Keep Running

Lew Goddard

Edited by Anne Goddard

© Copyright 2021 by Lew Goddard


My old car gave up just as I reached the western outskirts of a very large city.

It isn’t really my car but that was the only way that I could escape my abusive husband. Now, I believed that I was at least a thousand miles from him, so why did I keep looking over my shoulder. He couldn’t know where I was. In fact, I didn’t know where I was.

When the old Toyota just stopped running, I thought I was out of gasoline. No, it showed that there was still nearly a quarter tank. I turned the key and it turned over, turned over, turned over but wouldn’t start. The tank had been filled three times on my journey and if a tank of gas was enough to travel four hundred miles, then I was over a thousand miles from him.

Getting out of the car, I noted that the hood was extremely hot and a blue vapor rose from under it. When I thought of it, this old vehicle with more than two hundred thousand miles on it, has been amazing. I patted the left fender and thanked it out loud. A valiant service beyond the call of duty.

What seemed to be close to a mile, I could see a motel sign. It was lit up because darkness was not far away. The words were blurred because of the distance.

The key was left in the ignition after I collected my meagre belongings, a large hard sided suitcase which thankfully had wheels on the bottom. My purse contained some money that I had stashed away over the last six months or so. I could afford a motel. It was very difficult sleeping in the driver’s seat leaned back as far as it would go but sleep came in increments between hearing noises and my fear that he had found me and he was pounding on the door.

My legs began to pain before I could reach the motel. It was a Super 8, and being familiar with the name, I knew it wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg. The big glass doors at the entrance were shining and very clean, as was the floor and front desk as I entered.

Behind the counter a well-dressed young man with a suit and tie, smiled and asked me if I wanted a room and did I have a reservation?

Yes, I said, “I would like a room for this evening.”

He passed me a card about half of a full sheet of paper and he asked me to fill it out and record my car license number as well.

My car is broken down about twenty blocks to the west, I walked here, and will see what to do with it tomorrow.”

Would you like to call a tow truck and they could take it to a repair garage or park it here until morning?”

No, just leave it. If someone should happen to steal it, they won’t find much value with it, thanks though.”

He was professional and polite but he had a hard time keeping his eye of my multicolored left eye and the stitches in my lower lip. He never seemed like he wanted to ask. He couldn’t see the bruises on my arms and chest.

My room was like a castle to me. A double bed, white sheets and a cover. And the shower! It has been a very long time when I had a proper shower all to myself.

I dimmed the light; I always do when I got into bed to sleep. Maybe, I’ll turn it off. Noooo! I can’t see anything and I will keep the light.

The bed felt soft and solid and I drew the covers right up to my neck and closed my eyes. Immediately, I opened them and stared at the room and the lock on the door.

Finally, I guess I had drifted off when I woke with a start because I could see him. Thank goodness, it’s a dream. The rest of the night, I slept until eight broken by fear and dreams.

Up at eight like I have for last number of years. Get up early and start something in the house just after Lester went to work. Those hours were my saviors, until he came home. I use to think that it would be a good time to run away but, never seemed to summon the courage until now. This was a good start to a better life. I felt luxurious in the shower again, dressed, packed my suitcase and went down stairs.

There was a different person at the counter, a woman. She saw me and said that there was a message on my card about your car.

Oh, just a minute, I’ll be back,” and went outside to the front sidewalk and looked east to where I had left the car. There were other cars along Telford Drive where the motel was located but, I was pretty sure that my car was still there.

At the counter, I said, “I guess I should get a tow truck and see what I can do with my old car.”

I’ll get you the number and you can call on your cell phone”

OK, I said, and then stopped, “uh, my phone is not working.”

At first, I was going to say I didn’t have one. Everyone does but I didn’t want to use it in the event that my husband might be able to track my signal.

Oh, I’ll call the number and you can talk with the driver, is that all right?” she asked.

I answered in the affirmative and she was making the call and when someone answered she gave me the telephone.


Yes, a man replied, what can I do for you?”

I told him the approximate location of the car and asked him to bring it down to the motel and I would meet the driver out front.

He hesitated for a moment, “Sure, we’ll be there in about fifteen.”

The car looked very decrepit behind the truck with the front end up on a hitch. A man with a long dark beard stepped out of his truck and asked if I was Emily.

I showed him my driver’s license and he asked what I wanted to do with the car? He walked back and opened the driver’s door and the rear door to see what it looked like inside. He turned back to me and asked about the four speakers that were mounted in the sides of each door.

