Shelter in the Storm
by Alex the Cat©
Disclaimers: This is an uber tale that deals with some rather sensitive issues like depression, death and rape. But there is hope for our two characters.
Heartfelt thanks to my beta reader ---- you are the best --- my friend and my guide. Thank you so much for all that you have offered me.
The long figure rolled over. An arm draped itself over the edge of the bed. The once joyous face full of life, that lay sleeping, was now only filled with sadness, apathy, and death. Andy Navarro’s world came crashing down on her in just one month, so many years ago.
Her mother came to an untimely death in a tragic car accident. Andy had been under the influence of heroin at the time that she lunged over from the passenger side and grabbed the steering wheel to turn them away from the rehabilitation center that Mrs. Navarro attempted to get her daughter registered in. As the car spun across the wide expanse of the street, a semi-truck that was behind them wasn’t able to stop in time before it collided into the driver’s side door. Mrs. Navarro was considered a DOA by the emergency room staff.
Andy never forgave herself for the short-lived drug addiction. At the time, she had justified needing it in order to forget. To forget the pains of watching her lover repeatedly raped and then proceed to take her own life in front of Andy. The bonds that held Andy down to the chair that one horrific night were impossible for her to break, and crying out was of no use with the gag in her mouth.
Now Andy was nothing more than a shell of a person who really had nothing to live for.
All was great on this sunny afternoon at the dog and cat shelter. The four employees worked together, each attending to their tasks. Jaime and Erin went to let the dogs out in the yard for their daily afternoon playtime, while Maxx and Kris took time to play with and cuddle the cats.
The front door opened, and in walked the infamous short blonde owner of the place. She locked the door once again behind her and began looking through the adoption appointments lying behind the front counter.
“Hi Morgan. How’s it going?” Jaime exclaimed upon seeing his boss. His flamboyant nature was never lost on anyone who met him.
The young blonde smiled at her long time friend. “Doing good. How are you?”
“Oh excellent. I met a real hottie last night at the gym. A first timer to the weight room so I had the total pleasure of showing him the ropes.” He brushed his eyebrows down with his pinkie finger.
“I’m sure you showed him more than the ropes.” She commented sarcastically.
“My dear, I am a gentleman…but I did want to jump his body in the shower.” He fanned himself as he thought about the steamy shower event.
Morgan laughed. “Jaime you’re such a cutie. Any guy will be so lucky to have you.” She patted his shoulder. “Now how’s business today?”
“Well, we had two families come in this morning to look at cats. Applications were filled out and Kris called in the references. Both families show flying colors, so they’ll be returning tomorrow. The cats are already tagged in the computer.”
“Sounds great. Well there’s twenty minutes left before we re-open so I’ll join you guys in the yard.”
“Goodie.” He clapped his large hands ecstatically. “I want to show you the new tricks Sparticus can do, and you know that Rottweiler with the behavior problems who came in last week? He’s finally learned some manners.”
A single light clicked on in the small dingy apartment. Sad blue eyes looked around at nothing in particular. The figure rose and threw on a ripped pair of jeans from off the floor. A long sleeve buttoned shirt was pulled from the back of the couch and fitted. At the refrigerator, a large hand grabbed the carton of vitamin D milk. Chugging some of it down, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Andy pulled on the black leather boots and grabbing her leather biker jacket and keys, she walked out the door.
The flashing neon lights in the window of the PussyCat Club attracted patrons from near and far. There was already a line in front that went half way down the block. The LGBT community was ready to let loose on this pleasantly cool Friday night.
A tall dark figure cloaked in the shadows of the street slipped into the club through the side entrance.
The two bartenders were busy serving the crowd of people wanting drinks. One of them caught a glimpse of the tall figure in her peripheral vision. “Yo, Andy.” She called out.
The figure dived under the counter and stood directly next to her. “What is it?” She asked with an air of coolness.
“We’re going to need a couple of more cases of Tequila for tomorrow night’s south of the border bash. And also, Mickey called in. She busted two fingers at the shop today. She said she’ll still come in but may be late.”
“Damn, so she’s going to need help with security.” Andy ran fingers through her raven hair. “Alright, get however many cases you need tomorrow morning. Remind me to give you the corporate card at closing. I’ll come back down in about an hour when it starts to get crazy in here.”
