Fiends ssc, p.27
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       Fiends SSC, p.27

           Richard Laymon
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  Not with Joyce in the middle!

  But he was doing this, Joyce in the middle, her hard breasts shoving into Barbara’s breasts, her belly and groin and thighs tight and stiff against Barbara. And moving. Rubbing against her as Darren writhed and moaned and thrust with his tongue.

  Barbara chomped.

  Darren cried out. His hands leaped off her.

  She drove her hands against Joyce’s hips and rammed her away, slamming Darren against the tile wall beneath the shower nozzle. He grunted as his head thumped. Blood exploded from his mouth.

  Barbara staggered backward to get away from the four feet sliding her way.

  She spit out a chuck of Darren’s tongue.

  She hadn’t meant to bite it off, but…

  Horrified, she watched the bloody slab flop onto Joyce’s belly button.

  I’ve ruined him!

  ‘Look what you made me do!’ she yelled.

  Darren didn’t answer. Nor did he move. During the fall, he’d slipped lower so his head was under Joyce. His arms lay limp against the bottom of the tub. His legs were stretched out to either side of Joyce’s legs. His genitals showed through the crevice between her thighs.

  The water cascading down on Joyce sent Darren’s tongue sledding down her belly.

  Barbara took another step backward. Her foot landed with a splash.

  The tub was filling!

  He’s gonna drown!

  Dropping to a crouch, she grabbed Joyce’s ankles. She pulled. The body slid toward her. She worked her hands up the legs, scooting Joyce along beneath her toward the rear of the tub.

  Darren’s face came into view.

  The water was up past his ears. His eyes were shut, his mouth hanging open. His mouth brimmed with blood.

  ‘You’ll be okay!’ she cried. ‘I’ll save you!’

  His eyes opened.

  Thank God!

  Red spray exploded like a geyser as he shrieked, ‘BITCH!’

  He sat up fast. His chest met the top of Joyce’s head and raised her body. She came up rigid like a plank lifted at one end.

  Barbara, lurching to get away from Darren, slipped.

  And fell forward, her knees driving down into Joyce’s belly.


  Joyce’s head jumped forward, chin poking into her throat, face rolling against her chest. Between her breasts, her head was upside down, ponytail toward Barbara, the stump of her snapped neck straight up, catching spray.

  Darren roared with rage.

  Barbara snatched up the head by its ponytail.

  As Darren leaned forward and reached for her, she whipped Joyce’s head against the side of his face. It caved in his cheekbone and bounced off, its glass eyes flying out and shattering against the front of the tub. Darren’s eyes rolled upward. He slumped. She swung the head around and around by its ponytail, and struck him again. This time, Darren’s left eye popped from its socket and dangled by a cord. The third blow mashed it. The fourth sent teeth flying from his mouth.

  ‘Joyce is durable, all right, you bastard!’

  She kept on bashing his head until Joyce’s broken skull parted company with her scalp. This happened while Barbara was winding up for another strike. Her weapon suddenly went nearly weightless. She cringed as airborne head bones crashed against the shower door. Some bounced off and rained down on her shoulder and back.

  She threw down the sodden mop of hair.

  Then she tore off Joyce’s right arm and used it on Darren until it broke apart. She had to pause and catch her breath before ripping the left arm from its socket.

  She smashed it down on the collapsed rag of Darren’s face.

  The arm didn’t last long.

  It wasn’t easy breaking off Joyce’s legs. But she managed. They proved to be well worth the effort.


  The new kid came up the street from the house where Eddie and Sharon used to live. We’d seen him once before, the day he moved in. Even from a distance, we’d wanted nothing much to do with him. For starters, he couldn’t have been older than about twelve. For finishers, you could tell he was a dork.

  So there we were, Jim and I, playing catch in my front yard on one of those really fine summer nights just at dusk. The neighborhood was so quiet about the only sound was the hardball smacking into our mitts. And this new kid came strolling up the street.

  It was pretty obvious what he had in mind. He was wearing a mitt.

  Not just any mitt - a first baseman’s glove. Have you ever noticed that the real dopey kids of this world always use a first baseman’s glove? I think it’s because they’re scared of the ball. A big leather scoop like that let’s them go for it without getting too close.

