Going back today where it all began. Where we meet Charlie. This book is only .99 cents on Smashwords
Charlie sat on the floor leaning against the kitchen cabinet. She glanced at the gun and the crimson on her hands and shirt. Was it her blood or Benny’s?
Everything happened so fast. She didn’t know Benny’s temper could escalate like that, and she never thought he would attack her.
From the first day Charlie moved in she knew Benny couldn’t be trusted. She tried to make Tammy see, but her sister was in denial. Charlie sighed, why didn’t she see this coming? She should have left the first time she caught her sister’s boyfriend watching her.
Today’s trouble began as she came home from work with supper. She set the pizza on the table and took out her cell phone. Benny came out of nowhere and snatched it out of her hand. “You don’t need to call Tammy. She’s gone. She won’t be back ‘til Monday.” Benny stepped back smiling.
“Give me my phone.”
“I paid for it.” Benny sneered.
“You did not. Give me my phone.” Charlie reached as he held it out, but Benny tossed it over his shoulder. He grabbed her wrist and leered. She couldn’t help but smell his breath.
“Are you drunk?”
“Who me?” Benny laughed, gesturing at the bottle of whiskey on the table.
“I’m tired of you Benny!” Charlie turned.
“No, you don’t! Come here! Don’t you know what this means? We’re finally alone.” Benny grabbed her wrist.
“I’m not staying with you,” Charlie spat out.
Benny yanked her close, picked her up and turned her around. “Let’s dance.”
Charlie pushed, but Benny held on, laughing. Out of anger and frustration, she slapped him hard.
Benny stepped back; he raised a brow and wiped his lip with the back of his hand. He looked at the blood, shaking his head. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“Let me go Benny!”
“You’re not going anywhere. I’m tired of your skinny sister. I want you!” Benny stood in front of the back door taunting Charlie. She turned and ran to the front door. Benny followed, caught her, and slammed her against the wall.
“You can’t get away from me!” Benny slapped Charlie twice and laughed as tears streamed down her face.
“Let me go!” Charlie screamed.
“No! You’re mine now!” Benny leaned in, kissing Charlie on the neck.
“Stop it! Get off me!” Charlie pulled a picture frame from the wall and hit Benny as hard as she could. He fell back, cursing, momentarily dazed. She pushed him and ran, but didn’t get far before she felt Benny’s hand pull her down.
She fell with a thud, and winced at the pain. They wrestled on the floor. “No woman’s gonna get the best of me.”
Charlie fought, kicking and hitting with all her might. Benny tried to kiss her again, but she turned away.
He straddled her, laughing. “I know what you need.” He stood, dragging Charlie into the kitchen pushing her into a chair.
Charlie tried to get away, but Benny forced her back down. He picked up the bottle of whiskey and slammed it on the table. “Drink it!”
Charlie looked up, her mind frantically working out a plan. “I said drink it!” Benny pushed the bottle into her hand and yelled, “Now!”
“Okay, okay. I’ll do it.” Charlie nodded and steadied herself. Would it work? It might be her last chance. “I don’t like to drink.” She looked up at Benny and smiled. He was drunk. Maybe she could con him. “I guess I could give it a try.”
“Sure, take a swig.” Benny’s drunken smirk convinced Charlie her plan might work. She twisted her wrist backwards, picked up the bottle in an awkward manner, and then brought it to her lips.
Charlie tilted her head, keeping Benny in her peripheral vision. She let the dark liquid flow into her mouth, asking the Lord; please don’t let this kill him. She then swung her arm, striking Benny on the side of the head with the bottle of Jim Beam.
As she spat out the vile tasting whiskey, she kicked the chair away and scurried to the kitchen. She stuck her hand in the cookie jar and sank to the floor, holding Benny’s gun in her hand. Charlie leaned back. Her body was trying to recover from the shock of the beating and the sound of the bottle hitting Benny’s head.
Charlie froze for a few seconds and sat holding the gun. She looked down at the blood on her hands and wanted to scream. Her hands and legs trembled, but she willed herself to calm down. She huddled, listening, her lips moving in a silent prayer.
