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San Diego men who hit their wives

I grabbed my wife and said, "You know, I might just throw you off the damn balcony"

“It’s not something that’s in your blood."
  • “It’s not something that’s in your blood."
  • Image by Dillon Kirkes

“I’D JUST HAD SURGERY ON MY EAR. anesthetic had worn off, and the pain It was for ‘diver’s ear’ or ‘surfer’s ear,’ pills didn’t help. Ellen kept going on where they have to grind calcium and on—something about the car. My deposits from the bones in there. The ear had gotten infected, and I had my hands over my ears. I was in pain, I had a fever, and her words physically hurt. She seemed to be shouting, but I don’t know if she really was. It just felt like it. She thought I was purposely ignoring her. She batted my hands away from my ears and swatted me hard on the infected ear. I just saw this blaze of light, and I heard myself scream. My fist shot out, and I saw her nose spray blood all over the place, “I pulled my punch though.”

The man is a musician who works in a coffeehouse at the beach. He hardly seems like a violent type. Thin, around 30, soulful eyes, and an even voice. We’ll call him Peter.

“You know, I probably would have done the same thing,” I tell him. “But how can you pull your punch in a reflex to pain? You just want the pain to stop, your arm shoots out....” “No, no. I didn’t want to hurt her. You said yourself, you’d do the same thing.”

“Yes, but I wouldn’t have pulled the punch.”

“Well, I did. Otherwise I would have killed her or knocked her out. She’s very small.”

“Were you arrested for that? Did she press charges?” “Yes, I was charged with battery, and a few years later that incident cost me the custody of my daughter when we divorced.”

“Do you feel you were wrongly charged with battery?" “No. I guess not. I punched a small woman in the nose. You just can’t do that. Even though it’s something anyone might have done, you can’t justify it. If you justify it at all, except in, like, a life-threatening deal, like if she was pointing a gun at you, then you leave it open to interpretation — like, sometimes it might be okay to hit your wife, depending on how she provoked you.”

“Did you go to jail?”

“No. I got probation. She got a restraining order on me.” “Had you ever hit her before?”

“No, that was the only time.”

“Since then?”

“I told you. It was the only time."

“You really pulled the punch, huh?”

“I have to believe that I did. Yeah.”

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO HIT THE BITCH. Fuck Oprah Winfrey.”

In a bar in North Park, Bruiser sips on a beer and chews his lip with amphetamine zeal. “I popped her,” he says, “a few times. She was driving me crazy.” The Bruiser is an ugly biker (and proud of it) who looks like what he surely is: A Bad Man. He would take it as a compliment. Call him Raymond, but he actually prefers Bruiser.

“Bruiser/Brewser, get it?” he grins, lifting his beer glass. He displays his tattoo: a knife through a valentine heart on his right forearm, the name Dicky on the hilt (he later explains that Dicky was his brother, killed by police in Sacramento). The blade drips blue-ink blood at the exit wound. It is a prison tattoo. Crude, but telling.

In looking for guys who beat on women, I didn’t want to find Raymond, but I ran right into him. He seems such a cartoon, but he has his place here.

I’d stopped for a beer, and Bruiser sat down next to me, pointed to my shoulder bag (which is for a videotape camera, though I don’t own one), and said, “You a cameraman?”

“No. Writer.” He pressed for details.

“I’m doing a thing about guys hitting their wives and girlfriends, from the man’s point of view. Why they do it. Is there ever a good reason? You usually only get the women’s point of

view.

That’s where our conversation began.

“She’s right over there.” Bruiser jerks his chin behind him at the pool table, where a woman who looks 40 and is probably 10 years younger bends over for a shot at the eight ball. She wears tight jeans, cowboy boots, and a Chargers T-shirt. Candy was pretty once and still has the appeal of sadness — a damsel in distress, with large worried eyes, someone a romantic would like to rescue from Ray the Bruiser. And .then she opens her mouth.

“You’re talking about me. I know it.” Her voice is pitched exactly at that of fingernails on a blackboard. Nasal, abrasive, a honk, a whine, a cat in heat, and a duck decoy whistle.

Candy hugs Ray and says, “I just can’t shut up sometimes. It’s like once I get started, I can’t stop and I know it. My mother’s the same goddamned way.” She inhales deeply on a long cigarette. “Ray has to stop me,” she exhales.

“I don’t like to hurt you,” Ray says and bites at her earlobe. She giggles, a metal-on-metal sound.

