WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT!
WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT!
Kathy flew into the café as if her legs were rockets. Her greying light brown hair flailing in every direction as she fumbled with getting her scarf and coat off. Her hazel eyes hurriedly darting to the back table where a group of ladies were seated. A large brunette woman stood up from the table and used her hands to halt the lady in a leather jacket speaking at the front of the table. That was Kate, the de-facto leader of the group. A former NASA scientist and gadget gal, she was as plump as she was tall and loved it.
“Kathy, what happened? Are you okay?”
Despite her energetic entrance Kathy looked completely wiped out. She just began shaking her head and fell to receive the support of her lifelong friend. “I…………am…………..just………….lost.” Kathy sobbed on her friend’s shoulder for a few moments, wiped her face with the Kleenex from her pocket and turned to face the group all gazing at the scene with varied levels of care and concern.
“You know if it is that bad, I can always Irish up your latte.” Carol the blonde former stripper, trophy wife of a banker called to Kathy as Kate brought her to their meeting area, as she revealed a large bottle of vodka in her purse.
“Carol, that’s inappropriate and not an answer.” Judy an older lady with a tall black wig and vintage cat eye style frames with jeweled accents at the corner gawked at Carol over them as she winked at her friend to show she was teasing her and lighten some of the tension that had filled the room since Kathy had arrived.
“Sometimes in life you just gotta take a swig cause it is that baaad.” Betty, the groups only octogenarian, smiling as she grabbed Carol’s bottle out of her hand, opened it, took a swig and passed it down.
Lynn, Betty’s oldest daughter and high-power business attorney, took her mother up on her unorthodox offer “I concur.” She said as she wiped the alcohol from her lips on the sleeve of her suit jacket. The bottle made its way around the table in the back of the trendy little café. “C’mon Kathy, you’re amongst friends. No judgement zone.”
“They acquitted him!” Kathy howled as she took her fourth swig of vodka.
“Told ya ladies it was baaad!” Betty reached for the bottle from Kathy. “We are going to need clear heads for what comes next.” The frail old woman moved slowly towards the head of the table, inviting the ladies to all move in as close as they could. “We all know what Tommy did. We all know the who, what, where and why of all this. Kathy and her family have suffered enough. We must be very careful and watch what we all say and do. This man, strike that, downgrade, fucking pedo, deserves nothing more or less than a bullet to the brain. Your grandson will suffer all of his life for what that fucker did. We have an obligation to society to see that there are no more victims.” Her bony hand shook wildly as she spoke.
“I am not comfortable with violence.” Cami, a 28-year-old single mom of three children.
“I’m not sure if I’m comfortable or not.” Rainn, the thirty-something stay-at-home mom of the group, tugged at her soft mahogany brown braids as she quietly agreed with her friend Cami. Cami introduced her to the group just a few months ago and she had fast become a regular attendee.
“I don’t see how violence would be necessary.” Lynn leaned in to the table even further. “We have such a vast network. We can get rid of this creep and no one will ever suspect a thing. Besides, since when have we ever needed to be violent?”
Kate stepped back from the table and dropped a glass on the café’s brick floor. It’s crashing to the floor, stopped the ladies in their conversations. The desired effect. “Ladies! Ladies! Ladies! Time and place! Time and place!” For most it would appear that she was reminding her friends that this was not the time or place to talk about these things but for a member to this club it was a call to their motto. “For things to go right, you must create the right time and the right place for them to happen.” The ladies used this phrase as a call to action. A call for all members to participate in the facilitation of a sister’s needs or goals. They used it almost as their exclusive battle cry.
Instantly, laptops and smart phones came out. The serious work was about to begin along with the ending of the pedophiles existence.
The next few weeks were very busy for the ladies’ club. They made all the arrangements and had scheduled Tommy’s procedure for this evening.
“No, Tommy, you know your money’s no good here.” A large Italian woman took a small cannoli from the case behind the counter and handed it to the middle-aged man in front of her.
“Ah, thanks, Louisa. I’ve always loved this place. You and your family have always been a safe haven for me since all that mess my sister created.”
“I know. Sometimes family is the one that screws you over the worst.” She stepped out from behind the counter to give Tommy a hug and place a tiny transmitter in his pocket. “It’s a shame your sister cut you off like she did. So cruel and hateful.” Her large fingers struggled to slip the tiny chip into his coat pocket as Tommy pulled her into him much tighter than usual. “I know it has been hard.” She placed the chip and quickly moved her hand up his back patting to fake sympathy towards him.
