I watched from the corner booth table as he hit her across the face. It made me cringe. It always does. I used to turn away and ignore it, but watching helped me to build up the anger, which also helps with my touch.
I could see the tears form in her eyes, the undeserved shame on her face. If she showed anger, there was a chance for the two of them. She would be angry enough to fight back, to fix the problem, or to leave. But, when the look was shame or guilt, it usually meant it was a long term problem. The man had literally beaten her down into submission — she was convinced she had done something wrong to provoke the abuse, that he was in charge, and her only role in life was to try and make him stay happy, to not be angry. Maybe it was leftover from her childhood. Possibly an abusive father, or even a mother, who made themselves feel somehow elevated in the world when they took to demeaning their children. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. All I know is from what I was currently seeing.
It’s always hard for me to wait for the right moment. I needed to be sure this would be for the best. I knew it would be soon.
She started to get up, to head to the restroom. The man grabbed her arm and forced her back into the booth seat next to him. She cried some more, wiped her mascara with a napkin, smearing it down one cheek. She seemed to be good at this maneuver. He was too drunk to know any better. She pointed at her face and the man waved her off to the restroom to clean herself up. It was followed by finger pointing, no doubt to remind her she had better be back soon.
I never wanted the abused to see me, to determine there was any connection between me and their situation. That would just lead to further complications and explanations they would never be able to understand anyway. Likewise with anyone else in the area. There were no cameras to take note. The rest of the patrons were too busy with their own drinks, conversations, and the blaring sports channels on the big screens. A waitress stopped by the man’s table and he signaled for 2 more drinks. No words exchanged and the waitress walked off. No one else was looking. It was time.
I got up from my dark corner table, walked directly over to the man. We didn’t speak and I didn’t want to look angry or hostile. My only look as I touched his shoulder was one of intense concern. Not just concern for how the woman would carry on her life afterward, but concern for how the man would adjust to his new environment. Feeling my touch on his shoulder, he turned to look at me. Most likely expecting to see the waitress. His look turned to questioning and I reached up and touched him between the eyes and above his nose. He instantly felt the surge of energy and didn’t have a chance to respond in any way. Within a few seconds he had faded into nothingness. The shape of his butt slowly faded from the vinyl booth seat as I walked back to my corner table.
The waitress came back and placed two drinks on the table and left. A few minutes later the woman came back from the restroom. She looked puzzled and glanced toward the men’s restroom door, thinking the man must have gone to relieve himself. I lingered for a few more minutes while I finished my glass of beer. Such an awful drink as it is. I have no understanding as to why these people even find enjoyment in this. Maybe they’ll eventually learn to find pleasure in other things, once the population of the angry ones dwindled more.
I tossed a couple strips of printed paper down on the table and left through the front door, confident I selected the right time for this woman and her abusive mate. I reached for my modified cell phone and called my contact on Modrass. “Did you get the delivery?”
“Yes, he is here. He looks like he’ll be a good fit for what we need. Thanks. I’ll be sure to load your credits by moon fall.”
I clicked off the phone as soon as I heard the commotion on the street corner. A man was grabbing someone by the hair and exclaiming human profanities. Sigh. It’s going to be a busy night.
(c) 2017, Timothy Trimble
A friend of mine was being abused. I hated that it was out of my control and I couldn't do anything about it. This short story came from that. Out of all of my short SFF stories, this one is the most popular with my readers, and is the one they request a full novel for. Yes, it is on my list, and always on my mind - especially when I see similar situations. Fortunately, my friend is out of her abusive relationship. tt