Cuts, p.1
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       Cuts, p.1

           Richard Laymon
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Cuts


  CUTS

  RICHARD

  LAYMON

  LEISURE BOOKS NEW YORK CITY

  This book is dedicated to Don Cannon.

  Thanks for the many years of encouragement and support.

  You keep selling them, I’ll keep signing them.

  Contents

  COVER

  TITLE PAGE

  DEDICATION

  PART ONE OCTOBER, 1975

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

  CHAPTER THIRTY

  CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

  CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

  CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

  CHAPTER FORTY

  CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

  CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

  CHAPTER FORTY-THREE

  CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER FORTY-SIX

  CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER FORTY-NINE

  CHAPTER FIFTY

  CHAPTER FIFTY-ONE

  CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO

  CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE

  CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX

  CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER FIFTY-NINE

  CHAPTER SIXTY

  CHAPTER SIXTY-ONE

  CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO

  CHAPTER SIXTY-THREE

  CHAPTER SIXTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER SIXTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX

  CHAPTER SIXTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER PART TWO AUGUST, 2000

  SIXTY-EIGHT

  PRAISE

  OTHER LEISURE BOOKS BY RICHARD LAYMON

  COPYRIGHT

  PART ONE

  OCTOBER, 1975

  ONE

  NORTH GLEN, ILLINOIS

  “Do you want to get in the backseat?”

  “Hmm?” Albert asked, not listening, too entranced by the smooth feel of her breasts against his face.

  She pushed him away. “The backseat. Do you want to get in the backseat with me?”

  “What for?” Albert asked, wanting only to get back to her breasts. They looked pale in the darkness, their nipples almost black.

  Though seventeen and a senior in high school, he had never seen actual breasts until tonight. He’d seen them only in photographs and paintings—except for his mother’s breasts that one time when he was just a little kid. He hadn’t touched them, but he’d wanted to. In spite of the blood. Or maybe because of it.

  But he was sure touching these. They felt even more wonderful than he’d imagined. So smooth and soft and springy. The nipples weren’t smooth. They were rumpled and hard and the way they stuck out…

  “So we can do it, stupid,” Betty said. “You want to do it, don’t you?”

  “Sure. I mean, I guess so. Of course I do.”

  “We aren’t gonna do it in the front seat, that’s for sure.”

  “Okay.”

  She looked at him and didn’t move.

  “I’ll get the door for you.” Albert leaned across her. Pressing the side of his face against her breast as he reached for the handle, he felt a nipple slide into his ear. It tickled and made him squirm.

  She gripped his arm.

  “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Somebody out there?”

  He looked out the windows. He was parked at the end of a dead-end street. In front of the car was a small patch of woods, the trees nearly bare of leaves, their branches reaching into the October moonlight. If anyone was lurking among those trees, Albert couldn’t see him. Nor did he see anyone on the sidewalks or lawns of the nearby homes. Except for a few porch lights, most of the houses looked dark.

  “I don’t see anybody,” Albert said.

  “That isn’t the problem, darling.”

  “Huh?”

  “You’re really something.”

  “Don’t you want me to open your door for you?”

  “Not yet. I want my twenty dollars first.”

  “What?”

  “Twenty dollars. I never do it for a penny less. It’s more for lots of guys. I’m giving you a break because I like you. You’re a little weird, but I think you’re awfully cute.” She put a hand into his shirt and rubbed his chest.

  “If I’m so cute, you shouldn’t make me pay.”

  “I wouldn’t, but I’ve gotta go to college next year.”

  “So what?”

  “That’s a lot of cost. The dorm, the books, not to mention tuition.”

  “Twenty dollars, though. That’s a lot of money.”

  “It’ll be worth a lot more than that,” Betty said. She pushed a hand down the front of Albert’s pants. He moaned at the cool touch of her fingers. “Ooo, no underwear. You are a naughty boy.”

  “How about ten dollars?” he asked.

  “Twenty.”

  He felt her hand glide slowly up the length of his penis.

  “But I’ve only got…I don’t know, maybe fifteen. On me.”

  She pulled her hand away.

  “Let me see.” He dragged his wallet out of a seat pocket of his jeans, spread it open and removed the bills. He held them close to the windshield and peered at them in the dim light from outside. A ten and four ones.

  “How much?” Betty asked.

  “Fourteen dollars.”

  “Not enough.”

  “Come on.”

  “No dice, Albert.”

  “I can give you the rest tomorrow.”

  “Sure. You do that, and maybe tomorrow night we can get it on.”

  “Let’s do it now, okay? Come on, I’m only like six dollars short. Please.”

  “Didn’t Stan tell you the price?”

  Stan hadn’t mentioned anything at all about paying her. He’d said, “She’s hot to trot, man. I already talked to her. She wants you. Told me so. Man, this is your chance to score.”

