August 18, 2005
Old memories
Last night, as I was falling asleep, I heard someone yell out. Turned out it was nothing, but it reminded me of something that happened a long time ago - probably 12 years or so. It answered that question, what would you do if you heard someone in trouble? Would you help?

The immediate answer is always yes, but truth be known, when people are faced with that exact situation, things change.

It was the early 90s. I was at my boyfriend's mother's house. He and the boys were playing Nintendo in the games room and I was sitting in the living room with his mother. Over the sound of the crashing and cacaphony of the game, I could have sworn I heard someone scream.

I called out...Did anyone hear that? I got some laughs and was told I had an active imagination.

I heard it again. I asked them to turn down the TV but was met with jeers. So without thinking, I went to investigate myself. I was no more than 110 lbs. (the weight came later!) and young & naive. It never occured to me that I should hesitate, though.

When I got into the street, I found a girl - very dazed and covered in blood. Screaming. Blood curdling, bone chilling screams. I will never ever forget that sound that she made. Little screeches in between the sobs, and as I was reminded of last night, the slightest resemblence to the pitch that she made will bring back that memory.

She was young and pretty, but part of her hair had been ripped out. She had been beaten over her face, and was incoherent. When I approached her, she shied away from me like I was fire.

I soothed her, and told her we would take care of her. I yelled for the guys to come help me. Thankfully, they heard me over their Ultimate Fighting game or whatever it was.

My boyfriend's mom took one of her arms and I took the other. We guided her into the house, and when she got to the door, she did the strangest thing. In all her hysterics, she paused. She bent down, untied her shoes and removed them before entering the house. She was incoherent, sobbing, bloodied...yet her manners were so ingrained that she stopped to respect the house she was entering.

We sat her on the couch, and my boyfriend's sister called 9-1-1. The boys stood outside looking for what was responsible for the scene. As T was relaying the information to the police, a man showed up in the street waving a gun and threatening to come in the house and 'get what was his'.

Those words still chill me when I think of him yelling that outside the window. The girl on the couch, cowering as we tried to cover her with blankets, cloths and icepacks until help arrived.

The police were there within seconds, it seemed. Mention a gun involved and they'll be there before you know it.

As the girl calmed down, her story started to spill out. The man two doors down was very well-off. A friend of her mothers. She had needed somewhere to go after her husband left and her mother's friend offered her a place to stay for the month. She knew he was financially secure, and thought that she had it made. Not really thinking with the full picture, she saw what she thought was a free ride.

Arriving at the house three weeks prior, she found the man had other ideas. And none of them were pleasant. She had been kept a prisoner, and used as he felt necessary. His doors were barred and when he left, she was tied up so she couldn't move. There were details. Horrid details which I won't repeat. Suffice to say, the story was beyond belief.

We had always known the man to be strange, but of course, no one wants to ever believe someone to be truly malicious and evil. The house was kept immaculate but instead of curtains, he had paper taped over every window. He also went to great expense and ire of the bylaw officers to have 15 foot hedges planted around his yard so no one could see in.

The night this happened, the girl tried to leave. She had been pistol whipped and beaten, but struggled and was able to momentarily disable her attacker. What I had heard was her screams as she broke free. I often wonder what would have happened if I had listened to my friends and not gone out.

The man was arrested, and the girl taken to the hospital. Sadly, he was released soon after and she was back the following month. That angered me that she would go back and that this would be dismissed as a 'domestic dispute'. I saw the bruises, and they were not mere shiners. This was brutal and intended rage.

But I don't regret going to her aid. I would do it again if faced with the same situation.

It's probably 12 years or so since that happened. I often wonder what became of her. The man still lives there, and his windows are still covered in the unprinted newpaper. The hedges are now 20 feet tall and according to my ex's family, he is rarely seen outside but when he does comes out, he's always well dressed and seemingly 'normal', but things still don't feel 'right'.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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Turning thirty and a half
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