Tori, the lost cause


My aunt hooked me up with her friend’s niece when I first arrived in Detroit.  I didn’t know anyone there, so Tori said she’d show me around. I met up with her the first time at a restaurant where she worked.  I watched her as she traipsed around the floor, flirting with customers, charming everything she passed.  She had an easy grace to her, coupled with a strangely attractive sort of vulnerability.

Tori’s boyfriend was an abusive drug dealer.  She was one of those poor naive women who truly believed that some men are just misunderstood and that they can, with much hard work and perseverance, be changed or saved.  This is how she explained it to me as we got tossed in my kitchen, drinking forties of Colt 45.

We had many of these drinking “sessions,” where we’d get completely loaded and I’d listen to her latest horror story about her deadbeat boyfriend.  He wrecked her car.  He slept with her friend.  He killed her goldfish.  He told her she was fat. I tried my best to explain to her that he wasn’t misunderstood; he was just an asshole exploiting her kind heart, her maternal nature, and he would never change if she didn’t leave him.  I told her that women don’t necessarily help their men by sticking around; they enable them to continue being useless jerks.  To this she’d always say, “Well, it’s complicated.”

One night we got really hammered and drove to an industrial park, filled with old train cars.  We climbed to the top of one and split a bottle of Wild Irish Rose. We stared into the starless sky.  I told her then that she was my only real friend and that I loved her.  I told her that I wanted to take care of her and make her feel wanted and pretty and needed.  We kissed for our first and last time on top of that abandoned train car.

The next time I saw her, she had a black eye and swollen lip.  “That son of a bitch,” I snarled.  I drove to her apartment, despite her protests. I beat her boyfriend senseless with an iron.  Sent him to the hospital. I knew it would upset Tori, but I felt justice had to be served.  After that she wouldn’t speak to me.  Beating up the bad guy lost me my only real friend in Detroit.

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