Fiends ssc, p.3
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       Fiends SSC, p.3

           Richard Laymon
 

  ‘None of your business.’

  ‘I just beat the crap out of the guy for you. Don’t I deserve to know why?’

  ‘I didn’t ask you to do that. You did it because you wanted to.’

  ‘Crap.That’s crap. And don’t go around trying to read my mind. This character did something to you. I don’t know what he did, but you’re my girl and I’m not about to let some asshole go around intimidating you. Clear?’

  ‘Yes,’ she said quietly, rubbing her face. ‘It’s clear. But Dan, don’t you see that it’s wrong? You can’t go around hurting people.’

  ‘You can try.’

  She turned away from him. ‘Take me home. Please.’

  7

  ‘This stuff really hits the spot,' Tina said.

  ‘That’s what it’s for.’ Brad refilled both glasses with champagne. He set down the bottle, clamping it between his bare feet to keep it from following the roll of the deck, and put his free arm around Tina.

  Fiends

  ‘You sure know how to throw parties,’ she said.

  ‘Better than your parents?’

  ‘Better than the one they threw me, that’s for sure. Which was no party at all, if you wanta know the truth.’

  ‘I’m sorry.’

  ‘That’s okay. I haven’t had a party since I was eight. Till now.’

  ‘Ready for your present?’ Brad asked.

  ‘Sure.’

  He took the package off the seat and handed it to her. ‘Happy birthday, Tina.’

  She set down her glass and began working on the ribbon. She slipped it off, then unfastened the tape at each end of the package and removed the paper without tearing it.

  ‘Going to save the wrapping?’

  ‘Sure.’

  ‘So you can re-use it sometime?’

  ‘No! I wouldn’t re-use it. I’ll save it for a keepsake.’

  ‘Oh,’ Brad said, and felt a tightness come to his throat.

  Tina held the flat, rectangular box by its lid and shook it until the bottom fell onto her lap. Then she folded back the tissue paper inside. ‘Brad! Oh, it’s beautiful!’

  ‘The saleswoman called it paisley. That’s the pattern, I guess. Real colorful and everything, but you can’t see it much in this light.’ The dress unfolded as Tina lifted it from the box. She stretched her arms upward, holding it under the moonlight. ‘It’s just gorgeous! Look how it shines! Oh, thank you. It’s wonderful!’

  She hugged him tightly, awkwardly, squeezing his neck. But the hug only lasted a moment. Then Tina put the box and wrappings on Brad’s lap. ‘I’ll be back in a jiffy,’ she said, and hurried across the deck, the dress in front of her like a wispy dancing partner. Once, she made a dizzy sidestep and almost fell. Brad jumped up to help, but she stayed on her feet and vanished below.

  He sat at the stern, waiting.

  Finally, the cabin door opened, then latched shut. Brad watched Tina’s dark form rise and step into the moonlight.

  ‘What do you think?’ she asked.

  ‘Very nice.’

  ‘It’s absolutely beautiful in the light. All gold and red and blue. I guess you know that, though.’

  ‘Does it fit all right?’

  ‘Does it?’ She posed for him.

  ‘Looks great to me. Is it supposed to cling like that?’

  ‘Sure.’ She walked toward him, keeping a hand on the gunwale to steady herself.

  The fabric, glossy in the moonlight, sheathed all the rises and hollows of her body until it stopped partway down her thighs.

  ‘It makes me feel naked,’ she said. ‘Naked and covered with something like baby oil so I’m all slick and shiny.’ She rubbed a hand over her ribs. ‘Feel,’ she said, and stepped into Brad’s arms.

  Her back was a curving sleekness under the cloth’s lubrication.

  She moaned. ‘It feels so good.’ She squeezed him extra hard, grunting with the effort. ‘This is just the nicest gift anyone’s ever given me.’

  ‘Like it, huh?’

  ‘I love it. Here, you feel.’ She tugged Brad’s T-shirt off, embraced him and moved lightly against him. The fabric was warm with the heat of Tina's skin, a slippery film between her body and his.

  Then Brad noticed that the dress was gathering above his hands. He rubbed upward on her sides, working the dress higher, and slid a hand down until the silken fabric ended and he felt the bare skin of her buttocks.

