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They Call Me Red

……

8 May 2013

I was pleased to see Joy at the park.  She gave me a wave and a weak smile. I asked, “How are you feeling? We’ve all been worried about you.”

“I’ve got three broken ribs in front and one fractured in back. I have a concussion. This is the first day I’ve been able to keep from passing out. Even today Jacques had to grab me, things started spinning, then black. I’ve got stitches in my head, I can’t tell how many. My ear is still ringing.  I have trouble opening my mouth, my jaw is so sore.”

I could see the bruises on Joy’s jaw and an abrasion on her cheek. I asked, “Was it Andre?”

“Yeah, the fuckin’ slimeball. We’d been drinking at the Rex, my favorite bar, it closed at two, so we decided to go to my place. Andre was pestering me, as usual. I told him to fuck off. He said, ‘You mean after all the money I spent on you tonight, I’m not getting anything?’ I said, ‘You got it right.’ I don’t remember much after that he cold-cocked me on the chin, I hit the sidewalk and was out cold. I may have had a seizure as well, I don’t know, but my tongue is pretty chewed up. Hippo tried for five minutes to wake me up.  He was afraid I was dead. I guess it was the guy upstairs at my place who phoned the cops. Andre had thrown his bike against the side of the guy’s van — made a real mess there.”

“The guy was complaining, ‘I got to get up at four o’clock and you guys are making a racket out there.’ I know for a fact that he never gets out of the house until quarter after six. I’m the one that gets up at four.”

I said, “It’s not like you haven’t told Andre before. In fact, every time I’ve seen you two together, you’ve told him.”

“Yeah, it’s been going on for two and a half years. As if I’d ever sleep with that fuckin’ troll.”

“How did you get to the hospital?”

“I don’t know. They told me that I passed out, right in the waiting room.

“I don’t have trouble sleeping now. I just lay down, the room starts spinning and I’m out.”

“You told me before that he’s hit other women.”

“Yeah, he’s hit skinny Debbie, and red-haired Debbie, who he was staying with. I don’t think you’ve met her. There are probably lots more. The thing that really pisses me off is that he’s such a coward, he won’t even show his face around here. At least Jake, when he beat me, would be down the next day with some cock and bull story, but at least he came.”

I said, “Both Weasel and Toothless Chuck are ready to punch Andre’s lights out. Have you talked to your uncle?”

“Yeah, that’s all taken care of, I phoned him, told him what had happened. He only asked one question, ‘When do you want it done?’ I said wait until his sister is around. I want her to know what kind of a scum bag her brother really is. I like his sister. We get along great.”

“Was Andre that drunk?”

“He was right out of it, man. We’d agreed to meet at the Rex on Saturday. He’d been drinking triple tequilas at the bar, then he brought us some shots. I didn’t know it at the time, but he spent his whole rent check on booze.”

At that time a bicycle patrol cop rode up. He said, “What are you guys up to? I see three open beer, so that’s three tickets. I should be due for a toaster.”

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