James called, and he wanted to go out for sushi, with me, tonight. His strong jaw and handsome faced brunette with deep set eyes made me smile because he was hot and he asked me out. I finished my shift at the grocery store and hurried to the teen homes and went to community shower and washed the left-over cabbage scent on my body. I wore my black leggings and mini skirt with a tight red top to Jake's Pizza on my bike. It wasn't far, but it was a stretch from my shelter. I saw James waiting in his white Dodge Ram pick-up truck.
"Thank God, I thought he was going to stood me up," I said to myself. "A good night for me, please. First date since Merrick."
"Gorgeous, are you ready?" said James.
"Yes, thank you for coming," I said. "I was afraid you weren't going to show up."
"I wouldn't do that. I was the one who asked you," said James.
"I rode my bike, so I hope the place isn't far and it's okay for you to drive us?" I asked.
"Yes, we can drive back from there, or if the date goes well, we can still stop by my place," said James, with a wide smile and white teeth.
"We'll see," I said. I felt pushed by his inuendo of going back to his place after the date.
"Let's go," said James.
The drive took five minutes with Iwajima located close by. It was scant with customers but the ambiance was beautiful. Black furniture and dim lights with just the bright sepia lanterns as decors and small vases of fresh Gerber Daisies and baby's breaths. He picked a table by the sushi bar, and said, "I wanted to show you this beautiful drink. It's their specialty. Asamamurasaki, or Japanese purple rice wine."
"Sake? It's hard liquor," I said. I wasn't ready for it, but it's been a decade since I was on a nice date, that I was willing to try everything for the first time. "Is it sweet?"
"It's divine," said James.
I smiled, and told him, "I'll try a little."
The waitress came and shared the menus on the table as he ordered sashimi on a boat and miso soups with the infamous Asamamurasaki.
"Where do you work?" James asked. "Besides Jake's?"
"The grocery store in Louisville, and it's a great job," I answered.
"Yeah? It pays the bills?" asked James. "That's what's important, right?"
I looked to the table and felt shamed because I was a minimum wage worker and worked two jobs compared to his career. "What do you do?" I asked him.
"I work at Kinko's as a manager there," said James. "It's an international franchise. I know the higher up district and regional managers. It's been good."
"I see, and that's more than just bills. It's got extra bonus play money in every paycheck," I said.
"Play money?" James asked.
"Yeah, the extra money to buy charcoal masks, or a sweet watermelon to treat yourself," I said.
"Honey, no money is play money," said James. "Or you will get played."
I sat back in my chair and felt as if I was in trouble, reminding me of the time when my teachers would put me on the spot for not doing my homework. I smiled at him, and realized he was more experienced than my 21 years of age. I didn't know anything, except rape and homelessness.
"Do you think you have baggage?" asked James.
"Baggage?" I asked.
"Yeah, I have baggage, like life issues," he said. "Everyone's got something."
"Of course, I do," I answered. "I sometimes feel bad for having them, but I'm thankful I'm alive."
"Well, if you have baggage, that's the baggage you'll carry for the rest of your life," said James.
I felt my eyes moistened and I looked to my hands folded in front of me, as I realized that I was more a victim than a young adult. My issues of trauma and rape were deeply fused with family issues, self-esteem issues, work issues with some sexual harassments, and so many more. James was right, I told myself, I had a lot of baggage and it would be with me for the rest of my life.
The waitress came back with the order, and James said, "Waitress, the Asamamurasaki, please?"
I looked to him and asked, "Is that the purple rice wine?"
He nodded, and said, "It's something to celebrate. For an evening, we can take our baggage away with just dinner. Shall we?" He poured some teas into our beautiful ceramic cups and began to dine with some sashimi, and he took a salmon piece and fed it to me. "Delicious, I'm letting you take this from me," he said.
Tears dropped to the table as I faced down because the thoughts of baggage and issues permutated inside my head and I felt miniscule compared to James who was a manager of an international franchise.
"What's wrong honey?" he asked and didn't take the sashimi into my mouth.
"Just some trauma issues," I answered. "I've been having some issues from the past."
The waitress came back with the Purple Rice Wine, Asamamurasaki, and two sake cups.
The clear tall bottle had some twirls of lemon zest and sparkler cubes inside the bottom of the bottle. James asked the waitress to do her trick as she placed some sugar crystals into the glass bottle to sweeten the sake wine, and the sugar crystals glittered its way down. James poured the sake into our cups and the frozen cubes of ice inside our sake cups gave a mist up towards our chest. I wanted to try it and the colorful trick enchanted me.
"It's beautiful isn't?" asked James. "Shall we drink it?"
He raised his cup and I raised mine, and cheered, "Bottom's up," he said.
I drank it like a shot, and it was strong with a sweet aftertaste. I wasn't sure how to drink a sake, but judging from the small amount of it, I thought drinking it like a shot was appropriate.