Morgan shut down the computer and let out a deep sigh. Her eyes were burning from staring at the screen for so long. She began to rub them and think about what movie she was going to watch tonight. Suddenly a cold wet nose nudged her elbow softly. She looked down into the black eyes of a black and brown Rottweiler. “Hi Pugsley. Did you sneak back here to see me?”
The dog wagged his tail with excitement.
She patted his head then scratched behind his ears.
Kris walked down the hall towards the office. “So this is where you wandered off to Pugsley. Now you know it’s time to watch 102 Dalmatians with all the others. Come on now, Maxx and Erin are waiting for youa.”
The Rottie took a seat and looked between the two women and continued wagging his tail.
“Pugsley, be a good boy and go to the TV room.” Kris stated.
He sneezed once in protest then took off.
Jaime walked in. “Morgan, honey, we are going to the PussyCat Club tonight and we want you to come.”
She started to protest. “No, I don’t…”
“Nah ah, darling. Don’t give me any lip. You are coming with Kris and I. Sweetie you never go out. Come on now, you should be flaunting that hot body you have ---- dancing, drinking, laughing, and just having a good time.”
“He’s right Morgan,” Kris interrupted. “Maxx and Erin are in for the night. All of the animals are fine. So it’s time for the three of us to have fun.”
Morgan rolled sea green eyes at them and finally relented.
The music was loud, the dance floor was crowded, and the room was filled with cigarette smoke. Everyone was having a good time including the three friends sitting at the bar.
A couple of stools down from them sat an inebriated butch with a shaved head. She was flailing her arm around in some kind of gesture and started to get loud in the conversation she carried on with herself. “All of them’s bitches. I hate ‘em. You fall for them, give ‘em ev’rythin’ and what do you get back? Shit ---- that’s what they give ya.”
Those nearby started to stare. The bartender made eye contact with the tall figure casually leaning against the wall.
The butch continued with her rant until a large hand dropped heavily on her shoulder. Turning around, she looked into stormy blue eyes. “What da fuck ya want.” She declared.
“It’s time for you to go home.” The tall figure in the black T-shirt with the word “security” printed in yellow letters across the back, said. She didn’t wait to get a response as she hoisted the drunken woman up and lead her quickly out the front. She waved down a taxicab.
“You can’t push me around. I’m gonna knock you out bitch.” The butch said.
“How about if I knock you out?” Andy declared more than questioned. In the blink of an eye she threw a punch between the hazel eyes. Pushing her into the back seat of the cab that pulled up, she dug around for the wallet, read out the address to the driver, and handed him $40 from her own pocket. But before leaving, she leaned in towards the driver with a sinister sneer and made bold eye contact with him. “I have your ID number. If I find out something happened to her and she didn’t make it home safely, I’m coming after you personally. Do you understand?”
Wide eyed, he drew back a bit. “Uh…. Ye…yeah. I understand.”
She then turned around and walked back inside.
After watching the entire interaction, Jaime sat there fanning himself with both hands. “Did you see that security person? Honey, if I were straight, I’d be begging to be her slave. She was so yummy looking.”
Kris leaned over. “Why don’t you try asking her out Morgan?”
“What? Me?? No. I’m sure she’s busy. I don’t want to ask her while she’s working.”
“Oh, come on. Bullshit Morgan. Just do it.”
Jaime added his two cents. “Honey, you can’t be living your life like an old maid.”
“I…don’t know…maybe I’ll try asking later.”
At 3am, the last call was made that the bar was closing. Disgruntled sounds were made from the patrons who were still there. The DJ played the final song as the lights turned up.
Morgan was already home, and tossed and turned in her bed. She couldn’t understand why she was having problems with insomnia when she would normally clock out as soon as her head hit the pillow. Finally deciding to get up, she got dressed and went for a drive.
Andy sat against the front of the club with a half empty bottle of Amaretto. There were times, when she couldn’t sleep that she would go to the club and finish off a bottle that was already open. On this particular night, she decided to sit out front because the breeze was so fresh and cool.
At some point in Morgan’s driving, she found herself down by the club again. Sitting there tapping the steering wheel, she wondered why she came back here. She stared out across the street, and in the dim lighting she was sure she saw someone sitting on the sidewalk against the club’s doors. As she squinted hoping to get a better look, she didn’t notice the two men approaching her vehicle from behind.