“Yes you dooo — ooo.” She squirms on his lap, cigarette in one hand, pool cue in the other. The arm holding the cue is bruised in three places.

They are both tweaking on speed. They don’t count, I think, but then realize I’m wrong. They count. She’s one of the statistics. She could be dead in a week. I hope not, of course, but I also wish for her to embrace the concept of voice modulation.

“He never hurts me bad, and it’s only when I’ve probably got it coming or when he’s drunk, but hell, I drink too. I drink all the time. I’m probably an alcoholic,” she laughs — a sound somewhere between small-arms fire and breaking glass. “Ray has to slow me down. He calls it monitoring the moonshine....”

On that last phrase. Candy imitates Ray’s Southern accent. She continues talking for several minutes in a headlong rush. I’m fascinated with how she can both breathe and talk so quickly at the same time. After some study, I conclude she inhales as she honks and whines and marks her long exhalations with a stream of cigarette smoke, speaking with what she probably considers a seductive huskiness. It was difficult to talk with Ray except when it was Candy’s turn to shoot pool.

“My ex-girlfriend got a restraining order, which I violated,” he pronounces it vah-lated, “and I was arrested at my home, but I was out that same night. It was her lawyer that referred to me in court as ‘this big bruiser’ or ‘the bruiser over there.’ ”

Ray tells of finding his ex on a boat in the South Bay. It was after midnight, and he had followed her from a bar. A man drove her to a marina, and they went onboard together. Ray peered through the portholes and saw they were sitting on the same berth in a small cabin. The man took off his shoes. Ray kicked in the hatch, grabbed the man by his throat, and hit him repeatedly in the face while his girlfriend screamed. When he let go, the man ran topside, jumped off the boat, and disappeared. Ray grabbed a telephone cord, wrapped it around the woman’s neck with one hand, and beat her head and body with the other.

He let go, apologized, and they made love “right there,” Ray says. “On some strange fucker’s boat. It turned her on that I came chargin’ in like that, like gangbusters. That I cared so much.”

“THE FIRST TIME THAT I DID IT, I probably shouldn't have,” says a man we’ll call Daniel. He is 51, a Ph.D. living in La Jolla. Over a bagel and juice at La Jolla Cove, he agrees to speak with me because he considers me “honest.” We share a certain interest in books, and he’d once mentioned a divorce case involving battery. Daniel is slightly overweight (as he will admit) and has prematurely lost much of his hair, except for a halo of downy blond, almost a tonsure. He could play Friar Tuck, had he been an actor.

“You know Judy,” he says. I nod, though I’d only met his ex-wife on a few occasions. “But you don’t know what she can be like. In December of ’91 I knocked her down on the floor. It all happened so fast, I don’t really remember doing it. We were married 22 years, and nothing like that had ever happened. I didn’t think I was capable of anything like that.

“What happened was, she accused me of abandoning our son in a hotel room. Can you imagine that? I was delivering a presentation in LA., and — I had Steve with me. He was about six or seven [later, his ex-wife would say five) at the time. I thought it would be fun for him, you know, Disneyland and everything. But I had this talk to give, and he would have been bored, so I left him for an hour watching cartoons, eating breakfast. I gave him my pager number, and I asked the concierge to look in on him once or twice. He was perfectly all right, I thought. But I probably shouldn’t have done it.

“When we got home the story came out, and Judy went ballistic. She accused me of doing it once before too. She was completely in my face. I was all ‘Okay, okay. I was wrong.’ But I didn’t need her to keep harping on it.

“She said she warned me the last time never to do that again. Actually, I didn’t; Steve was with my sister on that first occasion. And I said something like, ‘Oh yeah? Or what?’ or something, and...I don’t know. She was following me around the house nagging, shrieking. You could have heard her a mile away. I was going, ‘What do you want from me?’

“She stood in front of my path. I was trying to get away from the situation and cool down, but she wouldn’t let me pass. She was completely belligerent, using foul language. I just pushed her, and she went down. She claimed I hit her, but I never did.”

(The following week, Judy showed me Polaroids she took of herself after the incident, which show bruises on her neck, arms, and stomach, as well as a hand-sized bruise on her back.)

“That incident should never have occurred. But shit happens. She went to a hotel.

