I knew it would be bad, I just hadn’t realized the level of bad it would reach. I knew when he got home to a near empty house that the consequences would be fierce. I had always been afraid of Nicky, but for the first time I actually feared for my life. It was true that I had gotten more than my fair share of punches to the face, kicks in the gut, him pushing me down stairs and over furniture, but he had never came after me with the threat of death. That is, until I left him.
That very first night he showed up at my parent’s house banging on the door and yelling at me to just talk to him. Paul went to the door and told him to leave and after an hour of sitting in my parent’s driveway with the engine running Paul called the police. Only after a couple officers came and spoke with him did he leave. He tried to get them to arrest my parents and me, telling them we had robbed his house. Paul came out and spoke with the officers, explained the situation and the officers told Nicky that he had to leave the property. Even with the officers standing there watching, Nicky peeled out of the driveway and speed off down the road. Within an hour the phone began ringing. We finally had to turn the ringer off.
I called Peter and asked him if I could take some time off, my parents didn’t feel safe with me leaving the house alone. He hesitated, but agreed. I was sure that Nicky had already been in the store asking Peter and Flo if they knew anything about what happened. He told me to take all the time I needed and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that my parents really wanted me to just quit and stay home with them until this had blew over. I didn’t want to quit, going to work every day gave me a sense of freedom. I was earning my own money and wanted to save up and get a small place for the baby and me. I didn’t want to live with my parents if I didn’t have to.
A few times in the middle of the night I swore I heard someone outside of my bedroom window but I was too afraid to get up and look or to get Paul. I would lie in bed holding my breath trying to tell if I just imagined hearing the footsteps. I was beginning to worry that it was just paranoia but the constant phone messages, the stories from family and friends who reiterated to me how he had confronted them, followed them and constantly called them was getting to be too much.
I had met with several attorneys in the area and settled on one that my friend Lynette had used when she got divorced. Jackson Fredricks had the reputation of tearing the soon-to-be-ex’s reputation to shreds. He was expensive, but my parents told me not to worry myself with the cost, they just wanted me to file, and I did two weeks after I left the house.
I was so ready to get back to work and even though Paul had purchased a very nice used car for me to drive, my mom still wasn’t comfortable with me leaving the house alone. She insisted that Paul drive me to and from work for a while. She couldn’t understand why I was so determined to keep my job at Sander’s. My mom admitted she was enjoying having Addison in the house; she was able to spoil her with toys and she let Addison do just about anything she wanted. The baby was now crawling and her speed to reach breakable objects was impressive.
“I’m going to drive myself to work tomorrow.” I announced during dinner one evening. Paul and my mother both stopped eating and looked at me, “Listen guys, I appreciate you worrying about me. But I don’t want to feel like a prisoner. I have been a prisoner for quite a while now and I just want to spread my wings a bit. Please understand.” I didn’t want to beg, but it came out sounding that way.
Paul nodded his head, “I think that would be a good idea, as long as you go straight there and straight back,” He said sternly pointing with his fork to say he meant business, “No unnecessary detours. Not for a while anyway, agreed?”
“Yeah. Straight there. Straight back” I smiled at him, comforted by his protectiveness of me. He was always there for me, in a world where my biological father was only around when he was in the middle of a divorce. We hadn’t heard anything from Nicky in the last few days; just from his lawyer, so I felt confident that I would be safe. My mother didn’t share my confidence but said nothing.
“Well, look at you little Miss Independent, driving around all by yourself.” Flo teased. I had found a little piece of independence on the drive into work that morning. Of course I did constantly check my mirrors for the familiar blue truck that never appeared. I let out a giant sigh of relief when I pulled into the parking lot. I made it.
“Yes I am and I am still in one piece.” I gave a little pose of victory. The morning went by fast and Peter asked me into the office when I was preparing to leave in the afternoon.
“Tessa, I talked to Kip about what happened out here in the parking lot with you and Nicky. I wasn’t going to but after I ran into Nicky this weekend; I knew I had to tell his dad what had been going on.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. I didn’t want this to be an issue any longer and the only reason I wouldn’t have wanted Peter to talk to Kip before was to protect Nicky. That really didn’t matter now.
“What did he say?” I felt sick to my stomach. Kip had always stuck up for me, but I couldn’t imagine that that would be the case now that I had filed for divorce.
“Well, at first I wasn’t sure what to think. Sure he sat and listened to me, but he didn’t say a damn word so I got a little nervous and wondered if I should have just kept my mouth shut,” a shadow of exhaustion washed over his aging face, “I don’t know if you had heard but Kip got me out of a real bind a few years back. After my wife left me I started drinking pretty bad and gambled way too much. I gambled money I didn’t have. You see, a bunch of us from the club flew out to Vegas one weekend and I gambled away just about everything I had. If it hadn’t been for Kip, well I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. Tessa, he saved my ass is what he did. I owe him more than I could ever repay him.” He appeared to have aged twenty years in the last few moments. I stayed quiet because I knew he wasn’t finished talking.
