Fiends ssc, p.29
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       Fiends SSC, p.29

           Richard Laymon
 
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  Neither of us got cute.

  ‘Check the other side, George,’ Jim said.

  ‘Me?’

  ‘You got the good light. Make sure nobody’s hiding behind those things.’

  ‘Aw, geez.’

  ‘Just do it,’ I told him. ‘We don’t want some damn wino jumping us.’

  George moaned, but did as he was told. He crept past the support, shined his lantern behind it, raised the light to check the backsides of the other three supports, and swung it every which way. ‘Okay over there,’ he said, his voice shaking. He hurried back to our side of the tunnel. ‘Want me to open the wine?’

  ‘Might as well,’ Jim said.

  George squatted, set down his sack, and lifted out the bottle. He stood up with it. Jim held his light on its neck while George picked at the foil with a dirty fingernail.

  I took the opportunity to look around. I stayed put, but swept my light here and there. It gleamed off the glass of an empty bottle a few feet away. Over near the wall was a rag, maybe a shirt. It was surrounded by broken glass, cans, mashed cigarette packs. Halfway up the wall was an enormous black Swastika. I’d seen it before, but the drawing beside it was new to me - a rump with a hard-on shoved into its hole.

  I decided to quit looking around.

  George had the wine bottle clamped between his legs, a Swiss Army knife in his hands. He pried out the knife’s corkscrew, then bent over and started twisting it into the top of the bottle.

  Once it was in deep, he started pulling and grunting.

  ‘Awful tight,’ he muttered.

  ‘Why don’t you give it a try,’ Jim said to me.

  George handed over the bottle. I set my flashlight on the ground, pinned the bottle between my legs the same way he’d done, and tugged on the knife.

  At first, the cork wouldn’t give.

  ‘Hurry it up,’ Jim said. ‘We don’t wanta be late to Cyndi’s.’

  It moved just a little.

  Then it slid out fast. As it popped free, Jim shot an arm across George’s chest, whipped a leg behind him, and flung him backwards. George yelped with surprise. Grunted when he slammed the ground.

  I knew this was what we’d planned, but Jim’s sudden attack probably surprised me as much as George.

  I put the knife and bottle down fast.

  George, wheezing for air, didn’t struggle as Jim rolled him over and dropped onto his rump.

  I pulled up my shirt. I unwrapped the rope. By the time I was on my knees beside them, Jim had both George’s arms bent up behind him.

  ‘Guys!’ George gasped. ‘What’re you…?’

  ‘Shut up,’ Jim snapped. ‘We aren’t gonna hurt you.’

  I started tying George’s hands together.

  ‘Hey!’ he said. ‘Don’t! Don’t!’

  ‘Calm down,’ Jim told him.

  ‘Is… is this… some kinda ’nitiation?’

  ‘Sure,’ Jim said.

  ‘Is not!’ I said. ‘Why’d you wanta say that? He’ll think he’s… It’s no initiation George. You’re not joining something. We just wanted to be left alone, damn it, but you wouldn’t get the message. You’re not our friend. You’re a fat, grubby little pain in the ass!’

  George started blubbering.

  ‘And a Peeping Tom!’

  ‘Yeah!’ Jim joined in. ‘You been spying on my sister, you dirty pervert!’

  ‘Who else you been spying on?’

  ‘Nuh… nobody!’

  ‘I bet,’ Jim said.

  ‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘And you think you’re gonna go with us to Cyndi’s, you got another thing coming!’

  Jim climbed off him, grabbed him by the feet and shoved his legs up till his calves were mashed against the backs of his thighs. Done with the hands, I looped the rope around his ankles, pulled it taut, and tied his feet together.

  By the time I finished, George was bawling.

  ‘You’d better cut that out,’ Jim warned him. ‘Somebody might hear you.’

  ‘They might come for you,’ I added.

  ‘Puh… Please!’

  ‘I’d be very quiet, if I were you,’ Jim said.

  ‘From now on,’ I said, ‘you just stay away from us.’

  We stepped back. Jim turned off George’s lantern and picked up the wine bottle. He took two packs of Twinkies out of the sack. I twisted the cork off George’s knife and put the knife on the ground a couple of yards away from him. Then I picked up my flashlight and stuffed it into my pocket.

