Special Delivery by Joni Caggiano

A Christmas decoration scene with a shotgun and Ha! Ha! Ha! written at the top
Image Source: Canva Pro

The giblets of a turkey never got me worked up. Thoughts of stuffing, long-necked turkey soup, or even giblet gravy didn’t dance in my head.  Instead, my mouth would water when Mama breaded and fried up those turkey gizzards, yummy!

Our menu included lots of small lobster tails with the usual seafood trimmings.  Sides included deep-fat fried hushpuppies with hot green chili peppers and onion, coleslaw made from homegrown cabbage, baked potatoes, and sweet potato pies.  Unlike other families, we celebrated Christmas a week before the twenty-fifth of December. 

It was best to keep Christmas about staying thankful for what I had and maintaining a low profile.  There would be no wild capers from our house on Christmas day because we celebrated it early.  The moon was shining, and I was enjoying our meal, thinking this was one dinner I would never forget.  There was a genuine sense of family love while my parents soberly ate a meal together with me.

The moment was perfect till a vulgar BLAST shattered the quiet.

It sounded like a shotgun, and I thought I would choke on my lobster tail.  The sound had come from next door.  Our neighbors to the left were a postman about to retire in a month’s time and his wife, a battered alcoholic.  The thing that was impossible for me to digest was that she used Lysol to disguise the smell of alcohol.

Christina, “the Lysol woman”, often came over to talk to my mom.  Her husband Reginald was a talented pianist, but a monster in disguise.  Christina always had black eyes and bruises covering her arms and legs.  She called the police often but did not file charges because he told her he would kill her if she did.

Just when I thought everything was going to be alright, there was another loud blast.  Mom and Dad looked at each other like it was nothing and continued to enjoy Mom’s pie.

Suddenly, someone started banging on the door.  I opened it to find a dazed and sobbing Christina with blood oozing from her leg like a stuck pig.  Walking out onto the stoop, I put my arm around her and began to reassure her. 

Mom immediately got a bunch of towels and placed them on a big stool.  She proceeded to put the bleeding leg on top of it.  Christina was shaking and quivering severely.  Mom poured a juice glass full of rum, and told her to drink it, which she quickly did.

I felt helpless, and then I remembered a bottle of Lysol under the sink used to clean the bathroom.  I went and got it and brought it to her.  Mom gave me a cross look, and I prepared myself for a slap when Christina thanked me.  She immediately put the aerosol container of Lysol to her mouth, and with all the quivering it was hit and miss.  I counted silently, and she sprayed for ten seconds straight.  It was on her face, nose, and all over her sweater, leaving Christina smelling like her usual self.

With the precision of a doctor Mom got a fresh packet of yellow cleaning gloves.  Moving the cooking pots out of the way, she boiled water and two pairs of tweezers.  When I returned from taking a pee, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Christina was eating some of mom’s pie and sipping coffee.

She was still drunk but no longer shaking.  Mom had a bowl of boiling water, sterilized tweezers on some gauze, and a bottle of rubbing alcohol we used for cuts and scrapes. She was beginning to remove pieces of bloody metal.  She washed the entry area with warm water and rinsed it with alcohol.  She then put a layer of petroleum jelly on the laceration and used band-aids to close the wound.

We saw a police car, ambulance, and fire truck headed towards Christina’s house.  Mom later talked to her when they were both sober and obtained most of the details.  It took a week to acquire the full story.

Exactly one month after Reginald’s retirement party, he had beat her up the worst he ever had, and they had both been drinking.  Then Reginald sat down at the piano and began to play his favorite piece, “A Little Night Music,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

Records would show that Christina called her daughter on the upstairs phone, and they talked for fifteen minutes. Whatever they talked about, Mom said we would never know.  The police spoke with Christina for a couple of hours that same night.

Mom later learned that Christina gave a statement, and they took pictures of all her injuries at the police station.  Then they brought her back home.  The police told her in confidence it was apparent that she had shot her husband twice in the back with a small, licensed handgun she purchased years ago.  The police told her with the hundreds of calls from her address reporting abuse that she had endured over the last ten years, no one in their right mind would arrest her.

Christina had told Mom she always wanted a white Cadillac, and we saw one parked in her driveway about a month later.  She told Mom she might go on a trip with all the pension money.  Mom told me Christina wasn’t worried about anything and was feeling safe.

She never showed up while we lived there again, and Mom and I were glad she got away alive.  Nobody felt bad for old Reginald, especially the police.  An officer that my dad knew, told him that at every police Christmas party, some drunk officer would toast the end of Reginald, the twice retired postal worker.