Yeah, my husband squandered his money on a two-thousand-dollar stereo system a couple of years ago and I must admit that it has a wonderful sound.” I stood there and looked at him.

Does it run?” he asked.

It stalled where you found it but, it wouldn’t start, so I walked here.”

He raised his eyebrows and offered, “that is quite a walk. In the dark?”


Standing there looking at me I knew he was thinking of something and he proceeded to walk around the car and look underneath.

He then stretched his arm up to the ignition and turned the key. It turned over five or six times emitting a growling sound, until it stopped and the starter wouldn’t do anything.

I’m familiar with cars and have for many years, it is very likely that the motor is seized.”

It’s totally dead then?” I questioned.

He nodded. “Tell you what, if you don’t need it and in fact, I don’t think it’s worth the money to fix it, I’ll take it off your hands as is and we’ll call it even.”

I really didn’t negotiate with him; I just gave him back the key and fob.

I gathered that he knew how much he could get for the stereo system and the after-market mags that Lester had installed last year. More power to him.

He went behind the car and did something. came back to me with the license plate and said I could throw it away if I wanted

For some reason, the plate stayed with me as I walked back into the motel. The girl, name tag, Melissa, looked at the plate and watched the tow truck leave the premises.

Do you know if there is an apartment or something like that close so I can walk to it?”

Melissa thought for a while, I think Derek would probably know, so I’ll call him.”

In a few moments, a well-dressed man in a dark blue suit jacket with light colored khakikhaki pants, walked behind the counter and Melissa said that I was looking for a place to live.

He looked me up and down, smiled and asked, “Do you have a job?”

No, I just arrived last evening and stayed the night here. My car broke down and it’s been disposed of, other than that. I have little.”

Well, my name is Derek and you are?”


Do you mind if I ask a personal question?”

It depends what it is. If it’s about my black eye that is my business.”

Fair enough. all I wished to know that you would be physically capable to accept a job here as a House Keeper.?

Ah, yes, you need a housekeeper?”

Yes, we usually have three but one is taking maternity leave. You could have her shift which is Monday to Thursday and every three shifts you would be asked to work your regular during the
week and also Saturday and Sunday. Wages start at minimum for new staff but if you receive a good evaluation the first month, you would receive a 10% raise.”

Yes, I could handle that but need a place to live.”
I have a friend who has a second floor one bedroom apartment a block and a half west of here. I could arrange it for you to meet him there. Do you have enough for the first month rent and the same damage deposit?”

I believe I could handle that but won’t have much left. When do I start?”

Tomorrow, which is Tuesday and you would work until Thursday.”

The first thing you will do is shadow our current house keeper and work from there.”

I shook his hand and thanked him. I was again off to a great start.

Arrangements were made to rent the apartment and I moved in. The kitchen was suitably equipped with two chairs and a table. The bed was one of those that is referred to as a chestabed,
But. It was home.

During the first and second weeks, I became acquainted with the two other housekeepers. Peggy, who was a dark-skinned woman with a smile that showed her perfectly white teeth. She was a good worker who had been here for nine years. Joyce, a white younger woman was quiet and didn’t talk about many things. She, however, was friendly and helpful.

At an end to one of my shifts and Peggy’s as well, she asked me if I wanted to go for a drink to unwind. This hasn’t been in my life for years and I accepted. We arrived at a bar on Tedford street with an entrance door that opened automatically.

I followed Peggy to a table by the back wall and a young man came to serve us. I really didn’t know what to order so I stuck to a Margareta. I wasn’t disappointed.

Not long after we sat there, a large rough looking man came up and sat down with no invitation. He called Peggy, Honey, and looked at me and said, “Introduce me to this gorgeous lady here.”

Peggy didn’t smile but she politely introduced me. He held out his hand and took mine and held on far too long. Not only that he shifted his chair so close that his knee touched mine. I moved away. Then he put his arm on my shoulder. I must have shivered because he laughed.

Peggy scowled and stood up, “We are just leaving, ” and she prompted me to go with her. I did not resist and was halfway to the door and the guy was right beside me.

Behind me, Peggy gave him a shove and said loudly enough for the bartender to hear, “Lay off Jerry, you can be such an idiot!”

Outside, she said “that I had to be firm with him, he is so obnoxious sometimes, I just have to leave. He’s also married but you wouldn’t know it.”

