Fiends ssc, p.8
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       Fiends SSC, p.8
 

           Richard Laymon

  Willy laughed.

  Marty said nothing. She sat motionless, arms folded across her chest, and wondered if Willy had raped her while she’d been passed out.

  No, she didn’t think so.

  ‘Real class, huh?’ he asked.

  ‘What?’

  ‘The car. Real class. Air-conditioning, the works.’

  ‘How long was I out?’

  ‘Who knows? I didn’t time you. Did you see the way I capped those motherfuckers?’

  ‘I saw enough.’

  ‘What a kick.’

  She closed her eyes and rubbed her face with both hands.

  ‘Too bad you weren’t awake when I moved your Danny boy.’

  ‘Convenient,’ she muttered into her hands.

  ‘Huh?’

  ‘I just happened to be unconscious when you changed cars.’

  He laughed. ‘Not my fault you faint at the sight of a little blood. What, you worried I didn’t put Danny boy in our trunk?’

  ‘I don’t think he was ever in any trunk.’

  ‘Think whatever you want. He’s in the trunk.’

  ‘Then stop and show me.’

  ‘Get fucked.’

  ‘You killed him, didn’t you?’

  ‘If you say so. See if those bozos got any maps in the glove compartment, huh? I’ll show you where we’re going.’

  ‘I don’t care.’

  ‘Sure you do.’ He punched her in the arm. ‘Open it.’

  She opened the glove compartment.

  ‘What’s in there?’

  ‘Some maps, gas receipts, Kleenex.’

  And a fifth of Kentucky bourbon that she decided not to mention.

  ‘What about a Wisconsin map?’

  She pulled out the stack of maps, found the Wisconsin map and put the others away.

  ‘Open it up.’

  She spread the map open.

  ‘Okay. See a town called Marshall up to the left?’

  ‘I can’t see anything.’

  Willy turned on the ceiling light. It cast a dim yellow glow onto the map.

  ‘Look near the top. A couple of inches from the top. Marshall.’

  ‘I don’t see any Marshall. There’s a Gribsby here.’

  ‘Down the road from Gribsby.’

  ‘Mawkeetaw?’

  ‘Down a bit more. Marshall. See it?’

  ‘Yeah.’

  ‘Okay. Now, there’s a lake over a bit to the right.’

  ‘Cricket?’

  ‘That’s her. See a little blue dot beside Cricket?’

  ‘No.’

  ‘A little tiny dot. A speck.’

  ‘I don’t see anything there.’

  ‘Well, some maps show it, some don’t. Anyhow, that’s where we’re heading. For the speck.’ He turned off the overhead light. ‘A real nice little lake. More like a pond. And you know the nice thing about it? Nobody ever goes there. Not a single motherfucking soul.’

  ‘Why not?’ Marty tongued her chipped tooth.

  ‘Fishing stinks. You can’t ski ’cause there ain’t enough room. And it’s harder than hell to find. There’s only one way in. You gotta take this shitty little dirt road that’s so fucked up you can hardly drive on it. Won’t be easy to find at night.’

  ‘Am I supposed to be your navigator?’

  ‘Yep. But we still got a ways to go. You can put it away for a while.’ She folded the map, but did it wrong.

  ‘Nobody ever teach you how to fold a map?’ Willy asked.

  ‘My education has been sadly neglected.’

  He laughed. ‘Bet you learned a thing or two tonight.’

  She dropped the map to the floor, and turned her face to the window. In her mind, she saw the shirtless man get knocked off his feet, a hole between his nipples.

  ‘Yeah,’ she muttered. ‘I learned a thing or two.’

  Suddenly, her stomach twisted.

  He’s a murderer.

  It changed things.

  Before, she had been a victim for Willy to kidnap and rape and brutalize any way he wanted. Bad enough.

  Plenty bad enough.

  But now, she was a witness to two murders.

  He has to kill me.

  I’ve gotta get out of here!

  What about Dan? If he’s alive in the trunk…

  I have to save him.

  She took a deep, shaking breath, and said, ‘Thirsty?’

  ‘Huh?’

  She opened the glove compartment and took out the heavy glass bottle of bourbon.

  ‘Holy shit! Good deal!’

  Marty unscrewed the plastic cap, tilted the bottle to her mouth and took two quick swallows.

