Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C4.6

Brielle and Raina sat quietly in the holding cell when a jailer came down the hall and stopped at the door. He took a set of several keys, stuck one in the lock and turned it. The sound of a buzzer went off and he opened the door to their cell.

“Markowitz, Carrier, someone has posted bail for you fine ladies. You can go now,” he rudely informed.

Brielle and Raina got up and the jailer led them down the hall toward processing.

When Brielle and Raina collected their valuables, they were taken to the lobby where Grandma Bennett and Raina’s husband Paul Carrier were waiting.

Later that evening, when Brielle got her SUV out of the impound yard and Grandma Bennett met her at her house, they all, including Paul and Raina, gathered in Brielle’s living room. Jesse and Jerome joined them. Brielle spoke up.

“How on earth did Bobby, of all people, end up as sheriff of Glover County?” Brielle asked, bewildered, “How does anyone that dumb become sheriff- especially after his brother, Johnny, a former sheriff, goes to prison for abuse of power?”

“Well, after Sheriff Crawford was killed in a hunting accident last year, Bobby happened to be next in line. He was deputy sheriff when Sheriff Crawford died, so he just slid right into his spot. He took over as acting sheriff and he will continue as such until the next election,” Jesse answered, “Pretty convenient, don’tcha think?”

Backstory

“Yep! That hunting incident was no accident!” Grandma Bennett said in a voice of contempt, “Everybody knows it, they just can’t prove it! It’s common knowledge that Bobby Crabtree wanted to be sheriff so bad he could taste it. And it is awful convenient that Crawford died when he did.”

“There’s a lot of people who think that Bobby Crabtree had Sheriff Crawford murdered. He resented Crawford for a long time simply for taking over when his brother, Johnny got arrested and sent to the federal prison in Bryson. In fact, he never liked Crawford because Crawford went by the book and believed in the order of law. Crawford wasn’t crooked like Johnny Crabtree, and he didn’t play favorites. He gave special treatment to no one, not even his own family! No one could corrupt him, so they took him out!” Jerome added.

“The rest of his family moved away because they were being harassed and were afraid that they were on the endangered list too, because they knew too much,” Raina’s husband, Paul said.

Brielle turned to Raina.

“Raina, why didn’t you tell me that Bobby Crabtree was the sheriff?” she asked in a voice of concern.

“I didn’t think about it, Brielle. We were going to do some catching up when we got home from the reunion, and I was going to tell you everything, everything that had happened since you left. I just didn’t know that the reunion would go down like it did. I honestly thought that most of them had grown up because I hadn’t seen them in years myself,” Raina replied, “I’m so sorry, Brielle.”

The Story of Sheriff Crawford

“It’s not your fault, Raina,” Brielle sighed. She looked at Grandma Bennett.

“I’m so glad you got me out of jail, Grandma, and that there was a bail bonds open on a Saturday!”

“You’re very lucky, Brielle! Being as you must report for work Monday afternoon, you would’ve missed your first day of work and that job would have gone bye-bye!” Grandma Bennett told her, “So, I had to bail you out! Now, have they set a court date for you?”

“October the thirtieth.” Brielle responded.

“Oh, yes. The county court stays pretty backed up with all the cases.”

“Well, the good thing is that I’ll just be finishing my probationary period when that day rolls around. So, I’m glad of that!”

That night after Brielle got home and put all the children to bed, she sat down at her computer. She unbuttoned the top three buttons of her shirt. Then she removed one of the buttons to reveal a button-style body camera. The camera looked somewhat like a flash drive with a button on the front.

“It’s a good thing Grandma Bennett bailed me out before they had a chance to search me,” Brielle thought to herself as she hooked the body cam up to a USB cord.

She then took the other end of the cord and hooked it up to her computer and downloaded the recording that was on the body cam.

Once she downloaded the video, she saved it in a folder that she named, “Reunion Evidence.” Next, she watched the video.

The video showed the altercation at the reunion, every second of it. It had recorded both the audio and video of the altercation. As Brielle watched, a big smile spread across her face. She had gotten everything on video.

A Damning Video

She had gotten the conversation of the bullies putting her down for her having been an exotic dancer in California, the attempted assault by Ashton when he had grabbed her by the arm to keep her from getting into her SUV and leaving, the resulting self-defense move she’d made to protect herself from Ashton, the attempted escape and the sheriff’s shooting her back window out while trying to stop her and Raina from leaving.

Brielle had also managed to record hers and Raina’s arrest and the trip to the jail in the back of the squad car. She had gotten it all on camera, and she grinned from ear to ear as she uploaded the damning video on all her social media channels, being sure to caption the video with these words:

“Bullies don’t change, they only grow bigger. This is the behavior my friend and I had to deal with at our twentieth high school reunion. The Thomasville HS class of 2003 and other classes have shown that they haven’t matured one iota. It’s sad when adults behave so childishly. And this is proof that I had to defend myself from a possible attack, only to be arrested along with my friend because I stood up to the wrong people.”

