"So, I wonder how she's doing I hate it when the rumors fly. They give off such a strange sense of mission, Wing your helplessness on high. But she would never run from strangers. She sang alone like a bell will toll, way above all the clang and the clatter, out of fear of her demon soul."
From Blue Chalk by John Gorka (c) 1996 Blue Palace Music (ASCAP) used by permission
The slam of a car door broke the peaceful quiet of the tiny ground floor apartment.
"Quick! Your father's home! Hide!" The young woman hustled the small child into the make-shift closet and pulled the sheet that functioned as a door across the opening. "Now don't make a sound. If he can't find you, he can't hurt you."
The child obediently crouched in the far corner of the dark alcove.
A door crashed open followed by the bang as it shut.
"Where are you slut?" came an inebriated voice, full of anger and hatred.
"I'm here." The woman's voice was soft and timid, the child strained to hear it.
Heavy footsteps entered the small bedroom. The man sniffed the air.
"You've had someone here, haven't you?" he demanded.
"No, James, no."
The loud sound of flesh slapping flesh filled the air, followed by a dull thud as the woman landed on the bed.
"You're nothing but a whore. I know it. You have men here when I'm gone. You think I don't bring home enough money to support you and that brat. So you sell yourself. You think I don't know what you do?"
The child in the dark winced and cowered as the sound of the man's fists striking the woman came over and over. The woman did not cry, but the child could hear her timid pleas.
"Please, no. It's not true. Don't hit me, please."
"You get what you deserve woman. Whores and sluts like you don't deserve to live."
There was a strange gurgling noise the child could not recognize. A small, unobserved peek through the curtain was more than enough. Large, thick, strong hands around a slim, delicate neck. Then nothing but the man's heavy breathing.
"You got what you deserved, whore."
Heavy footsteps left the room and there was silence.
Terrified, the child remained in the closet for two days. Demands from the stomach and bladder went unheeded as the child waited. Waited while the room filled with police. Waited while the man was cuffed and taken away. Waited while they placed the woman in a black bag that zipped closed, put her on a long table with wheels, and rolled her away. Waited in the empty silence for darkness to come again and then sun to rise once more.
Then the child darted out of the closet, ran for the door of the apartment and just kept running. Running forever.