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Fiction #413
(published December 18, 2008)
Soup's On
by Terry McKee
The knock at the door startled Emily. With the kids at school, she was home alone, enjoying a rare day off from work. She pulled the curtain aside; two blue clad officers stood looking at the deflating pumpkins that lined the walkway. Fear instantly pulsed through her veins. Something's happened to the girls, she thought, running for the door.

"Morning, madam, are you Mrs. Roberts"

"Yes. Are my children okay?"

"Yes Mrs. Roberts. It's you we're here to see." The tall one explained, "Mrs. Roberts, we have a warrant for your arrest. Would you come with us please?"

Emily stood back from the door, grabbing her sweatshirt close about her. A cold, northeast wind blew right through her. She couldn't believe it, her clogged ears mustn't be hearing right. "What have I done? This must be some a mistake. I can't go with you, I'm sick, I have a fever." She sniffled for proof.

"The complaint is for disorderly conduct on the night of June 18, 2005 and we have a partial restraining order against you; it's signed by a Mr. Michael Roberts." The cop cleared his throat and shifted uneasily.

Emily squared her shoulders. "Are you kidding me—that was two years ago. That rat bastard, I can't believe he did this to me. . . Why now?"

"It's a slow day down at the station; we're doing a bit of housecleaning with the outstanding warrants. I'm sorry, Mrs. Roberts but I'm afraid you're going to have to come." The officer clearly wanted to get this over with; there's no fun in arresting a forty something mom.

"Please get dressed, madam," the short one gave Emily a stern look.

Emily's mind raced through the events of June 18th, there was a helluva of a fight. She recalled wielding a large kitchen knife in Michael's general direction, after he threatened to take the kids away and tried forcibly to kick her out of their home, but she was certain there was no blood.

Fed up with Michael's pendulous mood swings, one minute all lovey-dovey and the next, he became the anti-Christ, stepping on her at every turn, an insect under his foot. Condemned for everything bad, like her breast cancer and the break-up of their first marriage, he punished accordingly.

The son of a bitch left her alone with the kids, often without money and a car, while he luxuriated in long, dubious business trips, only to return angry because she was still there. Emily met the brunt of his tyrannical bullying often, that night was the straw on her back.

She could smell Michael's foulness when he walked through the door. He went straight for her jugular, ripping into her about everything, her child rearing tactics, her sub-stellar domestic abilities and her spendthrift ways. Nothing was off limits! It soon turned into a wrestling match.

With little choice against a six foot, beefy Hulk Hogan, she defended herself. The knife was handy. Self defense pure and simple, unfortunately she didn't even nick him.

Slouching down in the back of the patrol car to avoid scavenging eyes, she recalled her mother's unheeded warning, "Remember why you divorced him in the first place." The first time was a mistake, the second one sheer stupidity. She chided herself, how stupid can a person be?

"He deserves it now like he did then. Stabbing him would have been too kind," she whispered.

Down at the station, Emily was fingerprinted and photographed along side other criminals. While the officers were slightly more compassionate with her than her fellow inmates, she couldn't help but feel the sting of Michael's handiwork, reducing her to a slimy street thug. Angry and embarrassed, she sat in the holding cell waiting her turn for the phone.

"Michael, you slug, how could you do this to me?" She hissed into the phone.

He cleared his throat, as if stifling a laugh, "Gee Em, I forgot about those charges, it was two years ago. How can you possibly expect me to remember what I did two years ago? I was very angry with you then, you can't blame me for what I did. . . Listen, I'll be right down to bail you out." He hung up before she could answer.

Six hours later, she was home with Michael, who promised to go with her to tomorrow's arraignment. "Please don't get all riled up over this, Em. This is something from another time, when things weren't so great; don't make this something bigger than it is. I love you honey, I'll get the charges dropped," he vowed.

The next morning, Emily stood alone in front of the judge. Apologizing for the humiliating predicament, he said, "I regret I can't drop the charges without Mr. Rogers' affidavit. You're released on your own reconnaissance but please report to the prosecutor tomorrow."

Seething, she walked out of the courtroom, only to see Michael running down the hall toward her. Emily didn't have to listen to know what he was saying, she had heard it before. This was just another in a long line of false, sarcastic apologies. The slime bucket would never right this undignified injustice, even if he could, he wouldn't. A wolf in sheep's skin, the smile in Michael's eyes betrayed him. It was clear what he was up too; he was neither smart nor creative.

Back home, all she could think about is who at school would find out. Would her name be in the paper? Did her neighbors see the police? These vicious thoughts circled in her head like buzzards waiting for roadkill. Her cheeks were now stained with humiliation. How could she explain this to the kids, her parents, her friends? What would happen tomorrow, would she be sent to jail?

After careful consideration she decided if she was going to be treated like a criminal, there may as well be a reason. The world wouldn't miss either Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. She got out her pot to prepare Michael's dinner. "It's a good night for soup, don't you think?" Smiling, Emily reached into the spice cabinet.

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