Chapter Eleven

     "Just what the hell did you think you were doing!?" 
Philip's face was bright red, his eyes glowed with outrage. 
Any control he had managed to maintain for the drive home,
now gone.  He stood in the foyer, his hands on his hips, his
arms pushing back the overcoat he hadn't bothered to remove. 
 His feet were placed shoulder-width apart, taking the stance
that reminded Donna of Superman on the cover of a comic
book, only without the flapping cape  or look of heroism.
     "What was I doing?  What the hell has your father been
doing?"  She was also in full steam and wasn't about to back
down.  The sound of their voices resonated off the marble tiling
and up the open staircase as the volume increased.
     "What he was doing was none of your business."  Philip
had been startled by his wife's unusual display of anger, but he
didn't let it show.  His lawyer's training had taught him not to
let his opponent know when he had been surprised.
     "None of my business!  Your father beats the hell out of
your mother, apparently for years, and it's none of my
business!"
     "Yes.  It's none of your business.  Just keep out of it." 
His hand dropped away from his hips as he shrugged the coat
from his shoulders.  He turned his back to her to hang it in the
nearby closet.  He was daring her to continue the conversation,
and she knew it.  But she wouldn't, couldn't let it rest.  She
stood behind him.
     "How can you say that?  She's your mother?"
     Philip turned suddenly.  Donna wasn't expecting him to
turn on her.  The force of his action drove her back against the
wall.  His face was so close she could smell stale beer on his
breath.  "Look, I grew up in that house.  I can hardly
remember a week going by when he didn't hit her."
     "And that makes it alright?  It's part of your childhood
memories, so it's okay?  I don't buy that, Philip."  She stood
defiantly, not letting him know just how much he was
frightening her.  She had never seen him this mad.
     "He stopped hitting her when Ben and I got older."  He
backed away from her, his voice becoming a few decibels
lower.  He began to pace.  Not in anger, but in reflection.  He
ran his fingers through his hair, the pressure from his palm a
little too rough.  "He came home drunk one night, at about two
in the morning, and wanted her to get up and make him
something to eat.  She'd been sick with the flu all week and
could barely walk, but he still dragged her by the hair down to
the kitchen.  Ben and I got up and, well, gave him back some
of his own.  He never hit her after that.  At least, not while
were we still home."
     "But he's apparently started to again."
     Philip turned, the anger growing again.  "I can't be
there all the time, anymore.  What do you want from me?"
     "I want you to go over there and bring her back here."
     "No."
     "Why not?"
     "Because they're married, that's why.  It's their
problem, not mine anymore and not yours."  He punctuated his
statement by shoving his finger in her face.
     "That doesn't give him the right to beat the crap out of
her whenever he feels like it."  He didn't answer.  "Philip. 
Don't tell me that you believe that.  Philip!"  He looked at her,
his dark eyes saying what his voice didn't.
     "Oh god, you really believe that, don't you?  You really
believe it's a man's right to ... to," she couldn't bring herself
to say the words she had said only moments before.  If he
believed it was okay for his father, he might think the same
about himself.  Her rational mind took over her emotional one. 
"Philip, I ... I'm sorry.  You're right. It's none of my, our
business.  Let's just forget about it.  Okay?"
     "You brought it up, let's finish it."
     "I didn't bring it up, you ...".
     "Don't tell me what I did and didn't say!  I know what
I said and what you said!"  The intensity of the fury of his
voice paralysed her to the bone.  She wanted to leave, get away
from his anger, but she couldn't move.  "Well!"
     "Philip, please.  You're scaring me."  Her voice was
small, very small against the strength of him.  Her plea seemed
to reach through his rage, and he took a single step back.
     "Get ... away ... from ... me," he growled through his
teeth, his voice sounding like a demon was occupying his body. 
He didn't have to finish his sentence.  She had already slid
along the wall, moving out of his reach.
     He was still facing the wall when she entered the
kitchen.  There, she finally removed her own coat, throwing it
over a chair.  The beginnings of a headache throbbed in the
back of her neck.  She rubbed her neck, stretching it back and
around, trying to loosen the tension from the muscles.  A
tentative mewling followed by pressure against her shin told her
that Bosco had come from wherever he had been sleeping.  The
fact that he hadn't greeted her at the door had escaped her, until
now.  Donna bent, ignoring the rush of blood to her head, as
she picked up her pet, cradling him in her arms.  She needed
to know she was essential in someone's life.
     "You certainly knew better than I did.  You stayed out
of the way."  Her response was a low grumble from within
Bosco as she rubbed his ears.  "I bet you're hungry, aren't
you?"  She carried him towards the refrigerator.  Anticipating
what was to come, Bosco jumped from her arms, landing
directly next to his dish.