“Anyway, I just want to apologize to you. I should have walked right out there and stomped that little shit’s ass. I’m so sorry sweetie, can you ever forgive me?” Tears had formed in his eyes.
“Awww, you don’t have to apologize to me,” I leaned over and hugged him, “You did help me. You took me to the hospital and you paid for everything. You know Nicky would never have taken me and if I had gone on my own and he had to pay for it, well, I would have paid for it in worse later on. You were kind of protecting me in your own way.”
“I just feel plain awful. Kip has been a good friend to me but girl you were being hurt. I had no idea how badly, but now I do and I swear to you I am behind you one hundred percent. If I have to go to court and tell them what I saw I will. I will even tell them the times I saw you come in with black eyes and bruises on your arms. I am not blind, girl, I know you aren’t that clumsy!” He chuckled to himself, “You know, some men are just born bullies and you just happened to marry one. I don’t know where he gets it, because his dad is a straight-up great guy.
But you have nothing to worry about with Kip. He didn’t question me. He felt real bad about what his son has done to you. But I do want to show you something,” He stood up and pulled open his desk drawer, “Now you can’t tell anyone I have this or it won’t do you any good when you need it.” He turned on the television set in the corner and popped the VHS tape in the recorder. It was the store’s security tape dated the morning that Nicky assaulted me in the parking lot and taken off with the baby.
I sat in silence and shock as I watched what I had lived through played out on tape. There was no sound but it was obvious to anyone who was watching it. The part that bothered me the most were the two men that walked past the car as I cried and begged for them to help me. I can’t imagine what would make two grown men walk by as they watched a woman be assaulted by another man. Then I remembered Peter standing in the window watching without helping and my heart sank. Peter was too afraid to help. He owed Nicky’s father so much and he felt helpless.
“You see those two men walking past? Right there, you see them?” It was as if he had read my mind. I nodded confirming I saw them, “they are on Kip’s construction crew. They work under Nicky.” He rewound the tape and pushed PAUSE to freeze the image of the two men in their place.
“That one there, that’s Randy Cook. His wife just gave birth to a baby girl a week ago and he has three more boys on top of that. He and Sandy have their hands full. If he had stepped in on you two that day, well Nicky would have fired him and left him, three boys and a pregnant wife with no income at all. That one there,” he pointed at the other guy, “That’s Brain Pope. He got busted right out of high school for hot wiring a car; then he spent a few years in jail after he violated his probation when he got caught selling some pot to an undercover cop. He just got released a couple weeks before and part of his probation was that he had to hold a steady job for a year. If he lost that job he would have to go back to jail for six more months.”
I understood what he was trying to tell me. I sat and looked at the still image of the two men’s faces. I wanted to believe with all of my heart that they wanted to help me.
“So you have talked to them?” I whispered.
“Randy came back in that night to buy milk and he stopped by the office. He felt horrible and said that Brian did too. Brian actually wanted to come back and beat the shit out of Nicky. He told Randy he would go back to jail if he had to and it took Randy half the day to calm Brian down,” Peter shook his head in disbelief, “So anyway, word got around the construction site about what had happened. Those men just started coming up and giving Randy and Brian money, told them to come back and give it to you; help you get away from Nicky. But when Randy heard you had to go to the hospital, well let’s just say I didn’t pay for the entire hospital bill sweetie, they paid for half.”
I placed my hand over my heart. I couldn’t believe they had done that for me.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I wiped a tear that started to roll down my cheek.
“They asked me not to. How the heck they kept that kind of news from getting to Kip or Nicky I will never know.” He removed the tape from the player and put it back in his desk, then locked the drawer, “Both of those boys said they will testify in court if it comes down to it.”
I hoped it wouldn’t come to that. I just wanted my divorce; I didn’t want Nicky going to jail. He was Addison’s father after all. It was bad enough I couldn’t trust him to see her right now; it worried me too much that he wouldn’t bring her back. The guilt of keeping her from him bothered me; I couldn’t imagine missing out on this much of her life. He hadn’t been there to see her start crawling; he should have been there to see that first. Too bad he was such a jerk.
I was glad Peter told me the truth about talking to Kip and the construction guys. It gave me hope that humanity does exist. I looked at my watch and realized I would be late getting back to my parents.
“Thank you Peter,” I hugged him again quickly, “I better run, my parents weren’t keen on me driving myself to work to begin with. Don’t need to make them worry where I am now.”
“Be safe Tessa.” He closed the office door and walked with me to the automatic doors.
I started the engine and backed out of the parking space. As I pulled out onto the highway, I checked my rear view window. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing behind me, Nicky’s blue truck was right on my bumper. I pushed the gas pedal down to put distance between us but he sped up too. He laid the horn on and held it down. I turned off on the road leading to my parent’s house too quickly almost hitting the stop sign. Nicky stayed on my tail. He was relentless. I missed the analog in the Grand Am; I would have already called the police. But now I just had to make it to my parent’s house without wrecking.