  “What do I have to do?” Albert had asked him.

  “Just invite her out. Call her up, take her out for some pizza or something and a movie, then just stop somewhere good and private on the way home and have at her. She’ll be all over you.”

  Frowning at Betty, Albert said, “He didn’t say I’d have to pay you.”

  “Well, he should’ve. The dork. It’s twenty bucks and not a penny less.”

  “Come on, Betty.”

  “If you don’t have it, you can take me home now.”

  “Take you home? Why should I take you home? Shit! You can walk home.”

  “Don’t be a bastard.”

  “Just get out of my car,” Albert said.

  “Are you kidding?” She bent her arms behind her back and fastened her bra. “Don’t be ridiculous. Just drive me
home. Dig up the rest of the money tomorrow and give me a call.” She buttoned her blouse. “We’ll have a great time tomorrow night.”

  “Shit,” he muttered.

  “Be nice. It isn’t the end of the world.”

  Feels like it, he thought.

  He started the car and backed up with a sudden lurch that threw Betty forward. “Hey!” Her hand caught the dashboard. “Damn it, calm down!”

  Albert didn’t calm down. Speeding along the narrow road, he took the curves so fast his tires sighed. Betty held tightly to the dashboard.

  As he raced around a bend, his headlights gleamed on the rear end of a parked Porsche.

  He jerked the wheel.

  Not quite fast enough.

  With a grinding scrape of metal, he sideswiped the Porsche.

  “Now you’ve done it,” Betty said.

  “He shouldn’t have parked there,” Albert said, flooring the accelerator.

  “Aren’t you gonna stop?”

  “Why should I?”

  “Christ, Albert! You’ve gotta. It’s against the law.”

  “Fuck the law,” he said, and raced past a stop sign.

  “Okay,” Betty snapped. “That’s enough. Let me out. Right now!”

  Albert didn’t stop.

  “Let me out please!”

  He looked at her and made a smile. “No.”

  “Albert!”

  He came up fast behind a station wagon, crossed the double yellow lines and rushed past it.

  “You’ll get us killed!”

  “So?”

  “Damn it!”

  He swung around a corner, the car skidding, the tires shrieking, and sped up a sloping street. On both sides were houses with wide driveways. Expensive, two-story homes.

  “Which one’s yours?” he asked.

  “The middle of the block. The white one on the right.”

  In front of it, he jammed on his brakes. He said nothing. Staring straight forward, he didn’t move until the door thudded shut.

  Then he watched Betty walk up the driveway. Her skirt was very short. A breeze fluttered it. Her legs were pale in the moonlight.

  “Bitch,” he muttered.

  Nothing but a dirty whore, he thought. Nobody but a dirty whore wants money for it. She’d probably give me the clap or something. Lucky I didn’t have twenty bucks.

  But if I’d had it, I’d be screwing her right now.

  He watched her enter the house and shut the door.

  “Good riddance,” he muttered.

  Then he gripped the steering wheel tightly with both hands and threw himself forward. His forehead hit the top of the wheel. He did it again. Again.

  For a long time after that, he sat without moving. Then he started the car and drove slowly away. When he reached Washington Avenue, he turned right and drove into the business district.

  The North Glen Theater must’ve just let out. Its marquee announced the same double-feature that Albert had seen last night: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Race With the Devil. He supposed that most of the people heading back to their cars were probably feeling a little freaked.

  He’d loved those movies. Both of them, but especially Chainsaw.

  The audience had screamed like hell last night.

  But not Albert.

  He’d wanted to be in those movies, chasing down those gals…

  Albert suddenly realized that if he hadn’t gone to the movies last night he would’ve had enough money for Betty. His ticket had cost two fifty and he’d spent at least four dollars more on snacks.

  He let out a sour laugh.

  Then he noticed a dog trotting along a sidewalk. It seemed to be alone.

  He parked his car and climbed out.

  The October wind was strangely warm for this time of the year. It felt good blowing against him, and carried a faint, tangy aroma of burnt leaves.

  He walked quickly, watching the shadows and listening.

  He knew what he wanted to hear.

  A few minutes later, he heard it.

  The collar tags jangled like keys on a chain.

  At first, he saw no sign of the dog. Then it appeared from behind a tree a few yards ahead of him: a shorthaired, spotted dog like a Dalmatian except for its short legs.

  Albert walked toward it.

  The dog paid him no attention. It wandered through the grass by the roadside, nose low, sniffing loudly.

  When Albert walked up behind it, the dog glanced over its shoulder.

  “Hi, fella.” Albert crouched. “Come here.”

  The dog watched him but didn’t move.

  Albert looked all around. A car passed him on the street. Another pulled away from the curb and drove off. The nearest pedestrians were a couple of blocks away and seemed to be walking in the opposite direction.

