Chapter 9 - Afterhours
And I ran into a storm.
“Are you ready?” he asked from behind me as I exited the e-club.
“Shit!” I jumped to the side.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said.
“Really? ’Cuz you did a piss poor job of it,” I said.
He laughed. “Do you want me… to walk home with you?”
“Not really,” I said.
“Come on. It’s no big deal.”
“I don’t think so, but thanks. This base is safe, no weirdoes running around.”
“True, but I’m from , and we don’t let our women wander about at two o’clock in the morning.”
“Well, I’m from Texas and I can sure as hell handle myself.”
“I know. I know, but it would make me feel better if I know you’re safe,” he said.
“And I’m all about making you feel better,” I replied.
He looked at the rocks on the ground. Apparently they had become jewels transfixing his gaze. I walked toward my apartment leaving him to calculate the value of his new treasure. I took long strides across the wet grass.
The Christmas season was strange in . There was no cold weather to let you know that something was coming. The trees were evergreen, but they were palms. No burning wood smells wafted from chimneys. No chestnuts roasted on open fires. No snowmen came alive and danced the hula. No reindeer lived here. Street-corner Santas wore grass skirts and Aloha shirts. I contemplated Christmas as I walked to try to keep me from thinking about Chuck. But my musings only made the loneliness worse.
Arriving at my apartment, I dug into my pocket for my keys. Flipping through the silver keys, I tried to focus on the shapes. There were three just alike, so after steadying my head on the door jamb, I grabbed one and shoved it into the keyhole. Nope, not that one. I yanked the key out, stood upright, picked another key, leaned my head against the door jamb, and shoved that key in. Bingo! It turned smoothly, and I rubbed my head with my other hand as I turned the knob to my cave.
“I’m glad you made it home,” Sarge said from behind me.
My hand froze. I turned around. “What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Making sure you’re safe,” he said.
“Thanks. I’m good.”
“I know.” He closed in, smiling.
He reminded me of The Joker in Batman—thin, angled, and all teeth.
“Listen. I appreciate you walking me home, but I have to get up in four hours.”
“It’s no big deal. I just wanted to ask what you’re doing tomorrow,” he said as he covered my hand holding the doorknob with his hard, cold palm.
“I’ll probably stay home and watch TV, or go to a movie at the theater on base.”
“Can I buy the popcorn?”
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Well I’ll be at the movies tomorrow. If I see you, I see you.”
“ ’kay, goodnight.” I turned the knob. The door opened. He didn’t let go of my hand, or the knob. His chest pressed against my back, and he pushed us into my apartment.
“Hey, I really only have four hours to sleep,” I looked at the clock on the microwave, 2:14. “Less than four hours.”
“It’s no big deal. I just wanted a goodnight kiss,” he said, still holding my hand as he moved in for a kiss.
If I kiss him, he’ll leave.
I leaned into his mouth.
He grasped my hair, pulled my hair back so my neck was at a broken angle, and shoved his tongue in my mouth. He tasted like rum and cheap cigarettes. I tried to pull back, but the angle he held my head didn’t allow movement. The pressure of his kiss forced my neck even farther back.
He didn’t stop to take a breath. The only air I got was the air he breathed for us. I whimpered, but I guess he took it for a moan of passion.
He locked my hands behind my back and bent me to breaking.
I fell on my head. The muscles in my neck strained. He was still holding my hands, but he held them with one hand. A steely hand clamped my left breast. He released my hands so he could grab the button on my Wranglers. Pinned by alcohol, my weight, and his, my hands and arms were useless.
The relief I usually felt when my over-tight Wranglers came off at the end of the day was replaced by fear.
He pulled at my jeans, peeled them down to just below my knees. His plate size buckle scraped my thigh and lower stomach as he launched into me.
“You’re good,” he said as he fastened his silver plate.
Still flat on my back, I tried to breathe. I kept my mouth shut as he walked out the door.
I crawled to the door, locked it, curled into a ball, and prayed to die.
It didn’t happen. It couldn’t happen.
I slept in the shower that night. After crawling around the house locking the doors and windows, turning on all the lights, and stripping the rest of my clothes off and putting them in the trash, I crawled into the shower, turned on the scalding water, and scrubbed my skin with Comet and a kitchen sponge. I didn’t know when I fell asleep.
I woke up with cold water running over my stomach and a chill.
“I’m not going to make it to work today,” I told Kelly over the phone.
“Are you sick?” Kelly asked.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“All right, well, you have a few days to recover. You’re not scheduled ’til Sunday. Take care of yourself.”
“Yeah, thanks.” I crawled into my husband’s side of the bed, cocooned myself in covers, and closed my eyes. Sharks were biting my ankles, pulling me under the salty water. The water tasted and felt like thickened blood. I couldn’t breathe.