A GOOD DEED
Pam turned off her computer and tidied up her desk. Heavy rain splattered the windows, strong winds bent the trees of the nearby park. As a legal assistant, she worked for a small family law firm. She didn’t bring home a substantial salary, but it paid the bills. Things were tight for her and Tommy, her- five-year-old son. After a messy divorce, she found herself trying to juggle work and rearing a child on her own. Before leaving the office she called home.
An elderly voice answered.
“Hi, Rose, how’s Tommy doing?” she asked while arranging a lock of curls behind her ear.
“Hi, Pam, he’s fine. He finished eating.”
“I’m so sorry to be late, but I had a mountain of paperwork to finish. I hate not having dinner with him. Please, put him on.”
A tiny voice asked, “Hi, mommy, when are you coming home?”
“Hi, sweetheart, how’re you?
“Good. I ate dinner already. I miss you.”
“ I’ll be home as soon as I can and we could read your favourite book. I promise.”
“Okay, mommy. I love you every day.”
“Me too, sweetheart, very much.” Her voice broke after hearing Tommy’s candid remark.
Empathy filled Roses’heart. “Don’t worry, we’re fine. Drive carefully. It looks like a deluge is unfolding out there.”
“I will. See you soon.”
She turned off the phone, grabbed her raincoat and left the office.
While driving, she regretted living in the country. It took her almost an hour to get to her place. As a writer, Steven, her ex-husband, used to work from home. He convinced her it was a good thing to live in touch with nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. But it wasn’t her choice, like everything else in their marriage, he had the last word. When Tommy turned three, Steve left home and moved away with his lover.
The rain got heavier, it was dark, Pam could hardly see the road. She steadied her hands on the steering wheel and focused on her driving.
Suddenly, she slammed on the brakes. Someone was on the road. Pam squinted, her heart skipped a beat. In front of her car, a young woman stood waving her hands in the air. Soaked to the bone, the stranger ran to the car’s passenger side.
“Are you okay?” Pam asked as she put down her window. She took in the stranger’s appearance: a lanky girl, wearing jeans and only a tee-shirt, stood under the rain. Water painted her breasts on the tee. Her crying young face dripped water and tears.
“Please, lady, help me,” the girl pleaded, wringing her top with shaking hands.
Pam opened the passenger’s side door and let her in. The girl couldn’t stop shivering.
“Hi, what’s your name?” Pam asked.
“I’m Kelly,” the girl said. “Thank you for stopping,”
“I’m Pam. I’ve got a towel in the gym bag back there,” Pam said, pointing to the back seat. “Get it to dry yourself a bit. What happened to you?” The girl started to sob and couldn’t utter a word.
“That’s okay, calm down. Where do you live? I could take you home. How old are you, anyway?”
"I’m sixteen. I live close by, but I won’t go home.” Her voice sounded determined. She dried her face and hair with the towel.
Pam frowned. “Why not?”
“My mother is dating an asshole. He tried to get into my pants, so I ran away.’
”You should’ve called the police.”
“I didn’t have time. I got out of the house and ran onto the road.”
“I’m sorry, that happened to you.” Pam noticed Kelly’s bright green hair and the large ring she wore on her nose.
“Why don’t you phone your mom and talk to her?”
“No way. I did the first time it happened, but she didn’t believe me. She’s crazy about that guy.”
”What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know yet.” Kelly buried her head in her hands.
Pam squeezed the girl’s shoulder. ”Okay, I’ll take you to my place, and then we’ll figure out what to do.”
She restarted the car and drove about a block when Kelly’s scream startled her.
“Stop, please, stop! A log, a log! Watch out!
“What happened? I didn’t see a thing. Oh, God, it’s so frigging dark.” A sheen of sweat started to form on Pam’s forehead, cheek and chin. Her hands shook uncontrollably.
“What are we going to do?” Kelly asked.
“Help me move the log. Let’s do it together,” Pam said.
The two women got out of the vehicle, maneuvered the log and cleared the road. They ran back to the vehicle. No sooner had she started the car than a face appeared in the rearview mirror.
The man wearing a hoodie came out of his hiding place.
Pam turned her head to face the intruder. Panic gripped her heart.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” She said when she could talk. Pam clutched the steering wheel in fright. “Oh, gosh, what do you want?”
She felt cold metal on her neck. The blade of a carving knife rested against her throat.
“Don’t you move, bitch. Do what I say and you’ll be fine.”
“Please, don’t hurt me.” Pam pleaded. She couldn’t stop trembling. Her mouth felt dry.
“Keep driving,” the stranger said. He put away the knife.
Kelly had not said a word since the man got in the car.
