This is an excerpt from Michelle Gamble's forth-coming novel The Abused being published by 3L Publishing in the summer of 2016. The book is about eight addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start killing each other off.
Deacon Curio was a good-looking Italian with smoldering hazel eyes and sensual lips that most women ached to kiss. His beautiful ringlet curls he kept short so they created a generous wave in his black hair. He was born in Italy and raised in the United States when his Aunt Milliana fled their hometown of Revenna. They ran away from her nephew’s abusive father Samuel whom Deacon resembled so strongly they could have been twins.
Dorothia, his mother, had suffered years of abuse at his father’s hand. Young Deacon had witnessed one particular fight in which his father kicked Dorothia so many times it seemed death should be imminent. The fight erupted after Samuel accused Dorothia of an affair with the local cobbler to whom she had developed a quiet friendship while Samuel worked in the leather mill. The cobbler Roberto Toscano had begun stopping by their small villa and dropping off lavender flowers because Dorothia loved the fragrance. It was true that Dorothia fantasized of running away with the much older Roberto, but she had restrained herself. She was a devout Catholic who believed in fidelity and marriage for life.
One afternoon an unfortunate encounter with Roberto led to the suspicion, which sparked the infamous beating. Samuel had fallen off the top of one of the leather-stretching machines and sprained his ankle. While he protested and didn’t wish to go to the medical center for treatment his superior insisted. This medical appointment ended much earlier than his shift, and Samuel came home just as Roberto was walking out of their small villa. The two rivals simply nodded at each other, but once Samuel got inside and saw the most beautiful lavender arrangement imaginable he knew that his wife was at the very least cheating on him in spirit.
The fight that ensued involved screaming and crying and kicking, as Deacon cowered under the dining room table with his head down and his legs pulled to his chest.
“Mama, Mama, Mama,” he cried over and over.
But Dorothia couldn’t come to her son. She was now on the floor of the bedroom with blood dripping out her mouth. Deacon would never forget that day. Samuel walked in and leaned down to see his son. He reached out and firmly pulled the boy to him. Deacon cried and cried until Samuel swiftly slapped him hard against his soft cheek. This horrible act brought Deacon to his senses and he became eerily silent.
His father said in Italian, “Women will only bring you misery.”
Then Samuel got up and went to the gun cabinet. He took out a rifle, glanced at Deacon with a cold look, and walked to their bedroom. All Deacon heard next was a single shot. Then Samuel walked out, leaned the gun against the countertop, pulled chicken risotto out of the small fridge, and sat down and began to eat. Deacon was so scared he remained under that table. A day would pass until Samuel returned to work and Aunt Millianna would find her nephew catatonic under the table and her sister dead in the other room from a single gunshot to the forehead.
His aunt immediately ferreted her young nephew away, and when Samuel showed up at her house a day later demanding she return Deacon, Milliana called the authorities. A trial ensued and the patriarchal-driven judicial system set the bastard free on a technicality. Aunt Milliana didn’t wait for him to be released. She had made other plans months in advance, and he took her nephew to the New World where she changed their names to Cartwright and made a new home in the California community of Santa Kendra.
Deacon’s personal demons seemed to mount over the years. The loss of his mama in a violent crime and his father’s abuse weighed on him. As he grew to manhood he became strikingly handsome, and soon the girls were all over him. When he met Violet Anderson he was smitten. Violet, a local vintner’s daughter was gorgeous and voluptuous with a figure most women wished they had. She had absolutely stunning strawberry blonde hair that hung in perfect ringlets down her back. Her porcelain skin was unblemished perfection and her stunning light green eyes could make any man’s heart melt. She was funny and sweet – and Deacon fell passionately in love with her.
On their first date he brought her a dozen white daisies and by their sixth date he brought a dozen red roses and a one-karat diamond ring along with a proposal. Violet though at the tender age of 21 wasn’t ready to get married. She liked Deacon, but she was almost a senior in college and planned to follow in her father’s footsteps and work at the local Beringer Winery. In fact, her internship would begin that fall, and she was excited to begin her new life.
He drove her to Mt. Tamalpais, the location of their most recent bike ride where he had made a picnic with prosciutto, Gouda cheese and green grapes. He drove her the scenic route up to the top and stopped right where the fog famously blew across the landscape like rapidly moving clouds. It made quite a spectacular scene. On a clear day you could see all the way across to the Pacific Ocean. On a day like this one, it was damp and cool with the sun occasionally peeking through the fog layer.
They were standing at the lookout point when Deacon grabbed her by both hands so she would face him. He then slowly got down on a bended knee and produced a navy-blue velvet ring box. Violet’s light green eyes instead of lighting up went dark and scared. It was not the kind of look Deacon hoped to see on her face.
“Um…” he stumbled realizing she looked unhappy. “I … I love you, and …”
Before he could finish the sentence Violet broke free from his hands and ran to the edge of the highway. She immediately stuck her thumb out for a ride down the mountain. Deacon chased after her.
“What are you doing?”
Violet pivoted on one of her black strappy heels and unleashed her wrath. “You don’t listen at all, do you?”
Deacon felt confused. “What?”
“I told you how many times about the internship? How many times about my goals. Didn’t you hear a word I said?”
Deacon froze, “No, I … I just wanted…”
“What? For me to play wifey in some stupid fantasy?” she harshly admonished. “I’m 21-years old. What the hell are you thinking?”
Deacon felt tears begin to well up in his eyes, but he didn’t want her to see his pain. So, he froze out his feelings. He took the velvet box, shoved it momentarily in her face, opened it to reveal the gorgeous platinum ring, turned, plucked it from the box, and hurled it over the cliff.
Violet’s mouth opened wide, but then she was too disgusted to say anything. Within a moment, a small BMW pulled up and Violet ran off to climb in. She left Deacon standing there in both hurt and utter shock. The girl he had just seen was not the same girl he had fallen in love with. This person he didn’t even recognize as he saw her strawberry blonde head disappear into the car.
It was that very moment Deacon “Curio” Cartwright began his fall from grace. Two days later and at least two gallons of wine and whiskey finished off, Deacon was taken to the nearest hospital for alcohol poisoning. When asked he would say he didn’t remember a thing about the drinking binge. All his friends knew was Deacon was sick and Violet was gone.
But it didn’t stop with the booze. Soon Deacon was mixing alcohol and any pill he could find. The day he showed up to work wasted and vomited on the car sales room floor where he worked as a Mercedes salesman was the day they fired him. It was also that day that Deacon drove his black Mercedes down Highway 101 near Petaluma and rear-ended a Toyota Corolla and ended up fully crashing into a blue Hyundai. The woman in the Hyundai was severely injured and nearly died.
When Deacon went before the judge for a DUI with aggravating circumstances, no amount of sympathy would go his way. The woman showed up in court with a neck brace and a testimony about this speeding Mercedes weaving all over the road. Deacon was sentenced to six months in rehab followed by 360 hours of community service since this was his first offense. His driver’s license was suspended for two years.
This is how Deacon Cartwright found himself stepping out of a Yellow Cab to face the two same tall doors that only the day before Pete had stared at.