The Girl in the Purple Car

Thought I would give the blog a break and try a little, old-fashioned creative writing.  Been at this blog for about five years now.  So here’s a short story for you; don’t plagiarize it.  Please.

The Girl in the Purple Car

The girl in the pink dress got into the purple car and her boyfriend pummeled her black and blue.

She was the kind of sweet, pretty girl we all wish we were.  She was our age, with flowing blonde tresses that curled down her back.  Her willowy figure lent her an angelic grace.  Her eyes – well, you couldn’t tell what color her eyes were at that precise moment because they were cast down as she in the front seat of the purple car.  Only her long, sweeping lashes were visible, demurely resting on her soft cheeks.

Some guys on our college campus, upon hearing the commotion came running along with the campus security.  He beat her so violently that his punches shook the car.  Now, the guys were shaking the car, trying to get at him.  The security guard warned them not to break the window.

A female student stood in front of the car, a foot from the bumper.

“Just get out,” she said.  “Wherever you live, I’ll give you a ride home.  Come on, honey.  Just open the door.”

She shook her head, without raising her eyes.

“What are you staying with him for?”

“Shut up!!” her boyfriend yelled.  “Mind your own business!”  (How many times do we hear that and do so, occasionally resulting in the tragedy of selfish reticence?)  He was big, like a football player and good-looking with jet black hair that waved over his eyes.  His fists were like huge blocks, though.  Great for tackling guys on the football.  Not so good for willowy girlfriends.

Ignoring him, the female student continued.

“The door is open; there’s nothing to stop you.  You don’t have to put up with this.”

She turned to look at the lock.  She seemed to be taking a breath of courage.  Then, she slumped back in the seat.  In that moment, the boyfriend glanced over her shoulder and saw that the door was, indeed, unlocked.  He pounded it shut with his fist, then started the motor.

The college buys jumped out of the way as he backed the car out of the parking space and roared off with his silent partner.

The girl in the purple car was the talk of the campus.

One day that same Spring, an English professor was teaching the fine points of Ian Fleming’s James Bond (he likes his women un-nail polished, with short, clipped nails, manicured, of course, but nothing they can use on him as a weapon).

As the professor was speaking, he noticed the class wasn’t paying attention; their eyes were on “The Cape” – the parking lot just outside the window; so long, students theorized, that NASA could land the space shuttle on it (if they didn’t mind ripping off the wings on the metal barriers).

“What’s going on?” the professor asked.  He turned to look out the window.  The purple car was plainly visible as were its occupants.  The car was rocking and shaking, and a crowd had gathered round it.

“What the bleep is that guy doing?!” the professor asked.

Someone offered up the explanation.

“That’s the girl in the purple car,” was the laconic reply.  “Her boyfriend beats her up in the car every day.  Sometimes it’s here on The Cape.  Other days, it’s in front of the library.  When he can’t find a closer spot, he beats her in the Outer Limits [the farthest parking lot].”

“Why does she put up with it?”

“No one knows.  People have tried to coax her out of the car but she won’t leave.”

“Well, why doesn’t somebody do something about it?”

One of the college boys said, “We’ve tried, but he locks her in and security told us if we broke the car windows we could be sued or arrested.”

“Or expelled,” another finished.

Soon, graduation bloomed, and neither the girl nor the purple car was ever seen on campus again.

Working in New York City is a great experience – until you have to stay late and get to Penn Station or the Port Authority terminal after dark.  The early evening can still be safe but the later it gets, the more danger you’re in if you walk rather than take a cab.

Elsie Frascolla’s office was down on 33rd Street and Park Avenue.  A vigorous hike on a windy, cold day.  Wearing pumps on the street was murder on the feet.  But the LIRR strike changed the fashion in women’s footwear forever.  At least in the City.  Women changed from their office pumps to sneakers so they could run for the subway and then to a waiting bus that would take them home.

Elsie lived in the opposite direction, in Jersey.  How did the Ladies of the Evening manage to stand around all night in spiked heels?