Tommy made his way out the door to the busy city street to catch a cab home from his favorite eatery. He was looking forward to a quiet evening at home trolling for new children. That was not on the circle’s schedule for tonight.
A dark SUV pulled up next to Tommy, the driver gets out and opens the passenger door for Tommy. Tommy stands there on the sidewalk just staring at the driver. The cannoli wrapper with one bite of cannoli left in it just falls to the ground as Tommy begins to swoon. A woman’s voice calls from the front passenger seat. “Don’t let him pass out and hit his head. We need to be careful with him. And don’t leave anything behind for evidence.” It was Lynn. Her long red fingernails accentuated her direction to the driver. He quickly swooped Tommy up, grabbed the small piece of cannoli with its wrapper and placed both in the backseat of the SUV.
“Authorities are asking that citizens avoid the area of 86 just at the bluffs. A deadly single vehicle accident has that section of highway blocked off until after the investigation is complete. The family of Tommy Steven McCormick have confirmed that he is the single fatality being investigated at this time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the McCormick family at this time.”
The room was spinning. His ears were ringing. As Tommy was becoming more aware of his surroundings he could hear the news report repeating itself over, and over again, as if it were on a loop. Was he dead? How could that be? He didn’t remember driving. He barely remembered eating at Mario’s. He began opening his eyes. He was in what appeared to be a hospital room. He was hooked up to all manner of medical equipment. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t. No matter how hard he tried to will himself to move he could not.
The sound of heels walking in the corridor startled Tommy to reality. It was Carol. She had a white lab coat on over her red polo shirt and skin-tight jeans. She loved moments like these. She was about to give Mr. Molester the truth about his behavior and exactly what it had earned him. She walked into the room with fire and light in her blue eyes. She saw all of her abusers strapped to the hospital bed before her and was going to have a good time putting this pedophile in his place.
“I see they have brought you around enough for me to explain the situation that you are in.” she walked up to the side of his bed. “Tommy, you are a perpetrator. You have been engaged in some very, very, bad stuff.” She shifted the tone of her voice from high, light and friendly, to a lower, more frightening and tense voice. “That is going to stop. We are going to do that for you. For all of the ones that aren’t capable of protecting themselves from you. I only support the death penalty under one instance and that is pedophilia. Unfortunately, we live in a world that makes it easy for your type. Well, you are in our world, now.”
“Please, no, don’t kill me!” Tommy tried to scream but all that came out were breathy huffs. This is it. He was dead. The news footage that keeps repeating on the television in front of the bed. He was a dead man. The news said so. He didn’t know the crazy bitch in front of him but he was terrified. He could feel his lungs fighting for oxygen. He felt his arms and legs strapped to boards. He felt his hands strapped to a weird apparatus.
Carol patted his dark greying chestnut brown hair. “Oh, how adorable. You must be thinking we are going to kill you. Did you know that is what your victims felt like? Did you know that you gave them a fate worse than death? I know. What could be worse than death, right? Well, we have some time before your procedure to explain it to you.” Her voice lightened up again. “When you are a child you don’t know the things that you don’t know. That is when people like you come in and set us up for a life of victimization. When you touch a child you set their course without their consent. I spent 5 years as a sex worker because of my molestation. Many of my friends never made it out alive.”
Kate came waddling into the room as Carol spoke. She began fumbling with an electronic device that Tommy could not tell what it was for. His fear was beginning to take hold of him. His teeth began to chatter involuntarily as he felt an electric current flood through his body. The smell of burning flesh filled the room.
“That was your fingerprints. We have already removed your teeth and tongue. It’s kind of a requirement for the next segment of your life. You see Tommy we have selected the best life opportunity for someone like you. The proceeds from your sale on the black-market sex industry will go to fund the lives of your victims and their families. You will be working the brothels in Southeast Asia or wherever your new owners will take you. Once you have been delivered, our hands are clean. Enjoy your new life.”
All he could see were her thick lips covered in bright red lipstick as his world faded to black.