  ‘Save some for the fishies!’

  She handed the bottle to Willy.

  He drank. Then he said, ‘Good stuff.’

  ‘Sure is,’ Marty agreed. She smiled at him. The bourbon seemed to be burning out the bottom of her stomach.

  Willy offered the bottle.

  ‘Thanks,’ she said, taking it.

  ‘Just don’t make a pig outa yourself.’

  She tilted the bottle up.

  The bourbon splashed against her tight lips. None got into her mouth. She lowered the bottle, wiped her lips dry, and handed it back to Willy.

  ‘Why don’t we listen to some music?’ she suggested, and reached for the radio.

  The bottle knocked her hand away. ‘I don’t like music.’

  ‘It’d be nice and relaxing.’

  ‘We can relax at the cabin,’ he said, and took a swallow. ‘Just a couple more hours.’

  ‘Can’t we listen to music?’

  ‘Music sucks.’

  ‘Then is it okay if I take a nap?’

  ‘Sure thing. Wanta take off your clothes again?’

  ‘No.’

  He laughed.

  Marty made a show of stretching and yawning. Then she leaned against the passenger door and lifted her legs onto the seat. She wiggled as if trying to find a more comfortable position, and let her bare feet slip out from under her. They touched Willy’s hip. ‘Nother drink?’ he asked.

  ‘Sure.’ She stretched out her arm, pressing her feet harder against him. She pretended to take a swig.

  ‘Have more.’

  She pretended to swig again. Then she handed the bottle back to Willy, and sighed loudly.

  ‘Lucky for you my hands are full,’ Willy told her.

  Grinning, he took a drink.

  Marty curled her toes against the side of his leg. She bent toward him. He gave her the bottle. While she lifted it to her mouth, Willy’s

  free hand caressed her legs. She lowered her feet to the floor and scooted a little closer to him. His hand moved up her thigh, but she set down the bottle in its way. Laughing, he took hold of the bottle and picked it up. ‘What’ll you do when it’s empty?’ he asked.

  ‘I just don’t know,’ she said.

  ‘You’ll get fucked, that’s what.’

  ‘Oh, yeah?’ She started to move away from him.

  He planted the bottle between his legs and threw an arm across her shoulders, stopping her. She relaxed against him. He lifted his arm off her, retrieved the bottle and drank several large swallows.

  He clamped the bottle between his thighs again, and returned his arm to her shoulders.

  ‘Let me.’ She reached over and plucked out the bottle. When she raised it to her mouth, Willy’s arm pushed downward between her back and the seat. She leaned forward, sipping. His hand went under her jersey.

  Marty didn’t resist.

  She drank, instead.

  His hand moved slowly up her side. It was warm and dry. The fingers were long. They caressed her skin as they roamed higher.

  Marty took a big swallow of bourbon when the hand found her breast.

  It tickled, it massaged, it squeezed.

  Lowering the bottle, Marty clutched his hand and pressed it harder against her breast. She moaned. Clamping the bottle between her legs to free her other hand, she grabbed Will
y’s thigh.

  ‘Go for it, honey,’ he said.

  Marty squeezed his thigh until it must’ve hurt. Groaning, Willy dug his teeth into her shoulder. The car swerved. His groaning changed to a gasp of alarm. The hand under Marty’s jersey went still as he focused on steering.

  When the car straightened out, he laughed and yelled, ‘Yeah!’ and gave her breast a tweak.

  Marty flinched and grabbed his wrist. ‘Quit it, now,’ she said.

  ‘Yeah?’

  ‘Yeah. I’ve been through a hell of a lot with you, Willy. I’ll probably go through lots more. But not, if I can help it, a windshield.’

  ‘Maybe I’d better pull over, huh?’

  ‘Maybe so,’ Marty said.

  But he didn’t.

  27

  Roger stroked the length of Tina’s back, and kissed her shoulder. Still she continued to cry. He started to ask her what was wrong, but stopped himself. He was tired of asking, and tired of being answered with speechless sobs.

  ‘I wish you’d stop that,’ he finally said. ‘I hate it when a woman cries. Is it something I did?’

  A muffled ‘No’ came from under the pillow.

  ‘Something I didn’t do or say?’

  ‘It isn’t you.’

