Story of StrengthbyMoonsrose©
I knew, as I opened the door to the nightclub where I worked, that as soon as Kari saw me, she was going to freak. I was right.
"Oh my God!" Kari exclaimed as soon as she saw me. Since she was in charge of the seven dollar entrance fee she was always right next to the door.
"What the hell happened to your hair?"
The truth: my father. He'd come home (drunk as usual) taken a look at me and snapped. I was use to the moods; I had been dealing with them for many years. This time however...not what I'd expected. My hair had grown quite long, down to the middle of my back, which apparently reminded him of my mother. He had grabbed me by the hair dragged me into the kitchen and cut it off. Now it was a ragged mess with the longest strands at my shoulders and the shortest mid-ear.
What I told Kari: "I was babysitting my neighbors' kids when one of them decided to give me a makeover... with real scissors."
"Eww. Alright let me see," she turned me around and I could feel her lifting strands of my hair. "I think I can fix this. Mary! Come take my spot so I can help Cara."
Mary came over, took a look at me, and told Kari good luck.
Kari led me to the small kitchen the club had. It only had a fridge, sink and oven. She dragged a trashcan and chair over to me. Grabbing her purse, she rummaged through to find a pair of scissors.
"You carry a pair of scissors with you?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I work in a dance club. I need something to defend myself with. Besides, they're great in case of fashion disasters." She gave me a smile and started cutting my hair.
About 20 minutes later, she declared herself done. She pulled out her powder kit and opened it so I could use the mirror. My hair was in layers, with bangs on my left side falling to above my eyebrow.
"Thanks." I handed the kit back to her.
She shook her head, "Just promise me that next time you allow kids to give you a makeover, you hide the scissors from them."
I gave a small smile and nod. She went back to the door, and I grabbed one of the wash rags. I worked at the nightclub but I was a waitress/cleaner. I was also a part-time bouncer. Most people underestimated me since I was horribly thin (not by choice). However, my father was an ex-marine and had been determined that his little girl would know how to take care of herself. So, from age 2 until 12, I had learned hand-to-hand combat skills, how to use a knife, and even a gun.
That was, of course, before my mother died and he sank into bottles night after night. Now, he was just an abusive, angry man.
The drinking had also made it near impossible for him to keep any job longer than six months. He did receive checks from the government, but they were often gone fast so he could buy more to drink. We had lost our house when I was 13 and ended up in a small one bedroom apartment where I slept on the couch. After a year there I dropped out of school so I could get a job to help pay for the bills. I was only 14...but some places were willing to overlook it. And when I was 18, I stumbled upon this place.
After helping one of the dancers the owner allowed me to work here, and so I have remained for a year and half.
Though I didn't make much money, some of the dancers (especially those I had helped before), would share some of their tips with me.
By time I left that morning (around 5 a.m.) I had 20 bucks in my pocket. Several of the girls had given me a dollar or two randomly throughout the night. It had been an otherwise quite night. The only interesting thing to happen had been three drunks who'd come in, wanted alcohol then proceeded to yell when they discovered the bar didn't serve alcohol.
As I reached two blocks down from the club, I came across the 'bad' part of town. One block was surrounded by a wooden fence, with a rusted wire one around it. It had once been a factory, but had shut down sometime in the seventies. Across the street were trailer homes, and a few run-down but still livable homes.
If I continued straight, I'd make it to the supermarket. If I went right, crossing the street toward the neighborhood, I'd make it home. I was tempted to buy food, but I really wanted to sleep also. As I stood contemplating, I heard yelling. Looking down the street toward the supermarket, I saw a man rip off his belt to start beating a dog with it.
Though it made me sick to my stomach, I knew I couldn't do anything. I took a right, heard the beating stop, and walked home.
As I was walking home, early, I kept replaying Kari's reaction to my bruises. Earlier tonight my father had decided to try and cook dinner. I had tried to stop him since he was really drunk and I didn't want him to injure himself, or to burn down our apartment.
This had not gone over well, and resulted in him trying to hit me with the frying pan. Two things saved me. One: it wasn't the iron frying pan, and two: I had dodged it enough so it had not been a full impact. Of course, I should be lucky Kari hadn't seen the rest of the bruises. After I'd been hit with the frying pan, I'd fallen to the ground, where he had decided to kick me.
Luckily, nothing was broken. I couldn't afford to go to the hospital.
