Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8-8

After lunch, Bruce left Jane and the rest of the friend group to make a pit stop. Before leaving the boys’ room, he stopped in front of the mirror, then took out his comb and ran it through his dark hair.

As Bruce continued to primp in the mirror, Chandler, Kevin, and two newcomers to the clique Ron Peterson and Bryson Edman quietly entered. Looking in the mirror and seeing them approach him from behind, Bruce paused, giving the approaching boys a suspicious look.

The boys surrounded Bruce, with Chandler leaning on the vanity on his left side and Kevin, his right. Ron and Bryson stood behind him, feet apart, arms folded across their puffed-out chests, and one side of their upper lips raised in contempt. Their eyes bore into Bruce.

A Nasty Encounter

“Howdy, lover boy. So, we hear that you and the little karate queen are quite the item around here now,” Chandler taunted.

Bruce turned around and bravely faced the threatening boys.

“Yeah? And?” Bruce countered.

“Man! You really know how to pick ‘em, don’t you?” Kevin sneered.

“And this is your business, how?” Bruce fired back.

“I wouldn’t get cute if I were you,” Bryson warned.

“Yeah, well, you’re not me. So, why don’t you turds get fucked!” Bruce bit before walking toward the door.

As Chandler started to charge Bruce from behind, the other three boys restrained him.

“Easy, Chandler. Let the pussy go. There’ll be another time,” Ron told him.

Chandler stood there and drilled the back of Bruce’s head with his eyes.

“You little worm! I’d watch my back if I were you!”

Chandler was a senior, eighteen, and six feet four. He was blonde, blue-eyed, large built, and a quarterback on the varsity football team. Ron was a junior. He was dark-haired, dark-eyed, and muscular but puny and short for a guy at about five feet eight. Bryson Edman was also blonde haired and blue eyed, but an inch shorter than Ron and had a dumpy, squatty build. Kevin had medium brown hair, dark eyes, a square jawline, but, like Ron and Bryson, was a peon compared to Chandler.

Taking a Stand

Just as Bruce walked out of the bathroom, two more boys, huge like Chandler, walked into the boys’ room, looking down at Bruce with eyes of derision as they passed, then looked up at Chandler and his three buddies.

“’That slug giving y’all a problem?” Daniel Underwood, one of the pair asked.

Chandler, eyes blazing, shrugged his friends grip off him.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” he growled.

“Let me have a go at him, ya’ll! I know I can take him!” Ethan Byrd boasted.

And all six boys began giving each other fives and slapping each other on the back before glaring at the door.

“We’ll get his ass! I guarantee you! We’ll catch his ass somewhere off school grounds! Then, it’s on!” Chandler vowed.

Townies, Cronies and Hayseeds II C3.6

At just before seven the next morning, Brielle awoke to the stirring of baby Kennedy, who gurgled next to her, and to the mouth-watering smells of breakfast cooking and coffee brewing in the kitchen downstairs. Bandit was curled up on the bed by her feet, wide awake. He sniffed the air, then licked his chops before starting to pant.

Brielle crawled out of bed, took the baby in her arms, then tiptoed down the hall, peering into the room where Jane and Olivia were. The two girls were still sound asleep.

She carried the baby downstairs, with Bandit following close behind, and went into the kitchen to see Grandma Bennett in front of the stove cooking pancakes and sausage. Grandma Bennett, dressed in her granny gown, robe and house shoes, looked up and smiled.

“Well, good morning, sunshine.” She greeted, “How’d you sleep last night?”

First morning home

“Like a baby. Kennedy didn’t even wake up once. She was out like a light too.” Brielle answered.

“Long trips will sure take it out of you.” Grandma Bennett said.

“Tell me about it.” Brielle agreed.

Brielle grabbed her cellphone from her pocket and checked it. She gasped when she saw how many times Bill had tried to call. She noticed that his last attempt was at four a.m.

“Good grief!” Brielle sighed.

“What’s the matter?” Grandma Bennett asked.

