I put my hand up to my forehead that was now drenched in sweat. What was I thinking? What was I walking into? Should I put the gun back first, or should I take it out of my pocket incase I needed it? I looked at the front door again. Chris would be showing up in a few minutes or so, if he actually stuck to his word. I made my decision. I ran through the hallway, treading as lightly and quietly as I could to the front door, which wasn’t hard with these thick brown carpets. I gently opened the big brass handle, with no problem, and went outside into the searing sunlight. Then I partially closed it, and shoved a pinecone in the way so it couldn’t shut on its own. Then I walked to the street while texting Chris, “Meet me on the street”. There was my truck parked out on the side of the suburban street. I started to walk down the sidewalkless road towards it and then Chris drove on up in a loud old VW bus. Not too stealth. I pointed at an open spot further down the street so that he wouldn’t park too close or too loud and alert anyone to his presence. He parked with a loud squeak of the hand break and got out. I went up to his door and stopped and watched as he climbed out on to the road. His face was black and blue and his lip was swollen. I stared in sick-awe for a second. I had done that to him. Then I almost started laughing. “You should see what I can do with a soccer ball ” I said.
He was assessing the damage too. Not paying too much attention to my words. “Shit” he said, looking stunned. “Look at you.” Then he seemed to remember he didn’t want to be here and frowned. “Why am I here?”
“Rissa in there” I said, and leaned my back against his van. My heart started pumping again. “Her dad left me in the bathroom and I thought I was locked in there but then I walked out just fine”
“So what the fuck is the problem then?” he said, suddenly remembering why he was here. “I thought I needed to bust you out of a bathroom!” Chris practically shouted at me. He turned and put his forehead on the equally beat-up blue, van door. “I’m so sick of you,” he said and banged the door with his hand.
“I think he’s hurting Rissa.”
Chris turned and looked at me, clearly troubled. “What do you mean?”
“He told me that he needed to go and talk to her…about me. Then I heard her scream.”
“She screamed? Was she laughing?”
“No, it was one of those screams where you know something bad is happening. We have to get in there now and help her.”
“Just walk into their house?”
“There’s no fucking way. I don’t even know that girl. This is non of our business what her dad does to her.”
“Listen” I said walking close to his face so that he instinctively took a step back. “If you hadn’t beaten me so bad, while I was so drunk I couldn’t even defend myself, then she wouldn’t have had to risk bringing me here. But she did. And now she’s in trouble because of me and because of you. We can’t leave her in there.”
“You know why I kicked your ass,” he said. We looked at each other like we were going to go at it again. “This is all your fault. Not mine.” He looked away for a second. I could see his mind working, trying to make a decision. “What if he’s got a fucking gun?”
“What if a bomb falls out of the sky and blows us up right now? Come on.” I turned and started to walk back down the street to her house. Then I stopped and looked at him. “Between the two of us we should be able to help her. I can’t do this by myself with my ribs all busted up.”
Chris bit his lip and touched his forehead. I could tell he was scared shitless too but he started to walk towards the front door with me. I thought for a very short second that I would like him if he wasn’t such an asshole. I pushed it open and we both walked in quietly.
“This is so fucked up” Chris said. “I’m waiting out here. Holler if you need me.”
Fair enough. I took a few breathes and walked through the living room to where I could hear the crying. It was getting louder and sounded like it was coming from a door on the other side of the dining room. Perhaps that lead into the master bedroom. I heard her scream, “Just stop, please.”
I thought about taking the gun out of my pocket. I had always been pretty good at hitting the empty rusty tin cans on my grandfather’s property, when we would take the old dirt bike out by the creek and line them up along the stump so that they would fly back into the water when we shot them. Whoever makes the biggest splash wins. But besides that, I knew nothing about guns. Damn I wished I had watched my Grandad clean and load them.
I walked quietly through the diningroom, squeezing past the old wooden table that was to big for the small space. Everything was brown in this house. I walked to what I presumed was a bedroom door and I could hear her crying behind it. I hoped, and hoped she was in there by herself. I thought for a second that I could still turn around and just go home. Then I opened the door and walked in. There was her dad sitting on a large bed, still in only his boxers. She was crouched in the corner of the room covering her head and crying. It was the worst thing I had ever, seen, well, for a really long time. He turned at looked at me. I saw a flicker of surprise through his bloodshot eyes.
“I thought you would be long gone by now, boy” he said. “I left the bathroom door and the front door unlocked,” he said, as if he were going through a check list in his mind. “But I guess you were having so much fun you decided to stay.”
“I’m not leaving without Rissa” I said. She uncovered her head and looked at me in shock. Her eyes wide and watering, strands of her golden-brown wavy hair sticking to her wet face. “Just leave, Jake!” she shouted. “You’ve done enough already!”
I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t imagined she wouldn’t want to leave. I suddenly felt like an idiot and that I was making a mistake. But I have always been dead-on in sticky situations, I just had to remember that.
“You heard the girl” he said. “Get the hell out before I get that gun I bought in Macon.”
I took the gun out of my pocket and pointed it at him, “You mean this one?” I said.
He only looked phased for about half-a-second, then he growled, “No, that aint it. That aint even loaded,” his eye twitching oddly. I wondered if his eye was going nuts because he was angry or because he was scared. He didn’t move though, so I didn’t either.
