Lorraine make a stand against Gene, but will it be her last?
A long hot shower and then bed was the only thought that Lorraine allowed to infiltrate her brain. She wanted no part of the outside world. She longed for nothing but the serene sounds of crickets calling to their potential mates. Perhaps her hunger would return to her tomorrow. Attempting to eat now could prove to be an unsuccessful feat. Her entire body continued to shiver from this morning's undesired adventure. She spent the final three hours at the office calming herself to endure the drive home.
Lorraine breathed a sigh of relief as she opened her front door. She accomplished her last mission for today- arriving to the safety and security of her own home. She left her keys and purse on the Chippendale chair before heading down the hardwood floor corridor. She had only the moon light through the windows as a guide through the hallway.
She stood at the opening to her living room. She allowed her eyes to adjust to the near pitch blackness of the room. Only the silhouettes of the furniture were detectable, yet it did not matter. Her journey's end laid in that room. Lorraine approached the art deco-style lamp next to the sofa.
"We have to talk Lorraine."
The voice came just as Lorraine moved her hand from the light. Her attention was pulled to the love seat that sat across from the lamp. She didn't guess who spoke to her. She only wished she changed the locks before she left this morning.
"Gene!" Lorraine shrieked as she stepped against the end table. "What are you doing here?"
"I-I need to talk to you," Gene answered.
"I don't care what you need. I told you at the salon, I don't want to see you anymore. Get you stuff and get out!"
Talking was the last thing that Gene wanted to do with Lorraine. This morning's pursuit convinced her that Gene's present intention held only negative connotation. Nothing held importance for him except finishing what he started at the Duet Restaurant. He was beyond reasoning now. His appearance convinced Lorraine that any fear he held had depleted.
She looked around the room in a casual state. Her bar held many objects to use for defense. The problem was to arrive at that destination before Gene did. As horrible as it was in the office, Lorraine was in more danger than this morning.
Gene's right hand was wrapped with a fresh dressing. He moved slower than usual, but Lorraine couldn't depend on using that to her advantage. As he stood up, she took a step back. She moved her hand forward in her coat pocket in hopes the shape would resemble a gun.
"This morning was very unfortunate," he said. "I'm sorry it happened."
"You're sorry?" she said with sarcasm. "That's a laugh."
"I didn't mean to be rough with you."
"It was more than that Gene. You attacked me in public and called me a slut. God knows what you would have done in my office if-"
"It was an- accident Lorraine."
"You came after me. Not once, but twice. Both times, you were set on hurting me. You can keep your apology. It's too late for that. You will leave now and never come back."
Gene closed his eyes with disappointment. He had returned to Lorraine's house, confident that reconciliation was in their future. He had made his decision to forgive her for seducing another man in public. He was willing to ignore her defiant behavior as well.
"It's obvious you're still upset," he said. "You're not thinking straight."
"You're the one who needs his head examined," she responded. "Anyone who follows the person who shot him has to be unbalanced."
Lorraine stepped back as Gene made an aggressive step towards her. A small grin emerged on his face as he looked at her coat. She made such a feeble attempt to simulate a weapon, he thought. He was no longer obligated to tolerate her defiance. Gene began to walk towards Lorraine.
Lorraine ran towards the bar, but to no avail. She came within two feet of it when grabbed her coat. As he pulled her to him, he wrapped his arm around her neck and dragged her back to the sofa.
"Leave me?" he yelled. "Never! I'll kill you before that happens. You belong to no one but me. The day you try is the last you'll see on this planet!"
Gene tightened his grip around Lorraine's neck. She gasped for air and struggled to break his suffocating hold. She pulled on his arm until the lack of air claimed her consciousness. Her body became limp as he let her go and she collapsed on the floor.