  Anyway, he didn’t come onto the lawn. He stayed at the edge of the street, off past Jim’s side, and watched us. We pretended he wasn’t there. Easy enough for Jim, since he didn’t have to look at the kid. He kept his face toward me as we fired the ball back and forth. Once in a while, he rolled his eyes toward the sky.

  Other than being too young for us and wearing that stupid first baseman’s glove, the kid was dumpy. He looked like he hadn’t washed his hair for a month, and greasy strands hung down his forehead. He had a face like a pig. Fat, with little pink eyes. And a red nose that was runny, so he kept sniffing and every so often he’d stick his tongue up to lick the snot off his lip. We wore a red shirt with yellow flowers on it. It hung unbuttoned at the bottom. His belly bulged out through the gap like gray pudding. Lower down, you could see his boxers. Like he’d hitched them up, but forgotten to hitch up his pants. They were white with blue stripes. His pants, which looked about ready to drop, were plaid Bermuda shorts. They had huge, swollen pockets, and reached down to his knees. Below his fat calves, he wore black socks. He wore sandals on his feet.

  I’m not joking. That’s actually what the kid looked like.

  He was a real prize.

  I tried to keep my eyes off him, but it wasn’t easy, the way he just stood there off to the side of Jim, watching us throw. I wished he would go away. And I felt like a jerk for ignoring him. He didn’t say anything. He just stood there, sniffing and licking his snot, and sort of smiling.

  Pretty soon, he started to sock his fist into his mitt.

  I really couldn’t take that. It’s no fun at all, being left out of stuff.

  So I called, ‘Heads up, kid,’ and threw him the ball. I didn’t burn it in, nothing like that. I tossed it high and easy and right to him. He lit up for a second, then looked alarmed as the ball got closer. Ducking and turning his face away, he reached up with his huge scoop of a glove and didn’t even come close. The ball flew past him and went sailing off down the street. About the time it bounced on the pavement, he checked his mitt. He frowned, like he was really surprised to find it empty. Then he said, ‘Sorry.’

  That was the first word I ever heard him say. Sorry.

  Then he went chasing after the ball.

  ‘Good going, Ricky babes,’ Jim said.

  ‘What do you want? What was I supposed to do, ignore him?’

  ‘Now we’ll probably be stuck with the little creep.’

  ‘It’s getting dark, anyway. Maybe we’d better call it a night pretty soon.’

  ‘Yeah, I’m all for that.’

  But we had to wait for the ball. The kid took a while trying to find it. Finally, he dug it out of the flower bed in front of the Watson house and came loping up the street. Still a ways off, he gave it a throw.

  ‘God!’ Jim muttered. ‘What is he, a girl?’

  It was my ball, my fault, so I had to chase it down. I wasn’t eager to pick it up, considering it had been in the kid’s hand and was probably sticky. So I snatched it off the grass with my mitt. By the time I got back with it, the kid was stepping over the curb, walking toward Jim.

  ‘Getting pretty dark,’ I said. ‘I guess we’d better call it quits for now.’

  ‘Do we have to?’ the kid asked.

  I didn’t li
ke the sound of that ‘we.’

  ‘Yeah, we’d lose the ball.’

  ‘Well, all right.’ He sniffed and backhanded some goo off his upper lip. ‘I’m George Johnson. We just moved in.’ He swung a pudgy arm out behind him. ‘Over there.’

  ‘I’m Rick. This is Jim.’

  Luckily, he didn’t try to shake hands with us.

  ‘You guys sure are good.’

  ‘It just takes practice,’ I said, figuring he meant we were good with the ball.

  ‘You want a Twinkie?’ He shoved a hand down into a bulging front pocket of his shorts and pulled out a cellophane pack. The twin, cream-filled yellow cakes inside looked pretty smashed.

  ‘Thanks anyhow,’ I said. ‘I just had dinner.’

  ‘Please,’ George said. ‘They’re good.’

  ‘What the hell,’ Jim said. He stuck his mitt under his arm, took the package from George, said ‘Thanks,’ and ripped it open. He scooted one of the mooshed Twinkies off the cardboard backing and held it toward me.

