Two feet, six inches. Such a small gap and yet to Patty it felt like a chasm. She had to get past the living room doorway but if seen it would probably mean losing her last chance of freedom. She edges slowly forward, pausing every step to listen, wishing her heart would stop beating so loudly, convinced its pounding would betray her.
Patty stops at the edge of the doorway. Opposite her, the stairs to the upper floor disappear into darkness. She can still hear him, scar-face, arguing with himself and can make out a stream of profanity. Little else of his slurred ranting makes any sense.
In two paces she can be on the stairs. But which way is he facing? It doesn’t sound like he’s moving about. From the direction of his voice she guesses he must be sitting in the beat up old armchair, the one that has its back to the kitchen.
She holds her breath and moves swiftly and silently to the staircase, flicking her head to the side briefly as she does so. She doesn’t see him and knows that if he is in the armchair that he won’t have seen her.
Patty stops on the first step and reminds herself to start breathing. She moves haltingly up the stairs, avoiding the squeaky third and fifth steps, and allows herself the luxury of a deep breath when she reaches the landing. She rests a moment to give her eyes the chance to adjust to the darkness and then makes her way to the bedroom.
There’s just enough light from the street lamp to illuminate the room. He’s clearly been in here. Her wardrobe is opened and her belongings scattered over the floor. She moves to her nightstand and nearly slips on a book. She laughs at the title, “The World Is Yours”, a book on Eastern spirituality and meditation techniques. “All the mantras and visualizations aren’t going to help you now Patty.”
She reaches toward the nightstand and realizes she’s still tightly clutching the knife she used to cut the ropes. She places it on the bed and flexes her stiff fingers. Her hand looks so small. A sense of utter aloneness washes over her. She wishes she’d stayed at Ms. Brooks’ place but then wonders if it would actually have made a difference. And what has happened to her dogs? She doesn’t dare think about what he might have done to them.
Patty finds herself fighting back tears as she opens the hidden compartment in the nightstand and takes out the gun her father gave her. She has never liked guns but for the first time is grateful that her Dad showed her how to use one and insisted she have it when she left home. She hears his voice guiding her as she loads the bullets and steels herself for what is to come.
She makes her way cautiously back to the stairs and descends, stepping awkwardly over the creaky steps. She stops at the bottom and listens.
Is it to much to hope that he’s passed out drunk? She forces herself to stand in the doorway and look into the living room. She enters and sees that he’s not there. The quiet is unnerving. The nearly finished whiskey bottle lies on its side at the base of the armchair next to an empty glass.
She moves quickly to the door which leads to the entrance hall and presses her ear against it. Nothing. She steps back and reaches for the handle.
“Going somewhere?” His voice turns her blood to ice. She turns her head to one side and sees his hulking frame filling the kitchen doorway. “I want that fucking key.”
Patty turns to face him and he roars with laughter when he notices the gun. “You haven’t got the fucking guts, you stupid bitch. You always were a useless piece of shit, Diana.”
“My name.” She raises the gun and cocks the hammer. “Is Patty.”
A momentary look of doubt crosses his face. Then he laughs again and begins to walk towards her, an evil grin distorting his mess of a face even further.
Patty slowly pulls on the trigger and simply says, “Namaste, motherfucker.”