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Saturday, June 02, 2007

My Life as a Streetfighter - 2

*photo from a NASA satellite

It's a pretty island, Tenerife, in parts. Like the north, the western coast, even the eastern coast drive from the tourist south to the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The south is a bit grungy in many areas with budget holidaymakers drawn by the sun and cheap booze, but that's the major tourist area and where our business needed to be. There are two airports, the main one in the south, for the tourist trade, and the other in the north, which caters mainly for the traffic to and from mainland Spain. You may know of the north airport, it's where that awful plane crash occurred in 1977, when a KLM jumbo taking off, slammed into a Pan Am jumbo taxiing on the same runway.

So anyway, the year 2000. After getting Andy back to the safety of the dive centre, I called the police and they came fairly quickly. By that time, the bastard who had tried to end Andy's life was there outside, yelling at us and accusing US of beating HIM up!!!! Well the police took one look at Andy, who's face was covered in blood, his eyes swollen shut, his lip split, blood seeping from his nose and ears and one look at this mad Mancunian who had barely a scratch and only a torn t-shirt (I think I did that), and listened to us. Then promptly arrested him and dragged him away kicking and screaming.

There, the wronged party has to make a 'denuncia' (denouncement) against the other party, basically an official complaint. The police don't actually do much unless you've done something to them. They can see what has happened but they won't charge unless you make the official complaint. But first, there was a hospital visit to be taken care of so they carted the madman away and escorted Andy and I to hospital. What a weird system there, they don't take the worse injured in for treatment as a priority, they work on a first come, first served basis. I walked through the door first, so they insisted I was treated first and I'm begging them to take care of Andy. Nope, my name was first on the list even though I had only a bloody nose, and some scrapes on my face and arms (I wasn't about to hold up my t-shirt and show them the rest). So I gave in and hurried them through mine so they could get to Andy.

He had a concussion, severe trauma to his head, face, chest and abdomen, needed stitches in his lip and two places on his head. They did the x-rays, patched him up and then said, OK take him home. Told me what to watch out for. I wasn't too happy with that but they work that way there. By the way, it was the same the night he tried to commit suicide, a few months later, they 'washed' him out with charcoal and then handed him back to me!! He'd taken a massive dose of morphine and the doctor even asked me if he was suffering from cancer as a reason for what happened. I told him emphatically no, he was healthy but had decided to take his own life. There was no psychological consult or anything (unlike Hong Kong where I wasn't allowed to take him home for two days). So anyway, we had to then traipse off to the police station, to go and make the official complaint, which we did. Once that was done, we were informed that the guy who'd done all this damage would be out the next morning and it would take a while for it to get to the courts. I later learned it would take over a year to get to the point the case is heard. Absolute madness, I guess they hope people will give up or leave by the time it gets heard and they can abandon the case. Which was what happened with this one as everyone had left by then.

The next day Andy of course insists on being at work. The old 'I'm not going to let it look as though they've won' sort of macho behaviour. In we went and who should parade past the door glaring at us but.....the madman!! And let me just say, he had had quite a going over and we hadn't done it. The police there do have their way of taking care of things when they see something very wrong. I certainly wouldn't want to get on the bad side of them, but I was glad of it that morning, to see him fairly well scuffed up like that.

Within an hour of opening shop, my Russian bodyguard was there explaining to me that he was going kill the madman. And I was appalled. I explained that wasn't what we wanted, I did say, though, that he could hurt him a little bit. I know, I know but really, you had to have seen what those bastards did to Andy. He said no, he had to kill him, not for me but because this had happened on his watch and he had his reputation to think of. Also, apparently Señor Santiago (I'm not using his real name for obvious reasons) was 'embarrassed' by the fact that he'd warned this guy off and he'd still done this to us. They put out a contract on him and he immediately 'disappeared' in fear of his life. We heard that within 24 hours he'd left the island and returned to the UK, leaving his business in the hands of his partner.

I never did see Señor Santiago again, and 'Vlad' as he called himself came back for one final visit to tell me that if the madman ever set foot again on the island, he wouldn't last a day there. I was just glad that part of it was over and that we had won, thought at an incredible price. The whole mood of the industry changed the day that guy walked away fearing for his life. Unfortunately, it had dire consequences for Andy, who never fully recovered. He insisted on getting back into the water right away, despite my pleas to rest and see how his wounds healed. But no, he wasn't going to show any weakness. It wasn't until he and I split up, and he continued to dive, that we learned of the long-term effect of the beating he suffered that night. Both his retinas detached and he had to end his diving career. Which led to worse drinking and an inability to support himself and it wasn't long until he reached the end of his troubled road.

