She was sitting at the end of the bar by herself. I was surprised that she was being ignored by the other patrons, for the most part. After all, she was gorgeous – her profile glowed angelic even in the dim light of the bar. As I got closer, however, I began to notice the cracks in her façade that undoubtedly made people uncomfortable. Her hand was shaking around the dry martini that she’d ordered, she whispered to herself at odd intervals, and, most worrying, the left side of her face was graced by a dark purple bruise.
So, not overlooked, but purposely ignored. Well, it didn’t really matter – she’d succeeded in attracting my attention. I approached her, albeit a little bit cautiously.
She didn’t notice me at first, when I slid into the seat next to her. She was holding a staring contest with her drink and clutching her handbag so hard her knuckles had turned white. I had to clear my throat twice to get her to look at me.
“Are you alright?” That wasn’t how I had intended to start the conversation. I had a smooth opener all prepared, but when that girl turned her eyes on me, I thought for a moment she’d burst into tears.
She surprised me by laughing instead. “Oh, I’m good. No, no, I’m great. Today is fantastic. I’m fantastic! I love it here. Don’t you love it here?” Her voice had a hysterical edge that I glossed over.
“It’s one of my favorite bars. Can I buy you a drink?” Of course, I meant to buy her one once she finished the martini she’d bought for herself, but she surprised me once again by draining the rest of it in one go.
“Yes, please. Buy me anything you think I’d like.”
I bought her a Sex on the Beach and she laughed. She had a really pretty laugh. After a few sips and some light-hearted small talk, the tension drained out of her shoulders and the death-grip on her handbag loosened. I knew that I’d chosen right.
The night went on, and I bought her drink after drink. She and I really clicked, and she quickly opened up to me. When I asked her why she was at the bar that night – why she was really there – I could see the sincerity of what she was saying in the shadows of her eyes.
“My boyfriend… no, not my boyfriend. My ex-boyfriend… I just dumped him. He always used to tell me it would ruin his life if I left him.” She giggled at that, a note of hysteria coming back into her voice. “But he’s the same one that gave me this ugly bruise. He… likes to knock me around. And I finally got sick of it. Decided I wasn’t going to put up with it anymore.”
Then she raised her head high and gave me the fiercest, bravest look she could muster. “I decided that I’m worth more than that. I’m worth everything. And I’m going to find someone to give it to me.
“But, tonight, I’m just looking for someone to mess around with.” She winked at me and downed the rest of her drink. I took that as my cue to step in.
“Well, I don’t mean to be too bold, but I’d love to have a chance to mess around with you.” I held my breath and waited for her response.
Her face broke out in a grin and she answered, “I think that’s an excellent idea. Why don’t we go to my place? I only live a few blocks away.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and agreed, although I couldn’t get my mind off of the violent ex-boyfriend. If he showed up, I was sure to run in to some trouble.
Fortunately, Chrissi – that was her name, Chrissi – saved the day once more.
“Hold my purse, won’t you? I have to run to the ladies’ room before we go.” I noticed she stumbled a bit on her way to the bathroom – she wasn’t too drunk, but she was definitely buzzed. The way she handed her purse to me without a second thought confirmed it. Perfect.
When I was sure no eyes were on me, I slipped out the bar door and headed for my car. Chrissi hadn’t seemed to notice that I hadn’t drunk at all that night – then again, she was so focused on her breakup that she hadn’t noticed much of anything. That would work in my favor. I felt a pang of guilt at taking advantage of her – she’d been through so much already, after all – but not enough to stop me from driving home with her cash and credit cards.
You probably think I’m a terrible person, but let’s be honest here – I have to make a living. Everyone’s got a sob story, you know? Mine resulted in a life lived on the streets. I was homeless for months, eventually saved by a minimum wage position at a shitty gas station. I resolved I’d never go through that again. When I couldn’t get a second job and realized I was cutting it close on rent money, I decided to make sure that I never ended up on the streets again. And, unfortunately, this was the only solution I could come up with.
If I’d been really cruel, I would have gone home with her. We’d have spent the night together and after she’d passed out, I would have taken every valuable I could find in whatever crappy little apartment she was renting. But, as low as I’ve fallen, I still can’t bring myself to be quite that heartless.
All this ran through my head as I made my way home, my thoughts interrupted only by the sounds of the city at night.
I made my way up to my apartment and threw the purse on my bed. I was still feeling a little guilty about my encounter with Chrissi, so I decided to decompress with a long shower. I didn’t like doing what I did, make no mistake. There was just no helping it.
Once I got out of the shower, I grabbed the purse off my bed and went to move it to the counter. I figured I’d go through it before bed and dispose of it in the morning.
However, as I lifted it off the bedding, I noticed a red stain on my previously yellow bedspread.
What the fuck?
I examined the bottom of the purse, wondering if Chrissi had somehow spilled a drink on it. Instead, I noticed that something was seeping out of a small hole torn through the seam.
All of a sudden, a chill hit me and I became very nervous.
I set the purse back down and stared at it for a moment, before fingering the zipper gingerly. I opened the bag and peered inside.
At first, I didn’t know what I was looking at. I couldn’t decipher what the mess was supposed to be. I grabbed the towel from around my waist and wrapped it around my hand before reaching inside and pulling something out.
One moment, I was staring at the object in my hand, wondering what it was. The next moment, I’d thrown it across the room and was vomiting all over the floor, contemplating how exactly I was going to tell the cops that I’d found… that… in a random purse I’d stolen from the bar.
I suppose, given the circumstances, I was lucky. After only a moment of hesitation, I called the police, blubbering my address into the phone. Given the gravity of the situation, the police agreed to overlook my comparatively smaller indiscretion.
Chrissi was arrested almost immediately, and the story came out little by little. Of course, I don’t know all the details about what happened, but what I do know came from the police, so my information is reliable.
When the cops stormed her apartment, they found her ex-boyfriend. When she said she’d left him, I didn’t think she meant in pieces – they found him scattered around her apartment. The entire body but one piece – the one that she’d taken with her in her handbag.
Thinking back on it, I was actually very lucky. Because I had almost gone home with this girl, and, based on the state of her apartment, I don’t think she would have been shy about showing me the mess.
After that incident, I stopped stealing. I’ve had a few tight months, but I put even more effort into my job hunt and I’m finally starting my second job in a few weeks. I feel like I know where I’m going in my life now, and that’s a great relief, despite the nightmare I’ve been through.
But there’s one other thing of which I am certain.
I never ever want to find a severed penis in a handbag again.