So I fell on the ground and screamed (because I was scared): “You can’t hurt me! This is not okay! This is not playtime! If you touch me, it’s assault! I’ll call the police! I’m covered in bruises! I’ll show them!”
I realize this is hypocritical, given that I just punched the man in the eye (for the record, if he’d called the cops on me, I would have immediately admitted it and taken The Police Cruiser Ride of Shame to the 10th Precinct), but he wasn’t in danger of me fucking killing him.
I was afraid! He could do anything he wanted to me! I’m naked on the floor! Without my guns, how could I stop him?
We stared at each other, me on the floor with my arm in front of my face, and him panting. His eye was tearing and red and his shirt tail had come out of his pants.
I saw the composure drop over his face then, like dropping the blinds. I did not know whether this meant sanity had been restored, or things had just became even worse.
He cleared his throat, nodded, and then started to tuck in his shirt. When he spoke again he was out of breath but his voice was otherwise low and calm, like normal.
“Margo, look at me…and then look at yourself. You know, Margo…you are a troubled young woman with a documented history of eating disorders and alcoholism. You have been on medication. Sometimes, when young women are troubled, they do things to themselves. They mutilate themselves.”
I lay there on the floor, my panic suddenly evaporated. I could not believe what I was hearing.
He continued: “I’ve seen you do it myself. I sent you to three therapists in the last year because I am concerned for you, Margo. I did it because I care, and I am worried. I sent you to rehab for the same reason.”
Shit is now occurring to me, readers, and it’s not pretty.
All I could do was whisper: “I’m not crazy.”
He shrugged. “You’re a S&M prostitute. I don’t hold this against you, of course, but many people might. They might think you were crazy to do it. And all I am is a gullible older man with a midlife crisis, who took this unstable, opportunistic girl in off the street into my beautiful home. I’m a sucker.”
I just lay there, completely gobsmacked. What blew my mind was that there was nothing factually inaccurate with anything he said (except about him being gullible, hardy har-har, like anyone is going to snooker the Collector…the idea of me taking advantage of him is preposterous. Nobody takes advantage of his man). He wasn’t lying. It was just…the way he would twist it around to make it seem like I am a nutso basket case. For what, out for what–to get his cash? Even his own sons don’t worry about that, because, I’m telling you, there is no woman on earth seductive enough to persuade this guy into giving her any money he doesn’t want to! And I don’t even do that anyway! I’ve never done it, in my life! I’ve always supported myself and paid my own bills! And he knows it! He knows what sort of person I am!
The dawning realization that this is how he would portray me to other people if we parted on bad terms…and that people would probably believe him! I felt betrayed. Like I was sold out, and it hadn’t even happened yet.
And then I thought: This conniving fuck has thought of everything.
He knocked me out. Knocked…me…out.
I started sobbing, which is extremely rare for me. I am not a crier. I don’t even cry in therapy. It felt like all the strength and fortitude ran out of me like water.
“You don’t care about me! You’re a liar!”
“I love you, Margo…but do not EVER threaten me.”
He let me cry for a few minutes and then came back with a blanket to cover my nakedness. He was perfectly calm now. Why wouldn’t he be? I’d capitulated and he’d regained control of the situation.
He helped me up and gave me a hug and stroked my hair. Then he led me to the sink in my bathroom and gently told me to wash my face while he picked out some clothes for me to wear. While I got dressed, he took out his cell phone.
“I need to call the office. I’m going to work from home today. I think we should spend some time together. We are going to have a good day.”
A good day. Whatever the hell that could mean in this situation.
“Don’t hurt me,” I sniffled.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Margo.”
Too late for that, I thought
He called his office. Then he said that he absolutely had to get some writing done because he was working under a deadline, but it would only take a few hours and then we could spend the rest of the day doing something fun.
He left the room and came back with a bag.
“I bought you something while you were gone!”
It was a puzzle of The Unicorn in Captivity, (South Netherlandish, ca. 1495–1505).. He’d bought it for me at the gift shop at The Met.
Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?
“You can work on it while I write,” he said, peeling off the plastic shrink wrap.
We went to his office space and he retrieved this rolling body-pillow thing he lets me use when he wants me to be on the hardwood floor instead of using the furniture (unless I’m being disciplined or punished, of course–then I just get the cold, hard floor).
“Can I play with Abe while you write?” Abe likes to ‘help me’ when I do anything craft-y like puzzles or wrapping gifts.
A shadow crossed his face: “I think we should focus on each other.”
Behold, the Collector: The Man Jealous of a Little Parrot.
“He comforts me, though,” I said. “If he poops on the floor, I’ll clean it up right away.”
“All right. Go get him.”
I went to get Abe, but Abe did not want to come out of his cage. Abe and seen (or at least heard) the fight and my crying, and he was upset and just wanted to hide in his little cloth hidy-hut. It made me feel guilty.
I worked on the puzzle for a few hours while he worked at his desk. He’d take 10-minute breaks to refresh himself and work on the puzzle with me.
“It’s lunchtime. What would you like to eat?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Just hot chocolate for you, then.”
He sounded cheerful and pert. His eye had stopped watering. It was red, though. There was no swelling.
“I’m sorry I hit you in the eye,” I said, which might or might not be true…I honestly can’t say.
“It’s okay. It looks very macho. I can tell the people at work that I got into a bar fight!”
The joke was kinda funny. The Collector in a bar fight!
(Actually, he’d probably do just fine.)
“I’ll finish up in an hour, and then we can go out! We’ll have some fun.”
Oh God, I thought.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
TO BE CONTINUED