To be cautious is a virtue but …
“Oh, that’s a beauty. We’ve got him now,” Monika Novotny peered at Joellen’s cheek. “Let me see the cut.”
She pointed a small digital camera and clicked a few times while Joellen held the dressing up at one end.
North had insisted on taking her to the emergency room where a doctor had stitched the wound after cleaning it again. He told Joellen he thought she might have a small scar but nothing terrible.
“And you have the emergency room report?”
Joellen fished in her purse and pulled out some papers.
“I don’t know about this,” she said. “I mean he’s never done anything like this before. I really don’t think he meant to do it. He feels very bad about it.”
“Look,” Monika began, as she took the papers, “when a man hits a woman, it’s grounds. The law doesn’t care what the circumstances are or whether he’s done it before. Don’t think this is the last time. Once they start, they continue. And it always gets worse. Now, you have to toughen up. This is going to be a long pull. He’s going to try every trick in the book to hold onto you – to control you. I think we should file for a legal separation, and you should get out of town until we file for the divorce. Is he away now?”
Joellen shook her head. “No, he’s home this week. He’ll be in New York the next. And then he goes to Miami for a trade show. He won’t be back for ten or twelve days.”
“I know it will be disruptive for the children, but is there anywhere you can go?”
“I have a sister. She has room. At least for a short time I could stay there. But we don’t get along all that well,” Joellen said.
“Okay then, you’d better call her. I’ll prepare the papers. You get the kids ready.”
“What about school?” Joellen asked. “There’s a short break coming up while he’s in Miami. But it’s only three days. And what do I say to Brent?”
“Nothing. You plan to take the kids to your sister’s during the school break while he’s away. As if nothing was wrong. I’ll have the papers delivered to him in Miami. And while he’s in New York the week before that, we’ll put a tail on him to see what he’s up to and who he’s with.”
Joellen could barely believe she was doing this. She wanted to discuss it with North. She needed to feel she was not abandoning Brent. For some odd reason she felt sorry for him now. And she wondered how he would take care of everything without her.
“I want you to take this disposable camera and shoot pictures of everything in the house. Go room by room. And all your valuables. Make sure you catalog absolutely everything. Bring the camera back to me before you leave town.”
“Okay,” Joellen wasn’t at all convinced. Brent had been very sweet since it happened. He told the children Mommy had tripped and fallen. He had even stopped wearing his class ring.
Joellen called North Karlson every day. He told her they couldn’t see each other again until her situation was clear.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I know how difficult this is for you right now. But think about what would happen if your husband found out about us. And what about the church? Suppose it got out?”
“Of course you’re right. I know it,” she told him.
“Just be patient,” he said.
But she couldn’t be patient. She had to see him.