  ‘Well, that’s nice to know. I wish you’d told me that half an hour ago.’ He pulled the pillow off her head. She looked up at him. Hair hung in her eyes. She pushed the hair away, and her eyes were red.

  ‘What is it?’ Roger asked. ‘I mean, you don’t have to tell me, but maybe I can help. You never know. I’ll help you if I can.’

  ‘Thanks,’Tina said.

  ‘Do you want to talk about it?’

  ‘I don’t know.’

  ‘You might feel better if you talk about it. That's what they always say, anyway. I don’t know how true it is.’

  She sniffed and said nothing.

  ‘Is it a guy?’

  She nodded.

  ‘What did he do? Did he hurt you?’

  She rolled onto her back and looked at the ceiling. ‘I found him with… making love with somebody. Right in the store. Right behind the counter. He was going to marry me.’ A tear trickled from the corner of her eye, down her temple and into her ear. With a fingertip, she rubbed it out of her ear. She wiped her eyes.

  ‘Who was the girl?’

  ‘I don’t know. Someone from Camp Wahtooki. It’s a summer camp down the road from town. A girl’s camp. She was maybe a counselor, or something. She had one of those camp station wagons, so I guess she must be a counselor. The bitch.’

  ‘Do you think the guy is serious about her?’

  ‘It looked serious to me. Brad was screwing her.’

  ‘I mean, have they been seeing each other?’

  ‘I don’t know. How should I know? He’s with me nearly all the time when he’s not working. Maybe she visits him at the bait shop every day. I don’t know, I just walked in on him. It was like one of those dumb things that happens on TV. But, hell, you know, I drop in on him all the time and… I’ve never caught him doing that before.

  ‘Did you talk to him about it?’

  ‘Are you kidding?’

  ‘No. Maybe it was completely innocent.’

  ‘How could it be innocent? He was humping the bitch.’

  ‘What I mean is, maybe it didn’t mean anything.’

  ‘It means plenty when you get down on the floor and stick your weenie in a woman. Doesn’t it?’

  ‘Usually,’ Roger admitted. ‘But the thing is, any normal guy is going to do it to a good-looking gal if the opportunity presents itself. Especially if he’s not married. Even if he is, maybe, depending on the guy.’

  ‘God, that’s nice.’

  ‘It can be nothing more than a physical thing. There doesn’t always have to be a big emotional involvement.’

  ‘We were going to get married!’

  ‘So?’ Roger said.

  She glared at him.

  ‘I’m not claiming it’s right. I’m only saying it sometimes will happen, and maybe the guy really does love you and just got… involved, carried away. It happens. It almost happened to me. Several times.’

  ‘Almost?’

  ‘I guess the Boy Scout in me won out against the lech. I was married then. Somehow, I always managed to resist the temptations. It wasn’t easy. Some of those gals… Now I sometimes wish I’d gone ahead. Faithful, boring Roger should’ve put it to every babe in sight. If I’d known what my dear wife was up to, I would’ve had myself a field day.’

  ‘She was playing around?’

  Roger couldn’t answer. He lay on his back and rubbed his face. It made him feel weary and sick to remember. Finally, he said, ‘I wanted to kill her when I found out.’

  ‘I wanted to kill myself,' Tina said.

  ‘Instead, we both ran away.’

  ‘Yep.’

  ‘That’s because we have high moral character.’

  ‘Is that why?' Tina asked, and smiled.

  ‘But of course. What’d you say the guy’s name is? The guy that cheated on you?’

  ‘Brad.’

  ‘Tell you what, why don’t you give him a call?’

  ‘I can’t do that.’

  ‘Sure you can. I told you that I’d help, didn’t I? Well, this is my help. Advice based on years of wisdom. Phone Brad. Give him a chance. Give yourself a chance. Just call and see what happens.’

  ‘I don’t know.’

  ‘Go ahead. The phone’s right there beside you.’

  ‘I can’t just call him.’

  ‘Sure you can.’

  She shook her head.

  ‘Go on. You want to. I know you want to.’

  ‘I guess so, but…’

  ‘Then do it.’

  ‘Well...'

  ‘I’ll go into the bathroom if you don’t want me to listen.’

  ‘No, stay.’ She rolled onto her side, facing away from Roger.