“The second incident was six months later, in an airplane. We’re in first class, I’m working with my laptop, and she’s drinking the free mimosas or what-have-you like it’s water. She was complaining about how I don’t listen to her and begins reciting this epic fuckin’ story about some girlfriend of hers who was getting divorced and why. She was saying there were parallels, that we could learn something from this story about her girlfriend and this doctor and how this guy never communicated — yadda, yadda.

“She kept nudging me in the ribs, badgering me, kind of back-handing me right here | indicates his upper left torso], so I did it right back at her. All of a sudden we were having this slapping contest in first class over Nebraska. It was at night so nobody noticed, nobody stopped us. When it was over, Judy’s shirt was ripped open, her buttons were off. She went into the bathroom, and when she came out her eyes were swollen from crying and her lip was bleeding. I think she bit her own lip.” Daniel pointed out that two weeks later to the day, Judy filed for divorce and charged him with assault, which was dismissed. Later, in family court, the Polaroids were introduced as evidence in custody proceedings.

Viewing these photos, asking Judy about the black eyes, she laughed. “He claimed it was makeup,” she said, “and that I had bitten my own lip in the bathroom.”

"I had a lot of cuts too,” Daniel said, tossing the crumbs of his bagel to sea gulls. “I didn’t take pictures of the scratches and blood. She was drunk, she was the aggressor. I’ve never hit anybody before. She has a drinking problem, you know that? I was restraining her, that’s all. Anyway, that was it. That did it for me. I defy anyone in my position not to have done what I did that time. She was out of control. Was I supposed to just sit there? Get slapped and clawed? I defy any man not to have responded forcefully in that situation.”

When the plane landed, Daniel and Judy stayed at separate hotels. They have not been in the same room together since, except in the courtroom.

PICTURE “GARY” ANY WAY YOU LIKE. I promised to disguise him so thoroughly that any description would be pointless. He is on the tall side, and he is 48 years old. He used to be a liquor salesman but quit when he stopped drinking three years ago.

He had told me a story long ago. At the time, he described the events with a defensive, macho relish. But now he is hesitant, formal. His attempts at a politically correct tone are frustrating. It is a full half hour before the apologies wind down and he simply recounts what happened.

“When I think about it, I can see where that behavior came from — the way I acted in my crazy years.” Gary often uses the phrase “crazy years” the way Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven repeated, “I ain’t like that anymore.”

“I remember my dad and mom. They fought a lot, but never with physical violence, except once that I remember. It seemed to me she taunted him constantly. He was a quiet man who just wanted to come home from work, smoke his cigarettes, and read the paper. My mother would meet him at the door with a list of complaints, things my brother and sister and I had done. He hardly had a chance to take off his hat before she’d start in.

“One time he came home to find that my mother had tied me in a chair — I was about seven years old — while my littlest sister took a nap. My mom wanted to go out in the back yard and get some sun, and she didn’t want me acting up. I don’t remember that I had done anything that bad, but I don’t know. I was seven.

“Anyway, she fell asleep out there, and my dad flipped out when he got home. They had a really loud, screaming fight.

“They tried to calm down, and my older sister made dinner. She was only ten, and she made scrambled eggs. At the dinner table we were all pretty quiet. It was tense. My dad held the baby while he ate. You could see he was really mad, it was just building up again. I don’t know if she said something or what, but my father stood up and threw my baby sister across the dinner table at my mother.

“I don’t remember if the baby landed on the table or the floor or if my mother caught her or what. I’ve repressed that memory. I just remember that he walked out of the house, and when he came back it was dark and he was crying. I remember him saying, Goddammit, Evelyn, you emasculate me!’ I didn’t know what it meant, of course.

“I think this explains some of that stuff from my crazy years. About when Joyce and I bought the house. I was all freaked out about going into debt for $80,000 and whether or not I’d get the Orange County territory promotion at work. I cracked a beer when I got home and sat down in the middle of all these unpacked boxes. I’d already had about a gazillion drinks with customers all day, and it was really hot, and Joyce, I remember, she somehow looked so ugly to me. Her hair was in some kind of scarf or dishrag. She was wearing plastic gloves, my flannel shirt, and her ass seemed huge that day. She was gaining all this weight. I remember thinking, How did this happen? How did I end up married to her, owning this suburban done house in 'Tierra-fuckin’-santa? I was gonna write plays.

“She got on me about unpacking and some other stuff...I don’t know. I remember she called me lazy, and I started yelling. I just blew my top. The last thing I remember was, she screamed back at me, ‘You should see yourself.’

