one hundred miles: chapter seven

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Tricksy was the Assistant Manager at the Safeway. He was sweet, and gentle, and quiet, and he subtly flirted with me. He was the first man to do that in so long that I didn’t even know how to react. It was hard for me to believe that he found me attractive – my self-esteem was lower than it had ever been, before or since.

Once, in the back room of the Safeway, when we were both working late, Tricksy kissed me. I was shocked, paralyzed, and so scared I almost ran out crying. We talked for a long time that night. I told him how it was with PK, and it was such an odd experience to have someone, after all this time, to talk to. Someone that listened, sympathetically, and told me it wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t believe that. Obviously, I was an awful wife or else my husband would want to be around me, right?

Thus began my affair, in April of 1995, with Tricksy, the Assistant Manager of the Safeway.

He would meet me at the park down the street from my house on days I didn’t work, after PK had already come home for lunch and gone again. He would brush his fingers on my cheeks, trail his fingers through my hair, tell me I was beautiful, and I would cry. We wrote each other poems and talked about how we felt about each other. We made sweet, slow love in the woods, in the sunshine, and he told me he loved me and that he would help me get away. He opened my eyes to a completely different world, a completely different kind of man. I was constantly afraid, consumed with guilt, and excited, and I couldn’t get enough.

One time, I was checking groceries and PK’s father, Drunkie, showed up in my line. He was (perhaps still is) a raging alcoholic. One of the rules in being a checker is that you personally are liable if you sell alcohol to an intoxicated person. I was afraid that he was coming through my line drunk, and that he would ask me to sell him alcohol, and that I would have to turn him down.

I leaned over and told the bagger to go get the manager, because I thought that one of the men in line was drunk. Tricksy was on duty as Assistant Manager that night, and he came down to “relieve me” for a break – I whispered the situation and headed off to the break room, after giving Drunkie a hug and letting him know, “regretfully” that it was time for my break. He had a six-pack in his hand, and I could smell the fumes coming off of him when I gave him the hug. I never saw what happened, but Tricksy said that he refused to sell him the alcohol and Drunkie left in a huff.

A couple hours later, I received a call from PK, frantic. His mother had been in an accident and was in the hospital. He wanted to know if he could come get me. I of course agreed, concerned for SC, and explained the situation to Tricksy, again. He agreed to let me go and PK picked me up 15 minutes later.

We started driving…but not towards the hospital. I was confused and asked PK what we were doing – wasn’t the hospital that way? He just told me that there had been no accident, and refused to say anything else until we got home. I was getting a sick feeling in my stomach and I was scared, so scared.

Son, I hope you never inspire fear in a woman. I hope that if you did, you would be ashamed yourself. If I ever found that a woman was as scared of you as I was of PK that night, I  would be so completely disappointed with you. I would feel like a serious failure, knowing that I hadn’t managed to instill more respect for women (or just people in general) into you. So please. Don’t.

We reached home and I was shaking so badly I could barely open the door. I was ashamed of myself that I was so clearly and helplessly afraid. We went inside and I could see that PK was angrier than I had ever seen him – angrier even than the night I told him that I was accepting the job at Safeway. He was shaking with his anger, his face was flushed, and he loomed over me while I sat on the couch and cried. I was absolutely, terrifyingly certain that he knew about Tricksy.

His father had called him upon reaching home that evening, and told him that while in line, he had seen me lean over and kiss the bagger.

I couldn’t believe this. I could not believe that one, PK didn’t even think to ask me if it was true, and two, that he actually believed I would do that in front of his father! I even tried to talk to him logically about it, but he was having none of it. Listening to him, going on and on and on about how I was cheating on him, how he knew because his father had told him so, something just snapped inside me. I slipped, and used some of my newfound backbone and said something sarcastic. I don’t even remember what it was, anymore…I think something about him being stupid and to use his head.

The next thing I knew, his arm was around my neck, choking me, and he was growling in my ear that he was going to kill me.

Next: chapter eight.

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