A Late Night Walk
It was late, but that was okay, he'd walked home by himself plenty of times and never had any problems. He was always amazed when people asked him if he felt safe. What was there to feel unsafe about? He had confidence in his abilities to look after himself even if no one else did?
Anyway, he liked it when the streets were empty, there was something almost romantic about a small city late at night when there's no traffic or people. Looking down the long expanse of two lane cracked asphalt that disappeared into a horizon line he felt like he could be in any small city in North America. There was something about the scrawny trees that littered the edge of the sidewalk in front of ubiquitous concrete block low rises that said small town like nothing else could.
From the abandoned bank across the street from the 7-11 to the row of pizza joints taking up the next block, he was certain this stretch of road existed in cities across the continent. Even the glimpses of tree lined side streets offered when stopping at intersections was probably an echo of the same scene on another street in another town.
So, no, he wasn't worried about being out late at night. Even when he caught a glimpse of her out of his peripheral vision standing on the sidewalk across the street he wasn't concerned. Just another person out for a walk after all...it was a nice night for it and he couldn't be the only person in town who didn't like the noise and bustle of the street during the day.
So, he was startled when her voice sounded only steps away from him on the sidewalk. Somehow, she had crossed the street and come up behind him without him even noticing.
"Hey, what you doing?"
The smell of booze on her breath was so strong that he could feel his eyes starting to smart. If he wasn't careful they could start to water, and she might think they were tears and take it as a sign of weakness. He was used to being accosted by drunks, but normally it was when he was with a crowd of other guys and the girl was being egged on by her buddies to go and pick one of them up.
"I'm walking" he said and kept suiting the action to the words.
"Hey, whaz' you hurry" she said. The slight slurring of the words might have made them sound more belligerent then was intended, but there was no mistaking the aggressive attitude behind them. "Maybe ya wan' some company?"
"No, I like to walk by myself thanks" he said keeping walking but also being careful not to pick up speed no matter how much he wanted to. She sounded the type who would take that as an invitation – an invitation to what he didn't know, but not one that he was prepared to offer.
"Well, okay... "Her voice trailed away, and for a moment she stopped and he thought she had taken the hint to bugger off and leave him alone. But then she was right beside him, and her smell; booze, sweat, and cigarettes was almost overpowering. He was sure he was going to retch if he wasn't careful.
"Lissen, ya wanna come back ta my place for a drink. I don't live too far, ya know, stay for a drink and then finish walkin' alone". She was trying to angle her body to make him stop walking but he was able to keep moving without running into her by moving over on the sidewalk slightly and walking on a bit of a diagonal.
"I don't drink," he said in what he hoped was as neutral a tone as possible. He was starting to feel more then a little nervous now. She seemed drunk enough that if he out and out rejected her for no what looked like no reason she just might get violent.
"What d'ya mean, a good lookin' guy like ya not drinkin'? She reached out and grabbed his arm to try and turn him around so that he was facing her. The touch of her fingers on his arm triggered the anger he needed for the strength to deal with her.
"Don't you dare touch me" he yelled turning on her with his eyes flashing. He stared at her for a second longer and then spun away and began walking briskly up the street. Still restraining himself from obviously hurrying, he still set a good pace. He kept his ears open for any sound of pursuit and at first he heard nothing, but then he heard her start walking.
She followed him all the way up town to the all night coffee shop he was headed for; he was getting a biscuit to snack on when he got home. When he got to the shop, she stayed out in the parking lot wandering around while he went in. The woman behind the counter knew him well enough to know something was wrong, and he told her about being followed and the drunk outside. The last thing she wanted was to have her follow him home and know where he lived.
He was still chatting with them when she burst in through the front door and walked up to the counter. She looked at him and then at the woman behind the counter and said, " Is there a problem here?"
He looked at her for a second, and then with steel in his voice said "If you try to follow me from this store I'm going to kill you. I will beat you senseless and leave you lying in a puddle of your own blood and guts for the street cleaners to pick up with all the other fucking garbage in the morning. So if you know what's good for you, you'll fuck off right now".
The woman looked at her for a second, and then swearing under her breath she headed for the doors, as she got to them she looked back and snapped, "frigid bastard".
He stood at the counter shaking; he was so angry and upset. The woman who had been behind the counter grabbed a broom and pretended to be sweeping the store by the plate glass windows facing out into the parking lot. She was making sure that the drunk had vanished. She turned back and said, "She's gone, I see her crossing the street and heading back downtown again...yeah, she's out of sight".
He quickly paid for his biscuit and thanked the woman for her help, and she smiled.
"Honey, I wouldn't have messed with you if you had yelled at me like that. You didn't need anyone to protect you from scum like that."
"Have a good night"
Of course that would never happen to a man, but incidents like that and far worse happen to women all the time. Shouldn't the quite times of the night belong to everyone?