An old friend of mine went looking for a beating and got it. Or maybe not; maybe she was looking only for resolution of the awful telephone calls her ex-lover had been making, and she didn't think he'd actually get violent again.
He did, and she showed up on my doorstep late at night, her face a mass of bruises and blood and snot, all mixing with her tears and her inability to speak.
I had never seen the damage one person could do to another, not up close without warning or intermediary. I've always seen it a couple of days after the fact, or in the clean environment of a clinic or shelter. It's never invaded my house and my peace before, not like this.
There were phone calls after that, and a conversation with a very nice cop with a twisted sense of humor, then trips to the police station and the emergency room. I found myself at home at two o'clock in the morning, making unanswered phone calls in an attempt to decompress. Eventually, unable to sleep, I called Nurse Ames, who I knew was working, and met her for breakfast a few hours later. Nurse Ames is sweet, soft-voiced, unflappable, and the toughest bitch kitty I know.
I got home to an email message from Land's End. Apparently, Sane Me had taken over and ordered Freaked-Out Me an entirely new set of bathroom towels. I needed them anyhow; the old ones are ragged and literally coming to pieces, even if they hadn't been spotted with blood.
There wasn't a lot of blood, but it wasn't blood I was prepared for or shielded from. It was blood that was born of a series of really, truly, amazingly bad decisions on the part of somebody I'd hoped would be smarter. It was blood that I didn't want to have to deal with, that should never have dripped on my floor, gotten smeared on my wall. There were myriad better ways to handle this that would've never meant bloodshed, and all those myriad ways got ignored. That left me to deal with the aftermath and the consequences and the public records and the police statements.
I am angry, and I am sick. I'm sick because the person who did the damage was methodical, almost scientific in his application of fists. I'm angry because the person to whom it was done knew better. She crawled back to the tiger cage after the tiger had taken off her leg. Nobody, ever, anywhere, deserves a beating--but you have a responsibility to your own self not to place yourself willingly into that situation when the alternative is easier.
There was no need for this. From start to finish, there was absolutely no need. I've had trouble sleeping since that night, and I've had trouble finishing both meals and sentences. I don't know what happened to my old friend; my first reaction--and I think it's a good one--was to offer help, and when that help was refused, I cut off contact. I don't need that brand of crazy coming around. Willfully putting oneself in harm's way without a larger purpose is not something I can support. Especially not when everyone around you has been campaigning against it for a year or more.
Things tonight are quiet. The dew has already risen; it's humid out, and we'll have storms in a few days, but for now everything smells fresh and new and, most of all, clean. The salvia is getting ready to explode in that way that it does, out in the front beds. Tomorrow I'll buy tomato plants and lavender and basil, scrub the remaining blood off of the grout in the bathroom, and change the sheets. In the afternoon I'll mow and plant and then lift weights.
I used to be annoyed by the amount of hair that my boys shed. Between Max and Notamus and Flashes, there's a lot of hair balling up and rolling around my floors. Now, though, I'm grateful that I can turn on the vacuum and have it be out of sight, out of mind, and gone.