Friday, August 21, 2009


Once upon a time…. So long ago… Miss Bliss was still an innocent oblivious to most of the failings of men. She had faced two shocks, but still led the bewildered life of the inexperienced, believing that love was always kind and people were good.

Miss Bliss had begun private school in a tiny free school run by Quakers. This school was held in the basement of a Church. The building was huge, and the under level housed a food bank and an information service and emergency hot line we will call V S.

Both of these attracted that part of Miss Bliss that wanted to save the world. Soon she was working in both. The food bank was easy. You showed up, packed boxes and handed them out.

The VS service required training. Miss Bliss was successful at completing it and was soon answering phones on the graveyard shift. The rules were that you must be at least 16 to work there, but those under 21 would be supervised by those over 21. No minor would be allowed the responsibility of running the phones alone.

So it was that Miss Bliss became acquainted with Dan, who was 22, a nice young man who was a weekend National Guardsman and a couple named Curtis and Suzanne who always worked together. As the nights passed into summer and school fell away, Bliss worked more and more graveyard shifts.

When the night calls thinned out, they would play cards or tell each other stories of their adventures. The time passed quickly and Miss Bliss thought of it as mostly fun, with a touch of community service. Dan was a fascination because he was male and let’s face it… at sixteen, girls are fascinated with males. That’s just how it is.

But the couple was even more of a curiosity. Curtis was younger than Suzanne by sixteen years. He was handsome in a young Michael Sarazin sort of way. The most interesting thing about him was that he was perpetually flipping the bird with his right hand. This was due to a fight with some MPs that left his finger damaged and unable to bend. It made Bliss laugh to play cards with a man who constantly flipped her off.

She found Curtis to be a very charming tease and a flirt. She was impressed that he would love a woman so much older. Suzanne was mid forties, looked her age with heavily freckled skin that burned easily and a face that seemed impressed with a sort of exhaustion that absorbed all joy from her eyes and smile. Bliss would look at Suzanne and wonder what on earth could be so interesting there that could hold the affection of such a sexy young man. It made no sense. Because of this, he seemed heroic to Bliss… a man who loved for the beauty inside his woman.

That ended abruptly when Bliss accidentally walked in on Suzanne examining her chest in the women’s room mirror. She could not stop herself from gasping loudly and putting a hand to her mouth to keep from saying the obvious.

“Its nothing…” Suzanne explained. A fall down the stairs. She was clumsy. But Bliss could clearly see the imprint of a boot in Suzanne’s side. The bruising was not mere discoloration, but lumpy and dreadful in its coloring in shades of yellow, brown, green, black and blue. Clearly the there were bruises on top of older bruises, all hidden by the gold lame tube top.

Bliss was of course fresh out of training on the subject of domestic violence. Bliss was backed by the naivety of the young, and the impressions of her recently viewed training films. She decided to make it her mission to help Suzanne escape from Curtis, who would surely beat this woman to death if given enough time. Suzanne would not be swayed.

Bliss did not give up. She continued to spout her opinions on how simple it should be to leave a man like that. Suzanne insisted that Curtis was dangerous and that someone would get hurt. Bliss insisted that she was not afraid of Curtis. She would help Suzanne move out. Together they would pack her things and the leave the man behind.

Bliss had almost given up when Suzanne called her at home. Curtis had just beaten her again and she was frightened. Could Suzanne hide at her home until she could get out of town. Bliss was elated… she had done it. She had won. She agreed to hurry over and help Suzanne run off to safety and freedom. The two women packed Suzanne’s most prized possessions in very quick time.

Bliss peaked out of the door and saw no sign of Curtis. She waved Suzanne to follow. They were half a block from the couple’s apartment when Curtis showed up, running from between two houses. Suzanne screamed as he grabbed her by the hair and began to pummel her face and head. Bliss shouted for help. The street was silent except for the grunts and soggy punches.

Bliss ran to the first house she saw. Inside a large family comprised mostly of large males, sat around a dining table eating. Bliss pounded on the glass. The family ignored her. Frantic, Bliss pushed open the door and yelled inside that a woman was being beaten in the street outside, please… please…hurry and call the police and please come help. Bliss was flooded with relief when the family rose as a unit and shuffled to the porch. But her feeling of hope fell away as she realized they were only going to be spectators. No help was coming from these people. Bliss helped herself to the telephone and called 911.

