The Family Friend

The woman was waiting outside the emergency room, alone.

Her arm in a sling, one eye covered in a patch and bandages and wires protruding from her jaw. Lovely and young.

Car accident I thought.

I helped her into the back seat and she asked to be taken to an address two blocks from my home. When she began to speak, I could smell the coagulated blood from inside her mouth, a sweet sickly odor, which reminded me of healing, not pain.

People often feel some sense of obligation to explain why they are presenting themselves in extraordinary circumstance. I was the first person to see her outside of the hospital, and she was eager to put a story to her wounded appearance. She spoke slowly through her bandages, as if she were recalling a disturbing dream.

She and her husband were at home in their first floor apartment above the garage. She was in the bedroom sleeping and her husband had fallen asleep on the couch in front of the television.

She was awoken by a loud bang.

A man had entered the apartment by backing his truck, which had a camper shell on it, to their garage door. He then climbed on top of the camper shell and crawled in through an open window.

Seeing her husband asleep on the couch, he shot him once in the head.

When the wife came out and began screaming, he tried to shoot her as well, but the gun misfired. In order to stop her screaming he began to pistol whip her. She said she could feel her jaw breaking as he hit her. Bleeding and unconscious, he dragged her into a closet, and returned to the living room to look for valuables.

The wife’s screaming had caused the neighbors to call the police, and when they arrived the thief answered the door and said he was a family friend who came over because the couple were having a fight. He claimed the wife had shot her husband. Responding to moans in the closet, the officers found her, unable to respond and drifting in and out of conciousness.

After ambulances took the couple away to the hospital, the officers were surprised to see the “friend” lying on the couch with his head on the pillow which the husband had bled into.

We were at a stop light when she said that and I turned full around in my seat to look at her. Her eyes were welling with tears,

and I said quietly, “I am so sorry.”

“Oh, it gets crazier…”, she said.

She awoke in the hospital to find that she was under arrest and they read the Miranda to her. She was immediately questioned by her family and the police as to why she shot her husband. With difficulty, she explained to them that the “friend” was no friend at all.

Days later, as she recovered, she was visited by the family of the man who beat her up. They begged her not to press charges since their son was a good boy who had taken too many drugs. “You’ll ruin his life” they told her.

I turned again and said quietly, “I hope you’re not going to do that.”

And she shook her head with the hint of a wry smile, which was to me, a beautiful sign of recovery.

The husband survived the gunshot wound, but was still in a coma, and she was released in the condition in which I picked her up.

As we drove up to her house, I realized that this was the first time she had been home since the incident, and offered to go inside with her.

She thanked me and refused.

I waited until she was safely inside, and drove away

…slowly.

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~ by theoxherd on March 8, 2012.

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