Category Archives: NO HAY EXCUSA!

Mike (“Miguel”) and Maria

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Maria was only 26 when the stuff started. The “sh__” hit the fan, for no good reason

at all. She was a mother with a 2 year old and had started to date the man in the

next apt. She lived in Apt. #7 (at the time she signed the rental contract she had

thought, “Lucky Seven!”) and met the dark, older man in Apt. #9. He was a nice,

hard working cable man.

When she started to like his sarcastic wit and his friendly little pretend boxing

moves with her son, she had known him about six months. He had been in her

home more than once, to borrow some eggs, to have a newly baked cookie and

to check her outlets. He also had decided she needed to have a dual use of his

cable. (Don’t worry, he does not work for the cable company anymore!)

She asked him to go to the summer car show where Delaware closes almost

four blocks off for the old cars and neat vehicles like the old time fire engine.

She said her son would really like him to come. That was the first time that

they had talked about going out in public. For some reason, her intuitions

kicked in and she recognized from the hemming and hawing, the plan would

not see fruition.

She and her son went to the automobile and motorcycle show but on her way

back to the building, her son asked her to see “Mike.” She was not sure that

was a good idea. After all, she was kind of shy and a little unsure since she

had become single again. She didn’t often ask anyone out or make those kind

of moves.

As soon as her door closed, she got her son stripped down and put him in the

bathtub with some boats, squirt guns and empty detergent bottle. They would

not be using the bath soap/chalk today, she was a little worn out. She stood

at the sink, thinking about her neighbor who she felt comfortable with at times,

other times a little leery.

When she and her son had eaten some cereal for a late supper they laid down on

her queen sized bed. She recited the prayers, a few songs and told the Three Bears

story. It seemed moments later, she was asleep with him tucked under her arm.

Another hour had passed when the loud knock’s resounding pound came through

into the bedroom.

She tiptoed into the living room, stood on her toes to look out the peephole to see

Mike’s face inches away from her. For some strange reason, she put the chain on

the door, opened it a crack and said, “Mike, we just went to bed.”

Mike leaned casually towards the crack and whispered, “Come on over and visit me,

Maria.” She only shook her head and said, “Goodnight, Mike.”

The next day as she got her son ready for the babysitter’s house, she heard another

knock on the door. There was Mike and he had a bouquet of colorful daisies and

carnations (the kind you can buy at the supermarket) and she smiled, “Why, thank

you, Mike! We are in a hurry, off to work!”

Time went by quickly, Maria reveals to me through our neighborly close proximity.

She says soon he was offering her money to clean his apartment, giving her a key,

asking her to make her mother’s meatloaf recipe, and she would hand him a list

to get at the grocery store. Things progressed and soon she was staying overnight

when her son would go off to her ex’s house. She started to talk about living together

with him. She had started to call her “gringo” by the name “Miguel.”

They could put their bills together. They could start to have more space. Within a year

of meeting her neighbor, she was moving into another place. She came to tell me what

her new address would be and I was happy for her, it was a nice townhouse with a deck

on the second level and patio below. I would miss her living down the hallway from me

and yet, wished her all the happiness in the world.

I went into the place that Maria worked to check in on her and ask about her son, too,

about a month or so later.

I had gotten attached to the boy, had kept an eye on him from time to time when one of

my own grandkids visited, saw him in the laundry room or while sorting through my

junk and “good” mail. He was such a cute three year old when they had moved out!

Maria asked me again for my phone number and I wrote it down. She did not say how

she was doing but I saw a little pain in her eyes. She said, “I can’t talk now while I

am working. I will call you and come over soon to tell you something.”

This is what she said happened one night while her son was sleeping upstairs. She

was downstairs doing laundry. She was leaning down to move the laundry from the

washer into the dryer when she felt the hands pressing on her neck.

She felt her body lifted and thrown backward onto the floor.

When Maria “came to” she looked up to see an angry Mike leaning close to her face,

his breath hot and voice coarse, “You are pathetic!”

She felt the lump on the back of her head, she was surprised to pull her hand back to

her face that it was not bloody. But when she did try to stand up, she was dizzy and

lightheaded. She got ice from the refrigerator and did not say a word to Mike. She

waited until he went out on the deck to light up a cigarette an hour later.

Then she flew like lightning to the bedroom, wrapped her son in a blanket and ran

down the stairs to the landing, grabbed her purse. She made it to the car, she drove

it down the roads to a friend’s house not too far away.

“Never again!” her friend’s voice was loud in her already painful head. She nodded and

got the borrowed pajamas on and wondered how things could have gotten to there. What

had she done?

The arrival back to the home they shared was cautious, her brother went with her. They

neither felt it right or a good idea to contact the police. Part of their Mexican background

was to be slightly fearful of the police and the consequences of breaking the law. They

were second generation immigrants. Their parents were migrant workers that had made

it in most senses of the word.

Mike got on his knees, crying real tears and apologies flowed. Maria asked, “What did

I do?” He said he had had a flashback to when his mother threw a big chili can at his

head when he was a young boy. He saw her as a mother and had stopped feeling like

she was his lover and friend. He said he would go to counseling or to church to talk

to the Father.

Forgiveness is common in the first incidents of violence. This contrite Mike was forgiven.

The second time was again a choking incident, the third time was another act of

violence. By this time she had had a son with Mike. She was “tied to Mike,” she felt.

They were a “family” now. Her own parents and brother were slowly shut from her life

by Mike’s comments. Maria was trying her hardest to please Mike, “walking on eggshells.”

The choice of moving back to my “gated” (front and back doors are locked) apartment

building by her parents and when she came to visit me, I was not sure this was the best

option.

I asked Maria, “Is there a place that Mike would not know where you lived?”

Maria replied, “But he knows where I work and where the boys go to the babysitter’s.”

I am beside myself with my fears and serious attitude. The third time means “no more

visits, if you were living at a battered women’s shelter.”

So far, with the help of her parents and her community of church goers and friends,

Maria has stayed out of Mike’s way. She has filed for child support, pleading with the

help of her lawyer (paid for by her parents) for the address not to be published on the

paperwork when it is served on her ex-boyfriend.

I am holding Maria in my prayers.

As this is on some Spanish flyers circulated for a battered women’s shelter, I wish

to say, “Si esta siendo abusada en su hogar… No esta sola.”

If you are being abuse in your life… you are not alone.

 

“NO HAY EXCUSA!”

There is no excuse!