All My Love

On his way home from work, after getting chewed out by his boss for his "unacceptable racist and sexist language and behavior," Chris stopped into Chuck's Sports Bar on 43rd Avenue. He took a seat on a padded stool at the mahogany bar next to a balding older man with surrounding white hair. The Duke vs. Kentucky basketball game was playing on ESPN2, and Kentucky had a three point lead with 2:27 left in the second half. The old man, with bloodshot eyes and slurring speech, struck a conversation with the 27 year old construction worker. Both men were avid college basketball viewers, complaining that the NBA "ruined the sanctity of the sport." However, neither had a problem with gambling on the sport. Chris and the old man bragged about their knowledge and all the money they had won in the past. Down to 1:17 in the game, with Kentucky still leading by three, the old man proposed that Duke would come back and win by six points. Chris had no problem with the idea of swindling the old lust, so he put $50 down on the bar in front of the old man. Lacking sufficient funds, the old man put down his gold pocket watch.

Both men, along with five other parties interested in the outcome of the bet, intently watched the television. Coming out of a time out, Duke hit a three pointer. They pressed full court and intercepted a pass at mid-court, which led to a lay-in. Duke was now up by two and pressed full court again. Kentucky managed to get the ball down court with 49.3 seconds left, passed the ball around in setting up their offense, and missed an 18-foot jumper. With twenty-one seconds left, they fouled the Duke point guard who made both free throws. By this time, with 18.9 seconds remaining, Chris was sweating and tapping his fingers on the bar. After another time out, Kentucky missed a three pointer and fouled Duke again. After making these shots, Duke let Kentucky run down court with six seconds left. Chris sat up in his stool with hope in his eyes as the pass was thrown to the power forward. He turned towards the hoop and shot a hook shot as time expired. The ball bounced off the backboard, hit the front of the hoop, and fell off to the right. 76-70. The old man cheerfully grabbed his money and offered to buy Chris a drink. Slamming his fists on the bar, Chris got up without a word and stomped out of the building.

On the freeway again in his 1980 Chevrolet Camero, Chris tried to calm himself down by listening to some Lynyrd Skynyrd. He slid the tape into the deck, and about a minute into "Free Bird," the machine started eating the tape. Chris slammed his fists on his steering wheel in frustration, realizing that he would have to drive another thirty minutes in silence. This did not last long, though, when a Dodge Caravan cut him off. Minutes of swearing at the driver followed, but he could not catch up to return the favor.

Dusk had already arrived on this early January evening before Chris reached his house. The south side of town did not provide much security from people breaking and entering, so his house went neglected in the area of attractiveness. Bars covered the windows and the garage was unconnected from the house. The only way in was from the front door, which had two dead bolts. When he opened the door, he found his girlfriend of five years standing directly in front of him with an frown on her face. In no mood to deal with her shit, Chris tried to walk around her, but she took a step laterally to impede his path.

"Where the hell have you been? Have you been drinking again? I have had our dinner on the table since 5:30, when you said you'd be home. What time is it now? 6:30. So, what is your excuse this time?"

"Listen, I am in no mood for this right now, so just back off."

"Oh, 'not in the mood,' huh? Yeah, I know what you were doing. You were at some fucking dive watching basketball. I saw that it was on when I checked the sports channels an hour ago. You lose another bet again? That's right, just piss all our money away on your fucking 'problem.' Forget that the baby needs diapers, or the fact that I have to borrow money from your mother when our mortgage is due on this fucking hole. Yeah, you just keep gambling and drinking and hopefully, one day, you won't be able to pay off your losses. Then, they can deal with your worthless ass, because I am sick of it and I am sick of you."

Chris had no comeback for this. He never did. With his eyes burning into hers, and his face reddening, Chris raised his right hand above his head and in the same motion brought it down across Diane's face. She fell to her knees and braced herself for additional punishment. A smile finally graced Chris's face, realizing that he could still win any argument, no matter how badly he had been outmatched. Relishing in his superiority, Chris began chuckling to himself.