“Bill was blowing up my phone. ‘Tried to call fifteen times last night and this morning. It’s a good thing I turned off my ringer. We never would’ve gotten to sleep.”

A desperate caller.

Grandma Bennett’s eyebrows shot up.

“Fifteen times! What in the world is wrong with that man! Lord, I declare! There’s something wrong with him!” She cried.

“Yep. There is.” Brielle said, shaking her head, “I just don’t want to talk to him right now. I know he’s not just calling for the girls. He’s calling to find out where we are.”

“Doggone right, he is!”

It was Sunday and besides attending church services with Grandma Bennett, Brielle rested, still recovering from the long time home.

The following day was Monday. After feeding the baby, the dog, and herself, Brielle rose from the table after breakfast.

“I’ve got to go set up an account at the bank and then get information on that 4-bedroom house down the road. It seems like it would be a good place for me and the kids.”

“Just make sure you don’t do a fool’s rush in. Have the place inspected before you buy it.” Grandma advised.

“Will do, Grandma.” Brielle said as she took the baby upstairs.

Starting Over

After getting dressed in a nice pair of jeans, light summer blouse with shoulder holes in it and sneakers, Brielle straightened her hair and put on her makeup. When she came downstairs, the girls had awoken and were eating in the kitchen.

“’Morning, sweeties.” Brielle greeted as she kissed each of the girls. She turned to Grandma Bennett.

“Grandma, I’ve got to run. Girls, you behave for Grandma. Okay?”

She kissed her grandmother and gave one more kiss to the girls, then left.

Hearing the motor of Brielle’s Escalade crank, Jane looked at Grandma Bennett.

“Where’s Mom headed?” She asked.

“She’s got to run to the bank and then check out a house she saw advertised in the real-estate section of the newspaper last night. I think she’s going to be gone a while. She’s got to get you all established in a new town and that takes a while.” Grandma Bennett answered.

“Wow! What kind of house?” Olivia asked.

“It’s a 4-bedroom house down the road from here. ‘Seems to be a good place for you all. If she gets the house, you’ll be within walking distance from here, so you’ll be close to family.”

“Cool!” Olivia shouted.

The next day, Brielle called and made an appointment with the real estate company that was selling the house. She also called an inspector to inspect the home for cracks in the foundation, bad wiring, and such.

A New Home

The following week, Brielle’s parents arrived at Grandma Bennett’s house after their honeymoon. Seeing that Brielle and the kids had returned home from California, the look of pleasant shock flashed across their faces.

Jane and Olivia excitedly came running out of the house when John and Marcelle Bennett pulled into the driveway in their metallic maroon Ford F150 quad-cab. They got to the truck before the grandparents had time to get out of the truck!

“Granny! Grampy!” Jane and Olivia shouted excitedly.

“Oh, my goodness! Jane! Olivia!” Brielle’s parents squealed from inside the truck.

As the grandparents saw them, they smiled as they got out of the truck. They each gave the excited girls long hugs and lots of kisses.

“Well, Jane! You’re growing into such a beautiful young lady!” Marcelle said as she hugged her, then took her by the shoulders and looked at her.

“I’m thirteen now.” Jane said in excitement.

“A teenager! It seems like only yesterday you were just a six-pound little rat I held in my arms at the hospital in California! We flew there just to be there when you were born!” Our first grandchild! We just had to be there!” John told Jane as he took his turn hugging her and kissed her on the cheek.

He then hugged and kissed Olivia.

Brielle came out of the house with Kennedy on her hip, followed by Grandma Bennett. She waited until the kids got their love from her parents before passing the baby to her mother for kisses and love.

Happy Reunion

“Oh, she’s getting so big! She was such a tiny thing when you and Bill came here back in March!” Brielle’s mother Marcelle gushed.

“I’m just sorry we didn’t stay longer. Bill only wanted to stay for three days. I barely had a chance to visit everyone.” Brielle said.

“It’s okay, honey. We understand. Bill’s always been a demanding old drip.” Marcelle replied.

