It’s a stormy night in the south of Texas around 9 PM. Candice, 10, and her mother Darlene, 28, lay on the couch watching television in their small trailer.
“It’s getting late, hun,” Darlene says in her thick country accent. “Gotta get ready for bed.”
Candice gets up and begins to proceed to her room when the front door slams open!
“Where's my food, Darlene?” There, standing 6 feet tall is a drunken Dan. He looks dirty with greasy, dark hair. He is medium-build but very strong. He shakes the fear in both Darlene and Candice.
Candice quickly goes into her room and shuts the door, goes into bed, and pulls up the covers.
“I ain’t gon’ say it again! A man can’t even come home and get him something to eat,” Dan says in a very condescending manner.
“ I… I'm fixing your plate right now.” A frightened Darlene hurries to the kitchen and nervously prepares his meal on a plate.
“Gimme a beer while you’re at it,” Dan demands.
“Okay,” Darlene replies. “Dan?”
“Was wondering if you got five bucks for Candice’s field trip for next week?”
“It ain’t my kid... Got that plate?”
Darlene hands him his food and watches him to see if he would be appeased this time, which he isn’t as usual.
“Darlene... goddammit! What the fuck is this?" Dan yells while spitting his food out on the floor and balling his fist.
“Your food,” Darlene says with tears in her eyes.
“Food,” Darlene says in almost a faint whisper.
The next thing you know, Darlene closes her eyes and Dan’s fist forcefully goes into her right eye, knocking her across the table.
Candice hears the noise and closes her eyes even tighter, trying to force herself through the screams and hitting. Even though this occurs every week, Candice never gets used to it.
Candice gets out of bed, grabs her teddy bear, lifts up her window, and climbs out.
Candice takes off running down the street with tears flowing down her beautiful face. The only question she keeps replaying in her mind is, "Why? Mommy, why?"
Candice loves her mother so much but feels powerless against somebody like Dan and doesn't know how to stop him. The police have been called several times, but due to Darlene’s Stockholm Syndrome, she’d bail Dan out of jail or flat-out lie about him using her face as a punching bag.
Candice stops in the middle of the road and notices she's far away from home.
Scared and lost, Candice looks to her left and notices a building with neon signs flashing. Candice walks into a bar in pajamas and all, completely undetected; at least for the first couple of minutes.
Candice watches people at the bar table drinking, smoking, and laughing while the music blasts in the background. A little suffocated, Candice continues to walk and notices pretty, naked women dancing onstage to her right. Stunned and staring at them, she keeps walking, clutching her teddy bear.
Away from the bar and dancers, Candice sees a man standing on top of a staircase. His face is like that of a clown and he was dressed in a suit wearing white gloves. He was the only one in the bar that notices Candice. He motions for Candice to come to him with a big grin on his face. Scared, Candice obliges and steps forward.
“What’s a pretty girl doing all alone in a place like this?” the smiling man-clown asks. Candice shrugs her shoulders.
“Oh... but you do know,” he says in a much lower tone. “The people in this dreadful place can’t see you, Candice.”
Wide-eyed, Candice stares at him, shocked that he knows her name.
The man continues, “I made sure they don't. So you can trust me.”
Candice looks at the smiling clown and begins to tell him her story. “Well, it’s my mom and…”
“Yes, yes. Go on,” the man insists.
Candice begins to cry but continues, “She gets beat up by Dan.”
“Would you like to do something about it?”
“Yes... but who are you, mister?”
“They call me the Night-Time Man because I'm only allowed to come out at night.” The man smiles. “You may leave and go on home now... Your mom is waiting for you outside.”
Candice leaves the bar and is met outside by her worried mom and a sheriff.