“I should see myself? I was thinking, or maybe I was veiling it, ‘I should see myself?’ The next I knew, I had her by the neck, and I marched her over to this wall mirror just laying against the wall. We hadn’t put it up yet. I held her head up, and I was yelling something like, ‘Look at yourself You should see yourself’ I really don’t remember exactly. I was blacked out, in the zone, like I was a lot in those crazy years.

“I brought her face close to the mirror and smooshed it up against the glass. I’m sure she was fighting me. I brought her face against the glass harder and harder. Then I was banging her head against the mirror over and over again. The glass broke, and I guess I didn’t stop.

“The head bleeds a lot, which, in this case, was lucky, because I only stopped when I saw all this blood on the mirror and in her hair.

“She needed nine stitches, here." He indicates his hairline. “She told the doctor at the emergency room that she fell into the mirror. I don’t think he believed her. He kept looking at me. She didn t press charges.

“Joyce and I lasted two years after that, but they weren’t good. I never lifted a finger against her again, but it was just over, and we stayed together for the house like some people stay together for their kids. We never went to counseling, which we should have. I never considered myself a wife abuser or whatever, but now I know that’s what I was at that moment and that I probably got it from both my parents. I mean, you don’t have to be Freud.

“I miss some things about those crazy years, but obviously not something like that.”

AT A DENNY’S RESTAURANT IN RANCHO BERNARDO, I meet with a man who calls himself Ted Prince. He is the only respondent to a dozen calls to therapy groups dealing with “batterers, abusers, sluggers, bruisers.” The therapists are suspicious, protective, secretive. It only seems clear much later exactly why they play their profession so close to the vest. They are protecting victims—clients? patients? psychopaths?

Ted seems none of these. He is a 42-year-old real estate broker. He is blond, bespectacled, wears a preppy shirt and navy sweater. His manner is that of a minister or a pediatrician rather than a rapist or wife-smacker.

“The first incident? That’s a good question. You never define yourself as a batterer until the long arm of the law reaches out and meets with your denial of being a batterer or a sexual abuser. That’s the actual event. When your spouse or intimate other finally decides she can no longer take it — the straw that breaks the camel’s back — that’s what you tend to think of as ‘the first incident,’ but of course it’s not.

“A man or a woman, whoever the batterer is, they’re in a loving relationship and will never define themselves that way. They’ll never consciously accept that reality.”

Ted orders coffee and a cheese steak sandwich. He speaks deliberately, in low, clear tones. Ted has been in therapy sessions at the EYE Counseling and Crisis Services in Escondido for nearly a year. (EYE once stood for Escondido Youth Encounters, but their services have broadened.) He is on probation for assault for two more years. His second wife has a restraining order against him. He is not permitted to approach her, call her, or even write to her.

“It’s not just a matter of physical battery, punching someone’s lights out, but the mental battery of control or sexual battery of controlling them for your own sexual desires. At the moment when you’re arrested, when they put the handcuffs on you and take you to jail, it seems very unfortunate. I had three felony charges against me, and my bail was set at $ 17,000. Most people would consider this the most horrible time of their lives, but it forced me to face the hard reality that, yes, I am a batterer.

“It’s not something that’s in your blood. It’s not like some people think you have a gene that makes you homosexual or something. Every single person on this earth who is in an intimate relationship has the possibility, the potential of being a batterer. There is battery going on in homes in San Diego County that neither party would describe that way, but it is, without question, physical, sexual, financial, mental battery.”

I mention the SDPD’s figures for reported cases of domestic violence in 1994, from January through September: 10,682. For that same period in 1995, 10,287. Ted does not seem surprised. “These are reported cases where the law steps in. For me, probably the only way that I could have come to the realization, the acceptance that I did do battery, was to be incarcerated. I am thankful to my ex-wife for that.

“Denial of being an assaulter is something that is built into our society.” Ted pauses while the waitress refills his coffee, then resumes when she is out of earshot. His sandwich remains untouched in front of him.

“You see it in date rapes, where the male will rape the girl; and because it was a third date, she doesn’t hold him accountable. It is somewhat accepted in our society, and it is not acceptable. That’s why I’m so grateful to my ex-wife for having forced me to go through this. I never would have accepted that I was a batterer. Even on the day I was incarcerated, I thought she was a lunatic. I can only now look back at all the ways that I messed with her. An absolutely gorgeous, beautiful, petite, wonderful lady, and I unconsciously did things to control her, to keep her, because I didn’t want to lose her for anything.