  He put his hand on her bare shoulder.

  She swung her feet off the bed and sat up. Leaning forward, she reached to the telephone and lifted its handset.

  ‘Do you know his number?’ Roger asked.

  She nodded.

  ‘Probably press nine for an outside line, then do the area code and number. That’s how these things usually work.’

  ‘Should I reverse the charges?’

  ‘This is on me.’ He put his hand on her shoulder again. He could feel her trembling. ‘Just go ahead,’ he told her.

  She tapped in the numbers, and waited.

  They both waited.

  Then she said, ‘Hi, it’s me.’ Silence. Then, ‘I don’t know, somewhere down south. Near a place called Wayside, I think… I managed… Yes, I thumbed… I know how dangerous it is. So what? A lot you care…You know what I mean. I saw you with her. Behind the counter…Yes, that.’

  There was a long silence. As she listened to the phone, Tina began to cry softly. Roger kissed the back of her shoulder.

  ‘I don’t know,’ she said into the phone. ‘It hurt, Brad. It really hurt… I love you, too… Sure, I do…You don’t have to do that. Just go to bed and I’ll see you in the morning… The same way I got here… No, don’t. I’m starting back now, so if you drive down we’ll probably miss each other…Yes, I’ll be careful. Could you give my parents a call and tell them I’m okay?… I love you, too.’

  She hung up. Then she eased down onto her back, reached up and curled a hand behind Roger’s neck. She drew his head down and kissed him on the mouth. ‘Thank you,’ she said.

  ‘My pleasure.’

  Then she got off the bed and picked up her paisley dress.

  ‘What are you doing?’ Roger asked.

  ‘I’m going back to Brad.’

  ‘Now?’

  ‘Yup.’

  ‘Why wouldn’t you let him pick you up?’

  She pulled the shiny dress over her head, saying, ‘I can’t let him see me like this.’

  ‘Like what?’

&nb
sp; ‘I’m a mess. My dress is torn.’

  ‘How do you plan to get home?’

  ‘Hitch a ride.’

  ‘At this hour?’

  ‘I’ll manage.’ She buttoned the front of her dress.

  ‘It’s too dangerous. Let me drive you.’

  ‘Nah. I’ll be fine. It’d be all out of your way, and…’

  ‘I don’t mind.’

  ‘Thanks, but… nah. I’m going back to my guy, you know? Wouldn’t be right, you taking me. Not after what we did.’

  ‘But it’s the middle of the night.’

  ‘I can take care of myself.’

  ‘Why don’t you at least stay here till morning? Maybe we can find somebody in the coffee shop. Somebody nice and reliable to give you a lift home. Preferably of the female persuasion.’

  ‘I can’t wait that long.’ Done with the dress, she stepped over to Roger. ‘Thanks so much for everything. You’ve been great, really great.’ She bent over and kissed him.

  He didn’t let himself enjoy the soft touch of her lips or the warmth of her body. In minutes, she would be gone. He would probably never see her again. It was better, now, to let himself get no closer to her. ‘I hope everything works out,’ he said.

  ‘Thanks.’

  ‘You really ought to wait for morning.’

  ‘I know, but I can’t.’

  ‘It won’t be safe out there. Everybody in the world isn’t… there are lots of nuts out there.’

  ‘Fiends, too,' Tina said. She smiled gently and pushed her fingers through his hair. ‘I’ll always remember you, Roger.’

  ‘I’ll remember you, too. Sure will.’

  ‘You go to sleep, now.’

  ***

  After watching her leave, he rolled to her side of the bed, reached up and turned off the lamp. Then he lay back. He stared for a long time into the darkness, wondering about what he’d just lost.

  28

  Willy took a long pull at the bourbon and gave the bottle to Marty.

  She pretended to drink while Willy drew his fingernails up the inner side of her thigh. The nails made her squirm with a sickish, hurting tingle. Then his hand pressed between her legs and rubbed her through the soft cloth of the shorts.

  The headlights caught a road sign. Willy’s hand stopped moving and he read aloud, ‘Wayside. Pop, a thousand ’n twenty-two. Issa biggy.’

  There were a few homes scattered along the roadsides, most of them dark at the windows as if abandoned to the night. At the edge of town, the Dairy Queen was open and crowded.

 
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