Knights in shining armor don't really exist anymore, but, there are still men who will ride to the defense of a damsel in distress. Sometimes they're fathers, brothers, teachers, doctors or lawyers. Or maybe, they're already your hero, riding their own crusade just for you.
Chapter 10 – Knight of Lady Luck
Rapunzel texted Eugene she got home safe.
[Great. The crowd's thin tonight, so it looks like I'll be home early.]
Rapunzel did not respond to this text.
[Didn't see it right away. Come home safe.]
Rapunzel hoped he did.
She was still curled up in a ball on the couch. She'd wrapped the couch blanket around her, burying herself as far in as she could. All that was visible was her face and her arm that held the channel changer.
It was late, after midnight. She had not moved once. There really was nothing on TV. She had had a Nova on, news, a black and white show called Perry Mason on, Craig Ferguson, and She-ra: Princess of Power. She was flipping channels, looking for anything mind numbing and senseless. She had gone around five times when there was a scraping sound on the front door handle and a key turning the lock. Eugene walked in, sighing. He hung up his coat and left his bag by the door. He saw Rapunzel sitting on the couch, washed out by the flashing of the TV channels. She had no lights on. Eugene was surprised to see Rapunzel still up. He crossed the room to her.
Rapunzel jumped. Her arm flashed and her hand wacked right across Eugene's face. He stumbled back, shocked. Rapunzel saw it was him. She apologized immediately.
"Eugene, I am so sorry," she said, going to him. "I didn't hear you come in."
"It's okay." He rubbed his cheek, astonished that Rapunzel had such a strong swing. "What are you still doing up?"
"I…." Rapunzel looked at the floor. She twisted her fingers together. Concerned, Eugene put a hand on her arm.
"Ah!" Rapunzel gasped in pain. She stepped away from Eugene, her hand going to her upper arm.
"What's wrong?" Eugene took a footstep to her. Rapunzel pulled up her sleeve. There were five, perfectly round bruises, four on one side, one on the other. Eugene recognized the pattern instantly and his mouth hardened. He went in to the kitchen and came back with an ice back. He sat Rapunzel down and held the pack to her arm. He looked her squarely in the eye. "Rapunzel what happened? Who did that to you?" His voice was serious, like the night he'd come to pick her up from the hospital.
"I was…" Rapunzel felt like she was going to cry. She paused to fight back the emotion. "I was…cornered by…two people. Two men." Eugene's face tightened. His eyes grew wide with the information and Rapunzel was sure a fire was burning in them.
"What did they do to you?"
"They… they threw me around and… and talked to me…they…they said they knew you…they, they acted like they were going to rape me!" Rapunzel's eyes brimmed with tears. She could no longer hold them back. Eugene's arms went around her and she became limp, letting him support her as she cried. He gently patted her back, waiting for her sobs to subside before he asked his next question.
"What did they look like?" Eugene's voice was low and strained to not break with rage.
"They looked related," Rapunzel whispered into Eugene's chest. "Big, red hair, one had an eye patch, the other had a scar down the side of his face." Eugene stopped rubbing Rapunzel's back. With her head to his chest, Rapunzel heard his heart start beating quicker. She pulled away and looked at him.
He was staring at something she could not see. All the color had drained from his face and it was unreadable. The vein in his throat was pulsing again. His breathing was becoming shallow and his eyes darkened. He clenched his fists, his knuckles turning white. The backs of his hands showed his veins, running hot with indignation. Rapunzel extended a hand towards him.
"Eugene?" He stood up and stomped to the door, opening it roughly and grabbing his coat off the wall. He slammed the door shut, rattling the wall. Rapunzel heard him lock it. It took a second or two for Rapunzel to realize what Eugene was going to do. She scrambled to pick up her phone. Mr. Hook was her first contact in her speed dial list. She shook her leg, waiting for him to pick up. He did after four rings.
"Uhllo?" She must have woken him up.
"Yes. Listen to me, Eugene is about to do something stupid." Rapunzel's voice trembled. She took a breath, hoping it would calm her.
"I told him that two men attacked me today."
"WHAT? Are you alright?"
"Yes, but, please, listen to me! It was people Eugene knows. The, The Stabb-something brothers." Mr. Hook was quiet on the other line for a second.
"Son of a bi- Rapunzel, stay in the apartment. I'll take care of Eugene, alright? Do not leave the apartment."
"Okay." Rapunzel nodded, even though Mr. Hook couldn't see her.
Mr. Hook said good-bye and he hung up. Rapunzel ended the call and looked at her phone. Should she call Eugene and tell him to stop? Would he listen to her? Would he even pick up? Rapunzel did not think so. She got off the couch and looked out the window. She looked up to the sky. There were very few stars thanks to light pollution, but she did see one that was bright. She knew it was not the evening star. Rapunzel put her head against the pane of glass.
"Please, please let Eugene come home safe." Rapunzel was not sure who she was talking to.
Mr. Hook had called Vlad, Jeff and Max. Max had just gotten off duty and picked everyone up in his squad car.
