We didn’t have a peep-hole. We’d been meaning to put one in, but it was one of those things we didn’t feel like getting around to. A peep-hole was boring, as purchases went. Easier to just not answer the door if I didn’t know who it was and he wasn’t home. I didn’t often feel like answering, anyway. This time of year, if it wasn’t the UPS guy, who would leave the package by the door, or the guy with the clipboard who wanted to convince me and my husband to have cheaper electric bills, it was a politician with a shiny pamphlet and a nervous smile.
There was no need to greet any of them face to face, to open the door and listen to them talk.
I would sometimes stand on the front porch, just a small square that would fit four if we stood in a tight circle, and imagine what I would do if someone ran up from out of nowhere. (I watch a lot of true crime shows.) The first time I did this was after the first snow, standing out there with a glass of wine and my one-a-day cigarette. I imagined him coming from around the side of the house, from just the other side of the railing, and jumping the three stairs to circle me in his arms and force me inside.
Before he could get me in, with his chest and thick black coat pressed into my back and his arms bruising my ribs, I’d make a fist and throw it over my shoulder, right into his Adam’s apple. When his grip loosened as he tried to breathe, I’d run down the stairs, down the snowy walk, and take a left toward t–
The sidewalk was slippery and the inertia was too great. I’d kept going, into the street, and the grill of a pickup slammed my side. My body rolled under the tires.
Punch him in the throat, break free, run down the snowy walk, and grab the fencepost. Use it to swing you around, guide you to the sidewalk and hold you back from the street. Keep running.
I finished my cigarette that night and went inside, feeling adrenalized, ready. They talk about women who do amazing things to protect their “cubs,” like that eighteen-year-old with a baby who called Emergency before blowing a shotgun hole in a robber, but I’m pretty sure anyone would do the same to protect their own lives. I don’t have a baby, never wanted one (my husband and I even made sure there could never be an accident), but if a man broke into my house and posed any kind of threat, I’d have no trouble blowing him away. His life or mine. I choose mine.
Of course, where we live, we thought there was little risk of that. That’s why we never got around to the peep-hole, and why I didn’t have a gun I could use to blow someone away. If I’d had a gun, what would I have done when he’d walked right through the door I’d forgotten to lock, anyway? Maybe I’d have said, “Excuse me. I just have to go get something. Don’t worry–I’ll be right back so you can get to raping me. We have a beer in the fridge, if you want. My husband’ll understand if you drink it.”
When you imagine what you’d do in a fight (and my husband said it was good planning, even if it didn’t work that time, that visualization could be helpful in determining how to handle future situations), you can put your arms and his arms wherever you want them. You can make yourself as strong as you want to be, make him as weak or as slow as you need him to be to make sure you get free. In real life, though, sometimes your arms are tucked under his and you can’t pound his Adam’s apple straight through to the back of his neck. Sometimes all you kick when you flail back your heel is his hard shin, the air, or the wall you just painted. Sometimes all you can do is use every bit of strength you have and feel frustrated that you’re just not strong enough and can’t get your cheek away from his loose face skin that smells like Obsession, that old cologne. Sometimes you can’t get your legs out from under his big knees and your chin is throbbing from when he slammed it into the stone floor and you’re wondering if he’s going to punch you where you already hurt, knock out your teeth, or strangle you. On those crime shows, a lot of women end up being strangled. You’ve always hated the idea of not being able to breathe, of dying with his warm, dry hands wrapped around your neck and his eyes looking down at you. There may not be a good way to die prematurely, but that was one of the worst, second to being set on fire like the Cheshire women. What if he sets you
you suddenly remember what it felt like the first time you had sex, how foreign a penis felt, how uncomfortable, and how it had never felt that way since until now
get out get out get out get get out out get get out out
There’s a gray mark on the ceiling where I bumped it with the roller when I was painting the walls. When he finishes, he does it inside of me without making a sound and I think I should have been the one to get fixed, but it was just easier for him.
Even if we’d had a peep-hole, this would have happened. An unlocked door is an unlocked door. If we’d had a peep-hole, maybe I could have watched him leave and tried to see where he went, which way he turned on the sidewalk. Sometimes, though, you’re afraid to open the door even if the person’s already gone, and besides, it could take you so long to get there that you will have missed him, anyway. Sometimes you wish you wore a gun in a thigh holster just in case you’d ever need it, as unlikely as it is or as paranoid as other people think you are. Other people are rarely forcibly impregnated by a piece of putrid feces, so their judgments are irrelevant. Maybe if you wore a gun on your thigh you could have pulled it out of the holster while he was unbuttoning his pants and shot him in the eye.
Sometimes, you make up scenarios even weeks after it’s happened and the test says positive, making yourself as strong or as armed as you need to be, making him as weak or as slow as you need him to be, so you can get back to the time before his grotesque, milky ooze was building cells inside of you, cells you never wanted even if they came from the only person whose child you would ever be willing to have, if you were ever willing, but you weren’t.
I look out the new peep-hole and watch the man with the gray hair walk away, leaving his pamphlet on top of the mailbox. This is the time of year when the politicians come knocking between the UPS guy and the electric bill guy. If they aren’t knocking on your door, they’re knocking at your living room through your TV, climbing into your rape womb with their everyone-but-me morals and their arrogance.
“I want those women who find themselves in circumstances that are absolutely less than ideal, for them to be supported, for adoptions to be made easier. I would counsel that person to choose life despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in,” Sarah Palin told Katie Couric on my TV. I remember seeing that years ago, before having the benefit of finding myself in such horrific, horrific circumstances.
Now, after the fact, I hear Rick Santorum, who has probably never had a man pound his face before stuffing himself inside of him (and maybe Palin has, I don’t know), and who can never receive the “gift of a human life” by this method, say, “We have to make the best out of a bad situation. And that is making the best of a bad situation.”
And all I can think is, Thank you, sir. May I have another? and Who is this “we”?