|Sunday dawned blustery and gray, and from first
light to last it was the kind of fall day when the clouds constantly intimidate but never
deliver on their threat.Rose drew her coat tightly around her as she purposefully walked
the ten blocks to the stables, her mind on her promised visit to Gina.
It's hard for women to escape,
she thought. The world is so slanted in men's favor...it's just too hard. Besides the emotional toll, a
woman must first be able to picture herself living, surviving, afterwards, and that's not
easy when men have all the financial power.
If Jack hadn't come along while
there was still time for me; if I had gone another year longer, or maybe even just six
months, swallowed deeper and deeper into the pit that Cal and Mother were digging for me
I might NEVER have gotten free.
The future looks so frightening to
Gina right now, I know. In a way, it's good that Anthony is acting like such a cad; the
shock of his actions might just be enough to push her onward before the door slams on her
I was so lucky that Jack appeared
when he did
Oh, God, 'lucky' isn't the right
There is no right word for what
happened back then.
And here I am, trying to be the
catalyst, as he was for me. He saved me from them, from everything
mirrors his strength.
Rose smiled as she walked, a
sudden memory of Jack coming unbidden to her mind
They had been strolling the decks
of Titanic after the wild abandon of the steerage party, talking the feathery small
talk that serves to soothe the nerves of a new romance. Her body and mind buzzed with the
fire of life, and a few drinks as well, and she hadn't felt as light-hearted since before
her father had died.
She and Jack had stood side by
side at the railing, gazing out over the inky swells of the ocean, the stars overhead so
close, so piercing, that they seemed to cast shadows on the wooden deck beneath them.
Her senses tingling, Rose could
feel the space between their bodies quiver, as if it were a living thing, as though she
could lay her hand upon it. It seemed a vast chasm to her though it was, in reality, just
the distance of a whisper.
Her eyes were drawn to one
dazzling star, a blue fire on the horizon, and as she turned to call it to Jack's
attention he, too, had turned towards her, and their faces were suddenly mere inches
apart. She could feel the warmth of his breath play against her skin, his eyes dark,
hypnotic, dizzyingly near, and she had to grip the rail tightly to keep her knees from
failing. Jack looked at her, his eyes filled with their night, with the heat of it, and
then he turned away, as if fearful of approaching too close to the flame.
She had returned her gaze to the
sea and then took a long, deep breath; her first in an eternity, it seemed. The walked on
into the night.
Jack's tux bought him
re-admittance to the first class areas, and as they talked they were drawn by the strains
of classical music floating out of the reception room.
Despite her protestations, Jack
had insisted on peering in from the entranceway, and Rose had watched his artist's eyes
drink in the whole scene. He observed quietly, and then turned to her, a pensive
expression crossing his face, and said, "Rose, I don't know how you do it, living
empty Faberge Eggs." Her eyes had widened in delight
and a laugh just exploded out of her, the alcohol loosening the binds of her mind's
corset, and she giggled so uncontrollably that Jack had been forced to drag her away from
the doorway lest she produce a memorable scene for those inside
Rose found herself laughing aloud
again, remembering that night, and she looked around sheepishly, hoping no one had
Well, she thought, I
guess I've gone full about
from a Faberge Egg to a hard-boiled one. She chuckled
again as she turned onto the stable road, shivering as the north wind hit her full on.
In the stable she and Sean quietly
prepared Red for her ride, their spirits dampened by the gloomy weather outside. Sean
boosted Rose into the saddle and she angled the horse towards the entrance.
"Will ya be long, Miss
"I'm heading uptown a ways,
Sean, so I'll probably be most of the day."
Sean nodded silently and watched
her guide the horse to the street. Rose's plan was to utilize Red's speed to enable her to
zig-zag a path to the hotel that would be near impossible to follow. As horse and rider
moved beyond the entranceway Sean scrambled back into the tack room to escape the gusting
wind. Rose reined the colt to a stop once they were out from under the cover of the
The street was empty, most folks
having elected to remain snug inside. Rose reached deep into her coat pockets to retrieve
her gloves, and pulled on each in turn. As she tightened the strap on her riding cap, Red
whinnied once and began snapping his head up and down in agitation.
