I had just parked my truck, which sometimes can be not exactly an easy thing to do. It took me at least a half dozen trips around the parking lot looking for a space large enough.
That is because it is a huge Dodge crew cab, oversize duallies on the back that sort of stick out.
Yep, she needs a bit of room.
I opened the door and had just put my foot on the running board to step down, being careful to not let the door scrape the top of the little thing parked in the next lane.
If it had been a couple of inches shorter my door would have cleared the top of it, I swear.
It was at that moment that I heard a scream.
Looking over, about four rows down I could see a fairly large dude standing there, his body language told me instantly that he was in some kind of a rage.
Scruffy short beard, stringy hair, I saw he had on a Levi vest over a dirty T-shirt, and he had one balled up fist drawn back.
Then he swung, that was when I realized he had his out stretched arm holding someone and was hitting the person with the other.
The next realization was that it was a small woman.
I am Dan, I am 62 years old so I don't go around getting into scuffles, but every once in a long time a scuffle comes my way.
"Hey!" I yelled, just as the guy drew back to belt her again. She was screaming loudly, a tangle of noises that were not any words I could understand. All I could see of her was the long dark hair as she was bent over, her arms flailing in a vain attempt to protect herself.
The guy didn't even look my way.
"HEY! Knock that shit off!" I yelled even louder.
He hit her again and it was not gentle at all. That pissed me off, the jerk was at least twice the woman's size.
I reached back into the cab, grabbed my little .22 caliber 9 shot Hi-standard pistol I carry everywhere I go. It is strapped to the front of my seat within easy reach, I have a permit for it in my wallet.
In all the years I carried that with me in my vehicles, not one time had I ever taken it out except out in the woods shooting at cans, or down at the gun range down the coast a few miles.
Cans don't stand a chance with me, I can pop one at 30 feet from the hip about 90% of the time.
That sounds easy, try it sometime. I buy ammo by the thousand round case, and probably have run 5-6 cases through the tool just practicing.
By the time my feet hit the ground the guy was flailing at the woman who by now had torn loose somehow and was trying to get away. But he had grabbed her by her blouse and was swinging at the back of her head as she tried to cover up. I saw he was missing her more than managing to connect, she was moving back and forth pretty good, and trying her best to swing back.
He didn't appear to notice me when I came around the rear of the parked car they were beside.
"I said knock that shit off!" I yelled again.
"Mind your own fucking business, pops!" He snarled, connecting that time and putting the woman on the ground.
I pointed the pistol at him.
He looked down, when that registered on him he came to a stop.
"What the fuck are you going to do, dickhead? Shoot me?" He snarled but his expression was changing.
"Yes." I said, cocking the pistol.
I don't have to cock the pistol to fire it since the tool has a double action, but there is a certain emphasis to a hammer coming back with a click that lends pause to people.
Now I never had actually pointed a gun at anyone before, but from what I hear that click makes most folks a bit more polite.
We looked at each other for a few seconds, I could see what he was thinking but I was a good six to eight feet away and I was going to get at least two hollow point rounds into him before he got to me.
Plus I might be 62 years old but I am a big man and in shape, and while I might not be able to handle any long dragged out fight, by God I was going to do one hell of a lot of damage in the perhaps sixty seconds I could manage.
"Fuck it! The bitch ain't worth it." He snarled, regaining some of his composure. I could tell that I had rattled him.
"Walk away." I said flatly.
He glared at me, trying for a bit of bravado, but he turned and walked to a nearby dirty green van and got in. I watched him all the way, he spun the tires as he left.
I uncocked the little pistol and stuck it in my belt, then turned to the woman. She was sitting on the pavement, her face in her hands.
"Are you OK?" I asked her. She tipped her head up and looked at me. Her face was red and puffy, her lip swollen and I could tell she was going to have one hell of a black eye.
Her blouse was ripped open, she had on a simple white bra. Looking down, she saw that and pulled the torn material back together.
"Come on, I have a first aid kit in my truck." I told her, reaching for her hand. She looked at my hand for a moment, then took it and I helped her to her feet.