“Well, Bill’s no longer an issue. I left him and I’m not going back. I’m home for good this time, Mom.”

Marcelle’s mouth dropped in shock, then a huge smile spread across her face. She put her arms around Brielle and hugged her tightly.

“Welcome home, baby! I’ve been waiting so long for this day to come because I know how badly he treated you and these children.” She said softly.

“I gotta set an example for my girls, Mama. I have to teach them that they don’t have to stay in a relationship that hurts them, and they don’t have to take abuse from a man, ever!” Brielle replied.

“I’m so proud of you, sweetie! I always knew that you would eventually get tired of his crap. I didn’t know when, but I knew that eventually, you’d get enough of it.” Marcelle told her, “I’d get damn mad at you sometimes, but I’ve always believed in you.”

Brielle’s Strength

“Thank you, Mom. I’m so glad to be home!” Brielle said with tears in her eyes.

“What are you doing tomorrow morning?” Marcelle asked.

“I have an appointment at the realtors’ in the morning.” Brielle answered, “I’m looking at buying a house for me and the kids.”

“Oohhh! I didn’t know.”

“It’s okay. I’m not rich, but I’m not broke by a long shot. I figure that I might as well go ahead and buy a home while I have the money to do so.”

Grandma Bennett came out onto the front porch.

“Well? Is anybody up for some pot roast, steamed potatoes, and carrots tonight?” She called out.

“Sounds great!” Jesse called back.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C3.4

Back in California, Bill pulled into the driveway in his BMW. Noticing that Brielle’s vehicle was gone, he got out slowly then paused and stared at the empty space in the driveway with an annoyed look on his face. He then looked around.

Bill took his briefcase out of the trunk. After closing the trunk, he went to the front door, unlocked it, and went inside the house. He dropped his briefcase when he took one look around the house and realized that not even the dog was there. He also noticed that Brielle’s recliner was missing as were the baby’s play pin, toys, and Brielle’s pictures of her family and a few pictures of the girls.

An Unpleasant Surprise

Bill then raced upstairs, into the master bedroom and jerked open the door to the walk-in closet. Brielle’s clothes were missing. He then darted into the bathroom. Sure enough, Brielle’s makeup and toiletries were also missing.

Next, he ran into the girl’s rooms and noticed that they were completely empty, no beds, no vanities, no computers, no desks, no pictures, no toys or nick-nacks. Nothing. He burst into the baby’s room. Again, nothing. Jane’s, Olivia’s, and the baby’s rooms were all empty and bare.

After making a mad dash down the stairs, Bill went into the kitchen and found three cellphones lying on the counter- Brielle’s, Jane’s, and Olivia’s. In a rage, Bill picked up one of the phones and, with a scream of fury, hurled it through the window in the patio door.

A Dear John Letter

He then found a note on the far counter by the stove and picked it up. It read:


I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last few months. Things haven’t been good between us for a long time now and I think that it’s time to end our marriage and go our separate ways. The girls and I deserve to be happy, and we haven’t been because all you do is hurt us. Well, I won’t let you hurt us anymore. I’m determined for us to be happy, and I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ll be much happier without you.

Don’t worry. You can still come see the girls. I won’t keep them from you. But we just can’t live with you anymore. I wish you all the best in life. Know that I’ll always care about you. You’re the father of my children. But I’m not in love with you anymore. Little by little, you killed that love with each slap, each punch in my face, each time you called me a bitch, and each time you verbally assaulted me. And now it stops.

You go on with your life and let me and the girls go on with ours. That’s all I ask of you.



  1. Here’s my new number if you need to talk to the girls.



Bill took the letter, crumpled it up, and threw it across the kitchen.

“Goddammit!” He screamed, “That bitch!”