Now she had leverage! By the next day, Brielle’s incriminating recording had gone viral.

Townies, Cronies and Hayseeds II C4

Chapter 4

Deja Vu

The following Saturday was a sunny day with a cool breeze. A severe thunderstorm, followed by a cool front had blown through the night before, so the high was expected to be in the mid-eighties, which was perfect during late July in Tennessee. It was a huge break from the high humidity, which was the norm during a mid-southern summer.

The reunion was held at the old boat ramp on the Mississippi River and Brielle had picked up Raina. They pulled into the huge picnic area next to the boat dock to see a huge crowd of people among several parked cars. Brielle hardly recognized any of her schoolmates.

Many of them were now fat and bald. Many more looked much older than their ages due to years of drugs, alcohol, and hard partying. Only about five out of over a hundred people who attended the reunion kept their youthful looks. Brielle and Raina were two of them. They had managed to grow in beauty since high school due to the self-care they’d both practiced.

Brielle parked her SUV. She and Raina climbed out of the vehicle and the old high school clique looked up to see them. They sneered when they saw Raina.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay The Same

“Oh, God! Not that bitch, Raina! And who is the other bitch who’s with her? I don’t believe I recognize her,” Misty said, sitting up in her chair to get a good look at the mystery woman beside Raina.

“I don’t recognize her, either. Did she even attend school with us? And if not, what is she doing here?” Rita asked in a scornful tone.

Stan looked up.

“Wait, that’s the woman from California, who brought the old Hancock House from us just last month. Brielle Markowitz, I believe is her name,” he said.

“Brielle, Markowitz? From California? Oh, wait a minute! That can’t be! Brielle Bennett, that nerdy bitch in high school, didn’t she also move to California?” Rita cried.

“Well, she looks totally different! Damn, she looks pretty good now,” Grant blurted out before Misty, who sat beside him, gave him a hard smack across the shoulder.

“Don’t you ever let me hear you compliment that trash again!” Misty growled, warning her husband.

Petunia, jumped with shock. She nudged Stan with her elbow.

“Hey, Stan! Look who it is! It’s Brielle Markowitz- AKA Brielle Bennett! God! If only we’d known which Brielle we were talking to! And we let that bitch talk us down tens of thousands of dollars by tempting us with cash and buy that house outright! God! I feel like such a damned idiot! If we’d known she was Brielle Bennett instead of just another person named Brielle from California, do you think we’d have let her talk us down? Hell to the no!”

Bullies Don’t Change, They Only Grow Bigger

Stan nearly spat out his drink.

“No way!”

Rita walked over to Misty, who was also in attendance. Bobby, the new Sheriff, joined them.

“I can’t believe she’s here.”

“Look, let’s just play nice, find out a little info on her. Make her think that we’ve let bygones be bygones. Okay?” Rita advised, “Let’s just keep our thoughts to ourselves for now.”

“I won’t make you any promises, Rita. But I’ll do my best,” Misty growled, glaring at Brielle and Raina.

Brielle shook hands with a few classmates she’d gotten along with and a few of them hugged her and welcomed her back. They also shook hands with Raina, asking how her husband, Paul and her children were doing. Rita, Jada, Sarah, Misty, and Connye craned their necks and watched Brielle closely, seeming to study her every move and expression.

“Damn, she seems so confident and upbeat- so sure of herself,” Sarah remarked, “She’s definitely not the mousy, little wallflower she was in high school, that’s for sure. I mean, look at her, she seems so- so happy and cheerful! So calm, cool, and collected! So suave!”

The New and Improved Brielle

“Alright, Sarah, we get the point!” Rita said with disdain dripping from her voice.

“All I have to say is that she had better not get too uppity and full of herself here! She’s not in California anymore and people around here don’t like that shit!” Misty said in a threatening tone.

“Allow me to go break up that little party over there,” Rita sneered as she got up.

As Brielle and Raina continued to laugh and shoot the breeze with the less-popular classmates, Brielle, heard someone walk up behind her. She spun around to see a late-thirties, average sized, blonde woman sporting a short, asymmetric, Karen-style haircut.

“So, when did you get back?” Misty Allen Lindsay asked Brielle.

“Almost four weeks ago. And your name is?” Brielle replied.

“I can’t believe you don’t remember me. I’m one you should remember. It’s Misty,” Misty said in a tone of indignation.

“Nice to see you again,” Brielle said with a half-hearted smile.

“Likewise,” Misty said with a hint of sarcasm.

