When I woke up all I could do after a good 5 minutes effort was let out a low groan.
My face. It hurt. A lot.
I stayed in bed for an hour or so before the need to go to the toilet overrode my self-pity. I happened to glance in the mirror in the bathroom.
The left side of my face was bloated around my eye, which wasn’t open much. The bridge of my nose was swollen, but it didn’t look wonky or anything so I guessed it wasn’t broken. It had bled profusely though. I probed the blooming purple bruises, already going yellow at the edges, with my fingers tenderly.
Yep touching hurt.
And I really needed to wash, there was so much blood on the lower half of my face. I shudder thinking about the reason why not all of it was mine. Not really fancying the cold water I boiled the kettle and mixed it with cold in the sink.
It was soothing. I tried not to touch my bruises, splashing and soaking it as much as I could. I was feeling… woozy, but not dizzy. Hopefully that meant I didn’t have a concussion or anything.
I had some serious stuff to consider though.
Firstly I needed a helmet, or something to protect my head. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it.
Secondly, if I wanted to go any further I should probably actually get some training in how to fight. Somewhere where I could practice with others or something, like a martial arts place, there must be loads around in Montreal. I think it was ok to spend the funds on that.
I went back to my bed and tried to sleep some more but it wasn’t happening. It was about noon, Sunday. I wondered if Jim’s shop was open? I might as well check.
* * *
Turns out you get a lot of funny looks when you’ve got a black eye. I wondered if Jim would mention anything.
The bell chimed as I went through the door.
There were a few customers browsing the gun racks. Jim was behind the counter tapping away at a tablet. I went straight up to him.
“Hey.” I said
He looked up and almost jumped back. “Jesus Christ girl! What the fuck happened to your face? I didn’t even recognise you.” He squinted his eyes and peered at me.
“Yeah… I need a helmet Jim, the armour was great by the way, so was the other stuff but I completely forgot about a helmet.”
“I can see that. But sorry lass, I don’t stock any helmets – not really something we’d get a lot of sales from.”
I sighed, two hour trek for nothing.
“You could try some extreme sports shops; mountaineering, snowboarding and stuff like that? It depends if you are after some serious riot or military protection or just protection from impacts. If you want fancy you’d have to order it off the internet.”
That was a good idea. I probably didn’t want a high-tech bullet-proof military helmet, just something to stop a punch or a bat.
“Thanks Jim, I’ll check it out, see what I can find.” I turned to go, but then remembered something. “Hey, you sell martial arts stuff – do you know any decent people to go to?”
“Depends what you’re after girl, for sport or self-defence?”
“Is it not obvious?” I grinned at him.
“Sure, I know someone who might be able to help you get a little less beat up next time. Here I’ll write his name and address down.” He started opening drawers looking for a pen.
* * *
As I left the shop the cold air hit me like a wall. I was beginning to feel dizzy again, maybe I had been a bit ambitious doing so much so soon, I should have stayed in bed longer. I looked at the address on the slip of plastic Jim had given me. It was on the other side of town, and I didn’t feel up to going there right now.
I set off back home.
* * *
When I got up to the flat, taking the stairs a step at a time, I found it occupied. I opened to door to two burly men, which was unusual.
They didn’t normally come in pairs.
Why had they sent two people come to give mom her drugs? I wished I’d stayed out half an hour more. I hated being here when they came. Mom was sitting on the sofa – my sofa. Awake for once. She was talking with them. I could hardly just turn around and leave straight after coming on though. I walked to the bathroom. One of them looked at me.
“Fucking hell, what happened to your face kid?” He said.
I ignored him. Mum didn’t even look up at me. I got to the bathroom and locked the door with a sigh of relief. I put my ear to it to listen to them.
“Here.” The guy who’d spoken before. There was a rustling of paper. “We have to watch you eat it, standard routine.”
“Why are there two of you? Where’s Billy, he normally gives me my stuff.” Mom said.
“Don’t worry, there’s some nutter who’s been making trouble lately that’s all.”
There was a quiet period. Mom must be eating. I waited and after a while some more rustling of paper.
“Alright, that’ll do. Here’s your dose.” The same guy.
Mom replied. “This is less than usual. Where’s the rest?”
“Prices rise mam, you got any more money? Then you can get more.”
“Listen, lady. What are you gonna do about it? Call the police?” There was a silence. “Thought not.”
I heard mom get up and head to the bedroom. She was going to shoot up as soon as she could. When the door closed behind her the man who hadn’t spoken yet started talking.
“Why’d you go telling her about that? We should keep it quiet.” He said.
“Who cares, this is all gonna blow over in a few weeks and we’ll be back to normal. I hate having to do shit jobs like this in pairs. Takes twice as long.”
“Blow over? Did you see what happened to Chad’s face?”
“That old drunk? The new lad said it was just some kid anyway.”
“Some kid? Old drunk? Chad was one of the best fighters we have, he could take on most the people I know. He’s still in hospital with his face half ripped off! And what about Johnny? That ‘kid’ bit his fucking finger off! He fought off 4 of our guys, tough ones too.”
Wow, they were talking about me. Good, I was an inconvenience enough to stop them going on jobs alone, even handing out a bit of drugs to some junkies. I was actually having an effect.
My stomach turned though, I’d put someone in hospital…
“He is going to get himself killed soon enough, don’t you worry.” I could hear the pair of them leaving the room, swinging the door shut.
It was sobering. I hadn’t come far off getting killed that last night. But still, I was actually accomplishing something.
I went to check if mom had left any of the food they brought. It was as cheap as possible, but also nutritional – that was the point. It was a good day when the dealers were lax and I managed to get a few mouthfuls. I hadn’t eaten much all weekend.
Turned out I was lucky. They weren’t doing their job very well; letting sleepers leave food was a bad idea. I’d probably have to make sure mom ate something when she woke.
I spent the rest of the night listening to the radio and trying to sleep – I was tired enough but it was more from exertion. I wasn’t really sleepy. When I did finally doze it was fitful and broken.