He then picked the crumpled letter back up and straightened it out. Next, he read it again, took out his cellphone and dialed the number written in the letter.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C3.2

Hit the road concept, road – 3D rendering

After the movers left, Brielle left hers and the girl’s old phones sitting on the kitchen counter. She carried the baby on her hip, while calling  and whistling for the dog. Bandit came running, followed the family outside and jumped into the SUV. Then Brielle, strapped the baby in the safety seat before she and the girls got into the Escalade and pulled out of the driveway, leaving Karen and the boys standing there waving at them.

Brielle and the girls waved back as they pulled away and slowly disappeared down the suburban street, toward the freeway, thus beginning a long drive back East.

The girls turned around in their seats and took one last look at the house and neighborhood before Brielle turned a corner and it faded out of sight. Bandit barked, then let up a whimper.

“Seatbelts, girls.” Brielle said in a stern tone.

Leaving the Only Home the Kids Ever Knew

“Sorry, Mom.” Jane said as she sat in the passenger seat and clicked her seatbelt secure. Olivia followed suit in the back seat. Baby Kennedy gurgled and cooed in the baby seat beside Olivia. Bandit sat in the back with his back to the humans in the car, staring out the back window and panting. The dog had always loved to ride in the car.

“I just wanted to get one last look at the house I grew up in. ‘Ya know?”

“I understand sweetie.” Brielle assured.

“As bad as Dad is, I’m going to miss California and our home and neighborhood.” Jane continued as a tear streamed down her cheek.

Brielle reached over and lovingly patted Jane’s knee.

“I know honey. But you understand why this has to be, right?” She said.


“Okay, girls, now listen. I’m doing this for not only me. I’m doing this for you girls too. It’s like I told you yesterday. When a man abuses you, that’s never okay. It’s never okay when he hits you and it’s never okay when he yells, curses, or talks down to you. None of that is okay! I can’t stress this enough! You girls grew up watching your dad abuse me and enduring abuse from him yourselves. And when you’ve grown up with it, it’s too easy to think that crap is acceptable and normal. It isn’t!”

A Much-Needed Discussion

“I want you teach the three of you that you shouldn’t allow a man or anyone else to abuse you. I also want to teach you that we deserve better than what we’ve been getting, you deserve better. And there are great men out there- loving men who will love you and take care of you. But you must get to know him first. It starts when you are dating, not after you’re already married. You must watch for the signs, and I did not do that because I wasn’t very smart about it. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”

“Yes, Mom.” Jane and Olivia both answered.

Brielle continued to talk as she drove on, pulling onto the interstate and heading east.

“Not every man who shows his teeth to you loves you and has your best interests at heart. Not every man who marries really loves his wife. To some men, men like your father, women and children are possessions rather than individual humans with their own thoughts, feelings, perspectives, opinions, and views. Your dad was very controlling and someone who tries to control you doesn’t really love you. When someone hits you, that’s not love, Jane. When someone tries to control you, that’s not love. Do you hear me, Olivia?”

“Yes ma’am.” Olivia said.

Looking Back and Realizing Her Mistakes

As soon as they reached the east side of Bakersfield, Brielle and the girls stopped for a late lunch. Not wanting to leave the dog in the car, they went through the drive-thru. They bought and paid for the food, then sat in the parking lot and ate. Once they were through eating, Brielle hit Interstate 40 and they were headed east.

By dark, Brielle and the girls were well into Arizona. They had just pulled onto the interstate again after having dinner. The baby had fallen asleep, aided by the hum of the motor and the steady vibrations. Jane and Olivia had their earbuds in and were playing games on their tablets. As Brielle drove, all was quiet, and she finally had time to think.

Brielle was taking a huge step, perhaps, the biggest step she had ever taken. After fourteen years of being verbally and physically abused, Brielle had taken her three children, left her husband, and was moving back east to Tennessee. This was no easy task by any stretch of the imagination, and neither was it an easy decision.

A Hard Decision

It was downright scary. Brielle still cared for Bill, even loved him a little bit. But she had to love herself and her girls more than she did him. She had to do what was best for the three of them. If she did not fart around, she would already be in Tennessee by the time Bill returned home on Saturday.