“I controlled the environment, I controlled the situation, I had her when I wanted her. It’s a sick place to come from.” Ted says this vehemently. At first his manner had been that of a man reading a confession prepared by his captors — a POW mouthing a list of his war crimes with a blank gaze into the camera. But it becomes evident he feels passionately the need to speak, to ensure that nothing escapes the record.

“There are such simple, insidious ways that we strive to control other people because of our own lack of self-esteem or lack of education as to how to deal with those aggressions from the other person. You know, like those aggressions from your wife, ‘You’re a jerk. You didn’t do this or that.’ Well, those are just words. An excuse to respond with violence or verbal violence. Many of us who do that never understand. When I ask you a question like, ‘Why did you do that?’ ” Ted looks fierce, and his voice has an edge to it. “Well, first off. I’m not your mama. You don’t owe me a response to a sharp, pungent WHY? like you’re stupid or something. That’s a form of violence....”

Is Mr. Prince trotting out the anger-management lessons he learned at the EYE?

He goes on, speaking slowly and looking at me. “...If you are not willing to stop and understand. To take time and learn why they are angry with you. Most of us don’t do that because of our own fragile egos. We run from situations that may be detrimental to us, tear us down — we’re fragile.” He stresses the issue of denial in abusive relationships and cites such responses as “laughing off your partner’s anger” as a very real form of abuse. Yes, yes, Ted. But what did you do?

“So we respond by pushing the person away. There should be a mandatory course taught in college, without question. Anger management. Skills in being able to defuse a situation when a loved one, family member comes to you extremely angry. How to talk to one another, how to discipline the children. We each bring in our own ideas of how a household, interpersonal relationships are supposed to go. We come from different ethnic or religious backgrounds, and maybe you heard your father saying, ‘Shut up! I don’t want to hear it,’ and you think that’s the way to deal with it.”

“Um, Ted,” I interrupt him. “Did your father abuse your mother? Was there violence in your home as a kid?”

“No. Not at all.” He dismisses this as if I haven’t been paying attention. He finally starts eating his sandwich. Around a mouthful of food, he says, “It was a dictatorship. My mother was very passive. That’s what I’m saying, this isn’t hereditary.

We all have the potential.

“I felt I was leading a life that was ideal, that I was worshipping my wife.” He sips his coffee, sets the cold sandwich down. He’s certainly not here for a free lunch. “In that feeling, what I did was deny all the torturing that I did to her — verbally, physically.”

“Torture?”

He shakes his head. More coffee. “Not in the sense you might think, like holding her down and torturing her. It was more like, when I wanted sex, for example — it was my time. I wanted those sexual desires met. She should meet with my requirements and desires. But the point is, love is between two people....”

“Excuse me, Ted. Did you hit her? What?”

“All right, I see what you want.” He tosses his napkin onto the table. “No. There was a time when our relationship had deteriorated mostly due to my pigheadedness. I was watching a Chargers game, and she came over and whispered some sweet nothings in my ear. Something to the effect that, you know, ‘This would be a wonderful time, sweetheart.’ We went upstairs.

“Just as I was closing the door, our youngest son was there and wanted to spend some time with us. Well, after this long desert of no sexual relations, I had this really short fuse. So after five or ten minutes of trying to deal with him and interest him in something else, and his desire not to, I finally stormed off, went into the kitchen, and picked up a box of cake mix and threw it. It exploded all over me and all over my wife. I was so angry at that moment, I grabbed my wife and said, ‘You know, I might just throw you off the damn balcony.’ ”

Prince says this quietly but with a look that says, yes, oh yes, he could.

“It doesn’t seem like very much, or maybe not to you, but she was threatened to her heart. The balcony is, like, 60 feet off the ground.”

“Could you, literally, have done that?”

“No, of course not. I never would have hurt a hair on her body, but the reality was that she thought I could have. She could see murder in my eyes.

“The next occasion was that we were separated, she came over to my house, and I aggressively forced myself upon her. I stopped, but she did accuse me of attempted rape, battery, and spousal abuse. She left and called the police. They picked me up, took me to the police station, and filed formal charges against me — two felonies and one misdemeanor.” “Was this the only occasion you were arrested?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“And there’s no doubt in your mind that was the right thing for her to do?”