  ‘Lift your arms,’ he whispered.

  She raised her arms and he pulled the dress over her head. He draped it across the stern seat. Then he held her hands and looked at her.

  He swallowed, trying to get rid of the lump in his throat. ‘You’re so beautiful,’ he said.

  ‘I love you so much,’ she said. ‘I love you more than anything.’

  ‘I love you, too,’ he said.

  She moved in against him and unfastened his jeans.

  8

  When Marty awoke in the morning, the drapes above her bed were bright with sunshine. The drawcord was just out of reach, so she got up quietly and opened the drapes, freeing the sunlight to slant downward onto her bed.

  She lay down, closing her eyes against the brightness and enjoying the feel of the heat as she listened to the house. Her mother and father were not yet stirring. She sat up and slipped off her nightgown. As she pulled it over her head, the sunlight touched the skin of her back, warming and soothing, draining away all desire to move. Elbows resting on the knees of her crossed legs, she hung her head and let the sun sink in.

  Things should always be this way, she thought.

  And her stomach knotted as she half expected to hear the doorbell ring - just as it had rung that other morning, a sunny morning so much like this - when she was fifteen years old.

  A warm, summer wind had been blowing through her room that morning, whipping the drapes above her bed and making the light flutter on the pages of Jane Eyre. The breeze smelled of flowers and freshly mowed grass, and hinted of a blistering day.

  When the doorbell rang downstairs, she didn’t want to answer it.

  But if she didn’t get the door, nobody would, and maybe it was something important.

  Rolling reluctantly out of bed, she pressed the open book face down on the sheet to keep her place, then hurried across the carpet to the closet door and pulled her robe off its hook. As she slipped her arms into her robe, the pajama sleeves were shoved up almost to her elbows.

  The doorbell rang again.

  She fastened the top button of her pajama shirt, hitched up the drooping pants, and tied the robe shut.

  The bell rang once more before she got downstairs.

  She opened the door. Seeing a total stranger took her by surprise, but there was nothing menacing about his skinny body or his crew cut or his black eyebrows meeting above his nose. His big ears made him look funny.

  ‘Good morning,’ he greeted her, bowing his high, narrow head. ‘Can I talk to the master of the house?’

  ‘He isn’t home right now,’ she said.

  ‘When do you expect him back?’

  ‘What’s this about?’

  ‘I do odd jobs.’

  ‘Well, I don’t know if he’d…’

  ‘Can I talk to your mother about it?’

  ‘She isn’t…’

  Marty suddenly realized that she shouldn’t be saying such things to a stranger.

  ‘She isn’t home,’ he said. It wasn’t a question. ‘I know.’ His thin lips curled into a grin. ‘They shouldn’t have left you alone.’

  The door crashed into her. She tumbled backward as the stranger rushed in.

  Looking up from the floor, she saw the knife in his hand.

  ‘Stand up,’ he said, waving it.

  ‘What do you want?’

  ‘I want you to stand up.’

  It was hard getting off the floor because her bones felt soft and wobbly. But she did as she was told.

  ‘Your bedroom’s upstairs, right?’

  She nodded.
r />   ‘I know. I know all about you, Marty. I’ve been keeping an eye on you for a long time. Ever since I saw you at the car wash with your old lady. You had on white shorts and a red blouse. I wanted to rip ’em off you and fuck you right there. But I’m not stupid. I waited for just the right time. And guess what. This is it. Let’s go upstairs.’

  ‘I don’t want to.’

  ‘Start walking.’ He waved his knife under her chin.

  She began to cry.

  He walked behind her, the knife point biting through her robe and pajamas, nipping her back. Up the stairway. Down the hall. Into her sun-bright bedroom.

  When he began to strip her, she said, ‘Don’t. Please.’

  He didn’t bother to move Jane Eyre before shoving her backward onto the bed. By the time he finished, the book’s slick dust jacket was ripped off. The covers were broken. The spine was split, and loose pages were scattered over the sheet, spoiled with blood and semen.

