He was on a street corner late at night, guitar in hand and singing his heart out. A lonely busker, out past midnight in the hope that clubbers would drop him some money.
There was a plaintive tone in his clear voice, a sadness in his beautiful blue eyes when his eyes eventually met mine.
I stopped to listen to this talented loner for a while, but then I felt guilty; I didn’t have two pennies to rub together and I felt as though I were watching a show for free when I ought to have been paying to watch such a musical young man. With a nod and a smile in his direction, I went on my way.
In my mind he was “My Busker”; I didn’t expect to see him again, but often wondered if I should have stopped to chat. I remembered the long blond hair and pretty, almost feline, face. I thought about the sadness excuding from him in tangible waves and I realised that I wanted to make him better.
That damnable nurturing instinct of mine – born from my natural compassion and my previous job as a care assistant – had kicked in, and it wasn’t about to release me or let me forget this lonely man literally singing for his supper on a street corner.
I honestly couldn’t believe it when I saw him again, on my way home after a night out with my best friend. I turned the corner to go home and there he was singing Sweet Home Alabama. Again, I listened for a while, then I approached shyly, dropped some spare change into his guitar case and began to walk on…
…Before turning right round again to say:
“I’m terribly sorry to bother you; but do you know ‘November Rain’ by Guns N’ Roses?”
He didn’t, but that’s how it all began. Within a couple of weeks he’d left his en-suite, shared kitchen bedsit and moved into my tiny little flat with me. I believed that there had to be a happy ending, after practically rescuing a stranger from poverty.
With my help, he found a steady job and began setting up his own gardening business. With my wages I bought him food, clothing and beer, and he didn’t have to share a kitchen with anybody. I even taught him how to cook more than the basic stir-fries he’d been surviving on, so that I didn’t have to come home from my frequent twelve-hour shifts at a local residential home and do it all myself.
He wanted to write a book about his life (which – at the age of twenty-six – was already quite colourful), so I taught him how to use the internet and set him up with a blog account. I took lots of photographs of him, including some modelling shots to use in order to secure gigs at local pubs by turning them in to posters.
He must have felt like a God.
Sadly, what lay behind that pretty face was a spiteful, conniving mind. You all know already that he thanked me with starvation, laziness, emotional abuse and – finally – an attempt at strangling me. He left me in debt and homeless, after I discovered that he wasn’t paying the rent or council tax after his starvation of me had left me too ill to work any more. I couldn’t save my home and found myself on the verge of being on the streets again because of him.
It’s been seven years now since we parted ways, and I sometimes think about what he did to me; I know he still tells people about very intimate parts of my life and claims that I pretend to be epileptic – his last girlfriend happens to be my uncle’s step-daughter and we talk a lot. I know that mine isn’t the only life he’s ruined in order to try to get ahead on somebody else’s back; I know this because he’s left all of his debts with his ex. Again.
You might think that I would be angry and embittered by how he repaid my love and kindness, but I’m really not. It’s because of what he did to me that I now know the security of genuine love. It’s because of what he did to me that I now know what it is to live in a house that can’t be taken away from me (D owns the house and car outright).
He will never know security or trust; he will never own his own home and he will never be debt-free. He will always be running away from something and leaving somebody with a broken heart to clear up his mess. It’s a very sad way to live.
I pity him, and yet it’s because of him that I am where I am today – with a loving husband, a wonderful medical team and in-laws who accept me as family.
I have publically warned women to stay away from him because I feel I should use my experience to protect somebody else, but in reality he did me a favour.
Now you know how the second leg of my Gypsy Road transpired, but I would like you to bear in mind that there are women – and men – out there who suffer far worse things at the hands of their spouse than I did. I was one of the lucky ones.
If you know – or even suspect – that somebody you know is being abused, please keep an eye on them. They will deny it, but the signs are always there if you only look hard enough. Some things simply cannot be hidden, no matter how hard one tries.