The English woman across the street, a short story, Part 5
I was out of breath when I reached my front door, after what felt to me like crossing Siberia on foot. Once inside, I sat on a chair to recuperate some. After a few minutes and another shot of nitro pills, I felt a little better, strong enough to address Belinda :
- "You need to tell me what's happening here, and right now seems like a good time". My tone was firm. She looked sad and I could tell she was fighting her tears, but this time, I was not going to let go :
- " Tony, I need help !" I gave her a puzzled look. I couldn't make what she was trying to tell me.
Without any warning, she unbuttoned the top of her pyjamas and removed it quickly. I could have passed out ! Her torso was nothing but bruises : blue, black, purple, yellow, some cuts too. She slowly turned around, lifting her hair with her right hand to show me : Her back was in the same condition. I was speechless ! Then, she lowered the bottom of the pyjamas down to her ankles : her calves, thighs and lower back, there was not an area that hadn't been affected by blows :
- " He did that to me !" He being Ken, her husband. There are situations in life where words just cannot form themselves and this was definitely one of them for me.
- "It's not the first time, but this is by far the worst and I have had enough. I want to file for divorce as soon as possible, and I am going to press charges against him. What I would like you to do, Tony, is take pictures of me, so the courts can see what he did to me. He might get away with it, he probably will, I don't know and I don't really care, but I'm sure going to try hard to get back at him. If you would, please also take pictures of the house and the car, the more the better". The thought of having to go walk through that snow again was not excessively appealing to me, but I kept it to myself. But if she had asked me to climb a ladder to the moon, I would have given it a try...
- "Where is he now ?"
-" He probably realized he went too far this tme, I mean, when he left me in the house I was barely conscious, but he took his 4X4 and he most likely rushed back to England to hide. All I know is I literally crawled to my car and had a terrible time just to get inside and get behind the wheel. I couldn't see very well with the snow falling and as I was driving out of the courtyard, I hit the brake pedal to slow down some and make the turn, but my foot slipped and I hit the gas pedal instead. I think I may have hit your house, Tony, and I'm sorry if I did !" She started to cry silently, big tears rolling down her lovely face. I came close to her and held her. Then, I remembered she wasn't wearing any clothes. But at this point, lust or any related feeling couldn't be further away from me. I went to the library to pick up my camera. Thoughts were racing through my mind. How can any man possibly become so angry as to beat his own wife in such a way ? I mean, this took time ! And at some point, the way her ribcage was all blue and black, she must have been down on the floor, and he must have kicked her. Just the thought was frightening and unbearable ! I thought the worst of all was my realizing that he never hit her on the face, and that was no coincidence. The whole time, he was aware of what he was doing. So, I took the pictures, a lot of them. I photographed her wounded body from all angles, and did a lot of close-ups. I took pictures of their destroyed living-room, broken bottles and glass all over the place and all. At some point, the irony of the whole situation came to me. Here I was, taking pictures of a completely undressed woman I've been lusting over for years, with her consent, mind you. Actually, she asked me, but there was not a shred of sexual thought in my entire being. Father Bernard would be proud of me. Maybe, I'm not as bad as I thought I was. The pictures I had taken would make the case for any half-baked lawyer. I put my camera away and I picked up the pyjamas on the sofa and helped Belinda to put them back on. Then, I called the cops. The police in rural France is called the Gendarmes. They are actually part of the military even though they mostly perform civilian tasks. As any cops all over the world, they are hated when they give speeding tickets and make one blow into a breathalizer. But when it comes to help people in dire situations,their competence and dedication are second to none. I explained the situation over the phone, requesting the presence of a female gendarme, preferably one who would speak English, and as I was speaking, I realized it was a lot to ask around these parts, but who knows ? They said they would send someone over sometimes today, but with the snow storm, they had been swamped with calls for help, and they couldn't say when for sure. After that, I sat on the sofa near to Belinda. She laid down and rested her head on my lap, just as Reglisse had done the night before, as we were about to start the movie. That was a century ago, in another life ! We both dozed off, the dog laying at my feet, not overly happy to have to give up his favorite spot on the settee. He let me know by sighing...
I woke up some twenty minutes later, and decided to do something about the snow. So, I went to the garage to get the Land Rover out. Of course, I had to shovel more snow before I could even get the doors to open. The car started immediately and off we went, Reglisse sitting proudly on the passenger's seat. The gate had been left open after our adventures of last night. Once I got where there used to be a road and was now an ocean of white powder. I engaged the vehicle in four wheel drive mode and lowered the snow plow. I started driving down the hill extremely slowly. As I was progressing, big waves of snow were deflected to the side of the road, it was a thing of beauty and I was very proud of my engineering. I drove as far as the main road linking Le Mans to Tours, about a mile and a half from the house. There, I turned around and began cleaning the other lane. Now, if somebody was brave enough to venture on our local road, it was open.
When I came back to the house, Belinda was awake...
To be continued...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
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