Bruce was still on his knees; in too much pain to get up and too stubborn to collapse completely. A nasty bruise was forming on the outside of his left forearm. Other than that, it looked like most of the damage was to his head and face. Liza crouched next to him to get a better look. There was a deep gash on the side of his head. One eye was swollen shut, his nose didn’t look right, and blood was smeared everywhere. Liza started to feel queasy so she looked away. She noticed that some of the residents were peeking out from their tents and blanket piles. A few were edging their way toward Liza and Bruce. She took a deep breath and stood quickly. Liza stared back at them as she retrieved the butterfly knife from the ground. She opened it and tucked it into the side pocket of her work pants. The blade sliced through the bottom but stayed. Liza had visions of severing an artery and dying in a pool of her own blood back here. What would the homeless people do? Liza imagined them wrapping her in liquor-soaked newspapers and setting her adrift in the river on top of an old car hood. They would flick cigarette butts on her until she ignited. At least her funeral would be unique.
She moved back to Bruce, who was trying to push himself to his feet. “Are you going to be able to walk?” He nodded slightly. “Ok.” Liza helped him get to his feet. He was shaky. She ducked under his right arm and wrapped her left arm around his waist. She wasn’t so much holding him up as letting him use her as a human crutch. She got him into her car and gave him her blazer to use to try to stem some of the bleeding. He buried his face in it and flopped back against the seat. Liza pulled her knife out as she walked around to the driver’s side and got in the car. She could see them watching from beneath the underpass, but no one approached.
Liza sped up the access road. They were almost back at the intersection when a cop car turned down the road. She thought about flagging him down, but she didn’t know everything that had happened. Why had Bruce gone there? Why were those homeless people beating him up? Liza slowed to a more moderate speed and hit the recline button on Bruce’s seat. She looked straight ahead and pretended to fiddle with the radio as they passed each other. Yep, don’t mind me. I always drive down this abandoned dead-end road on my way to work. The cop slowed down as they passed each other, but he didn’t stop her. Liza took off as soon as she was back on the main street.