I was in the clubhouse of the apartment complex minding my own business and watching the World Series when I felt the tug on my arm.
"You've got to come outside! You've got to help! Please hurry!" a fellow guest at the party yelled as she pulled me to the patio.
I had seen them together earlier in the evening. Some of the folks had come to the party in Halloween attire. She was dressed like some kind of cat. A really good looking cat. Like me, he was in civilian dress. Unlike me, he was in her face.
" Fuck you," he yelled. He was obviously drunk. He had her by the arm. She was struggling to get away.
At this point in the narrative let me make something abundantly clear. If there is a bravery gene in my family makeup I did not inherit it. Similarly speaking, the word "gallant" has rarely been bandied about in any discussion about me insofar as I know. But this was trouble. And something had to be done. And for some reason, I was the instrument chosen by Catgirl's friend to try to get this turned off.
I stepped in between them. I put my hip into her body and blocked her away from Prince Charming.
"Hey, you stay out of this!" he screamed at me.
I pointed my finger at him. "You have to leave," I said in as calm a voice as I could muster.
Catgirl's head was buried between my shoulder blades. I put my left arm around her from behind me. All those years playing basketball turned out to be surprisingly useful at that moment.
"Fuck yooooou!" he screamed. His fists were balled up. His face was crimson and contorted by rage. It occurred to me that he resembled a child throwing a tantrum. So this is why we don't let children drink whisky.
"You have to leave," I said again. By this time, the only sound on the patio was from the television in the clubhouse. People were staring. He noticed. He also noticed that he was outnumbered. And so he stomped away, F-bombs dopplering off in his wake.
I sat Catgirl down.
"Are you OK?" I asked.
"Um-huh," she said as she took a badly needed sip of her wine.
"Do you need a place to stay tonight? I know a place you can go if you have to."
"No. I'll be OK. He won't come back. "
Her Android buzzed. She looked at it briefly and set it down.
"Guess who?" she said through a thin smile. " I'm not talking to him."
"Would you mind telling me just what the HELL happened here?" I asked although I had a pretty good idea.
"He was mad at me to begin the evening because he didn't like my outfit. He thought it was too revealing, she said. "That and he has been drinking."
"Well," I said. "So has everybody else at this party tonight. But not everybody is acting like an asshole. You need to pay attention to this. I'm not kidding."
She took another sip. She smiled. She squeezed my hand.
"Thank you," she said. "I really appreciate it."
Her phone buzzed again.
I went back into the clubhouse to get my self a glass of the amber liquid. The woman who had summoned me minutes earlier came up and hugged me.
"God that was awful," she said. " Weren't you scared?"
"Of course I was scared," I said. "Absolutely I was scared."
"This isn't the first time he's gone off on her. She'll let him come back."
"I'm not surprised, " I said. "Trust me. I'm not surprised."
I didn't stay much longer after the evening's amusement. I didn't think that I needed to be hanging around in case our hero returned with a gun to settle the score.
It is said, as a matter of statistics, that a woman has to leave 5 times before she makes the final decision to escape an abusive relationship for good. I've never really understood that. But people that have studied these matters say that dynamics of abuse are more complicated than folks are generally aware.
Maybe so. Maybe no. I used to help run a women's shelter. I just think that there are some things that we aren't meant to understand.
This much I do know. I've never gone off on a woman. And I don't know any woman that I've ever been involved with who would tolerate such behavior out of me. I also know that this incident is proof that abusive behavior crosses all lines and stratas. After all, this didn't exactly go down in a biker bar.
I'm just glad that I was able to successfully intervene and slow this jerk down long enough for him to realize that all the eyes of the party were on him. And that he was making a big mistake. I guess he realized it. In any event, he left and nobody got hurt.
I'm also glad that he didn't have a gun. Really, really glad.