Tuesday, December 04, 2012

SPE: Time To Go

{For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Jordan gave me this prompt: The crowd had seemed so friendly a moment ago, but now they took on a meaner cast, and seemed to swell with a bit of menace. I gave Julia Mae this prompt: "My philosophy is that if you don't feel like what you're creating is the best work you've ever done, it's time to throw in the towel." -Bernie Taupin}

She was the kind of person who would tell you it was not raining, even as the water poured down in buckets. She wasn't exactly delusional, but she was very sure of herself, and when reality conflicted with her beliefs, she would often insist that the real world was in error, often to the extreme. I was guiding/tugging her across the mall parking lot, to her increasing displeasure. She knew as well as I did that it was time to go.

The parking lot wasn't crowded, but there were people coming and going, couples headed into the movies, older people who look determined to go for a walk, formless groups of teens intent on hanging out and posing for one another. Everyone seemed happy to be outside in the bright sun, but also pleased that they would soon be in air conditioned cool.

"Come on, babe," I said gently. "We have to go." I put my palm on her bare upper arm, as if I were guiding a recalcitrant toddler.

"Get your HANDS off ME," she insisted loudly. She jerked her arm away, and then folded her arms over her chest. She said it too loudly for what was really a fit of pique on her part. Or at least, I thought so.

A couple was walking along the opposite line of cars, a man and a woman with a 5 year old skipping between them. The moment her voice rang out, I froze, jerking my hand away from her as if she were electrified. The threesome also froze, and I watched the man bristle. He turned and looked at me, and then at her. She was frozen, her eyes angry and glaring, looking at him and at me in turn.

"Is there a problem?," he said from across the aisle. He was older than me, and fat, but he looked hard, like he lifted and carried things for a living. I didn't lift anything heavier than a paperclip.

I looked at her, her proud nose, her fiery blue eyes, the tiny gap where her striped top ended and a quarter moon of brown, flat belly showed above the waist of her dark, tight jeans. I was waiting for her to explain. She looked at him, and then at me.

"Is there a problem?," he said louder. He was coming closer, while the woman and the child stayed by the cars on the other side. To my right, a boy and girl my age were walking straight towards me. I shifted backwards, trying to keep everyone in view. The boy had a baseball cap on backwards, and I could see muscles bunched in his upper arms. Using that sixth sense some men have, he sensed trouble and was putting himself between his girl, a cute, thin Asian, and whatever was to come.

My thighs hit the bumper of a truck. I stopped, looking at the two men. Their faces were set, not unfriendly, but even and blank, not sure if there would be a fight, but ready in case there were. My heart pounded in my chest. I clenched both fists, working my keys into my palm. I remembered a self defense book I had read once that suggested using keys as a flail. My palms began to sweat.

The fat guy had a brown shirt on, stretched over a beer gut. "Torricelli Lawn and Garden Centers," it said. The teen had a concert shirt from a recent AC/DC show. I calculated quickly that if the balloon went up, I would hit the fat guy as hard as I could and hope I could turn before the teenager was on me. She stood there, 2 feet from my elbow, but she could have been a million miles away. Her beautiful eyes flicked from me, to the two men, and then back to me.

The fat guy gestured with his right arm, looking above my head. I heard a car engine excitedly revving behind me. "Are you OK, sweetheart?," he said to her, not looking at me, but tracking me carefully, like I was about to steal second base. "You can come with us if he's hurting you. We'll call the cops on him. Don't worry." The teen had caught up to us, his own eyes dancing, his girlfriend several steps back, eyeing him with a mixture of pride and disgust.

I looked at my girlfriend briefly. Her eyes were very wide, her pupils very small in the sunlight. The word "miosis" swam into my awareness from my physiology lessons. I could feel the sweat rolling down my back. I spread my legs apart slightly, getting my weight forward. Around the corner whipped a squat white SUV with "Mall Security" painted on the side. A woman got out with blonde short hair with a blue shirt and gray pants, carrying a walkie talkie in one hand. She gave me a hard edged look. I hadn't done anything to her. I wanted to shake my girlfriend, scream in her beautiful, open face. "Tell them!," I wanted to say, "Tell them I don't hit you! Tell them that!"

"What's up?," the mall cop said evenly.

"I'm not sure," the fat guy said. "I heard her yell for him to take his hands off of her, so I came over to see if something was wrong." The teen came a little closer on my right. The mall cop was standing right in front of me. She looked paunchy, but rough, like she had done more than pinch shoplifters. The fat guy took another small step forward, pinning me in. Everyone was staring at me with menace, daring me to say something, to hit her, to try and escape, to earn the enmity that they all had for me.

"Do you need the police, ma'am?," the mall cop said, her walkie talkie coming to her lips. She was looking right at my girlfriend, her own thighs parted slightly, her other fist balled. She knew how to fight, I was sure of it. I could smell the hate coming off them. I got ready.

With the mention of the word "police", it was as if the spell had been broken. "Oh no!," my girlfriend said excitedly. "No, no. No. I'm fine. No. This is my boyfriend. I was just mad at him because I don't want to go home. That's all."

"Really?," the mall cop said. "You can tell us the truth, honey. I can have the police here in less than 5 minutes. You don't have to put up with being hit. " The fat guy folded his arms over his chest. His arms looked like hams.

"No," she said with a small giggle. "Oh, no. He would never hit me. Not ever." She unfolded her arms and crossed one leg primly in front of the other. The decorative gold chain on her shoe glinted in the sun.

"You're sure?," the fat man said. The teen seemed to be backing away.

"Positive," my girlfriend said calmly. She was half smiling.

The mall cop stepped back towards her vehicle. "You don't want to come with me?," she asked my girlfriend.

"Nope," my girlfriend said. "I'm fine."

The fat man backed away, his wife staring daggers at me over his shoulder. The teen went back and collected his girl, giving me a wide berth, his face still even and hard. I breathed deep, trying to get enough air, trying to bring my blood pressure back down. I looked at my girlfriend, her perfect pointed toe, the way her jeans followed her long, womanly curves. I didn't hit her, and I never would, but just for a half second, I pictured doing so. I shook my head to clear the image.

"We better go," I said.

"Yup," she said, and I watched her infuriating, manipulative, perfect little ass walk in front of me as we returned to my car.

1 comment:

  1. What a manipulater... never a good idea to hit a woman, but stranding her at the mall would be a good alternative.


I apologize for making you sign in, but I'm trying to cut down on spam.