The Reddest Rose

From the time she laid eyes on the house the similarity to a different time/a different place was apparent to her. She didn't want to stay there indefinitely. She thought she would just stay for a few months. But a few months turned into a year. It seemed like she couldn't get enough speed up to break out of there. The house had taken ahold of her and wouldn't let go. It's many, far-reaching tentacles began drawing other people in too, it was a three bedroom.

First came the benign Richmond who was on the staff at a pharmaceutical company called Cellulon. He was a quiet, sober man, with a rock solid routine. He never brought women home and he was satisfied with drinking cheap green tea. He was baffled by expensive espresso drinks filled with empty calories. He stayed trim by running early before work, or going to the gym in the winter. He never left a stray dish or even a spoon in the sink and he hated crumbs, but then a strange thing happened.

Alina took the third room. A young Russian woman whose papers were questionable, she was very beautiful. Alina's red hair was now an asset, whereas in Russia it was not. She wore her hair long and wavy down her back. She framed her blue eyes with black eyeliner and mascara. Her cheekbones were high and her nose was fairly prominent. Her figure: high breasts, small waist, long legs, exquisite feet.

She was there when Richmond met Alina and she told me it was a very weird experience. Alina smiled genuinely and shook his hand and it was almost as if he leaned in closer to smell her. He didn't smile, the look on his face was one of desperation. My friend's temperament was one which was devised to avoid conflict and she avoided making negative forecasts. But the very next day Richmond began acting out of character. He came home early from work and uncorked a bottle of wine and he turned up the radio. She had never seen him act this way.

When Alina came home he offered her a glass of wine and proceeded to pour his heart out. She listened politely, but there was an iciness that compounded whatever he was incensed with. After drinking a glass of wine she stood up to go to her room and my friend saw him grab her arm. He did it very quickly. She was so surprised that she stopped and a look of fear flashed across her face. My friend ignored all this at the time, in order to avoid conflict, but she remembered it. Richmond poured Alina another glass and continued to rant and rave about himself and how great he was. It was like he was holding her hostage.

Over the days and weeks that followed he devised schemes to attach himself to Alina. My friend wasn't much help, her blinders were too large. Alina began to lose her spontaneous beauty and became like a weaker replica of the original. He became an alcoholic, narcissistic, manic, egomaniac, all in the course of a few weeks. It seemed like everything he had been suppressing boiled up from the depths of his psyche when he saw Alina. It was as though his passion was perverted by so many years of control and severity. He was willing to go to any lengths to sleep with her. Any lengths.

And he made a plan, and he got the necessary elements, and then he executed it. Threatening to expose her illegal status to the authorities he drew her into his room to discuss it. Then he used his sweetest honey tones to comfort her when she cried. He stroked her head and touched her hair with the look of a dragon with a maiden. Then he handed her a drink and within an hour she was fast asleep in his arms. The stressed look left her face and he began tracing her face with his fingertips. He lingered over her full lips and her throat. Then he kissed her unconscious form. He told my friend later and admitted to everything in a fit of guilt. He threatened her and she was so scared she never went to the authorities but she went to me.

Well that wasn't all he did, but exposing every detail here is just too risky. He still has Alina in his grips. She wasn't strong enough to get away. She got hobbled by the explosion of his dark side. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the right look. I think he's routinely drugging her and sleeping with her. Probably starving her and berating her. My friend moved out finally after she couldn't avoid seeing the injustices. But she remained neutral, she was Switzerland. And in this way nothing was done.

Last night I went to the police determined to help and they asked me for my evidence of said accusarions. They offered to go by for a welfare check and in desperation I insisted on it. I drove over to the house as well and stood back as they knocked on the door. Inside techno music hammered the walls, but it was mostly dark. Richmond came out in a bathrobe with a cigarette dangling from his lips. "What's this all about?"
"We're looking for Alina."
"She flew back to Siberia."
"Sir have you been doing any drugs?"
"Well be sure to let us know if you see Alina."
"Thanks officer." And he took the card.

We never heard from Alina again. Perhaps she was swallowed by the house. In the summer Richmond planted a new red rose bush in the backyard, which he lavished with special attention. And the petals were blood red and the thorns were sharp as knives.


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