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
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,
Paul Beckman is an
award winning writer published in print, online and audio magazines worldwide.
His stories are in numerous anthologies. His stories can be found from Playboy
to 50 Word Stories. Paul’s published story website is www.paulbeckmanstories.com
and his blog can be found at www.pincusb.com
Valentin is a young artist born in the Bronx, but raised in Jersey
City. He has been in a number of musical theater productions throughout his academic
career, from the 5th grade all the way up to college. Daniel has been in a few
choirs and has even competed in the World Choir Olympics. He currently sings with
Saint Peter's University Schola, the Saint Peter's University Choir. Having been
a founding member of the choir, he has since been in 2 albums that are available
on both Spotify and iTunes. At Saint Peter's University he received a Bachelors
Degree in Biology. Daniel has been interested in the arts since very young, and
particularly became interested in drawing, painting, and sculpting since having
taken classes at Saint Peter's Preparatory School. He considers photography as
a hobby, but hopes to one day get more involved with the art.