Townies, Cronies and Hayseeds II C3.5

Privacy security or safeguard diagram or flowchart written on a dry erase board as tips, advice or information on making your personal, sensitive data safe and secure

Brielle had just fed and burped the baby and laid her asleep in her play pin. She then sat down to eat when suddenly, her cellphone began to ring with the song, “These Boots Are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra for her ringtone. She had selected the ringtone specifically as the ringtone for Bill’s number that afternoon because she knew that Bill would call just as soon as he’d gotten home and found that she and the girls were gone, and Brielle’s things were missing.

Grandma Bennett looked at her from across the table.

“It’s Bill, isn’t it?” She asked.

Jesse stood up with a serious look on his face.

“Nobody but.” Brielle replied.

She continued to let the phone ring.

“Well, are you going to answer it?” Jesse asked.

“I don’t know if I should. I left him the new number in case he wanted to talk to the kids.” Brielle said.

“You gave that monster your new number? Brielle, what in the heavens were you thinking?” Grandma Bennett asked in an annoyed tone.

“He’s the girls’ father, Grandma. I can’t just cut him out completely. And you don’t know him. He’s vindictive as hell. He’ll use this to tell the courts that I’m keeping him for seeing the girls- violating his rights as a father.”

His rights? What about your rights to be safe and not to be harmed? What about the girls’ rights not to be harmed?” Joey asked angrily.

“I know, Joey. But that won’t carry much weight with Bill. He doesn’t care.”

As they talked, Bandit, curled up on the floor under the table, panted and his ears perked up. The phone finally stopped ringing after the sixth ring. Then began ringing again. After Bill attempted to call for the third time, Brielle turned off her ringer.

“You don’t think he’ll show up here, do you?” Amy asked.

“He better not show up here!” Paul thundered.

“Damn right! We’ll give him a welcome wagon he’ll never forget!” Jesse promised in a threatening tone.

Brielle snickered.

“Alright, knock it off!” Grandma Bennett ordered, “You boys stop crowin’! He’s not going to come all the way here.”

“You think not? Grandma, somebody like him could hop on a plane and be here in a matter of hours.” Jerome said.

“I don’t think so.” Grandma said, “I don’t think he’s that stupid.”

“Oh, Lord, I hope not.” Brielle sighed.

“Well, Grandma. We’ve got to go home and retire.” Jesse told Grandma Bennett as he leaned down and kissed her. Each of the guys kissed Grandma Bennett, Brielle and each of the girls and baby before they gathered their wives and children and left for their houses.

Now, it was just Brielle, Grandma Bennett, the girls, and baby in the house. Brielle rose from the table.

“Come on, girls. Let’s get ready for bed.” Brielle called.

After the girls were in bed, Brielle and Grandma Bennett sat up and talked. Grandma Bennett picked up her coffee mug, took a sip, and set it down on a folded napkin on the table.

“So, what happened between you and Bill, Brielle. What did he do this time?” She asked.

“He’s just got a volatile temper. He just can’t control his temper. And he thinks he owns me and the girls. He treats us more like his property than his family.” Brielle explained.

“He hit you again, didn’t he?” Grandma Bennett pressed.

“Yes. He hit me, Grandma. But never again. Because I left for good this time. I need to be happy. The girls need to be happy, and they need to live in peace. I must teach them that it’s not okay for a man to hit you and this is how I do it. I have to be an example for my girls.” Brielle continued.

“That’s right, Brielle. And I’m so proud of you for leaving that scumbag! Just don’t go back to him. Don’t let him talk you into- “

“Don’t worry, Grandma. I won’t. I’m done with him. I don’t even love him anymore.”

“I’m glad to hear it. You deserve better than him, Brielle. You deserve to be happy for once.”

“You’re right. I do. And so, do the girls.”

Brielle than got up, then she turned back around and looked at Grandma Bennett.

“Oh, by the way, do you have this week’s newspaper lying around somewhere? I need to look in the classifieds and the real estate ads. I want to see about buying a place for me and the girls and start looking for a job soon.”

“Sure. This week’s newspaper is lying on the counter. I just got through reading it.” Grandma Bennett answered as she pointed to the counter with the newspaper folded on top of it.

Brielle picked it up and learned against the counter as she read it.

“It says here that there’s a 4-bedroom house for sale a few miles down the road from here. It’s in the country where it’s peaceful and quiet.” Brielle said as she continued to read.

“That’s the old Hancock Place. It’s been up for sale for over two years, and they can’t seem to sell it.” Grandma Bennett told her.

“I wonder why.”

“Because they wanted too much for it. The realtors have since brought down the price a little and they still can’t sell the place.”

“I’d like to call the realtors in the morning to set up an appointment. Then I want to go look for a job. It’s ten o’clock so I need to get to bed so that I can get up bright and early. Thanks again, Grandma.” Brielle said sweetly.

She then leaned down and kissed her grandmother on the cheek.

“Goodnight, Sugar. I’ll see you in the morning.” Grandma Bennett said.

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:

“Bill,

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.

Sincerely,

Brielle

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

(323)555-0672”

 

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.

“Yes.”

“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…