Drugs turn everything ugly. Sometimes - very ugly!
|This story was written about 20 years ago. For readers who may not be familiar with the technology of that ancient time, telephones were not cellular and carried in a pocket. They usually sat on a table or hung on the wall, and were connected by wires to a jack in the wall (much like you plug your charger into an outlet). The better phones offered a cordless receiver handset that you talked into, but many still had the handset connected to the phone by a curly cord.
The water blurred his face and it looked like Steve was frowning at me. Then the arm of my pink flower sweater, the one I wore on our date just an hour ago, now soaking in the bath tub, floated in front of my eyes. I guess it made Steve mad because he pushed harder, making the air burble furiously out of my mouth and nose. The bubbles pushed away the sweater and I clearly saw his evil, twisted grin.
I am proud of my finger nails, long and manicured, painted and stenciled. Mother always told me to use my breasts, my hair, my voice, and my nails to catch a man. Later, she told me not to worry about my breasts. Right now, my hair floated with the sweater sleeve and my voice was under six inches of water, so I dug my nails in Steve’s arm up to the quick. It didn’t faze him so I flailed at his face with the other hand. He reared back when I scratched his eye, yanking me out of the tub when he did so.
Gasping for sweet, precious air, I grabbed the shattered bathroom door and hauled myself upright. He didn’t like that and came at me, a mad gleam in his eyes. The first thing at hand was my powder box and I flung it. Steve easily batted it away, but it poofed out all in his face and he howled in rage.
Down the hall, stumbling, wet hair plastered in my mouth and eyes, head spinning, must catch my breath but there’s no time to stop. Phone in the living room on a table, next to what was left of the front door.
The sweater was soaking in the tub because when I came back from the Ladies’ Room an hour earlier at our favorite Italian place, Steve was completing a drug buy. “You promised me!” I screamed. He shrugged. “So I lied.” I slapped him and he slapped me, spaghetti sauce went all over my sweater and wine went in his face, glass and all. I squealed my car home, drowning the sweater in the tub and the dishes in the kitchen sink, desperately trying to wash Steve and his drugs out of my life.
So as I’m playing with the silverware in the suds and seeing his face on every bubble, a booming crash from the front room jolted my introspection, and I almost cut myself on the carving knife. I looked into the living room and saw the front door hanging from one hinge, splintered like my life and shattered like my dreams of happiness for Steve and me.
Steve saw me, his eyes glazed and glassy. High and raging, he let loose with a primal scream and charged me. I sought refuge in the bathroom, but the tub was almost my grave. Now that I escaped there, can I beat Death again?
I’ve almost got the phone, but Steve shoves me aside and grabs it. He’s standing between me and the door and I can’t get out. With a yell and a yank, he holds the phone aloft like a prize, the cord ripped from the wall. A bared wire whips back and stings his face and he slams the phone to the tile, stomping on the cordless receiver three, four, five times. I run for the kitchen.
Steve is manic. Everything is extreme. He didn’t knock; he broke the door. He won’t talk; he curses and roars. He isn’t angry; he wants to kill me. He’s tweeking and the drugs have focused his anguish and pain and intensified it into a driving hate that wants me dead.
I am halfway to the extension in the kitchen, my El Cheapo phone with the corded receiver, my 911 lifeline, when Steve snags the collar of my shirt. Actually, it used to be one of his, gone threadbare and too small to fit his manly chest, but big enough that my chest doesn’t strain the one button left. The button pops now and I wriggle my arms out, thankful now that I don’t need a bra because there’s no strap for him to grab.
Then Steve snatches my hair and jerks me back, lifting me off the ground. Dangling and twisting, I rotate enough to kick him between the legs, and again, and again. But his brain is as dead as his hate is alive, and it took four to finally register enough to slightly loosen his grip. A twist and I slip from his hand and fall to the floor. As I lunge for the phone he grabs my hair again, but he didn’t get as much this time and I feel it tear away from my scalp.
One step then two, and the receiver is off, broken nail stabbing out 911. The operator is quick, one ring, “911 -- what is your emergency?” Not quick enough, though, because Steve wraps the cord around my neck several times and pulls. “Hello? 911 -- are you there?” Voice in my ear, so close, but I can’t answer. Legs weak so I reach for the counter behind me for support, Steve in front bending me over backwards. Hands slipping on the suds around the sink, and I have strength left for one more grab.
Knife! Blood roaring in my ears and red behind my eyes, running over my hand stabbing and stabbing in his back. Can’t feel my fingers and the knife is falling, hand flailing, patting his butt. Except now my arm won’t move and legs won’t hold me up.
Steve suddenly slumps to the floor, sirens in the buzzing mist, help on the way, but I can’t unwrap the cord that digs into the flesh of my throat, keeping my knees off the floor. Red segues into black and the buzzing slowly fades out. Pressure melts away from my neck and I am rising, floating, bright lights behind my eyelids, strong angel arms around my shoulder. “Officers on the scene” muffled voice into the receiver, sweet air in my mouth. “It’s going to be okay,” cold metal of his badge on my breast.