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Didn’t Understand the Handshake

Didn’t Understand the Handshake

In hindsight, I realized that the gesture was not a salutation but a business transaction. I stood there like an accessory without an introduction as they talked in broken lingo and chuckles that I didn’t comprehend.
My teeth were chattering, and I was visibly shuddering from the cold. He seemed disgusted with me because I was cold. I didn’t realize that made me appear childlike, so the man in the baseball cap asked me two questions that I, to this day, wished I would have answered differently.
“Are you cold cutie?”
I nodded.
“Do you want to come inside?”
I turned around to gain approval from he but his attention was no longer on me as he practically pushed me aside to shake the man in the baseball cap’s hand again.
“Go on, go with him. Get warm. I’ll go get us something to eat.”
The laughter from them echoed down the block.
But I went.
I didn’t know any better, and it wasn’t until we stepped inside the row home that I knew something was wrong.
“It’s colder in here than it is outside,” I said to the capped man who was tying a rope around the broken lock of the door.
Something was definitely wrong.
I heard a click that echoed through what I then realized was an empty living room.
Well empty except for a dirty mattress.
When I turned around, there was a small pistol that bumped me on my bottom lip which still trembling from cold.
Or was it fear?
“Don’t worry, you’ll be warm soon,” he said as he raised his hand and punched me in my temple.
I don’t know how long I was knocked out, but when I woke I was face down on the mattress, pants down to my ankles, and every part of me was in pain. The mattress smelled like piss, sweat and weed, and I threw up.
The man in the cap was not around as I was struggling to pull up my pants. I was still freezing, and because I was trembling getting my pants zipped was difficult. Because apparently the electric was off in the house, I didn’t see the man asleep on the stairs with an old quilt wrapped around him.
Where the fuck was I?
I saw the light coming from the hole in the door where the lock used to be and shuffled towards it as quickly as I could. As I was trying to loosen the rope so I could push the door open, I felt a hand grab my elbow. I turned around and winced because I was afraid of coming face to face with the man and the gun. Instead, there was a woman whom had her hair tied up in a scarf, wearing a tattered t-shirt, stretch pants with holes in the knees, and what could only be bedroom slippers. They were so dirty and it was so dark it was impossible to tell.
“Please help me get out. I’m in trouble. I was raped.” As I muttered those words tears streamed down my cheeks.
She kind of smirked and blew air out of her nose, “Your man bring you here cutie?”
The way she asked that made my blood freeze because it was already running cold.
I nodded, but couldn’t speak as I started sobbing.
The woman walked over to the lumpy blanket on the steps, reached under it, and grabbed the gun. She came towards me and I was ready to tackle her but all she did was pull the front door open.
“You weren’t raped; you didn’t understand the handshake.”
I darted out the door and ran towards the corner.
That’s when I heard two gunshots.
The next day in the hospital I was reading the paper and came across a blurb in the crime section that read, “Police are clueless about the apparent murder/suicide in an abandoned row home in the city.”
The morphine kicked in and I slept for a long time.
© michele mitchell, 2013
Photo credit : http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/04/18/vacanthomestour

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2 comments on “Didn’t Understand the Handshake

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