Albert Taylor continued to kick his son for many moments, until Rebecca finally found her voice and screamed, “Albert, stop, you're killing him!” Not used to his wife confronting him in any way, Albert stopped his foot in mid-swing and turned toward her, shock registering on his face. He lowered his foot to the ground and took one step toward her. His right hand balled into a fist, which he raised in order to strike her. He was very drunk, however, and as he swung at her, she ducked under his arm and scrambled around him as his momentum drove him into the wall. She quickly covered Erik with her own body as he regained his balance and whirled around to face them. Confusion was evident in his face as he looked at the sight before his eyes. His mind tried to understand what he was seeing. His wife was on the floor, trying to protect…what? An animal? No, not an animal. What then? The answer slowly seeped into his alcohol-ridden brain, and the confusion turned to horror as he realized what he had done. Not horror for the act itself, but horror as the consequences for his actions became clear to him. If the boy died, he would be a murderer, and as such, he would be sent to prison, or worse, put to death.
He reached one meaty hand out and grabbed his wife by the shoulder. “Rebecca,” he rasped out as he dragged her to her feet, “get the doctor, now!” He threw her toward the door and then turned his attention to Erik. Rebecca took one horrified look at him kneeling over her beloved Erik before turning and sprinting out the door.
The doctor's house was about three miles from the Taylor house, and by the time Rebecca got there, she was ready to collapse from exhaustion. She steeled herself, however, and managed to climb the three steps of the porch, cross to the door, and reach up and press the doorbell of the white clapboard house. She could hear the bell ringing throughout the darkened house, and she frantically pressed the button again and again, each time hearing the shrill sound echo into silence. She did not know how many times she pressed the bell before hearing a new sound—footsteps descending the stairs.
She was leaning against the door as she silently urged the bell to retrieve the occupant of the house, so when the doctor opened the door, she collapsed into him. His eyes went wide at the sight of the woman in his arms; she was barefoot, and her ragged clothing was soaked through. During her desperate flight to the doctor, she had not even noticed that it was raining heavily.
“Doctor,” she gasped, “you must come now. My son, my Erik, is dying.”
The doctor took a long look at the woman, trying to figure out if he knew her. She was only about five feet tall, had waist-length, matted black hair and delicate features. He inwardly seethed when he noticed the fresh bruise on her left cheekbone. Even in her current state, he could tell that she was a beautiful woman, but he couldn't recall her name. He pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind, however, as she continued to implore him to come with her, pulling him with her tiny hands toward the road and the storm.
“Wait,” he said, taking her hands in his, “I must get my bag and then we can take my car.”
“Car?” she questioned, confusion spreading across her lovely face.
“Yes, it’s raining cats and dogs out there,” the doctor said. “I have a car, and it will protect us from the storm.”
Rebecca had never ridden in a car before, and she had assumed they would get back to her home the same way she had gotten to the doctor's—by running. A sigh of relief escaped her at the thought that she wouldn’t have to run back.
The doctor looked at her for a moment, taking in her drenched state, and then said, “Wait here; I'll be right back,” and he returned to his house to gather the necessary equipment.Rebecca stood on the porch, trembling with the cold that was beginning to seep into her body and with the fear that had permeated her from the moment she saw her husband approach Erik with the jar. As she waited for the doctor, her mind went back to the day, almost seventeen years before, when her darling boy was born.