Just before I opened I went to get coffee and a tenant was sitting there. She seemed pleased to see me but pretty battered up. Bandages on her hands, arms, face, back of the head. I nodded and continued past her. She sidled up to me and asked when I was going to open. I told her the moment I get my coffee she could assume my day was in full swing.
I ordered my coffee with this woman standing next to me. She was chattering on about how she’s been waiting since six AM for me to open. She said that’s when she was released from the hospital. I pay for my coffee and we turn to leave. I know she’s going to tell me how she became the bandage queen so I just have to stay close and quiet.
It turns out she found her girlfriend in bed with someone else and there was some type of altercation. By some type of altercation it seems as if, after she saw her girlfriend splayed out, she went to the closet to get something. I guess that’s not the reaction her girlfriend was looking for so she jumped out of bed and hit her in the back of the head with something. She was a little hazy on the exact item but it was large enough to leave a man’s fist sized gash.
As she was recovering from that bashing, the girlfriend threw a glass she blocked with her hands. During the ensuing melee the other person dressed and scrambled out of the house. The tenant didn’t know how long the fight went on but, by the end, they were both winded and she was pretty bloody.
She picked herself off the floor with two plans: 1) drive herself to the hospital to get stitched up and 2) drive herself to storage to get her gun.
That’s why she went to the closet. But she’d put it in storage because her girlfriend didn’t like it.
By the time we get to the office the entire story has been laid out in front of me. The tenant knows she’d go to jail if she shot her lover so she was also going to shoot herself. I told her at least half her plan was solid. The hospital did a good job of stitching her up.
“It would be a waste to see their good work go to waste.”
She laughs so I took that opportunity to ask her what story she gave the hospital. She told them she fell. I asked if they believed her and she, again, laughed telling me they didn’t and were obligated to call the police. She said she was lucky they finished stitching her up before the cops got there.
“Not if you kill yourself.”
We talked for a few minutes about life and love and snap reactions. I asked her about their relationship. Was she really surprised to find her girlfriend in bed with someone else.
“Yes!” She states banging on the counter for emphasis. “Especially because it was a guy.” She steps away from the counter and looks wistfully. “Guy’s suck.”
“Just the gay ones.”
Her head snaps up and, after a beat, laughs. It didn’t last long. She snaps and accuses me of trying to change the subject.
“You got me. I’m stalling to see if a blast of reason instead of a bullet hits your head. I’m an asshole like that.”
I can tell she’s vacillating so I ask her how they met. She tells me some story I’m hardly listening to. All I’m waiting for is a moment when she softens. A moment she remembers what she loved about this woman. After a few minutes I get it.
She’s laughing at some trivial event she probably hasn’t thought of in years. Everyone has those moments. Something shrouded in a miasma of the daily work of love and life. But it’s a moment like that which can make you remember why you fell for this person in the first place.
“How can you, even after what happened, think of killing the person you enjoyed that moment with?”
She looks at me as if I’m crazy. But I see a breakdown. Just a moment of weakness. It’s all I’m looking for. The only difference between beating someone down and helping them is how hard you kick that opening.
“And why would you want to wipe that memory from the face of the earth? It’s a fucked up place so you know we need memories like that to remain alive. A happy memory lightens the load for everyone around you.”
Even I’m starting to sicken myself with talk like this. Later I’m sure I’m going to have to kick my own ass but, right now, I’ve strapped on my saccharine greeting card writing mask and I’ve got to run with it.
I notice her soften and begin to cry. A torrent about her life begins to flow. I stand there and nod as she unloads. It takes a few minutes but she slowly regains her composure. She talks for a few minutes calmly about my points. But something’s amiss. I can’t put my finger on it but I can smell it. Must be my miasma again.
“I see your point.” She wipes tears from her cheek with a bandaged hand. “The bitch isn’t worth killing myself.”
“If that is indeed my point, okay fine.”
She steps towards the door and asks me to buzz her in. I shake my head no.
“No? You can’t stop me from going to my unit.” I nod my head yes.
“It’s the second and your rents not paid.” I point to a sign that states Massachusetts state law that’s condensed into one succinct statement: ‘If your rent payments are not up-to-date, you can’t get in!’ Of course, that law takes effect after the fifth but, hey, cut me some slack! I’m saving lives here!
A flash of anger shoots across her face. But it’s momentary. As much as she holds on to the murder/suicide nugget there’s another part of her that understands it’s not the best way to begin ones weekend.
“You were never going to let me in, where you?” I shake my head no. It takes a few more seconds for her to release the door knob. “I shouldn’t have told you, huh?”
“Who knows. You did.” She shuffles her feet for a second. “Do me a favor, if you want to put a hole in your head, go get another piercing. At least you’ll get to enjoy that one.”
She laughs, calls me an asshole and exits. I look at the clock. Only eight more hours to go. But, the percentages are that nothing else can go wrong today.
Damn, my coffee’s cold.