  ‘If you’re still here when we get back,’ I told him, ‘we’ll untie you.’

  ‘If we come back,’ Jim added.

  As we hurried out into the moonlight, George blurted things like ‘Please!’ and ‘Don’t leave me here!’ and ‘Come back!’ But he cut it out when we were about halfway up the slope.

  ‘Here,’ Jim said, and offered me a pack of Twinkies as we walked across the bridge.

  I shook my head. ‘I don’t want to eat his stuff. I mean, we double-crossed him.’

  Jim grinned. ‘Got him good, huh?’

  ‘Maybe we oughta go back down and let him go.’

  ‘Are you nuts? We’ve already wasted enough time. Besides, the little dork would probably still wanta come with us. He’ll think we were joking or something, and we’ll be right back where we started.’

  ‘Yeah, I guess so.’

  ‘Anyhow, he’ll probably get loose and be outa there in five minutes.’

  ‘I don’t know. I tied him pretty good.’

  ‘So maybe it’ll take him ten. Don’t go feeling sorry for him. He asked for it, he got it.’

  ‘Yeah. Maybe he’ll stay out of our face after this.’

  ‘And stay away from our windows. I ever catch him spying on Joan or Mom, he’ll think he got off easy tonight. I’ll cut off his dick and make him eat it.’

  ‘Oh, gross.’

  ‘Give him a Hostess weenie.’

  I elbowed Jim, and laughed.

  He made me hold the wine bottle while he unwrapped his Twinkies. ‘You don’t know what you’re missing,’ he said through a mooshy mouthful.

  Watching him, I could almost taste the things. Pretty soon, I said, ‘He owes us, you know.’

  ‘Huh?’

  ‘For all the crap he put us through.’

  ‘Damn right.’

  ‘Besides, he ate our potato chips.’

  ‘Sure did.’

  I took the other package from Jim, gave him the bottle back, tore off the cellophane and started eating. I was about halfway through my first Twinkie when Jim took a drink of the wine.

  He sighed. ‘Good stuff.’

  He passed the bottle to me. I had a couple of swallows. It made my mouth pucker. When it hit my stomach, it seemed to turn into fire. ‘Thlightly impertinent,’ I said.

  That got a big laugh out of Jim.

  We walked along, taking slugs of wine and bites of Twinkie, swinging the bottle out of sight every time a car approached from either the front or the rear. Once we got away from Jefferson, there were a lot fewer cars. By then, the Twinkies were gone and the bottle was almost half empty. I was feeling pretty great.

  ‘Let’s save the rest,’ Jim said.

  ‘What for?’

  ‘For us, stupid.’

  We yucked it up.

  After calming down, Jim said, ‘Hey, we don’t wanta get polluted.’

  ‘Speak for yourself.’

  ‘Where’s the cork?’ I gave it to him, and he squeezed it into the bottle’s neck. ‘We’ll save it for the return trip.’

  That sounded like a fine idea.

  He carried it the rest of the way to Cyndi’s house.

  Except for a lamp at the end of the driveway, Cyndi’s house was dark. Not even the porch light was on.

  ‘What gives?’ Jim asked.

  ‘I don’t know.’

  ‘This is her house, isn’t it?’

  ‘Sure.’

  We’d both been there before. Three times, we’d followed her hom
e after school, first to find out where she lived, then later just because we liked to watch her walk, books clutched to her chest, hair golden in the sunlight, skirt swinging.

  ‘Sure looks like her house,’ Jim muttered.

  ‘That’s because it is.’

  ‘Maybe they’re around back.’

  So we hurried across the frontyard and made our way alongside the house. The windows there were dark. So were those in the rear, and those along the other side. I was shaking pretty badly the whole time, scared of getting caught, thrilled by our search for the girls. I could see why a guy like George might get a kick out of sneaking around like that. It was a real charge. But the charge died when we got to the street.

  ‘Well, shit,’ Jim said.

  ‘We must’ve gotten here too late.’

  ‘Thanks to George, the little shit.’

  ‘Damn it!’

  ‘This is the right house, right?’ Jim asked.

  ‘Of course it’s… hey! Maybe we’ve got the wrong night! Maybe it’s tomorrow night. All we did was guess, remember?’

