William was just getting ready for bed when he heard banging on the door to his tiny one room apartment. It was a frantic knock. When he glanced out of the window, he saw Angel, the lady of the night he had recently encountered, standing there trembling. William opened the door.
She fell inside, crying; blood running down her shirt, “Oh God, Bill, help me,” she yelled frantically. William shut the door.
“He beat the hell outta me!” Angel screamed. “I didn’t have anywhere else to go.” The left side of her face was split open along her cheek and lip with red smudges across her neck. He could see visible finger marks on her throat and her hair and clothes were matted and torn.
“Sit down,” William said and gestured to his couch. She collapsed on it, hands over her face and continued to cry. William went to the kitchen to locate a couple towels and some ice. He put the ice in one towel and wet another one before he returned to his couch. He handed the wet towel to the woman and set the ice on the coffee table. She took the cloth and pressed it against her face.
“He just freaked out! He was all trippin’ on that money,” she gasped, trying to catch her breath. “He found that money you give me. Thought I was holdin’ out and just started wailin’ on me!” William sat down next to her and she continued, “I didn’t have…I don’t know where else to go. I just had to get off the street. I gotta get out of here. I gotta jus’ go. I’m goin’ to Portland. I gotta call my aunt.”
William looked at her blood dripping on his floor.
“He took it, Bill. He took it all. Everything!” she assured him. “I don’t know how I got away! He jus’ kep hittin’ me and…and…finally he stepped off and left and I jus’ ran. I just ran, Bill.” Angel pulled up her sleeve and examined a large black bruise on her arm. “God, he grabbed me so hard,” she whimpered. “I didn’t do anything! I didn’t do anything wrong. I told him you gave that to me. I told him about those guys.” Angel picked up the ice, placed it on her arm and said, “I don’t know what to do.”
“I’m not giving you any money,” William said.
“What?” she coughed.
“I know I’m young,” he said quietly, “scarred…offered my arm. Your reasoning is sound, it’s just incorrect.”
“He’s gonna kill me,” she whispered.
“Probably,” William said. “He will kill you or he will sell you to someone who does. You are welcome to stay and clean up; prepare to return to him and tell him I said no.”
“What!” she repeated, “You think I…that I…” Angel jumped to her feet and threw the towel on the ground, ice skidded across the floor. “You mother fucker! What the fuck is wrong with you?” Angel spat out at him. The blood from her wounds sprayed across his couch. “You think I’d let him beat the shit outta me for this? Who the fuck do you think you are?” William remained quiet. Angel, however, became louder. She screamed, she kicked his table over, she threw a nearby book across the room into the small television he owned; finally, she slapped him and continued to yell, “You gotta give me, something, bitch! You gonna give me something! I’ma tell him where you stay at. I’ma tell him you mother fucker. You see. He fuck you up!”
William stood up, opened his door and said nothing. Angel shoved his small shelf over on its side, spilling items around the room, before she stormed out in a yelling, bleeding finale.
He lit a cigarette, and looked around the room. William shook his head and started to clean. He had become quite good at cleaning over the years; and he cleaned for the next three hours. He had just finished scraping out a small piece of wall that she had spit on when he heard a loud banging on his door. It was an angry knock. William tucked the box cutter he had been using into his waistband and opened the door.
A large, light skinned man stood glaring at him. He was bald, sweatshirt, sweatpants; a few additional shirts tied at his waist. None of his clothing appeared to fit, and he swayed at the door until William greeted him with, “Yeah?”
“What you got for me?” he sneered at William. “You got something.”
“You must be Nathaniel. I’m Bill.”
“Fuck you. I don’t give a fuck who you are. She said you got somethin’ for me.”
William glanced behind him at his floor. He said, “Do you have a car? Did you drive here?”
“What?” Nathanial asked angrily. Taken aback at the calm, strange, kid at the door he paused and William continued,
“I’m told you are a violent man who will hurt me. I believe that. I also just spent the last few hours cleaning up; scrubbing a woman’s blood out of my floor. I prefer not to see either one of you again. I know there will be a cost for that. I can cover it, but it would be easier if I had a car,” William said. As he spoke, he grabbed his coat from the hook by the door and stepped outside. “Go for a ride? Is this you?” William gestured to a car parked askew in the lot in front of his house. He then noticed Angel seated in the passenger seat. “Yeah, must be you,” he said with a nod.
Nathaniel hovered and then sneered, “Where? What you got?”
“Not far,” William said and approached the car.
“Don’t waste my time, mother fucker, I’ll split you open,” Nathaniel threatened.
“I know,” William agreed and put his hand on the car door. He smiled at Angel. She did not smile back.
Nathaniel followed him, angry; but satisfied at William’s fear. “Yeah,” he nodded, “Where?”
“Over behind KT,” William said and opened the car door.
“That ATM over there?” Nathaniel asked.
“It’s up to you, but I would prefer she stay here,” William said still looking at Angel. Nathaniel nodded at her to get out of the car. She stepped out past William and smirked at him.
“Hello, Angel,” he said. She ignored it and went to her man. She gave him a kiss and whispered something sweet. He shrugged at her to go sit on William’s step. Angel obliged and they got in the car.
“You better not be fuckin’ with me, boy,” Nathaniel said as he turned the key. They drove in silence for the remainder of the five-minute drive. When they pulled into the parking lot, William instructed him to pull behind the store. Nathaniel parked the car and said, “What we doin’? What you got out here?”
William pointed out of Nathaniel’s window and said, “Do you see that path? The one that runs behind that fence?”
Nathaniel looked and then said, “Yeah, what? By that shed?”
“I take that path often when I’m headed home; easier than going around. It leads back to behind where I stay,” William said and got out of the car. He started to walk to the path. Nathaniel shut off the car and followed him. When they reached the fence, William climbed over it. Nathaniel swore at him and followed him over. When he landed on his feet next to William, William already had the box cutter in his hand. He stabbed Nathaniel in the neck.
He stabbed him seven or eight times as the men struggled. Nathaniel hit him with a few good blows, William spent most of his effort on Nathaniel’s throat. They ended up on the ground, Nathaniel gurgling, William stabbing. He kept cutting until the thin blade snapped. The fight lasted only a few seconds longer and Nathaniel stopped moving.
William got to his feet. He had a few sprays of blood running across his coat; some mud and dirt as well. He ran his hands along his chest and neck, checking for pain. Nothing appeared injured. William removed his coat, wiped his face and hands with it, and folded it under his arm. He knelt on the ground, feeling around until he located the box cutter. He cleaned it off and dropped it on Nathaniel. He tossed his coat in the dumpster and took the path back home.
When he arrived, Angel was still seated outside his door. She stood up and smirked at him, “Told you he’d be by.”
“Yes, you did,” William chuckled, “And I should thank you for that, I found that experience very enlightening.”
“Where he at?” she asked.
“He was by the KT when I left. I assume he’s still there,” William said and added, “I thought you agreed to forget about the money?”
“I prefer you not bother me again.”
“Fuck you I ain’t comin’ back here,” she said and started walking to the road.
“All right,” William said. “I will hold you to that, Angel.”