The tears were running down her cheeks, streaming into the corners of her mouth as she was screaming louder than thunder, as hysterical as if losing a child, as uncontrollable as an Australian bushfire. “YOU CAN HAVE YOUR SON.” She was mocking the word ‘son’ by making quotation marks with the fingers on both her trembling hands. She reached for her glass of aged cabernet sauvignon from the round Australian-red hardwood garden table, trying to compose herself and stop the uncontrollable shaking of her body. Her eyes were as red as blood oranges and her makeup was running down her face making her look like someone out of a horror movie. But this was unfortunately for real. Her face looked like it had frozen in one position with her mouth twisted to the left side and her eyes glazed over like something had snapped inside her head. Catherine had been my life, wife, lover, soul mate and mother of my children for the last 30 years. Now she had turned into some kind of a wild monster, scaring the living daylights out of me!
Catherine took a sip of her wine as she looked at me like I was her worst enemy on this earth and should be terminated. Then she drank the whole glass in a frenetic gulp, without any facial gesture. It made her teeth and lips stained from the red wine. She then threw the empty glass with all her force towards me, making it smash into thousands of pieces scattering all over the African slate crazy-paving with a big BANG!
Of course this set off our two dogs Lucy and Max now yelling like crazed wolves, and waking up the neighbours on this beautiful late summer evening. Catherine was very drunk and high on prescription drugs, as well as being on a mission to make her point loud and clear to me, about her feelings towards this new impossible situation we were in.
I tried to ignore her by not reacting to this unprovoked outbreak by simply sipping my wine as though nothing had happened. However, my inner anger made me light up a cigar in a very arrogant way, blowing the smoke in her face.
This was the strategy I had agreed on with my daughter Megan to implement when this situation occurred, as it had done hundreds of times before this incident. Megan was a highly educated person within the medical profession who had contacts with famous psychologists and therapists, all of which had recommended this approach.
Unfortunately it had not worked!
Perhaps it was the smoke that provoked this breaking point?
“Fuck you! You don’t even care! I know! All you fucking care about is your fucking son!”
“I don’t want to lose my temper! I could kill you! You know how strong and fit I am! NO! You are not worth the punishment! Bitch!”
At this stage I started to feel sick to my stomach. Life felt hopeless, impossible. I had totally lost control of my life! My life was in the toilet, ready to be flushed down.
For the first time in my life I didn’t know what to do. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t! I was the meat in the sandwich! No solutions, not even an exit plan. How bad was that?
I had totally stuffed up.
Catherine poured more wine into the empty water glass with a shaking hand that made the bottle neck dance on the solid edge of the glass, which sounded like a woodpecker, but on glass! She pretended to ignore me by not looking in my direction. You could feel the tension in the air. No words were exchanged for around three very long minutes; you could only hear the night birds and the cicadas screaming incessantly in the background punctuating the air.
‘We can’t do anything about it! So, why can’t you accept the situation? Nothing will change! Don’t you understand that? Bitch!” I blurted in a nervous, loud and angry voice.
It started to feel like I was losing my temper in a big way, uncharacteristic for me these days. Maybe I’d had a bit more wine than normal? Or was it just pure frustration? Or was it the stifling humidity and the heat? Or was it a build up of all the times she had done it lately? Or did she just piss me off totally?
In my younger years it had happened quite often but luckily I never hit anyone in my family. I was and I am a very fit and strong person and could have done great damage.
I kept telling myself, calm down! Take it easy! Control! Stay calm! Count to ten!
“Of course things have changed now that you have found something much better in your home country of
! You have made your parents proud! We have all been down-graded!” she said, as the tears started to develop again making the black make-up run further down her face onto her wine-stained lips. Sweden
“No one has been down-graded! I love my Australian family more than life itself!”
“Your own daughter is feeling insecure!”
“Bullshit! She knows I love her and that she means everything to me.”
“I doubt that you love her! You are being so obsessive with this NEW thing!”
