Black Dog

Although I was tightly binding my pillow around my head, I could still hear her from the other room, begging him to stop.

“Jose Luis, no. Not on the face,” my mom wailed, “I have to go to work tomorrow.”

Her screams were drowned by the sound of my dad’s fists pulping her flesh. Beating on it to tenderize her will. He wanted to fuck and she wasn’t going to get in his way. I never saw him strike her with my own eyes. I didn’t need to. Her whimpers painted a clearer picture for me. Unlike my siblings, who were sobbing quietly, I wasn’t able to cry. I wanted to run into the other room and rescue her, but I was paralyzed on my bed. She was the reason why I feared him. Why I hated him. My dad was a bad motherfucker and it was when he beat on my mom that he would show his truest nature.

“They call me the dentist,” he once told me with a big smile.

“Why do they call you the dentist?” I asked with reluctance.

“They call me the dentist because I kick people’s teeth in.” He let out a loud piercing cackle that slowly spurred up to a full-chested laugh.

***

Soledad and Jose Luis met at church when they were both in their mid-teens. He was the new boy in town and one of the few men who wasn’t over 20 or married. All of the church girls wanted to date him, including Soledad. He was handsome, thin and charming. Jose Luis had just arrived from Mexico and didn’t know any English. Soledad seized this opportunity to approach him and help him get acclimated to his new home in the United States.

***

She was foolish to think that taking his abuse would turn him into the father that she wanted for her children and the husband that she needed for herself. My mom wanted him to transform into a man he didn’t want to be. In her mind, she was going to make their relationship work, even if it was the last thing she did. She sought to emasculate him into submission and inspire in him a sense of masculine duty. However, this only bolstered his jealousy.

“Why are you getting home so late?” he asked.

“My boss wanted me to stay to finish up a project,” she answered.

“I’m sure he did. Is that the guy you’re fucking?”

“I’m not fucking anybody,” she yelled. “I’m trying to feed my fucking family.”

“Don’t yell at me, stupid,” he mumbled. Her screams were muffled.

“Let go of me,” she panted, “if I was really fucking anybody, you wouldn’t even know about it.” He started to laugh.

“You really are stupid, you bitch.” Her comment infuriated him even more and fueled his appetite to hurt her. Everything that came out of his mouth was punctuated with a blow. “You think that’s funny. Huh?” His punches were accompanied by a short moan followed by her groaning. “See what you make me do, you stupid bitch?”

Her weeping droned steadily.

***

Jose Luis landed a great job at a big manufacturing company with a great salary and full benefits. This made Soledad find him even more attractive as she could envision him being a great provider for the family she wanted to have with him. They began to frequent each other’s company more and more, not only at church, but outside of it as well.  Jose Luis happened to be her brother’s roommate, so there were more opportunities for them to be with each other. They were inseparable.

***

When they fought, they sounded like strangers to me. My dad once told me that if my mom were a man, her words would make both sides of my family go to war.

“Stop trying to stick your cock in me,” she urged with a muzzled yelp.

“Shut up,” he screamed, “I bet you don’t say that to the fuckers you work with.” The bedsprings cried out as she thrashed on their bed, trying to break free. “Stay down,” he commanded. I felt the burden of their fighting pressing down on me. Deeper and deeper into my bed. However, the disagreement between my parents wasn’t a fight. It was an inquisition.

***

The couple’s affection led to them moving in together, with her brother. Soledad soon got pregnant and this prompted them to get married. It was a small wedding, given the short notice, full of family and friends. Jose Luis was so nervous. The wedding pictures featured such images as the couple cutting a cake together. Soledad was dressed in a white gown and veil and Jose Luis in a gray tuxedo and white shirt with a black and blue striped cravat. They were both smiling. They looked happy.

***

I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Their bedroom door suddenly slammed open. My dad stomped down the hallway to the kitchen, opened and slammed the kitchen door closed. It was over. I didn’t feel any love for him because of what he did to her. My mom continued to sob in her room. I often questioned what my dad wanted. Did he want to kill her? Did he even love her? Did he love his family? Me?

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