Thursday 4 – Saturday 6 August 2011
Bad things happen to good people, and eventually, everyone needs help.
She didn’t sleep well; hadn’t done since landing in jail twelve years ago. It wasn’t necessarily safe to sleep well in prison, just as it wasn’t safe when you were sleeping rough. The warehouse was home to some people that Hannah considered undesirables. There were a few who were real criminals, not like her – thrown in jail for a crime she didn’t commit – but real, hardnosed, criminals. When she heard the shuffling of feet near her corner, she immediately opened her eyes and found herself surrounded by four of those undesirables. Her instinct was to scream, but she’d learned a lot in jail, where a scream could get you killed.
Hannah protected her backpack as best as she could, pulling it closer into her body, but it wasn’t enough. One of the men reached out a dirty hand and snatched it away from her. The other three stood ogling her, as if they’d never seen a woman before. The bearded man to Hannah’s right fumbled with the rope belt that was holding up his pants. Disgust and terror were the only thoughts filling Hannah’s mind. She was convinced that she knew what was about to happen, and she was right.
His dirty pants fell to the floor, bunching up around his ankles. He muttered something almost inaudible to the guy immediately to his left. The second man then pounced on Hannah before she had any time to react. He pinned her arms down with his knees. The third took the rope that was once holding up the bearded man’s pants. He bent down to grab Hannah’s right leg but she kicked out, striking him in the face and sending him recoiling backwards in agony. The deceptively skinny man pinning her arms to the floor drew back his arm and punched her in the face. She heard the cartilage in her nose snap, and tasted her blood as it ran down the back of her throat. Hannah realised that she needed to get herself into a sitting position or she’d drown in her own blood.
That task was made impossible when the bearded man lowered himself on top of her. She inhaled as deeply as she could through her mouth and then spat her blood over his face. It did little to stop him.
‘My turn next, Freddie. When you’re done. The least I can have for being kicked in the face,’ came the nasal tones of the man holding Freddie’s rope belt.
‘Who says I’m ever gonna be done with her, José? I’m gonna –’
‘Get off her Freddie. NOW.’ A fifth man interrupted the scene. The voice resonated throughout Hannah’s area of the third floor. The four men, who were planning on committing something unspeakable, were surprised. The new entry to the third floor walked slowly towards them. Freddie hadn’t moved, but the two men not restraining Hannah rushed towards the voice. The one holding the backpack swung it viciously at the head of the new guy, who grabbed it, and yanked the bag hard, pulling his assailant of his feet and crashing to the floor.
‘Gonna be sorry you did that, Curtis,’ said José.
‘You think?’ he replied as he kicked the prone assailant once in the ribs, and once in the head. ‘You want some, José?’
José rushed towards Curtis, who threw his free arm out, and in a clothesline manoeuvre laid José on the floor as well.
‘Don’t get up, José. I don’t want to hurt you anymore than I have to.’
José followed Curtis’ instruction and remained on the floor.
‘Freddie, I told you to get off her,’ Curtis moved swiftly, and with precision, and grasped the back of Freddie’s shirt. He threw the bearded man to the side, and stood looking at the one pinning Hannah’s arms to the floor.
‘Gary, move,’ was all he had to say to make the man move. ‘You, okay?’ he asked Hannah.
She groaned as she sat up. ‘Yeah, thanks.’
‘Come on then,’ he said, ‘let’s get you cleaned up and away from these assholes.’ He reached out a hand and pulled Hannah to her feet before returning her backpack, and ushering her out of the warehouse.
. . . To be continued . . .