Back at my truck, I used the alcohol swabs on the abrasions, she winced a bit but didn't protest. I didn't see any real cuts anywhere but the guy had landed several pretty hard blows from the looks of things.
"I better get you to a hospital, get you checked out, miss." I said.
"No! The last time Duke did this we both ended up in jail." She wailed.
"Maybe you had best stay away from that guy?" I offered.
"I was trying to, but he just keeps coming after me. I don't know what to do!" She wailed, then the tears came.
Suddenly she grabbed me and hugged me so tightly I almost couldn't breathe. That I didn't expect, finally she let go.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean...I just..." Her face flushed.
I opened the door to my truck, pulled the pistol out of my belt, flipped out the chamber and spun the cylinder around so the hammer rested on an empty one. I dropped it back into my holster by the front seat.
"Can I take you somewhere?" I asked her.
"I don't have any place to go, I was staying with my sister but she got fed up with Duke coming by all the time and she has kids so I guess it was a hassle and besides she was afraid of him so I had to leave and then as I was coming here to maybe get something to eat Duke showed up and...."
That poured out of her in a jumble of words.
"Whoa! Slow down!" I managed barely to not laugh, she was beginning to relax.
"Parents, friends, maybe a relative here I could take you to?"
"Just my sister. I have an aunt but she lives in Chicago. Mom passed away last year and I don't have a dad."
"Do you have any money? Maybe get a motel room or something?" I asked her.
"I have six dollars. My brother Joe lives in Chicago too."
Chicago was one hell of a long ways from the Oregon coast.
Then I made a decision.
"Come on, I will take you to my place, you can clean up and I have some clothes there that I think will fit you OK."
"Oh, thank you. Can I maybe stop and get some food? I haven't had anything since last night." She asked.
"Sure, no problem. I have food at home, I can whip up something." I opened the door on the passenger side. She looked at the running boards and up at the seat with hesitation, then climbed up and into my rig.
"Wow, this is big!" She said, looking around.
"Yea, if anybody ever runs into me I still get to go home." I made the wisecrack I had perhaps made several dozen times to others that commented on my truck.
"Dang, Dan, yer supporting Soudy Araby all by yerself!" I bet I have heard that or similar a hundred times down at the tavern I go to.
That's a great bunch of guys down there, most of them old coots getting long in the tooth like me.
They tease me about my tires, too. I have 18" split rims with 8 ply tires on her, I hate flats.
And sure, it uses a lot of Diesel but I only drive it maybe 150 miles a month and it's paid for, what the hell. I never was able to get comfortable in any normal vehicle, not with my 6'2" and 240 pound frame.
I had some lunch meat and bread at the house, so I made a sandwich for her. She ate it in about 5 bites, I could tell she was very hungry. I found my last can of Pepsi and handed it to her, she drank half of it without stopping.
"Thank you sir, I really appreciate this. You saved me, you are a hero." She actually smiled for the first time.
"I am no hero. By the way, my name is Dan."
"You are to me! My name is Melinda but everyone calls me Billie." She stuck out her hand.
"Well, pleased to meet you, I wish it was under better circumstances." I told her.
Then I went in and got some wash cloths, and a small bandage and ointment, she had one scrape on the side of her neck I hadn't noticed.
She sat there in a chair holding her torn blouse together as I quickly tended to the wound. As I finished, I glanced at her and her eyes were closing, then she had dozed off.
I went and got a blanket, slipped it over her as she lay back in my easy chair and slept.
I took the moment to look her over. Billie was on the skinny side, I had noticed that. Her dark hair was long and straight, she had a rather pretty face. I would guess her to be perhaps in her mid to late twenties, no more than that.
I figured I would just let her rest. I went into the kitchen and put away the cake batter I had been making when I ran out of eggs. That was why I was at the store in the first place, I just wanted a dozen eggs. Maybe some milk and I was thinking of getting one of those five quart tubs of ice cream. With the fuss, I didn't even get the eggs.
Then I went out to my truck, unlocked it and retrieved my pistol, took it inside and locked it up in my gun case with my old model 1894 Winchester and my nice LC Smith 16 gauge hammer less shotgun. I also keep my Marlin and my little .22 caliber auto loader in there, it has a hundred round canister on it, wicked looking thing.