Brielle could only imagine the look on his face when he pulled into the driveway and realized that Brielle’s escalade was gone. She could also imagine the shock as soon as he entered the house to find them all gone, along with Brielle’s and the girl’s belongings. Bill would shit a gold brick! That much she knew, and it was best to get as far away as she could.

Brielle then thought back. Bill had been a complete psychopath. During the first year of their marriage, he had started out verbally abusing Brielle. Then it escalated to physical abuse. Brielle had finally reached her breaking point. She thought back to her middle and high school days. As she reflected, Brielle remembered how horribly her classmates had bullied her.

She wondered. Why was it that women who were bullied in school always seemed to attract, fall in love with, and marry bullies? She couldn’t understand it. It seemed that no matter what she did, she always attracted more bullies and more abusers. But she finally realized that there were things she had to change within herself before she could stop allowing these types of people into her life.

The Big Realization

After years of wondering if there was something wrong with her, Brielle finally concluded that there was never anything wrong with her. Bill had the issue. Bobby, Rita, and the rest of the creeps who had bullied her in school- they had had the issue! Thanks to Shannon Crooke McGregor and her books, Brielle had come to the realization that each of her abusers were the ones who had the problems.

She then became angry- angry at her abusers for brainwashing her into thinking that she “made” them hurt her. And most of all, angry at herself for allowing it! Brielle was angry at herself for taking the blame for their disgusting behavior! For taking the blame for the battering of her own spirit! And this time, she was done!

She was done with Bill! She was done with every person who’d tried to destroy her spirit in the past. And she was done with being treated like a piece of garbage. Brielle was bound and determined that she was going to be happy for once in her life. More so, her girls were going to see an example of a strong woman. As a mother, Brielle was determined that her girls weren’t going to follow in the footsteps of a weak and powerless woman.

Putting Herself and Her Kids First

Brielle was not only leaving for herself; she was leaving for the welfare of her girls. She wanted to set an example for her young daughters and to send them a message – that they didn’t have to take abuse from anyone, be it a man, a girl pal, anyone. Ever! That it was okay to leave when you didn’t feel safe. And that is exactly what she planned to teach her daughters from here on out.

After spending the night in a five-star, pet-friendly hotel in Arizona, Brielle, the kids, and the dog set out once again. It was Thursday and the sun shone high in the sky…

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C2.3

Once she was done with her packing, Brielle went across the hall to Jane’s room and knocked at the door.

“It’s open.” Jane called from inside.

Brielle entered. Jane was sitting at her computer. She spun around in her twirl chair and got a straight shot into Brielle’s bedroom.

“Mom, what’s going on. Why are the suitcases packed?”

“That’s what I’m fixing to talk to you about. I need you and Olivia to come into my room.” Brielle advised.

“Olivia!” Jane called out, “Mom wants to see you!”

Olivia came into Jane’s room holding the baby on her hip.


“Let’s go to my room. We need to talk.” Brielle told her.

Olivia looked at Jane, then back at her mother.

After the girls followed their mother into the bedroom, they all sat on the side of the bed. Brielle looked at her girls and spoke.

“Girls, I know this is going to be a hard thing for you. But I’ve decided that we have to pack up and move back East. We cannot continue to live with your Dad and his temper. There’s just no point in living in fear any longer. We must have some peace. And I feel I’m setting a very bad example for you girls, by staying in this marriage. No woman should ever stay in a marriage with a man who is abusive. I know you’re going to miss your dad, but I can’t let him hurt us anymore. I hope you understand.” She explained.

Breaking it Gently to the Children

A tear ran down Jane’s cheek.

“I understand, Mom. I love Dad and yes, I’ll miss him. But I understand,” she said.

Olivia gave Jane the baby, then cupped her face in her hands. She sobbed as Brielle put her arms around both the girls as Jane held on to the baby.

