Before I learned not to go out at night, I was strolling with an evening dinner date along Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota; when we saw a woman being punched repeatedly in the face as she sat on a bus stop bench across the street from us. I slowed down to see if we could help her escape the large, dark man who held her tightly to him as he battered her pale, bloody, upturned face; but the man I was with forcibly dragged me away, "I don't want to get involved in that." This was before mobile phones so I could not even call for help. I never saw that date again, and he never asked to see me. He knew that I saw him for the coward that he was, and that I deeply resented his making a coward out of me. As for the woman, did she live or die? She was very small to take such a beating.
A few years later a girlfriend and I were driving along the Kansas-Missouri interstate to visit her farm when for some reason she stopped her car, saying she wanted to piddle in the scrub along the roadside—this was very unusual behavior for her, or for any woman. I got out to keep her company and I immediately saw small bones gleaming just off the road. I went to see if it was a deer skeleton, but I saw right away that it was the remains of a small person, sans skull. There were still no mobile phones in the world, and my girlfriend absolutely refused to find the local police station and report the forlorn little pile of bones. To this day I resent her refusal to report what might have put some family's heart to rest regarding their missing loved one. Also, it chilled me to realize there was more to that situation than met my eyes. After this, I learned to be the one who drove whenever I went cross-country, and I learned to drive alone.
A few decades later in San Diego, California, a transgender woman friend and I were walking along San Diego River Trail, along with many, many other people who were out enjoying the dappled light and pretty sights that afternoon, when we inadvertently walked into a foul miasma of death. It was unmistakable, something large had died in the bushes just off the trail and lay rotting there. I got out my mobile phone to report it, but my friend kept walking, saying, "I won't get involved in this. Look, no one else is stopping, and everyone can smell it. Do not involve me." I did not involve her, nor myself. By then I had seen on the news how people who report this sort of thing sometimes get caught up and accused. I did not want to risk that for some lost soul whom I knew nothing about.
The cost of these three traces of violence that faintly touched my life over the years is that now I know myself to be a coward in this regard.
Caption: A Thruppence Of Violence In Life
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019