To These Guys
“Got somethin wrong with her kidneys but she won’t go see a fuckin doctor! Doesn’t hurt baby? Doesn’t hurt?” Ray forced her hand aside and poked savagely into her side, his fingers straight.
“Ray!” I yelled in his ear. “God damn it!”
“You don’t understand! She’s been like this for six months and she won’t go see nobody.” He was up, grabbing his jacket, veering for the door.
“Whe ... ?” Monica bawled.
“Where are you going?” I finished.
“Gonna get a doctor for her! Gonna get a doctor.” Slam.
I was pacing. Finally I asked, “Is something wrong?” Monica shook her head but wouldn’t look up. “He shouldn’t do that to you,” I babbled. “You shouldn’t stay with him. You know you shouldn’t.”
She was sobbing violently; I sat beside her and pulled her against me.
“I gah lay down,” she blurted.
I took her to my room, where I hadn’t yet stripped the bed. Bob was sitting very straight on the sofa when I returned, his head turning to follow me, like a king awaiting explanation of a failure in battle.
“I don’t know.” I stretched out on the sofa, suddenly heavy with alcohol and fatigue, and closed my eyes. “I’ve only heard about this whole side of Ray. He tore up the whole Methadone clinic and got them both kicked off the program. He put his fist through a neighbor’s door. He ran through their hotel stark naked with a machete.”
“He is not a normal person,” Bob recited in the flat robotic tone that denoted absolute fury. “Thanks for bringing him here.”
I awoke disoriented, under Bob’s hot glare, with no idea that I’d been dozing. The buzzer was ringing, had been ringing, and kept ringing for half a minute solid.
“Shit, Bob.” I rose to my feet. “You could at least answer the fucking door.”
Ray pushed into the apartment, hair wild, face scratched. I followed him into the living room. He held up his hands: “Look what those motherfuckers did to me! Look at that!”
His knuckles were raw and bloody, but he was showing his wrists: bracelets of blue bruises welling up under the skin. I swigged some tequila and held the bottle out to him, sloshing it.
“Naah.” He waved it away. “Where’s Monica?”
“She’s lying down,” I said in a hushed hospital voice.
“Where is she?”
“In my room,” I said, not getting up.
Ray was halfway down the hall; I ran after him. As I came into the bedroom he had the groggy Monica by her upper arms and was shaking her awake. “Because of you! Because of you!” he yelled. Suddenly, before my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, there was a bass Thump! as he slugged her in the chest.
“Ray! Ray!” I yelled, grabbing at him. “Let’s get you something for your hands. We’ve got to fix you up.” I turned to Bob as we went past: “Just see if she’s OK, would you?”
“She’s OK, she’s OK,” Ray grumbled as I led him down the hall to the living room. He took a deep drink, then rinsed his knuckles with the tequila.
two of em cold,” he said proudly. “Took six to get me down.”
They screwed the handcuffs tourniquet-tight and called the city
police. “I thought the city cops
were gonna start in on me in the squad car,”
he said. “But the cop was real
sympathetic. He listened to me and
then he took off the cuffs. He told me
they had a lotta trouble with