Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Sixty-six:

Amy Russo (Early afternoon of September 13, 1983)

I could cut the tension in the car with a knife. Ivan had not said a word to me since leaving the funeral home and I was beginning to worry. I just sat in that passenger’s seat, fearful of what he might do to me when we get inside the house.

Opening the door, the kids zoomed past me, heading straight for their rooms, while Ivan followed me into the kitchen. “What do you think you’re doing?” he interrogated.

“These dishes aren’t going to wash themselves,” I answered, plugging up the sink, then turning it on hot.

“I mean with this Joey guy,” he said, coming up behind me and turning the faucet back off. “Who do you think you’re kidding?”

“Are you still on that?” I smiled, nervously. “I already told you; we’re just friends, nothing more. You don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Cut the shit, Amy. I saw how quick you were to run after him earlier, that look you had when he stormed and when you came back in. You reeked of guilt and shame, that smell you had on you all throughout that damn dinner party.”

“I don’t know what you’re—”

“You know he threw his wife down a flight of stairs, right?” Ivan laughed. “He’ll do the same you. So you can paint me as the big, bad wolf all you want, but I’m just looking out for you.”

“Yeah, right,” I said under my breath, hoping he wouldn’t hear me. However, I could feel him glaring at me as I turned my attention back towards the dishes.

“What the fuck did you just say to me?” When I didn’t respond, he grabbed me by the wrist and yanked me back around. His grip got tighter and tighter the more infuriated he became. “Look at me when I’m talking to you, damnit!”

“You’re hurting me,” I cried out.

However, Ivan did not let go. Instead, he simply leaned in, menacingly, nose flaring. “Everything I have done for the past nine years has been for you and this family. You think I wanted this life? You think I wanted to get married young, especially to someone as pathetic as you? I didn’t, in fact, you were only supposed to be a one-night stand. So if you wanna go on and fuck some psycho, be my guest, but I wouldn’t get to comfortable if I were you. The reason anyone, even Joey, would want an actual relationship with you is if you get pregnant with one of their kids. You are nothing, but a lousy rebound to him.”

Ivan, soon enough, let go of my, now, throbbing wrist and left me, alone to sob on the kitchen floor. It was always the same feeling I’d get after every single one of our dispatches, that helpless, regretful feeling. Maybe, he’s right; maybe, I am pathetic. Why else would I stay with him after all these years of both verbal and physical abuse? Why would any self-respecting woman want to live like that? I used to think it was for love, but now, I’m not so sure.

While wiping my tears away, I heard a knock at the door. Jumping to my feet, I slowly made my way over to it, sniffling at every other step I took. Opening up the door, I saw that it was none other than Adriene Ricci, holding up a bottle of hard cider. “Adriene, hey, to what do I owe the pleasure?” I asked, putting on a fake smile. We just saw each other at the funeral; what could she possibly want to discuss now?

“Well, I was just in the neighborhood, visiting a couple of old friends. That funeral had me thinking anyone of us could be dead tomorrow. We should spend as much time as can with loved ones before it’s too late,” she explained, looking down at her feet. “Anyway, I wanted to drop by to see how you were doing.”

“I’m fine, I suppose,” I answered, crossing my arms and leaning against the doorway. “With all things considered.”

“Really? Because I noticed things got pretty heated between you and Joey towards the end of the reception there.”

“You saw that?” That’s strange; I thought for sure no one was around us at the time. “It was nothing, really. Him and I just view the world differently; that’s all.”

“May I come in?”

“Now?” My eyes widened.

Adriene laughed. “Yes, now, Silly. When else?”

“Now isn’t really a good time, though. You see, everyone’s real pooped from the funeral and—”

“Well, I’m not here for them,” she said, letting herself in. “This will only take a minute. I have something for you.”

Realizing that the only way I was going to get this woman out of my hair was to indulge in what she had to say, I shut the door and followed her into the dining room. “You have something for me, huh? Is it that hard cider by chance?”

“That’s part of it,” she grinned, setting the bottle on the table as she reached into her purse. She then pulled out an orange pill container and handed it over to me. “I noticed you rubbing your back a lot earlier. You looked to be in a lot of pain. I figured these would come in handy.”

I opened the bottle and popped out two dark blue pills into the palm of my hand. I inspected one of them closer and made note of an A and a G carved into the center.

“You mind it I have a look?” Adriene pointed at my back the moment I looked back up at her. “I did study to be physical therapist before switching my major to chemistry. Maybe, I can help.”

“Um, yeah, sure,” I agreed, hesitantly, as I turned around. “Although, I don’t think it’s that serious. I mean, I just slipped and fell in the shower. I’m sure it’s only a bruise.”

Adriene began to unzip my dress and I immediately flinched when she touched just one of the many bruises Ivan has left on me over the years. “How many times did you say you fell again?”

Like that, I started to cry once more. I didn’t what felt worse: the bruises or someone actually seeing the bruises.

“Take two a day,” Adriene prescribed, zipping me back up. I turned back around to face her and she wiped away my tears. “Your pain will go away soon enough.”

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