Saturday, August 29, 2009


It was the evening of Friday the 13th, and it should have been warning enough.

Traffic was terrible, as it invariably was when all the nine-to-fivers who had just received their salaries trooped to their favorite haunts, as if to immerse weeks' worth of stress in a steady stream of alcohol. She had decided to join 3 of her officemates that evening for dinner and a few drinks, thinking that in a couple of hours or so, the ride home would be more bearable. She was a bit uneasy about commuting alone but allowing one of her male co-workers to take her home made her more nervous. It seemed like a breach in security; disclosure of where she lived meant trust, and she had always been careful not to give the impression that she acknowledged a deeper level of closeness between them where there was none.

They had settled for an obscure bar which, because of its being off the beaten path, was less crowded. The place enjoyed a less trendy clientele, and its interior was at best functional--- a testament to, as well as cause for that. But the beer was cold and the company was amiable. It's all good, she had thought.

Early in the evening and halfway through her bottle of beer, she felt lightheaded. She didn't think anything of it but decided to go to the washroom to splash some water on her face. The effort proved futile and she still felt a strange buzz. She walked back to their table, but she swore her feet never touched the ground and everything was a blur. It was ridiculous, she remembered thinking. She was drunk on half a bottle when she could down a pitcher and still walk in a straight line. She was surprised to find only one of her co-workers waiting for her. He said the other 2 had left, furnishing her with an account of what had transpired in the few minutes of her absence--- and she could all but make out the words. She didn't have a headache and she wasn't sleepy, but for some reason she couldn't keep her eyes open. But she vaguely recalled him asking if she was feeling okay and offering to take her home. She wasn't sure if she had managed to answer before she passed out.

She woke up in an unfamiliar bed and the air she breathed smelled of disinfectant. He was propped up on an elbow, staring at her in a calm, protective manner that made her feel sick. There was no discernible threat, no maniacal glint in the eyes fixed on her--- but she was gripped with fear. She ran to the bathroom and locked herself in. His voice broke through the door, asking if she was all right and if she wanted anything from room service. She said no, she was fine, but permitted herself a few more minutes rooted to the cold bathroom floor--- not knowing how she could stand when a constant trembling coursed through her body, but well aware that she had to abandon her false sense of security and open the door eventually.

He stood in the middle of the room, waiting, his full height dwarfing her 5'3" frame. As if he could read her thoughts, he assured her that he wouldn't force her to do anything she didn't want to, but that he wouldn't stand for getting nothing at all...

In the end, what he got was much more than she could bear to give. He was handsome, with dark skin that flushed an attractive shade of red, an infectious smile, a calm disposition that put people at ease, and everybody loved him--- but there was no one she loathed more, whose memory left her numb with cold fear. It's been 16 years since, but the flashback still reeks of disinfectant.

No comments: