Here in my car at the top of East Rock, I consider my options. In front of me on the dash sits a bottle of pills and a fifth of bourbon is on the passenger seat. I love my lime green Mustang and I don’t want it destroyed. Driving off the cliff is the least likely choice. I have enough pills and liquor to do damage, I’m just not sure I’d die even from the combination of the two.
I could take the pills with the booze and then slit my wrist with the switchblade in my hand. Still, would I die before anyone found me? Not that anyone is looking.
Perhaps the knife to my throat? Again, I think of my beautiful car. The note I left on the kitchen counter at my aunt’s house said to give it to my kid brother. He just learned to drive about a year ago. He’ll love the Mustang. Has always wanted it.
I pocket the knife and the prescription. I take the fifth and get out. Standing in front of the car, I gaze out over the lights. Cities look amazing at night. I’ve never been a morning person. The darkness hides your sins like a maxi skirt conceals unshaven legs.
I’ve been here before. In this deep hole of depression. It’s not my first ride to crazy. And I love East Rock. I’d visited this place on dates in college. Some ended happier than others.
Leaning against the hood, I open the bourbon and take a long drink. The burn soothes my pain for a moment. Taking a few pills in my palm, I down them with more liquor. Will my not being around change things? I’m sure my friends would be sad for a while. They’ll get over it and be better off.
Headlights flash behind me and I resist turning around. A car parks nearby. Two people yell at each other inside the vehicle. One female and one male, I assume. Ignoring the words, I take another swig of the bottle. The chemicals blur my senses. I wish I was still alone. Witnesses could intervene with my plans.
“I swear I wasn’t looking at that guy.”
“Then why was he staring at you?”
“How the hell should I know?”
I flinch at the sound of a car door slamming. Then a second bang urges me to look. I bite my lip and take a deep breath.
“You fucking bitch.”
“Jack, please. I love you. Don’t do this again.”
A scream pierces my ear. Thud. This time I turn. A young, petite woman is on the ground holding her face. The man stands over her with his fists clenched. His right hand comes down as he bends over and nails her again in the jaw.
“Hey, leave her alone.” Sometimes I speak before thinking. I drop the bottle.
When it smashes on the curb, the man straightens, turns, and slowly steps in my direction.
“Mind your own damn business, bitch.”
“Does it make you feel strong to beat someone half your size?”
By now, I’m in his face. A right hook connects with his cheek. I give him a knee in the groin. He crumbles.
“Lady, you’ve picked a real winner here.”
Jack moans some swear words. The woman gets to her feet.
“Thanks, but I don’t…”
“Don’t need help? Your lip is bleeding and Jack here is an ass for what he did.
If this isn’t the first time, and I doubt it is, you need me. Now, either get in my car and I take you to the hospital or stay here with Jackass and suffer the consequences.”
“Let me get my purse.”
She gets into my car and I back up. Jackass gets to his feet. I switch gears and peel out of there. My head is clear enough to drive for now. Any time my brain will realize I’m too drugged to get her to the hospital and get home.
“Who are you?” she asks.
“Your savior, apparently. Who is that guy?”
“How long have you been married?”
“Two years tonight.”
“Let me guess. He was great while you were dating. Attentive and sweet.”
Her head turns to look at me.
“It’s a story I’ve heard before. I volunteer at the town shelter. I’m not sure if they have space, but you cannot go home. He will hit you again and again until you leave or die.”
“He’s a good man.”
“Good men don’t hit.”
“He has a problem.”
“And will you too, if you stay.”
A few minutes later, I pull into the emergency entrance. Her head is down.
She doesn’t respond. She must have blacked out. I run through the sliding glass doors when they open, holler for help, and the nearest nurse follows me outside.
Now I see the blood coming out of the side of her head. She must have hit the pavement.
“I’ll get a gurney and some help. Don’t move her.”
I wonder how to clean the blood from the leather seats. The nurse and another person come out. One asks her name.
“I don’t know. She was being attacked by her husband up at East Rock and I intervened. His name is Jack. I wouldn’t let him in, if he comes looking.”
I pull a card out of my jacket.
“Give her this and tell her to call me.”
The guy peeks at the card.
“Emlyn, that’s an unusual name.”
“Thanks. I should go. Tell her to call or get to a shelter. Otherwise, who knows how bad things will get.”
I have a two-bedroom townhouse. The stairs are just too long tonight. I crash on the sofa, wishing I still had the bourbon.
I awake with a jolt as slivers of sun appear through the vertical blinds. My head throbs. My fist hurts. I remember the woman and wonder if she’s still at the hospital.
It’s Sunday morning and I have laundry waiting to be done. No other tasks are on my to do list until tonight. Sunday evenings I stay at the shelter and help out. I decide a long hot shower and several cups of coffee are in order.
While the washer runs, I make an omelet with tomatoes, onions, and cheddar.
After breakfast, I head to the hospital. I know they won’t tell me anything over the phone. I’m not family.
In the ER, I talk to a nurse.
“I brought a woman in last night who was pretty banged up from her husband. I don’t know her name.” I describe the woman and the nurse asks around.
“They discharged her, but I can’t tell you anything else.”
“Hopefully she found a safe place to spend the night.”
I stop by the market for some groceries before going to the shelter. I park out back near the kitchen entrance. I punch the numbers into the keypad to open the door. As I bring the bags in, Leslie comes to help. Leslie is one of the two women who started the shelter.
“You’re early today.”
“I wanted to see if you had anyone new.”
“Yes, she showed me your card. Her name is Lori. Luckily, we had a room for her.”