I gave her a hug and said, “thank you.”

A week or so later I was near finishing on the second floor standing at the end of the hall. Room 212 there needed to be cleaned. It wasn’t eleven yet so I guess I would have to come back later.

The door opened and the same guy, Jerry, stood there in his undershorts. “Well, look who’s here,” he said with that silly grin of his and kept coming toward me.

I quickly backed up. He was feeling himself and it was quite evident what he had in mind, so I hollered for one of my partners.

Joyce cam running up the stairs and Jerry retreated.

I told her that it was Jerry and he was making a sexual advance.

She asked, “did you see the woman?”


He doesn’t have his wife in there according to the front desk.

A couple of hours later, I went into room 212 and commenced cleaning. My routine is to pick up garbage, clean the bathroom, strip the bed and leave towels and shampoo and leave a carnation on the pillows. With sheets and blanket off, the bed appeared to be quite damp in the centre. Plus, a couple of tiny red spots that looked like blood. I removed the mattress cover with a waterproof material on the bottom and determined that the mattress was not soiled. It left me feeling sick to my stomach. The thought crossed my mind that, that the peculiar odor was sex.

The next weekend was my turn to work for the usual eight hours. I left promptly at four and went out to the parking lot to walk home.

A pickup suddenly drove up close to the curb facing the wrong direction. The driver asked if I would like a ride and I looked at him. It was Jerry. I kept walking then stopped because he would probably follow me home. I stopped and turned back to the motel and told him I was going to call the cops.

That was not I wanted to do in my circumstances but he thought that I would. I still tried to keep a low profile should someone see me and put me in the spotlight. This just compounded my fear and watching over my shoulder.

Alan was at the counter and I told him what had just happened .

He said, “I’m calling the cops.”

Please don’t do that, I’ll check to see if he’s gone and go out the back door and walk down the alley.”

Nothing in the alley so I quickly ran home.

As I do every day when I arrive home, I found that I liked calling it home.

I made sure that the door was securely locked. I have yet to buy one of those devices that you flip over and doesn’t allow a person to open the door all the way. Then I check the living room/kitchen and the bedroom windows. The two small ones have the turn around locks and can easily be used to get out I have not and probably will not stop looking over my shoulder and watch out for every man.

Jerry didn’t appear for about ten days. When my shift was over, I still went out the back door and walked home in the alley. One day, I was at the rear of my building and I heard a motor roar and in a second a truck came skidding to a stop beside me. Jerry again. He jumped out and ran around to me and grabbed me by the arm. Instinctively I poked him with my right hand where I always had my key between two fingers and struck him near his neck. He jumped and cursed, “A bit of a bitch, aren’t you!” While he was slightly off balance, I ran the twenty feet to my building, then decided to go around front and give myself a little more time to get in. I made it and slapped my door and locked it.

My heart was raging and I was out of breath. I looked out the side window and waited. I guess he left. I couldn’t see out to the rear of the building and I sure wasn’t going out to take a look.

It was a long almost sleepless night. I went to work before eight and tried to forget the night before.

When Alan came in the afternoon, I told him what happened and again, he immediately wanted to call the police. I said no, but I needed to have someone drive me home after my shift.

Alan said that he could work this out until the problem with Jerry disappeared.

As it turned out, Alan was able to have one of the housekeepers stand in for him while he drove me home. It was only a matter of five minutes.

At home I followed my security program and sat down on the toilet with my head in my hands. As I rose, I pulled the flush lever, and nothing happened, it just flipped up and down. Now what can I do, I don’t know anything about plumbing. I couldn’t do without the biffy so; I called the owner. He was polite and said he would send his repair man right over.

He never told me his name but he quickly had the flush working. He showed me that the lever that went down to the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank had slipped off the hook. In addition, he told me that this type of problem was very rare.

Days and a couple of weeks passed, no Jerry and Alan still gave me a ride home.

When I entered the front door of the apartment building, there was no light there and none down the corridor. I stepped down a few steps to the lower floor and saw that the lights were on there. It wasn’t totally dark but with no window there, it was difficult to open my door. More difficult because my hand was shaking.

This time, I didn’t call the owner, someone else could. Why would two lights be out.? I knew it was an old building and the ceiling lights were not fluorescent. Still, I worried me.