“Rissa” I said. “Get up and go get in my truck.” she sat there. “DO IT!” I hollared at her. She got up slowly and her dad said. “You sit back..”
I cut him off “I know how to use this!” he stopped. Then he looked at her and nodded. She slowly walked past us. I saw that her eye was as black and blue as mine was, with blood dripping from her nose, and I felt sick but releived. I was doing the right thing. I dug my hand into my pocket and tossed her the keys. I saw her smile a little and put them in her pocket. Then she said, “It is loaded, dad.” as she walked out. Holy shit this was her gun. I stood there pointing it at him, my arm shaking. He cut his eyes at me and said, “Are you really going to kidnap my 17-year-old daughter at gunpoint? Do you think that the cops aint going to be on your heels in a matter of minutes fool?”
“When they see her face and she tells them her daddy did that to her, they aren’t going to be concerned with me. I don’t think you’re going to be seeing your little girl for a while, sir.”
“Look at you all brave behind that gun” he said smiling with horrifying confidence. Then he got up and started to walk towards me. “Sit down asshole” I yelled at him.
He walked past me and shut the door. “Give me the gun” he said walking towards me.
“I don’t want to shoot you!”
“You are starting to seriously piss me…
I threw the gun at the other side of the room and we both jumped with the loud bang as it hit the floor. There was now a huge hole in the wall. I tried to run past him to get to the door but he grabbed me and threw me against the wall next to the door. He pressed his arm into my neck and cut off my air. “You had the chance to get out of here but you didn’t take it. Not so smart college boy”. He had the breath of my uncle Jimmy, vodka and bile. I struggled for oxygen and he let go for a second and I gasped in air, wheesing through my half crushed windpipe. Then he shoved his arm back in and cut me off again. I pulled with all my strength, panicking that I couldn’t breathe, but he wasn’t budging. “You’re not getting off so easy this time,” he hissed, his bloodshot eyes close to mine. “If I crush your neck I will be a hero for stooping the intruder with my bare hands. Oh the things you can accomplish when you are threatened by evil…not so messy either.”
I realized this really was his plan. Ignoring the pain in my ribs, I used every last bit of strength I had to heave his arm from my neck then I used his weight to swing him around with his arm tweaked behind his back, and slammed him so hard into the wall so that his head hit and ricochet off. I dug my knee in his back. Suddenly someone ran in the room and I was so surprised I let up on my pressure and he threw himself backwards knocking be on to the bed, then I saw Chis going for him but he just picked up a baseball bat from next to the bed and nailed Chris in the stomach. Chris was on the floor and next thing I know the old man scrambled past us both to the other side of the room. I realized what he was going for and tried to chase him down. But we tripped over each other and crashed to the floor. He was an inch closer to the gun and grabbed it then put the cold barrel against my forehead. I remembered when my next door neighbor, Chet, did this to me when we were kids. He was 7, I was 5 and It was cold then too. I had seen my grandfather explode enough squirrels in the backyard that I knew what happened when you pulled that trigger, aiming for brains. The click of Chet’s gun rendered an empty chamber, but this time, I knew I wasn’t getting a second chance.
Rissa’s Dad was breathing heavily lying there next to me clutching her gun. He got up slowly on one knee while still pushing the barrel into my forehead. I could see Chris out of the corner of my eye. He was still on the floor. Then her dad slowly heaved himself up to standing and pointed the gun at me from up there as I lay on the floor. “What should I do now?” he said. “I really don’t want to have to get a new carpet.” He rubbed his nose while I stared at his eyes, waiting for him to pull the trigger. “I’m going to watch some “Price is Right” and think about it. If you boys come out I’ll kill you both. He simply walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him. I walked over to Chris. He was trying to pull himself up on the bed. I pulled him up and we sat next to each other. He doubled over with his forehead on the pillow, holding his gut. “Window?” he said.
I got up and walked over to the curtains. I pushed them aside and there was a boarded up window. I walked up to the other one and that was boarded up too. There was a bathroom attached to the master bath and I walked in there and the little window above the toilet was also boarded up. I walked back out to Chris who was still doubled over. He sat up slowly and looked at me worried. I felt horrible saying, “All the windows here are boarded up.”
We sat there quietly. He said, “You are like this person that was created by fucking Satan, to completely ruin my life…then end it.”
I looked at him doubled over on the bed and thought that maybe he was right. I didn’t even know this guy but I had really fucked with his life. He was actually kind of cool too. It was unbelievable that he came in here to help me after everything I had done to him. I didn’t’ know there were people like that left in this world. “It isn’t as bad as you think” I said.
“What isn’t? This is as bad as it gets really. I hate my wife because of you, and now I am going to get shot by a psycho because of you. How does it get worse than this?”
“Well” I said, feeling uncomfortable but wanting him to know, “Odette doesn’t like me. She loves you. I have been trying and trying to get her to hang out with me and she keeps telling me to go to hell because she loves her husband. I just said that shit at the party last night because I know what I said is about the worst thing a guy could hear. But it wasn’t true. She is done with me. She has been for a really long time. She didn’t even want me to come to the beach but I came anyway. So…you shouldn’t throw it all away man. She is exquisite. That is why I have been trying so hard with her. But you can’t make someone love you, if they just don’t.”
“God, get me out of here” Chris said with his hands on his head. Then he stood up and said, “Come on. He suddenly made a B-line for the front door and I followed him. He tried to open it but it was locked then I