  He smiled at the dog. “Come on, fella,” he called softly. “Come here.” He patted his knee. “Come here, boy.”

  The dog took a step toward him, then hesitated.

  “It’s okay, fella. Come on. Come here. I’ve got something for you.”

  He reached toward it with a closed hand.

  An empty hand, but the dog didn’t know that.

  It stepped closer.

  “That a boy. That’s a good boy.”

  When it started to sniffAlbert’s left hand, he reached out with his right hand and scratched the fur under its chin.

  “You like that, fella? Huh?”

  Then he opened his left hand. The dog pressed its wet snout against his palm and snuffled as if trying to locate the mysterious treat. Albert used the hand to rub it behind the ears. It hung its head low, eyes half-shut. Its tail swept slowly from side to side.

  “Yeah, you like that, don’t you.”

  Continuing to pet the dog with his left hand, he lowered his knees to the wet grass and worked his right hand into a front pocket of his jeans.

  Tail wagging, the dog flopped onto its si de.

  Albert scratched the fur of its chest. When he scratched its belly, its left hind leg jerked in quick circles.

  “Yeah, you like that.”

  He pulled the switchblade knife from his pocket. It had cost him twelve dollars from a Mexican kid on the Chicago subway. He pressed the button. A six-inch blade snapped out, making the handle jump in his grip.

  The dog, suddenly alarmed, tried to flip over.

  “Oh, no you don’t.”

  Albert held it down with his left hand.

  With his right, he jammed the knife into the soft flesh below its ribs.

  The dog’s shriek split the silence.

  Albert pulled out the knife.

  He was excited, tight and hard and aching.

  He punched the knife in again.

  The dog’s shriek stopped.

  He pulled out the knife and plunged it again into the animal’s belly and this time his tight ache broke, throbbing with heat and wetness.

  TWO

  GRAND BEACH, CALIFORNIA

  Janet Arthur woke up on Saturday morning with a hand slipping between her thighs. She moaned with sleepy pleasure and nestled her face deeper into the pillow.

  Soon, the hand pulled away.

  A breeze stroked Janet’s bare back as the covers were thrown off. She took a deep breath. The breeze held the fresh, exciting smell of the ocean a few blocks away.

  She rolled over and saw Dave kneeling next to her. His black hair was thick and tangled. His sleek, trim body still kept its summer darkness and he looked starkly pale where his trunks had been during long days by the pool.

  “Good morning,” she said. Smiling, she reached out to him.

  He was erect. “How come you always wake up like that?”

  “I see you in my dreams.”

  “Oh, is that it?”

  “That’s it.” He climbed between her knees and lowered himself.

  “Let’s not just…” Janet twisted and Dave went with it, rolling onto his back.

  Janet straddled him. Smiling, she leaned
down. She let the rigid flesh of her nipples brush against his chest as she lightly kissed his lips. “First we’ve got to talk,” she said.

  “This is no time to talk.”

  “This is a fine time.”

  “To screw.”

  She felt his hands slide over her buttocks. “It’s serious.”

  He gave them a gentle squeeze. “Okay.”

  “How would you feel about having a kid?”

  “Can’t have one. I’m a guy. Biologically unlikely if not impossible.”

  “Let me rephrase that,” Janet said. “How would you like to be a daddy?”

  “Eventually, maybe.”

  “I had in mind sooner rather than later.”

  His hands, gently massaging her buttocks, suddenly stopped.

  “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

  “Yep.”

  “Tell me you’re kidding.”

  “That’d be a lie,” Janet said as something inside her began to sink.

  “How can you be pregnant?”

  “If you don’t know…”

  “But you said it’d be safe.”

  “It’s never completely safe. Maybe I miscounted the days or…”

  “Maybe you miscounted?”

  “It’s not an exact science, Dave. And you wouldn’t use a rubber.”

  “It’s no good with a rubber on.”

  “Well, then…”

  “If you’d stayed on the pills…”

  “They’re dangerous. I’m supposed to give myself cancer so you don’t have to wear a rubber on your dick? Get real.”

  “Shit!”

  “You knew there was a risk of this.”

  Shaking his head from side to side, he let out a long, low moan. “Have you been to a doctor? You haven’t just missed your period or something?”

  “I’m pregnant, Dave. One hundred percent, fully guaranteed. I found out yesterday.”

  “Great,” he said. “Just great. Absolutely fucking terrific.”

  Pushing at his shoulders, Janet sat up straight. “I thought you might be happy about it,” she said.

  “Sure. Happy. Okay.” He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Then he said, “No problem. What’ll it run to get it taken care of?”

  “Well, it isn’t due for about seven months so we’ve got plenty of time to save up.”

  “I don’t mean delivery costs.”

  Her throat tightened. Heat rushing to her skin, she asked, “What do you mean?”

  “You know what I mean.”

  “You want to kill it?”

 
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