Celeste awoke in a pool of sweat and desperation. She just couldn’t get normal. She scrambled through her purse maybe she had a bump or something. She could feel her skin crawl and her stomach wretch. She needed something, anything. She looked through Paige’s medicine cabinet for an end to her suffering. Her heart was heavy with shame and guilt. Celeste’s hands shook, more than she had ever experienced before. Sweat poured from every pore on her body like a faucet on full blast.
“I can’t do this anymore! I’m nothing more than a worthless abomination.” She fell to the floor and began to wretch. Her entire body racked with pain and twisting into a physical representation of her emotional turmoil. “This is intolerable, I can’t . . .” her thoughts interrupted by the volatile force of her stomach muscles twisting inside her body, pushing up through her chest, adding the esophagus to the chain of torture she was enduring. Each spasm more forceful than the last evoking nothing until culminating in a burst of laughter and tears.
Her red satin negligée was growing increasingly tight and uncomfortable. It was full of sweat, tears, stomach acid and urine. Celeste was becoming increasingly aware of her odor. She grasped the bowl of the toilet and pulled herself to stand at the sink. She ripped at her nightie and pulled it off of her sweat soaked, trembling body. She regarded her reflection as it morphed into her mother.
“You’re nothing but a no good piece of shit! Look at you! You’re nothing! Big ungodly, unadulterated abomination. Look at you! I swear I should’ve aborted you! God didn’t have a thing to do with creating you! Dumb fucking god damned slut!” Her mother screamed at her from the mirror. “I know what you are! You couldn’t hide it from me or God! Soon everyone will know you are a fucking queer ass slut! Everyone! Everyone! Everyone . . .”
Her mother’s voice ringing in her ears as she stumbled from the bathroom to the living room. She had to have something in her purse that could bring this to an end. Even a small X pill might bring her some relief. Anything, something, whatever she could find. There had to be something that could get her out of this hellish moment in time for her. Her desperation made every second feel like an infinite dark hole and it made it terribly difficult to search through the disaster that was her purse. Tired of searching without relief, she flung the bag to the floor and with a clang the solution presented itself in the form of a shiny metal 22 caliber handgun.
Celeste finally saw her liberation shining brightly on the floor. She took in a deep breath, and picked up the gun. Her tremors ceased and lucidity resided with her for the first time in her life. She walked over to the counter in the kitchen, took the legal pad and pen next to Paige’s answering machine and began to write.
Uncy and Aunty,
I’m sure that this all matters so little now but I need to live. I can’t be a slave to your idea of me. I gotta remove myself from this small, meek, redneck bullshit. Your place was a refuge for me. No doubt but that refuge became a prison. You know how you wonder about people who have been in your life when they aren’t there anymore. I know that you were the only ones that would wonder for me. Now, I don’t have that. The only time the rest think of me is when they think I’m off of my meds. I’m not syrupy sweet like Penny & Anne. They were your children. I’m a flame adopted by a family of logs. I know you did your all for me despite the fact I’m not what you believe I am. I hate teaching. The kids are ungrateful, smelly, fucking avatars of their parents. I can’t do that shit. I hate church because I’m a broken abomination according to your “good book.” I hate the zombie pills. They zap the flavor from my life. I want to live God damn it! Your expectations of me don’t exist. It is killing me to disappoint you, but you’re gone now. I’m gone, too.
See you in the funny papers.
She watched as her tears mutated her words into explosions of bright bluish green fireworks on the yellow paper. She placed the pen on top of her final words and delicately kissed the barrel of the small handgun Todd had given her for protection. With one deep breath she squeezed the trigger, adding small pieces of herself to the mosaic of colorful fireworks on the pad.
Little Eddie was quickly going through the kitchen looking for some nuts, cereal, stale chips but wasn’t finding anything. Eddie at eleven expected as much. Since his mom had left them, Eddie’s dad was having a hard time knowing that a grocery list needed to be more than just beer and whiskey. Eddie just figured it would take his dad a long time to learn it. Eddie always took longer to learn new things than anyone else. He didn’t have a lot of friends because he was so slow at learning things. He just thought that his dad would take a long time learning to do mommy things.
Eddie missed his mother. She was so pretty and kind. She was very kind to her boy Eddie. She would always make sure to pick up bird seed for Eddie to feed to the crows. “I got snacks for you and your raven haired friends,” she would call as she was coming up from the drive with groceries.
