The soft sound of the alarm in my mobile phone at the bedside table woke me up. It was six AM, and I was feeling like hell. I was hurting bad and my throat seemed to be on fire, I felt that it was closed and I couldn't swallow even my own saliva; I felt feverish and each and every joint in my body was as if it had its own life, such was the intense pain they produced. I looked at Nora peacefully sleeping beside me, and I was undecided about whether to wake her up or let her continue sleeping. I decided for the moment, that there was no sense in waking her at that hour of the morning when I had to go to family court at a hearing scheduled for 8: 30 AM. I got up with great effort, went to the bathroom, made my morning ritual except for my morning shower, and quietly dressed so as not to wake her.
I felt increasingly feverish and my legs felt like rubber. I was shaking like a leaf in the wind, but I had an important court date in which the safety, welfare, and the future of an abused and beaten woman was dependent. I turned the car engine on, and slowly and as quietly as I could, left the garage and headed to the women's shelter where I was one of three lawyers. We each work 20 hours a week on a 'pro bono' agreement, which means our work is free, and our only benefit is a reduction in the payment of our yearly taxes to the state.
I was feeling nauseous when I arrived at the shelter, my body temperature was in up mode, and my brain was fuzzy with my head ready to explode from the pain. The problem was that even without it being my turn to be here today, there was nobody else who could accompany the beaten lady to court as the other two lawyers were not available; Maria was out with a month's maternity leave, and Steve, the third attorney, who should be now taking his place to go to court, was in the hospital with an sprained knee that happened while playing soccer with his university friends.
I went to my desk to wait for the female police officer and the patrol car in which we were going to drive to court. The powers of our great city had decided to establish a separate police station within the police department, managed exclusively by women police officials, after the increasing number of cases of domestic violence, and abused and battered women. It's called the feminine police.
I started thinking about my situation while waiting for the patrol car to arrive. We three lawyers were partners in our law office; Maria, Steve, and I were fellow students in college and university while studying to be lawyers. We became good friends agreed to be partners in a law firm and devote ourselves exclusively to family law. Our team was the best in this branch of law in no time at all, and divorces became our tickets to good money and a good standard of life, hence our commitment to provide legal advice to women and their children without resources who had to take refuge in the shelter.
The shelter was divided in two separate parts, one dedicated to abused women who were alone, and the other received and protected women with children. Both shelters were the responsibility of the State Social Services but, as usual, social services was the Cinderella of public services, with very limited funding in the government's annual budget, so it didn't have sufficient funds, was understaffed, and had no money to hire lawyers. This drove the agreement and subsequent contract with our law firm to provide legal advice to people in shelters. Poor people do not give political favors.
I was in a state of drowsiness, sweating and feeling like hell, when I felt a hand on my shoulder gently shaking me, and a soft voice telling me it was time to go. I looked up and saw my usual driver to court, police Sergeant Anne Mckey.
"My God, Counselor, you look like shit."
Getting up from the chair, I wearily replied, "I feel like shit, Sergeant."
"It's Anne, Counselor, remember me?"
"Yes, of course I do, and as I told you, my given name is Elizabeth, so call me Beth, all my friends do."
"We can proceed if you're ready. Please go fetch Ms. Shuster and we'll go to court?"
"Yes, let me call and make sure she is ready, it won't be a minute."
I felt giddiness and my head spinning as I was getting up from my chair, and two strong hands held me when I was about to fall to the floor, "My God, you're burning with fever. We'd better we call the courthouse and ask for the hearing to be delayed for a few days until you feel better."
"No, that's not possible; Ms. Shuster's health is in danger, and it's her best interest that the judge renders judgment today so she's free from her husband's threats. I will go home and to bed at once afterwards."
We were in court at 8:15 and we were called into chambers by the bailiff at 8:30 on the dot. I thought we would be in court at least till midday, but we were in our way to the unmarked police car with a jubilant Ms. Shuster at 10 to 10, whose husband was sent to prison with a sentence of five to ten years for domestic violence with intent to kill and to inflict severe bodily and psychological harm.
