I’ve been asked for Monster and Ex’s story from SHAMELESS. Monster and Ex aren’t your typical couple – this is their background story – with both points of view.
It was early evening when I arrived at the crappy little house, a three bedroom shithole with half the siding off and a sagging front porch. I could hear children crying, and a muffled, but loud voice yelling as I walked past three Harleys toward the front porch of the battered place. As I walked across dead grass and weeds, two oversize men – one with a wild head of shaggy dark hair and a matching full beard, the other bald as a cue ball - in “Purple Pranksterz Motorcycle Club” jean vests stood up to block the torn screen door.
Shaggy spoke “Gotta wait, man, Cooler is straightening out his old lady.”
He was a big guy, and for a moment, I wondered if he was actually one of those big teddy bear types where the gruff exterior hid a kind heart. The small black “1%” patch on the front of his vest spoke otherwise. Cueball moved up beside him, looking bored.
I dropped my eyes and looked down at my feet for a second. The voice from inside the house grew louder and clearer: “I’ll teach your fucking brat to mouth off to me!”
A child’s wail grew louder.
At that, I raised my head, locking eyes with Shaggy and letting him see the destroyed side of my face. He paled for a second, then shifted his feet into a serious defensive posture; somebody, my oldest boy probably, must have been telling tales.
I kept my mask up and put on my friendly voice “Sorry big guy, she may be his old lady, but those are my children.”
It was Cueball’s fault – Shaggy looked like he wanted to at least talk for a second, maybe even come to an agreement. On his forearm he had a Ranger Regiment tattoo – maybe I could find some common ground, maybe negotiate. Cueball, though, he had to throw that chance away. Cueball was on my right; he didn’t see the ragged, ruined skin, the permanent, twisted, half-grin and the cloud-filled left eye. He lunged, grabbing for my shirt.
“We toldya to fukkin wait, Asshole!”
I prayed for patience, but was granted none. As usual. Not that I expected any. I hadn’t had any prayers answered for a long time.
Nobody was out there for me anymore.
The moment his hand touched me, I pinned his wrist to my chest with my left hand, twisted, pulled, and stomped. He was curled up on the ground, unconscious before Shaggy could react. When his reaction did come, it was far too slow. I tried not to do him any permanent damage – I really did think he was hoping to be reasonable, and from the look on his face he could sense how it was going to end; but he just had to try out of a sense of obligation.
And I knew all about obligations. They’re all I have left.
I stepped over his unconscious body and pulled the screen door open.
Cooler – aka Brian – had his back to me with his fist raised threateningly. Anne, my ex-wife, with one eye swelling shut and a bleeding split lip, was standing defiantly between him and the three children. With a bit of pride I noticed my oldest son, Patrick, who was 7, had pushed the 4 year old twins, Danni and Finn, behind him. Whichever of the younger ones had been wailing stopped at my entrance. Anne was thinner after two years, a little too thin. She wore no makeup and her hair looked stringy, just tied back out of the way, a sharp difference from the carefully cared for look I remembered. All in all, she looked like hell.
Anne’s unswollen eye widened as she saw me. While the children had seen the scars and damage to my face when my brother had brought them out, I’d simply refused to see or talk to her again after the injury. Part of that was to buy time. She had known me too well. So she got the full effect of seeing me, right along with the shock of my disfigured face. I knew what I looked like, with the ruined face and the deeply ingrained tan of years under a tropical sun.
I looked, more or less, like what I really was.
Although nobody would want to believe that.
“Cooler” noticed her shock and spared a glance over his shoulder at me. We’d never met, but I could see sick realization wash over him. I closed with him as he turned around and I hammered him to the ground – like most big guys he assumed being taller, heavier, and smellier was some kind of advantage. Which it could have been if any of them had any real training.
Once he was down, I looked at Anne – and decided to deviate from my original plan of just taking the children. She’d been taking the beating defending the children, so maybe she wasn’t a complete loss.
