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“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”    Paulo Coelho

There are times in life when we have no choice about what we do, or rather there are limited choices available given the circumstances. This was one of those occasions.

When I was first married and living at Kingston I met a vast cross-section of people, as diverse as any I had previously met. The people  next door were classic examples. She was a beautiful lady, beautiful in appearance and her little daughter was a little doll. She looked like a miniature replica of her mother.  Her husband, however was not “beautiful” in any way. He was what I would call a “nasty drunk”. Sober he was bearable, just, but a chauvinist, something I had difficulty putting up with. Drunk he was the meanest son of a gun you would hope to avoid.

We had heard disturbances from next door in the past, heard the police arrive and leave and seen her the following day sporting black eyes and bruises. She was afraid of leaving and so stayed.  When I was home her daughter loved to come over and chatter away as I worked. She was avoiding her father.

Then one night about 2am we heard a terrible shriek from next door, (the daughter), quickly followed by  screams from her mother. “Please stop” and “Help” predominated.  For those who remember, this was back in the days of the “baby doll pyjamas”.  Definitely not something to go running around outside in, but there was no time to dress. So on with a light dressing gown and we started to see what was happening.

The screams were so bad we obviously couldn’t wait for the police. When we  got outside I was astounded by the scene. All our neighbours were lining the footpath watching “the show”, Not one person had offered to go to assist the woman they all knew or the little girl.  There was a man on the verandah looking into the house and the little girl was crying on the lawn. I grabbed one of the neighbours and simply told them to look after her. She was terrified saying over and over “Daddy is killing Mommy”.

My husband charged up the stairs and disappeared into the house.Seeing no-one else was going to help I ran up the stairs and arrived shortly after to see the husband kneeling on top of his wife, her shoulders pinned under his knees as he kept hitting her about the face and body. After my husband grabbed him and pulled him away from her the fight quickly turned towards him. (It usually did work out that way). As they struggled they stumbled out onto the verandah where the second man decided it was a good idea to attack my husband from behind. Not very sporting, nor acceptable to me!

I could not understand why no-one was willing to come to his aid yet were happy to watch someone being attacked by two drunken men. OK, at that point I became truly angry. I was no longer in the Police Force but then enough is enough.  Adrenalin is a wonderful and powerful thing. I grabbed the second fellow and whirled him through the front door, almost a parody of the waltz. After stumbling and falling to the floor I ‘decided’, that is if I actually thought about it, to sit on him to keep him out-of-the-way. It seemed like a good idea at the time and worked. A bloodless coup!

The fellow I was ‘detaining’ was rather perturbed at having a woman, scantily clad at that, sitting on him in the middle of a brawl. The scuffle was continuing unabated outside as her husband decided he didn’t appreciate not being allowed to pound on his wife.  The second fellow kept pleading that he ‘wouldn’t hit a woman’ and ‘if I let him up he would just sit out of the way’. I unceremoniously told him to shut up and keep still. I wasn’t willing to trust him.

The fight suddenly came whirling back into the lounge room. There was a piteous wail from the little girl outside. Around the room they went and into the glass terrarium coffee table, which were the fashion at the time. Unfortunately they were not designed to carry the falling weight of two struggling men and the table smashed as they went down.  I saw blood flowing down my husband’s leg and knew he’d been hurt.

Shortly thereafter, the husband ran out of steam as his drunken binge caught up to him and he was brought under control. His ‘mate’ was still protesting his good behaviour as I sat on him. The local police arrived to take over, finally, and I was able to get to my feet.

Needless to say there was a great deal of smiling  at the scene as they took notes on what had occurred. They knew my husband but it was obviously amusing to see us there in our pyjamas. I can understand why.  It eventuated that the second drunk was the cousin to the woman who was being bashed. He didn’t want to get involved so he stood outside and watched! Both men were arrested and taken away for the night.

We returned home so I could perform some first aid on my husband’s leg. In over 25 years of service the only time he was injured was that night. Ironic don’t you think. Domestics are the worst cases to handle. The police called to the scene so often become the source of the problem once they arrive and are often attacked by everyone. It really is often a no win situation for them.

The police eventually came back to get a formal statement, (not much sleep that night!) and we finally got back to bed.  The sad part was the fact that the husband came back home and the wife remained until he beat her again, so severely that she finally decided to leave him. (He was arrested and jailed this time). I can only hope she made a clean getaway and she is fine now.

In my mind I didn’t really do very much this night, even though the police who came thought I was so brave to tackle the second drunk. However, the potential for things to get much worse was there. My husband was being attacked by two drunks, a very bad situation, and had no hope of assistance from elsewhere. Whilst my attire was not really the best for a fracas there seemed  no choice but to assist. (In my mind at least). Sitting on him seemed a fair exchange for attacking my husband from behind. If he got a few bumps and bruises in the fall then he deserved it.  You simply don’t leave ‘your partner’ in the lurch, you always ‘have his back’.  I’ve said it before, old habits are hard to shake, especially in ‘this game’.

The mindset for being a police officer is fairly entrenched and at this time I had not been very long out of ‘the job’. It’s not an excuse but a fact of life. I was still a police officer in many ways. I guess at times I still am.

The memory does play tricks but I am positive this is exactly what happened. The most embarrassing part for me was being in my ‘baby doll’ pyjamas, not the dress to wear to a drunken brawl, but appreciated by the attending coppers. 🙂

Ciao, Susan

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