  ‘Yeah! Bet it is tomorrow night.’

  ‘All right! So no big deal. We’ll come back.’

  We turned away from Cyndi’s house, and started walking. ‘Tomorrow,’ Jim said, ‘we won’t have to waste time fooling around with George. He won’t come anywhere near us from now on.’

  ‘Right. And we’ll get away earlier. Mom and Dad are going out. They won’t be getting home till really late.’

  ‘Man!’

  ‘We can leave at like ten or something!’

  ‘Fantastic!This calls for a drink!’

  We passed the bottle back and forth a couple of times. We probably would’ve polished it off and gotten ourselves really smashed, except the bottle got smashed first. Jim stumbled on a raised section of sidewalk. He went lurching forward and the bottle flew. It exploded on the sidewalk in front of us.

  Scared that somebody might’ve heard the noise, we ran two blocks and didn’t stop till we reached Jefferson.

  When the guard rails of the bridge came into sight, my stomach went kind of cold. The last thing I wanted to do was go down to the underpass.

  ‘Wonder how Georgie-porgie’s doing,’ Jim said.

  ‘I guess we’ll have to find out.’

  ‘I bet he’s already home.’

  ‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘I hope so.’

  ‘I just hope he’s learned his lesson. It’d sure be a pain if we had to go through this again tomorrow night.’

  ‘When he sees us coming from now on,’ I said, ‘he’s gonna run the other way.’

  "Less he liked it down there.’

  ‘Nobody could like it down there.’

  ‘I don’t know. He’s a pretty weird kid.’

  ‘No kid’s that weird. It’s too damn creepy.’

  Jim laughed. ‘Hope he crapped his pants, the little shit.’

  At the other side of the bridge, we ducked into the trees and started down the slope. I only looked once at the underpass. The idea of George being tied up in that dark, awful place made me feel kind of sick.

  Jim and I both fell on our cans a few times before we got to the bottom of the slope. The wine might’ve had something to do with that.

  ***

  Finally, we got to the tracks.

  We walked between the rails, our flashlights off. With every step, I felt shakier. I told myself that George probably had gotten loose and run home. We wouldn’t need to go under there, at all, just shine our lights in, make sure he was gone, and leave.

  He’d probably left my rope behind. It could stay right where it was. I sure didn’t need the rope badly enough to go in after it.

  Just where the tracks disappeared into the darkness, we stopped and turned on our flashlights. The shiny rails gleamed. About twenty feet ahead, the rail on the left was draped with rope.

  My rope. It had to be.

  George had worked himself loose.

  Now, we could go home.

  Jim’s flashlight swung away from the rail, away from the rope, off to the side where we’d left George.

  Just as I’d expected, George wasn’t there.

  But he wasn’t gone.

  Jim’s light found him a couple of yards closer to the wall.

  We both gasped. I felt like I’d been kicked in the belly.

  We ran toward George, our beams jerking all around as we tried to spot who’d done it to him. We saw no one.

  We stopped by his body but didn’t look down at him. Darted our lights everywhere else. We were both panting, even though we hadn’t run very far. Jim made these weird whiny sounds every time he sucked in a breath.

  ‘See anyone?’ I asked.

  ‘Huh-uh.’

  ‘Maybe… they’re gone.’

  I swept my light across the center supports. Four broad, concrete walls. A crazy or two or three might’ve been lurking behind every one of them. I knew one of us should go to the other side for a look. I didn’t have the guts to do it, though.

  ‘Let’s… get,’ Jim whimpered.

  ‘Can’t leave him.’

  We shined our flashlights down at George. He lay sprawled on his back, his shirt wide open, his boxer shorts and Bermudas hanging off one foot. He was bloody all the way down to his knees.

  ‘What’d they… do to him?’

  I shook my head.

  George’s eyes were shut. One was swollen so it looked like a hardboiled egg with a slit across it. I’d seen a boxer on TV one time who had an eye like that after going eleven rounds with the heavyweight champ.

  George’s neck was shiny red, but I didn’t see any wounds on it.

  He was so fat and dumpy that he actually had tits. I thought about how the other guys probably gave him grief about them when he had to dress for gym class. Then I thought how there wouldn’t be any more gym classes for him. Because of us.

