Drama Fiction

“A man from Glendale was arrested today following an incident involving an armed break and enter with a shotgun that occurred at 2:30am. Shots were fired though luckily no one was injured. The occupants of the home were his ex-wife and two small children who made it to safety with the help of a neighbor. The man responsible has been identified as Kenny Scott who is now in custody awaiting charges.”

Brenda listened to the radio broadcaster and winced inside. How many times were they going to repeat the story? And his name? Shouldn’t that be confidential for the kids sake? She sat nervously with one of her best friends, Karen Penny, at the round weathered table with a constant squeak coming from the front left leg. It wouldn’t stop squeaking because Brenda couldn’t sit still. Wringing her hands with the chipped nail polish and a hangnail on her ring finger when an actual ring used to be. Her foot was tapping the floor like a carpenter’s hammer taps nails into lumber. Accomplished and fast. No wonder the table wouldn’t stop squeaking.

“Drink your tea Hun, it’ll do you some good and help ease your nerves. Think of what the children will think. They may have already heard about the shooting at school today. News travels fast in small towns. You don’t want them traumatized anymore than they already are. Be strong like I know you are. You must pretend everything’s okay for their sake.” Karen added more hot water to the mug and pushed it towards Brenda. “There, drink up love”

“Why does he do these things Karen? I don’t contact him except to set up visits with the kids. I don’t talk about him. I certainly don’t go near him and act like the crazy ex-wife. I don’t deserve this. The kids don’t deserve this.” The lump in her throat grew so large it reached her eyes, welling up with tears that suddenly fell so fast and slid quietly down her cheeks. She continued to vent.

 “For goodness sakes, what kind of father do my wonderful children have to grow up with? A drunk who shoots up my house for no reason. I mean, shit Karen! Those precious kids could’ve gotten shot and died or been seriously injured. I feel like such a fool. How did I end up with such an abusive man?”

Karen was sympathetic with her response.

“We can’t always see someone’s true colors right away. And you got pregnant so fast. You had no idea who he really was. You can’t blame yourself for being tricked by his initial charm and charisma”

That seemed to lift Brenda’s guilt and spirits a little. While she was still wringing her hands, she managed to smile at her friend.

“Thanks for letting me come over today while the kids have their first day at the new school. Once they get off the bus, we’ll head back to the transition house. I just wanted them to come home to a familiar place before we head back to the shelter. I still can’t believe its come to this. I feel like I failed them. I can’t even provide a home for them right now. And I need to keep them safe. With me not working I’m relying on the grace of God to get us through this.” Brenda had stopped crying now but her face was puffy and red. “If only I could find a job where I could be there for my kids. Josh is only eight and Joanna just turned seven. I can’t leave them alone. Besides, I need to be there to protect them. What if he finds us?”

In the background, the radio still on, the news repeated.

“A man from Glendale was arrested today following an incident involving an armed break and enter with a shotgun that occurred at 2:30am. Shots were fired though luckily no one was injured. The occupants of the home were his ex-wife and two small children who made it to safety with the help of a neighbor. The man responsible has been identified as Kenny Scott who is now in custody awaiting charges.”

“Hey! The same thing happened to us!” Joanna burst into the room, her fiery curls unruly and as wild as her personality, flinging her backpack on the floor.

With Josh right behind her shaking his head as he picked up her backpack and hung it on a hook along with his own. He knew the rule about throwing things on the floor and wondered if she’d ever learn. She was only seven after all. He was the big brother, so he was much smarter and had to set an example.

As Karen quickly turned off the radio, Joanna continued,

           “Except Dad never did any of that, it was a strange man who was crazy ‘cause Dad would never do anything like that to us! Right mom?” She looked at her mom for confirmation.

Brenda looked dazed as she struggled for words she couldn’t find.

Karen quickly interjected, “Josh! What a good example you are for hanging up those backpacks. You’re so responsible and smart!”

Josh huffed indignantly, “Yeah, smart enough to know it was Dad because he hates us. All the kids at school were talking about it. I even overheard the teachers saying how sorry they were for us. I never wanna go back there. I miss my old school and my old friends. Dad ruined everything.”

“No, he didn’t, Dad never did that, everyone at school is wrong!!” Joanna was close to tears.

“Sweetie, your Dad has some grown up problems right now and he still loves you very much, He just needs to see a doctor.” Brenda squeezed Joanna tight and then grabbed Josh and all three had a much needed group hug.

“Karen, we’re going to head back to the transition house now to settle down for the night. Thanks for everything today, you’re a good friend.”

“Anytime Hun, you know I’m always here for you and the kids.” Karen sincerely meant it and gave everyone a hug and kiss goodbye.

***The next day***

“What happened wasn’t your fault and you had no control over what your ex-husband did. And Joanna and Josh will be okay. Kids are resilient and as they get older, they will understand.” Brenda’s counsellor at the center was very good at her job and she had seen it all when it came to family violence. “The important thing now is to look to the future. I know you want a job that fits the hours of your kids and their schooling so I can help you start looking right away. As far as charging your ex, that’s completely up to you. I’ll be there for you no matter what you decide.” Ms. Gilbert’s voice was very soothing and helped keep Brenda from completely breaking down.  

“Well, there’s no way I’m charging him. The kids have been through enough trauma.” Brenda was firm in this decision. “But if you could help me find a job, that would mean so much to me. I just want to be on my own two feet again and hopefully find a house where he can’t find us, and we can be safe. I’ve suffered his violent attacks for years. The kids can’t have anymore of this in their lives”

The counsellors soothing voice continued, “I must let you know that even if you don’t charge him, the police will charge him without you. He conducted a very violent armed attack and it’s their job now to keep the community safe. Best case scenario he will spend the first half of his sentence in prison and hopefully the second half in rehab to control his addiction to alcohol where it appears his violence stems from. As for the job, I already have a few prospects in mind. I know you have invoicing and filing experience so I’m thinking office work would be your best bet to get started. You have to think about you now and what’s best for your kids.”

“I can’t imagine how the kids will deal with their father in jail. Is there no way to stop that?” Brenda was very concerned.

           “I’m afraid not, the court takes these things very seriously”

           Brenda replied, “If there’s nothing I can do to stop the charges, let’s just do what we can to protect the kids from to much trauma and find me a job immediately so we can get out of this shelter.”

           “Of course, Brenda, I’m on your side”

***Two weeks later***

           “In the case of the Glendale shooting, charges were laid today against the accused, Kenny Scott, 35, from the Crown. Despite his argument that he was drunk at the time and has a serious drinking problem, The Judge decreed that would not lesson his ruling. Because of the severity of the case, he was given two years in jail. Upon completion of his sentence, he was ordered to attend a year in a rehabilitation center to further his release back into society. This would provide as smooth a transition as possible, given his addiction problem.”

Brenda turned off the radio. She had heard the news one to many times and seen her kids cry far to often. Her only saving grace were the interviews her counselor had lined up for her.

***Four years later***

“Brenda, could you come into my office please?” Mr. Miller sounded strict, and Brenda was worried she had done something wrong.

Her counselor, Ms. Gilbert, had secured her a position at J&J Bridgewater almost at once to Brenda’s delight. She worked hard as an executive assistant and really enjoyed being there. Her co-workers were pleasant and friendly, and she got along well with her boss. She wondered what could be the matter.

           “Yes, Sir?” You could hear the trepidation in Brenda’s voice.

           “First of all, let me remind you how highly recommended you were by Ms. Gilbert. That was the reason I gave you a chance at taking the role of being an executive assistant here in the first place. Now the reason I’ve kept you on board these last four years was because you have excelled in your position and have many good qualities that I like to see in my workers.”

