My phone rang last night. It was someone I had not spoken to in a long time. I was surprised the name still came up in my phone. She used to attend my church and she was in tears. I asked her what was wrong. She rambled incoherently and swiftly between sobs. I told her to slow down and breathe.
She told me she had been beaten by her boyfriend. A man I had told her and others was cruel when he was drunk and everyone defended him and said he was a swell guy. I asked her what had happened.
"He came home drunk and I could smell some woman all over him. Not just perfume, but her. I don't wanna be graphic Pastor Pat, I smelled her on him. So I told him off and he broke me. He fucking broke me!"
"What do you mean he broke you?" I asked with my heart racing.
"I think I have stuff broken. My insides don't feel right. I think my teeth are fucked up. I'm scared!" More hysteria. I think she was hyperventilating.
"Where are you?"
"I'm at the bowling alley parking lot off (street name)."
"Can you drive to the hospital?"
"I'm scared to go in alone."
"I'll be right over."
I put on some pants and shoes, grabbed my first aid kit and drove to her town. I saw her car. I pulled up next to her. I got out and she ran into me sobbing. I looked at her. Her face was already swollen and bruising, some teeth had been chipped and one eye was very bloodshot with broken blood vessels. As I placed her in my car I saw his car parked one lot over. Anger flashed inside me in a rage. I made a promise to some people that are dear to me that I would not get into fights anymore. He was over there and we were over here. It would accomplish nothing.
I drove her to the ER and pulled up to the valet. I saw him behind us on the way. I made a promise. I am keeping my promise. I had valet escort her in and I went to park the car. He blew by my driver side very close and pulled in front of me and slammed on the brakes. I stopped.
This is not happening. I made a promise. I made a promise. I made a promise. Dammit! I made a promise.
He got out. I got out. I was going to keep my promise, but I had no idea how.
"Pat." He was still drunk and he had something in his hand. I could not tell what. 'Don't hospitals have cameras and security???' I thought.
"Get back in your car and go home," I said firmly. "You have done enough tonight."
"Pat. That ain't gonna happen." he said. He took a step toward me. I held firm. I was going to keep my promise, but I had no plan b yet. Trust me, I was thinking of one.
"Get back in your car and go home," I repeated. "This isn't making things better. Go home."
He took another step. I thought I had an idea. It was not a good one, but it was a third way.
"What are you gonna do?" I asked. "Fight me in a hospital parking lot?"
He started to say something. I cut him off and raised my voice.
"Because that is what ain't happening. I can't even figure out why we are here and why you want a piece of me. It doesn't make sense. Can you explain it to me?" Everything inside me wanted to go forward and throttle him. Everything inside me wanted him to feel what she felt. To be afraid. To be humiliated. To be in pain. To suffer.
"You want her. She could have called anyone and she called YOU!"
"She called me because I'm safe. She called me because I care about her. No romance here, just love. I'm going back in my car now. So are you. Then, I'm parking my car and I am making sure she is safe." I turned my back on him and I heard a click. 'God I hope that is a switchblade and not worse', I thought. He owns worse and hell if I know what one of those sounds like cocking. For all I knew the click was something else entirely.
I thought about stopping. But in sales there is a principle called turn and burn when you want to bring someone to a display. You turn your back with confidence and keep walking assuming they are following you. You stop or look back or hesitate, they will certainly not do what you want them to. You have to commit to the turn and burn.
I kept walking to my car. I got inside. I put the key in the ignition and looked up to see him getting in his car. He peeled off revving his engine and drove into the night. I parked and went inside. I stayed with her. She will need some dental work, she has a broken nose and some bruised ribs, but everything will heal other than the teeth. She did not file a police report, but she is going somewhere safe where she can get help.
I kept my promise. It felt like an impossible situation, but all I had to do was figure out a third way.
Giving your word is not something to take lightly. I have in the past. You do not keep your word reluctantly, but because it is the right thing to do and your actions do not just affect you, but others. You give your word and keep your word because you love and are loved. You care and are cared about.
It was the right thing. I kept my promise.