She could not accept a weak man. Maybe it was the lack of a strong father figure or the need to feel protected. Maybe it was to compensate for her shortcomings. Regardless, Marissa could not stand a weak individual to be with.
Which is what made her current situation all the more unexpected. Benjamin Sands definitely did not fit into the “strong man” category. He was thin, wore glasses, quiet spoken, polite and not terribly aggressive in any facet of his life. Benjamin was an individual who allowed himself to be pushed along by the stream of life and allowed others to influence his actions. He went to a school not terribly far from his home because his mother wanted him to. He got an office job because that was what the counselors at school said he would be best at. He was dependable because that was what his friends expected of him. Even in his relationship with Marissa, he was the follower- always doing what was necessary to make her happy.
Marissa liked Benjamin a lot but was not a fan of his outward weakness. He let off an air of servitude at times and would choose the path of least resistance even at the cost of his own happiness. Maybe it was his lack of a proper father figure that gave Benjamin this weakness. Marissa was unsure. All that she knew was that she was slowly getting tired of it. Still, Benjamin treated her with kindness and respect and was infinitely superior to the jerks she associated with in the past. The jerks that, although exciting, ended up behaving in the way that was expected of them. If only he had a little of that, Benjamin would be a good catch.
These were the thoughts that went through her head as they ate dinner at a nice restaurant that was obviously out of Benjamin’s price range. Benjamin was concerned with his money but, as usual, this was a case of Benjamin doing what he thought was correct for the person he was with at the detriment of his own well-being.
They ate in their normal quiet tones, talking about the affairs of the day. Mundane stuff, thought Marissa. Benjamin gets up, goes to work and comes home. Same old thing everyday. Where was the excitement? She would ask Reggie all the time this same question. Where was the excitement? He would respond the same way.
“Excitement is dangerous. Trust me, Marissa. You don’t want excitement.”
Then, as usual, he would bring up that old Chinese curse about living in interesting times. Conversation would inevitably return to the usual subjects and dinner would plod along. After they would finish eating, they would go for a walk in the park, sit on a bench for a few minutes and then Benjamin would walk Marissa home and give her a chaste kiss on her cheek to end the night. So, it was no surprise that Benjamin suggested to her that a walk would be perfect on this nice autumn night. Predictable.
They walked through the park as usual. Benjamin seemed a little more anxious than normal. This was always a sign that he had something to ask outside of the normal scope of their conversations. She could read Benjamin like a book. They approached the bench where they usually sat when they heard a noise from behind them. They quickly whipped their heads around to see three figures in hoods nearing them. Benjamin stepped in front of Marissa. One of the hooded men stepped forward. He looked up at the sky and they could barely see his grinning face.
“Nice night tonight, right?” the man said.
“Yeah,” one of the other hooded men said behind him.
“Perfect night to make some new friends, dontcha think?” said the first man.
The two other men moved closed as the first man slowly removed an object out of his front pants pocket. He moved his hand around in a quick circular motion and a switchblade was revealed.
“What do you want?” Benjamin asked. “You want money? You can have my wallet. Just let us go on.”
The second figure just laughed as he stepped closer to Benjamin and Marissa.
“What do we want?” the figure asked. He cocked back his hand and knocked Benjamin to the ground. Marissa gasped and stepped back.
“We want everything,” said the first man, still brandishing the knife. “Let’s start with that wallet you were offering and your girl’s purse.”
Benjamin coughed as he moved to give the men his wallet. Marissa handed over her purse at the same time.
“Here,” she said. “Just take them and leave us alone.”
The second man crouched down near Benjamin and grabbed him by the back of his neck. He laughed again and hit Benjamin in the jaw. He stood up and spoke.
“Darling,” he said, moving closer to Marissa. “We are just getting started.”
He grabbed Marissa’s arm. Benjamin looked up with his now crooked glasses and was about to say something when the silent third figure came and kicked him in the stomach twice. The third figure punched him in the face and his glasses skidded off his face across the pavement surrounding the bench area. Benjamin was now bleeding from the nose as Marissa stood there crying.
“Don’t worry, darling,” said the first hooded man. “We’ll make you forget all about this guy.”
The second figure pulled Marissa nearer to his body as his two compatriots moved closer to them. She screamed again before a hand was quickly placed over her mouth.
“Don’t fight,” said the laughing second figure, roughly handling Marissa. “You’ll only make it worse for yourself.”
The men began to laugh and talk among themselves as they pawed Marissa and dragged her towards the bushes. They were so caught up in their own activities that they didn’t see the dark form rising behind them.
“Get off of her, cocksuckers,” growled this standing form.
The three men turned around and the second man just laughed recognizing the bleeding face of Ben. He pushed Marissa into the grasp of the first man. The second figure stepped towards Ben, who was breathing hard and looking at the ground between his feet. His nose was still leaking blood as he inched closer to the group who held his girlfriend captive.
“I guess you didn’t get the clue the first time, huh?” said the second figure. “Guess I’ll just have to make sure it gets through your thick skull this time.”
Benjamin stopped and stood there as the man moved forward. Marissa looked at all of this through blurry eyes. She could see Ben just standing there as this hooded would-be rapist moved closer to her boyfriend. Ben wasn’t moving. He just stood there with his head looking down. The second man swung his fist at his Benjamin’s face and connected with his jaw again. Benjamin staggered back a step from the blow. Ben stopped. He leaned forward again and stepped back into his position before the man.
Marissa thought her eyes were fooling her but she could swear she could see a smirk on Ben’s face. The second figure swung at Ben again. This time, Ben blocked the blow and Marissa was absolutely sure that Ben was smiling now.
“You should have just taken the money,” was all Ben said before he lifted his head up and stepped forward.