I'll never forget that day I met the Señor, I couldn't communicate with him, nor he with me, but Andy's Italian and his Spanish made it possible for them to understand each other. At one point, after Andy's long explanation of our problems, he reached over to me and squeezed my hand and just said 'bella, bella' to me. I whispered to Andy that if he tries to get me into the white slave trade in exchange for helping us, to say 'no'! But he was actually a really sweet man, very caring and concerned about me. Which at the time, meant an awful lot given all I was going through.

It wasn't too long after all this that Andy and I decided to split, or rather I split from him, I just couldn't live with him the way I had been, and the drinking after that beating got so much worse. To the point he'd come home and collapse at the door of the wrong apartment and the neighbour would come and ask me to take him home. Or rather drag him home. I'd put him to bed in a makeshift towel diaper as he was at the stage of not being able to control himself during the night and wet the bed almost daily. It was no life, no quality of life, for either of us. He was making his choices and they were killing him. Those choices had already killed our relationship and thankfully I was able to get out of it all. And on to better days. Days as a complete person finally, for the first time in my life. With the realisation that no matter what I did for Andy, it would never be enough, it would never mean enough. He just didn't want to change. But he did change me and he helped me to grow and be stronger. And wiser, so much wiser. I'll always thank him for that.

Out of the bad came good. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Sadly, not both of us survived that final change between us. But I had to take my life back, for me. And I did. Though it's still really, really hard for me to go back there once a year, to visit.


George said...

A tragic event brings great changes to some yet sends others down a road to oblivion. I am glad you rose from the ashes Fiona.

Fusion said...

A very bittersweet story Fiona, but as George said, I'm gald you came out the stronger for it.

kimba said...

thank god you are writing this story seven years later, in a different country.. and all the good that is around you at the moment.. sheesh..

Jac said...

Ironically, even braver than fighting off the thugs, was yourleaving this man and reclaiming your own life, before he took yours with his! When you feel insecure now, just think back to how much valor you have in you! No wonder why so many who are struggling in life, turn here, to you. You are an inspiration to us all!

anna said...

Wow, that is an incredible story! And so well written! Although it all sounds exciting, it also sounds like the kind of excitement I'd rather do without.

I'm glad my paesanos were able to help you. I'm just sorry no one was able to help Andy. Did you have any contact with him after the split?

freebird said...

I am so glad you took your life back. That is an incredible story Fi, thank you for sharing it with us. I feel humbled and speechless.

Fiona said...

George - We both made our choices. Mine were just better than his. Though he ended up where he wanted to be, I guess.

Fusion - Living through, and surviving, adversity makes us stronger, I believe. :)

Kimba - I agree. I really do believe that I deserve the goodness I have in my life right now. I've paid the dues. :)

Jac - Yes, it was harder realising I could do no more for him, than getting beaten up. Truth was, though, he beat up my heart and my spirit for years, I just refused to see it. "There are none so blind as those who will not see." Thank you.

Anna - I knew him for 17 years before he died. We lived together for four of those years. I gave him every chance to help himself, every opportunity to pull himself out of his personal hell, but nothing worked. He didn't want out. After we split, he went to stay with his sister in Rome and even she eventually put him out. I continued to support him financially for a while, then he started begging me to take him back. I couldn't do that, so I severed ties with him. When he died, he was sharing an abandoned house with drug addicts. I still feel badly about that, but I had to keep away from him.

Freebird - I am too. I tried everything, but nothing worked. I had to walk away.

D said...

May I just say what a truly wonderful person you are and a guiding light in how to conduct oneself in difficult times. And because of what you have had to live through the advice you gives others is invalueable.

Fiona said...

D - welcome :) Thank you. I believe a lot of it comes from values I was taught by my father. He was my true anchor and guide for so long. I have also learned over the years, to face things instead of pretending they weren't there. I did that for too long and wasted big parts of my life because of that.

Don't be a stranger!

Sunny Delight said...

It's all been said by the others, you are amazing...your strength is a beacon for many of us who are trying to find our way.....I can only say.....thank you and am so grateful you survived and that you count me as a friend.

Many hugs, and love.

Fiona said...

You know, Sunny, I don't consider myself strong. But I guess I am. I was always taught to be self-sufficient and to work things through. Some took me longer to work through but that, I think, stems from not giving up on anything easily :)

Hugs and thank you for your confidence in me.


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