The Strangest Thing

Sometimes minding your own business isn't really the best thing to do, but that doesn't ever stop me. Sometimes you should ask a girl if they have a boyfriend or even a girlfriend, but I have yet to ask anyone. It doesn't bother me, I have to say. They tell me that they aren't interested and it ends there, before that it doesn't bother me.

It probably should.

But it doesn't, and that can get me into trouble from time to time. Of course before now the worst kind of trouble it ever got me in was a man crying at me. Apparently they had been together for a very long time. I never did tell him that it wasn't the first time.

But here I am, pinned to a wall, thinking quite hard over the women that I have met in the last month. They tell me that I stole someone's girlfriend. I think once, quite a long time ago, I talked a girl out of her boyfriend. But I guess that not finding out if she has a boyfriend isn't really an excuse for not knowing. But I am going to use it, and it will surely not go well.

"I would think there would be a statute of limitations on this sort of thing," I comment, managing to speak with ease despite the arm across my neck.

Blank looks, of course they don't know what that means.

"I haven't talked a girl out of her boyfriend for quite a long time," I tell the man who claims I stole his girlfriend. "So it seems to me that it is hardly my own fault that I stole your girlfriend."

The arm presses a bit tighter, but nothing else is done. Maybe it wasn't as stupid an excuse as I thought it was.

The man I spoke to slams a fist into my stomach, hard enough that it would have doubled me over was I not being held against the wall. As it is, it makes be cough a great deal. I don't think anyone has hit me for a long time, not since high school.

But I am fairly opposed to letting it happen again.

"How dare you call her a slut," the man says angrily.

Did I say that?

"I would not call any other woman a slut," I tell him.

He is confused again, so I kick him, push his friend off me, and kick him to. Of course that was probably the worst course of action I could have taken. It isn't just the two of them. No, that would be too easy, and my life has never been easy. There are six more of them, and I have never been that good at fighting, I am just quick on my feet.

I dodge and kick, the two things I can use my feet for, and I do it quite well for a little while. But not only am I not actually much good at fighting, I am also not very strong. I am thin and always have been, even before I had an eating disorder.

And I am not easily ruffled enough to be a fighter. Someone once told me to take my time, and I have always done so. It was a teacher in high school admittedly, and she was talking about a test that I had been too sick to study for or take when I should have. She told me to take my time, and I certainly did.

We didn't keep in touch.

Nevertheless I have always taken her advice and so I am no good at fighting. The second blow to land hurts a great deal more than the first. I guess the man who has an issue with me is the leader and not a fighter, I wouldn't have guessed.

The third hurts less but after that I just goes downhill until I am lying in the foetal position protecting my face and head as best I can. I'm not sure where the girl I was with has gone, but I really hope that she had the sense to call the police or at least an ambulance.

"Would you kindly lay off?" a female voice that I can't quite place asks in a calm voice.

Just because I don't know the woman doesn't mean I don't appreciate the fact that her voice makes the men attacking me turn away. I strive to be unnoticed as I attempt to regain my feet. It seems to work.

It's that damn hat.

"What's it too you, freak?" the leader asks, having regained his composure to some extent.

"I always hated being called that," the woman comments. "I am going to make you regret that.

There is a general laugh at that, she was never very big, but she was always intimidating , taller even than I and clad in black. I wonder whatever happened to America. She wears the hat even at night, despite its purpose being to keep the sun off her head.

There is a cry of pain from the leader, and then from another. I see both men go down and it gives me a clear view of my saviour. Neither of us smile, we weren't on the best of terms when she left, considering the circumstances, I am almost surprised she is helping me.

She doesn't take up a stance, despite evidence of training.

Two down, leaves five more. They have noticed that I am up. I lose sight of her as the rest of them close in on the both of us, three for her, two for me. One of the ones who turned to her grunts and fall and the other two take a step back.

The two on me pay them no mind.

I dodge another blow and then receive a hit, which knocks me over. I am not big enough to absorb a hit. It hurts to collide with the pavement, even after the beating I have already received, probably because of it in fact.

The other two facing her go down simultaneously and one of the ones facing me turns. She lashes out and he makes a gurgling noise and follows his friends to the ground. The last man standing gives my saviour a look, then moves out of her way.

"We got them," she says.

"You got them," I correct her.

She offers me a hand up and I am almost reluctant to take it. It has been four years since I last saw her, and at that time she told me that she would be very angry if it turned out that any on my girlfriend's doubts were founded.

They best friends back then, I don't know if they fell out or just eventually stopped contacting each other. But last I heard they hadn't talked for a few months. And now she is here, and she scares me more than ever, even though she looks just the same.

I take her hand anyway and she pulls me to my feet.

"Thanks for that," I tell her. "But I have to try to find my lady friend."

"She ran off," she tells me. "She passed me on the way here."

"About your height?" I ask, she nods. "Blonde hair?" A nod. "Red lipstick?" another nod. "Damn."

"Doesn't seem much like a friend to me," she says. "Maybe an acquaintance?"

"Be nice," I tell her. "We only met tonight, and I was just attacked by seven people."

She just shrugs.

"I guess that means no sex tonight," I complain.

I've always been like this, maybe not quite so much in front of her, considering that she frightened me a little and was jealous of my relationship with her friend. But I have always been one to speak my mind before thinking better of it. This is probably the worst trouble it has ever gotten me in.

"I could sympathise with that," she tells me, walking back over to where she put down her bag. "Bt I'm not going to."

We walk away some distance.

"Does she know that you're back?" I ask.

She shakes her head. "I will tell her," she assures me. "I just haven't found a place to stay yet."

"You can stay with me for a little while if you want," I tell her. "A room was recently vacated. Just until you find your own place."

"Maybe tonight," she says. "But after that I have plans."

It doesn't take a genius to work out what she means by that, but I don't say anything. It isn't really right of me to comment at this point, it has been four months, after all. Four months of living by myself.

"It took me two months to be confident enough to get back into it," I tell her.

"She still isn't," the woman tells me. "Though she never was all that confident before she met you."

"You can't go and tell me that," I complain. "Are you trying to make me feel guilty?"

"Yes," she tells me. "And you should already know that, I've told you so before."

"Did she ever talk about me to you?" I ask, suddenly curious in a way that I haven't been in almost three years.

"It was almost all she ever talked about," she tells me. "It got progressively worse from the moment she met you. I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but she thought she had the measure of you, and didn't think you would change for her."

"But I did change for her," I insist.

"I know," she tells me. "I had the measure of you too, I know you changed when you met her. I told her so, when she asked me what I thought, but it didn't make a difference."

"Thank you for supporting me," I say.

"I was trying to help her," she informs me, a little terse. "Did she ever talk about me?"

"She did," I tell her. "It got better and better the longer you were away. When you were just a voice or words on a screen she could build you up in her head. She talked about you less towards the end, but she talked to me less at all towards the end."

"A shame," she says, sounding sympathetic.

"Whatever happened to the girl you took to America?" I ask her.

"Nothing good," she tells me, closing off.

"I'm sorry to hear that," I say.

"I appreciate that," she tells me, I can't tell if it is true.

"It's good to see you again Chase," I tell her. "Even if we were never really friends."

"It's good to see you too Rebecca," she says. "Probably because we were never really friends."