“Danielle It’s not full enough.” My boss, Mr. Girish, barked at me. He’d assigned me to do a window arrangement for the front of the store. A more is more type of guy, he also had a tendency to yell at everyone, but never gave instructions other than ‘do it.
He left the store for his lunch. He never took his poor wife.
I’d heard him yell at his wife. He’d hit her across the face once with customers in the store. She apologized to him or he’d hit her again.
Much as I hated working for the man, I couldn’t quit. I needed the job. As a single mother of a toddler.
I nervously moved forward putting more to stuff into the store window’s display. He’d probably criticize it again. A floor full of pool toys, beach towels and blow up rafts. A shelf of makeup and creams another of children’s books and women’s magazines, greeting cards and books. If it didn’t follow any theme like I wished it did, I felt I’d done what my boss insisted I do.
I went to the back of the store and got my jacket and purse to leave work for the day. “Danielle.” The whisper came out of the office nearby.
“Pamela, my lord what did he do.” Her eyes swollen shut turned dark red. One bled from just above the eyelid. Her nose looked broken and her lips bled and swelled.”
“I made him so mad Danielle. I made a mistake in the ledger and he got so mad.” The poor woman’s speech never got above a whisper. Some of what she said, I pieced together. I’d heard enough.
I’d wet a clean dishrag I’d grabbed from the store, and found some ice in the refrigerator, which I used to wipe her face and put the ice in another rag and placed it on her lip. I wasn’t really sure where to place the ice with swelling all over. I chose her mouth so she could speak better.
“I’m calling the police.”
“What? Are you kidding me?”
“I know better than to talk like that to him.”
“Pamela, how long has he abused you like this? Wait, you were abused growing up weren’t you?”
“Abused? Oh no, he keeps and upper hand. My parents did to. I don’t do things like I should”
I took my cell phone out of my purse. Whatever Pamela said, I knew she couldn’t find any way out.
“911 how can I assist you.” The operator answered. I ask them to send the police and an ambulance. I told them the address and why. They wanted details and I got a little impatient. My defenses were up and I wanted results. “I’m with Pamela Girish, her face looked like hamburger. She can barely speak.”
Just about then, Mr. Girish surprised us. I neither saw nor heard him approach.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? That’s my business.” He pointed to his wife.
I stood and walked into him. “You are a monster. Pamela is a woman, human, decent and you call her a ‘that’!”
“Back off or you’ll look just like her.” He spat back. “Women and children don’t speak to me like that.”
I didn’t get intimidated easily. Maybe it would help if I could back off.
“How did you find out about this?” The 911 operator remained on the line. I held my phone behind me.
“I had a drink with the cop called to my store. He’s more than glad to keep me informed.” Mr. Girish said and pushed me into the office.
I didn’t know where the gun came from. Mr. Girish reached out to hit me and the gun replaced my cell phone. I pushed him back and aimed. I saw the fear in his eyes and then I heard the sound of the gunshot. He slumped and slid down against the wall. At first he looked surprised, then his eyes dimmed and he quit breathing.
The officer arrived just as I’d pulled the trigger. He cuffed me in back after I dropped the gun to my side so he could take it from me.
(Why do some things move fast and other so slow?) Who knows, but I remember as the officer turned me around, I saw another cuffing Pamela.
“What are you doing to her? Can’t you see she’s the victim. Girish did that to her.”
“Take it easy and move.” The officer sounded so harsh. “We have to take both of you to the station. They’ll sort it out.”
“But she needs medical attention.” I begged.
“She’ll get it.” The second officer called in for an ambulance, but he didn’t take off Pamela’s cuffs.
“Yes, thank you.”
That’s when Pamela spoke. She sounded lost somewhere. Her eyes fixed on the floor. “When he went after you Danielle, I knew he’d do evil to you. Oh so evil.” Those were the last words I heard from Pamela as they escorted her out of the store behind me. Thank goodness the officer released her to paramedic at a waiting ambulance.
Thanks to the cell phone and the 911 operator’s recording, Pamela was sent for psychiatric evaluation. She was not able to stand trial, nor could the hospital release her. She had not life skills without someone standing over her. She wasn’t dumb. They said it was a conditioned response. She admitted to placing the gun in my hand for my protection, not for her own.
They tried to charge me with second degree murder. However, with the 911 operator’s recording they offered a plea of manslaughter. I did after all pull the trigger and Girish had no weapon. “Do I think he would have killed or maimed me? Oh very likely, but the facts supported at least the charge of manslaughter. I received six months in county jail, three years of probation, and community service.
“Mommy?” My little Trina cried and ran to me after my release. I picked her up and squeezed her to me. My mother stood in the corner crying.
“Oh baby, I’m missed you. I love you so much.” The three-year-old imp with her blonde curls and big blue eyes. “I love you too mommy. You left me. I wanted you.”
I sat her down with me on the couch. “Trina baby, I hurt someone really bad. The person I hurt tried to hurt someone else and they tried to hurt me, but I hurt him really bad. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my child how badly I’d hurt him.
“Did you kill him, like on TV.”
I looked at my mother. “I couldn’t keep her away when they said your name on TV. I turned it off, but they’d finished the report.”
“Yes honey. I don’t think they wanted to send me to jail, but since he didn’t have a gun too, they had to.”
“I’m mad at the jail people. They took you.” Trina pouted.
“She’s young honey. She’ll understand when she’s older. You’ll be able to teach her better.” My mother pointed out and joined us on the sofa. “How about a group hug?”
“Only if I’m in on it.” My father’s voice came from the back door.
“Yes, yes grampa group hug too.”
I laughed. “You betcha.”