-JONI CAGGIANO

Joni’s blog is Rum and Robots, where she has published poetry, photography, and short stories. Take a look at Joni’s work in Spillwords Press NYC, Vita Brevis Press, The Finest Example, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, I Write Her – The Short of it, and MasticadoresUSA. Joni’s work was included in the following anthologies: The Sound of Brilliance (The Short of It Publishing, Volume 1 2020), Inner Eye (Poets Choice, 2021), and It’s Not Easy (Poets Choice 2021). Her blog is an effort to give back – she is a surviving Adult Child of Alcoholics. Joni is a retired nurse and paralegal.

You can also read her writing on Instagram @jonicaggiano and Twitter @theinnerchild1.

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42 Comments Add yours

  1. Unfortunately domestic violence still continues as a wild, untamed, and seemingly unstoppable epidemic. And worst, now they refer to it as gender violence! You’ve written a very well crafted and important document to remind all that we must do our part, whenever we can, to put a stop to domestic violence. Cheers Joni and a wonderful Christmas Day to you and Scott! 😊🌹♥️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thanks, Francis, so much for taking the time to read and comment on this Christmas Day, it means a lot! Your feedback is so true, domestic violence is an epidemic that persists, and there is no manmade vaccine, unfortunately, apart from God, who isn’t manmade. Holidays are especially hard for people where alcohol is more prevalent. Sending love from both of us, have a blessed day and a Merry Christmas, with a fruitful year to follow, filled with love, inspiration and happiness. Congratulations again on the three pieces that you recently sold.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you so much Joni! Blessings and love to you both on Christmas and always!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. jonicaggiano says:

          🦋🌹🎄🙏

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Meelosmom says:

    Joni, this story is gripping and raw. The trauma is clearly shown. And your title is perfect, by the way.
    I used to volunteer for the Rape Crisis Center, and the hotline calls were intense. The cycle of domestic violence runs deep and is the root of social violence.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thanks, Barbara! As strange as it may seem, this post is actually a true story, but only one of too many. How wonderful that you were a volunteer for the Rape Crisis Center, something that we share! I too was a certified rape relief victim advocate and was on call many times. It was horrible to hear some of the stories, and even worse that the court system saw very few cases stemming from this. I read your beautiful post, sending love from our family to yours, and prayers to have a peaceful holiday season without the violence.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Meelosmom says:

        Joni, no wonder the trauma was so visceral! I actually figured it was true, but my comment is pretty general when I think about it.
        My hotline hours with the Rape Crisis Center were always at night, so of course my sleep was interrupted. My husband started getting upset because of the crank calls I rec’d from men. Eventually, I had to stop the hotline work. I did help out during the day when I could.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. jonicaggiano says:

          You helped and did all you could. It was a dangerous job anyway. I calls came directly from the dial help team if the rape victim didn’t feel comfortable being without a female advocate when calling the police. Most of the time we got the calls directly from the team of police that were train to deal with rape victims. We also went to hear them make their statements to the police officer after the rape victim kit was completed. Most of the time we had police personnel around and I felt very safe or I would not have felt safe doing it. Bless your heart for doing the work. Big hugs and hope you are having a wonderful Christmas. Love Joni

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Meelosmom says:

          And my gratitude to you, too, for this service to others! ♥️ Rape victims awe so vulnerable and need a compassionate advocate.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. haoyando says:

    Wow, it is very intriguing and very violent too. Sometimes the abused victim is never being noticed until something bloody happens.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      So true dear friend. I often have said I believe emotional abuse is worse in many ways then physical abuse because people don’t believe you, or you can’t prove that. In the case of this story, this woman always had black eyes and was bruised all over. They had been to so many calls at the house, which was dangerous for them, that honestly, I think they were glad he was gone. Many men have told women that if they leave they will find them and kill them and that happens. Thanks for reading and blessings to you and all those you love. Love Joni

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an awful thing, and even staying next to a domestic violence victim is traumatic enough. Always wondering about the noise. I hope Christina is safe and happy wherever she is. Loved the writing. So many suffer in various ways.
    Have a gorgeous Christmas, Joni to you, and your family. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jonicaggiano says:

    Thank you for reading Shobana. Terveen is amazing she even did some art work on this piece. I know that was her. I really enjoy reading your work Shobana. You are very talented indeed. Once we were getting out of the car at night and when I got out I heard a sound and saw something that looked like sparks of fire, he was shooting then but I didn’t know it till my dad got my mom and I in the house. Guns are a horrible problem in the United States. Today we will celebrate as always giving thanks to God. Have a blessed holiday yourself and may all your family and those that are dear to you have good health and blessings throughout the new year. Big hugs, Love Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mike U. says:

    What a harrowing tale, and all the more so since it’s based on fact. I grew up in a home with domestic violence and a monster of a father who had many guns, and the threat of unspeakable violence was always present. It breaks a child irreparably when a child must ready himself to take a bullet for his mother, as it was with my childhood. I applaud you for shining a light on such an important subject. Well done, my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Dearest Mike it breaks my heart to hear it. I am so sorry you too lived in such chaos. My father would get his shotgun out and did shoot towards the woods once for several minutes knowing right where we would be. He often shot up the house but only when my mom and him were both drunk. I am an ACOA whose imagination saved her, but God literally did. I can’t imagine what you are describing, you were brave when you shouldn’t have had to be. My parents were both drinkers and I too, lived in constant fear and many different kinds of threats. You become easy prey to pedophiles in the family as well, mine where two uncles. My blog is painful for many to read and many don’t like to hear sad things but without talking about the horrors that can be inflicted upon children who grow up in alcoholic homes things just get slid under the carpet, like the trash. The pink elephant remains in the room and the child is forced to become their own parental person, constantly trying to survive. Now I can not help but wonder if your father caused your deafness. We both express our grief through our writing, love you, Joni

      Liked by 3 people

  7. michnavs says:

    I’d like to commend Joni’s brilliant storytelling technique…i am in awe at how she seamlessly weave all the details.

    Abuse and violence is something very close to my heart .i’ve written a book about it and interviewed victims . my heart bleeds for them just as my heart is bleeding reading this story

    Liked by 3 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Dearest Mich thank you so much for reading and your heartfelt and beautiful compliment. Thank you so much for writing your beautiful book, “I AM IN ITSELF POETRY IN THE DARK.” It is a wonderful book exposing the sadness and sorrow of abuse and rape and the process of regaining trust in others. The hard work in becoming yourself again, taking back control. I don’t know how this story would have been handled today, but I can’t say I blamed this woman as she frequently came over to our house with her black eyes, bruised arms and legs. She was also shot at more than once, as she lived in fear of being killed. So in a small southern town, the police who were many of the same officers that also put their lives in danger (domestic calls being one of the most dangerous calls for policemen and women) decided to let her go. She never even had to go to the police station. Thank you again Mich for bringing so much light on this subject of abuse/rape and thank you again for your gracious comments. Happy Holidays and lots of love, Joni

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Cassa Bassa says:

    Thankfully she escaped.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Yea!!!! I know right. She drove off into the sunset with her brand new Cadillac. Thank you for reading Cassa. Sending you big hugs and love and hoping you are getting some time off and relaxing during the holidays. Love to you and all your loved ones Cassa. Joni xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cassa Bassa says:

        It’s been quite relaxing 😎 the weather has been beautiful this Christmas 🤩

        Like

  9. What an incredible piece! A work of art, Joni! Very well done indeed and very disturbing subject! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, Joni. I am SOOOO grateful for that ending!!! Lord help the battered women who aren’t so fortunate. It always stuns me. Well told, as all-ways, my friend!!! Thank You!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  11. jonicaggiano says:

    Thank you did Katydid for reading and your wonderful comment. I know I too was happy that she could live a week with out bruises and black eyes. It has always seemed so crazy that if women shoot a gun and kill a man while protecting themselves they can spend many years in prison. However, in North Carolina there is a “Stand Your Ground,” law. This means any Tom, Dick, or Harry that says he felt threatened by the behaviors of another especially if the argument takes place on their property and the other person is not packing (slang for carrying a gun”) that is all the reason you need to legally shoot the person. I am not even kidding. Thank you again for reading sweetie and sending love and appreciation for our friendship. Love you, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow what a Christmas memory lives inside of you my dear friend…blood and guns and first-aiding wounds as best and your mother could .I know it’s real..and makes me sad for that little girl who just wanted to eat probably her best meal of the year.. instead she is looking for Lysol to give to poor shot -up Christina so that she would smell like Christina…and not an abused drunk who just killed her husband.. It’s so well -told, hard to imagine living it, but I know you did and so much more than that sad Christmas. Hugs Joni..I always want to give that little you the biggest hug and whisper, that you will be an amazing writer someday.. like today ❤️🤗🌹