     Opening the refrigerator door, Donna reached inside. 
"I guess you get a treat tonight, Bosco.  Tuna."  She bent,
picking his dish up from the floor.  As she scraped the contents
of the tin into the dish, she heard Philip enter the kitchen.  He
didn't say anything, but she could see his reflection in the
window over the sink.  A reflection that showed he was still
very, very angry.  Any feeling of relief she may have had when
she had left him in the hallway dissipated.  He had her trapped,
for all intents and purposes, in the kitchen.
     Trying to ignore him, and the fear that was rapidly
returning, she continued caring for her cat.  "Here you go. 
Merry Christmas."  She rinsed the tin, then placed it into the
recycling bin under the sink.  Having exhausted all possibilities
of things to do to avoid her husband, she turned to face him.
     He stood there.  Not moving.  Not blinking.  Just
staring.  He was trying to control her, to scare her even more
than she already was.  And it was working.
     She fidgeted, her weight shifting from one foot to the
other.  She eyed the door behind Philip, her only pathway to
freedom.  He didn't miss the direction her eyes took, and he
grinned manically, knowing she couldn't escape him.  Glancing
down, she saw that Bosco was oblivious to everything except
the pursue of filling his stomach.
     He was making her nervous.  He was terrorizing her. 
And there was nothing she could do about it.  She reached for
the tea kettle on the stove, then moving back to the sink, turned
her back to him as she reached for the faucet handle.  Her hand
never made it.  In less than four strides, Philip had crossed the
floor.
     "Don't you ever turn your back on me."  His hand
tangled itself in her hair, yanking her back as she cried out. 
Tears streamed from her eyes, the pain starting at her head and
racing through her body like lightening.  The kettle banged to
the floor, spreading the water already in it into a large pool at
their feet.
     "Do you hear me!  Do you!"
     "Philip!  Please!  You're hurting me!"  She tried to
reach behind her head, but his grip tightened, causing her to
abort her attempts.  Suddenly, he pushed her away, his grasp
on her hair releasing.  Stumbling, slipping on the puddle of
water, she reached out for whatever she could to stop her fall. 
The edge of the sink met her flailing hands, saving her from
crashing to the floor.  As she slowly pulled herself up, Philip
grabbed the shoulder of her dress, tearing it.  He yanked her to
her feet with a jerk.  She felt her teeth crash together, sure the
impact had broken a few.
     Spinning her around to face him, the back of his left
hand crossed her face.  The force of the blow sent her crashing
into the wall.  Sam, help me!  She didn't dare vocalize her cry.
     The room spun as she waited for another blow.  But
none came.  She slowly slide down the wall to the floor.  The
only sound was Philip, his breath coming in short pants.
     "Now look what you made me do.  I didn't want to hit
you, Donna, but you made me do it."
     I made you?!  She tried to focused on the floor, not
wanting to make eye contact with him.  Not sure that she even
could have.  Her head was spinning from the blow.  Her cheek
stung, and she was sure she could taste blood.
     He croached down in front of her, but he still towered
over her.  "Donna.  Look at me, please."  His voice had
softened to an almost apologetic tone.  "Please."  Hesitantly,
she raised her head, but her eyes could only make it as far as
his chin.  He reached out, one finger under her chin lifting her
face so she couldn't help but look into his eyes.  They were
wet, as if he was holding back tears.
     "Donna, hon, you know I wouldn't hurt you for the
world.  It's just ..."
     He dropped his hand, and stood up, looking around the
room, as if he was trying to find an answer.  None came. 
Donna dropped her head again, but watched him through
lowered lashes.  He stood in one spot, looking like a small
child caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  Then, without so
much as a glance her way, he turned and left the kitchen.  She
could hear his footsteps retreating down the hallway.  The front
door opened and closed, followed by the sound of the car
starting and pulling away.  He was gone.  But for how long she
didn't know.  And she wasn't going to wait around to find out.


     Her head was no longer spinning.  Donna scrambled up
from the floor, quickly leaving the kitchen for the livingroom. 
She opened the curtain, to make sure that Philip's car was
gone.  It was.
     "Probably gone to see her."
     She dropped the curtain back into place.  She had to
leave.  Now.  Moving quickly, without really thinking what she
was doing, Donna ran upstairs into the bedroom.  Throwing
open the closet doors, she grabbed whatever she could, tossing
the bundle onto the bed.  Then came the shoes.  Then the
dresser.  Pulling open the drawers, she yanked out more clothes
by the handful, adding them to the pile on the bed.