“Fuck you, bitch! How dare you question my love for my own daughter! How dare you? You fucking bitch! Bitch! I hate you!” I had totally lost control and did not know what to do. I knew that if I did not remove myself from this situation, location, and Catherine I would have killed her in pure anger… No one has the right to question my love for my first-born and only planned daughter!
I stood up as my head was spinning, my body was shaking and perspiration was running down my face. I could also feel that the back of my polo shirt was sopping wet as the butterflies did their dance in my stomach. I had no plan! But I had to run somewhere! Away from all this SHIT! I started to run towards the back door of our house, but I could not see it. The bright light from the garden spotlights was in my eyes.
Catherine noticed that I was up to something and rushed up in front of me, her body throwing a shadow over my face, providing a vision of where the door was located.
I pushed her to the side, making her lose her balance and I quickly rushed into the house to get my car keys and wallet.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” The car was in the garage and Catherine was limping towards me.
“Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! We have to talk!” She sounded very remorseful and as strange as it might sound, very calm.
When I realised that there was no time to get the car out of the garage without further confrontations, I started to run down the street, pounding the asphalt at a very fast pace. This was nothing unfamiliar to me being a Spartan Runner, or a runner that has run more than 10 marathons (42 km). I could hear Catherine pleading for me to come back. Her voice faded as I got further and further away from my house.
“Pentti! Pentti! We have to talk! Please come back! Please, please, please!”
As I approached the main road, I could hear a car behind me revving the engine as it got closer. It was Catherine chasing me on four wheels in her little red sports car. My only chance to escape her was to run to the other side of road which was divided by a wide nature strip. This forced her to drive further down the road to the next intersection where she had to do a u-turn to continue the chase.
By then I had hidden behind a bus shelter, my heart was beating in my throat, my breathing was heavy and very loud. I felt like a criminal hiding from the police as I watched her drive past very slowly looking for me. Then my mobile phone started to ring. The screen displayed Catherine’s name and I quickly pressed reject. I did not want to see her ever again! I was leaving home, just like a teenager after a fight with their parents. No plan! No place to go! The only thing I had with me was my wallet and my mobile phone. Where should I go? What should I do?
I suddenly remembered that the local pub was only 20 minutes walk from where I was. It would be my short-term destination before leaving for
– never to be found again! Escape Town
I popped my head out very, very slowly from behind the bus shelter, just like in the movies, checking if the coast was clear! Catherine had done a second lap past my hiding place and she had seen me!
As quick as a desperate criminal facing life in jail, I ran towards the pub, head-long against the on-coming traffic – making it impossible for her to turn the car and follow. I was running like a mad man chased by a wild bull. My wife! Yes, it made me run very fast! I was constantly looking over my shoulder. No sign of her. She must have been stuck in traffic. Now I could see the illuminated Statue of Liberty outside the pub, luckily I knew what country I was in! Yeah you can gamble at the pub as well, if you didn’t want to speak to anyone.
As I was approaching the venue I could see Catherine doing exactly the same thing, but she hadn’t seen me. Obviously she expected me to be there. I dropped like a sack of potatoes behind an old black Ford Falcon in the car park outside this lucky factory. I started to get tired of being chased like a criminal. I did not move a muscle. I was completely still. She went inside. I still didn’t move. After I had been a statue for around seven minutes, Catherine came back out again, looking left, looking right and fiddling with her mobile phone. All of a sudden my mobile phone was playing my favourite song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ very loudly and the screen displayed Catherine’s name. I switched it off immediately. She looked in my direction as she heard it play and started to walk towards me when an old lady with a walking frame came up to her and talked to her about something. This made her go back to her car and drive off slowly, still preoccupied by her search.
My plan to stay behind the Ford Falcon for another few minutes before making a dash for the entry door came to an abrupt end when I felt the vibrations on my back of a V8 engine revving up. The driver did not know that I was there. This hoon decided to burn rubber before take off, creating a lot of attention due to the noise, rubber smell and smoke. It almost killed me. I threw myself under a parked pick-up truck next to the highway rocket and rolled out on the other side, using the smoke as cover, and entered the pub unnoticed.
“Could I please have a pint of beer? Victoria Bitter?”