"What's wrong, boy?" she
asked him, patting the side of his neck reassuringly. They had turned and were walking
slowly northward when suddenly a figure stepped out of the shadows of a nearby doorway.
"Gina? Oh God, Gina, what are
you doing here?"
"I thought you might ride Red
up to see me and I was going crazy cooped up in that room. I needed to get out so, I
figured I'd meet you here and then we could go somewhere to talk
anywhere but that
stuffy old hotel."
"Oh, you should have stayed
where you were! Anthony has been following me
he'll find you
As if to underscore Rose's
concern, an auto turned onto the southern end of street and bounced its way slowly over
the uneven terrain towards them. Gina's eyes went wide with recognition.
"That's Anthony's car!"
Rose quickly searched the area for
an avenue of escape, but the street was solidly lined with stables, offering no refuge.
The auto came to a halt sixty feet
from them and Anthony burst from the driver's side door. His passenger emerged as well and
quickly circled around the car to take up vigil in the vacated driver's seat.
"Gina! Finally! Stop this
foolishness and come on back with me right now. We can forget all this ever
happened," Anthony said as he began to approach the two women.
time. Leave me alone
please." As Gina pleaded with him her eyes implored Rose
"Come on, honey
Anthony cajoled, halfway to them.
Rose evaluated their options,
realizing she had to act quickly. They could try to deal with Anthony, but Gina seemed
resolved to avoid that never-ending trap this time and Rose was determined to support her,
whatever her choice.
"Get on behind me,
quickly" she whispered to Gina, just loudly enough to be heard over the wind.
Gina was frozen in place, glancing
back and forth from Rose to Anthony.
"Get on!" Rose yelled,
and Gina snapped out of her trance. She placed her left foot over Rose's in the stirrup
and lifted herself onto Red's back with an assisting yank from Rose.
"What are you doing?"
Anthony screamed, breaking into a run.
Gina had barely gotten balanced
when Rose threw the reins at the horse and urged him forward. He shot ahead and Gina slid
backwards, crying out as she almost fell off, but she was able to reach forward and grab
Rose around the waist, pulling herself up into the lee of Rose's back.
"Stop! Stop!" Anthony
bellowed as he was showered with clods of dirt from Red's first lunging steps. "You
Rose looked back over her shoulder.
I wonder which of us he meant, she thought dryly. As they trotted away Anthony raced
back to his car and jumped inside, starting up the road in pursuit.
Rose was so intent on looking
behind her that she wasn't aware that another car was moving to block their path until Red
propped as it pulled across in front of him. Anthony's car horn sounded twice and the
barricading vehicle's horn blared an answering call.
He's sent his friends to
prevent our escape, Rose thought.
The auto wasn't long enough to
fill the full width of the roadway, and the passengers were slow getting out. Rose took
advantage of this and quickly pointed Red towards a small gap between the rear wheels of
the car and the last building. With the colt half-running, half-vaulting, they plunged
through the opening and continued up the road. Once clear of the buildings, the wind bit
into their faces with spite, and it claimed Gina's hat, lifting it skyward in a crazy
spiral. Gina reached after it with one hand and lost her balance but she quickly clutched
Rose with both arms again and steadied herself, cinching her grip even tighter around
At the third intersection north,
Rose brought the horse to a halt. Looking back, she could see one car still in pursuit;
the other had disappeared. She turned Red onto the cobble-stoned cross street and headed
east. They traveled at a slow canter; the traffic was heavier and, as well, Rose didn't
want to attract any more attention than necessary.
"I'm sorry, Rose
What are we going to do?" Gina asked, her voice barely carrying forward
through the wind.
"I'm going to try to lose
them and return you to the hotel. Then we'll worry about what to do after that."
Gina didn't respond but Rose felt
the girl's head nod against the small of her back.
As they approached Sixth Avenue,
Rose slowed, debating whether to take the fast, direct path or a more winding one. Cars
crossing the intersection ahead of them suddenly slammed on their brakes, horns flaring,
as an auto shot through traffic from the south, against the 'Stop'.
The man in the passenger seat
gestured animatedly at Rose, mouthing his discovery, and the driver pulled the wheel hard
left, sending the car cornering wildly, almost running it up onto the sidewalk. Panicked
pedestrians scattered with some fleeing into the street, yelling in alarm.
