Payback in Barcelona
Amanda Foster smiled at her reflection in the full-length mirror that covered one entire wall of her walk-in dressing room. She held an Armani original gown, hanging from a wooden clothes hanger, up to her neck and her smile widened. She liked the woman looking back at her from the mirror.
Six short months ago things had been very different. Back then she’d been a mouse, terrified of her husband Robert Foster. Now she was her own woman, free to do as she pleased and wealthy beyond her wildest dreams.
Amanda had been only nineteen years old when Robert had swept her off her feet. At the time, her career as a budding fashion model was teetering between failure and total collapse. She was considering returning home to Atlanta and admitting defeat. But her pride urged her to persevere in a vain quest for fame and fortune.
Jobbing as a waitress, at an afternoon charity function, a tall, athletic looking, older man bumped into her as she cleared a table. Her tray of empty glasses crashed to the floor, smashing every one of them into little pieces. The tall man apologised profusely and knelt to help her clean up the mess.
“I’m so sorry, “ he said. “Completely my fault. I think I’m a little over my limit. Best I switch to soda's from here on in.”
“No problem Sir.” said Amanda, “That’s quite alright. I can sort out this mess myself. It’s what they’re paying me for.”
“I’m Robert Foster.” said the man, displaying a cocky grin. “At least let me make amends for my clumsiness. Let me treat you to dinner later this evening.”
Flustered at this unexpected invitation, Amanda hesitated. Before she could even think of an answer, Robert said “Fine, that's settled then. I’ll pick you up around nine tonight.”
Robert then turned and rejoined his companions, leaving Amanda dumbstruck at the cheek of the man.
After the function was over and Amanda walked the short distance back to the small apartment she shared with three other girls, she couldn’t stop thinking of Robert.
“He’s years older than me” she mused. “Anyway, he never asked for my address or phone number. Still, he was intriguing, in a roguish sort of a way.”
At eight o’clock that evening, as Amanda recounted the incident to Sarah, one of her flatmates, her phone rang. It was Robert.
“Just making sure you haven’t forgotten me, or our date,” he said. “I’ll be over in an hour.”
‘How in God’s name did you get my number? And how do you know where I live?”
But Amanda got no answers. Robert had hung up without waiting for her reaction.
Amanda spent the next hour frantically trying on one outfit after another and eventually settled on a semi-casual look that she hoped would suit the occasion.
Six months later, after a whirlwind romance, she became Mrs Robert Foster. Slowly, bit by bit, Amanda began to realise that there was a dark side to Robert. What she first saw as playful banter, developed into nasty sarcasm. He began to nitpick and criticise her over trivial things. She put it down to work pressure at first. Then the beatings started. Over the years they became more and more violent. Ten years and three sons later Amanda had become a mere shadow of her former self. She was trapped in a loveless, violent marriage. She was too afraid to leave, fearful that her boys would become clones of their father.
Amanda was constantly hearing how useless she was. “You’re as useful as a pub with no beer.” or “About as good as a headless chicken for brains” and his latest, “You’re as useful as a brush without bristles.”
His violence became more sadistic. Not content with just physical violence, he now used terror tactics. He locked her into their industrial sized washing machine on a regular basis, leaving her there for up to an hour at a time. Amanda would emerge a nervous wreck, too terrified to even cry. She would often spend hours shivering in the corner, fearful of the next round torture waiting to assail her.
Then six months ago he took her to Barcelona on a business trip. Not out of remorse or kindness. No. He was in negotiations to buy a chain of Spanish golf resorts. The CEO of the company insisted on meeting her. He was a committed family man and always insisted on meeting the spouses of potential colleagues.
So there she was, free to do as she pleased in an exciting foreign city while Robert spent his days at meetings. The first night, she sat at the bar in their hotel, listening to a jazz quartet play sad, soulful tunes in the background. She was enjoying life for the first time in a long time.
“Senora, excusa, please. Why a lovely lady sit alone? May I sit please”
What followed was three days of snatching every moment she could, to carry on a passionate romance with the young man, Fernando.
Robert had concluded his business and they were due to fly home the next day. Robert, who had been drinking all afternoon, insisted on taking a walk down La Rambla, Barcelona’s main shopping street. Amanda had warned him several times to beware of the pickpockets La Rambla was notorious for. He ignored her warnings, describing in gruesome detail, what he would do anyone with the nerve to rob him.
Halfway down La Rambla, the idea hit her out of the blue. There was no time to prepare. No time to weigh the risks. Just time to act. As they passed the area reserved for artists painting portraits for tourists and just before the area famous for the live statue performers, Amanda noticed four policemen chatting at a corner.
“This is it. Now or never.” she thought.
She moved a step behind Robert and slipped her hand into his hip pocket and around his wallet.
Roberts reaction was instant and furious. Before he even realised that it was Amanda, he landed four heavy blows to her face and followed through with a solid kick to her stomach. She was out cold before she hit the ground.
The next morning a policewoman visited Amanda in her private hospital ward. The young officer did all the talking as Amanda’s jaw was fractured in two places and her eyes were swollen and bruised The pain where he’d kicked her stomach, was worse than the worst period pain she had ever had, but it was worth the satisfaction of knowing that Robert was behind bars, where he belonged.
“I’m sorry Senora Foster, but your husband is in jail. He is in much trouble. For his attack on you, he might stay one year in prison. But Senora, he also assaults a police officer and he resists arrest. So perhaps if he is lucky he will be in Espana prison for five or six years.”
On her return to the US, a good lawyer and full disclosure of Roberts tax frauds to the IRS ensured that she took control of Roberts company. When he had served his sentence in Spain an even longer spell in an American prison was waiting for him. Her spur of the moment action had worked out better than she ever dreamed.
Amanda’s reminiscences were interrupted by a knock on the dressing room door.
“Amanda Darling, Can I fix you a drink?”
“Why Fernando, you’ve read my mind. Make me a Vodka Martini. I’ll be out in a moment.”
Then she placed the $5,000 dress back on the hanger and choose a comfortable old pair of Levi’s instead.