Elizabeth shifted her purse from her left to her right shoulder and quietly slipped her right hand inside searching out the cold metal of the handgun she kept there. The weight of it in the bag was comforting, but once she felt the textured grips under her fingers, the world around her calmed.
She was hungry.
She only knew of one thing that would quell her appetite, and he was walking about a block ahead of her.
She had really been curious the first time she followed a man like this late at night, and it was a little unnerving how easily it could be done. She had yet to have any of these guys notice her until it was too late. It was so different than the world she knew as a woman walking with her keys between her fingers even in the daytime if she was at the bus stop for any length of time, having illegal pepper spray because getting in trouble for that was way better than the alternative for not having it… being hypervigilant, keeping covered, never walking anywhere with headphones on or with your nose buried in a book because taking focus from the world could end with death. And that night, the first night, she just wanted to know if the world worked the same for him after she sat in a coffee shop and watched him hassle the barista for her phone number then call her fat when she turned him down. She watched her devolve into a snotty, teary mess after he threw his coffee at her and stormed out. And she followed him. It wasn’t reasonable or rational or a good idea, but deep down, this rage she had never felt before welled up blasting out of her pores. She was angry at him, yes, but she was angrier at herself for being too afraid to step up and say anything.
And by the end of the night, she said a lot.
Back then she didn’t have a gun. That was a new thing. Back then it was just the illegal pepper spray and a rape whistle. At the time, it was enough, though. She followed the guy a few blocks into a parking garage with her pepper spray in hand, and just before he got into his truck (because of course it was a huge truck), she whistled at him from just beyond the tailgate. He turned, and she got him good right in the eyes. She doesn’t even remember now what she actually said to him as he rolled on the ground screaming, but she faintly remembers threatening his life if he so much as thought about doing to another woman the way he did that barista.
The anxiety she felt afterwards was indescribable. Would she get in trouble? Would he be able to track her down? What if the pepper spray hadn’t worked? What if she missed? What if he hurt her? Why did it feel so fucking good and make her feel so goddamned happy? What was wrong with her? She was a writhing mass of emotions that ate away at her like blowfly maggots.
After awhile she couldn’t get the rush out of her mind--that heady feeling from the sheer power and control she had. For the first time in her life, she felt like she had an inkling of what it might be like to be a dominatrix, but she was also getting justice or at least that’s the way she saw it. Vigilante justice, maybe, but it still made her feel good to do something and to fantasize about doing it again. Like some kind of feminist antihero. Like Deadpool but less angry.
So when she was out at a bar a few weeks later and saw a guy grab a girl’s crotch and yell “TRUMP THAT PUSSY” she did it again. He got kicked out of the bar, and she followed, sprayed him, and unleashed a torrent of obscenities about his behavior. It wasn’t long before she had another opportunity, and next thing she knew, it had been a year and she had left probably a half a dozen potential felony charges in her wake.
But the last couple months had been different. She’d been watching this guy up ahead of her for at least 6 months getting to know his habits. He was the boyfriend of her new coworker at the vet hospital. She’d never gone after someone she knew but this was different. She had seen Maven come in far too many times with bruises on her arms, her throat, with too many excuses for black eyes and swollen wrists. The girl was clumsy, sure, but that couldn’t explain the teary mornings, the fear in her eyes when someone raised a hand near her for any reason (and never to hit her, not at work). It couldn’t explain the excuses she gave when they all went out after work for drinks, and it damn sure didn’t give a reason for the times they worked late together when he, Stephen, would call screaming at her and accusing her of sleeping with the male employees.
This was different. This time it was personal.
Maven wouldn’t leave him. They had all talked to her about it last week, had an intervention of sorts. She was too scared to leave. She knew the chances he would hurt her seriously after she left were higher than staying. She had done her research… That’s the thing. She wasn’t stupid, and he hadn’t been this obvious when they got together. She turned a blind eye to the problems when they first happened because back then it was easy to make excuses. Tying their financial accounts together seemed like a logical step, and when he spent their money carelessly then chastised her for so much as buying a coffee, she chalked it up to depression. He’d get help and take medicine then get off it when he felt “fine.” Every time she caught him cheating or in a lie, there would be a honeymoon period that made her question everything. Things didn’t start at this point, in other words. They built slowly until Maven’s life was such a tangled mess she didn’t really have hope of ever getting out of it.
What other choice was there then?
Tonight, Maven would be free, and the world would finally shift in her favor no matter the cost.
Elizabeth was starving for the adrenaline rush, for the sense of good she felt afterwards, and as much as she wanted to pretend this was for Maven, she also, down deep, this had nothing to do with an altruistic need to save. She wanted blood.
Up ahead, Stephen ducked into the parking garage near his side chick’s place.
This blog post was for Sunday Confessions, a weekly blog challenge hosted by More Than Cheese and Beer. The link up is below. Be sure to check out the other submissions!