Fight or Flight

Photo from IMBd
Photo from IMBd

Val had come back to the apartment with bloody knuckles and eyes like a rabid dog. Not the first time Benny had seen her like this, not by a longshot. He wondered idly where she’d been the last few hours. If Val was looking for a fight, he doubted she’d found it in the vicinity of their own upscale neighborhood.

“All that blood yours or…?”

“Piss off, Ramirez. I’m not in the mood.” She spat out his surname like it left a bad taste in her mouth.

“Really? ‘Cause you seemed so upbeat when you walked in.” He could see her snarl in response as she stalked past him on her way to the kitchen. The layout of their shared apartment made it so he barely had to crane his neck to watch as she turned on the faucet and placed her injured hands under the flow of the tap, “Seriously though, what happened?”

“Jesus, just leave me alone. Don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Fine then. I’ll leave you alone,” he said, trying to re-focus his attention on the news article he’d been trying to read before Val’s return had interrupted him.

Val left her hands under the water until the bleeding seemed to stop, then patted them dry with a paper towel. She stayed there at the sink, taking slow shaking breaths. There’d been a fight. There must have been. Val had punched walls before, but that was usually the end of her anger. Whatever (or whoever) she’d hit, there was definitely something left unresolved.

Benny lasted just over a minute before annoyance and curiosity won out, “Are the cops going to get involved? If so, I’d really like to know in advance.” The neighbors already gave him dirty looks in the hallway—the old lady in 422B still clutched her purse closer when he walked by—so if the police showed up at their door it was unlikely they’d assume the officers were after the pretty daughter of a southern socialite.

“No. I mean- I doubt it. Stop worrying about it. Leave it alone.”

Val uncorked a bottle of painfully expensive wine from the fridge and poured it into a chipped coffee mug. The wine had been a Christmas gift from the partners at his mother’s law firm, but that didn’t seem worth bringing up. Another argument. Pick your battles, Benny. (Red wine was something he only really pretended to like, anyways.)

“Stop worrying about it? The reckless shit you do affects me too, y’know,” he said, slamming his laptop shut much harder than he’d intended too, “You’re my friend, Val.”

Val takes a long chug of her wine and snorts back a laugh, “Jesus. Way to make this about you, Ben.” She still stood at the counter, focusing her attention on her now shaking hands. Nervous energy seems to pour off of her in waves.

“How can I make it about anything else if you won’t even tell me what happened?”

“Fine! You want to know what happened? Here’s what happened: I was drunk and stupid and some prick at the bar stared getting—I don’t know—handsy, I guess. Wouldn’t leave me alone.” She stood in the doorway to glare at her roommate proper, “I overreacted, alright? But I don’t think he called the cops. You happy now?”

Benny felt his heart sink, “No. Jesus, Val, why would that make me happy?” he leaned forward like he wanted to go to her aid now, and Val took a defiant step back.

“Forget it. Please just forget it.” She said, before stomping to her bedroom with the wine bottle in tow.