     As the height increased, she realized she had nothing to
carry her clothing in.  Leaving the room, she ran up the steps
to the attic.  She seemed recall seeing the suitcases in the
corner, near where she had sat the day before.  Approaching
the wall unit, she saw what she was looking for.  She also saw
the box.  The one marked 'Sam'; she knew she couldn't leave
that behind.  Grabbing the box, taking it to the hallway below,
then returing for the bags was all done with lightning speed. 
She didn't know how much time she would have before Philip
came back.
     Donna quickly packed, stuffing her belongings rather
than neatly folding and shaping them into place.  When all the
bags were crammed full, she had only used half of what she
had pulled out.  But she couldn't worry about what she wasn't
able to fit in.  It would have to stay behind.
     It took two trips to drag the suitcases downstairs.  She
left them sitting at the door to the garage, then went back for
the box.  As she bent to pick it up, she realized she had nearly
forgotten the most important thing.  Returning to the bedroom,
she moved towards her jewelrey box on the dresser.  She
opened it, the music works tinkling to life.  Removing the top
level, she reached inside, and retrieved the wedding and
engagement rings Sam had given her.  She removed the rings
she currently wore on her left hand, placing them on the
dresser, then slid the others in their place.  Closing the jewellry
case, she snatched it up, placing it in 'Sam's' box.   Picking up
the larger box, she returned to the main level, placing it next to
the suitcases.
     As she stood in thought, making sure she had everything
she could take right now, Bosco rubbed up against her legs.  "I
nearly forgot about you!"  She reached down and gathered him
in her arms.  "What am I going to do with you?"  She
scratched his ears, and was rewarded with a loud purring.  She
could call Sally and ask her if she could take him, but thought
better of it.  She didn't want anyone knowing where she was
going, mostly because she didn't know herself.  Then the only
solution she could think of came to her.
     "I guess you're going to visit with Dr. Sue," she said,
referring to the vet she always used.  Philip wouldn't remember
the vet's last name, partly because he couldn't pronounce it, but
mainly because Donna only ever referred to her as 'Dr. Sue'. 
Grasping the phone with her free hand, Donna pressed the
speed dial button marked 'vet', hoping someone would answer
the phone at this late hour.  Dr. Sue answered the phone.  She
was at the clinic caring for the few holiday visitors she always
had.  Sure, there was enough room for Bosco, bring him right
over.  The vet agreed to the one condition, that she tell no one. 
Thanking her, Donna said she would be there shortly.  Hanging
up, she deleted Dr. Sue's number from the speed dial, then
dialed an obscure number, just incase Philip thought to pressed
the redial button.  Bosco, sensing something was up involving
him, began to meow.
     "Don't worry, Bos.  Everything's going to be fine."  If
only she could convince myself of that.  She reached into the
small storage closet in the kitchen, retrieving Bosco's carrier
box.  As she opened it, Bosco jumped down and walked into it. 
He knew it meant a trip somewhere.
     Grabbing the keys to her car from their hook on the
wall, she entered the garage.  Her car stood alone, looking very
small in a three-car garage.  Carrying the larger bags with her,
she opened the trunk and threw them in.  She made two more
trips, once for the other bags and once for the box.  She
slammed the trunk closed, the sound echoing in the spacious,
but nearly-empty, garage.
     Donna returned to the house once more.  She walked
through it, taking in everything for the last time.  She knew she
wasn't coming back.  If Philip hit her once, he would hit her
again.  She didn't need Verbeena lecturing her about that.  She
already knew it.
     She checked her wallet to make sure she had some cash,
as well as her cash card.  She did.
     With one last look around the kitchen, she grabbed both
her purse and Bosco's carrier.  Stepping out of the house to
drive out of Philip's life.  Forever.


     Sam, help me!  The Leaper's head bolted straight up. 
"Did you hear that?"  He had been on the telephone, making
flight reservations for Vebeena, Tina and Gushie and Sammi Jo.
     Al, sitting at his desk, looked up from the letter he had
been writing to Sam's mother, completing a task put off for far
too long.  He had already made the necessary calls to the
former project members and explained that they all needed to
be in New Mexico the next day.  That was all he could tell
them right now.  Just trust me.  They had agreed.
     "Hear what?"
     "Someone ... someone calling me for help."
     "You must have been dreaming."
     "No.  I wasn't asleep."
     "Then you're probably hearing things.  Too much time
leaping from body to body.  Maybe you've got some residual
something or other from the other leaper."  He dismissed it
with a wave of his cigared hand.
     But the Leaper wasn't convinced.  He definitely heard
someone, a female voice, calling for help.  Not just calling for
help, but calling him specifically, by his own name.  And he
couldn't shake the feeling that it was someone very important
to him.