One evening, she was particularly late.  Taking a cab would have been safer but more expensive.  She was fond of running, in any case.  As she sprinted along 33rd street, she saw a pretty blonde girl in a cerise satin dress with a tulle overskirt sprinkled with glitter near the Empire State Building.   Her fairy feet were ornamented in matching satin red pumps. The skirt flowed from the waist to her ankles, fluttering with the breeze of traffic.

She waved gaily to passing cars, wobbling on her satin shoes with that distinct gait of inebriation.  Elsie wondered if she needed help.  A strange costume for the kind of trade she suspected the woman in red had taken up.  She certainly stood out in a unique way.  Then, a pick-up truck stopped in front of the girl.  She greeted the occupants with a merry slur and they laughed.  They were young rednecks, probably in town on holiday.  They urged her closer.  When she was within hand’s reach, one of them grabbed her, while the driver stomped down on the gas pedal.

She was dragged several feet.  They let go of her, and with a raucous laugh, drove off into the night.  The girl in the red dress moaned in the black gutter for a moment, then gradually struggled off and went on her way.

Elsie’s project kept her in the city late for the entire week, and not an evening went by that she didn’t see the same girl in the same red dress on the same wobbly heels.  Finally, on Friday night, Elsie summoned the courage to approach her.

“That’s an awfully pretty dress,” she commented.  Privately, she noted that the detritus from the gutter still clung to it and that the garment was damp in spots from a combination of rainwater, oil, urine and vomit and the shoes were worn down at the heels, scuffed and marred.

The girl in the red dress looked at Elsie in surprise and doubt.  The naive Elsie nervously held up her hands to indicate she wasn’t some strange customer.

“Oh – thank you,” the girl in red finally replied with a weak smile.

“It seems a shame to ruin it by falling into the gutter,” Elsie noted, rather tactlessly.

This time the girl gave a start, then examined Elsie closely, and Elsie, the girl.  They clearly recognized one another.

“Didn’t you used to go to State College?” Elsie asked.

Terror gaped in the girl’s eyes.

“No, no!  No!  I went to school out West.  Los Angeles,” she said.  “I’m – I’m an actress.”

“You had a boyfriend with a purple car,” Elsie persisted.

“No, no!  You’ve mistaken me for someone else.  Really!” she cried.  “You should really get going home.  It’s – it’s not safe around here after dark for someone like you.  Please.  My – my boyfriend will be picking me up soon and he doesn’t – well, he doesn’t like me to – to talk to strangers.”

Elsie blushed for her interference

“I’m – I’m sorry,” she stammered.  “Yeah, you’re right.  I do have to be going.  I don’t want to miss my train; it’s the last one.  I hate these evening hours.  I want to go home and have dinner.  You should be careful, too.”

“Oh – oh, I will,” the girl in red promised.  “Don’t worry!”

Elsie hurried on her way to catch the last train back home.

The girl – no longer a girl, really – in the white halter-top and jeans banged on the peeling door of the grey Victorian house.  If the house hadn’t had a porch, she would have been the soaked girl in the white halter top and jeans.  Her blonde hair was pulled back in a limp ponytail.  Hints of gray were replacing the youthful sunshine of her blonde strands.

She banged and banged on the door, screaming and crying to be let in.  From within the house, a little girl could be heard weeping.  There was the sound of a thud and the weeping ceased.  The woman beat on the door and cried even more frantically.

Across the street, a welfare mom was having a party.  Had she not been a college graduate, she might have been mistaken for white trash, considering the run-down condition of the house and the neighborhood.

.

“What’s all that noise across the street?” one of her guests asked, going to the front window.

“Oh, that’s the girl in the purple car,” the hostess responded.  “You remember her, don’t you?”

“The girl in the purple car?  That’s her?” the guest exclaimed.

“Look in the driveway,” said the hostess.  “See the car?”

All the guests, all graduates of the same college class, peered out the filmy front window.  Across the street, in the driveway, was a battered, rusting purple car, a four-door sedan with an expired inspection sticker.  The original purple color had all but faded, its sheen dulled by age, exposure and neglect.  What color was left was more primer coat than original paint.  It was a rough, gritty car, the kind someone with soft hands would instinctively never touch and if you did, you would feel an uncomfortable sensation, somewhere between running your hand over fine sandpaper and along a grimy railing.

