The ride to the beach was a quiet one. I could feel the tension between these two, it was very thick. She sat between us in the cabin of his truck. The closeness of her body was making me twitchy. She needed to leave this bastard. And soon. Billy's pick-up truck stopped at the Northeast Beach of Campus, right off Pratt Lane. It was truly an awesome day, and many other patrons felt the same way.
"Wow, how many days do you see like this in April eh Billy?" Annie said excitedly.
"Yeah babe, just point me in the direction of the keg. Corey said he was gonna have one down here today." Billy said looking around. His eyes landing on his target, "There he is, lets go. I don't want to wait for a cup." He said as he bolted from the truck to find his nectar of the gods.
"It's nice to see a man with priorities." I joked. The look on Annie's face was forlorn. "What is it Annie? Did I say something wrong?" She turned slowly to look at me.
"No, I just don't like him to drink so much. He just won't listen to me. Every time I bring it up we fight and he gets really upset and then he well let's just say I don't bring it up anymore." She finished quietly.
I was really pissed off now.
If he has done ANYTHING to you, I will kill him where he stands.
My protective feathers were ruffled tremendously. There was something inside of me that needed to protect Annie with everything that I had. I wasn't about to let her down.
There is such a sorrowful look on her face. She was so excited just a few minutes ago. I need to stop her sadness. It is too nice of a day to feel like this. I'll try to talk to her about this another time. She doesn't look like she wants to talk about this anymore.
"What d'ya say we find a volleyball game or something to watch?" I suggested.
Her face instantly lit up. "What do you mean watch? Let's go kick some ass!" She said with an amazing fire in her eyes. She dashed out to the game already in progress.
Annie ran up to some friends of hers that were there and asked if they needed any more players. I stood at the sidelines of the pseudo playing court and waited for a signal from Annie.
Annie's face was beaming from the sunshine and the adrenaline rush of wanting to play.
She is absolutely adorable and straight. I need to remember that.
I was taken out of my thoughts by a snapping set of fingers in my face. "Frankie? Darlin, you okay?" She asked.
"Yeah, do we get to play?" I asked hoping to be able to take out some aggression on an unknowing ball.
"Yes ma'am, this is Betsy, she lives on my floor." She introduced, "Betsy this is Frankie, we just met earlier today. She is very nice." She leaned over conspiratorially to Betsy, "And she is very attractive, don't you think?" My face instantly blushed and I tried to turn away. Annie caught my face with her fingertips, and spoke directly into my eyes. "You are darlin, don't take for granted what you have been given freely." God those were words to live by. "Hell, you could have anyone here if you wanted!" They both started laughing, and Betsy chimed in, "And we do mean anyone!"
Was that a hint for her or Annie? I am rooting for the latter.
"Thanks. I guess I'm just not very good at accepting compliments." I said almost shyly, surprising even me.
"Come on Frankie, let's go kick some ass!" Betsy said as she put her arm around my shoulders and led me towards the team.
The three of us took the front row of our little squad and awaited the serve from the other team. I took the middle, Betsy was front right, and Annie the front left.
"Incoming!" Screamed one of girls in the back row. I looked up to see the serve coming right for Annie. She watched the ball come right for her. She connected solidly with the ball and bumped it to Betsy who in turn set it up for my spike. I eyed the ball and leapt as high as I could.
"YES!" The girls on my team shouted as my shot landed in between two girls on the other team in the back row.
"Way to go Frankie!" Annie beamed at me. I couldn't help but smile back.
This was easy. Although, I think I had quite an advantage over them.
"Annie! Get your ass over here!" Billy shouted from the sidelines.
"Billy, I'm in the middle of the game here, give me a couple seconds ok?" She asked.
"No, I want you now! Move it girlie!" He gruffed.
Annie's face fell as she walked over to him. "Hey, sorry guys, I'll be back in a sec." She said.
I couldn't help but watch the interaction between them. Billy was an asshole, plain and simple, I just didn't understand what Annie saw in him. She could do so much better than him. She deserved much better than him. He was just too stupid to realize what he had.
Annie walked over to Billy and again he grabbed her upper arm roughly. "When I ask you to come over to me, you do it! Not in a few seconds or minutes. Now means now!" He sputtered.
"I'm sorry Billy, what is it that you wanted?" She quietly asked.