As I reached the cross-roads again, I saw the dog from yesterday noticing this time that he was a Rottweiler. He lifted a leg, marked his territory, and then walked over to me. I squatted down and reached out a hand cautiously, knowing that Rottweilers had a reputation for finicky temperaments. He sniffed my fingers then allowed me to pet him.
"Hello puppy." This close to him I could see several scars, both old and new, all over his body. I reached for one of them to see how it was doing but caused the dog to give a small growl and jump backward. I stood up causing the dog to trot back toward home. I took that as my cue and headed home myself.
I woke up from my nap on the couch when I heard keys jangling in the door. Thinking my father too drunk to open the door on his own, I got up to help him. I reached it just as he opened it.
"Hello Cara. How are you sweetie?" He gave me a rare smile and stepped inside.
"Hello. How was work? Would you like something to eat?" It felt strange trying to have a conversation with him. It had been a very long time since I had last seen him sober.
"No, I think I'm just going to go to bed. I need to get up early tomorrow so I can go look for a new job. Also, what happened to your face? You look like you were hit by a truck." He reached to gently place a hand along the bruises. "I thought I taught you better self-defense than that."
"You did, but you didn't teach me self-defense against my own clumsiness," I gave a smile, trying not to cry. I never knew whether I should or shouldn't be thankful that he didn't remember what he did while drunk.
He shook his head, "Be more careful next time," patted me on the head and then went down the hall to his bedroom.
I sat back down on the couch, trying not to cry. His lucid moments always made his drunken ones so much worse. Eventually I laid back down and tried to go back to sleep.
I woke up later that day to the sound of my fathers' car pulling up in front of the apartment. The only reason I was still home was because the boss ordered that I stay home until the bruises reduced.
I walked to the door to let him in only to realize he was drunk again. And he was pissed. As soon as I opened the door, he looked at me which quickly turned to a glare. After yelling at me for several minutes (not even entirely sure what I was being yelled at) he threw one punch causing me to hit the wall and land on the floor. After kicking me twice he started ripping apart various things in our house. I cringed when a lamp was thrown to hit the wall about two feet to my right. I stayed where I was, protecting my head, when I heard fabric tear. I lifted my head just in time for him to find the stash of money I kept in a couch cushion.
"You've been keeping money from me," he turned to look at me.
I stood up slowly still against the wall near the door. Just as he took his first step toward me I bolted out the door ignoring any and all pain. I heard a yell and a crash but kept running forward.
When I finally ran out of adrenaline, or the pain started to override it's affects, I stopped to find myself at the cross-roads. I leaned against the rusted wire fence and started crying.
I stayed like that until I felt something cold against my arm. Looking up I saw the Rottweiler from down the street. I sat there until the sun had set, just petting him. I was kinda surprised he actually sat there that long.
Once the only light available was from a few street lights, I decided to see if my father was still at home. After having walked a block I realized I was being followed. I looked back to see the dog.
"If you want to come with me you can. I have no idea what to do with you but I suppose almost anywhere is better than your home, right?"
The dog seemed to understand and trotted over to me.
When we reached my home (soon to be former home) I saw that my fathers' car was gone from the drive. I went to the door and hoped he hadn't locked it. I got lucky and walked in. Looking around I saw that he had done more damage to the place, probably looking for more money.
"Be careful doggy. There's broken glass on the ground and I don't really want to have to patch you up too."
The dog looked at me, then entered the house. He wandered into the kitchen and I went to the bedroom. Lifting up the mattress I found the rest of my money. I knew the day would come that I would leave here, and I had wanted to be prepared. I had also worried about him finding it, so I had hid money around the house. One was in the couch, one under his mattress, and another behind the fridge. I went to grab that one also and found the dog trying to tear into a loaf of bread.
"No, no doggy. You don't want that. Here," I opened the fridge and grabbed out the steaks I had bought on sale.
He gobbled them down while I grabbed the hidden money.
"Well, that should be...around three hundred dollars I believe."
The dog just looked at me.
I shrugged and grabbed out three bottles of water from the fridge then walked to the closet and grabbed the jar of peanut butter. Carrying them with me, I put them and some clothes in an old back-pack I had. I changed out of my clothes into cleaner ones and grabbed a small box off the shelf in the closet. Opening it, I found the mother-of-pearl heart shaped locket given to me by my grandmother before she had passed away. It was the only picture I had of her and my mother.
"Alright. Ready to go puppy dog?" I opened the door and left never once looking back.