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      My dearest friend, you read everything so deeply. Don’t miss a beat and you are so intuitive which is why you are such an amazing writer. Yes, that poor woman had endured so much that even the police closed a blind eye after hundreds of domestic abuse calls over so many years. Shot in the back while he played the piano but of course not before almost killing her. You give me so many hugs and love by all your kindness. Most of all your friendship. Thank you so much for caring and I know we all have our stories and many have suffered terrible things and still do. Children should never have to grow up living crazy, let alone slaves, drug mules, sold for a grain of sack in order to keep two other children alive, and the list goes on and on. I don’t think God ever intended this world to be good. In fact just the opposite and I believe until we get to heaven many of us live comfortable lives and we are truly blessed because of it, but most struggle almost everyday with something. Thank you for your love, hugs and friendship. That means the world to me. Many blessings my friend. ❤️🥰

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Navin says:

    I’m literally speechless…this is so raw…all I can say is that I’m sensing your words, Joni ✨💟✨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Dearest Navin thank you so much for reading this story. It is not the easiest thing to read but many people don’t have fairytale Christmas tales to tell about their childhood. I am grateful for the opportunity to write raw material as I know that I have Terveen’s support in being honest and sharing the good and the bad. You have had the courage to share so much with your readers Navin and I admire you greatly because of your honesty and the rawness you write. You help many people by being honest and I feel blessed to have met you. Thank you again for sharing and for your kind words. Blessings to you my friend. Hugs, Blessings and Love, Joni

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Navin says:

        You’re welcome dear Joni…do know that the feeling is mutual…I admire you very much…you’ve shared the raw pieces several times…what you had gone through in your life…that’s not easy & not everyone has the courage to share about one’s life…much love, blessings & hugs ✨💟💫🤗

        Like

  14. Terveen Gill says:

    Joni’s story is a Christmas tale that is the true tragedy lived by so many. Domestic abuse in any form can alter a victim’s personality, transforming them into something even they themselves don’t recognise. Living in perpetual survival mode is not only difficult but debilitating, and often retaliation comes with a hefty price. Reality can be so harsh but that’s the raw and honest side of life. May those who face it have the courage and faith to keep going. There really is no other way.
    Congratulations Joni!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jonicaggiano says:

    Thank you so much Terveen. I so appreciated your publishing this piece. I loved the artistic help you provided on the photograph to make it perfect for the story as well. Also, I am grateful that you actually are an active editor when you see something that could use a bit of help here or there. Your job is not an easy one being an editor, but I know that you love it and I, again, am just so grateful to be here. Much love and respect to you and your loved ones, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow, Joni, you tell these stories so vividly, it’s heartbreaking to know they are true. You are a brave and strong woman, keep telling your truth, my dear friend! Wishing you all the best! 💏❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Tiffany, thank you so much for reading and all your kind remarks as they are very appreciated. I hope you and your hubby are both doing well and that you have some exciting things coming up in the art world for this new year. Sending you big hugs and blessings my friend and always my love. Joni

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Great story, Joni!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Dawn thank you so much. I am glad you enjoyed it. Too badly there is so much abuse in the world we live in but I think it is because people are just not happy for so many reasons. I really do appreciate you reading my work. Sending blessings your way. Big hugs, Joni

      Like

  18. Wow what a write Joni! I wish these weren’t true stories but sadly we know otherwise.
    Thank God she got away. Compelling and adrenaline rushing write Joni! ❣️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jonicaggiano says:

      Thank you so much Cindy. I always appreciate someone reading my stories as they are generally a 3 plus minute read. I am delighted you liked it however. Yes, they were a wild couple of characters. Yes, I was so grateful that she did not end up in jail like many women do. I was grateful they let her go and I like to think she went down to the beach and had a few happy years before dying. Thanks so much for reading Cindy, I know how crazy busy you are. Sending love, Joni

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s my pleasure Joni! I so hope she did end up at the beach too! A few happy years are worth a lot. I always make time for you Joni and happy to hear your brilliance in writing.. Thanks dearest! 💞

        Liked by 1 person

        1. jonicaggiano says:

          Thank you so very much Cindy. I truly hope I will still see you on MasticadoresUSA. I looked forward to your lovely post. It has been an interesting year already. Sending blessings and love to you and yours my friend. Love, Joni

          Liked by 1 person

        2. You’re welcome.. I finally just posted today.. Barbara has a poem coming out tomorrow that I’ll post on Monday, thanks for your checking in. Wild here for sure my friend!!! love to you too and your beautiful family! ❣️

          Like

  19. America On Coffee says:

    What an incredible story Joni. Initially, your words spruced me up with lavishness of garnishing and celebrations and suddenly I was in a hell hole of family violence. The white Cadillac was a handshake of the lavishness and garnishing in your opening paragraphs. What an emotional journey.😞😱

    Like

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