The world has corrected its error, he thought. The balance of nature was in place. For Gene, domination was not a privilege, but a right that belonged to every male on earth. How he hated women's lib and the belief of feminists. He loathed them even more today, for they had a member who stood up and dared to say no to him. Until now, his cardinal right as a man had been stolen. He could no longer allow that crime to continue. For that reason, he returned to her house to reverse this wrong and nullify her audacity. He stood over her and until his sense of mastery returned to his being. Yet, this wasn't enough for him. She needed to be taught a lesson, he thought. Gene could go no further until he erased the embarrassed caused by Lorraine. He began to kneel next to her to-
"Don't you dare lay another hand on her!"
Gene was as startled by this voice as Lorraine was from his. He turned to the doorframe to see a woman pointing a .38 caliber gun towards him. He wasn't surprised by who stood at the other side of the room. However, he never thought a maid would take such a noble stance for her employer.
Basia wasn't the typical maid. Her beauty was on the level of many of the world's famous models. Birth in Cuba had restrained her possibilities of any type of social status in her own home. Her education was limited as well; only finishing the ninth grade before her family and she escaped from their homeland. Luck favored her for a brief moment when she applied to a maid agency that referred her to her present employer- Lorraine.
Working for Lorraine was more than a job. For the first time, Basia Anderson had the opportunity to live a decent life. Perhaps, if she dared to dream it, Basia would return to school. To keep her mind active, she read books and watched documentaries on television. She was in her early twenties. She had heard of people older than her going back to get their high school diploma. She was in America now, and anything was possible.
"Did you hear what I said?" she said to him. "You don't want me to repeat myself."
Basia waved the gun to the right, directing Gene to move away from Lorraine. He stood up and side stepped until Basia directed him to halt. She had no desire to converse with him now. She was geared on making him leave this house.
"Something told me not to let you in the house this morning," Basia said. 'I cut my hand,' you said. 'I just need a bandage and I'll be fine,' you said. I'm not going to bother to ask you what happened. I refuse to hear any lie that you've thought of. I'm tired of your lies. Your bag is at the door. Take it and get out of this house."
"You don't know who you're dealing with," Gene said. "I can fire you any time I want."
"Save the threats. There's only one person who decides when I go. And we both know who that is."
Basia looked upon her mistress who still remained motionless on the floor. She was almost positive that Lorraine was alive, but that wasn't enough for her. She bent down to Lorraine and checked that there was a pulse. She prayed any injury that Lorraine suffered would tolerate a brief postponement until she completed a more immediate task. She sneered at Gene again. "I bet Lorraine told you that she didn't want to see you anymore," she said.
"So what if she kicked me out?" Gene replied. "What's it to you?"
"You had no intention of leaving her."
"What if I didn't? It's none of your business."
Basia and Gene's attention were drawn to Lorraine's moans and attempt to maneuver herself upright. She leaned against the front of the couch with her head bent down. Basia watched as she struggled to regain her equilibrium.
"It's all right," Basia said. "I have everything under control."
"That's rich," Gene replied. "First you're her housekeeper, now her bodyguard. She tells you to jump and you say how high."
"If I were you, I'd be more concerned with leaving this house."
"You can't tell me what to do. This isn't your house."
"No, it's not. But it doesn't belong to you either. While I hold this gun, I'd say that gives me control over this situation as well. Even you have enough sense not to try anything stupid."
Basia was willing to surrender her entire paycheck in exchange for an attempt by Gene to retaliate against her. She even paused for a moment to allow him the opportunity to make an advance. She gestured Gene to the front of the house. Unlike Lorraine's entrance, Gene's departure consisted of a well lit hallway and an unwanted escort. He recognized his duffel bag next to the front door.
The end of the corridor symbolized more than a departure from the house. Gene sensed that he was experiencing the last moments inside the quaint manor. He slowed his walking pace as he looked at the drawings on the wall. Funny, he thought, I never really noticed them before now. They had no striking attraction to him. Alas, if he had taken an art appreciation class, he would know that each of the works was worth several thousand dollars.
"Don't even think about it," Basia said to him. "Keep walking, and don't stop until you get to the front door."
