I did my best to keep her calm. But it’s hard with a former drug addict and alcoholic. She looked ravaged. She was only 47 and looked, in the most flattering light, 65. But I was doing my bit, trying to help, trying to rehabilitate. Why I’d chosen to come into a bar, I have no idea - it seemed like an obvious place to meet - but looking back, it was probably the stupidest. Immediately she got into a fuss with her picture - she carried with her an image of her and her husband and their child (now lost in a heartless care system) and had to have it with her at all times. The more nervous she was, the more prominent a place the picture had to be displayed. The picture wouldn’t stay up on the high table and worse still fell to the ground - she moved her barstool and knocked the one behind where a rich-looking girl - young - was sitting.
She kicked off when the girl made some imperceptible and unfavourable response.
‘ What is your fucking problem bitch ‘ This wasn’t going to go well. I needed to get her out of this place. Then the young girl’s boyfriend came over with drinks and I knew we were in trouble.
I had to explain.
‘Look - it’s an accident - sorry - no harm done. Edith here is troubled, but she means no harm, sorry, we didn’t spill your drink or anything did we?’
‘Edith - you need to chill a bit. Let’s move over there where there’s some more room, and we can settle and get ready to go to the meeting. Remember what we said about counting’
The guy looked at Edith with the look of someone who had no grasp of the story of her life, just the place she’d ended up in, which, admittingly, wasn’t pretty.
‘Do not fuck around with my girlfriend, you ugly little crack whore. Fuck off ‘
I am, of course, supposed to be used to this. Supposed to defuse this type of situation. I have been trained. I have a certificate (not an actual piece of paper mind, just an email) but there are times when humanity’s anger, where its quickness to judge without any thought but with its involuntary reactions, just seems to make me sick to the core. I actually respond physically to this kind of stuff. An ice-cold wave of blood passes through the whole of my body (I know it’s not blood, but this is how it seems to me) and I literally shake.
Stupidly, I squared up to this guy. He looked like he was a frequent visitor to the gym and as rich as his girlfriend - what is it with rich kids and their bodies?
‘Please. You don’t understand. She meant no harm. It’s a reaction, just like yours ‘
God, I was being reasonable. Everything inside me wasn’t.
‘What the fuck are you talking about. You’re winding me up now. What don’t you understand about fucking off out of our space - do you need me to show you what I fucking …. ‘
It’s an interesting look. I’ve never really had an opportunity to examine at close range - I suppose you wouldn’t - when a fit young man gets a fork thrust into his thigh, deep.
It was hideous if I’m honest. There was the pain - of course - but also the look of surprise, the look of incredulity, the look of being beaten, a crestfallen look in front of the person all of this was probably about impressing.
I am a professional. As I have said. And in my professional opinion, it was a look that made me exceptionally happy and content. It felt that perhaps a little balance had returned to the world.
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Beautiful scene, in a tense, gritty sort of fashion. Also kind of Neo - Noir ( ? ) / pulp fiction - ish.