Rose jerked Red about, heading
back the way they had come, and then she turned quickly up Seventh Avenue.
I need to find some open
streets where I can let Red run, she thought, and she decided to steer further west, towards the
river. She could feel the colt laboring under the unaccustomed extra weight, so she
proceeded at half speed, occasionally dashing on and off the sidewalk to skirt obstacles.
As they passed Eighth Avenue, Rose
saw that both cars were once again in determined pursuit, and she angled the horse
northward up the next alleyway.
We're too easy to follow in
this light traffic, Rose thought. I'd give anything for the chaos of a weekday
afternoon right about now.
Red's breathing had become ragged
and his stride had developed an unevenness in the right front that worried Rose.
I think we can lose them and
then I'll slow to let Red rest, she thought, winding through some back alleys. After a
last turn west the street opened wide and the traffic thinned to a few scattered vehicles.
Rose no longer saw their pursuers in the street behind them and began to feel safe. As she
pushed Red for one final sprint she heard a loud clang in the roadway behind them;
something metallic had struck against the cobblestone. At first she thought that something
had been thrown or fired at them, but Red suddenly began to severely favor his right front
and, glancing back, Rose could see that the object bouncing to a rest behind them was a
She reined Red to a halt and they
both dismounted. Rose noted the way the horse refused to put weight on his right foreleg.
"Damn," she said under
"What's wrong?" Gina
asked, panic filling her voice. She looked nervously back down the street behind them.
Rose lifted the leg to examine it.
The hoof was indeed shoeless and was displaying splintering cracks from the unprotected
impacts against the hard cobblestone. A large stone had lodged in it as well. Rose pried
out the stone and let the leg drop.
"We'll have to walk
can't support our weight without seriously damaging his hoof."
"Oh God, Rose. They'll catch
us for sure. Anthony was really angry
Rose heard the unmistakable terror
in Gina's voice and was sure the girl had faced that fury before, many times.
"This way," Rose said.
She led the horse by the reins as they walked up a narrow side street. Once they were out
of sight, Rose handed the reins to Gina and went back to peer around the cornerstone of
the building, searching the street for their pursuers.
She spotted the two cars several
blocks down the road, coming slowly towards them. They were tracing a zig-zagging pattern
up and down the cross streets, trying to create a pincer movement in which to squeeze the
Gina and Rose ran, with Red
hobbling between them, until they came to the end of the street. A dirt road led off in
either direction, but Rose noted with horror that both ends had been sealed off tight,
ending abruptly at the yawning foundations of new building construction. Too late, Rose
noticed the signs that had been nailed to the telegraph posts along the road that had led
them to the fork: "Temporary Dead End."
Red's breathing had quieted but
his limp had grown more pronounced as he had cooled down. Gina was practically dragging
him as they moved slowly forward down the eastern fork, looking for somewhere, anywhere to
The road was deserted, strictly a
manufacturing district, and Rose realized there would be no help from passers-by. As they
reached the end of the street, they became aware of the sound of engines drawing nearer.
"Sorry, Gina," Rose said
softly, defeated. "We're trapped."
Gina looked at her, stricken.
The two pursuing autos arrived at
the junction behind the women and slowly wheeled to face them. Rose, Gina and Red stood
dead in the middle of the road, waiting, as they approached. The car doors opened and the
four occupants emerged with deliberate slowness as they scanned the surrounding buildings
for signs of prying eyes. Anthony paused, half out his door, his eyes searing a path to
the women, and then he slammed the door and walked to the front of the vehicle.
enough of this. Now, come with me!"
Rose looked at her friend. Gina
stood clutching Red's reins tightly in her left hand, shaking her head deliberately from
side to side.
Rose was encouraged by the
strength in her voice.
The four men inched forward,
Anthony at the center with the others fanning wide, cutting off any further attempt to use
Red to escape. They seemed in no hurry.
"NOW, Gina!" Anthony
"NO!" she cried, her
voice cutting through the stiffening wind.
