The horrific and heartbreaking murder of Gabby Petito is inescapable. As inescapable as men who murder. Men who murder and maim and rape and scar. I turn on the television, there is her scared and confused face in the backseat of a car with a cop talking to her who will fail to save her. I read the news, there are the searches, the manhunts, the gruesome realization that a beautiful, kind, sweet vital young woman has had her life taken away from her, and her boyfriend and travelling companion is missing. I indulge myself and read the comments, I swim through twitter sewage and let myself soak in all the hatred and all the gladiatorial arena ideological slayings of memories and realities, all the politicization minus the decency or empathy that should attend it and all the cruelty that abounds.
It is a fucking pool of pirhana out there, and all of them want to take a nibble out of the corpse of decency. Not that I am particularly decent. Rest in peace Gabby. I hope they find him. I hope he is alive so he can suffer in jail for ever and ever and ever more. I hope your family are coping. I am so sorry that no one got there to help you.
Back chez Detroit, it is a crazy house. Literally. I am a disasterzone. I can’t stop trembling. My heart is in my throat, thudding a million beats a minute, and I can’t seem to get breath into my body. I have bolted my door. I have taken the sim card out of my burner, and drawn the curtains. I have logged out of my email, and am sitting here with the pepper spray and a baseball bat. If he finds me he will kill me.
I got lax. I got happy. I got comfortable. I felt safe. I got a bed. I got a guitar. I got post traumatic stress disorder. I keep thinking I see shadows in the kitchen. I jump at my phone ringing. I go and knock on the Boy’s door and make sure he is safe and ask him if he has closed the windows. “Ma! It is 86 degrees!” Of course he is right. I went and opened all the windows, apart from the one in the bathroom. It looks out towards a big busy street. I don’t trust it to be safe. Someone could sneak in there. Pig could sneak in there and come and wrap his thick sausage fingers around my neck and squeeze what is left of the life left in me out into the ether, leaving me dead on the floor like trash.
The cop that came to my door and told me to be quiet and apologized to my husband for bothering him, face flitters through my mind. I remember the blackheads on his nose and the sweaty comb over of his balding pate, and his slight lisp. “Please, sama, think of the neighbors and be quieter. Shitzuka okudasai.” “You are FUCKING telling me to be beaten to within an inch of my life QUIETER?” “Chotto sumimasen”. Little please. “He is beating me UP!” “Please leave the aparto to discuss. Your husband doesn’t want to discuss.” “So sorry, _____Sama!! Gomene!” Sorry! Sorry to the man who was busy deafening me on one side using a chair leg? Causing me brain damage found on an MRI that causes one eye to drift towards my nose! Sorry! Quiet. Yes. quiet.
I couldn’t leave the babies in the house with the monster and risk being locked out with them stuck in there with him. I told him to go. It was fine. When the door closed, the monster gloated. And started beating my legs again. Fighting against noise escaping my lips. Fighting unconsciousness. Fighting against hitting back, and risking enflaming his attack. Take the pain. Take the violence. Take his hands grabbing my breasts and squeezing my pussy till it bled and bruised in his fist. No screaming. No sound. Absorb his attack until he was spent and let me be. Shut my eyes and hope not to die. As long as it was only me. As long as it wasn’t my babies. As long as it wasn’t some prostitute ‘delivery health’ girl he bought for the evening. As long as it was the woman who could take it and live. Me.
Ragdoll loose. Lips sewn shut. Jaw set. Teeth gritted. A voodou coraline. In my head I’d silently curse him. I’d imagine my fingers gouging out his eyes and ripping his balls from his body. Stuffing his chopped dick into his mouth and standing with one foot on his weeping apologizing bitch ass self refusing to stop, then I would sit there hysterical wondering just what kind of monster I was. I check myself. I control myself. I take this baseball bat and beat myself. Metaphorically speaking. And the world wonders why I sit here longing for a humane legal heroin program to give me diamorphine. The only drug that ever eased the mental agony.