Basia and Gene resumed their shared path until they arrived at the front of the house. She kept the gun pointed at him as he bent over, picked up the bag and opened the door. Looking over his shoulder, he sneered at her one last time before he slammed it shut.
Basia raced to the door and locked it. Even though he was gone, she didn't wish to take any risks. Her grip on the gun tightened as she ran to the living room. Basia's arm reached for the light before she entered. Her sense of relief almost overwhelmed her as she glared to the floor. Lorraine was sitting upright and more alert than a few minutes ago. Basia walked to the end table and laid the gun on it. She wrapped an arm around Lorraine's torso as she assisted her boss to the edge of the couch. "Are you all right?" she asked.
Although conscious, the recent attack held Lorraine in a delirious state. She required an extra moment before realizing what Basia said to her. "What?" Lorraine asked. "Yes- yes, I'm okay."
"I must apologize," Basia said. "It wasn't my intention to eavesdrop on your conversation."
Lorraine gave Basia a puzzled look. She stopped Gene from choking Lorraine to death, but she worried about eavesdropping? Lorraine wondered if Basia's common sense took a short leave of absence. "That should be the least of your worries," Lorraine said. "Believe me, it's mine."
Basia watched as Lorraine proceeded to straighten her hair and clothes. She noticed an odd looking spot on Lorraine's body. Lorraine returned the peculiar glare and wondered why her employee stared at her face. Her curiosity heightened further as Basia touched her forehead. Basia's eyes traveled from her fingers, then back to Lorraine's head. As Lorraine prepared to question the movement, Basia turned her hand to allow Lorraine to view the blood covered fingers. "Doesn't it hurt?" Basia asked.
"I didn't know I was cut until now," Lorraine answered.
Now aware of the wound, Lorraine cringed as she touched her own forehead. She turned to Basia for a better examination. "Is it bad?" she asked.
"I don't think so," Basia answered. "But it needs a dressing."
The end table caught Basia's eye as she stood up. She walked closer to the furniture to affirm her suspicions. She placed her finger on the corner of the table that was damp. "I believe this is the cause of your head injury," Basia said.
"Do you see blood there?" Lorraine asked.
Basia gave an affirmative nod in response to Lorraine's question. She removed a cloth from her pocket and wiped the stain from the table. She tossed the rag into the waste can as she exited the room.
Lorraine had not realized until now that her body still quivered from Gene's assault. The sensation of peaceful slumber would not come to her tonight. Lorraine had nothing but the horrid image of Gene's face embedded in her brain. She made a closer examination of her end table. She was fortunate; no further damage was made on the furniture. Her eyes moved up to the photo of Gene and her. She wondered how much he had really meant to her. Was the portrait she gazed upon a symbolic trophy of the young lover she had kept for her amusement? She had been a fool to think she could control him. He was too arrogant, demeaning, and now too violent. Their relationship had been fused together with nothing but wild encounters between her satin sheets.
This evening's episode surpassed Lorraine level of tolerance. No man would ever have the opportunity to harm her again. The days of casual affairs were over for her. From this day forward, she would settle for nothing less than what she deserved to have. Only a man who loved her and equaled her social and economic status would be worthy of her audience. She was sure that some would call her materialistic now, but that was no longer her concern. She had tired of associating with children trapped in men's bodies. The sex was great, but they couldn't a conversation for longer than a five-minute span of time. She wondered if a single black man with intelligence was out there for her. If he did, she doubted that they would ever meet. Lorraine reached for the photo and turned it face down.
Basia re-entered the room with the first aid kit in her hands. She sat next to Lorraine and opened it. She pinned the loose hairs from Lorraine's face and applied alcohol to the wound.
"I'm sorry," she said as Lorraine cringed in pain.
"It needs to be sterilized," Lorraine replied. "I don't want an infection."
For a moment, Basia sat without moving. She gave a sigh before she resumed attending to the injury. She regretted her underestimation of this home's former guest. Perhaps she could have stopped Gene's insane behavior.
