The weather was on the turn; the sky was cloudy and any trace of the hot summer they’d experienced was now just a memory as the wind picked up, rustling the trees in the park across from the Crown & Anchor. The sky was darkening quickly, storm clouds filling the area and glaring down at the pub. Inside the mood didn’t fair much better for the handful of people that were sitting in the pub- quiet whispers of conversations rippled across the room.
Ted and Beard were sitting at the end of the bar, their glasses resting on the bar top as they chatted idly about players and upcoming games. Their evening had thus far been quite quiet and calm however that all changed the moment a heavy thud battered the window, the sound of shouting heard through the thin glass.
“Sounds like someone is in trouble.” Ted pointed out, placing his beer on the bar and turning to look at the window were the noise was coming from.
“Not our problem Ted. Sounds like a couple having an argument.” Beard added, turning back to his beer and signalling to Mae for another.
“I’m just gonna pop my head out. See if everything is hunky dory.” Ted explained, already having slid off his bar stool, pocketing his phone. Beard nodded at his oldest pal and watched as he wandered to the front door and then through it.
Standing in the cool air of the night, Ted slid his hands into the pocket of his khakis and brought his shoulders up towards his ears, trying to ward off the chill whilst wishing he had slipped his AFC Richmond puffer jacket on before he had exited to settle his own curiosity. A soft sniffle could be heard coupled with some frustrated huffing and Ted looked around in the dark and noticed a young woman sitting on the last wooden table in the garden.
“Hey there, you doin’ okay?” Ted asked, slowly making his way towards the sniffling form that was sitting atop of the table, her head resting on her arms as they lay folded across her knees. Receiving no reply from the woman sitting atop of the table, Ted made another attempt to engage her in conversation.
“Ma’am are you okay?”
“Please go, he’ll hurt us both if he catches you talking to me.” Came a soft reply and Ted felt his stomach roll white with heat at the thought of someone hurting this woman, at the thought of any man hurting any woman.
“Hey it’s gonna be okay. Do you want to come inside? Out of the cold?” Ted asked, now standing close enough that he could touch her, close enough to see the tremble that ran through her entire form.
“He’s coming back, he said he would hurt me if I moved from here.” She murmured, her soft voice hitching with emotion.
“Come on now, you come inside and get warm. Ain’t no one gonna let anyone hurt you.” Ted explained, reaching out a hand towards the woman, only to drop it quickly when she flinched from his touch, almost cowering away from his hand. As she lifted her head to look at Ted, he felt hot bile rise up his throat at the image before him. A heavy bruise was forming on her cheekbone, already a sickly colour from what he could see under the streetlight. Her bottom lip was split and bleeding sluggishly and her left eye, the one above the heavily bruised cheekbone, looked like it was swelling to an almost close.
“Okay then, we’re gonna get you cleaned up and taken care of. I’m Ted by the way.” He stammered, not quite prepared to witness her injuries.
“Hey. Thanks for your concern Ted but I’ll be okay. I don’t want to cause any trouble for you.” Before either of them could say anything else, they found themselves joined by not only Beard but a rather short, irate younger man.
“Who the fuck are you?” He raged, stepping closer to Ted than Beard would have liked considering how worked up the man seemed to be.
“He’s no one, he came out for some fresh air and said hello.” Ted took a step back from the man, trying to find a little personal space once more however managed to find Beard on the way, the quiet man standing behind him like some ever present shield.
“Hey.” Ted whispered.
“Hey.” Beard replied, never taking his eyes off the man in front of them.
“You stupid bitch!” The man raged and made to step towards the woman on the bend, causing Ted and Beard to take a step towards her also.
“Hey man, there’s no need for language like that towards a lady.” Ted interjected, his dark brows drawn into a frown.
“Fuck off old man. This bitch needs to learn her lesson.”
“Oh I see. So you’re the big man who laid his hands on a woman? Did it make you feel powerful hurtin’ her? Did you feel good inside watching her in pain? Did she beg you to stop? Did you laugh when she did?” Beard watched as Ted approached the angry young man, his voice deepening and his accent thickening with every word.
“Ted.” Beard cautioned however a mist had descended over Ted and he couldn’t shake the image of this young battered woman from his mind.
“Hey asshole- you don’t get to hurt her anymore. Now fuck off!” Ted growled and the young man stopped and stared at Ted, and Beard, before spitting on the floor- missing Ted’s sneakers by millimetres.
“You can fucking keep her! Little slut! I’ll be back for you Emily, when you’re tired of his old cock, I’ll be there to drag you back and teach you a lesson.” Ted stood firm and watched with drawn brows as the young man turned and walked away, conscious of the soft sobs emanating from the woman still sitting in a huddle on the bench top.
With the offending human now no where to be seen, Ted once more approached the young woman on the bench and took a seat next to her, nudging her knee with his shoulder.
“He’s gone. I won’t let him hurt you anymore.” Ted stated, giving Beard a small nod at his questioning look, and then watching as Beard headed back inside the pub.
“Thank you Ted. You don’t even know me but you have done more for me tonight than any of my so called friends have. I don’t know what I’m going to do now.” Emily ran a hand over her face and winced as she managed to irritate her bruised cheek and split lip.
“I mean nothing by this, but can I take you home and get you cleaned up? I don’t live far, just across there.” Ted gestured towards the quirky alleyway of shops, feeling his protective instincts kick up another notch as he watched her fingers flex and rub against each other as her anxiety appeared to rocket.
“Thank you. I don’t have anywhere to go tonight- I don’t have any money on me. Everything is back at his house.” Emily explained before letting out a large sigh. Ted stood up and held out his hand, smiling softly when her small hand landed in his and he led her from the Crown and Anchor garden and up through the lane to his front door.
The noise of the shower made Ted pause as he passed by, the bathroom door, his brain focusing on laying out a pair of soft grey sweatpants and an old Kansas State t-shirt on the bed, ready for Emily to use once she got out of the shower.
He exited the bedroom, intent on giving her as much privacy as he could and decided he probably needed a little help with this situation- young women in need was not his usual remit.
Message: Hey Boss, got a little situation on my hands. Could do with a bit of female perspective.
Message: Hey Keels, need your advice on a little situation I’m currently in. Need advice on how to talk to a woman who is suffering domestic violence.
Ted laid his phone down on the kitchen counter and flicked on the kettle, figuring that a cup of pigeon sweat might help calm Emily’s nerves and help her settle in for a night with a complete strange who couldn’t help but ‘white knight’ his way into her life.