Andy Garrett braced her feet wide apart on the tile floor of her foyer. Back against the wall across from the front door of her small house in a derelict neighborhood of San Francisco she sucked a deep shaky breath in through her nose and blew it out through her mouth. Her stomach ached with nausea and she fought the bile rising up the back of her throat with one more controlled breath. With her right arm bent and her index finger along the guard of the shot gun that was wedged against her shoulder, she eyed the blue front door through the sight on top of her new gun. The sight shook as her arms trembled from fear and the weight of the shotgun.
“If he comes through that God damn door, it’ll be the last thing he ever does,” Andy mumbled. Her finger rested next to the trigger, just like the guy at the range had showed her. The broken arm had healed, but she wouldn’t allow Rich, her ex-boyfriend, close enough to hurt her again. Andy called the police the last time he’d violated his restraining order, but by the time they finally made it to her house Rich had disappeared. All she could do was make a report as the seasoned officer rolled his eyes and the rookie kept his hand on his gun as he eyed her “historical” neighborhood.
“Andrea. Let me in you bitch.” The booming male voice was followed by a heavy bang that made the old wood door creak and vibrate. Andy shook with trepidation and anger causing a hysteria inside her that quickened her pulse.
“It’s called a restraining order for a reason….it restrains you. So go away, Rich.” Andy had to shout through the door. I can do this. I’m stronger than that asshole.
“Come on baby, I just want to talk to you. I miss you.” His voice gentled. Andy snorted. This was his false calm. She’d seen it that night right before he’d pushed her backward off the porch onto the concrete sidewalk. Before he’d wretched her arm hard behind her back and she’d heard the ominous snap of her bone. She shivered as she remembered the pain that burned through her arm and into her chest where her broken heart wept in silence. But that was another night, and tonight she was prepared
“No. Get back in your car and leave before I call the cops.” Andy’s throat hurt from shouting, but she was strong for standing up to him even if the door that separated them and the gun she held was her real protection. She really would have called the police, too, if it hadn’t meant she would have to put down her new shotgun.
“I’ve been yelling through the door for five minutes. When are you going to open up?” Rich punctuated his statement with a series of deep bangs. Andy winced. She hoped the door could stand up to the abuse.
If she’d lived in a better neighborhood, it might have occurred to her degenerate neighbors to actually call the cops instead of turning a blind eye. Andy glanced down at the phone, a surge of guilt going through her. She could call the police, but she’d have to do it one handed. The gun could slip out of her hold. Damn. Maybe she’d accidentally shoot him. Andy’s lip quirked in a small smile. That would solve her Rich problem.
“Andy, baby, I know you miss me too. You still want my cock in your bed. Come on let me in.”
Andy rolled her eyes. The memory of his insignificant manhood flashed in her head. The arrogant ass sure thinks a lot of himself. She blew out an exasperated breath and cussed him to hell and back under her breath. She wanted to tell him how his vanity made her sick, but she bit her lip and kept her mouth shut, afraid to make the situation worse with a sharp comment. She didn’t want to provoke him.
“Andy? I know you can hear me.”
She waited knowing what would happen next, even as her body trembled in anticipation of the worse. This had happened so many times now.
“Open up you fat ass bitch.” He kicked the door and pounded on it repeatedly. Andy jumped almost dropping the shotgun, as the old wooden door protested in outrage. She closed her eyes pretending she could merge with the solid wall at her back. Tears burned at the backs of her eyes at the violent reminder of why she’d finally kicked him out.
I’m stronger than tears.
She swallowed hard at the lump in her throat from the names he called her and blinked her eyes rapidly to clear them. As hard as she tried to ignore him, he still affected her.
His true self always came shining through bright as the northern star. Rich continued to rage at the door, cursing her, while the door groaned under the onslaught. Andy took a deep breath trying to steady her hands.
“Please, God, just let it hold. Don’t make me kill him.” If he came through that door she would shoot him. No matter what, he won’t put his hands on me again. The broken arm healed and the bruises were all gone, but the emotional scars were etched deep into her soul. If Andy killed him she’d go to jail for murder, even if the restraining order said he was a danger to her person. Andy’s heart raced as he kept up the shouting and kicking. Then it went eerily quiet. Andy stilled then tiptoed over to the peephole and looked out as a chill crept up her spine, goose bumps rose on her arms.
“Oh. Shit.” Her body tensed at the silence. Rich was nowhere in sight.
The kitchen window exploded and Andy jumped nearly dropping the shot gun on her foot, catching the barrel as the rifle slipped out of her hold. Little shards of glass tinkled into her porcelain sink.
“Don’t think these fucking bars will stop me bitch.” His face was pressed to the bars and his hands tried to shake them.
Andy sent up a silent prayer as she swung the gun in the direction of the kitchen window. The gun shook in her hands, as her angst had her struggling for control of her body and mind.
“This isn’t over Andy. I’ll be back, lard ass.” Andy closed her eyes as the demeaning name deflated her a little and her shoulders slumped. She opened her eyes at the wail of a siren approaching, hope flared for a moment as Rich glanced quickly over his shoulder before trotting to his car.
His piece of shit ‘79 Camero grumbled to life, then the tires squealed and he was gone. Relief flooded Andy and she sagged against the wall. A few seconds later a cop car came roaring toward her house… and right down the street. Figures.