Until this evening, Basia had viewed a gun only once in her life. Her hand expelled a twitch as she recalled running to Lorraine's bedroom, grabbing the gun, and racing downstairs without being heard. As she entered the living room her father's words rang in her ears: "aim for the chest, something big. Don't worry about going to jail. The burglar had no business in our house in the first place." With that, she ordered Gene to move away from Lorraine.
She'll never know where she created the strength to hold the pistol. Her heart still raced from the experience. She glared at the gun for a moment. She was grateful she had the courage to defend herself and Lorraine. She prayed that would be the last time her hands would hold the ability to take a life.
Basia resumed her task of preparing the wound. "I can call the police," she said as she applied the bandage.
"You don't have to," Lorraine replied. "He's gone, right?"
"You've got to call now. It's obvious that you need help. Ms. Ravenshire, if you're afraid I'll call for you."
"I'll call the police shortly. I promise. Let me calm down first."
Basia looked at her with disbelief. She was amazed by Lorraine's continued evasion of common sense. She had no options now, yet, Lorraine refused to call the group of people who could protect her life. Basia sensed Lorraine's discomfort as she continued to glare at her boss, yet, Lorraine's approval was not important to her. Not even the police would scold Basia if she reported this incident.
"Would you prefer to watch as I dial the phone?" Lorraine asked.
"I prefer to call the police myself," Basia answered.
"You give your opinion too much."
"You have yet to stop me."
Basia knew that she stepped over her boundaries as an employee. Yet, she had no regret over this, either. The circumstance demanded that she ensure Lorraine's safety and well being. Basia had no worries of any reprimand Lorraine would impose upon her. She would receive her reward in the knowledge that Gene's departure today was his final from the house.
"On my word of honor," Lorraine said, "I will contact the police before the night is over. They are going to ask questions when they come. I have to collect my thoughts first."
"I understand," Basia answered.
Lorraine focused on the floor while she held her head in her hands. Just like this morning, time traveled at the speed of light. She remembered little more than turning on the light, then running from Gene. What could the police do with that minute amount of information? She feared they would laugh her out of her own house with that story. She was embarrassed to reveal her short term amnesia, even to Basia. Yet, with all that clouded her memory, she noticed the absence of Gene.
"How did you get rid of him?" Lorraine asked.
"I gave him two choices: leave or suffer the consequences," Basia answered.
Lorraine couldn't fathom what Basia had implied and she preferred not to know. Whatever method Basia utilized, Lorraine was positive that it was a powerful one.
The thoughts that Lorraine tried to escape from once again tormented her head. God only knew what Gene did before I arrived, she thought. She envisioned his violation of her house as he searched her rooms for consolation prizes. Borrowed time motivated him to confiscate the most precious items he could walk out of the house with. She hoped he left the objects that had the greatest sentimental value to her.
"Why do I keep doing this?" she asked as she raised her head upward. She stared into space with an empty facial expression. Her eyes widened as she took hold of her revelation. "Never again," she whispered through her teeth. "Not Gene, not any man. I will not put myself in the position of vulnerability to a man. I am done with this."
No one was more delighted to hear those words than Basia. Lorraine's declaration was music to Basia's ears. She made the first step on a path that moved herself away from Gene. Basia vowed to do everything in her power to ensure that Lorraine did not waiver from her decision. She reached into her dress pocket and placed an item on the end table. She noticed that the photo of Lorraine and Gene had been turned face down. She had no reason to question Lorraine's motive for the action. She never liked nor trusted Gene anyway.
"What is it?" Lorraine asked.
"The house keys you gave to Gene," Basia answered. "I took the liberty of removing all of your possessions from his bag before I placed it at the door.
"I noticed Gene was frantically going through the drawers in your bedroom as if he was looking for something in particular. I didn't know what was going on, but I just didn't like what he was doing. I waited until he finished and watched him sit in the living room. While he was there, I went through his bag and took out everything that belonged to you. Maybe I shouldn't have done it Ms. Ravenshire, but the way he moved around the house- it was like he was stealing your things."
