If we hadn’t decided to go on a Saturday morning hike . . .
If I hadn’t prayed at breakfast for opportunities to share the love of Jesus . . .
If we hadn’t left at 6:02 am . . .
If we’d taken the road towards Jacket’s instead of Tascha’s . . .
If Brave Friend hadn’t received that early morning call from a friend . . .
So many little things came together to put us in the middle of a bad situation just when someone, anyone was needed most.
“No, I’m going to my mother’s! I’m going in the car! I am not getting out. I can’t take it any more! I’m not getting out! I’ve paid my fare! Just drive! Drive the car!”
Barely out of Gordon Town, the sun not even up over the mountain we plan on scaling, and Brave Woman is being attacked as she sits in a taxi.
A man is yelling at her, calling her the worst Jamaican curse word you can call someone. Trying to force open the car door. Tearing at her clothes, at her purse, at her.
I’m calling the police – no answer.
Matt is trying to get the guy’s attention – no response.
Brave Friend is trying to calm him down – no such luck.
By now he’s forced open the door of the car and she is gripping the seat and the dashboard, begging the taxi driver to go even as the man tears the watch from her wrist, rips the strap of her tank top, and throws her purse on the ground.
A tube of bright red lip gloss rolls out onto the cracked asphalt.
She knew she was beaten when the taxi driver got out from behind the wheel of the car, came around to the passenger side, and started yelling, too.
Why don’t the police answer!?
She is out of the car, standing dejected and defeated, head hanging down as he hurls that terrible word at her again and again and Brave Friend ties up her tank top and gathers her scattered belongings.
The taxi driver leaves as the man grips her around the neck with a muscular forearm and begins forcing her up the mountain, while her friend follows, pleading with him.
The dispatcher – thank God – finally answers and promises to inform the Gordon Town police. Does that mean they are coming? I don’t know.
I speed walk up the road and as I round the bend the first thing I see is the woman lying on the ground. The second thing I see is the bright red blood on Matt’s hands.
“Oh, Jesus! Jesus!” Brave Friend is saying.
Brave Woman, who tried to leave and now is paying for it dearly, is unconscious, bleeding from a cut above her eye. The man is standing above her, still railing.
Her eyelids flutter.
Matt and Brave Friend are trying to call her back to consciousness. I tell them I’ve called the police.
The man knew he was beaten when she continued to lie unconscious in the middle of the road, with a friend and two white people bending over her, ignoring his tirade.
When Matt asks him to help carry her over to the side of the road he turns in disgust and storms off. So the three of us lift her and lay her in the gravel at the side of the road.
Matt is using anti-bacterial wipes to stop the bleeding and trying to call her back to consciousness. I’m using them to wipe the blood from her hand and arm and leg. And Brave Friend, large tears rolling out of the corners of her eyes, is telling us what happened in those brief moments we lost sight of them.
No woman should ever have to physically restrain a man with a knife and beg him not to use it on her friend.
The fact that she is even there is a fluke, or a miracle. A friend called her, early, and said “Good morning! Good morning! This is your good morning wake up call!’ So she was awake to hear the shouting when it started and only took time to pull on her clothes before racing outside.
No sign of the police.
It is the cowardice of one taxi driver that helped put Brave Woman in such a terrible position. It is the kindness of second taxi driver who enables me to get to the police station in record time, dropping me at the steps of the station so I can race inside without even paying.
The dispatcher calls the squad car back to base (they had gone down the mountain instead of up). After a hurried explanation of where everyone actually is, they head off, in the right direction this time.
By the time I arrive back at the scene, Brave Woman is sitting up, taking slow, weary sips from Matt’s water bottle. She is weak and pale. The police and her friend have gone up the road to her house to gather the things she needs.
We hand her a granola bar to eat. She hands me her cell phone. And a text comes through from him: Ya call da police pon mi!
Her head drops.
Matt encourages her to keep pressure on the cut and gives her more water. I sit next to her and rub her back. She takes the phone, dials, and hands it back to me. “My mother-in-law,” she whispers.
So I sit there on the side of the road, patting her shoulder and telling her mother-in-law that I’m from the United States and her son just attacked Brave Woman. I don’t make much sense at first. Things finally clear up enough for her to understand what is going on and for me to emphasize that I called the police and she had nothing to do with it. Hopefully, he gets the message.
The squad car is back ready to take her to hospital. Her friend is holding a pathetic little bundle of mismatched items, things collected in a hurry. She is apologizing for not knowing what to take and just grabbing whatever she saw.
Matt and Brave Friend help her into the car and they – two policemen and two Brave Women – leave.
And I pray that she won’t be coming back.