Huddled and Crying
Yellow Mama 2019
June 8, 2019
Lola cried when she was happy. She cried while watching a sad movie. Her mother cried at the same things and at the same time when they were together. Lola’s husband laughed at her for crying and teased his mother-in-law for it, also. Lola’s father was more of a weeper. Cutting into a fresh melon and smelling its fragrance could cause him to shed a few tears. Lola’s husband did not dare tease or laugh at his father-in-law. He knew better than to make an enemy of this short, stick figure man with Popeye muscles, who had a ruffian’s reputation on the docks where he was a longshoreman.
Lola’s son was another story. He wanted to be like his grandfather and be tough, and like his father and not cry, but he was fifteen and his father took too much pleasure in kicking his butt for minor infractions of their house rules, or any delay in getting his chores done in a timely manner.
Ethan, the fifteen-year-old, would spend as much time as possible at his grandparents’, and neither one of them would yell at him, much less hit him. Once he stayed away for a week after talking back to his father and getting the buckle end of the belt on his back and face.
When Lola came home from the store and saw the blood splattered on the kitchen linoleum, she went up to her son’s bedroom and held him while they both cried themselves out, and then she ran a tub for him and dried him off, adding salve to his open wounds. She brought him up a bowl of cereal, and he slept as she went down to the basement and got his baseball bat and sat holding it in the dim light of the living room, waiting for her husband to come home from the bar.
The next day Lola called her father, who said he’d be right over.
Lola and Ethan were sitting on the steps leading upstairs. Her husband’s car was parked on the lawn with the driver’s door open, and Lola’s husband leaning half out of the car.
Her father pulled up, looked at his son-in-law, and then went into the house, where he saw the condition of his grandson, both eyes swollen and blackened, with buckle marks on his arms and back.
He told Ethan to go get his father’s belt and hunting knife and bring them in to him and then to stay outside until he told him he could come in.
Lola’s father took her into the bathroom, where between sobs she told him what she had come home to and what she did. He told her that her husband beat her, then closed the door and told her to strip down to her bra and panties.
He proceeded to give her a beating like the one Ethan got, but not as severe.
He then raked his arms and face with the hunting knife and stabbed himself in his side. He ran Lola a bath and walked downstairs and outside, just as the police car the neighbors called, pulled up.
Ethan told the police he got back at his father with the baseball bat he was holding, and his grandfather told the police Ethan was trying to protect him from his father and the knife.
Then Lola came limping out and said that she gave her husband back for the beating he gave Ethan and her the night before.
The policeman told them all to go in the house while they waited for a detective and an ambulance.
When they showed up, they walked into the house and Lola, her father, and Ethan were all sitting on the couch huddled, crying, and bleeding.