I took a curve too fast and hit the ditch but managed to keep the car in motion, slinging mud and grass behind me. I could hear gravel smack the underbelly of the car. I righted the car back onto the road and could see my parent’s house in the distance. I prayed I would make it in the driveway without hitting any of the other cars. I was afraid to slow down since Nicky’s truck was still right on my back bumper. I laid the horn on. Long hold, several short taps, long hold, short taps. I wanted them to hear me coming. Just as I got to the edge of the drive way, I saw Paul run out of the garage door carrying a rifle.
I slammed the car in park and jumped out without turning the engine off. I ran into the garage as Paul confronted Nicky in the driveway.
“Get out of my way Paul. Tessa! Tessa, get out here. Get your fucking ass out here!” Nicky yelled past Paul. Paul still holding the rifle with his right hand he put his left hand up to hold Nicky back.
“Nicky, you need to leave. Get in your truck and leave or I’m calling the cops” Paul remained calm.
“Fuck you Paul! Call the fucking police! See if I care!” Nicky got right in Paul’s face. I stood at the back of the garage. I didn’t want to leave Paul alone with Nicky knowing I would be no help to him if he needed it. Unexpectedly Nicky threw his hands to his head and dropped to his knees and started to cry. Sob was more like it.
“Jesus, Tessa. Tessa just come home!” He was begging, “Please. I swear to God I won’t hurt you again, just you and the baby need to come home. I miss you.” He hung his head to the ground and pressed his hands on the concrete. He looked like he was praying, but he wasn’t, he was crying. I had never seen a man cry like that before. He looked desperate and sad.
“Tessa” My mom stood at the garage door leading into the kitchen, “Tessa, come in the house.” She held Addison on her hip, holding her just inside the house out of Nicky’s sight. I looked at my mom but didn’t say anything and then I looked over at Nicky. Still hunched over on the concrete crying and saying mine and Addison’s name over and over; saying he was sorry, so sorry. My heart went out for him. My mind told me it was a trap, but my heart was breaking for him.
“Tessa?” The look on my mom’s face was pleading. She was begging with her eyes to please don’t fall for what he was doing. I just shook my head at my mom.
“It’s okay.” I assured her and I walked out of the garage past Paul and knelt down next to Nicky. I placed my hand on his shoulder, “Nicky?”
In a flash his hand wrapped around my neck and he drug me over to the truck, Paul lifted the rifle and pointed it in our direction. He yelled for my mom to call the police. Nicky had the door to the truck open and tried to push me in. His hand tightened around my neck as I resisted his efforts to get me in the truck. I tugged at his wrist with both of my hands but couldn’t break his grip. I tried to bend my knees up and kick in the groin, but he was too quick and it made him even madder. He reached up with his free hand a grabbed a handful of my hair and slammed my head into the driver’s side window. He pulled my face back and spit in my face, then leaned in and licked it off. He laughed and looked at me with feral eyes.
“I am going to fucking kill you, you fat fucking bitch!” he hissed in my ear, his grip tightening harder around my neck cutting off my air, “I am going to kill you and rip your heart out. Then after they bury your fat ass, I am going to come and piss on your grave.”
His face went fuzzy and then faded away completely.
Nicky Bloom signed the divorce papers from his jail cell with his criminal attorney present. He was facing a lot of prison time. On top of attempted murder charges, he faced multiple counts of battery charges on me and several other charges because most of the abuse against me happened in front of our daughter.
The only person who stood up for Nicky was his mother, Fannie and Hope. Kip paid for all of Nicky’s attorney’s fees and the court costs. He would continue to pay for Nicky commissary and basic needs while in prison but he testified for me in court.
My attorney’s were allowed to use the Peter’s tape as evidence. Randy and Brian both witnessed on my behalf, as did Flo and Peter. Hope Baker was subpoenaed to give a deposition in the divorce hearing about her ongoing relationship with Nicky. Flo testified about taking me to the hospital after Nicky assaulted me in the parking lot and about being at the house when I walked in on Hope and Nicky having sex. Nicky’s attorney tried to slip Flo up by asking if she had actually seen Mr. Bloom and Ms. Baker having intercourse.
“Well, no, but two people in a room, in a bed making noises like the ones I heard, well, I don’t think they were playing chess.” Laughter rumbled through the room.
Regardless of Flo’s testimony the judge granted the divorce. I was awarded the house, the bank account, the Grand Am and full custody of Addison. Kip promised that Addison and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything as long as he was alive which did not please Fannie Bloom at all.
Nicky’s trial ended with him being sentenced to sixteen years in prison with time off for good behavior. That meant that Nicky could be out in less than eight years. He would be required to serve four more years of probation and would only be allowed supervised visitation with Addison until she was sixteen. He was also ordered to stay away from me and if he got within two hundred feet of me, the judge threatened to send him back to prison. People have been known to walk through those protection orders, but I had at least eight years before I had to worry about it.
Touching Trees by T L Lady is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://touchingtrees.wordpress.com.wouldn’t have her. So I stayed, I would make it to the year if it killed me. And it just might.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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