James laughed, and said, "Slow down, just sip it like a drink." As he sipped it slowly, and letting the misty frozen cubes decorate his cup.
"What do you want to do tonight?" he asked me.
"Just dinner and go back home, then go to sleep," I said.
"What about we take a drive?" said James.
My guard was up and I was afraid, as the intensity gave me a headache. The headache persisted and as we ate, James talked about Kinko's and how it wasn't a perfect place but he was willing to move up in the chain. I was happy for him, and chewed away while I ate the sashimi, and sipped the sake, but I wanted some water and the waitress took a very long time to give me the water I requested.
James waved the waitress, and as she arrived to our table, James asked, "The bill, please?"
"May I still have some water?" I asked. The waitress nodded, but never came back.
James got up from his chair, and I wanted to sit down to wait for the water. "I'll get you some water in the car," said James.
"I have a headache, I can't stand up," I said.
I felt my body weakened and my head felt a strong pressure as my body felt light as air. I told James, "Do you have aspirin."
"Yeah, it's in the car," said James.
I got up from my seat and began to walk with him. He reached for my hand and held me up, but kicked my left ankle, as I fell down to the ground and my body weakened.
"Why did you kick me?" I asked. My heels felt weak and my head spun.
"Just testing," said James. "Some girls….geeesh Ursula. You should have told me you're a light weight."
The headache intensified, and I was about to cry but I held it down, and asked him, "Could I just rest in the car for a moment, and please drive me back to Jake's."
"No problem," he said. We arrived to the parking lot of Iwajima and he opened the car door and I sat down slowly and laid my feet straight in front of me.
James searched inside his car, and said, "I know I have aspirin somewhere." He searched and took something out of his pocket and gave it to me. It was a small tablet in its pharmaceutical packaging, and he said, "Here, take this….it will make you feel better. It will take the headache away. Trust me."
I took it and swallowed it dry mouthed, as James said, "Guess what?....water!" James said, handing the water bottle to my hands.
I drank it and I felt the pill working inside my brains settling my body, and I felt a heat inside my chest and tingles all over my arms and legs. My breath constricted but I wanted to breathe more and more and felt my hormones raged and felt the inebriation took over me as I felt dizzy and my head spun. Seconds later, I felt in ecstasy and felt the small tablet made me happy as if I was in a dream. James took my face and he kissed me, and said, "Are you okay? I'm here for you."
I felt the hairs on my arms rose up and so did the hairs on the back of my neck and my head tingled as if it was immersed in hot water. James's kisses made me yearn for more, more physical connection, more touch, and incomprehensibly, more sexual connection. The inebriation pounced my brain and throbbed my head and the pill he gave me seduced my inhibition to a high sexual drive.
"What did you give me, James?" I asked. "I felt so weird."
"Aspirin, and it's probably the sake. It makes everyone horny," said James.
He smiled, and stroked my shoulders and massaged me and he walked to the driver's seat and sat next to me. He took my body and raised it as he squeezed himself underneath me and we cuddled inside his car on the passenger seat.
My arms and legs felt frozen as I was drunk, and I didn't know what happened to my body and my headache, but my head spun violently. I couldn't move, but wanted to be physically close to him. James stroked my neck and kissed me, and cupped my breast and took his hand underneath my shirt, and began to assault me.
My sexual drive was so high that I was silent and the violent headache incapacitated my mind as my body wanted the sexual interactions. I knew my brain was drunk from the sake as my vision blurred and his fondling twisted my soul. Was this rape?
"You're so hot, Ursula. Sex kitten, hot," said James.
He took off my leggings and exposed me, then laid himself over me as the undulating motion made me queasy, drowsy, confused and feeble. I was tired, my body was tired and my mind was tired, but James wasn't. He kept his sexual drive high as he had sex with the version of me with the pill, what I suspect was the Viagra, the sexual medicine to increase sex drive in anyone, increasing heart beats per minute, and murdering my spirit.
It was no different if I was inside a Dodge Ram, a Honda, a Mercedes or a Volkswagen, the rape was brutal for anyone. Tears rolled down my eyes as I felt the orgasm, but my mind told me I was raped. His groans made me sick and I was too distraught that I dozed off, and felt the car drive to someplace. He must not have driven far, because it stopped and the passenger car door opened. I thought it was James, letting me out, instead another man laid on top of me, heavy set, as he ripped my skirt and cupped my mouth. I opened my eyes but it was covered, and I felt strangled, and this man raped me violently, as I felt a punch on my face, with both sides of my eyes felt warm.
"Pinch you, Chevron," he said. I remembered inside my convoluted mind, John told me he would use a code to call anyone he hated, "Chevron," for Pinche Cabron or asshole in Spanish.
I tried to open my eyes, and called out, "John, is that you?" but the rape was through my body, the heavy set man shredded me from bottom to top, side to side and punched my face, as James's voice rang in my ears, "The baggage you have, is the baggage you carry for the rest of your life."