I went to my office, once back in the shelter, to store and archive the documents before going home. I couldn't drive in my fevered state, so I was going to leave my car in the parking lot and get a taxi to go home and Nora. Anne, was waiting propped on the right fender of the undercover car, and wouldn't have anything of that. She called to me as I left the building and told me, "OK, let's go, I'm taking you home," and turned to go the left side of the car and climb behind the wheel.
"Oh, I can't let you do this, you may get in trouble with your superiors; I'll take a cab."
"No way am I letting you go alone in that state, and don't worry, I'm not a patrolwoman. I'm a Sergeant and have my privileges such as not to wear the uniform in cases like this. Come on get in the car, no excuses accepted."
I got in the car and put my seat belt on with a groan. "Thank you, Anne, it's really sweet of you to do this; I owe you."
She looked at me with an indefinite expression on her face, her smoldering green eyes saying nothing, and she oddly didn't ask for my address, just took the right direction to my house. We were silently in my driveway in about 25 minutes. It was a quarter to eleven, a moment in time that I would not easily forget. Drawing strength from the weakness and feeling worse and worse, I almost fell to the ground while trying to get out of the car; Anne quickly grabbed my arm, preventing the fall and said: "Wait a minute, I'll help you." She got out the car, came to my side, took the house keys from my hand, took me by my armpits, helped me get up, and almost dragged me to the door of my house. I didn't want her to know I was sleeping with another woman. I was 'in the closet' as they say.
Anne opened the door, and the dead silence inside made me breathe a sigh of relief. Nora wasn't home and I thought that my shameful secret was safe, so what was left was just to thank Anne for her kindness, send her to her work, go to bed, and wait for Nora to call my doctor. Anne wouldn't hear of it, and truth be told, I was in no condition to offer any resistance. She took me in her arms almost like a child, so weak was I, and asked where the bedroom was; I pointed the direction down the hall with a nod of my head. I'm not heavy, but she carried my sick and feverish body as if I was a little girl; I could feel the strength of her arms and the sinuosity of her muscles, feminine, but strong, and I felt protected like never before in my life; it was a new sentiment.
I couldn't believe the scene before our eyes when we got to the open bedroom door, and there was Nora with a man, both naked and having intercourse in my bed. I went limp in Anne's arms and before losing consciousness, I heard her cry "What the hell is happening here, and who the hell both of you are?" She later laughingly told me that they were so surprised, she screamed with fright and his deflated penis came out Nora's vagina with a plop.
I was surprised, not that Beth had a woman lover, which was her right, but that her lover dared to take a man home to fuck in her benefactor's bed. I carefully put Beth down in a chair by the vanity, showed them my badge, and told them to dress fast. I took them to the family room once dressed, and I handcuffed them together back to back on two chairs so they couldn't escape. I went to the bedroom, changed the bed sheets, undressed Beth to her bra and panties, and put her in bed. I immediately went to the den, looked for the address book and phone numbers, and rapidly called Beth's family doctor.
Dr. Marion Taylor has been Beth's family doctor for 30 years now, and new her medical history since she was a little girl. I told her everything that had happened since early morning and asked what I could do until she arrived to make Beth comfortable. Dr. Marion only asked me how high Beth's fever was, and said to fill the tub with ice water if it was more than 104 degrees, to put Beth in the bathtub to avoid her having seizures that could lead to a coma, and that she would be at Beth's house as soon as possible.
She also told me to carefully watch the drop of Beth's temperature and to take her out of the cold water when it had dropped to around 99 degrees, wrap her in a bathrobe, dry her, and put her in bed. I went to the fridge, took all the ice in it, and put the ice in the bathtub then filled it halfway with cold water. I called the zone police precinct in the meantime, and asked for the Sergeant in charge of the morning shift.
.... There is more of this story ...