  Lying back, Marty covered herself with a sheet, curled up on her side, and watched her forefinger draw a line along the edge of the mattress pad.

  Why did he have to come back? What does he want?

  Me.

  He wants me.

  Again.

  9

  The parking space in front of Willy’s motel room was empty. He pulled into it.

  With a grocery bag in one arm, he opened the door of his room. Air-conditioned. Nice and cool.

  He dumped the bag onto his bed. Out fell a plastic bottle of aspirin, his filthy wadded T-shirt, and a coil of clothesline.

  He pulled off his boots and jeans, staggered into the bathroom.

  In the mirror there, he saw what had been done to him. The crusty gash at the base of his nose. The bruises.

  I’ll kill his ass, the cocksucker.

  Willy took four aspirin tablets, washing them down with handfuls of water. Then he made his way back to the bed. He threw off the blankets and crawled in naked between the sheets.

  And moaned.

  Slowly, his pain faded.

  Everything faded.

  In half-sleep, he saw Marty sprawled on a bed, her arms and legs tied to the corners, the sunlight golden on her bare skin.

  She looked fifteen for a while.

  But then he imagined her changing, growing, getting better, until she became the Marty he’d seen last night.

  Before sinking into deep sleep, he made her scream.

  10

  A young woman named Peggy climbed out of her car. She rubbed her damp hands on her shorts and took a deep breath. Then she walked to the screen door of Mickey’s Bait Shop, dust rising behind her white sneakers.

  A bell jangled when she opened the door.

  ‘Be right with you,’ a voice called from a back room. It wasn’t the voice she expected.

  Not Mickey’s.

  But at least it belonged to a man.

  She shut the door and hooked it. With a flip of her right hand, she reversed the cardboard sign so it read OPEN on the inside.

  The shop was shadowy. It smelled of damp earth, fish, and something else. Machine oil? It smelled good - fresh and masculine.

  Boots thumped on the hardwood floor. Cowboy boots, probably. Seemed like half the guys in Wisconsin dressed like cowboys.

  ‘Hi, there,’ this one said as he took his place behind the counter. A good-looking guy, couldn’t be older than twenty. His faded blue shirt was open at the throat. From the look on his face, he liked the looks of Peggy.

  She took off her sunglasses.

  ‘Can I help you?’ he asked.

  ‘I was looking for Mickey.’

  ‘Dad? He was taking a group out on the Eagle Lake.' The son checked his wristwatch. ‘He should be back any time, though. You might try the motel.’

  ‘My name’s Peggy.’

  ‘Hi. I’m Brad.’

  ‘Nice to meet you, Brad.’

  ‘Is there something I can help you with?’

  ‘I could use some bait.’ She looked over her shoulder and spotted several tackle boxes on shelves near the door. ‘And how about one of those tackle boxes? My old one’s all rusted out. Would you show them to me?’

  ‘Happy to.’ Brad came around the end of the counter. He wore cowboy boots, all right. And old, faded blue jeans. When she looked at his face, she caught him checking the front of her T-shirt.

  ‘How’s life at Camp Wahtooki?’ he asked.

  ‘A little lonely.’

  ‘You a counselor there?’

  ‘Yep.’

  ‘Well, what sort of tackle box did you have in mind?’

  ‘Who says I’ve got a tackle box in mind?’

  ‘You?’ he asked, and grinned.

  ‘Me?’ Gazing into his blue eyes, she reached forward and gently squeezed his crotch.

  His eyes suddenly got very wide. ‘Jeez,’ he said.

  ‘Let’s go behind the counter.’

  Brad glanced at the screen door.

  ‘That’s taken care of,’ Peggy said.

  She led him around the counter, knelt in the narrow space behind it, and pulled off her Camp Wahtooki T-shirt. Brad stared.

  She helped him take off his shirt, then embraced him. When she sucked on his mouth, he finally started to move.

  He stroked her breasts.

  She lay on the cool floor. It was rough and hard beneath her shoulder blades. Brad unfastened her shorts. Knees up, she raised her buttocks off the floor. Brad pulled the shorts up to her knees, down to her ankles. She kicked them away. Brad opened his jeans and crawled between her legs.