"We need more beer. Go to the store and get another half barrel." He pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket and handed it to her. Annie took the wadded bills in her hands as she took his keys. She weakly smiled at him and he leaned down for a kiss. He grabbed the back of her hair roughly pulling her head back to face him. She whimpered slightly as she let him kiss her sloppily.
She pulled back and started to walk towards the truck. Billy slapped her ass as she walked away and downed the rest of his beer. He laughed with his buddies about his role in their relationship.
"Damn bitch, never listens to me. I'll straighten her out later on. You think you can embarrass me in front of my friends? I'll teach you some manners " He trailed off when I approached him.
"What do you want?" He asked as he staggered and tried to focus on me.
"Something tells me that even a dog wouldn't obey you. If she has any sense to her at all, she'll leave your sorry ass. Since I believe she has more sense than you'll ever have, it's just a matter of time." I really wanted to lay him out, but something told me that this wasn't a good time for that.
"Bitch. You sure don't know shit about women. Annie likes the way we are. Don't you baby?" He yelled out to her and she nodded slightly. I couldn't believe my eyes. "See? She ain't going nowhere. Not without me anyway." He smugly said as his friends joined him in his snickering. God I want to make him eat the sand under my shoes right now. Calm down Frankie, if Annie doesn't want your help, you can't make her accept it. My thoughts took control and I didn't feel the slight tug on my sleeve.
"You want to come with me to the store Frankie?" Annie asked. "I gotta pick up some beer for the guys." She asked with a look that almost pleaded with me to come with her.
"Sure." I said as I eyeballed Billy. "Asshole. Don't say I didn't warn you. She'll be gone before you know it." I smiled at him in a feral kind of way.
Pop taught me that sometimes if you smile just so, people will understand your passion without having to feel it smash against their skull. This was one of those times that I wished I was smashing something against Billy's skull.
It's not like he didn't deserve it. Bastard.
"Let's go Annie." I smiled a sweet smile her way and turned towards the truck.
"Hey Bets! We'll be back in a few, OK?" Annie shouted at our teammate.
"Sure guys! See you soon! Don't do anything I wouldn't!" She shouted back to us.
That was an odd statement. This day is getting odder by the second. Who am I kidding? This is the oddest fucking day I have EVER had.
We walked to the truck in moderate silence. Annie looked distraught, and it wasn't hard to figure out why. Her so-called boyfriend had just humiliated her, and you can be guaranteed that it wasn't the first time. We got in the truck and sat in silence for a few moments.
"Hey, you okay?" I asked softly.
She looked up with tear filled eyes that almost broke my heart. "I don't know why he has to drink so much. He is never like this when we are alone. I'm sorry that you had to see that, being that we just met and all. Thanks for sticking up for me though." She added as she gently touched my forearm.
"Who wouldn't stick up for you? He was being a real jerk and he needed to be told off." I explained.
"Well, still, thank you. I really appreciated that."
"I'll do it again if I have to Annie. He shouldn't treat you like that. Drunk or not, he was an asshole. Forgive me for saying so."
"No need to apologize, Billy was being an asshole. I just need to stick up for myself more. It's just " She trailed off. "Well let's just say he doesn't like those discussions." She said to the air above her as she rested her head against the seat and blew out an exasperated breath.
"Annie, I know you and I really don't know each other well, but can I ask you a personal question?"
Her eyes returned to mine. "Sure. I can't promise I'll answer, but you can ask." She smiled weakly.
"OK, there is no easy way of asking this, so I'm just gonna ask."
"Ok." She fully focused in on me.
"Does Billy hit you?"
She turned in the driver's seat and gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white. I could see tears rolling down her face. I reached up to wipe away her tear when she flinched at my touch. Her face went from showing sadness to fear in a matter of milliseconds.
"Hey Annie? You don't ever need to be afraid of me. I would never lay a hand on you. Please know that." I said in my most gentle but most reassuring tone.
"I'm sorry Frankie " She started. She looked out towards the beach and took a deep breath before continuing. "No one Knows anything No one has ever even bothered to ask. It took a total stranger to see all of this. You don't feel like a stranger to me though. I'm so comfortable with you; it's almost scary." She turned to face me and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know how to leave him. It's always been this way. My dad was the same way with my mom well before she left us."
"She left you with your dad?" I asked.
"Yeah He had never hit me, so I guess she thought I would be safe. She just knew that she had to leave. She left me a note though wasn't that thoughtful? That was over ten years ago. I've never heard from her since."
