The Literary Girlfriend: The Bombshell
As a quiet guy, I’ve always tried to deal with conflict in a subtle, diplomatic way. Daniella was a little more volatile. She didn’t mind using loud profanity in public to make her point. I think she enjoyed doing that, especially when she was in badass mode with her hair down and leather jacket on. This difference in personality (and arguing style) could make moments of disagreement in public awkward. A few minutes earlier, I had said something stupid in front of Daniella, telling a photographer that all I did for her was pay her bills. Daniella had already been pissed enough, but that comment sent her over the edge. Now all I could do was watch as she stormed away from me down the mall, her middle finger jutting into the air.
Calling after her would be counterproductive, I thought. Using her car keys to leave without her would also be a monumentally bad idea. I decided to follow her silently from a distance and give her a chance to cool off. After a few minutes, I realized she was going towards her car in the parking lot. It looked like she intended to leave without me. Despite my state of anxiety, I appreciated Daniella as she walked. Even with her badass leather jacket, I could see the sway in her hips as she took long, purposeful strides through a side section of stores. Other mall walkers turned their heads as she strode past them. Men admired her. Women glanced enviously at her and then nagged at their boyfriends for checking her out.
When Daniella got to the car, she reached inside her giant purse/bag and paused. Her shoulders sagged. Her head turned up toward the overcast sky, and I saw her mutter an obscenity. It was her moment of realization; I had her car keys. Then she saw me standing a dozen parking spots behind her. I kept my face serious. I had a lot of apologizing and explaining to do, and a smirk over the car keys would set everything back.
“Give me the keys,” Daniella demanded.
“No,” I said. “You can’t just drive off without me.”
“It’s my car.”
I’ve been making all the payments, I thought, but I knew it wasn’t the right thing to say.
“It’s my apartment,” I said, since that was probably where she was going to drive.
“You can take a cab,” she said.
“That takes money.” Money that I didn’t have.
“GIVE ME MY KEYS!” she demanded in her hard voice, and she took a couple steps forward.
“You need some help?” I heard a deep male voice shout behind me.
I turned and saw three big guys marching up the parking lot toward us.
Great, I thought. Daniella could always attract aggressively muscular guys eager to assist her. Two of them were in short sleeves. The only reason guys would go short sleeved in this weather would be to show off their arms or to pretend they were so tough they didn’t care about the weather.
“I think she wants you to leave her alone,” one guy said, and they started to spread out. Bastards, they already were bigger than me, and now they were going to surround me and gang up. It was moments like this that I wished I’d had a carry permit. Still, I had time to run if I needed to. But running would make it look like I was doing something wrong. It was too bad there were three of them. I could usually reason with one guy, but with two or more, there wouldn’t be time to talk and they were already trying to surround me. I chose a big pick-up truck and leaned my back up against it. At least none of them would get behind me.
“You want us to kick his ass?” the one to my left said to Daniella as they closed in. I looked at Daniella. I was already committed. I’d seen guys like this, and they weren’t going to get talked out of clobbering me if Daniella didn’t say anything. She thought about it. Our eyes met, and I could tell there was a part of her that wanted to see what would happen. My stomach tightened. My legs tensed. I could feel my heart rate going crazy. I was prepared to start swinging and not stop until I was down. There were three of them, but one of them was going to have to take the first punch. I’d make them work for it, even if I hit like a girl.
“It’s okay,” she said to the three assailants. “He’s with me.”
The guys kept coming at me like they hadn’t heard.
“I said leave him alone.”
The first guy was with one car length of me, and all three were locked in on me. This would be more for their pleasure than any sense of chivalry.
“LEAVE HIM ALONE, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!”
That got their attention. Daniella’s hard voice could carry. The three guys stopped and looked at each other, wondering who the piece of shit was.
“You touch him, and I’ll…” and Daniella strung together a bunch of verbs and adverbs that were very profane and impossible in a literal sense, but her words got the job done. All three guys stopped. One guy thought it was funny. One guy looked pissed and balled his fists as if he wanted to fight her. The guy in the middle of the pack actually flinched. When she was done, the three guys turned around and slowly headed back up to the mall.
The guy who thought it was funny pointed at Daniella and said, “Now THAT’S a bombshell.”
After they were out of hearing distance, Daniella turned to me and said, “That was a compliment, right?”
“Pretty much.” My heart rate was decreasing now, and but my hands shook as I gave her the car keys.
I should have been humiliated that my girlfriend (or maybe ex-girlfriend) had protected me from three potential assailants. Instead, I was angry she had put me in that position in the first place. If she wanted me to take a cab, so be it.
“What’s wrong?” Daniella asked.
“Are you serious?” I said. “You almost… they almost… “
“They weren’t going to do anything.” She seemed so confident that I knew she was lying.
Before I could argue any more, Danielle moved up toe-to-toe me with me, her hands on her hips. “You shouldn’t have said that about me in front of the photographer,” she said. “Or anybody else.”
“When we were at the Halloween party, you told everybody that I masturbated all the time,” I said (this argument makes more sense if you’ve read this.). “That was worse than what I said.”
Daniella shut her mouth tight.
I continued. “Then you called me an asshole when I was drunk when it was your fault that I was drunk in the first place.”
Daniella looked down, and her arms dropped to her sides.
“And you stole that blonde’s furniture and put it in our apartment and never told me it was stolen.”
“You always bring up the furniture,” Daniella said.
“I’ve never brought up the furniture until now,” I said. “I’ve been saving it.” My hands had finally stopped shaking.
Daniella muttered something that was most likely unpleasant.
“I shouldn’t have said what I said,” I admitted. “But what you just did here was a bad over-reaction. And you almost got me beat up.”
Daniella gave me the keys back and pressed herself against me. “You hurt my feelings,” she said, then walked to the passenger side of her car.
“I didn’t mean to,” I said, as I got into the driver’s side. “I… just didn’t like the idea of breaking up.” Now, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
“You want to break up?” she said. She rolled down the window. Even in the cold, or Texas’s version of cold, she liked the window down.
“I thought that’s what you were leading up to,” I said. Between my lack of money, the scene in the mall, and the parking lot incident, I was surprised this was even up for debate.
“We don’t… have to break up,” she said. “I’m trying to do things different now.”
I had an idea of what Daniella meant. She always had a boyfriend (currently me) to pay her bills. Her previous boyfriends had been rough guys; they paid for her stuff, but they’d not quite been law-abiding citizens like me. I knew of two previous boyfriends who had hit her (and she later put one of those guys in the hospital by smashing a bottle over his head and… it got kind of messy after that). I figured I was her way of doing things differently now. She’d never had a quiet, professional guy as a boyfriend (and I’d never had a girlfriend like her before either).
“So… what do you mean by ‘different’?” I asked. “Are you going to pay some of your bills?”
“That’s not what I meant,” Daniella said looking out the window. “I think I want to get married.”
To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Marriage Material .
If you want to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning (it’s getting kind of long), start here.