While driving, Pam glanced at the stranger through the rearview mirror. He wore a black beanie and his gaze bounced from place to place. An incipient black mustache sat on his upper lip. She thought he could be in his late teens or early twenties.
He smelled of weed.
Pam kept driving for a while longer. Perspiration bathed her face. She could scent her fright.
Kelly and the man exchanged looks.
“Stop the car,” the man said.
“What do you want?” Pam’s voice quivered.
“Get the fuck out,” he commanded.
She did. Her legs shook so hard she wasn’t sure she could stand. Her heart pounded in her chest, a knot of fear occluded her throat. Rain poured down her face. She wanted to say something, but not a word escaped her mouth.
“We are taking your car,” Kelly said, standing by the man’s side.
“Oh God, you are in on this? I can’t believe it!”
Kelly chewed her gum. “Now you know.”
A thick forest lined the roadside. It was dark, the rain hadn’t eased off. Suddenly, the man kicked Pam on the back of her knee. She fell to the ground.
“Stop, Trev, no need to hurt her,” the girl said.
Trevor, oblivious to Kelly’s remark, dragged Pam to the side of the road, punched her in the gut and pushed her. The blow left her breathless. The way the land dropped made Pam slide down a steep slope.
“Hurry up, get in the car,” he yelled at Kelly. She jumped into the passenger seat. They drove off.
On her way down the slope, Pam got cuts and bruises on her face. Her lower lip bled. Twigs and mud nested in her tangled hair. Unsure of her environment, she tried to get up, instead, she slid farther down.
Darkness surrounded her, she couldn’t even see her hands. She needed to ask for help, but her phone was in her car.
A burst of twisted roots and some thick branches helped Pam to drag herself to the side of the road.
The rain had slowed down. There were no cars around. Shivering, teeth chattering, she sat on a rock waiting for a car to pass by. Her eyes welled up. It seemed she was sitting on that cold stone forever when she spotted a car’s headlights. She sprung from her seat and ran into the middle of the road. Hands in the air, she shouted, “Stop, stop, help! “ The car braked in front of her, its high beams blinded her. For a few seconds, she couldn’t see clearly.
A man got out of the car and ran to her.”Are you hurt?”
Pam could hardly stand. She felt dizzy, everything spun around. The last thing she remembered was a stranger approaching her. When she opened her eyes, she was lying down in the man’s car. His jacket covered her up to her chin.
Dazed and confused, she asked, “Where am I?”
“You’re in my car. You passed out, I brought you here,” he said.
She placed a hand on her forehead. “Thank you.”
“I’m Michael. What happened to you?”
Pam’s voice sounded weak, and her eyes became watery. ”A couple of teens assaulted me. They stole my car.”
Michael shook his head. “Did you call the police?”
“I will, as soon as I get to my house. They took my purse, I don’t have a phone. I live nearby. Could you take me home, please?”
“For sure,” he said.
He started the car, while he drove Pam had the opportunity to observe him. He had angular features, a well-kept mustache, and abundant white hair. A pair of gold-rimmed glasses gave him the aspect of a teacher.
”What do you do for a living, Michael”?
“I teach Math to grades eleven and twelve.” Pam smiled.
“Do you think you could recognize the teens that attacked you?”
“I believe so. The girl had bright green hair. She got in the car first, the young man did it later. He put a log on the road to make me stop. They knew each other. I guess they must’ve planned it together.”
Michael’s face turned ashen. He frowned when he asked, “Did she wear a ring on her nose?”
“As a matter of fact, yes, she did.” Pam’s eyes widened.
Michael stopped the car. He sucked in a quick breath. “My daughter is sixteen. She dyes her hair bright green, she wears a ring on her nose. Her name is Kelly.”
Pam’s mouth fell open. She gasped a large “oh.” Not knowing what else to do, she touched Michael’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, me too. She’s our only child. She lies all the time, she runs away with trashy boys and then returns home. We’ve been to counselling so many times. My wife and I don’t know what to do with her anymore.”
Pam didn’t say a word.
”Too bad kids don’t come with a manual when we get them from the maternity ward,” he said.
She gave an understanding nod.
“I’m sorry your daughter turned out this way. But she’s young, and there is time to amend her mistakes. What do we do now?”
“You do what you have to.”
She bit her lower lip.“I should call the police.”
“Yeah, I agree. It’s the right thing to do. Kelly is a minor, this is her first offence. Probably, she’ll have to do community work. Even if she has to spend a couple of nights in jail; it’d be good for her.”
Michael continued, “I’m so sorry for what you went through.”
“Thanks. Me too.”
“I should take you to your place.”
“Yes, please, do” She gave him a half-smile.