  I moved my light down his fat belly.

  He looked so lonely and pitiful.

  ‘Where’d all the blood come from?’ Jim whispered. Stepping behind my back, he moved sideways past George’s hips. Then he froze. The pale beam of his light slanted down between George’s legs. He let out a terrible groan, staggered out of my way, whirled around and started to puke.

  I pointed my flashlight at George’s groin.

  And knew where all the blood had come from.

  Blood still trickled out of the raw open slot where his dick should’ve been.

  I went numb and started to sway. I thought I might pass out, and hoped I wouldn’t fall on him. Then my arm got grabbed. I yelped. But it was only Jim.

  I started to cry. ‘Look… look what we did.’

  ‘We didn’t.’

  ‘They cut off his dick,’ I sobbed.

  ‘No.’

  ‘They did! Look! Didn’t you see?’ I pointed my light at the bloody opening.

  ‘They didn’t cut off his dick, you dope. He never had one. George is a girl. They didn’t cut off nothing. They banged her.’

  ‘What?’

  ‘She’s a girl. Georgina or something.’

  ‘Oh, my God.’

  ‘Don’t know why she’d sneak around spying on Joan, but…’

  ‘Didn’t.’

  I flinched so hard it made every bone in my body hurt. Jim actually jumped and cried out. Then we shined our lights on George’s face. Her eyes were open. One eye was, anyway - the one that wasn’t swollen shut.

  She pushed herself up with her elbows. ‘Spying on you guys,’ she said. ‘You’re who I looked at. You two, not girls.’

  ‘You’re… alive!’

  ‘Yeah.’

  ‘Why’d you make us think you were dead?’ Jim demanded.

  ‘Just wanted to hear whatcha had to say.’

  ‘Shit!’

  ‘I’m just glad you’re alive,’ I said. I wiped my eyes with my shirttail, but couldn’t stop crying. I dropped to my knees beside her and put a hand on her shoulder.

  ‘It’s okay,’ she sai
d.

  ‘No it’s not! God, I’m so sorry! If we’d known…’

  ‘How bad are you hurt?’ Jim asked. He crouched down next to me.

  ‘My face don’t feel too good.’

  ‘Is that all?’

  ‘Cept for my twat.’

  ‘They raped you?’ Jim asked.

  ‘Yeah. He did. Just one. He really stank. You shoulda smelled him.’

  ‘We never should’ve left you here,’ Jim said. ‘We never would’ve, if we’d only known you were a girl.’

  ‘If we’d gone to the pool today like we told her…’

  ‘Aw, I didn’t show up anyhow,’ she said. ‘You woulda found me out.’

  I sniffed, and wiped my face again.

  ‘I only just wanted to be your friend,’ she said, her voice going higher.

  ‘You can be our friend,’ I said.

  ‘Sure,’ Jim said.

  ‘Honest?’

  ‘Yeah, honest,’ I told her. ‘This was an initiation. I was just lying about all that stuff I told you.’

  ‘Really?’

  ‘Yeah.’

  ‘From now on,’ Jim said, ‘we’ll never ditch you again.’

  ‘You guys sure had me going. I was starting to figure you hated me.’

  ‘Naw.We were just kidding.’

  Her bloody face smiled. She sat up.

  ‘You’d better not move,’ I said. ‘We’ll have to get you an ambulance or something.’

  ‘I’m okay.’

  ‘You can’t be okay,’ Jim said. ‘All that blood.’

  ‘Oh, I was a virgin. But not anymore.’ She looked at each of us. ‘You guys wanta bang me? You can if you want, now we’re pals.’

  I went kind of speechless.

  ‘Not tonight,’ Jim said. ‘Thanks anyway.’

  I nodded.

  ‘You sure? I’m kinda sore, but if you want…’

  ‘Some other time,’ Jim told her.

  ‘Well, okay.’ She sighed as if she were a little disappointed, then got to her feet. She shook her foot clear of the tangled boxers and Bermuda shorts. ‘Wanta see something cool?’ she asked.

  ‘We oughta just get out of here,’ I said.

  ‘You guys gotta see this.’ She stepped over to her lantern, bent over as if she didn’t mind us looking at her butt, picked up the lantern and turned it on. ‘Come on,’ she said.

 
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