Back in the street the beating continued. Bliss pushed her way through the horrible family and not knowing what else to do, Bliss removed her leather sandal and began to slap Cutis in the face. The sandals were so flimsy that they were more annoyance than effective.

“I called the police Curtis… they’re coming…” Bliss warned him, hoping the threat would motivate him to run away. It was not until the siren rounded the corner that Curtis bothered to care. He then suddenly ran quickly off between two houses and vanished.

The policemen took Bliss and Suzanne, who refused medical attention to Bliss’s home. There Suzanne was able to take a long hot bath, eat some fried potatoes and prepare her plans for escape. Miss Bliss’s father hurried home from work to drive them to the Greyhound Bus Station. When he pulled up front, Bliss reached for the door handle to accompany Suzanne inside.

“No, I don’t’ want you to go with me. It will be safer if you dont.” Suzanne said firmly.

“Will you write and tell me where you end up?” Bliss begged.

“Sure. You bet. Thanks for all your help, honey.” Suzanne exited the Mustang and was quickly lost in the travel crowd.

It would be lovely if this was the end of the story, but of course it is not. Curtis was not arrested that day. Miss Bliss had accidentally made a wise choice. While Suzanne had bathed, Bliss had called Dan at the VS and told him what had happened. Dan immediately set about purging any trace of connection or identification of Bliss to VS. Her name was removed from every file, every log. He told Bliss that she was not to come to VS until he said that it was safe. She would in fact, never go there again, though she was unaware of this at the time.

Over the course of the next few days a series of events transpired. Bliss only knows that they happened. The details are sketchy. That night, Curtis tore apart the office of VS and all its files searching for a way to reach Bliss. He held Dan at gun point in an attempt to get him to tell where Bliss lived. Dan did not tell, though he was no doubt scared spitless. Curtis found the name and address of another girl named Bliss and after beating up Dan, left to find her. Dan immediately called Bliss’s father and explained the situation.

Mr. Bliss knew what to do. He called the army. Curtis was AWOL. When Mr. Bliss explained the situation to Curtis’s commanding officer, MPs were dispatched and in two days Curtis was taken into custody within a block of Bliss’s house. A loaded gun was removed from his possession and Curtis went into an army prison.

Bliss learned of these facts after all was finished. She never really felt threatened. She never really needed to be brave. Sometimes being ignorant is a blessing. When she was given the details, she was incredulous and became very frightened after the fact. The other girl named Bliss who worked at VS and her family had also been threatened at gun point, but Curtis could see that she was not the right Bliss.

That was the end of her days at VS. Life went on and time passed. Bliss found her new school, from which she would get her blog name, attended and graduated on to college. She met and married. The couple decided to move to Oregon. Bliss took the bus to her old neighborhood to say good-bye to one of her favorite teachers from the Quaker school that had opened a book store.

His name was Larry. He said he was so glad to see her because he had important news. Curtis was out of military prison and had been asking all over the old neighborhood for news of Bliss. Larry had not known how to reach her. But he was certain that Curtis was very sorry for his actions and truly wanted only to apologize.

Bliss said NO. She took the piece of paper that she had scribbled her future address on to give to her teacher and wadded it up, stuffing it back into her purse. She would not be leaving any traces here. She said good-bye to Larry and hurried to the bus stop. She did not stop looking over her shoulder until they were packed and on their way out of California. The one thing that Bliss was certain of was that people like Curtis do not change.

Miss Bliss never did hear from Suzanne about where she landed or that she was safe. Bliss does not blame Suzanne for this. She only wishes her well.

These days when her own children display signs of thinking themselves invincible or smart enough to avoid certain trouble, Bliss tells this story about a time in her life when she was too young to understand the danger she put herself into without even thinking once, let alone twice.


  1. maybe suzanne should have fed him tea and oranges that came all the way from china or touched his perfect body with her mind.