Diane realized that she had crossed the line when the said "worthless ass." He would only stand for so much verbal attacking before he fought back physically. Diane knew this, but also knew that she could not back down. In the past, when she had flinched or ran into another room, he had eventually caught up to her and beaten her unconscious. Explaining the puffiness and discoloration of her face at work had always been difficult, but the other waitresses at Sheri's had their own problems to deal with, so they usually did not inquire about the real reason she looked so battered. She just stood there, reserved to the fact that she would be physically harmed. The hit came quickly and rather painlessly. A regular palm slap, which she took the brunt of on many occasions, was far better than she had imagined. A series of punches to the gut and kicks on the back had been expected. Still, the force was enough to knock her to the ground, a position she had been all too familiar with.

The laughing had been rather unexpected, however. Normally, after a "beat down," he had started yelling at her to "get up," or had just walked away. She looked up and saw him laughing at his beaten girlfriend, this really enraged Diane. Tears of anger were welling up in her eyes as the tears of joy were doing the same in the eyes of Chris. While he was wiping his face with his shirt sleeve, she made a fist with her right hand. From her knees, she punched straight up into Chris's genitals. His face changed from happy to shocked; the tears of joy transformed into tears of pain. He was shocked not only because of the hit to his groin, but also that she had actually fought back. Chris bent over at the waist, and with what little power he could muster, he punched Diane straight in the nose. A loud "crunch" escaped from her broken nose as she fell to her back.

With blood streaming down her face, she managed to roll over onto her stomach in an attempt to stand up again. Before bracing herself to get up, Chris was already on his feet and walking towards her. An obvious expression of pain covered Chris's face as he pulled his right leg back and kicked her in the abdomen. She flipped over and bounced on top of the linoleum in the kitchen. Diane landed on her back and proceeded to vomit all of the fried chicken dinner onto her own face.

"That's right, bitch! You want to fight back? Come on then, you fucking cunt!" The "cunt" was emphasized with a kick to the side.

Diane laid there, helpless, knowing that if she got up, she would certainly be killed. Diane started sobbing quietly, so Chris grabbed a cold chicken leg from the kitchen table and limped out of the house. Five minutes later, Diane got up, went into the bathroom, and cleaned her face.

Chris knew that he needed time to cool off, and he wanted to give Diane enough time to clean off all that God-damned puke. He decided that he needed to show his groin a good time, since it had been treated so shabbily by his child's mother, so Chris drove to a strip club about fifteen minutes away from his house. The only way this plan could have backfired more badly would have been if it had taken another punch, because as soon as he saw the topless girls, his already swollen genitals started to ache as severely as before. Saddened by the fact that a place which should have given him so much joy had only pained him even worse, Chris drove home with the objective of beating his child's mother into submission.

When he got home, he did not bother putting his silver-blue Camero in the garage. Instead, he charged the door and made quick work of the two dead bolts. Chris turned the knob and pushed in the door, but it did not budge. She had blocked it with something in an attempt to keep him from reentering. Chris swore at the door until his lungs could take no more. He took a seat on the stoop and contemplated about another way to get into the house. Chris eventually remembered about the hacksaw which he kept in the trunk of his Camero. The sharp teeth made quick work of the bars over the living room window, which annoyed Chris even further, realizing how easy it was to break into his own house.

Chris punched the single pane window with his left hand, saving his right for the beat down of a lifetime. He climbed into his house and saw his wife sitting alone on the couch. Chris grinned furiously, punching his bloody left fist into his open right hand as he walked toward Diane. Diane was staring down at her lap, quietly crying. She looked up with pain in her eyes as she spoke:

"I should have told you earlier, but . . . well I'm three months pregnant." Diane doubled over in pain after saying this. "I think that something may be wrong. That kick may have done something . . . can you call me an ambulance?"