by Lisa H
This was written for the Oz Lyric Wheel. Thanks to Mav for starting up the Wheel and giving me the opportunity to finally get a Claire story out of my system. I realize I could have written one at any time, but it seems the challenge, along with the perfect lyrics (thanks Trasker) were what I needed to be inspired.
Men of His Kind
The doorbell rang, distracting Claire as she searched for her keys among the clutter of the dresser top. "Shit."
The bell rang again, three times in rapid succession.
"Goddammit, I'm coming!" she yelled, glancing into the kitchen on her way to the door in the off chance her keys had miraculously appeared on their holder next to the toaster.
She jerked the door open just as the bell rang again. "Jesus Christ, what?!"
The force of Howell's words pushed the thin woman in the hall back a step, her shadowed eyes wide in her pale face.
Claire waited, distracted as she ran through the list of places her keys might be hiding. "Well? If you're selling, I'm not buying."
She moved to close the door, and the woman stepped forward quickly. "Wait, please. I'm not selling anything. My name is Nina."
"Nina Bridges. Mrs. David Bridges."
Claire froze, keys forgotten. "You have got to be shittin' me."
Nina hesitated, her hands twisting together nervously. "Can I come in?"
"I gotta get to work." But she stepped back to let the woman enter.
They stood facing each other in what was obviously a very uncomfortable silence for Mrs. Bridges, but Claire had no intention of easing the situation. She stared at Nina, amazed this woman would dare come to her home, incredulous that she was still even in the picture after all these years.
"Do...do you remember when we met before?" Nina asked nervously.
"What do you think?" Claire looked the woman up and down. "You look a lot different now."
"It was a long time ago."
Fifteen years was a long time, but it wasn't just the passage of time that had changed Nina Bridges. Claire remembered a curvy, long-haired, bleached blonde from the trial, standing by her man in a way that had left a young Claire astounded. This woman had aged much more than those fifteen years; she was skinny, and her lank, graying hair was cut short against her scalp, accentuating the lines in her face.
"Yeah, it was a long time ago, but not long enough."
Nina looked down, and when she raised her head a moment later, tears brightened her dull eyes. "I've come to ask you to speak at his parole hearing."
"Oh, I know why you're here, I just can't believe it. Have you talked to the other women?"
Nina shook her head. "Karen Hill refused to see me, and I couldn't find Jody Day."
"Good for Karen. The only reason I let you get this far was to see if you had the balls to actually ask me. I guess you do."
"Please," Nina begged desperately, "please just hear me out. Two minutes, and I'll leave."
Jesus, the woman was pitiful...besides, it might make a good story to tell at work. "Go ahead, I'll give you two minutes." Nina looked so grateful it made Claire nauseous.
She took a deep, steadying breath and began talking. "My husband has really changed --"
"Hah!" Claire barked out her disbelief, cutting the two minutes to two seconds. "Didn't he spend time in the hole last year for beating the shit out of some kid? Don't come in here feeding me this load of crap."
"That boy called him names." Nina was talking down to her hands, nervously twisting once more. "He was teasing him about...about..."
"About what? About taking it up the ass?"
Nina's head jerked up. "Yes," she whispered.
"Don't look so surprised. I got friends over at Lardner, they keep me up to date on everything. I hear he's become quite the favorite; his daddy keeps his ass for himself, but gets big bucks for renting his mouth out. I guess after fifteen years he knows all the tricks."
Nina closed her eyes. "Can I please sit down?" Her complexion seemed to have impossibly paled even more.
Claire looked at the poor excuse for a human now sitting on her couch. She knew some people would feel sympathetic, but she could muster nothing beyond contempt. David Bridges had been convicted of the rape of three women, and this idiot was still married to him, still defending him. Christ, had she spent the past fifteen years dutifully visiting him, meeting with lawyers, letting her own life pass her by? And for an asshole like that? Claire's mouth curled in disgust.
Nina started talking again, pleading. "His parole hearing is tomorrow. I know if he can get out and away from those horrible people, he'll be better. If you could just see him, see that he's paid his debt. He didn't mean what he did back then, he thought they...you..."
"He thought what?" Claire spit out. "Are you talking about his so-called defense? That it was consensual? That he thought saying "no" was just part of the game? The judge knew that he was full of shit and he gave him 25 years." Claire's eyes got big in a parody of innocence, and she put her hand up to her chest. "Who's little ol' me to say he was wrong?" she asked, batting her lashes.
"Please don't make fun of me," Nina whispered.
"Don't come into my home expecting me to feel sorry for that douche bag!"
"I thought maybe, because you work in a prison, maybe you would understand that sometimes that environment only makes things worse."
Christ, didn't she have to put up with enough of that kind of thinking from bleeding hearts like McManus and Reimondo? She didn't need to have it parked on her couch.
"Listen, you wanna pretend there's a silver lining around your pile of shit husband, go ahead. But he deserves to be where he is. He raped --" she stumbled over the word, her chest suddenly tight.
She hadn't talked about this to anyone since the trial, and had grown increasingly edgier over the past few weeks as the parole hearing neared, knowing she was going to have to face the fucker again when she spoke in front of the review board. She pulled herself together quickly - she wouldn't let this woman see anything but her disdain.