“Get your ass, and the children, in the car. Now.” I’d kept the mask up. With any luck, all she saw was an angry ex-husband.
If she argued, she could stay.
She chose to go.
As she stepped forward I stopped her with a raised hand. She tried, but failed, not to stare with horrid fascination at the ruined side of my face.
“Give me the vest.”
She was wearing cut off jean shorts, a blood speckled white tank top and boots – and a miniature jean vest with a Pranksterz logo on the back with a patch that said “This Bitch is property of the Pranksterz MC. If Lost, Return to Cooler”. Still unable to take her eyes off me, she pulled it off and thrust it at me like it was scalding. The children smiled at me as she herded them past.
I hit Brian again, hard enough to keep him down for a few minutes, then dragged Cueball and Shaggy into the house and dropped all three of them on the ratty couch. As I went out and dragged them in, I could see that Anne was sitting in the passenger seat of my car, trying to calmly talk to the children. She was now desperately avoiding eye contact with me. The children, on the other hand, appeared to be enjoying the whole event. There was obviously no love lost between them and ‘Cooler’. I’d brought zip strips and secured their hands carefully.
It took a few minutes, but all three of my guests woke up. I concentrated on keeping the mask up. When they were fully awake, I stood and very deliberately snapped the little finger on Brian’s right hand, just to make sure I had their attention, then walked over and stood in front of them.
“She’s out. You have nothing to do with her or the children anymore. You see them coming down the street, you go another direction. I see, hear of, or smell any of your pack anywhere near her or the children it’s all over. If that happens, there is no stopping it. Anyone with Pranksterz affiliation disappears forever.”
Brian glared at me, with tears of pain in his eyes, still not fully understanding his predicament. “She left you, you ain’t her husband anymore.”
Good. They were buying the “vengeful husband” act.
I nodded. “She shouldn’t be my fucking problem. But those are my children and they need their mother. She’s still acting like it. Hell, you should appreciate that; if she hadn’t stopped you from hitting them, you’d be dead already.”
On my right, Cueball shook his head “You gotta buy her out. Bitches get gangbanged in and bought out.” He said it like “Bitch” was some kind of title.
I finally turned so he could get the full effect. And grinned – I knew the effect that had.
“Sure, Cueball, how many broken bones will that be? Let’s start with fingers.”
He turned an interesting shade of green.
They didn’t negotiate that hard; Hell, they must have had at least 20 unbroken fingers between them before they agreed to my terms. I burned her vest in front of them.
We had a nice long talk. Long for them.
I grabbed an expensive pair of Oakley sunglasses off a wobbly end table as I walked out and Brian actually tried to object, albeit weakly.
“Hey, take the cunt, but those are mine.”
I stopped and looked at him. “Sorry ‘Cooler’ – do these guys know you got the nickname because you repaired air conditioning in the Army? – I’m taking them for Anne to wear. I don’t want anyone to think I’m the kind of little shit that would hit a woman. I’ll send them back to you in the mail or something.”
I paused again at the door and looked back. “I don’t know if she’s using, but just in case: anyone who sells her anything – grass, pills ... fucking aspirin, whatever – will deal with me. Then I come for you. No warnings, no negotiation. Spread the word.”
As I walked back to the car, I reviewed everything. That had been the longest conversation I’d had with anyone in months. It looked solid, the mask had never slipped. They thought I was human.
I sat down in the driver’s seat of the car, handed Anne the sunglasses and headed out to the highway. Anne said nothing, she just put on the sunglasses and stared wretchedly at her feet. I listened to the children talk, but, relieved of the stress, all three of them fell asleep within a few minutes. Anne didn’t even ask where we were headed, apparently just silently soaking in her own misery for the next two hours. She was holding her own arms, hunched over, seemingly trying to hide the old bruises on them. That made me a little concerned, so when she wasn’t watching I looked over her arms as best I could. There were no needle tracks, so at least she hadn’t fallen that far.
She’d left me over two years before – I was gone too often, too many late night calls and departures. Training all the time to be the best.
.... There is more of this story ...