Don't corner something meaner than you.
Late that night, Despina wakes, soaked, as usual, to sense a presence in her hovel with her. She holds her breath to listen better. Soft scrapes on the floor tell her it is coming closer. The blackness is total. Her eyes, strain them as she might, will not resolve the noises into a deeper shadow that she can track.
Suddenly, the overpowering stench of hard liquor assails her nostrils. Gagging, she rolls sideways just as a large hand grabs the front of her flimsy gown. Her motion causes it to rip. On her knees on the far side of the chaise lounge she uses as a bed in place of the customary pallet on the floor, she crawls for the exit.
Burglars can always break down doors or windows to gain entrance. I never thought I'd be grateful not to have a door on my hovel!
Standing, she dashes around the side of the building to the front, where she spies a flat-sided bottle lying beside the beaten path leading to her front door. She grabs it by the neck. A weapon is better than none!
As her attacker lunges for her from the door of the hovel, she raises the bottle and smashes it over his head with all her strength.
He's bigger than Tex!
Although he staggers, he does not fall.
Back-pedaling frantically, she faces him, recognizing Cu's face with a shock.
I thought he NEVER took a drink!
As he circles her warily, the moonlight strikes him full on the face.
Black eyes! The brother!
She feels her dread lift.
When he lunges, she slashes viciously. Dodging causes him to stagger again. Dashing off, she reaches the hovel doorway, heading unerringly to her purse in the dark and feeling around until she surfaces with the cell phone. Out the back door she goes, now-shattered bottle in one hand, cell phone in the other.
Reaching the back entrance of Paul Peter's hovel, she darts inside, hotly pursued. Not sure where he sleeps, she rushes for the front entrance, gratified by the sounds of thudding and a shout.
Pausing in the moonlight, she dials 911, then dashes back to the shadow behind her house.
Whispering, she hurriedly tries to explain to the deputy what her trouble is. Sounds of a ruckus emanate from Paul Peter's dwelling, then a large shape emerges.
Too large for PP.
Turning into the desert, she runs again, continuing until her sides are heaving and her breath is raspy in her throat. She falls several times.
In the distance, she hears a welcome siren. Soon headlights appear. Slowly, she walks back toward the road, then along it to the hospital. The lights have come on, and as she enters through the ambulance bay, she sees the sheriff and Paul Peter.
When Paul Peter turns toward the light, she gasps at the sight of his face. "Did you catch him?"
"Catch him?" Paul Peter says incredulously. "I didn't even SEE him. I thought I was having a particularly vivid nightmare."
"Yes, that man was a nightmare!"
"A nightmare never slugged me before," Paul Peter grumps.
"Who tore your gown, Despina?" breaks in the sheriff, coming over.
Looking down, she feels her face heat up. She is quite indecently exposed. "Tomás," she mumbles, clutching her gown's top to her.
Indicating the marks on her bare legs, "He do those, too?" Mick probes as he guides her to an empty gurney and pats it to indicate that she should sit.
Finishing with Paul Peter, the doctor gets fresh water and another pile of gauze pads, then sets to work on her cuts. "Nothing too deadly here," he announces.
"What happened?" inquires the sheriff.
Recounting the adventures from her awakening, she ends with, "That man should be locked up!"
When the sheriff does not react to her tale, Despina shivers. "What do I have to do before you believe I was facing a real threat?"
"File a formal complaint," Mick says solemnly.
"But it happened on the reservation, not in the United States," Despina complains.
"But the safety and well-being of US citizens was threatened. Both ended up in the local hospital, where they were treated for their injuries."
"Maybe it would be better if PP filed," she hedges.
"Me?” squawks Paul Peter. “I was sound asleep. I can't identify my assailant. I can't even figure out, if he was bent on raping YOU, how he ended up in my hovel."
Hanging her head, Despina admits, "I ducked in there to gain some ground so I could slip back for the cell phone. I goofed. The sheriff told me to keep it with me whenever I went on an adventure, but I didn't understand that he meant I had to SLEEP with it!
"When I broke the bottle over his head full force without felling him, I realized I needed help handling THIS threat! All my proud words about not wanting to have to run to a man for protection turned out to be just that, words.
"When his shape loomed out of the darkness of PP's doorway, I fled into the desert. My top was torn, but I wasn't hurt until I tried to run through the desert at full speed in the dark. I can't think when I've been more scared, though.
Especially when I thought it was Cu...
“Which is behavior that has to stop. No woman out here or in town is safe if he’s that out of control,” Mickey pronounces.
Despina freaks out. “You mean, tell everyone? Have it be in the paper? Be stared at wherever I go? Maybe even become the victim of copycat crimes? That sounds just lovely!”
Wandering over to the gurney where Despina deposited the bottle fragment when she needed both hands to boost herself up, he takes a deep sniff without touching it. "From the smell you describe, and the bottle fragment," the sheriff says, carefully picking up the bottle shard with a paper towel and slipping it into a plastic bag, "rehab would serve him better." He slips the bag into a pocket.
Despina hesitates. "If I file, will he be rehabilitated for his drinking problem?"
The sheriff lifts his hat, smoothes his hair, then replaces his hat. "Unfortunately, no."
Staring at the ground, Despina speaks as though she’s thinking out loud. "How does one get into rehab?"
"I don't have the numbers here, but there are resources that I can check." He taps his index finger against his nose in thought.
“Dr. D, will you put both of these injuries on file, please? I’d like to take copies of your reports with me. Be sure to indicate the probable cause..."
Gnawing on her lip, Despina asks, "What if Tomás doesn't want to go?"
Picking up his clipboard and flipping through some papers, the sheriff answers, "If going to jail is the alternative, he might be persuaded."
"How long can I wait to file charges?" Their eyes meet and hold.
Last updated 2/23/10 Changed title and quote size on summercircles. 2/7/10 Changed he to that man. Converted some tag lines to present tense, as these are NOT part of the dream, but the real life she’s actually living currently. 2/6/10 Added more “tells”. 2/1/10 Reworked the hospital material, strengthening the dilemma and building the case more logically. 1/9/10 Added tells. 7/31/03. 4/24/02.
Word Count: 1176