Bruised, broken, unstable was what she saw in him the first time she set eyes on him. She was certain people who saw him did not see what she saw.
He looked sharp in his crispy white shirt and black pants. He is a man seeking care and attention. Man? She is certain he is. After all, a man should be strong, fearless, with unflinching eyes. She will find out after some weeks how messed up he is. But how is it that some humans can’t seem to know that their lives might need a fix and parade themselves as perfect and all-knowing? Fickle minds.
This sure sounds emasculated but it is what it is.
He spoke with arrogance heavily laced on his tongue. Not quite charming. She found his character interesting and distasteful at the same time. People like this do not earn her gaze. But why him? He seemed like a piece of work a girl could work on, she thought. Curiosity killed the cat. Another quick thought.
With an exchange of a few words, a weak smile, which was not unnoticed, played on her lips. He sat there like a vegetable unable to move his limbs. Is he lame? Or are his shoes so heavy on him that he wouldn’t lift them off the ground? She caught sight of the drool on the corner of his mouth and he wiped hastily.
She ran down the path to escape those drooping eyes staring hard at the nape of her neck.
In the lobby, a wild wind blew through the louvers, rustling the shrubs below the basement. She felt relieved. And remembered her 2 o’clock lecture. The old man will be doddering down the hallway by now. The time was 1.55.
As she walked down the path, neglecting the prying stares of the youngsters playing on the field, she released her shoulders, unclenched her fists, and took a deep breath. Lost in thought. She reached the bend on the road near the sports complex and jostled as a car honked at the rear. Her fantasies disappeared dying a premature death because of this “man”. Again.
Taking a closer look, she saw the breakouts on his face. He would not just stop scratching the side of his neck. Such a bunch of disgust, she thought and smiled infectiously. Time to get rid of him as soon as she could.
Good luck with your defense. She muttered under her breath. He smiled and coughed as he is about to spit but swallowed. Smiling back, he grabbed the steering wheel and drove off. His car was covered in long streaks of dried murky water.
Later that day, he called asking to see her. Seeing this as an escape from the monotonous days, she has always had. She agreed without blinking an eye. He sent his cousin, a buffoon-looking man to pick her up. She later learned he is the errand boy who is a glutton, gossip, and snitch. He had an air of disrespect around him too. The ride was twenty minutes.
The exterior of the house could use a bucket of paint but it is surviving on old glory. Dead and wilting houseplants were arranged at the sentries of each apartment without concern. A little child ran out. Unattractive but all children seem cute. She was a chatterbox, almost stopping her from entering the father’s house.
Then he stepped out.
Brown sweat marks were visible on the shirt; he pulled off his shoe with his right leg and threw the stinking shoes over the glass table at the edge of the living room. A thick stench that could bring up last night’s meal filled the atmosphere. That smell is not strange to him. Skunk.
The couches were in tatters, empty and half-empty bottles of alcohol were scattered on the floor. Unwashed clothes piled up an unwilling sofa. Socks and stained underwear littered everywhere. Like they owned the apartment and he does not have a say.
She should leave. No. What about her curiosity?
He is not bothered with the messy living room and starts making advances to her…
The house cleaner came in cowering and speaking in low tones. She could barely hear her. She is afraid of him. She brings in his child who has four lollipops in her hand, licking her sticking fingers. Spoilt runt.
At the gate. The house cleaner in a shaky voice tells her how much danger she just got in.
He had shown a good side to people but not to people like her because he is messed up in the head.
His estranged wife revealed to the family how manipulative and toxic he is. Moreover, what an insensitive human like him could do to another. He strives to check whomever she talks with.
Her mind wandered far as the house cleaner continued her story while looking at both sides to be sure she is not under watch.
It was a long story. A story that reveals how his jealousy could make him imitate his partners’ behavior and want to have whatever she has. And want to look like whoever she respected and admired.
He can give a pinch of attention and care but he wants 100%.
Often surrounded by loud-mouthed and awful friends, he drinks to stupor, laying in his puke on the cold hard ground. And wakes with the worse attitude, barking orders at no one in particular.
She knew what he was. Her curiosity almost got her too far.
Never to be heard from again.