1996 – Thanksgiving Day
My parents and brother came down to Mississippi from Tennessee to visit with family during Thanksgiving. I couldn’t get my husband (let’s call him Perry) to get out of bed and take me to see them. We had pretty much given away my car; we left it with a mechanic, because we couldn’t afford to pay for the repairs. This left me completely dependent on Perry to take me anywhere. Since Perry wouldn’t get out of bed to take me to see my family, my brother Keith came to get me.
After we had been at my grandparents’ house for a while, I asked Keith to drive me back home to try to wake Perry again. Perry and I were also supposed to go visit his family later, but I wanted him to come visit with mine first. My brother waited in the car to make sure Perry was awake, so I had a ride back to my grandparents’ house. When I walked in, Perry was sitting in the recliner, bent over tying his shoes. He glared at me and demanded to know where I had been.
“Keith came to get me, because you wouldn’t get out of bed. I’m not going to miss time with my family, because you decided to sleep all day.” I stood looking at him with crossed arms, as he jumped up from the recliner.
“You could have waited!” he yelled.
“It’s not my fault you wouldn’t get up. Why are you mad at me, because I wanted to see my family? What the hell did I do wrong?” I swallowed trying to keep from crying out of frustration. I was angry that he was making a big deal about this, and I didn’t want to fight. It was Thanksgiving. I just wanted to have a good day together with our families.
“You shouldn’t have left without me, you f***ing bitch!” Perry screamed taking a step towards me. A list of profanities came out of his mouth, as he threw an ashtray across the room. Suddenly, my brother busted through the front door.
“Don’t you ever talk to my sister that way!” Keith screamed.
Perry looked shocked, and then his face contorted in anger. “That’s MY wife! I can talk to her any damn way I want to!”
They continued yelling, and finally Perry told him to get out of his house.
“Come on, Amanda,” Keith said to me as he backed out the door. I was torn between that feeling of needing to make excuses for my husband, and leaving with my brother. I walked outside, and Perry followed.
“You better not leave!” Perry yelled at me.
“Just stop, Perry! Can we just not fight today?” By now, I couldn’t stop the tears.
“Amanda, let’s go,” Keith said walking towards me.
“She’s not going anywhere!” Perry yelled and rushed my brother. Fists started flailing, and I screamed for them to stop. They stayed tangled up for a minute, and then Perry wiggled away from my brother looking dazed.
“That’s enough, Perry. I don’t want to hurt you,” Keith said.
We heard the rush of a car engine, and then a quick wail of a siren as a police car stopped in front of the house. An officer got out and walked into the yard.
“Got a call about a disturbance. Were you two fighting?” he asked Perry and Keith.
Keith didn’t hesitate to answer. “Yes, sir. I threw a few of punches.”
Perry nodded his head, and told the officer Keith had come into his house yelling at him.
I spoke up and said, “Because he was yelling at me. My brother was just trying to take up for me.”
The police put handcuffs on Perry and had him sit down on the edge of the porch. He then started to handcuff my brother, and I felt sick. “Please don’t do this,” I begged. “It’s Thanksgiving.”
“You think I want to be out here on Thanksgiving doing this?” the cop retorted. “I don’t want to take anyone to jail today, but I can’t let y’all beat the crap out of each other either.”
“We’ll leave,” I said. “Please, my brother is only 17, and the only reason he’s here is to take me to see my family.”
“You’re 17?” the officer asked.
“Yes, sir,” Keith responded.
The officer pressed his lips together and cut his eyes towards me.
After a moment he said, “As long as y’all go your separate ways, then I’ll let this one slide. But I better not get another call out here.” He gave each one of us a stern look, and we all said, “Yes, sir.”
He took the handcuffs off Keith and then Perry. I turned and opened the car door, as my brother came around to the driver’s side. Perry scowled and walked back into the house.
The entire way back to my grandparents house, my brother and I laughed with relief. I knew Keith wouldn’t tolerate ANYONE mistreating me; that’s the kind of relationship we had. We would fight like mad dogs when we were young, but if anyone else even looked at the other crossways, one would come to the other’s rescue.
When we arrived at our grandparents’ house, as soon as we opened the door and entered the kitchen, we shouted out what had happened. Our family members who had been visiting in other rooms rushed to the living room to hear the details. They talked among themselves about how the situation should be handled. I stood in the pass-through opening of the kitchen, looking into the living room.
My grandmother shook her head looking down at the floor. My grandfather’s face turned red as he said loudly to my mother: “That’s it! As long as she’s with that boy, she’s not allowed back in this house! We can’t take it anymore!”
My mouth dropped open, and my heart hit the floor. The thought of being cut off from my family was too much.
“Fine!” I yelled. Every head turned to look at me. “I’ll leave! I’ll go home with y’all, Mama! I just need someone to take me to get my stuff.”
My parents, brother, and I loaded up in their car and drove to my house in Nettleton. Perry’s truck wasn’t in the driveway, so I knew he had gone to see his family. I didn’t have a key to the house, and the front door was locked. We walked around to the back of the house, and I tried to open the backdoor that led into our bedroom. Locked.
My brother clasped his hands together for me to step in. He boosted me up to the window. I was surprised to find it unlocked as I pushed the window open. I pulled myself through the window and under the heavy blanket that covered it. I stood up in the hazy room, took a couple of steps to the back door, and opened it for my parents and brother.
We grabbed garbage bags and started throwing all my clothes in it. I went to my bookshelf in the living room and grabbed a few items that held sentimental value for me; I had to leave the rest. We got in my parent’s car, went back to my grandparent’s house, and shortly after, we headed to Tennessee.
I’d like to say I left Perry and never looked back. But no. This was just my attempt to wake him up, so he’d love me and treat me right. I might have been Tennessee bound, but my foolish heart was still in chains in Mississippi.