Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, April 9, 9:00pm: A Fight In The Driveway

It's just before 9pm on Friday night and I dash into the garage where my boyfriend, Jesus, is working on his motorcycle. "I just ordered Chinese food!" I declare. "But they are closing now so we have to hurry. Let's go!" We've been craving Chinese take-out for a while and leave the house excited about the prospect. We spent a lazy day at the movies and now, working on the bike too, we are happy as we gather our things to go. As we walk outside we discover that we cannot go anywhere.

There is a strange white sedan parked in my driveway. It's parked diagonally so as to block in both my truck and my roommate's. I'm trying to understand why anyone would park like that when there is plenty of room in the driveway to just block in one car and ample parking on the street. My neighbors have double-parked in my driveway before and have done it so as to block me in even when one space was empty. They've always been pretty hostile since that one time I asked them to turn their music down so I'm pretty sure they do it on purpose. I send Jesus over as an ambassador to ask them to move the car. If I ask them, no matter how politely, I tend to get screamed at and insulted.
Jesus returns from the neighbors confused. "They said they have no idea who the car belongs to." Thinking that my roommate must have a friend picking him up I call him and ask him to come down and move the vehicle. He says that he doesn't know anything about it and isn't expecting anyone.
We decide to try and wiggle one of our motorcycles around the car.

As we open the garage and begin to gear up for the bike, large group emerges from my neighbors' house and walks toward the mysterious sedan. A young girl holding a baby approaches the car and looks at me with reproach as though I should not be standing near her car, parked in my driveway.
"I thought you said this car wasn't yours?" I ask my neighbors collectively. Their response is part mocking and part ignorance. I look toward the girl expecting an apology, but she is busying herself with things in the front seat.
"Excuse me, why are you parked in my driveway like this?" I ask her. "If you are going to park in my driveway, couldn't you at least just block in one of the spaces?" I gesture to my truck. She stares at me and I'm not sure what to say. She makes no motion to leave.

She stares back at me and says quite softly, "Well, I have a baby."

"Okay, so you have a baby?" My tone is sarcastic now, amazed by her strange audacity. "How does that give you the right to block in my entire driveway? How does that give you the right to be so stupid?"

Suddenly there is a man standing in front of me. I've never seen this man before but he is screaming at me with pent up fury, as though I'd wronged him for years. "Shut the fuck up you stupid bitch! You fucking cunt! Don't you fucking talk you fucking whore!" The screamed insults are so sudden and shouted with such violence that I can scarcely make out the individual words.

Out of sheer instinct I shake my finger at him and scold him in disbelief. "Do not speak to me like that. You are on my property. You can't speak to me like that. You need to leave now." Yet the man will not stop shouting at me.

Then it all happens quickly - the part I keep reliving in my head. I feel my hand pushed away and stumble back. "Hey," I hear him say. It is all he can say before the man throws his first punch. Later Jesus will tell me that the man had reached out to push me when he stepped in, but I never really felt it, only the a force against my hand and then stepping back. It is only the man flinging fists and Jesus dancing quickly around them. His arms are up, covering his face. He does not through a single punch in return.

The girl is pleading to the man to stop screaming, to calm down. She is frightened and yet expectant. "Stop, please stop," she pleads. He doesn't seem to even realize that she is there. She is so small and I fear that Jesus will not fight back in hear of hurting the girl.

I reach out and pull her aside. "No, let them fight," I tell her.

The fight moves away from us toward the other side of the driveway. Jesus is thrown to the ground. I've never seen anyone I love in a fist fight. Hell, I've never seen a real fist fight. The strange man is so large, so much larger than Jesus, and so furious. I have never seen a man so angry and violent, yet so calculated in his movement. 'Jesus's shoulder has popped out,' I tell myself. He's dislocated his shoulder twice this year and when he doesn't get up from the floor I run towards them.

I tug at the man and shout at him. "Your problem is with me. If you want to call me a bitch, then go ahead. Leave him alone. Tell it to me!" He backs away. Now that Jesus has been beaten to the ground the man seems strangely calm. He has tired his violence and can go home. He takes a deep breath and stares at me. "Now, don't you ever talk to me that way again and get the fuck off my property."

Now I feel only force. I feel the muscles in my legs tighten into a squat as I try to remain standing. I'm fighting a force that wants me on the ground. I don't know what has happened, but there is suddenly wet everywhere. Everything is blurry and sticky. Jesus is talking to me but I can't hear what he is saying. Blood. I can taste it. Blood running down my face and filling my mouth.

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