  He was big. Even bigger than Mickey. So big it hurt. Stretching her, filling her. She dug her nails into his back, crushed her mouth to his, and met each hard thrust with one of her own. Again and again. Clawing, groaning, together pounding him high and deep.

  A face appeared above the counter. A girl’s face. She looked sixteen or so. A beautiful face. A horrified face.

  It watched.

  Somehow, the watching excited Peggy even more.

  She didn’t care where the girl came from. Maybe from a rear entrance. It didn’t matter.

  Nothing mattered except Brad inside her.

  ‘God, darling!’ she gasped, clenching his buttocks.

  Nothing but Brad.

  His teeth clamped on her shoulder as he plunged.

  Nothing.

  The girl looking down from above had tears in her eyes. She lifted a hand to wipe them off. Her short sleeve was a shiny swirl of color.

  Didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.

  Nothing, nothing, nothing!

  Just THIS!

  Peggy’s breath caught. She arched against Brad, quaking inside, feeling his wild spurting throbs. ‘God!’ she cried out. ‘Oh God! Yes!’

  As she came, she watched the girl’s face.

  The face suddenly lurched away and was gone.

  ***

  A while later, Peggy said, ‘That was fantastic, Brad.’

  ‘Yeah.’

  ‘Problem?’

  ‘No. It was great. Really.’

  ‘You busy tonight?’ Peggy asked.

  ‘Well… yeah, I am.’

  She ran her hands through his hair. ‘Another girl?’

  He looked solemn. ‘Yeah. My… actually, my fiancee. We're… we got engaged. Just last night. I don’t know… I shouldn’t have… I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here with you.’

  ‘Fucking.’

  She squeezed his buttocks with both hands. Tightening muscles inside, she squeezed his penis.

  It was still big.

  It started getting bigger.

  ‘Just once more, darling.’

  ‘No, I don’t…’

  ‘You want to. I know you do.’

  ‘It… isn’t right.’

  ‘She’ll never know.’

  11

  Four hundred miles south of Mickey’s Bait shop, Willy was driving past the front of Marty’s house. A white Pontiac stood in the driveway. The garage door wa
s open. He saw a Volkswagen inside.

  Would’ve been handy if the Pontiac was already gone. But this was fine. This was how he’d figured it. He’d figured on having to wait. In a way, he’d hoped for it.

  Gave him time to finish another piece of business.

  He turned right, then right again, and came down the back side of the block. The fourth house from the corner was directly behind Marty’s place. Only hedges and a drainage ditch stood between their back yards. Both yards had plenty of trees for cover. Willy got out, leaving his rope under the front seat. He walked to the end of the block and turned the corner.

  He came to Jefferson, Marty’s street, and crossed it.

  The house he wanted was the third one up, a small place surrounded by lavish gardens.

  That’s two things H. Dunning’s got, Willy thought. A green thumb and a big nose.

  He walked quickly toward the house, keeping his eyes on Marty’s place across the street. Bad news if she’d happen to look out and see him.

  He hurried up H. Dunning’s driveway and took a cobblestone path to the front door.

  The doorbell had a weathered note tacked below it. Willy could hardly read the faded ink, but it seemed to say, ‘Bell not working. Please knock.’

  He knocked.

  ‘Who’s there?’ called an old voice from inside.

  ‘Bill Smith. We haven’t met, but I live down the block. I was passing by, and happened to notice your beautiful azaleas.’

  The door opened.

  He knew it would.

  ‘Mr Smith?' The short, smiling woman offered her hand. ‘I’m Hedda Dunning.’

  Willy took her hand, gripped it tightly, and threw his forearm against her chest. He shoved her backward into the house and followed her, clutching her wrist. He shut the door.

  ‘Young man! What’re you…?’ She squealed when he twisted her arm. It was an old arm, bony and brown. Willy wondered if he was strong enough to break it off.

  Probably.

  Sobbing, Hedda blurted, ‘Leave me alone! Don’t hurt me!’

  He grinned and took off his sunglasses.

  The old woman’s weeping eyes narrowed. ‘I know you,’ she said. ‘You’re that William Johnson who molested…’

 
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