“It is!” another guest cried.  “It’s the same car!  At least, it might have been that purple car, once upon time.  And that’s her!?  Are you sure?”

“Yup!” the hostess responded.

“But that’s not the same guy?!”

“Yeah,” the hostess answered.  “The very same guy.  She married him.  Can you believe it?  They have a couple of kids.  The old tale – high school cheerleader falls for football star.  She was supposed to go to a college out West somewhere to study acting.  But he couldn’t go.  Not enough money, poor grades.  Couldn’t make the school football team on an athletic scholarship.  He got angry, threatened her, threatened himself.  So she didn’t go and the went to State College together, instead.  But after graduation, she broke up with him for awhile before they married.  She ran off.  Don’t know what she did, but she couldn’t make it financially and went back to him.  Got pregnant right away.”

“He’s locked her out,” yet another guest observed.

“They fight every night,” the hostess noted.  “He beats her up.  She runs out the door, but he holds onto the kids, then beats them until they cry.  Then she begs to be let back in.  He lets her in, tosses the kids out, and then beats her until she’s black and blue.”

“Why doesn’t she just drive away?”

“I told you, he’s got the kids and the money.  And the keys to the car.”

The door to the grey house opened and two children, a boy and a girl tumbled out.  The children looked thin, malnourished, dirty, and thinly clad.  The girl had bruises and the boy’s arm was bent at an odd angle.  Their mother embraced them tearfully.  Then the man thumped out onto the porch with a heavy, menacing tread.  His hair was still black, but unkempt and his black eyebrows brewed over his narrowed eyes.  He wore a dirty, sleeveless tee shirt; his sullen, stubble-faced countenance told a tale of alcoholism, drugs and street fights.

“He’s coming out,” one of the guests told the hostess, who was setting out coffee on her dining room table.

Indeed, he bellowed at the woman as she clung to her children.

“Get up you f*&ng bi#^& wh@#*!!  Get in here!  You an’ I ain’t done yet!”

He strode down the steps and with a beefy, tattooed arm, dragged her to her feet and into the house.

“Well, next comes the beating and then it’ll be over.  Come on.  Your coffee’s ready,” the hostess said, waving them over.

“He’s got a gun,” a guest observed.

“A double-barreled shotgun,” added another.

“He’s dragging her back into the house.”

“Somebody’d better call 9-1-1.”

“Dialing right now.”

“Where are the kids?” the hostess asked, hurrying over to the window.

“On the lawn.  Crying.”

A suspenseful silence fell over the welfare mom’s living room.  Time seemed to have halted, hovering over the neighborhood, paralyzed.

The woman in the halter top screamed in horror.  Then three blasts rang out.  Then the two children screamed.  The welfare mom and her guests burst out her front door and across the street to grab them.  A siren wailed in the distance.  Help, suspended by time, was in motion again, finally, coming ever closer, but too late.

The woman in black lay in a black coffin surrounded by friends and family clad in black, weeping and wiping their red eyes with white handkerchiefs.  The mortician did a professional job of covering up the bruises, scars, and unhappiness that punctured this one-time vision of loveliness.  Pictures in a display showed a girl in pink, a woman in red, a bride in white, and a housewife with faded eyes and only the ghost of her former rosy coloring on her cheeks smiling beneficently in a blue housedress holding two smiling children.

Her coffin was surrounded by dozens and dozens of flowers; soft pastels, bouquets of fragrant gardenias, trumpet lilies solemnly wafting an odd odor of sorrow, carnations of every hue, the daisies of youth and innocence, the roses of womanhood and beauty, and the thorns of a beautiful life gone somehow bitterly wrong.  Flowers she could no longer admire, giving off various perfumes she could no longer smell, and a tenderness of leaf and petal she could no longer caress.

The long line of cars, headlights ablaze, led by the black hearse, stopped at a green-lawned cemetery.  As yet, the gravesite bore no marker.  All was green save for the brown hole waiting to receive the black coffin of the dead woman in the black dress, the housewife with the faded eye, the dizzy girl in the red dress, the sweet-looking girl in the purple car.

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Published in: on May 2, 2014 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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