“I promise you. Everything’s going to be alright. You will get to see Granny more. Maybe even spend the night with her on the weekends. You’ll get to eat her banana bread you loved so much when we traveled there last summer. We’ll get to see Uncle Paul and Aunt Melissa. And also Uncle Jesse and Aunt Amy. You’ll get to see Uncle Joey and Aunt Julie and maybe they’ll teach you how to ride the horses. And you’ll get to see all your cousins.”

After holding her babies for about an hour and letting them cry until they couldn’t cry anymore, Brielle stood up.

“I’m going to help you both pack your things. Go ahead and get out your suitcases, duffle bags, and overnight bags. I’ll call Granny and your uncles and tell them we’re coming. Your Dad won’t be home until Saturday. We still have four days to pack, call a U-haul and get out of here. But I’d like to leave here by tomorrow morning. So, we need to pack and work fast.” Brielle said gently.

A Nosy Neighbor

Little Kennedy soon grew sleepy. Brielle rocked her to sleep, then lay her in her crib for a nap. Once the baby was asleep, it was time to get moving. Brielle called her grandmother and brothers to tell them they were coming, then she called the movers to come get the girl’s beds and dressers, Brielle’s grandmother’s old recliner, the queen-sized bed out of the guest room and the furniture that went with it. She also had her old furniture from when she was single and living in her apartment.

The girls quickly emptied their closet and dresser drawers, folded their clothes and placed them in their suitcases and duffle bags.

They could not take a chance of packing the Escalade during the day for the nosey neighbor across the street, Geneva. Bill always had her watching the house. But she was older and went to bed with the chickens. So, Brielle decided that they would pack the car that night after they were sure Ms. Geneva had gone to bed.

It was a good thing that the older lady went to the retirement center to play bingo every Wednesday at 10am and she would be gone for two to three hours. And most of the other nosy neighbors worked during the day. That would be the perfect time for the movers to arrive and load up all their furniture.

An “Upstanding” Guy

Bill had that lady and a few others watching that house like hawks and it infuriated Brielle to no end. He always made the excuse it was to keep them safe. But Brielle knew better.

She could not count the times Bill had accused her of cheating on him while he was away and slapping her around over it. And to everyone outside the house, Bill was a real stand-up guy. Only Brielle and the girls knew what he really was.

Bill had a way of drawing people to him. He had charisma and he could lie like a dog and make you believe it. This man could charm a nun right out of her panties if he wanted to. He sure had Brielle when they were dating. Had her fooled right up until they got married. And once he got that ring on her finger, off came the mask.

And what made this so frustrating was that Bill’s superb reputation outside the home, as both a businessman and an awesome and lovable guy, was the main thing that prevented Brielle from speaking out about the abuse she and the girls suffered. Who would believe that such a great man would abuse anyone, much less his own family? Even worse, who would take the word of a stripper turned lowly housewife over that of an esteemed businessman?

A “Bad Influence”

Those things alone were enough to intimidate and silence Brielle. But the fact was that the pressure was building, and she had to pack her things, take her kids, and get the hell out of Dodge before she snapped and either hurt Bill severely, or killed him.

No way would Brielle spend the rest of her life in prison over some narcissistic creep who seemed to take pleasure in having power over people. For fourteen long years already, she had been a prisoner in her own home. Damn if she was going to exchange one prison for another. Screw replacing one jailer with a slew of others.

Brielle had only one friend in the neighborhood that she could trust and that was Karen Fritz. Karen was the only person who knew the real Bill. She was also the only person that Brielle could trust with her secrets and her children. Bill detested Karen, calling her a bad influence for his wife and girls. No surprise there. Bill felt threatened when Brielle and the girls talked to anyone.

Brielle called the moving company and told them to arrive at 10 the next day, then she and the girls spent the rest of the day packing their things. That night at just before midnight, she and the girls loaded all the suitcases, duffle bags, overnight bags into the Escalade and locked the doors. And because the windows of the escalade were tinted, Brielle did not worry about anyone walking by the next morning and noticing the contents of the SUV so easily.

Brielle thought for a moment. How would Bill take it once he got back home and found that they were all gone? And more importantly, what would he do?