It Still Sticks With Me After A Decade

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Let me say this up front: My story does deal with elements of an abuse. I would understand if it may be too intense for some. Hell, after 10 years it still feels like yesterday.

I was 27 years old at the time of this and spent 3 weeks a month as a volunteer fire fighter / EMT. I come from a family that has been part of the military and medical services in one way shape or form. My dad was an army medic and my mom still is working with people in the mental health field to this day. I’ve always had two distinctive personality traits – a good heart and complete and utter lack of a life plan. So while I got stuff figured out around the age of 23, I took this on as a way of giving back.

I’d seen more than any person should in my 4 years of doing this. Car accidents. The aftermath of bar fights. Shootings. People who’d passed due to tragic circumstances and my takeaway was the fragility of this truly precious thing we call “life.” There was more bad than good – I personally helped deliver a baby because the mom went into labor too far from the hospital and she wasn’t going to make it. So within the time frame of 20 minutes or so, an 8 pound baby girl was born right in the back of my ambulance. Her name is Shelly and I still see her around town from time to time. I’ve become good friends with her parents and she’s a happy kid.

This brings me to a night that is forever etched into my memory. July 5th, 2009. I’d spent the previous day dealing with inebriated adults and fireworks related injuries. Nothing too severe save for some minor burns. But I was tired. I got a little bit of sleep at the station – a few hours or so – when our chief came in to wake me from my bunk. “Sorry to do this to you kid, but we need you now. Mc Mally drive just came up over the scanner.”

I groaned as I sat up and checked my phone. It was 1:18 in the morning. “What now?” I asked. My chief just mumbled for me to make sure we had enough in the burn kit and told me to get a move on. For clarification: This address was a regular visit. We were there at least 3 times a month. It was always the same thing. The guys wife was unhinged and would find a reason to beat the tar out of her husband. Usually over little stuff. There was one incident where his cousin had JUST signed up for a Facebook account and was planning a visit. He was speaking to another woman and instead of asking him what was up like a rational person, she broke a terracotta flower pot over his head resulting in him needing stitches.

No matter what she did, he was too afraid to press charges. “The guys at work would never let me live it down if they found out.” was his usual retort when asked why he wouldn’t do so. We had another incident where he told her the hair dye she’d purchased looked “too purple” and she beat him to the point of having two black eyes before putting out her cigarette on his neck.

I honestly figured it was a repeat of the latter, hence the need for the burn kit. But nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see.

We pulled up to the little red townhouse and could already see her in the back of a deputies cruiser. Cuffed and screaming like a rabid animal and everyone who passed by. I get into the house and find the husband laying on the floor, barely breathing, and unresponsive laying in a puddle of water and covered in spaghetti and burns. We rushed over to him and began doing our work. I could tell he was in shock. I called out for my partner to get the gurney set up and grab the burn kit as I began to cut off his shirt. The burns were very much 3rd degree and covered him from his face to his belly button. She’d done a number on him and he was quite bad off. As we began to get him on the gurney and on his way for medical treatment, he came to and began to moan in pain. He opened his eyes and as his gaze met mine I could tell…he was blind. She finally snapped enough to cause him permanent physical harm. It was only a matter of time. The moans began to form words – indecipherable at first – but when I realized what he was saying my blood ran cold. He was asking where their 9 year old son was.

I called out for the deputy and she ran into the kitchen in a flash. “Their son is missing. He keeps asking for him. We need someone to do a check – Fast.” The deputy nodded and as she looked – she noticed a trail of what appeared to be urine leading to the walk in pantry. There she found the boy. Both of his hands were severely burned, all the way up to his elbows. He was hiding behind a large storage barrel and he began to cry hysterically when the deputy found him.

We’re a small community and generally peaceful. Most nights the police were just doing routine traffic stops. This was a rarity and I could tell by her expression she was almost to the point of breaking upon seeing this poor boy. She called for a second ambulance due to the fact his father was already being worked on in the back of mine. Unfortunately we couldn’t wait around due to the severity of his injuries. I made my way back to the ambulance fully prepared to drive like a bat out of hell when I heard thuds against the window of the police cruiser.

The woman was laying in the seat and attempting to kick out the window..after a few sharp blows she was successful. I figured she was going to make a run for it and I screamed out for the officers in the house. What she did next still baffles me to this very day.

Instead of crawling out the window she hung her head out the window and began to scream “Good luck finding anyone better than me David! I got you good!” The police ran outside and began to ready their tasers when the deputy noticed the little boy following her. She turned around quickly and guided him back inside while her partner assessed the situation.

The woman turned her attention to the boy inside and began to scream again – this time saying the most evil things I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing. “I should have taken a coat hanger to your ass the SECOND I found out you were a boy. You’re worthless – Just like your soon to be dead father! Just another pants pissing, worthless man! I HATE YOU TOO! I-” her words were cut short as she had crawled about halfway out the window to scream this vitriol at her own son, the other deputy had no choice but to taze her.

I could see the shadow of the little boy through the front window. From the position of his silhouette I could tell his back was to us. The deputy was on one knee and I could tell she was saying something – anything – to distract him from this monster’s hate-filled word vomit. It didn’t work. He buried his head in her shoulder and began to shake. Those words cut everyone at the scene deeply – but nobody had been cut deeper than him.

I solemnly got into the driver seat and began the fastest, longest drive to the hospital during my entire tenure as an EMT.

We got the father to the hospital and unfortunately, he didn’t make it through the night. We found out from an investigator the next day, he’d finally gotten sick of the wife’s abuse and filed for divorce. When the questioned the boy he recounted the whole event. She’d come home from her job at the local butcher’s market and seemed to be in one of her typical moods. She went upstairs to get cleaned up and looked like she was going to explode. It was at this point the boy went to his room and hid under his bed. He could heard the arguing and she kept yelling about divorce. He stayed under the bed and shut his eyes out of fear. The next thing he opened his eyes to the sounds of his dad screaming. Running out to see what was going on, his mother splashed the remaining water from the boiling pot of spaghetti on the stove on him.

He urinated himself on the spot because of the pain and proceeded to grab the phone as he ran into the pantry. He fought through it and called 911 before passing out where he was found.

Later on in the evening I made my way back home. When my mother asked me how my day went I just broke down in tears and told her everything. I cried like a part of me had died as she held me. Gave my letter of resignation a few days later.

Nowadays I work as a software engineer. I found my breaking point that night and realized the medical field wasn’t for me.

Before I go I have to say this much. In my opinion this was a situation that could have been avoided. But since childhood I’ve heard this constant rhetoric about men being the abusers and never the victims. Being beaten up by your wife/girlfriend/significant other means you need to “turn in your man card.” This mindset is INCREDIBLY hypocritical and toxic. This man died because he was afraid of the potential ridicule. The injuries, memories, and resulting skin grafts left his son is both physically and mentally scarred for life.

You can go on about “Skinwalkers, Dogmen, and Bigfoot” all you want. But I’ve seen a real monster up close and she was just as human as you or me.

Speak up if your being abused. Male, Female, or Otherwise. The violent actions the person who is supposed to LOVE you and CARE for you is not worth losing your life over. It should never get to that point.

I haven’t seen her son since that night but I know a friend of the family. He ended up in foster care while going through grafting surgeries before eventually being adopted by an aunt living out of state. As far as the mother is concerned..she’s in state prison and I honestly hope she rots there.

Calling her a monster is an understatement and an insult to monsters.

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Wow… that was an intense read.