She kept the gun in one hand, crawled to the end of the bar, and peeped into the dining area. Benny lay close to the back door. The thought of him grabbing her leg as she walked by caused her heart to race. “If I can get out of the house, I’ll be okay.”
Charlie stood on wobbly legs and dug into the cookie jar again. Benny’s poker stash would come in handy. She’d given Tammy money for weeks; it was time for payback. She shoved the money and the 9mm Kel-Tec in her pocket, said a prayer, and hurried over top of Benny. She grabbed her jacket and purse from the coat rack and ran out the back door.
Once she made it to the sidewalk she stopped and looked back, Benny wasn’t following. Had she hit him too hard? Charlie took a deep breath and looked around.
She didn’t want to be in South Bend, Indiana. She wanted to forget these last three months and go back home to Ohio, but she couldn’t. Two months after she turned twenty, she left home because of her dad.
Since the accident at work, he no longer allowed her to go to church. He started drinking, and blamed most of his problems on God. Charlie knew her dad’s pain had put them in a tense situation. He needed relief. If he could get the insurance company to approve his surgery, maybe things would change.
Charlie felt anger rise. She looked to the sky. “Why did you send me here? What good did it do me? I’m no better off. I’m kicked out in the cold, beaten and bleeding!” Charlie looked around feeling lost.
“Now what? I’m too broke for a hotel. I can’t go home. That just leaves . . . Aunt Verla, in Chicago.” An idea began to form and Charlie started pacing. She looked down at her shirt; she needed to hide the blood. She slipped into her jacket and zipped it up.
Her hands had stopped shaking, but her lip ached. She pulled out some tissues and tried to wipe the blood away. When Charlie heard a noise she looked up. She could see Benny’s shadow moving around inside the house.
“I can’t let him catch me.”
Charlie looked up and down the street and noticed Benny’s neighbor, Sam, leaving for church. She ran across the street, calling to him as he unlocked his truck. “Can you give me a lift?”
Sam looked toward Benny’s house and his brow furrowed. “Where to?”
“The bus station.”
“Sure, come on, I’ll take you.” Sam didn’t mention the fact that she was a mess, or ask her about the blood that was on her hands and face. Five minutes later as he dropped her off at the ticket office, he turned and finally broached the subject.
“Are you okay?”
“I will be.”
“Do I need to call the police?”
Charlie shrugged.” Maybe you should, to be sure Benny’s okay.”
Sam nodded, “I can do that, but I was worried about you, not Benny.
Charlie glanced up. “I hit him pretty hard, but I saw him walking inside the house.”
“Don’t worry about Benny; he’s got a hard head. What about you? Are you sure you don’t need help? I can take you to the doctor.
“No. I’m fine. I’m going to see my aunt.”
“Well, you be careful. I’ll be praying for you. Here, take this.”
“I don’t need to . . .” Charlie tried to protest but Sam interrupted.
“It ain’t much. I forgot my wallet at the house, but it might come in handy. Take it.” Charlie nodded and took the money putting it in her pocket.
“Take care, missy.”
After closing the truck door Charlie walked into the building. Her pace quickened and she went to the bathroom, stepped into a stall, and pulled out the gun.
She checked the chamber as quietly as possible. It was empty. Next she took the clip out; there were five rounds left. She pushed the clip deep into her jeans pocket, and slid the gun into her jacket.
She counted her money; it added up to seventy dollars. That would get her to Chicago. She stepped to the sink and washed up, looking at her reflection.
“I’m a mess.”
She could see a bruise close to her eye, and a busted lip. She patted her face dry, hoping her lip wouldn’t start bleeding again. After brushing her tousled hair, she tucked in her shirt, managing to hide most of the blood. Charlie checked her appearance and then headed out to look at the bus schedule.
Twenty minutes later she boarded a bus to Chicago. Charlie sat in the second seat back and prayed for guidance. She glanced at the strangers around her. They seemed lost in their own thoughts.How many of them were running from something, too? Charlie settled down and tried not to think about what awaited her in Chicago or what might be following behind her.