  2. billy pilgrim--

    There are children in the mourning
    They are leaning out for love
    And they will lean that way forever
    While Suzanne holds the mirror
    And you want to travel with her
    And you want to travel blind...

    hahahaha... that man was a glorious poet.

  3. Domestic violence is an awful thing & I feel sorry for women who put up with it.

    We learned from our mother that you never let a man hit you. If he ever does, you leave. It's not negotionable. I've taught my daughters the same.

    As far as Suzanne goes, I hope there was a happy ending for her, but many times abused women just find a different abuser.

  4. What a truly horrifying story. I know you see your actions as naive now, but I just think they show what a caring and giving soul you possess.

  5. I am in awe.

    Beautiful post, horrible story. Well told.

  6. I was trained pretty early to always assess the danger of the situation. I'm aware of it always because some of the people I work with are very volatile.

  7. Cube-- I told my husband if he ever raised a hand against me that I would be long gone with no possibility of a return. You mom was right. Not ever acceptable. Gratefully, StbX has never been that kind of man.

  8. laura b.-- I think what shook my foundation most was that someone that charming could be so very malicious. Since I have been impressed on how simple the problem seemed in my immature head. It is not a simple matter of walking away. She was right to be terrified of him.

    Thank you for your kind words.

  9. Wow. you done good. Very brave.

  10. Secret Agent Woman-- I envy you that training. I was serious when I said that the crazy are drawn to me, but perhaps I am drawn to them as well. This one and my sister are the only ones that I have ever truly feared would ever harm me.

    I bet you meet a lot of the scary ones. Yikes. Brave woman. You help contain it and that impresses the heck out of me.

  11. dmarks-- Thank you. You are very kind and generaous.... But in all honesty, I acted totally and completely on impulse. I think that bravery requires being aware of danger and facing it anyway.

  12. Cube-- You are right about abused women often ending up with different abusers. I have wondered many times if I helped her to escape to meet a an equal or worse fate. She needed therapy as well as shelter and escape.

  13. I have nothing to say here. Your actions were truly selfless. It was a smart move to be wary of Curtis, good job.

  14. Ananda - Thank you for sharing this story. You have always been a right thinker and more than willing and able to take action. Again, you are a hero!

    BTW - Was this Dan Sheila's Dan?

  15. Unbelievable story. You can't make this sort of thing up. It's frightening how much darkness can lay beneath such a tranquil, and even attractive exterior. And you are right to not take your chances leaving your address, the man sounds like his fuel was anger, and I doubt it would have subsided since he never got his revenge.

    Very scary. I am now ordering 5 automatic rifles on ebay. Cool. Any excuse to get more guns is a good thing.

  16. crazy4coens-- Oh my goodness... I'd forgotten about that.


    Sheila and I did not become friends until the following year... but he told me about THAT. It took you asking now for me to put the two and two together. Oh juicy! So that was our Sheila.

  17. Sebastien-- Are you sure that five is enough? hahahaha

  18. well - he should have been ashamed of himself! he broke her heart - at least that's what it looked like to me from the outside looking in. she never talked about it.

    how was the date?

  19. Silly me. I certainly need to get more explosives as well: grenades, c4, dynamite, whatever.

    I can be so forgetful and naive sometimes. One needs more than just guns and ammunition for protection.

  20. crazy4coens-- Sheila lied about her age. He was extremely pissed when he found out how old she really was.

    Dan is my hero. I have trouble finding flaw in him.

    Sheila molested darling baby brother. What comes around goes around. Though in all honesty, I'm sure that baby enjoyed it.

  21. Sebastien-- It's always so good to be prepared! I see that you are a step above Boy Scout in that vein.

  22. Unfortunately, I have had WAY more experience with abusive men than any woman should. Most abusive men are that charming. They're manipulators. They also almost never get better. They are so good at working people and the system. I'm glad you didn't get hurt and I hope your friend found a way out of that abusive pattern for herself.

    There is an awesome book about it called, Why Does He Do That?: A guide to Understanding Controlling and Angry Men (or something very close to that title). Anyway, it helped me to understand that whole bad pattern.

  23. ananda - that is more info than i had before - again judging too quickly. heavy sigh.