I was lying on the floor in an old t-shirt and panties with a pillow tucked under my head, watching my favorite late night show with my family when we heard the knock.
“Who the hell is here at this hour?” my dad asked, mostly to himself.
“I don’t know, Anthony. You get it,” my mom ordered not wanting to release the grip on her glass of wine.
My dad stood up and opened the front door. It was snowing outside and the crisp air flew in and gave me a chill. What I saw next amplified the feeling. It was the neighbor who had given me her old jacket. Her face was swollen, bruised and dripping in blood. Standing in front of her were her two small sons, both shivering and sobbing.
“Jesus, what the hell happened to you?” my dad asked in shock.
“Can we come inside? Please?” she begged.
My father looked behind him to my mother. She gave him a look of disappointment as he ushered them in with his hand.
Once inside they dusted the snow from their bodies, they were all wearing pajamas. One of the boys took a seat on the floor next to me as the smaller of the two huddled into his mother for comfort.
“It was Joe,” our neighbor began, “He is on drugs. I found a bag of white powder in one of his drawers and he walked in to catch me flushing it down the toilet. He went crazy, attacked me in front of the kids. He said he was going to kill me, I know he has a gun.”
“Did you call the police?” my mom asked rather annoyed.
“No! I can’t call the police! They would take him to jail, then what would I do? I can’t support two boys on my own. Please, please don’t call the police,” she pleaded, terrified.
“Well what are you going to do then?” my mom asked.
“I don’t know. Can we please just stay here tonight?”
My mom let out an annoyed sigh, “You guys can sleep on the sofas I guess. I was just going to bed anyway,” she lied while lifting herself off the couch.
“Asterisk, go to bed,” she ordered.
Being in shock and a little scared, I grabbed my pillow and started towards the stairway.
I stopped and instead went to the closet, grabbed a few extra blankets and an old pillow and brought them into the living room.
“I thought they could use these,” I said as I handed them to my dad.
“Asterisk! GET UPSTAIRS!” my mom screamed.
I turned around and went up to my room. Just as my head hit the pillow my door swung open and my mom marched inside.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she questioned while glaring at me.
“What?” I asked a little confused.
“I told you to go to bed and instead you bring all my good blankets down stairs and offer them to that trashy family!”
“They need blankets.” I retorted.
“I did not ask you to bring blankets down! I don’t want them sleeping in my bedding! I was going to offer them your dads old blankets. You don’t know if they are clean people. The last thing I want to sleep on is their filth.”
“You can always wash them,” I explained.
“NO! I will never use those blankets again, they are tainted now. All I would be able to think about was their scum and sweat caked into the fibers. Thanks a lot. Next time give your own things away!” With that she stormed out of my room and slammed the door.
“Crazy Bitch,” I mumbled to myself.
A few minutes later I heard my dad marching up the stairs and into my parents bedroom followed by my mother’s voice.
“I don’t know why you let them in here, Anthony. You ruined my night. I wanted to watch my show, you know I look forward to it all week.”
“Look, Melinda, I had to. There are two children and they are our friends.”
“No, Anthony! I can’t even stand that woman. She’s just here for a pity party. She has no guts or she would have just called the police, she must like the abuse. Now I don’t even think I will be able to sleep tonight and I’m missing the end of my show.”
“You can watch TV up here,” he suggested, “I brought the rest of your wine.”
I drifted off to sleep while trying to block out the rest of their argument.
Around 3 am I was startled awake by a pounding on the front door. I could hear children crying, then a scream. I cracked my bedroom door just in time to see my dad run down the stairs with a large wooden pole in his hand. I recognized it from our camping trips, it went to his military issued tent.
“Stay inside!” he shouted.
The entire house was awake when he walked back through the door covered in blood, the thick pole was still in his hand but had been broken in half. Quickly, he turned the dead bolt.
“Call 911,” he ordered.
“What happened!” my mom shouted.
“It’s Joe, he has a gun.”
I ran to the phone and started punching in the numbers.
“I didn’t hear any shots!” our neighbor said while shaking, “Is he still there, is he going to kill me?”
“He is there, but he’s not going to hurt anybody.”
“Is he okay?” my neighbor screamed, “Oh my god, did you kill him?”
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly.
“What do you mean?” my neighbor questioned in fear, her entire body trembling.
“He pointed the gun at me! I hit him in the face with the pole and he didn’t even flinch! He was rushing towards me so I broke it over his head, it knocked him to the ground. His head is bleeding really bad.”
My neighbor rushed for the door but my dad grabbed her and held her by her shoulders.
“Debbie! Debbie! Why are you doing this to me!” Joe was screaming from the outside.
Then, gun shots.
Everything went silent until the sirens. When the police arrived, Joe was already gone. They took my dad to the station for questioning. He was released early the next morning.
Debbie packed her bags and took the boys to her parents house a state away.
My dad ran into Joe several weeks later and he had no recollection of the indecent. However, he did have large scars on his bald head from the 52 stitches he eventually had to receive to repair the wounds.