02 January 1999

I had become an Avon lady before I became a Kroger deli clerk and was finally picking up some steam with it. Not huge money, but better than I’d been doing. Saturday was ordering day and I had a decent order to drop off.

Plus I had a paycheck from Kroger that I had to deposit.

So I had two very good reasons to leave the house.

Getting the nerve up was a nightmare. I got a phone call from Kroger as I was percolating around to making my move and they wanted to know if I could come in. Mike was standing right there, I don’t even remember why, and I said sure, I can do that. I felt terrible because I knew I wouldn’t be going in. He knew where I worked and if I’d tried keeping Sean at the weekend daycare while I worked those hours, he knew where that was too and all kinds of unpleasantness might have happened. So the same man who had angrily insisted I get a job, any fucking job at all, had now lost me one that had taken me months to find. Thanks?

Back in the front room, I looked around at all the stolen equipment and Mike looked at me and said to Scott, “Look at her. She’s excited about it.” I smiled, knowing that if I didn’t I was likely to put myself into immediate danger. Meanwhile I was thinking things like, Almost four fucking years of marriage and he still doesn’t know me.

As I was about to leave for the bank I asked Sean if he wanted to come along. Sean ran to the front door and started chanting, “Outside! Outside!” I got him dressed and we left.

I dropped off my Avon order and then kiddo and I went to the bank. Even on January 2, it was closed. Fine. I didn’t want to deposit my paycheck anyway. I took $200 out of the bank and we went to Fort Bragg. I called Reba from one of the pay phones. As soon as she answered I burst into tears.

I had been thinking up to this point that maybe there was some third way in between going to the cops and doing nothing that would get the stolen equipment returned but not send Mike to jail. No, Reba said, you have to go to the police. She tried to call Mike at home and the line was busy; could have been Mike calling his mother, could have been one of them on the internet. Reba called me back and we talked about how to do things. I did not have to go back home, she pointed out. She’s an old hand at hotel and motel admin because she worked for a lot of years as a night auditor. We’ll get you checked into a room under an assumed name, she said. That made me feel a lot better and I promised to keep her posted. We got off the phone and I headed for the military police (MP) station.

As I walked in, it was this hallway with a checkin window on the right side just past the front doors. There were a couple guys milling around in the office beyond the window. I said to them, “You know the rigger shop on Gruber Road? There’s been a burglary.”

“We just found out about that this morning,” one of them said. “How did you know about it?”

“I know who did it,” I replied.

His face went very solemn (though not angry) and he immediately hopped to and invited me to come in.

I gave them the particulars and they said well, with the stolen property being stored off-post, the MPs would not have jurisdiction to make an arrest — but Criminal Investigation Division (CID) did have jurisdiction, so they would have to call a guy in. It wouldn’t take long. They invited me and Sean to sit in a little side office and wait for him.

He came through the door in civvies and the first question out of his mouth was, “Why are you doing this?”

I told him I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be an accessory after the fact and that would make an already bad situation even worse. I thought afterwards that another good reason for me to report it was that if Mike and Scott had never been caught, someone at the rigger shop or at their parent company might have taken the fall for it — every Army unit has a unit fuckup. So either way, Mike had to go down.

We talked a good while and after he got the particulars of the crime, he started giving me all this information and material about victim assistance because, as the witness to two felony crimes (breaking-and-entering and grand larceny), I was entitled to it. While we were having this conversation Sean, who was still in diapers, not only went Number Two but leaked up his back. So we got done as quickly as we could because the CID guy needed to arrange the arrest before Mike got suspicious and tried to hide the stolen property anyway.

I went back to the post exchange and as I was walking into the department store itself (kind of like Walmart or Kmart or Target), this guy walking out felt the need to tell me my son had had an accident. Thanks, dude, I thought I was about to have a seizure or something. I don’t know why I had walked out of our house without Sean’s diaper bag. Panicked, I think. It would have been reasonable to take it with me but I hadn’t been reasonable anymore except for my basic drive to deal with the problem Mike had caused. Must have used up all my reasonable points. I was afraid he’d suspect something, I think. But I got Sean some diapers and wipes and clothes and I think I got myself some underwear and we were good to go.

After that, Reba helped me check into a local motel under an assumed name.

Everything’s kind of a blur. I know she and I talked about Mike being royally pissed off and calling her to scream at her, “Where is my wife???” and I must have hidden the car from view away from the main road, because apparently he’d driven around searching. I know I talked with the CID guy again and he told me they’d made the arrest and recovered everything, and also that the victim-assistance people were all stranded in a blizzard in Oklahoma. (Great.) I know I called Kroger at some point, told them what was going on, and apologized because I was going to have to resign as it was no longer safe for me to go to work.

But Sean and I were safe from his father so I was taking things a day at a time.