The trickle of soft red wine being poured into a single glass broke an awkward silence that had until that point had been persistent and unrelenting. I positioned myself to his right and leaned against a blue pillow, casually propping my arm against his. Mom sat on the large white couch making herself comfortable before dinner was served. It had been a long day like many others and she needed time to unwind which usually meant a warm soak in the tub, music and the occasional glass of red wine. She was a straight-laced, small town, God-fearing woman who remembered where she came from but years of sophistication could not be hidden. Her questions were broad and friendly but it was apparent that she would be honing in on more important details later.
Inquiries regarding education and career goals were interspersed in a causal way that masked a dogged concern regarding his past. He eagerly pieced together sentences and informed her that he was studying Engineering and had already been a draftsman in Damascus for several years. He was the second of 7 children, and his father owned a store in the business district downtown. He smiled graciously and appeared happy, even enthusiastic in response to each and every query.
What he lacked in mastery of the English language he easily made up for tenfold in a polite and appropriate disposition. No request was too large and he would never utter a complaint but contentedly agreed to help whenever needed. A freshly shaven face coupled with dark eyes, black hair and an attitude of worldly yet humble reservation all added to his charm.
His expertise and know how was offered from that point forward in various areas and overshadowed any flaws that might have been visible in this initial stage. A random sheet was sewn into a couch cover for a new floral sofa on the middle floor, a large wooden food dispenser was hand crafted for Bosco and meticulous details on jobs that needed attention were finished in a timely manner.
A dream had become reality but would ever so slowly evolve and blur into abuse, control and rage.
This is an ongoing series explaining how things all began. Links for the first five installments can be found here:
Spokane Wa. 1982
His hands had brushed wet hair away from sleepy eyes and a kiss landed on my cheek and lips. He was reserved, even unassuming but somehow acted as if he belonged just where he was. I watched him walk with Dad to the pickup and found myself in a haze of emotions, unsure of what to think or feel.
Ice bags teetered on my shoulder until I delivered each one to the counter where they were scooped into a container. Orange butter was dropped into a machine followed by popcorn and seasonings. Condiments were refilled along with hot dogs and lunch meat. The morning routine never changed and soon the doors for Bingo would be opened.
Denise raised a neatly manicured eyebrow and stared through steamy glasses after filling paper bags with freshly seasoned cheese corn. An ongoing play by-play was expected and given to my middle-aged co-worker who delighted in these youthful exploits. Her full attention was focused on the morning’s events and the idea that the man from just a week before was now staying at my family’s home.
Each hour was marked by the large clock that hung opposite our counter and the continuous round of games that cycled on the hour; diagonal, X, Letter T and postage stamp until they announced the blackout. “BINGO” and finally it was done, we packed up supplies, washed counters and Denise motioned for me to leave. Her smile melted into a quizzical and almost cautionary look as I waved and made my way out the back.
This is a series detailing how I met him and how things began. If you missed the first story you can find it here.
Pullman, Wa. 1982
A shaded silhouette just outside the apartment kept its pace and could be seen through smoke laden curtains. Finally silence was broken with a knock at the door. I had been watching the thin figure as it made its way back and forth several times and now there he stood, the man from the previous day.
Sweaty hands left an imprint on the vinyl couch and loose hair flitted back and forth, masking a full view of the kitchen and entrance to the apartment. I fidgeted with a loose piece of material and tapped my fingers nervously, giving my sister the look that meant I was thoroughly annoyed. A repeat of the initial conversation was now whispered and gained volume with each syllable and expletive. My position had been clearly stated and left nothing more to be discussed.
He was handsome with olive skin and black curly hair, dark brown eyes and a black moustache made him look mature and self-assured. His thick accent and rudimentary language skills made hand gestures necessary but it was clear he was asking me out for a drink. He had borrowed a friends’ car and was waiting, it would be quick and harmless. It seemed ridiculous to continue protesting and it would make my sister and her boyfriend happy. One simple night out and life would then return to normal.
He drove to a nearby town where we sat for hours in the local hotel lounge. A polite and respectful exchange slowly drifted into intimate glances and eventually a tender press of his lips onto mine. He had a different way about him, doors opened, gentle words were spoken and an overall sense of a grounded person was presented. A reminder still tugged at my brain cautioning me to be guarded but I would not be deterred from following my heart.