Hostile Rick


The wife, the kids and I spent today in Barcelona. Wonderful city, beautiful weather, fantastic time.

We caught the 8:35 pm train back to Hostalric—a small town about 15 miles from where we’re staying in Arbucies. It was dark outside, and the platform was empty. So was the parking lot—save for two people. There was a man and a woman. From afar it looked/sounded as if they were laughing/hugging. I said to my wife, “If he was attacking her, what would you do?” It was a hypothetical—clearly they were kidding around.

We walked closer.

Sorta clearly.

We walked closer.

Kinda clearly.

We walked even closer.

Not clearly. At all.

They weren’t joking around. He had been pushing and shoving her. Now the man had the woman by the wrist, and he was dragging her along. She was crying—loudly. He was forcing her toward the platform, where the train was approaching. My first instinct, albeit hesitantly, was to approach; to at least yell out, “Hey, what the fuck are you doing!”

My wife says she felt the exact same instinct. But she turned to me and said, “You’re with your kids.”

I hesitated. Did nothing. The man forced the woman to the train, and we walked past, heads down. Ashamed. I hate myself. My wife hates herself. But what were we supposed to do? My two children, 7 and 3 1/2, were with us. We’re in a foreign country; no telephone; no access to the authorities; nada. Do I try and stop him? What if he has a gun? A knife? There is, literally, nobody else around. Blackness.

I can hear her crying, and I can’t stand it. I should have done something, but I’m not sure what that something should have been. Try and put him in a headlock? Grab her away from him? What?

I did nothing.