On that particular Thursday night, I was a little late getting home. I work for one of those snooty law firms and when they tell you to stay late, well, you just do. No, I’m not a lawyer. I am in charge of security for the building. Ok, that means I sit at a desk and watch the monitors for any monkey business and I have seen PLENTY of that, I can tell you. I am only one of three security guys. Technically speaking, I am not ‘in charge’ of anything, but I prefer to describe myself as the chief security officer. It is sort of true, if you think about it. When I am there, I am the ONLY security person, so I am in charge, right?
Anyway, that Thursday night, all the snooty lawyers were having some sort of a cocktail deal upstairs so I was ‘requested’ to stay until it was over. The night guy came in so I actually had someone else to talk to for about an hour until I was told my ‘services were no longer needed’. Don’t you just love the way they talk? So an hour after my normal time I left the building and headed to the bus stop. I rode the bus for 12 blocks then had to change to another one for another 6 blocks and I was home. Usually, I didn’t mind riding the bus. There were the regulars and we came to know each other just a little. It was kind of nice to see a familiar face that way. But this night, I was really tired and I wanted to go home and see what Tara was wearing for her evening. Usually, she would come home and change into one of those slinky lounging things with the long top and the trousers underneath. I decided her favorite color was dark blue because she seemed to wear that color most often.
So I finally arrived at my building and had to wait for old Mr. Day to fumble with his key at the front door. My building didn’t have a guard at the door, of course, so we let ourselves in. Mr. Day kept fumbling so I asked if I could get the door for him. He mumbled something I couldn’t understand and kept messing with the keys in his hand, so I moved past him and just opened the stupid door. I held the door for him and didn’t even get a ‘thank you’. Figures, doesn’t it? You put yourself out there for someone and they act like you stepped on their foot or something. But I just ignored him like always and hurried up to the fourth floor and let myself into my small flat. It felt good to be home. I flipped on my little television and threw my keys on the table. I went to the refrigerator and grabbed a soda and made my way to the back window where I could see the love of my life. Ok, I didn’t REALLY love Tara, but she was the girl of my dreams, so I fantasized about loving her and her loving me back. It was harmless..really.
As I took a long drink of the cola and cringed as it burned going down my throat, I was surprised that Tara’s blinds were closed. She never closed her blinds. She never pulled her curtains closed. I wondered if something was wrong but decided she had the right to change things up a bit.
I sat back in my chair and sipped at my soda only barely listening to the reality show that was blaring on the television. I hated television most of the time, but it was better than the deathly quiet. I think I may have dozed off just a bit because when I looked up again, Tara’s blinds were pulled up as usual. She was walking past the window. I noticed she was wearing a long black dress. With her hair pulled up on her head, she looked kind of like a queen. I watched as she stopped and picked up her cell phone. I could see her talking into the thing and I could see her looking suddenly upset about something. Finally, Tara shut off her phone and tossed it down. I heard it hit the floor all the way from my place.
It was 14 minutes later when Tara went to her front door and opened it. There was a tall man wearing a dark suit. His face was in shadow but something about him looked familiar to me. I just couldn’t quite place how I knew that face.
I watched as he pushed past Tara into the room and was waving his arms as though he was upset about something. I looked closely at Tara’s face and saw tears shining in the lamplight. I was beginning to worry about her. Suddenly, the tall man in the dark suit pulled his hand back and slapped Tara right across the cheek. She fell back, then caught herself. I could hear her yelling at him to ‘stop being an ass’. He stepped toward her and she stepped back away from him, but he then had her against the wall. He leaned into her and I could see his hand slide up her arm until he had his hand at her throat. Just as I was reaching for my telephone to call for some help, the man began to turn my way. If he saw me, I would be in serious trouble so I dived from my chair to the floor sending my cell phone sliding across the floor away from me.
After a moment, I raised my head just enough to look out the window. Tara’s blinds were again closed. I could hear nothing. I sat for a moment wondering what I should do. I looked around for my cell phone and didn’t see it. Maybe everything was fine. Maybe they were just having one of those lover’s spats you hear about. Or maybe something really bad had happened. I went to search for my phone and just as I found it between the counter and the stove, there was a loud, insistent banging at my door.