Eddie tugged on his sleeves and pulled the ends to fit neatly between each finger. He always did this when he got nervous. He knew his dad would scream at him for stretching out the sleeves. It was 3:30 in the afternoon. He knew he had an hour and a half before his dad got home from work. He was starting to get a little frantic. He could feel sweat starting to dampen the space between his chest and his shirt.
He looked up past the kitchen toward the living room. He could see an opened, mostly empty beer bottle laying near his dad’s easy chair. Then his face brightened. He could feel his heart jump with joy at his discovery. It wasn’t the best thing to feed his friends but it was something. Eddie never wanted to see his dark, little friends go hungry. They brought such lovely gifts for him. He always made sure that they got food and water.
He ambled into the living room and furiously began gathering pieces of broken potato chips off the floor to deposit back into the bag in order to feed his friends. His favorite time of day was this time. It didn’t matter what the weather was. Eddie lived for this moment. They really were his only friends, now that his mom had left. He got more excited as he filled the chip bag back up.
He was so excited that he stumbled on his feet as he was getting up. That didn’t stop him. He ran through the kitchen and out the sliding glass door to the backyard. He was out on the porch before he knew it. His friends were beginning to gather. Their tiny gifts in either their claws or beaks, depending on the size and weight of each surprise for Eddie.
Eddie wouldn’t accept the gifts until after he had provided his guests with fresh water and something to eat. He was very orderly about how things went in this tiny urban backyard. The trees were saying goodbye to winter with tiny green buds peeking out the edge of branches. The weeds were just beginning to emerge in sporadic clumps about the dry, dirt landscape. The circle of bird droppings on the ground near the old, rustic, broken down wooden table Eddie used to put the food and water bowls for the birds on, reflected the light and warmth coming from the sun.
Eddie giggled as the crows began to touch down next to the bowl. The biggest of the group and Eddie’s favorite was the one Eddie called Iron Man. His favorite super hero. The extraordinarily large example of crow that Eddie called Iron Man was indeed formidable. He was just a tiny little juvenile a year ago. Eddie delighted in his transformation from bottom of the barrel to top of the heap. Eddie used to feed him first because he was so small. Now, Iron Man ate first because he fought for it. He used his beak and wings to beat back any challengers as he stretched forward to accept Eddie’s offering. The mashed up bits of chips did not go as far as he had wanted it. They only reached the middle of the small plastic dog bowl he found in the alley by his school. The chips were gone just as Eddie finished filling their water.
Eddie heard his dad’s car pull into the drive and he began to panic. He began to panic because his dad hated the crows. Eddie wasn’t allowed to use daddy’s words for the crows. He wouldn’t anyway because they were mean, hurtful words.
He was frozen with fear when he saw the silhouette of his father with a shotgun in the sliding glass door. His heart began to beat hard and fast against his chest. “No! Daddy, they’re my friends”
Before Eddie could speak another word a shot rang out. “Get outta here! Fucking birds! Go on, get! Filthy fucking vermin!” Feathers and the bodies of two of Eddie’s crow friends hit the ground with a thump. His father stumbling down the porch steps, running fiercely towards Eddie.
Iron Man quickly swooped down towards Eddie’s father and scratched his face with his claw. Eddie’s father touched his face and looked down at the blood on his hand. It enraged him and he began to swing the shotgun wildly trying to get a shot off at the crow that attacked him. Iron Man didn’t flinch but came at Eddie’s father again. This time missing the face and getting a piece of his shirt in his talons.
Iron Man drew blood once again. The other crows, sensing the tide turning began to follow the lead of the biggest crow and surrounded Eddie’s dad in a cloak of black feathers. Eddie could hear his father’s screams as he attempted to fight off the birds. Eddie just stood there frozen in fear and delight. He delighted at the idea of such small creatures being able to take on such a large and mean man. He was afraid his friends might turn on him but he was stuck in place. Even if he had wanted his dad to be saved from the birds’ attack, he was unable to move.
Eddie could hear his father‘s voice weaken as the crows kept up their attack. His father’s screams turned to pleas, then turned to grunts to breaths to nothing as the crows flew up off of the pile. Eddie’s father lay there on the dirty ground in a heap of blood and guts.
Iron Man flew gently to Eddie and laid his dad’s eyeball on the table in front of him. Iron Man then came to rest on his friend Eddie’s shoulder.