"He's just getting a taste of his own medicine," she continued, sneering down at Nina. "Poetic justice, anyone?"
Nina looked away. "But it's been fifteen years," she said without much conviction.
"Time flies, don't it? You gotta leave now, I have to get to work...at the prison." Claire moved to the door, holding it open.
Nina stopped on her way out. "Thank you for seeing me. What David did was...horrible."
And Claire couldn't help from asking, "Why the hell are you still with him?"
Nina looked away, her eyes going distant. "He's all I have."
"What a crock of shit!" Claire was disgusted. "God, you women who cling to their men no matter what make me sick! No man is worth giving up your life for, and this asshole isn't even worth giving up a night's sleep."
Nina looked a final time at Claire, her expression one of defeat and resignation; saying nothing else, she moved on into the hall, Claire watching until she got on the elevator.
"Fucking doormat," she muttered.
After a quick glance at the clock - "fuck!" - she hurried through the small apartment collecting what she needed for work: hat, jacket, gloves. And when she picked up her gloves from the top of the DVD player, there lay her keys.
She scooped them up, and after checking the time once more figured she could just make it if the traffic wasn't against her.
In the kitchen to grab her wallet, she paused, as she always did, to read the post-it note stuck on the fridge - the date and time of Bridges parole hearing. It's presence over the past two weeks had elicited a certain unease, one she didn't always consciously acknowledge. But she was now aware of it's absence, as though the subtle fog of fear and trepidation surrounding her the past couple weeks had dissipated. For the first time since hearing about it, she wasn't dreading the meeting tomorrow. In fact, she realized, she was almost looking forward to getting it over with.
She wouldn't be some drunk, naive girl, like the night he raped her. Or scared and intimidated, like at the trial. Most importantly, she wasn't some simpering, brainless idiot he managed to control from behind bars. She was in charge now, someone in position to have control over his sorry ass. She'd get through the hearing just fine, and when it was over, she'd be walking out the door, and he'd go back to sucking dick.
She hoped he was on his knees right now, getting his skull fucked.
Speaking of getting fucked...
On the long drive to work, she thought of Ryan O'Reily. It had been several months since they'd been together. Not that the last couple times had been anything to write home about. She kills the Ruskie for him, and he develops a severe case of limp-dick...typical man.
That surely wasn't the way he was telling it, and she knew that he was talking. She'd happened to pass Chris Keller in the hall a couple days ago, and the fucker had actually winked at her, followed up by one of those shit-eatin' grins he had. It took only a moment to realize what it had been about...he'd been hearing stories from O'Reily. Impertinent cock-suckers, both of 'em.
Ever since she'd been working Unit J, it was impossible to get to O'Reily, and it pissed her off royally. That skinny mick had tried to stop their "relationship" until she let him know who called the shots. He must have been thrilled when Tim 'Dickhead' McManus had transferred her out of Em City.
She could just see him and Keller, all cozy together, talking about her, laughing at her - she should have thrown Keller's ass in the hole over that wink. And then Claire felt like one of those cartoon characters, where the light bulb goes off over their head. She giggled, her hands tightening on the steering wheel in excitement.
"Oh, Ryan," she said out loud, "I hope you've been getting plenty of protein in your diet." If she could time it right, they'd be having the most touching reunion this afternoon. She'd show him, no one says no to Claire Howell.
Let me tell you about a girl I know,
Had a drink about a hour ago
Sitting in the corner by herself,
In a bar in downtown Hell.
She heard a noise and she looked through the door
And saw a man she'd never seen before
Light skin, light blue eyes,
A double chin and a plastic smile, well
Her heart raced as he walked through the door And took an empty seat next to her at the bar "My brand new car is parked right outside, How'd ya like to go for a ride?"
And she said "Wait a minute, I have to think" He said, "That's fine. May I please buy you a drink?" One drink turned into 3 or 4 and they left and got into his car And they drove away some place real far.
"Now babe, the time has come
How'd ya like to have a little fun?"
And she said, "If we could only please be on our way, I will not run."
That's when things got out of control
She didn't want to, he had his way
She said, "Let's Go"
He said, "No Way!"
Come on babe it's your lucky day
Shut your mouth, we're gonna do it my way Come on baby don't be afraid,
If it wasn't for date rape I'd never get laid
He finished up, he started the car
He turned around and drove back to the bar He said, "Now baby don't be sad
In my opinion you weren't half-bad."
She picked up a rock, threw it at the car, Hit him in the head, now he's got a big scar Come on party people won't you listen to me, Date Rape Stylee
The next day she went to her drawer,
Looked up her local attorney at law,
Went to the phone and filed a police report And then she took the guy's ass to court, well
The day he stood in front of the judge
He screamed, "She lies that little slut!" The judge knew that he was full of shit And he gave him 25 years
And now his heart is filled with tears
One night in jail, it was getting late
He was butt-raped by a large inmate
And he screamed,
But the guards paid no attention to his cries That's when things got out of control
The moral of the date rape story,
It does not pay to be drunk and horny
But that's the way it had to be
They locked him up and threw away the key Well, I can't take pity on men of his kind, Even though he now takes it in the behind
That's the way it had to be
They locked him up and threw away the key Well, I can't take pity on men of his kind Even though he now takes it in the behind