One morning a few days later, I got up a bit late and had to rush. I skipped my usual small breakfast and went into the bedroom to the closet to get my white work uniform. I reached in beside the folding door as usual and it wasn’t hanging there, at least where it always is. Looking to the far left, there it was between my sweat pants and an old T shirt I often wore.

I was sure that I had put it away in the same place for convenience.

Fully dressed I loped down the front street after careful scrutiny. No one in sight.

The misplacement of my uniform stuck with me all day.

Oh God, No. These things that have happened in succession is something that Lester would devise. He knew it would drive me around the bend. I searched my mind and tried to remember if I had seen anyone suspicious in my rides and walks. Nothing!

I asked Alan, Melissa, Joyce and Peggy to please keep an eye out for a man around the motel who shouldn’t be there. I described my estranged husband and in particular the tattoo of a colorful snake around his neck. It made me feel better but not much.

Now when I get home, I conduct a detailed inspection of everything and made notes of what I find each day. I was becoming mentally and physically exhausted. No sleep and high anxiety.

This week I’m on the extra weekend days so, I was actually glad that I had connection with my friends. Six days went by and nothing seemed out of order. Peggy and I had become quite close and I filled her in right up to date of my problems and suspicions.

Derek came to me one day and told me that he knew some of my problems and I needed to stop this crazy turmoil. One of the staff must have told him, very likely Alan.

I was reluctant to tell Derek the whole story but I did refer to Lester as being a person that no one would want to know. He listened to my suspicions and fears, and if these episodes did not stop, he knew someone who could help me.

When I went home, I naturally completed a detailed inspection and report. The windows could not be raised, the door was locked and my clothes were in the proper place since I just took them off. Perhaps I should find another apartment or ask the landlord for more protection. The stress has worn me down so much that my vision was hazy and I couldn’t think of anything else.

As usual, when preparing to go to sleep I cleaned my face of makeup and brushed my hair, and sat down on the toilet.
I screamed, Oh my God, Oh my God! Half of the toilet paper roll was on the floor! I screamed some more and wept until I couldn’t move.

Somehow, someone has been in my apartment perhaps many times, maybe even when I was sleeping. He knows everything about me. Lester you bastard, how could you do this to me? How do you get in without someone seeing you or how do you stay invisible to me?”

The very next day I asked if I could speak with Derek. The latest misadventure was high on the list when I talked with him.

Do you have a couple hundred dollars to spare,” he asked.

That seemed to be a weird response but I answered that, indeed, I did have that kind of money.

Then, I’ll call a lawyer friend of mine who often works with the police and set up an appointment for you.”

The lawyer that Derek referred me to, advised that he could see me within twenty-four hours.

Ronald Swanson invited me into his splendid office and I sat down on a well upholstered white chair. It was something that I had never seen before. It was mesmerizing.

He listened intently for more than thirty minutes. His advice was to contact the police, not just any policeman but a Detective that he knew quite well and he would keep me out of the spotlight when he decided what to do.

Detective Sturgis arranged to have one of his forensic people scan my apartment for finger prints other than mine. When that was completed, they had numerous prints belonging to a male as forensics reported.

At a further meeting with Sturgis, he asked me for a list of all the people that I had been in contact with in the last few months. That was easy, because I had very few contacts. This took a few days and there was no match to the people on my list.

The detective asked me if I had any other person that I could remember even if I didn’t know them but did have some contact.

Derek and staff were aware of the proceedings and Alan mentioned Jerry.

Of course, I had forgotten about him since he hadn’t bothered me for some time. The search began but we didn’t have a last name and no idea where he lived, the investigation stalled.

Peggy, reminded me that Jerry often went to the bar a short distance from the motel. Sturgis was contacted and somehow, they managed to get Jerry’s prints. Probably from his truck, I was told.

Without any delay after his prints were matched to my apartment, and since it was evening, I rushed down to the bar. Jerry was there. I strode over to his table, he looked up, “You son of a bitch”, and I swung my purse containing a full can of soda and various other things, against his left temple and he toppled backward onto the floor and I followed. I hit him again.

The bouncer grabbed me.

There was a few people clapping their hands together. The bar was packed. 


Word spread around the district and Emily received several calls at the motel, she had no phone and no E Mail but there seemed to be an army of support for her.

Jerry’s occupation was a Property Manager and he had managed her apartment building in the past and kept a master key. That was why it was so easy for him to enter her apartment’

He is currently awaiting trial for many offences.

Emily stayed for a few more months and she disappeared.

Her decision was to keep running.

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