“I would have hit back!” said the shelter worker. “I would have taught him a lesson.” I knew my monster. I knew my monster would have killed me dead. Stone dead. Dead as my libido. Dead as my hope. Dead as my trust. Dead as my love. I fought, and only one of us would have walked out, and that would not have been me. He had 150 pounds and a foot on me. Besides….despite the violent revenge fantasies, I cannot hurt. I might hurt myself, but others? I don’t have the psychological make up for it, however scared my trauma makes me that in fact I am some kind of particularly virulent curse on humankind and should be wiped out and contained before I snap.
He would launch at me speaking yakuza Japanese. Launch at me whether or not I was pregnant or holding a baby, or sick or hurt. Launch at me and destroy me. These counselors who he has been talking to that tell him that I am partly responsible, that he is not wholly to blame, that give him excuses that tell him he is a good person -the one size that fits all platitudes that neither console nor keep me safe – are disgusting individuals. He sits there guilt free, happily sure and reassured that it was not his fault. That he is forgiven and that forgiving himself is the only way to go and that he deserves self-forgiveness is a lie. A dangerous lie. I would do nothing to trigger his behavior, nothing to warrant it. I was a good wife, a nice mother. We had a good life with enough money and a lovely home. We had a nice apartment that I waved goodbye to and instead sat in parking lots in Salinas and Eugene in a rusted out old van, or in a tent in forests, with children, and embraced life and survival.
It was worth it. Every day that I sit here with my beautiful Boy, that I write my songs or my blog, or play guitar, or listen to Van Morrison singing along about how sweet tupelo honey is, how sweet life is, made it worth it. You can take all the tea in China, I would not return for any of it. Life is that sweet to me. Even a life spent hiding. A life spent running. A life spent scared. A life spent hurting. Something is very wrong with my leg. It hurts all the time, it reduces me to a ball of electric pain. It never healed right. I can’t hear Van in my left ear. I can’t see very well because of my wrecked left eye. My shoulder hurts where he dislocated it. I have arthritis in my fingers, but I am alive. I got lucky where many women do not. I got lucky because I have been abused since I was very very young. I am built for survival and withstanding pain. I am used to it. I expect it from men. I will never be alone in a room with any man apart from my son again. I don’t trust the fuckers. Not even those with good reports. I can’t. I am too traumatized.
Van is still yelling, this time about going into the mystic. There is a point in being tortured that if you survive it, into the mystic is where you go. Down into a sharp black hole, floating above your body, that your soul has fled from in horror and agony, as you look above you at a man wielding a chair leg. At a fist that smashes down onto your cheekbone.
“Ma. Do you remember when he threw a bottle at you, and it hit me in the face? I’m glad that one hit me not you.” I lost the ability to stand and fell backwards onto the bed. I had blanked it out. “Ma. Do you remember when he threw me at the wall? I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.” “Ma. Do you remember when he ran away and left me alone in Tokyo and a woman put me in her car?” “Ma. Thank you for getting gme out of there.” “Ma….he used to pull my pants down and laugh at my chinko – my penis and call me gay” Ma? Ma?
“I just want to rock your gypsy soul.”
“Into the mystic…let your body go…let your mind go…let your body go…oh let your body go oh lord!”
Ma. We survived.
I just wanna rock your gypsy soul baby. We were born before the wind. Also younger than the sun…
and the six strings of the guitar and the steel of their pressure on my skin and the beauty of the vibrations and the heat that comes in through the window and the curtains that blow and the pain in my leg and the agony in my mind and the fear and the guilt and the race to keep on going down the road, down the highway, into the prairies and past the lakes, and running with the antelope and grazing with the deer and shouting along to blood blood there is blood on the train tracks and there is music on the airwaves…and there are mountains so many mountains and passes that run through them and there is snow and there is wind and there is rain and there is heat a heat that builds into a creshendo of summers that run into one…
baby you KNOW I won’t be coming home motherfucker
my home is out here into the mystic.