Saturday, June 11, 2011

facing my demons - 5

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

Richard had called earlier during the day wanting to meet that night. Dave was out of the country on a business trip. Richard sounded reasonable and reconciliatory over the phone. I already knew from one of his friends that he was leaving for the States in a few months. I agreed to meet him after my Law class and he came to pick me up at the university. He drove a white Volkswagen Beetle, his brother's, he said. Was I hungry, he had asked. Let's go somewhere special, he said, not waiting for my reply. We drove in silence, the radio blared some dancey tune. I felt tired, working full time and studying with a full load in law. I looked out the car window seeing the city in a different view from the low passenger seat of the Beetle.

I was not expecting it but at the same time I was not surprised when Richard drove the car through the open gates of one of the middle class motels that we used to frequent. The food there was good and the rooms were immaculately clean, and each suite had its own carport. Up to that point, I still had a soft spot in my heart for Richard. And the guilt I felt for being unfaithful to him was very strong. I had been blaming myself for everything. I thought that was how things should be.

"Why do we have to come here?" I asked, not moving from my seat.

"Because you like the food here, remember?" he said, and there was a tinge of tenderness in his usually impatient voice. I thought it strange. He got out of the car and said, "Come on."

I stayed put, trying to think. I had cheated on him with Dave, if something happened to us that night, would I be cheating on Dave? I did not hear the passenger door open, all I felt was the abrupt pulling of my arm.

His face was grave, he wasn't smiling. "Come on! Let's go inside!"

Although hesitant, I got out of the car. He was holding my right upper arm rather tightly and I asked him to let go. He started to kiss my neck, his one arm around my waist. "I love you," he said. "I love you. Don't you love me anymore?" I started to cry, from the guilt. From confusion. From fear.

I went with him inside the motel suite. I sat on a chair by the formica topped dining table in the ante room of the suite. The air conditioning cold and darkness of the room seemed ominous. My fears were alleviated, temporarily, when he sat down beside me, put his arm around my shoulders and rubbed my arm comfortingly while he browsed the menu card and gave the waiter our order.

While we waited for the food to arrive, he made a small talk about the people at the office, what they've been up to, some sending me their regards, etc. The food arrived after fifteen minutes. He told the room boy he would take care of things. The room boy left and Richard was quick to lock the door. I picked on my food while he talked in between bites. I waited until there was a lull in the conversation.

"Sonia told me you're leaving for the States. How come you never told me anything about this?"

"I have mentioned that to you quite a few times," he said, his eyes on the food.

"No, you never have. If Sonia didn't slip about it, I wouldn't have known." I stabbed a piece of the meat I had cut and examined it. "All these times, you never had any intention of..." I let my sentence trail.

"I didn't want you to stick it out with me just for that," he said, in what I thought was a most casual way. I felt my ears and my face redden.

"Just for what? The chance to live in the States?" His head jerked when I raised my voice. "How many times did we talk about that topic? I meant it when I said I never want to go to the States. How dare you think that I am just hanging around just so I could have that opportunity."

"I plan on coming back for you."

"I have means of going to the States, but I refuse to use those means, because I don't want to use those means. I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO THE STATES! Why can you not believe that?"

I stood up and grabbed my bags. In an instant he was on his feet, tightly gripping my arms. I was too hurt, inside and outside, to resist.

"You insulted me by thinking I am here just so you can take me to the States. Hah! Take somebody else, take Sonia maybe. Something's happening between the two of you, I know."
I felt a slap in my face. I broke down trying to brave the pain. I tried to pull my arm away from his grip. He put his arms around me and tried to kiss me, at the same time half-dragging me to the bedroom. From the strain of work, school, home and relationship problems, I passed out. When I came to, I was naked, Richard was putting on his pants and then threw my clothes at me. I felt exhausted and my whole body hurt. I felt sticky in my groin and throbbed inside. When I realized what happened, I sat up on the bed.

"You didn't use a condom?"

"Do you let Dave use a condom?"

I stormed out of the bedroom into the bathroom, and washed myself until my skin hurt and the little soap bar broke into pieces. He came in and pulled me up from the tub, gently this time and wrapped me with the thick motel towel. I didn't say anything. I wasn't thinking of anything. All I wanted was to put my clothes back on and leave. He even helped me put on my clothes, but made a remark: "You're no longer as tight as you used to be, you know." I ignored him. He slipped his hand underneath my skirt but I pushed him away.

I asked him to have someone call for a taxi for me. He needn't bring me home. He called the operator and asked for a taxi.

The next day, he called me at the office when I was about to leave for school. He asked how I was feeling. I said I was fine.

In Criminal Law that night, the class deliberated on the topic of "Rape, What Constitutes Rape and What is Statutory Rape." The irony was that I got top marks in the discussion period.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

facing my demons - 4

We all have demons that at some point in our lives we must face.

“Will you please stop crying?” he said after a few minutes. “He might think I'm doing something bad to you.”

He jerked his head in the direction of the waiter who peeked at us from his POS machine. I also noticed that a man wearing a necktie, sort of an office manager type person, came around and had a hushed conversation with the waiter.

Still sobbing, but calmer, I gave a small laugh. “I know,” I said, “if something happens to me later on, they’ll be giving your description to the cops. That's how it is around here.”

We sat at the table silently for a long time, I tried to stop my sobbing and Richard kept staring at me.

“Did you ever get married?” he asked after a while. “Sam said he couldn’t figure out whether you are or not. Sutherland wasn’t Dave’s name, if I remember it right.”

“I never believed in marriage. I only allowed myself to believe in it when we were dating. Before we started dating, I had two minds about marriage. Seen too many bad ones. And with Dave, I figured it’s much easier to leave when there are no ties or binds. So I can go when I want to go.” I put emphasis on the ‘when I’ by articulating it a tad louder.

“May I ask you something?” he said quietly.

I looked at him, trying to guess what he might want to ask me.

“Are you hungry?” he asked and smiled. I chuckled.

I thought about it for a long while before I gave him a shrug of my shoulders. He looked around.

“But maybe we should just stay here, there’s not a lot of people. It’s more quiet.”

Another shrug.

He called the waiter and told him we were going to order. We decided on a vegetarian pizza. All the while, Richard stared at me. I knew he was searching for something in the way he stared. Whenever I met his gaze, I would only smile.

Then when we were almost finished eating, he cleared his throat and asked, “Did you have any children?”

It was not an unusual question for people to ask after not seeing one another for thirty years. But the question felt loaded. Somehow I knew there was more to it than what I was hearing - something I could not quite put my finger on.

I drew a deep sigh, looked at him then looked around. He was waiting for an answer.

I sipped my iced tea. The answer wasn't a hard one, but there was something in the back of my mind that was screaming at me and I couldn't understand why.

"Why do you ask?" I finally asked back. "Why do you want to know?"

He started to say something, I could hear him clearly, but I couldn't understand. Something in my mind exploded. What came out of my mouth sounded too strange for me.

"You son of a bitch," I said. "You fucking raped me!"

Richard sat frozen, his jaws rigid and his eyes went dark.