“Hey baby, you lookin’ for some fun?” The first man with the black goatee asked just as he pulled the door open.
She was grabbed by the shoulder and yanked out. Screaming, she struggled with him.
Then out of nowhere, he was forcefully yanked off of Morgan and just flew off across the car’s hood.
At that moment, piercing blue eyes connected with frightened green ones.
All of a sudden, the second guy came around and smashed a beer bottle against the tall figure’s temple. Andy almost lost her balance. When she regained her footing, she turned and got him in a chokehold with her hands. In her rage she lifted him off his feet.
His eyes grew wide as he clawed at the arms of her jacket.
“You’re killing him.” Morgan cried out.
“Scum deserve to die.” Was the response that was given in return.
“Please don’t.” She pleaded.
Andy looked at the young woman and felt a stirring in her heart. Returning her gaze to the trash in her hands, she punched the guy square in the nose knocking him unconscious and dropped him onto the street. Andy stood there a moment trying to calm her racing heart, and then she looked back to the small woman.
Morgan saw that her tall savior was hit and the blood was trailing down a sculptured cheek. “You’re hurt. I’ll drive you to the hospital.”
“Don’t need one.” The tall woman responded and began to walk away.
Morgan was sure what to do, but she did feel compelled to make sure her savior got to wherever she was going, safely. She got in the car and slowly followed her. At the next street, she saw the back of the figure stumble in front of a building. She immediately parked the car and ran over. She made it just in time before the door of the building closed. Moving cautiously up the stairs, she tried to listen for any noise. In the dim lighting of the hall, on the third floor landing, she saw the figure slumped over in front of a door. She approached her and took the keys that had fallen. She presumed that the door had to be the right apartment, so she tried the key and went in.
Andy stirred and put a hand to her head hoping to stop the throbbing pain. Blue eyes opened and things looked a bit blurry. She crawled in through the open doorway and up into the bed.
Morgan came out of the kitchen and shook her head. “Well, at least you got yourself in. I didn’t know how I was going to pick you up.” She commented to the unconscious figure. Her nose cringed again at the awful smell inside the place. Turning on all the lights, she then opened a couple of windows to get some fresh air in. She managed to pull the jacket off of the woman along with the boots and jeans. She checked the wound and it was still bleeding. Going into the bathroom, she was disgusted by the unsightly grime everywhere. She looked in the cabinets and found some first aid supplies.
Morgan knelt at the edge of the bed to look more closely at the nasty cut. After thoroughly wiping the area clean and applying a couple of butterfly strips, she took a seat next to her.
She gazed around the room and could not believe how this person lived here. There were pizza boxes and cereal boxes everywhere. Clothes littered the floor, the couch, the kitchen table and even the shelves that held a handful of books. She looked at a couple of the titles. Moving On After the Death of A Beloved; How To Deal With Death; The Passing of the Dead; Not Giving Up When Death Claims A Loved One. “My god, your soul is hurting.” She softly said to no one.
Morgan turned sea green eyes to the long figure on the bed, and she decided to try and do some good --- to help in some way. Going back into the kitchen she searched through all of the cabinets until she came across what she needed.
Andy’s bladder was screaming for relief. She slowly opened pain-ridden eyes and made her way to the bathroom. When she was finished, she searched the medicine cabinet for Excedrin. Popping three in her mouth, she drank from the faucet then looked at herself in the mirror where she noticed the bandages at her temple. “What the…?” Slowly her mind recalled what happened, but she didn’t remember bandaging herself up or taking off her clothes. She returned to the main room and began to notice things were amiss. All of her laundry was gone; all of the food cartons and other garbage were gone. At the other end of the room in front of the TV, she saw a small figure curled up in the recliner.
Morgan began to shiver, so she held her jacket that she used to cover herself, tighter in front of her. A strange feeling washed over her like she was being watched so she opened her eyes. The piercing blue eyes that were only inches away startled her. “My god, you scared me.”
“Who are you?” Andy asked in a commanding tone.
“I…you…helped me last night when those men attacked. I followed you to your apartment because you were hurt. I…wanted to make sure you’d be okay. My name is Morgan.” The intensity of those cerulean eyes made Morgan think that sticking around was not a good idea.