“No question whatsoever.” My perverse disappointment is evident. I smile as I say, “Well, that must have been very unpleasant for both of you, but frankly this is pretty much understandable. I mean, these are probably pretty common occurrences.” “Yes,” he says evenly. “They are.”

“Well,” I muster, “all I mean is that I was hoping you’d be a really bad man, I guess.” He doesn’t laugh. He smiles over his coffee cup and says, “Oh, but I am. You haven’t heard the rest of it.”

“What did you do? I’m sorry, but that’s why I’m here.” “We all want to be the most loving husbands, the most loving fathers, but the reality is we’re just jerks. We believe that by bringing home this paycheck we have certain rights. But it’s a team....” “Ted, I’m sorry. Please tell me what happened.”

“I can go back to two incidents. I was driving home from a New Year’s Eve party with my wife of nine years....” “Not the same woman you were just talking about?” “No. She was really upset because she was under the impression — something her girlfriend had told her—that I had grabbed the breast of some woman at the party. Which to this day, I swear I never did. But she needed to vent that. I was driving on the way back, and she back-handed me in the eye. That got me really upset, needless to say. The second time she punched me in the eye, I grabbed her head. I held her head down by her hair, keeping her head between her legs so I could, hopefully, get home without any more fighting. We were both inebriated.

“Well, she wrestled out of my grip, pulled herself free, which resulted in a whole handful of hair being pulled out of her head. She attacked me again. I held the steering wheel with my knee, and I beat the snot out of her all in about seven seconds while I was driving. I fractured her eye socket, she suffered a concussion....” Ted trails off. “That has been a difficult one for me to accept all the responsibility for.

“That led, down the mad — during my divorce — to a relationship with a young lady who is a wonderful person. We broke it off after a few months, but we were still kind of seeing each other. One day I was over at her house and I was in the mood. I thought she was in the mood but...wdl, basically I forced myself on her. She, uh, didn't bring formal charges against me, but she had me pretty much in hot water with my pastor and the elders in the church.”

“What do you mean?”

“I had to step down from participating in any singles’ activities of any kind. It's a long story. The sanctions were difficult, and I went to some counseling at that time. But it was nothing in comparison with meeting up with the hard arm of the law. Only in that situation was I able to finally meet with the responsibility that I was forcing relationships by controlling them and controlling the people in the relationships. That’s a horrible thing. She did claim that I had raped her. I denied that forever, and even to this day I have some difficulty with that. But the reality was, it always had to be my way.” “Was she struggling? Resisting you?”

“It was a situation where we went out and spent the rest of the day together. Three or four hours later, she got really angry. The next day I got a letter to me and to one of the elders in the church saying that I had raped her.” “Are you a deacon or whatever in your church?”

“No. I’m just in a good church where the elders will listen to problems that arise and try to find the appropriate way to handle them. They did their best in that situation, but I was extremely slick, very slippery, and it was hard for them to nail down exactly what I had done wrong.”

Part of the sanctions he refers to involve one-on-one counseling and attending meetings of Sexaholics Anonymous. “During that whole time," Ted states, “and the time with my first wife, I never thought of myself as a batterer. But if you’re in a relationship and you insist on having it your way all the time, you can pretty much bet that you’re a batterer of some kind.

“Now the reason that I wanted to talk to you about this is I have led what I believe to be the life of an outstanding, upright citizen. I would not wear the shackles of being called an abuser. But through a long process I have come to understand that I have been abusing people for years. But more than that, there are many, many people that I see every day that are abusing the most...loved person...that...that they want to love.”

Ted stops here. He is choked with emotion.

“If you could speak to your ex-wife, send her a letter, communicate with her in any way, what would you say to her?” I ask him. He sets his silverware down, leans in close, and speaks.

“I’ve only talked with her once since that assault. Bless her heart, she had enough strength to meet me that one time when I signed the car over to her and some divorce papers.

It ripped my heart out from the core. For the next two years there’s no way no how I can contact her. I can’t tell her I’m sorry. The marriage was thrown in the toilet and flushed.” “But if you could....”

“I would definitely tell her that the specialness of the person I had found...that I pushed away with my own pigheaded actions...is...deplorable.” Ted’s eyes are tearing. He lowers his head so I cannot see him. His voice changes pitch, strangely higher than his conversational tone. “If she knew who I am now, which she never will...I just hope the Lord takes care of her.”

He breaks down. I excuse myself from the table to give him some privacy. Glancing back, I see his face in his hands, his shoulders rising and falling. He is silent.

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