"Any idea where that idiot would have gone looking for them," asked Max.
"Rapunzel said they cornered her. It must have been around her work."
"You think they're still around," suggested Jeff.
"Wouldn't doubt it," Max said as he turned to go downtown. "Those two aren't smart enough to change their location. Plus, I think they have a hideout around there." Max drove to Sea Shell Paint and told everyone to keep their eyes peeled. He turned towards the bus stop, driving slowly. Few people were out, mostly bums filtering through dumpsters. One actually hailed Max's car. Being an officer, he had to stop.
"What seems to be the problem?"
"Well, officer," said the homeless man, "I's just heard a scuffle of sorts going on."
"Up the street and around the corner. I's decided to not get involved. Looked a little messy to me."
"Yes, thank you. Good evening." Max rolled up his window. "That's probably Eugene." He took the man's directions. The others looked to either side of the street, straining to see any hint of movement.
"Over there!" Jeff pointed to a dim lit alley. Max stopped the car and everyone filed out. They heard Eugene yelling, screaming, at the top his lungs. Someone was grunting and they heard the sound of a fist connecting with a face. Max pulled out his flash light and shined it down the alley.
One man was on the ground, a small pool of blood under his head. Eugene had the other brother up against the wall, repeatedly punching him in the face, his other arm pressing hard against his throat. He wasn't stopping, even as he saw he was knocking him senseless.
"You stay away from her!" Eugene's punches were timed with his words. "You stay the fuck away from her!"
Vlad was the first one to come down on Eugene, but he somehow broke free, hitting Vlad in the gut. The other brother had fallen to his knees and Eugene grabbed his collar and started his reign of blows again. The man's neck was flopping back and forth, his eyes barely open. Blood spurted from his face as Eugene continued to wail on him.
"Don't you EVER come near her again!" This time, both Vlad and Mr. Hook took hold of Eugene. They pulled his arms behind his back and Jeff held his shoulders down. Eugene struggled as they dragged him away. He'd gone berserk, thrashing around, madly howling at the two.
"Do you understand me? I'll kill you! If you ever touch her again, I will kill you! I will FUCKING KILL YOU!" The three men pulled Eugene out of the alley as Max went to the brother on the ground and checked his pulse. He still had one. The other brother sat slumped against the wall. He was having a hard time keeping his head up. As he checked the area, Max saw a few teeth scattered around the ground. He wondered if any could be Eugene's. Didn't really look like it; Eugene had better teeth. Max decided to call the two injured in later.
He left the alley and walked over to where the group was standing under a street light. Eugene had calmed down a bit. His breath was ragged and his eyes were still wide with fury. He didn't look up when Max walked over. Maybe he should have. Max punched Eugene in the face. He stumbled back a bit and would have fallen if Max had not grabbed a hold of his shirt collar.
"What the fuck, man? That's police brutality!"
"Shut the hell up, I'm off duty. I could hit you with my flashlight, and I can guarantee you, you will go down. What the hell were you thinking? What if you'd done something worse than just beat them up? You do realize you threatened to kill them in the presence of an officer! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't haul your sorry ass to the station right now?" Eugene said nothing. He put his hand over Max's.
"Let go of me, dick." He pulled Max's hand from his collar. "They deserved it."
"I'm going to need a better reason than that." Max crossed his arms.
"Oh, go piss up a rope, you fucking ass wipe." Max raised his fist to hit Eugene again, but Eugene bent over in exhaustion and pain. His adrenaline was gone. He put one hand on his knee and tried to breathe even. Max looked at him and realized just how beat up he was.
A black eye was forming, spreading over more than just his eye. He had a large cut on his forehead and scratch marks across his cheek. His bottom lip was fat and inflamed with blood. The knuckles of his right hand were cracked and bleeding. They looked off; one knuckle was completely gone and another was split in two, instead of one. Eugene's hand kept going to his left side every time he tried to take a breath.
"Eugene, is one or your ribs broken," Jeff asked, offering to hold him up.
"Probably. Feels like it. There's your reason, Officer Mustain," Eugene said snidely to Max. "I need to go to the hospital." Max bared his teeth at Eugene. It was a pretty good reason. He looked terrible.
They took him to the squad car, easing him into the front seat. He gasped every time someone touched his side. Vlad and Jeff said they'd catch a bus; there wasn't enough room in the back seat for all three. As Max started up the car, he looked over at his best friend. His eyes were closed, his mouth slightly open. He still had a hand over his ribs.
Bastard, he thought, he still gets under my skin. Max drove away from the scene and headed towards St. Augustine's Hospital. He told Mr. Hook to call 911 for the two Stabbington brothers. Hook did as he was told. After he'd finished the call, Mr. Hook tore into Eugene.
"After all these years, Eugene, I still need to come pick your ass up. Max has a point; why shouldn't he arrest you? What are your parents going to think when they hear about this?" Mr. Hook waited for an answer.
"I have no idea," was all Eugene said. He closed his eyes and tried to not think about the pain. He thought about Rapunzel instead and hoped she was worried about him. That thought made the pain subside just a bit.