I am always very careful with firearms, I like them but never leave them laying around. Even leaving my pistol in my truck for about a half hour is way out of character for me.
In my bedroom, I found a plain white blouse that my wife Marie had. I came back out with it just as Billie opened her eyes.
"Oh, thank you!" She took the blouse and looked at me. I understood that, so I turned my back. There was a rustle of clothing.
Turning around, I could see my guess was right, Billie was about the same size are Marie was.
"So where is your wife?" She asked me.
"Gone. I lost her about 4 years ago."
"Oh, I am sorry." She looked slightly uncomfortable.
"Me, too. Marie was a fine woman."
The uncomfortable moment passed quickly and I was wondering what I was going to do with this woman. Sure, I had lots of room, my house has three bedrooms but Billie was a total stranger to me.
"May I take a shower?" She asked me, breaking my thoughts.
"Sure, go ahead." I told her. Billie went into the bathroom, I went into my living room and clicked on the TV. It wasn't five minutes and I heard the door crack open.
"Sir?" She asked.
"Something I can get you?"
"I have a bruise. It's on my leg. Can you please take a look?" The expression on her face told me instantly that something had her upset.
"Sure." I got up and went in, she had one of my big bath towels wrapped around herself. She reached down and lifted the bottom of the towel, I looked down.
She had a bruise that was the size of a football, it was so swollen and filled with blood that it was actually frightening.
"Good lord!" I said.
"I didn't even notice it until I got undressed, now it tingles and hurts."
The swollen mass hung down almost like a sack.
"No choice now Billie, we need to get you to a hospital." I told her.
I stepped out as she got dressed, then I helped her to my truck. She now had an obvious limp.
The wait at the emergency room was about an hour, I was fuming by the time they took her inside. I am not sure why, concerned for her I guess.
Finally a man came out and told me what they had found, and he explained that she would need full bed rest for several days. He mentioned some bruises on her back also, I didn't know about those.
"We gave her some medication to help prevent any blood clots, that injury is very bad. It might be best if we keep her here overnight." Then he handed me some paperwork.
"I only met the lady today, I am just trying to help her, we aren't related." I told him, handing the forms back. I could see the exasperated expression on his face and understood as he retrieved the paperwork.
No way did Billie have insurance, which meant they probably were not going to get paid.
He left, in a few minutes he came back and told me they were going to release her to me.
Great. Now I not only had a stranger to deal with, but an injured one at that.
They wheeled her out, I helped her to the truck, reaching down to actually lift her up and in.
I was back to the driver's side when I sensed something and leaned sideways just as a fist went by my head.
It was Duke.
My pistol was safely locked up in the gun case at home, in my haste to get Billie checked out I had left it there.
Then he was on me. The guy was strong, I have to give him that, but he must have thought he was going to mess up an old man with ease.
It didn't work out quite that way, I jammed my fingers into his face, catching both eyes and his nose with the flat of my palm. That tipped his head right back, just as it came forward again my elbow hit him in the throat. At the same time I brought up a knee, got him dead square.
I still remembered a few things I had learned in my Navy days.
I don't think he even knew what had happened, he went down like a stone.
Mad as hell now, I reached down and dragged him across the parking lot by his hair, up the short handicap ramp and inside the doors, dropping him in a heap on the floor.
A nurse looked at me in surprise.
"Here is another one for you." I told her, then I turned and walked back to my truck.
Billie's eyes were as big as silver dollars, I didn't say a single word all the way to my house and she didn't either.
For the next several days I cared for her, telling her she had to stay in bed. I had no real idea how I ended up with what was basically like a stray puppy dog showing up on my doorstep but that is what had happened.
The good part was that she healed very quickly, since she did have youth on her side. The huge blood bruise got smaller, her leg turned to a dark purple color, then that faded to pink.
Checking that was mildly intimate, I noticed the underwear she had on was getting a little bit over used and she had absolutely nothing else.
One of my T-shirts made a pretty good sack dress and I gave her a few more of Marie's tops which fit her nicely.
At one point I went down to a clothing store after carefully locking my door and taking my pistol with me.