           “Thank you, Sir.” Brenda responded with delight as she began to relax. “I’m glad I’m able to put in more hours now that Joanna is eleven and Josh is twelve. They’re growing up so fast and when they were younger it really helped that you let me work around their school schedules.”

           “Yes, well, a happy worker is a more efficient worker and you’ve proven just how efficient you can be. That’s why I’d like to offer you the position to be my own personal executive assistant. Of course, you can take the night to think about it. The position comes with almost double your salary and 100% benefits as opposed to the 50% you’re currently getting. I think you can handle the extra responsibility and I need someone capable to take over this position.”

           “Oh my goodness Mr. Miller, that sounds incredible! Thank you so much for this opportunity! As you know when I started here roughly four years ago, my life was on public display due to the news coverage of my situation. You took a chance on me anyway and it changed my life. I was able to secure an apartment for me and my kids so I work as hard as I can everyday. I’m so grateful and this is just such a wonderful opportunity.”

           Mr. Miller cut her off and continued, “Before you get to excited I want you to take home the contract tonight and look it over fully to ensure the position fits your needs. I overlooked your negative situation and decided everyone deserves a chance. So, take the rest of the day off to think about it.  We will discuss it in the morning. Sound good?”

As she shook his outstretched hand, she gripped it firmly to match his own.

           “Sounds great Mr. Miller, and thanks again for thinking of me! I’ll see you first thing in the morning.”

***That evening***

The slick black cell phone felt weightless in her hand as she scrolled to Karen’s number. Her whole body felt weightless as though she alone could defy gravity and float. Fly even. The perfect news about the promotion had Brenda spinning and standing still all at the same time. She and Karen planned a dinner party for the next day to announce the good news about the promotion. The guests would be her ex-husband and his new girlfriend Elizabeth. 

Reality was, she wasn’t that new. They had been together since Kenny finished Rehab. The best part was the kids had really taken to her and she couldn’t be more thankful that Kenny was finally clean. He was like another person. She was glad he had a partner to keep him accountable for the kids sake. And for his.

Her counseling had really helped her heal from the violence she endured during their time together. She had forgiven him, and he continued to be a part of the kids lives. She warned him that would change if he went back to the bottle. Despite what they had been through together, they got along for the kids sake. It was a healthy relationship for the first time in their lives.

Brenda couldn’t help but think about how things had changed. She could now afford to buy her own house and take her kids on vacations like their friends. She found herself surprised to think that because of that night of the fatal shooting, everything in her life had changed. And for the better. She was working after years of being beaten which would never happen to her again. She was a strong independent woman with the world at her feet. And her kids were so well adjusted.

She said out loud to herself, “Swings and roundabouts Brenda. When things are that bad, the world has wonderful things in store to bring balance. Everything is falling into place because of a horrific event. I can’t wait for the good tomorrow has to bring.”

July 23, 2022 03:17

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Graham Kinross
14:51 Aug 20, 2022

Would she really be at peace with him? She must be very forgiving. I can see my dad being like that but my mum is a master grudge holder. Plus he used a firearm, drunk, near his kids. I don’t know how anyone could forgive that. It’s nice that she got peace eventually. It’s good for him he sorted his life out but it sounds like he was abusive as a husband before they broke up. I’m not the kind to believe that’s entirely the fault of alcohol. I’d say it reveals what we are more than makes us monsters. It sucks for the kids to get labelled beca...


T.S.A. Maiven
03:43 Aug 21, 2022

Definitely all valid points. She is very forgiving for her own peace of mind but it's true that such abuse can be hard to forgive. The counselling helped! And I tried to make the kids different to show the different perspectives of abuse. Thanks for your feedback!


Graham Kinross
04:31 Aug 21, 2022

You’re welcome.


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Timothy Cooper
07:18 Aug 14, 2022

I loved the ending to this story. I felt so bad for Brenda, but I'm proud of her, Kenny and the kids.


T.S.A. Maiven
07:33 Aug 14, 2022

Thanks! I didn't think anyone even read this one😁


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