Knowing that she worked here, where men would watch her with lustful eyes, was difficult to process. From the very moment he learned that this was her existence he felt many things all at once. At first there was a seething dislike, counting himself correct in thinking that she was nothing but the witch that he had convicted her as all that time ago. Then came the grey middle ground of not being invested one way or another. And over time it had moved into a territory where both apathy and anger were not present. Instead it was a kind of sadness. One where he wished she had a better opportunity. If he had learned of one thing that could never be mastered but that he would always strive for from religion - it was forgiveness. Something that the divine would have everyone feel with a pureness and light. Something that was wished upon each human being and thought to be possible in this world among all the humans under the heavens. But was it such a thing that was possible? Was it even a reality instead of merely an ideal?
The very notion that he could forgive the gypsy for how she had completely unraveled him seemed impossible. She had been the catalyst to his most recent ruin. Though, in truth, his life was one tumbling bit of chaos after the other. And he was left with nothing but ruins each time. A husk of what once was. Family was toppled with a sickness. Brotherhood was annihilated with the drink. And his livelihood was shattered the moment that she walked up to him during that festival. Had she known then what she was doing? That she was crumbling what he had spent years trying to build? Would she even care that she was creating a monster as she did so? Would she have done it all over again? These were the thoughts that riddled through his mind like an echo that just wouldn't stop resonating through empty and haunted halls.
And each time he never found an answer. Not a single one.
He looked down at his hands. Weathered. Worn. Old. He was going to be gone from this world soon. And that meant that soon there would be one less monster within it. One less thing for her to worry about. Which was a blessing in and of itself he supposed. He was not a good man. And he was, therefore, no good for her. Not her or anyone if he was being honest. He was merely existing. Weathering another storm that had come to try and knock him down. But damned if he wasn't a stubborn son of a bitch about it. He stood there as the world beat against him and tried to tear him down. He would see old age take him before anything else. He wouldn't allow to be taken before his time. Although it would be a mercy killing. That much was certain.
His eyes moved back up to see the side of the building from his vantage point. She often took the back entrance but, as of late, he would see men from the establishment move through the alley and haggle the girls. It had happened more recently as of late. More often than Victor would have liked, honestly. But more often than not if the girls were going to go out the back way then they would have some modicum of protection from someone in the club. He was never sure just who, but it seemed the door stayed pried open with watchful eyes as the girls left just in case the cops needed to be called or someone needed to rush out and protect them. Although sometimes that didn't happen either.
He wanted her away from this cesspool of sin. He really did. But what could he do? He did everything in her life with the utmost anonymity. He did not want to be found. He did not want her to know his name. He had already done far too much. And she was a danger to him just as much as he was one for her. And so he would simply watch and make sure she was alright. From afar.
Men were along the front of the building and they were sloppily drunk. Laughing easily and movements languid and stumbling. Victor saw his brother in each and every one of them. Idiots. The lot of them. All were just puddles of inhibited brain activity and bad decisions. Which is why he was now watching them think they were being sly with their drug use. It seemed like the hood of a truck was as good a place as any to cut up, line up, and snort their recreational powder for the night. And Victor watched with an anger bubbling up. These were the men that were allowed to get close to her. And yet he sat here far away. Unable and unwilling to get closer. It was not fair at all. He was no Saint, but he was better than any single man that stood there making a proper jackass of himself. That much he knew with certainty.
Just as he was feeling his ire rising, he watched as they looked up to the door. Someone leaving, it would seem. And it took him all of a few seconds to realize. Esmeralda. She had come out the front door. And his eyes moved quickly to look towards the back entrance. Sure enough, there were men smashing beer bottles by the back road. Near enough to move in and cause damage if they wished to. She was smart, it would seem. She always had been. But as he moved his eyes back he saw the men at their truck all giving each other pointed looks. Moving with purpose. Like a predatory pack of wild dogs moving in for the kill. And he narrowed his eyes in time to see one of them grab his crotch and laugh before they disappeared from his vision. Towards her. He tensed where he sat.
A smarter man wouldn't have moved from the spot. He would have let whatever was going to happen merely happen. Let the sins transpire. One and then the other and then the other. Had his whole life been one transgression atop another? Like a cathedral cast from sin and not stone? He felt a chill in his gut as he thought about it, but such things were already lost to his mind as he felt the hot wave of the night air around him. When did he even get out of the car? He swallows a lump in his throat. Hearing the car's tell tale beeping that means it's locked. He pockets his keys. All of this is happening in a rush and yet in a slow motion that he isn't sure about. Everything coming and going as he pulls out his phone to take shots of the license plates of the men's cars. Hurrying to get a shot of the remnants of coke lined on the hood of the car before his feet carry him swiftly to the place he knows danger is about to peak.
All the while he was taking the pictures and a plan was forming in his mind he could hear her voice. Now he was watching as she was held against her will. Twisted in one man's grasp as he now stood face to face with another that would wish her harm. She looked just as beautiful as when he first saw her. And was causing just as much trouble as ever it would seem. But all of the memories and recollections could wait. He turned his focus to the man closest to him. He narrowed his eyes.
“Fuck off old man, she’s ours. We got a score to settle.”
And while it was the one that now effectively pinned Esmeralda to the wall that spoke, Victor's eyes stayed on the man that stood ready to punch him in the face.
"One. You should respect your elders and not refer to them simply as 'old man'. Two. She by no means belongs to you. And three. The score that needs to be settled is the one with the cops that I've called to come track you down. Not for this little alleyway business, though I'm sure they'll be thrilled to hear about this...but the matter of your cars being filled with drugs?"
He saw the one closest to him lighten the glare he was sending Victor's way ever so slightly. He moved his eyes to the man that was assaulting Esmeralda. Watching his grip lighten as he looked somewhere between angry and spooked. Victor smiled ever so slightly.
"I take it they'd be quite interested to see how you intend to settle that score. I thought perhaps instead of staying here to wind up with another charge to your record...maybe you'd like a head start?"
He hadn't called the cops. But he knew that the cops regularly patrolled the area after all the recent activity around the back of the establishment. It was a den of sin, sure. And the cops had their hands full with the city slowly deteriorating and sinking into a darkness not unlike that which was taken his previous home away from him. But still. He knew that they would know he could easily make good on his promise. And he stood there with his hands in his pocket while the two idiots gawked and glared like the assholes they were.
"Not much of a head start if you don't leave now gentlemen...and yes I am being generous with that title seeing as how neither of you could ever be mistaken for having such a label."