  ‘There’s only two of ’em,’ I said. ‘You eat it, George.’

  ‘Oh, I got plenty. I want it to be yours.’

  Well, it had been wrapped up. So I went ahead and took it.

  Jim and I both had our mouths full when George said, ‘Will you be my friends?’

  How can you say no to a kid who has just given you a Twinkie?

  ‘Yeah, well…’ I said.

  ‘What the hell,’ Jim said.


  The next day, we made the mistake of riding our bikes past George’s house. We were heading for the Fashion Mall, a good place to hang out and watch the babes - especially Cyndi Taylor. She was a varsity cheerleader and didn’t know we existed, but she had a summer job working at Music World. We could pretend to brouse through the CDs and tapes for about an hour, and spend the whole time scoping her out. I know, that might sound kind of dumb. You wouldn’t think so, though, if you’d ever seen Cyndi.

  The only thing was, George must’ve been keeping a lookout. We hadn’t even gotten past his house when the screen door banged and he ran out, yelling, ‘Hey, guys! Wait up!’

  Jim gave me a disgusted look, but George was still in his pajamas so I figured we were safe. We swung our bikes to the curb.

  ‘Hiya, George,' Jim said.

  George stopped beside us, huffing and grinning. ‘Hey, where we going?’

  ‘Nowhere,’ I said. ‘Just tooling around.’

  ‘Great! I’ll be right out!’

  ‘That’s all right,’ Jim said. ‘Don’t you have something else you’ve gotta do?’

  ‘Nope!’ And off he ran, his big butt bouncing the seat of his Pajamas.

  The screen door whammed shut.

  ‘Terrific,’ I muttered.

  ‘Let’s beat it,’ Jim said.

  So that’s what we did.

  We sprinted our bikes for the corner, sped around it, then cut down the first alley. All the way to the mall, we kept glancing back, afraid George might be on our tails. But he wasn’t.

  He didn’t show up at the mall, either.

  He ruined everything, anyway. I couldn’t quit thinking about him. He’d been so damn excited about coming with us. He’d probably rushed to get dressed, and yelled something to his mom like, ‘Hey, I’m going off with my pals!’ He’d probably been hurrying out to the garage for his bike when he saw we were gone. I wondered if he’d cried. I wondered how he explained to his mom that his friends had left him behind. I felt like a jerk.

  I couldn’t even work up much excitement watching Cyndi Taylor glide around the music store. I’d look at her, but mostly I’d see George. I’ve been ditched a few times. I know how it feels.

  And it doesn’t always feel much better when you’re the one who did the ditching.


  To get home that afternoon, we took a back route so we wouldn’t have to ride past George’s house.

  Every night since school let out, we’d been playing catch in my front lawn after dinner. But not that night. I cut across backyards to reach Jim’s place. He had a pool, so he also had a fence. I scrambled over the fence. Jim was waiting. We shot the ball back and forth across the length of the pool. Later on, Jim stood on the diving board. I threw just out of his reach, trying to get him to fall in. After a couple of close calls with him teetering and flapping his arms, he said, ‘I go in and wreck my mitt, it’s your ass!’

  ‘Language!’ his mom called from inside the house.

  When it was almost too dark to see the ball, someone turned on the lights. Then his sister, Joan, came out with a friend. They were both seniors and wearing bikinis. They didn’t talk to us or anything, but it was great while it lasted. They splashed around, all shiny in the water, while we fired the ball from one end of the pool to the other. I think they liked having us there. They floated around on their backs quite a lot.

  But then I guess Jim’s mom noticed what was going on and got scared we might bean someone, so she told us to quit.

  We went up into the living room and played some Super Mario Brothers till it was time for me to go home.

  I took the front way. Off in the distance, I could see George’s house. I realized that, somewhere along the way, I’d stopped feeling rotten about ditching him.

  When it was time to set out for the mall the next day, I sped over to Jim’s place. He was waiting on his driveway.

  ‘Wanta drop by George’s house and see if he wants to come along?’ Jim asked, grinning.

  ‘In your dreams.’

  ‘The little shit.’

  ‘You said it.’

