After Cillay left the theater, she suddenly felt weak and a little bit dizzy. She realized that she had not eaten anything all day. She felt like she had to sit down right away before she passed out. She made her way to a bench .
Jim came out of the courthouse and headed across the street towards the Bistro to have lunch. He saw Cillay sitting on the bench and went over to speak with her.
“Hi Cillay. How is the job hunting going?”, he asked her. Then he noticed that she was looking very pale.
“Are you okay Cillay?,” he asked anxiously.
“I’ll be okay. I just had to sit down for a few moments.”, she told him.
“Have you had lunch yet?,” he asked her. “I was just about to go eat at the Bistro and I’d love to have you join me. It’ll be my treat.”
“I’d love to have lunch with you. Thank you, Jim.”, she said gratefully.
It was such a pretty day that they decided to have lunch at one of the tables outside.
‘Please order whatever you would like, Cillay.,” Jim told her. “I think I’m having the turkey and potatoes. It’s great here.”
“I’ll have that too, please.,” Cillay said. Jim was right. The food was delicious. It was the first warm meal Cillay had had in over a week. She tried to eat slowly and make it last.
Jim watched her eat. “You’ve got to try their key lime pie. It’s the best I’ve ever had.,” he told her.
While they waited for their dessert to arrive, Jim studied Cillay’s face trying to decide the best way to ask her why she was here in Mesa Valley. He decided to just be direct.
“Cillay, what brings you here to Mesa Valley?,” he asked gently.
Cillay was silent for a moment. She was expecting the question, but was still uncertain about telling him. Jim sensed her hesitation.
“Cillay,” he said. “ I know you don’t know me very well, but you can trust me. Whatever you tell me will remain between the two of us. If you will allow me, I just want to help you. Whatever trouble you are in.”, he told her sincerely.
Cillay fought back tears. It had been a long time since anyone had been so kind to her. She had put up a shield around her heart keeping everyone out, but this man had in just a short period of time, penetrated her shield and reached her heart. The realization scared her.
Without saying another word, Jim reached into his pocket and handed her his handkerchief.
Cillay thanked him and tried to compose herself, before the other diners noticed her tears.
“Maybe we should have this conversation in a more private location.,” Jim told her. He signaled the waitress to give them a pie to take with them and called his office to tell them that he would not be back in that afternoon.
After retrieving his car from the courthouse, he took Cillay to one of the most peaceful places in town, Crater Lake. Cillay looked around feeling instantly calmer. She had decided to tell Jim everything. If that meant that she had to go back to the park to sleep again, so be it. Jim led her to a bench and then looked at her expectantly.
“It’s a long story.,” she warned him.
“Take as long as you need.,” he told her.
“Well, I was orphaned as an infant.,’ she told him. “Then when I was two years old, I was adopted by a wonderful couple, Melvin and Sylvia Rockwell. I spent eight of the happiest years of my life with them.
Then when I was ten years old , while they were on their way to my school play, their car was struck by a drunk driver. They were killed instantly.”, thinking about them still brought tears to her eyes. Jim took her hand into his and held it tightly to comfort her.
“After that I was raised by my grandmother, Sylvia’s mother. She loved me very much, but she was older and didn’t have a lot of patience for a child. She was very strict with me especially after I became a teenager. She kept me very sheltered. ,” Cillay told him.
“When I went away to college, I was overwhelmed. I had never been allowed to date; and suddenly here at college, I was always being asked out.
At first, I always declined, but there was one young man who really was determined. He was captain of the football team, and I was very flattered that he was interested in little old, plain Jane me.,” Cillay paused for a moment and looked at Jim.
He was thinking that she was definitely not a plain Jane, far from it. She was gorgeous, but he didn’t say that.
“Go on.,” he encouraged her.
“After we had gone out a couple of times, he started telling people that I was his girlfriend which was news to me. He had not asked me to be his girlfriend and by that time I had realized that he was not right for me. He was too pushy, too demanding. He never asked me what I wanted to do on our dates. He always ordered for me without finding out what I like to eat.”
“He quit asking before he came to my dorm room. He’d just tell me that we were going out and would not take no for an answer.”
“ After I found out that he was telling people that I was his girlfriend, I decided to confront him and tell him that I did not want to see him anymore. Let’s just say that our conversation did not go well.”, she told him.
“What do you mean?,” Jim asked her.
Cillay stared straight ahead, ashamed to look at Jim.
“That was the first time that he hit me.”, she stated baldly, without emotion.
Jim was stunned and extremely angry. He could never understand how a man could hit any woman. Especially not a woman as wonderful as Cillay. He didn’t say anything though, allowing her to continue.
“At first, I tried to fight back. Of course he had no trouble overpowering me. No one heard the struggle, or if they did they ignored it. He….”, Cillay couldn’t speak, she was overcome with tears.
Jim suddenly realized what she was trying to say.
“He raped you, didn’t he?,” he asked her gently.
“Did you report it, Cillay?,’ Jim asked her.
“No. He told me no one would believe me. He was the captain of the football team, and every girl on campus would die to go to bed with him. I was little miss nobody. I knew he was right.”
“This was just the beginning. He never hit me in the face or anywhere the bruises would show. He’d always cry afterwards and say he was sorry. That it was my fault for provoking him. He always brought me flowers and expensive gifts and clothing. He said that he loved me. That I was his girl and there was no one else for him.”
“He made me quit talking to what few friends I did have. It was the same with my grandmother. At the end of our junior year of college, I found out that I was pregnant. Tony was very upset when I told him. He told me to get rid of it. I refused, and gradually he seemed to get used to the idea. He got a part time job and found us a small place off campus.”, she told him.
“If I dared so much as smile at another guy or glance at another guy, he’d make me pay when we were alone. I made the mistake of smiling at a new freshman, and as soon as we returned to the apartment, he gave me the worst beating that he had ever given me.
I ended up in the hospital, and I lost the baby.”, Cillay said with her voice trembling.
‘Oh, Cillay,” Jim said. “I am so sorry.” He put his arm around her shoulders and held her close.
“This time he could not cover up what he had done. He was arrested and sent to prison. I thought that I was free of him.”
“My grandmother had passed away and left me her home and some money. I sold the house and moved to Sunset Valley to start a new life. “, she said.
“ I had just found a new place to live and was trying to find a job, when I saw a familiar face on the street coming toward me. It was Tony. He had gotten free on a technicality, something about misplaced evidence. I still don’t know how he found me.
He moved in with me and took over my life again.,” Cillay paused, gathering her thoughts.
“He was offered a position with the Sunset Steelers as the team quarterback. He warned me that when he was away playing a game, I had better behave or he’d make me pay when he returned. He said that if I ever left him, he’d find me and kill me.”
“I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew he’d probably kill me during a beating anyway. I withdrew what little money I could without him getting suspicious, and as soon as he left town, so did I. “
” I took two planes, then a train and then a bus here to Mesa Valley, hoping not to leave a trail for him to follow. The bus ticket took the rest of my cash, and I dare not use a credit card. “
“So that’s how I ended up here in Mesa Valley sleeping on a bench.”, Cillay said, ending her story.