Not long ago I was ready to go to battle.
Not long ago I wielded what would have been considered a weapon in a court, and had full intention of drawing blood from a stranger.
Not long ago I learned that sometimes we have to fight for others, because they truly can’t fight for themselves.
A friend was crashing on my couch for the night.
Her being a grown woman, she had apparently made a 3am trip to grab some snacks from the corner store.
I sleep light so it only took 1 hesitant knock on my bedroom door before I opened my eyes and let out a tired, “The hell do you want, man?”
She stood in the now open door and explained that there was a man beating a woman outside in the driveway.
“Driveway”, referring to the street type road that divided 2 buildings and allowed access to our assigned parking spots on both sides.
Without a word, in one autonomous motion I swung my legs off the side of my bed, put on my tennis shoe imitating slippers, walked to my patio door, and removed the metal stick that is used to turn the blinds.
Hearing but ignoring protests from my concerned compadre, I told her to wait there, pressed on out the front door, down the dew laden sidewalk made of pebbles, and to the dimly lit driveway.
The sounds of terror and anger growing in volume the closer I got.
It’s kind of weird the type of adrenaline you experience when you’re fully aware of how bad the situation could get, but you’re still fearless in your mission.
I made it to the end of the sidewalk, continued to the driveway, and stopped when I was in the middle with a now perfect view of the commotion. At the far end the man had just pushed her to the ground and pulled a fist as far back as he could prepared to strike-
“HEY!” I struck the pavement to let out a loud clang and began walking toward them. He froze. Again. Just as a caveman might. Again. No clue what to do next. Again, never slowing my stride.
I was a wrestler in high school, yet instead of thinking of things that might save me like defensives, take-downs, etc. I could only remember a phrase that repeated over and over before every match, “Show no fear.” So I didn’t.
I made it to them and another man emerged from the shadow of a truck. As the first man backed away and the second moved to join them, the woman got up and rushed to my side clinging to my shirt like a child on the first day of school. She was trembling and wet with water from the ground, unable to formulate a sentence through whimpers.
Do y’all know how it feels to be someone’s only hope and protection? I’m 5’5″, a buck twenty, and the only thing standing between 2 large men and a victim.
The men declared she wasn’t going to be hit, apologized for waking me, asked her to come back with them, and inflamed my nostrils with the smell of their liquor breath with every excuse tossed my way.
As I yelled things that I no longer remember, we began a walk back where I came, all the while refusing to turn my back to them or let her go.
It seemed like we would never make it back to the area where my apartment was and where my friend was outside nervously waiting with her phone ready to dial 911. When we finally made it, the woman collapsed on the side of the building and sobbed.
Though a series of threatening the men with my metal stick, warning that the police would be called, and offering to let her stay with us for the night as my friend calmed the woman down, the whole situation gradually got stranger. Complete with a second woman from their household coming to us and saying she was the first woman’s sister, after first denying she even knew her.
In the end, she assured us that she would be okay, declined my help any further, and we all dispersed. My friend and I elected to watch movies because after all of that, sleep was impossible; She would eventually doze off, I wouldn’t sleep again until the next night.
I saw one of the men 3 more times before they moved out. I haven’t seen any new tenants, but every time I walk by I can’t help but to stare and sometimes listen just in case they never left and she needs help again.
I dunno, I guess I have a hero complex. Or maybe it was a weird motherly instinct – ignoring that I’m not a mom and she was definitely older than me – either way, at least she knows there is some civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse once known as humanity. Word to ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.