Darkness spun me close to death as I felt more punches on my face, and a jab to my stomach. I felt my shirt taken off, and I was naked. With my eyes closed, I tried to open it, but it was shut tight. I was asleep although my brain kept going and my body was frozen.
The total darkness made me cry, but the dream of me with James kept playing sexually in front of my face, as he raped me in the passenger seat. I felt sore underneath me, and I felt abused and violated. Who would be able to help me? I felt consent on my behalf because I said yes to the date and the drink, but I also never said yes to sex. Inadvertently and legally, I said no, because I was inebriated and incapable to decipher what went wrong. Was this consent, and if it was, what was the true yes? I was abused and confused and I felt it was all of my doing the whole time. Tears kept rolling down my face in the darkness as the evening lapsed on, and I felt my body dropped on the ground.
"So long, pendeja," said the voice of a man that was familiar, the same disturbing high pitched and annoying voice. The same man who wanted to degrade me all of his life, John, but I couldn't understand why he was here.
I felt a hit on the back of my head and I was in total darkness.
"Ursula, get up," said Jake. He shook me, and putting water on my eyes dripping it down to my face. "Wake up, this is severe."
I breathed in and my eyes fluttered open. I was inside his pizza shop, on a table behind the kitchen.
"I found you lying on the ground in front of our shop. It's six in the morning. What happened last night?" Jake asked me. His face dropped, his beard and mustache shaven and his brunette hair freshly cut. His eyes were moist, as he took some towels from the bathroom, and brought them to cover me. "Someone punched you. Your eyes are swollen, and so is your gut and your breast."
"I was on a date," I answered. Jake broke down and cried, and he took the pizza roller and beat it down on the ground. The handle broke off and almost hit me.
"I was supposed to go home, but we had sake," I told Jake.
"What was his name?" Jake asked me. "Was it the guy who asked you out when you were out dancing?"
"Yeah, and there was another man on top of me, a heavy-set man. He punched my face," I said. I was too distraught to cry, and my head still spun like a dreidle on Hannukkah.
"What's his last name?" Jake asked me.
"I don't know," I replied.
Jake looked to the back door, and sat on the chair as I sat up and sat on the table.
"You needed to care for yourself first," he said. "You were raped last night."
My right hand somehow found my swollen eyes and as tears rushed out, the sting from the punches finally felt real and I felt my face aged a million years out of violence.
"I want to take you to the hospital," said Jake. "Let's get you dressed. I have an extra t-shirt and jacket in the back office. We'll just work with what we got from now on."
All I could do was say, "I'm sorry Jake."
My shoulders hunched down to my stomach as my spirit crumbled and tears poured out. My naked body that was imperfect felt ugly and misshapen, damaged and broken, abused and violated, ripped through my skin, bloodied and mangled. I felt and heard taunts from John, my manager at the grocery store, and there were voices of ridicule from Melody and Merrick inside my head. I was trashed through the bones.
"How do you want to live in the future, Ursula?" asked Jake. "Is this how you want to die? I could tell you that you were close to death. You see your eyes? They're bloodied." Jake softly touched the side of my eyes and I cringed and cried.
"I want to die, right now. I doubt that anyone cared if I lived," I said.
It felt so cold and alone in this life, even with Jake in front of me.
"Do you think anyone cares for you?" Jake asked me.
"My Mom used to care," I answered. "She worked long hours and earned more money. I think she loved that more than me."
"I care," Jake said.
"I'm trash," I told him.
I couldn't hold myself together and sobbed.
Jake walked to the back office and took the t-shirt to cover me.
"Wear this, and cover yourself up. I'm calling the Broomfield PD and ambulance," he said.
"I don't have insurance," I said to him.
"They will approve you for State Medicaid anyhow, the same thing you've been doing," said Jake. "When you live like you're willing to die anytime, these things happen."
"I wish I had a good life," I replied.
"I was adopted, Ursula. It just so happened that I got lucky," said Jake. "There are a lot of us with a bad life and a bad past. You're not alone."
"I felt like I was made to die early," I said, with a sob story voice, all cracked and hoarse, in disbelief that Jake actually cared for me.
Jake sighed, and told me, "What ever life we've been handed, we have to believe there is work to be done. We can't do anything by ourselves, trust me. If anyone said they truly got successful because they did it themselves, they're lying. It always takes a village, even with a village of just two people. It's something."
"Where is Crystal?" I asked.
"She's with her son," said Jake. "We're not dating anymore. She has too much issues against you and my business. I was learning to be strong, and loyal, but I wasn't going to win with her beside me."
"What do you mean?" I asked. Jake's phone rang and it was the EMT from the local police department.
"Yes, I want to report an assault, and she's here with me," said Jake. I could hear the dispatcher on the other line asking some questions, and Jake stepped away from me to answer her.
"They'll be here in a minute," said Jake. "I just want you to care about yourself. That's all."
"I care," I answered.
"Good. Let's start there," said Jake, with his hands on his pelvis.