Stepping into a mess. Always avoid stepping into somebody’s problems. ‘Cause once you’re in, you can’t get out. Try as you might, it’s a difficult process.
He felt bad for her. She said her husband beat her. That was her claim. And sometimes he’d see bruises on her. Black and blue ’round the wrist where he’d grabbed her. A black eye.
They’d sit at the bar and she’d tell him all about it. Like he was a psychiatrist or something. Maybe a priest. She had sins to confess as well.
She told him about another man she was involved with. Owned a used car lot. She wouldn’t say his name. But, there was only one used car lot in town. Fred Jones Automotive. He had those silly commercials on at three in the morning. Wearing costumes and a man in a monkey suit. Eating bananas while Fred talked about savings and clean, clean cars.
The two talked about her leaving him. He said she’d be better off with the used car man. She’d smile and stir her drink. She said, They don’t make them like they used to. My daddy. He was a true man, she said. Stayed with my mom for fifty years. Never even thought of leaving. My momma never had a bruise or a scratch on her. She was loved.
Never step into a mess. Keep your nose clean. He kept thinking that as he sat there listening to her ramble on. The more she talked, the more scared he got. He was starting to get emotionally involved. He wanted to punch this guy. Wanted to take care of her.
I’m meeting my lover tonight, she said. Thanks for listening, he nodded. She gave him a kiss on the cheek. He listened to her talk for hours and she paid him with a kiss.
He watched her walk out of the bar and get into a shiny Lincoln. He laughed. Ordered another drink. Told the bartender to be careful where he stepped. Avoid problems, he said. Now I got a headache on my hands.
Every once in awhile he’d see her around town. She’d wave. He’d nod his head. They never really spoke again. He avoided that mess. Went on about his life. But, every time he saw those used car commercials, he’d think of her. Hoped she was alright. Months passed.
The evening news said she was missing. Anyone with any information should contact the police. He thought about calling. Then decided to stay out of it.
Fred Jones came on the TV and was smiling as always. He wondered what he was smiling about ? Wondered what had happened to her. He popped open another beer. Put on Bill Evans. And listened to the music.