“Of course, but what the heck has happened to you?” asked the barmaid while she poured a perfect beer.
“What do you mean?” I said, somewhat surprised.
“Look in the mirror behind me,” she smiled.
“Shit! Sorry! I did not realise I looked this bad!”
My bright yellow Ralph Lauren polo shirt was covered in oil, gravel and sand and was almost saturated in perspiration. My shorts revealed my tanned, hairy legs covered in dirt from the car park. My face and hair were not much better. Thankfully the security guy didn’t enforce their dress code. My lucky day! Safe from my wife! Peace!
I found a quiet corner for myself. I enjoyed letting the icy cold beer do its trick with my over-heated and exhausted body, as it calmed my elevated stress level. It was the best tasting beer ever! It was so cold that it almost gave me frostbite on my finger tips and a slight brain freeze while my mind was racing with thousands of different thoughts on how to solve this hopeless situation. How to divorce her? Fake my own death? Move back to
? Kill her? Drive a taxi in north Sweden ? Live like a hermit in the bush? Live like a homeless person, only worry about one day at a time, where to sleep and where to find food? Queensland
Then I suddenly started to think, where the bloody hell would I sleep tonight? Hotel? Motel? B&B? Or should I try to pick up a lady with her own place and a shower – which I desperately needed?
“Darling, you look like you need someone to cheer you up,” said mutton dressed as lamb with long bottle blonde hair, large gold earrings, muffin top with deep cleavage, red tight mini skirt, with matching red stilettos, broken by the garish check of her black fish-net stockings. She touched my shoulder like I had ordered a Swedish massage in a shopping centre.
“Yeaaah, sweetie?? What do you mean? Do I look like I need it??”
“You sure do, babe,” she said with a very confident voice while she was sipping her white wine and continuing her free one-handed shoulder massage service.
“OK! You read my mind like we were made for each other.”
Under normal circumstances I would have run a mile. But I was desperate! I needed a place to stay and someone to talk to, about anything that would keep my mind off my misery.
“Why are we standing when we can sit down, handsome?”
Just as we were sitting down and starting to communicate freely, Catherine came storming in like a hurricane on fire.
“Fuck you! Five minutes and you already have a slut on your lap! You pathetic low-life! And I am trying to repair our 30-year marriage!”
By then my accommodation fled the scene equally as quick as she had arrived, but the smell of her fake designer perfume lingered in her wake.
I had no words in response. It felt like I was not there. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. I did not care anymore! Nothing worse could happen in my opinion. This was hell and the devil was doing his best to punctuate bad karma.
Then, without warning I could feel extreme pain in my head, making me see light freckling together with blue and yellow spots dancing in front of my eyes as I fell slowly to the ground.
I could hear voices and a struggle very, very far away; it was like coming out of surgery. I had no understanding of time. What had happened? Where was I? I felt very peaceful and calm, when I suddenly could hear, “Dad! Dad! How do you feel?” asked Megan.
She was sitting next to me on a hospital bed in a very busy emergency department somewhere in the city.
“What I am doing here? Ooh, ooh! My head hurts like hell!”
“Mum hit you over the head with a wine bottle!”
“Shit! My God, she is a sick little bitch! Where is she now?”
“Two security men had to hold her down while a doctor from a mental crisis centre sedated her at the pub. She is now confined to the hospital around the corner from where you live. They are going to conduct some tests tomorrow.”
The tears were running down her face uncontrollably while she was telling me about her mum. Megan loved her mum dearly.
According to Megan, I had been in a coma for more than two days and there were 27 stitches on the back of my head as proof it was not a nightmare. It was for real! I could feel with my right hand that they had shaved off all of my natural dark brown, well-groomed hair. Now there were only traces of artificial threads making me look like I was a die hard, desperate hair transplant recipient.
“The visiting hours finished 27 minutes ago,” said a male nurse as he advised us that I would be moved to ward 47 for the next few days.
We hugged in silence for a long time like there was no tomorrow. We were both trying to hold back our tears and compose ourselves before saying goodbye to each other.
Alone in the ward, my mind started to wander, thanks to all the drugs in my system …