Trigger Warning * Violence * Language
When the cops arrived, they questioned my coworkers one by one. I sat in the back, slumped over the manager’s desk.
“You have a phone call,” someone said, prodding me.
I grabbed the phone without getting up.
“All I wanted was for you to go for a ride with me.”
It was Nate.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“Like I’d tell you. I know the cops are there. But I will tell you this much. I’m about to just disappear, and I’m taking the kids with me.”
He hung up.
I ran to the police, who were still out front going over witness statements. “Please! Hurry! You have to get someone to watch my friend’s house. He just called and said he’s going to get the kids!”
“He just called?” one of the cops asked me, raising his eyebrows.
“You have to get someone over there. I don’t know what he’ll do, but he’s going to take the kids, and you can’t let that happen.”
I gave him the address and then ran back to the phone and called my friend, Christine.
“The cops should be on their way to your house to watch it. Nate went crazy here and now he said he’s on his way there to get the kids.” I could barely breathe, choking on fear that I was going to be too late.
Christine handed the phone over to her husband, Steve, so I could tell him exactly what happened.
“I don’t have time right now,” I cried, “but…Steve, please don’t let him hurt my babies. Please…please….”
“I won’t let him, Angie. I promise. I’ve got my shotgun. You come here now, ok? We’ll protect you and your babies.”
I hung up and waited for the police to finish and for someone to follow me in case Nate tried anything on the way. He seemed capable of anything. They told me other cops were watching the house, but no one felt it necessary to escort me or take me anywhere else.
As soon as I arrived at Christine’s, Steve rushed me into the house and went back out to move my car as far out of view as possible. The boys were asleep, but Stacey was toddling around, and when she saw me, she smiled and ran to me. I scooped her up and tried not to cry. I was thankful they were all safe, and even more that they had no idea something bad was happening.
For the next thirty minutes, I told them about the night before and everything that had happened tonight at work. When I had asked for a last-minute babysitter, I hadn’t told them about anything, afraid they would turn me down. They were shocked, almost in disbelief. Nate was so good at fooling people, making them think he was such a good guy, and I could see it written all over their faces: that little bit of doubt.
Stacey babbled in my arms, pulling on my hair, and for a moment, everything that had occurred during the last twenty-four hours seemed like just a bad dream. How could anything be wrong with such a beautiful baby playing in my arms, covering me in wet kisses?
I wanted to relax, but my heart wouldn’t stop racing. And at some point, the police watching the trailer left and Nate, who was also watching, pulled into the driveway.
“He’s here. Hide.” Steve pushed me toward the back of the trailer.
I swooped up my giggling baby girl and ran through the trailer to their bedroom. I stopped right out of sight, just as the front door opened.
“Bring Angie to the door,” Nate said. His voice was flat.
“Now, maybe you two can talk later, right?” Steve also sounded perfectly calm but I knew he wasn’t. The shotgun he had held since I’d arrived was proof enough that he took the situation seriously.
I held my breath, straining to hear every word. But my husband only repeated himself. His temper always got the best of him, so to hear him so calmly making his request was unnerving.
Christine stood just outside the bedroom door, dialing 9-1-1. “Where are you? Where did the cops go? He’s here, damn it, he’s here!”
My daughter tugged on my earrings and swirled my hair around her tiny fingers. “Mama,” she said, smiling at me. I marveled at the way she seemed oblivious to the fear and tension in the air.
“Bring Angie to the door. Now.”
His voice raised slightly, anger and urgency trying to creep in but held at bay, in control, not breaking.
He knew I was there. My car was parked out front, and where else could I have gone anyway? This is where my kids were, where he threatened to come take them away from me. Of course I’d come here to get them instead of running.
“Just a minute, man,” Steve said. “Wait here. I’ll go talk to her, see if we can work this out, ok?”
The door squeaked as Steve closed it. I imagined Nate standing on the other side, a familiar look on his face, the one I knew only as rage, the one that led to pain.
Steve ran across the kitchen and snatched the phone from his wife. His eyes were full of fear, wide, red.
“Look!” he screamed. “I don’t know where the hell the cops went, but Nate is here and he’s not the same. There’s a look in his eye that is scaring even me. He won’t take his hand out of his pocket and it looks like he has a gun. And he just wants his wife. Get someone here now!”
I heard the door squeak again. Both Steve and Christine looked toward the living room. I retreated further into the room, backing away quietly, almost falling onto the bed. The bed was all made up nicely. Christine always made her bed, and Nate always wanted me to make ours. I wished for a moment that’s all he wanted now. Fine, I’d made the damn bed. Let’s just go back to that. Not this.
“Nate, wait…” Steve said.
I peeked around the corner. I knew better than to let Nate see me, but I couldn’t not look. Christine snatched her own handgun off the counter and pointed it at my husband. Steve was already at the front door, blocking Nate’s way.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Nate said.
He pulled his hand out of his pocket. He held a gun. He pointed it at Steve’s head. I stopped looking and hugged my baby girl tighter. The air smelled faintly of onions, Aqua Net, and cigarettes. And fear.
A single gunshot rang out. Only silence followed.
Who? Which one?
But I knew. I felt it. Nate was dead.
He fell, a slow motion crumpling of his 6’1 body, down the stairs, away from us. There was no blood, no breathing, no sound at all.
No one spoke. What was there to say? Perhaps we were all surprised, more surprised than might be normal, because didn’t we each for just a moment expect to die?
I walked to the door and looked down at him. This is how it ends, I thought. Nine years of hell, and this is how it ends.
Christine took the baby from my arms; I couldn’t stop looking at Nate. My boys slept in a bedroom a mere six feet away, and not a sound came from within. None of our three children knew their father was now dead.
I wasn’t glad he was dead, but maybe now I could begin to live.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!