  Not only had I quit feeling sorry for the twerp, but I’d found myself really resenting the way he’d messed with our lives. Hell, we couldn’t play catch in my frontyard, we couldn’t ride our bikes past his house. We were like fugitives on our own block, hiding from him. And then we felt guilty about it. I did, anyway. And I didn’t like it. He had no right. So the hell with him.

  We coasted down Jim’s driveway. At the street, Jim swung to the right.

  ‘This way,’ I said, and swung my bike to the left.

  ‘Are you kidding?’

  ‘Screw him.’

  We picked up a lot of speed by the time we reached George’s house. Neither of us looked at it. I didn’t hear the screen door slap shut, so I figured we must’ve shot past too fast for the little scuzz. Then I looked back.

  George, hunched over the handlebars of his ten-speed, swooped down his driveway and swerved into the street. He pumped his pedals like a madman trying to catch up.

  ‘Oh, no,’ I muttered.

  Jim glanced back. ‘Terrific. You and your great ideas.’

  ‘Hey, wait up!’ George yelled.

  ‘Wanta ditch him?’ Jim asked.

  ‘God damn it! The hell with ditching him.’ I slowed down. So did Jim.

  George closed the gap. Riding between us, he matched our speed. ‘What’s up?’ he asked.

  ‘Not much,’ I said.

  ‘Where’d you guys go yesterday?’

  ‘Nowhere,’ I said. This hot feeling went through me. It was shame, whether I wanted it or not.

  ‘I got a sudden case of the trots and had to go home,’ Jim explained. ‘Sorry we couldn’t wait for you. But it would’ve got pretty messy on the street, you know?’

  ‘Gosh, I’m sorry.’

  ‘Shit waits for no man,’ Jim added.

  George laughed. ‘So, you okay?’

  ‘Fine,’ Jim muttered, and gave me the eye.

  ‘So, where we going?’

  Jim had saved us with the trots story. Now it was my turn. ‘The pool. Over at the Jefferson Recreational Center.’

  George’s smile faded. ‘The pool?’

  ‘That’s right,’ I said.

  He looked confused. Frowning at Jim, he said, ‘Don’t you have a pool?’

  Jim didn’t miss a beat. ‘Sure, but all the babes are at the public pool.’

  ‘You got your trunks with you, George?’ I

  He gave our bikes a once-over. ‘Where’s yours?’

  ‘Wearing ’em,’ I said, and patted the seat of my jeans. ‘Underneath.’


  ‘You’d better go get your trunks,’ Jim said, ‘and we’ll meet you at the pool.’

  ‘I don’t know where it is.’

  Jim gave him directions. George listened, frowning and nodding, then made sort of a nervous smile and said, ‘Okay. Guess I can find it.’

  ‘Great,’ Jim said.

  ‘See you there,’ I said.

  George swung his bike around and pedaled for home.

  Jim and I gave each other grins. We headed for the mall.

  At Music World, we roamed up and down the aisles pretending to look at stuff while we watched Cyndi. I felt a little guilty about the dirty trick we’d played on George, but forgot about it when Cyndi came over to us. It was almost too much for me, being this close to her. The way she looked and smelled made me ache.

  ‘Can I help you find something?’ she asked.

  I didn’t trust myself to speak. All I could do was shake my head.

  ‘We’re just browsing around,’ Jim said, the way he always did when she or one of the others came over like this.

  ‘Fine. If you need any help, be sure to let me know.’

  ‘We will,’ Jim told her.

  She smiled and walked away.

  ‘Oh, man,’ Jim whispered. ‘What I’d give…’



  After she’d left, we had to settle for watching her from a distance. She spent a while helping other customers, and then Bobbi Andrews came into the store. She was the head cheerleader, but nothing at all like Cyndi. While Cyndi was slender and graceful and beautiful, Bobbi was squat and had a face like a rabbit. She was really popular, anyway. There were three reasons for that: her pep and two humongous knockers. I couldn’t care less about any of that. Personally, I thought she was a waste.

  But she was Cyndi’s best friend.

  They got together near the back of the store and started talking.

  We figured that Cyndi was too busy with her to notice us, so we wandered down the aisle for a better view. We were pretty careful about it. We pretended to be greatly interested in various CDs and albums in the trough along the way, and got to the end of the aisle.

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