“Stop! Stop! What are you doing? Have you lost it completely? This is a 25 mph zone and it’s RAINING hard! Can you even see anything?!”
He put is foot down even harder on the gas pedal. “Why do you do this to me? You make me do these things. If you want out, get out.” He reached around her, fumbling for the door handle. She was sure he’d push her out. She slammed down the lock and blocked the handle with her arm.
“What did I do?” she sobbed.
“Looking at that guy the way you did. I saw you. You think I didn’t see you.”
“You’re completely crazy. There’s a red light! Rico!!!!! OH MY GOD!” she closed her eyes, tight together. If they were doomed, they were doomed. Rico slammed his foot on the brake just in time to avoid colliding with a red pickup.
“This is it,” she thought, and opened her door. Before he could reach across the seat to grab her arm she was out and running across the street to the fast-food noodle joint that had opened a week before where the taco shop had been. The light turned green. Horns honked at Rico. He had to go. Megan knew it was five blocks before Rico would have a chance to turn around. “Good,” she thought. “I’m going to do what I should’ve done a long time ago.” She went to the payphone in front of the noodle shop and called the police, gave them Rico’s license plate number and told them he was harassing her, threatening her with physical harm.
“Not much we can do, lady, unless we’re there when it happens. Do you have somewhere to go? Do you live with this guy?”
“No, no, I have a place of my own, but I’m afraid to go there.”
“Any friends you can stay with? A motel?”
She looked around. All there was in the area was La Petit Rouge and everyone knew what THAT was. “I don’t want to stay around here. He’ll be back. He’ll be back any minute and I’m scared.”
“Tell you what, I’m sending a squad car over to your location. They’ll take you somewhere. Will that work?”
“Oh thank you, thank you.”
“They should be there now.”
“I see them.”
“Stay safe. If you’re afraid of that guy, stay away from him. Don’t go back to him like most women do. Make tomorrow a new day, OK?”
“OK,” she had started to cry. Kindness at this moment was so sweet it hurt.
“Ma’am?” said the young, Hispanic policeman. “Are you all right?”
“I am. I’m OK.”
“Get in. He’ll be back, you said?”
“If I know him. Any minute.” She looked up and saw his black Honda coming slowly down the street. He was looking for her. “That’s him,” she said, pointing up the street, half a block away.
“All right. Hurry.”
She got in back of the squad car. The policeman drove a circuitous route ending up behind the Honda. He was checking to see if the driver had seen the girl. “He didn’t see you,” said the cop. “Good. C’mon. I’m taking you to the station. You can spend the night there. You’ll be safe, but it isn’t plush.”
“That’s OK. I don’t know where to go and I only have $3.00.”
“Tomorrow you go to family court — it’s in the same building — and you get a restraining order, OK? Then someone will drive you home.”
All the things she had known she should do but had not wanted to do she was on the verge of. “All he had to do was trust me,” she said, under her breath.
“Some guys can’t do that, miss.”
“I guess not.”
Megan spent the night on a bench in the police station. The sun was just up when she was awakened by a female police officer saying, “You want some coffee, honey?” Megan shook sleep from her mind and nodded.
“It’s a beautiful day,” said the police officer. “The rain is gone. It’s a little chilly, one of those crisp bright mornings that makes you glad to be alive. You want sugar in that?”