastard.”
I thought I’d hidden the marital abuse from our children, so I was shocked to hear Billy, our six-year-old son, swear at his sister after a squabble over a toy. But the corruption of Billy was far worse than him mimicking my husband’s abuse. Removing one hand from the bat, I pull a piece of paper from my pocket and hold it out for Jason to see. “Billy drew this after breakfast this morning.”
Jason frowns. “What?”
“It’s a picture of our church. Considering his age, the detail is incredible.” I have to stop for a moment. The detail is more than incredible. It’s damning. “It’s the confessional room. What I want to know is why would Billy draw a picture of himself sitting on another man’s knee while you’re on the other side of the screen? See? He named everyone. Dad. Mike. Me.”
Jason reaches for the picture but draws his hand back when Rosie snaps at him. His eyes narrow. “What are you suggesting?”
Cold fury that my husband is engaged in paedophilia keeps me surprisingly calm. “You know exactly what I’m suggesting. This is Pastor Mike, isn’t it? A mother in our congregation approached you about his inappropriate behaviour towards her son during Sunday school last month, but you dismissed her allegation as frivolous, didn’t you?”
“The mother concerned is newly divorced and angry Mike ignored her advances. Anyway, do you seriously think I’d allow Billy to be in a confessional room with another man? Billy must have drawn something he saw on the television. I’ve always told you he watches too much.”
This is what Jason does. He twists things around so I’m not sure what to believe. But I know the truth. The words came straight from Billy’s mouth. “Billy said you gave him extra pocket money to sit with Pastor Mike last Sunday. He said Pastor Mike touched him between the legs. He said you told him to let Pastor Mike do that so you could give Pastor Mike penance for the week.”
“He’s lying,” Jason shouts. But his eyes glint with guilt.
I tuck the picture back into my pocket. “I’m going now. I need to collect the children from school. I’ll leave Rosie here so you can get acquainted.”
“If you think threatening me with a dog will get me to admit to this outrageous allegation, you can think again. And if I hear you repeat this to anyone I’ll—”
“You’ll what? Kill me?” I laugh at the hypocrisy of his vow. “I suppose I should call the police. But a jail term wouldn’t stop you hunting me down, would it?” And why drag Billy through the trauma of an investigation when my plan will take care of everything. I smile down at my husband. “Did you get my text message?”
I slap my hand against my forehead. “How silly. I forgot to send it.” Pulling my phone from my pocket, I read the drafted message out loud. “I’ve picked up Rosie as you asked. Are you sure she’s suitable? She’s quite aggressive. I’ve locked her in the house until you get home.” I click send. “Oh, and I’ll be taking over Sunday school classes. The children need to learn how deceptive evil can be.”
Hearing the phone in his pocket beep, I give Rosie a command. “Töten.”
I walk from the room. I feel no emotion for my husband. Not even when Rosie rips out his throat.
Always the daydreamer, Pauline Yates has a habit of turning everyday events into diabolical plots. Her stories can be found with The Casket of Fictional Delights, Metaphorosis, Every Day Fiction and Short Fiction Break. She lives at Ocean View, Australia, with her team of writing buddies — one dog, one cat, one chook, and a one-eyed horse.