“Did you bandage me up?”
“Yes.” Morgan answered with a worried look.
“And took my clothes off?”
“Um… yes.” She responded as she bit her bottom lip.
“Where are all my clothes? And everything else?”
“You mean the garbage? I threw it away. As for your clothes, I took the liberty of doing your laundry because everything reeked of booze and smoke like the club.”
Andy cast her eyes to the floor. “You didn’t have to do that.” She said softly.
“I know I didn’t, but I wanted to.” She instinctively reached out to brush her fingers along a cheek.
Andy jumped back, and a wall of cold anger shone in her face. “You can leave now. There’s no need to stick around.” She barked.
Morgan stood up angrily and put her jacket on. “I didn’t do any of this hoping for something in return. Gods be damned that I try to be a Good Samaritan.” She stomped out and slammed the door behind her.
Andy went into the kitchen for a drink of milk. She took notice that the apartment was completely clean. Everything was washed, put away, wiped, and smelled of cleaner. She sat down in a chair and felt bad for being rude.
Morgan lay huddled in her bed. She called Maxx at the shelter and said she wouldn’t be in. She was so exhausted from the previous night that she began to wonder if she would wind up coming down with something.
Andy slept the rest of the morning but didn’t sleep peacefully. She had nightmares of the car accident and her mother. Intermingled with the nightmare were sea green eyes on a youthful smiling face --- a young short woman whose blonde shaggy hair blew gently in the wind, and whose face would light up when she laughed.
Andy woke with a start. Sitting up, she rubbed her face as the images still flashed in her mind. She couldn’t believe she still actually felt bad for being mean. She’d been rude to countless other people over the years and she never thought twice about it. But now this, and what was she going to do about it?
Sunday night came and Morgan thought about renting a couple of movies and ordering a pizza. As she drove to Blockbuster in her Toyota Rav4, she began to wonder how much longer she would live alone. She recalled the stories her grandma used to tell of the gods being jealous of the human race so they split people in half to forever wander the earth in search of their other half.
“Maybe there isn’t another half out there for me.” She muttered to herself.
Suddenly her cell phone buzzed. “Hello?”
“Hi Sweetie darling. Did you forget the Latino Fiesta at the PussyCat club tonight? We’ve been waiting for you.” Jaime sung at the other end.
“Oh, damn. Was that tonight?” She answered sarcastically.
“Now darling, don’t be like that. You get your little tush over here pronto.”
“Okay, I’ll see you guys in twenty minutes.” She sighed and hung up.
The club was decorated with streamers, piñatas, and sombreros hanging from the walls. Morgan worked her way to the bar and didn’t spot her friends, so she ordered a drink and looked around.
Andy sat up in her office at the top of the stairs. She rubbed her tired and red-rimmed tear stained eyes. The tears had finally stopped after an hour. She had cursed herself for finding that photo of her mom and Katie with huge grins on their faces at the backyard barbecue. She had forgotten this was buried deep in the back of her desk drawer. Shutting down the computer, she sighed.
Jaime tapped his friend on the shoulder. “Hi sweetie. I’m glad you decided to come. Kris is in the bathroom.”
“How were things at the shelter today?”
“Oh, fine. Those two cats got adopted. Aside from that not much action --- just like my love life.” He brushed down his eyebrows and swung his drink around.
Andy approached the bar. “Hey Cal, I’m taking off. I’m trusting you to be in charge.”
“No problem Andy.” The stocky brunette responded. She then noticed that the tall woman had been crying. “Hey, are you alright?”
“If there’s anything…”
“I said I’m fine.” She stated loudly with frustration causing heads to turn. Angry blue eyes stared at the bartender coldly.
Morgan saw the interaction, and suddenly blue and green eyes locked onto each other.
Andy stepped up to her but didn’t know what to say.
“Can I help you?” Morgan stated acerbically.
“Morgan darling, don’t be harsh to this handsome tall delicious looking thing here. Where are your manners?” Jaime chimed in immediately.
“My manners were thrown out the window when I last met up with her.”
“Sweetie darling, did this butch hurt you?” He stood to defend his friend, and wondered if he could take her on without a problem but he wasn’t in the mood to ruffle up his clothing.