Andy slipped the shot gun down to droop in her shaky hands and slowly slid down the wall. She landed with a thump on her rear end. Her body continued to shake and hot tears blurred her vision. She was so sick of the mental abuse that eroded her self-esteem like acid on skin. She picked up the cordless phone that lay next to her foot and dialed the non-emergency number for the police department.
“Police Department. What can I help you with?” The dispatcher on the other end was way too perky.
“My ex just broke his restraining order and I’d like to make a report.” Andy wiped her hand over her tear streaked cheeks.
“Yes, Ma’am. And is he there now?”
“No, he’s gone.” She breathed deep, in through her nose and out through her mouth, in an attempt to calm her raging heartbeat and throbbing head.
“Why didn’t you call sooner?”
“I couldn’t. He would’ve broken in the door.” Andy petted the wood stock of the shot gun. She was comforted to have the fire arm at her disposal.
“Well, ma’am, there’s not much we can do if he is not currently threatening you.” The dispatcher’s sweet voice went slightly tart. “It’s your word against his.”
“I am aware of that I’d just like to make a report.” Andy sniffed away the last of her tears and squared her shoulders against the wall.
The dispatcher sighed gustily, like Andy had ruined her whole day.
Andy took in a big breath and recited her information. She’d done this so many times the reporting was almost second nature. When did all this happen? When did I lose complete control of my life? Tears threatened again making her eyes burn, but she fought them back as she talked to the dispatcher.
The officer promised someone would call her back later. By the end of the call she was numb all over. Are my feet still attached? She looked down. Her feet were still there and, with some serious determination and effort, she stood up. Her feet touched the floor, but she couldn’t feel the hard wood under her shoes. She leaned the shot gun gently against the wall in her bedroom. Andy walked back to the kitchen sink and carefully cleaned the glass out it, tossing the shards into the trash can then washing the rest down the drain. Andy sighed; her shoulders sagged with her relief when she saw the evening light touching the horizon. At least the day wasn’t completely lost. She’d just settled into the couch to breathe for a minute when the phone rang, startling back to her feet. She snatched the phone off the table and answered.
“Hey, Andy, it’s Rosie. Me and some of the girls are going out tonight. You wanna’ go with us?” Rosie’s slight Mexican accent laced her words.
“I don’t know.” She tried to sound as normal as possible to hide her emotions from her best friend.
“Nothing, I’m fine.” Andy lied and held her breath.
“That pinche pendejo. What did he do now?”
“Nothing I’m fine… everything’s fine.” Andy squeezed her eyes tight to keep back the quickly rising tears.
“You have never been a good liar, Andrea. You think I can’t see what’s happened? Open the door and let me in.”
“Shit.” Andy hung up the phone and took a deep breath.
She unbolted the door and opened it. Rosie stood with her hands planted on her thin hips and eyes narrowed with fire.
“I can’t believe he broke your window again! That’s twice this month! Did you call the cops?”
“Yes, Mom, I did.”
Rosie came bursting inside in a swirl of cinnamon spiced perfume.
“I swear to the Virgin Mother if he so much as touches you again, I’m calling my brothers. No, don’t shake your head at me. I should have let them go after him when he broke your arm.” She grabbed Andy in a huge hug crushing Andy close to the shorter frame. “Are you okay, momma?”
“I’m fine, Rosie, really. Just a little shook up.” Andy smiled a little hoping it would convince Rosie.
“You know what? Fuck him. We’re going out, you and me.” Rosie shut the door and slid the deadbolt back in place. “Come on, chica, you need to get dressed.” Rosie tugged Andy toward her bedroom. For a small woman she sure was strong. It must be all those brothers of hers that made her grow up tough. Rosie tossed her long dark hair over her shoulder and flipped on the light in Andy’s bedroom.
“Andy, you have to get out of here. Look at this place, it’s a mess! Nana is rolling over in her grave right now.” Rosie pushed clothes out of her way with her foot making her way to the closet.
“Rosie, I really don’t want to go out, I’m tired. It’s been a long day.” Andy protested because her eyes were swollen, and her head hurt and, and… she just didn’t want to think about how she’d look to other people.
“No. You’re going. I wouldn’t be a very good best friend if I left you all alone. Here.” Rosie tossed a skirt over her shoulder. “Put this on. That skirt makes you look hot.”
Andy caught the denim skirt out of the air and twisted it in her hands.
“Now! Put it on or I’ll take those jeans off you myself. Don’t think I won’t. I’m tougher than I look.”
That made Andy grin and her insides warmed a little. Rosie was the baby in her family of five brothers and knew how to hold her own. Andy quickly shimmied out of the pants and pulled on the denim skirt, then smoothed her hands over it.
“Oh, this one!” Rosie gasped as she pulled out a black top that dipped low in the front.
She tossed it at Andy’s head without looking up. Andy ducked and the material hit the wall behind her. After she pulled on the top she went in the bathroom to fix her curls and apply some eyeliner.
“Now where did I put those shoes?” Andy walked around her bed feeling underneath with her foot. Her foot hit the shoes with a clunk. “Found them.”
Andy turned around just as Rosie closed the closet door. Andy studied her reflected image in the mirror on the closet door and smiled.
“Mamacita. You’re muy caliente.” Rosie smacked Andy right on the rump. “Tonight, we party.”