Anthony stopped abruptly and
reached into his coat pocket. Rose tensed, but his hand, when it re-emerged, held only a
cigarette. He put it in his mouth and lit it, turning his body to shield the flame from
the wind, and then he stood smoking it unhurriedly, enjoying the women's anxiety.
Rose glanced over at Gina. Her
friend was unmoving, face ashen, staring at the man who claimed to love her.
This has nothing to do with
love anymore. It's strictly about control.
Anthony flung the butt of his
cigarette into the street and resumed his slow approach.
"Stop right there and leave
us alone!" Rose yelled suddenly.
Her outburst halted his advance
for a moment. He blinked several times in surprise, glaring at her like she was a
Rose stepped forward, putting
herself between Anthony and Gina. In her heart she knew, as she saw the blackness within
him, that if Gina returned to him one day, sooner or later, he would hurt her
I won't stand by and see that
happen, no matter what the consequences.
She took another stride forward,
"Go away! She doesn't want to
be with you anymore, can't you see that?"
Anthony was ten feet away, seven
feet, five. He stopped, staring coldly into Rose's eyes.
"If you dont step aside
and mind your own business FOR ONCE, you'll be sorry."
"Such a big man, threatening
two poor women with three lackeys to back you up!" Rose replied, not caring if she
riled him further, as long as the brunt of his anger left Gina and fell on her.
He stepped forward and pushed Rose
out of the way, anticipating little resistance. Gina backed against the fence at the
road's end, expecting the worst.
Before Anthony could advance on
Gina, Rose struck him on the shoulder with all her strength, knocking him off balance, and
he staggered sideways for a few steps before regaining his footing.
Red became agitated at this and
began flaring his nostrils, snorting wildly, and he lifted his forelegs to lash out.
Anthony spit at the horse in fury.
"Shoot this damn
animal," he commanded his accomplices.
No need to kill
him," Rose shouted. "Gina, tie him to the fence."
Gina complied, effectively
limiting Red's movements. Anthony turned again to Rose.
"You really don't know your
place, woman! How uppity you are to presume that you know what's right for Gina and me!
Well, I've had my fill of you. I'm going to fix it so no man will ever look at your face
Anthony reached into his coat
pocket and withdrew an object that caught the gray light from overhead and reflected it
With growing unease, Rose
recognized the weapon just as Anthony clicked it open, exposing the blade.
"We'll see how beautiful you
feel with a face full of scars. You NEVER should have gotten in the middle of this!"
Gina raced forward, screaming.
"Anthony, NO! Don't do
I'll go with you, come on," she pleaded, tugging at his arm, but Anthony
brushed her aside, the taste of violence already sharp in his mouth. A few scattered drops
of rain appeared on his face, giving him a fevered, deranged look.
Rose realized there was nothing
she could say now, nothing she could do, and she threw her arms up in front of her face to
protect herself, anticipating the pain of the blade's cut. The seconds ticking by seemed
to stretch to infinity, her eyes closed, waiting
"STOP RIGHT THERE AND PUT
DOWN THAT KNIFE!"
For a few seconds, Rose thought
that her mind was playing tricks on her, but she finally opened her eyes and dropped her
arms, searching for the source of the outburst. The voice sounded so familiar
Three men had sneaked up behind
Anthony's group, the sound of their approach camouflaged by the wind, and they had taken
flanking positions. Two stood, guns drawn, covering the three henchmen. At the center of
the trio, taking dead aim at Anthony, stood the imposing figure of Wallace Hammond.
Anthony spun around at the sound
of the voice, his rage flaring, eyes wild. He looked to his allies and at his silent
command one of them started to reach into his coat pocket.
A gunshot rang out loudly and the
brick of the building five feet above the man's head exploded into a shower of red,
swirling dust. The sound of the shot echoed briefly down the street and was quickly
swallowed by the wind. Red whinnied, trying to rear, but his reins held tight. The
henchman who had gone for his weapon slowly raised his arms overhead, and the other two
followed his lead.
Hammond returned his attention to
"Throw the knife down,
Anthony hesitated, his arm
twitching, his body a coiled spring, but he finally threw the weapon away in disgust.
Hammond retrieved it, clicking its handle to retract the blade.
"Who the hell are you,
sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong?" Anthony asked in an even tone, his
bravado seemingly doused by the turn of events.