Somewhere in this conversation I found a very sad and lonely girl. She was becoming a statistic. Raised by a father who beat her mother, who in turn started beating her, and now she was dating a man who beat her too.
If I have anything to say about this Annie, you will not turn into a statistic. I'll do everything in my power to make sure that you stay safe and loved. I'll make you see how much you deserve those things, and more.
"Frankie?" She broke me from my reverie.
"Sorry, kinda spaced out there for a minute. You know, my mom left my Pop and me when I was two. So I kinda know where you are coming from. The only difference is that my Pop didn't beat me." I said honestly.
"You were one of the lucky ones that's for sure. It just makes you wonder why, you know?" She rhetorically said, I knew she wasn't looking for an answer.
"Well, if you need help with Billy, I'll be here for you, I promise." I said as I noticed her rolling her eyes. I took her forearm gently but firm enough for her to face me. "A Camarelli never breaks a promise." I said very seriously.
"Thank you Frankie, I think I might even believe you." She replied.
"Good, because I'm very serious about this." I finished as she took my hand in hers and gave it a squeeze.
"Let's get this damn thing over with. I can't believe that they drank all of that already. This party only started a couple hours ago." She said disbelieving.
Annie started the engine and we headed off to liquor store. We drove down Sheridan Road and I was still in shock from all of the changes that I was witnessing.
We drove past the 400 Theater and I looked at the Marquis. The Godfather Part II. My head was spinning so badly I felt like I was in Back to the Future.
"I think I liked the third Godfather the best." I said without thinking,
"The third Godfather? Frankie, there are only two."
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb Frankie! "I meant I liked this one the third time that I saw it." Smooth catch idiot. Hi Annie! I'm from the future, where you invaded my dreams with your voice. Remember me? God!
"Oh." Annie said as she was eyeing me suspiciously.
"I need some music, do you mind if I turn on the radio?" I quickly asked.
"Sure, I could use some myself." She said as she leaned over to turn on the radio.
She was turning the tuning knob like mad. God I forgot how radio's used to look without a CD player or a cassette deck in them. I wouldn't have been surprised to have seen an eight track in there somewhere. She finally settled on Elton John's Bennie and the Jets.
Hey kids, shake it loose together,
The spotlight's hitting something
That's been known to change the weather.
We'll kill the fatted calf tonight
So stick around,
You're gonna hear electric music,
Solid walls of sound.
I had always had a soft spot for Elton John. It made me happy to see that she felt the same way. I watched her as she sang along with the melody as the chorus kicked in. She had a beautiful singing voice.
Say, Candy and Ronnie, have you seen them yet
But they're so spaced out, Bennie and the Jets,
But they're weird and they're wonderful,
Oh Bennie she's really keen.
She's got electric boots a mohair suit,
You know I read it in a magazine,
Oh! Bennie and the Jets.
I smiled as I watched her slam out sound of the B's in the word Bennie over and over again. I looked over at her and she started to look a little fuzzy to me. I rubbed my eyes and tried to sharpen my vision. I felt myself get extremely tired and was helpless to fight it off. I closed my eyes thinking that if I rested for a second or two I would feel better. My eyes were shuttering close and I could see Annie talking to me but I couldn't hear her voice anymore.
What the hell? Annie? Can you hear me? Annie? Annie? Why aren't you answering me? Annie? Annie?
"Annie? Annie?" I heard myself mumble.
"Frankie? Come on sweetheart, wake up." I heard a familiar voice say. "Frankie? You are dreaming Hon, come on wake up." I finally recognized the voice, but it wasn't Annie, it was Crystal. Oh shit no
My eyes slowly opened to find concerned brown ones staring back at me. The curly brown hair and deep brown eyes were unmistakably Crystal. She looked down with a small smile on her lips.
"Welcome back darlin. Are you ok?" She asked, but I couldn't speak. After a couple of attempts I finally took a deep breath and concentrated on forming words that were so hard to annunciate.
"No it couldn't have been God damn it." I closed my eyes as they were filling with tears.
"Frankie? What's wrong? Shh why are you crying?" She gently asked as she stroked my sweat soaked bangs.
"I can't believe it was just a dream. I just cant She was right here I touched her Crystal Oh God " I rolled onto my stomach and began to cry mournfully. I felt a loneliness I hadn't felt since my Pop passed away.
I really hope that the bastard playing with my emotions is getting a good laugh now, because if I ever find them I won't be responsible for my actions.
This I guarantee.
Continued in Chapter Seven
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