"He was," Lorraine replied.
Sensing that Lorraine wanted privacy now, Basia stood up. "Is there anything else I can get you before I go back to the kitchen?" she asked.
The chimes from the doorbell interrupted Lorraine's answer. Basia hastened her pace to the front of the house. She peered through the keyhole to see the house's new guests. She never saw them before, yet, she recognized who they were. She opened the door to see two police officers.
"Good evening," one of the officers said.
"Good evening," Basia replied.
"My name is Officer Hines. This is Office Castillo. We received a call about a possible assault. We'd like to talk to you about it. Could you step outside please?"
Basia turned the lock on the door to allow herself entrance back into the house. All three walked down the steps to the walkway.
"Have you heard of Lorraine Ravenshire?" Office Hines asked.
"Yes," Basia answered. "She owns this house. I'm her housekeeper."
"I see. We received a call that an assault occurred this evening at this house between a man and a woman. The woman involved was Lorraine Ravenshire and the man-"
"His name is Gene Logan," Lorraine said as she closed the door. She walked towards the police and Basia. "Is there a problem?"
"I need to know if he lives here," Officer Hines answered.
For Hines to possess so many facts about her life was more than a coincidence. She thought it best to hold her suspicions until she was positive how the police found out about Gene.
"Until today, he spent a lot of time here," she said to Hines. "He's gone now. But, I don't understand. Why all the questions?"
"We received a phone call that someone is walking around your house. He was seen hiding in the bushes and looking in your window. Do you have any idea who would do that?"
"It's probably Gene," Lorraine answered with embarrassment. "I kicked him out of my house this evening. It looks like he's refusing to take no for an answer."
"You don't want him on your property?"
"I never want to see him again."
Lorraine anticipated her next answer. Officer Hines began to stare at her bandaged forehead. She feared becoming an object of his suspicion. The last thing she wanted or needed was implementation in a domestic dispute.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's trespassing," Lorraine said. "We got into a fight today. Actually, he attacked me. That's the reason for the bandage."
Lorraine tried to pull the bandage off to expose the scar to Hines. The officer placed his hand on Lorraine's. "That's not necessary," he said as he interrupted her movement. "I believe you. Is he your boyfriend?"
"Have you thought about filing a complaint?"
"I'm considering it."
"I suggest you do more than that."
The officer continued to glare at the scar. Hines was concerned about more than Lorraine's physical safety. Too many times, he had witnessed the vicious cycle of domestic violence. He had no desire for Lorraine to become another victim of this psychological torment. He didn't remember any calls for this address before tonight. Minus the small bruise, Lorraine appeared to be unharmed. Perhaps Hines and his partner weren't too late. All they had to do was convince Lorraine to take a stand against her former boyfriend.
Lorraine's voice trembled as she spoke. She maintained eye contact with Hines. His look of encouragement motivated her to utter the phrase she thought she'd never speak. "I want to press charges for battery and assault," she said. "I want to file a restraining order, too."
She couldn't look at Hines any longer. She performed the act she spent her life avoiding. There were few things she loathed more than asking for help. Yet, she saw no other option available for her. Anything was better than living in fear of another assault from Gene.
Officer Hines tilted his head towards Lorraine. He wanted to be sure that he had her attention. At first he feared he added to her frustration, but he was in error. Her face was the end result of the violence she experienced earlier today.
"You've taken a big step," Hines said. "You should be proud of yourself. Don't worry. My partner and I will look into the call. Just be sure that you lock your door."
"I'll try," Lorraine replied.
"If you have any questions, call us anytime at the station."
"Thank you. I'll keep that in mind."
She waited until they were far down the path before closing the door. She couldn't remember the last time she rechecked the locks. The chill that went through her body caught her attention. The house was not responsible- it had no drafts. Lorraine folded her arms as she walked through the corridor. She accepted the unexpected wind as a forecast of an uncontrollable storm yet to come.
* * *