Gina ran to Rose in relief and
they embraced, the sharp heat of their fear subsiding. Hammond just stared silently at
Anthony, following his every movement with his gun barrel, waiting.
Faintly at first, then louder, the
sound of approaching hoofbeats reached them, and soon a pair of wagons raced around the
corner, accompanied by two mounted policemen.
A civilian jumped from one of the
wagons and ran to Hammond's side. The two men conferred, with Hammond gesturing
emphatically at Anthony and his men. He handed his gun to his associate, delegating the
job of keeping Anthony covered.
Hammond walked to the wagon and
spoke in hushed tones to the police captain, who then directed his men to round-up
Anthony's band and railroad them on their way. The henchmen were shoved brusquely into
their two autos and escorted back down the road and around the corner.
Rose watched with interest as
Hammond signaled for Anthony to follow him to a nearby doorway. Once there, Hammond
slammed Anthony's back flat against the door, frisked him, and began to lecture him,
thrusting his face within inches of Anthony's own. The anger drained from Anthony, his
features clouded over, and then a distinct look of fear took center stage on his face.
Hammond barked at him loudly several times, though Rose couldn't quite make out the words
over the whipping gusts, and finally Anthony grudgingly nodded several times, suddenly
looking the part of a naughty schoolboy who'd been caught at his mischief. Rose was amazed
at the dominance Hammond seemed to establish in just a few short moments.
Hammond grabbed Anthony by the
coat and shoved him towards the waiting police wagon. Anthony stumbled forward, fell
heavily, and then regained his feet and walked slowly into the waiting arms of the
policemen. He never once looked up at Rose and Gina as he disappeared into the back of the
Mr. Hammond walked over to where
the women stood. Gina looked at him through wide eyes, her mouth agape at what had
transpired. He politely tipped his hat to them, as though they had just run into each
other while out on a casual Sunday stroll.
"Good day, Miss Dawson."
"Mr. Hammond! Thank
Oh God, where did you come from? How did you know we were in
"I said I would keep an eye
on you, and even though you seemed to resent my presence the last time we spoke, a promise
is a promise."
"I'm so sorry how I spoke to
you that day. Without you
Gina's stare flitted from Rose to
Mr. Hammond and back, as though they were speaking a foreign tongue.
"I'll tell you everything
Rose turned to Mr. Hammond.
"What will happen to Anthony?
I'm afraid that he'll still come after us, threaten us."
"Don't be worrying about him,
Miss Dawson. He's had prior run-ins with the law, so I threatened to have him sent to Sing
Sing for a long vacation if there is a repeat of any of this; if he even goes near either
of you again. My friends in the police department will entertain him for a while and then
make sure he doesn't bother you any further."
"I don't know how to thank
you, Mr. Hammond," Rose said.
"Can't let scum like that be
threatening you, Miss Dawson."
Rose blushed, feeling about a foot
tall. Mr. Hammond continued to address her formally, just as she had demanded of him when
last they met. She looked down, unable to meet his gaze.
"Well, I'll be leaving with
these gentleman now," Mr. Hammond continued. He gestured towards Red, still tied to
the fence. "Is your horse okay to walk?"
"No, he's quite lame,"
"I'll send a horse wagon over
to help you transport him. Just hold on here until they arrive."
Mr. Hammond tipped his hat once
again to Gina and Rose, and then turned to join the force at the wagon. Vehicles loaded,
the entire entourage circled around and rode off, leaving Rose and Gina standing in the
sudden quiet of the empty street.
Did all this really happen?
Rose thought to herself. It seems like I just awoke from a terrible nightmare.
"Rose?" Gina said,
quietly, and Rose noticed she was shaking from head to toe, confusion, tension and relief
vying for dominance within her.
"He just appeared
an angel," Gina said, and Rose had to smile at her friend's choice of words.
"Sit," Rose commanded,
and while they waited for the horse wagon to arrive, Rose told her friend about Titanic
and everything that had transpired on the doomed ship, months before. Almost everything,
that is. She told of her mother, Cal, Molly, Mr. Hammond, and her chance to escape the
trap her life had become. Of the horror, her fortuitous rescue, and of starting over.
All she left out was Jack.