I had to ask the saleslady for some simple white panties, she smiled as she selected and sold me a half dozen pair of them.
That was the first time in my life I ever purchased any woman's undergarments and I hope I never have to again.
Billie got used to me, so seeing her in her panties while I checked her injury was nothing. She could walk so at least I didn't need to help her in and out of the shower.
By the end of the second week she was up and around. One thing I did notice, she began to clean things, and let's face it. I am a male, and normally live alone. This means everything has it's place, which is where it happens to be at the moment.
After 43 years of living with one woman a man gets used to them doing what they do while we do what we do.
Suddenly I had a maid, and also a cook. We had some great fun cooking together though.
I came in from the garage one day to find her sorting out clothes, the washing machine running.
I guess I got used to having Billie there.
The other good part was there was no sign of that Duke guy at all, and I had no idea what happened to him. I really didn't care, plus I figured he had no idea of where I lived anyway.
Maybe he just got the message? I never did figure out how he found us in the hospital parking lot unless he just realized I might take her there.
Yea. I found I got used to Billie living there, and I guess I have to admit I liked it.
So it came as a shock when she told me she was all healed up and it was time for her to go. I was at the point where I didn't really want her to leave.
What was I supposed to say? Hell, 62 years old, what does an old man have to offer a 26 year old on the pretty side young woman, anyway?
Nothing. Nothing at all, it's just the way of life.
Money, comfort perhaps? Yea, I had a dab of capital, enough but I was far from rich. Sex, maybe? The other truth is that never once crossed my mind, Billie became a friend if that makes sense.
I still had an interest, but the females I saw that might be someone I would enjoy all looked at me like I was grandpa. That is just the way things are, most men like young women, women seem to like young virile men.
So there were no naked breasts, Billie always had a bra on. I did see her in her white cotton panties but that was just to check her leg, the Doctor had explained what to watch for. There was never any sign of any problems, though, she healed up normally and very quickly.
There was one thing that happened, I picked up my razor to shave and realized she had borrowed it. Now I am not completely sure just what she shaved with it but I rinsed it out and changed the blade.
Yea, I got a bit of a laugh to myself about that one but I never mentioned it.
Another time I heard some quiet noises in the bathroom, and I knew what she was doing. I just went into the living room and turned on the TV.
"Well. I understand, but I have to say I do enjoy having you around." I answered when she told me she was ready to move on.
"Really? I figured I was just in the way, I really do appreciate you helping me and being so nice to me." She smiled. I had come to like that smile, a pretty and happy face sure can light up an old man's life.
"So where will you go?" I asked her.
"My brother in Chicago, he said I could live there with him until I get a job and get back on my feet. We get along good, and I can help him with the expenses once I find something."
"OK. That sounds like it might work OK."
"I have never been to Chicago, it seems so far away." Billie got a sad expression on her face.
"As soon as I make some money I will pay you back, too." She said.
"Billie, you don't owe me anything, you have been fun to have around."
She hugged me, her eyes got damp so she turned her face away.
I had a spare suitcase, and lots of Marie's clothes. No point in keeping them around, I had had plans on gathering them up and taking them to Goodwill anyway.
Down at the bus station, I sat with her until it arrived.
Billie turned to me and hugged me again, then she tipped her head up for a kiss. I leaned down and gave her one, that was nice. It had been a long time since I had kissed a woman, she felt pretty good in my arms.
"You should have done that earlier." She grinned at me, then there was a hiss of air as the driver impatiently worked the brakes, so she got on. I watched until she was gone out of sight.
My house seemed empty, by late afternoon I couldn't stand it so I walked down to the tavern. I hadn't been there the entire time Billie had stayed with me.
Several of my friends were there like always, they were asking where I had been. One of them popped up with the idea I had probably been shacked up with some broad, plus the usual wisecracks about my truck.
I shot some pool, had a few drinks, flirted mercilessly with Jenny, the barmaid who of course could give as good as she got. I had actually given her a couple of my best shots but she was all bluff and tease. She showed a lot of cleavage to the guys but never did anything with any of them, me included. It all felt rather normal and later I went home and went to bed.