Disclaimer: These characters belong solely to me. Any resemblance to anyone real or fictional is entirely coincidental.
Sex, Drugs, and Violence: There’s a lot of swearing, some very graphic violence, allusions to a rape, and some serious angst. You didn’t actually think this chapter would be happy did you?
Thank you to my lovely and talented betas: Nutty and Elsieaustin whose advice and suggestions are invaluable.
The goose that laid the golden egg, a lifetime supply of Cadbury cream eggs, a genuine New York egg cream: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Last Good Day
by Amy Boatman
The barrel of Charles' gun filled my vision. I could hear Bailey crying off to my left, but all I could see was the gun. I could smell the dead woman's blood, hot and coppery, but all I could see was the gun. I imagined what the bullet would look like exiting the chamber. I would see a flash followed by the acrid smell of gun powder. Would I have time to see those things before the bullet took off part of my head? Would I feel the pain as the metal tore through flesh and bone, or would I already be dead? I always knew the time would come for me to pay for the things I had done. I never imagined it would be like this. I thought I would someday overdose and just not wake up. I would fly off into the ether and never come back.
Suddenly, my vision cleared as Charles lowered the gun. He continued to hold me with his eyes. I was terrified by what I saw in the brown depths. His eyes may have well been attached to a wax dummy or a stuffed deer. I imagined someone filing through a box of brown orbs finally deciding on the right pair for the lifeless face. There was no soul in his body. I saw no compassion, no humanity, no fear. He would kill me with the same ease as he would an ant.
He turned his head towards Bailey and Rufus. I allowed my eyes to follow his. Bailey had successfully gotten out from under Rufus and was now sitting on the floor, her back against the wall. She cradled Rufus’ head in her lap. Tears were running down her face as she rocked him. He coughed; it was wet and deep. Red droplets appeared on Bailey's shirt. He was still alive!
Charles turned back to me. "Get over there with them." He pointed with the gun.
I hurried over to Rufus and dropped down by his side. I quickly assessed his condition. He had a hole in his shirt about the size of a dime. Blood oozed from the hole, into his shirt, which was already soaked. Blood dripped from the saturated fabric onto the floor. His skin was deathly pale, and he was covered in sweat. His eyes had sunk back into his face, and they were filled with pain. “You’re gonna be alright, man. You just hang on.” I spoke into his ear. I kissed him on the forehead and touched his cheek.
“You! What’s your name?” Charles pointed his gun at Bailey.
She looked him in the eye, her body shaking from fear. “Bailey. My name is Bailey.” Her voice quivered and broke while she spoke, but she didn’t look away.
“Alright, Bailey. The first thing I want is for you to bring me both of their radios.”
“Their radios? Okay.” She looked at me hesitantly. I took mine off my belt and handed it to her. I had to roll Rufus over towards me a little to get his mic unhooked from his lapel. He groaned in pain.
“I’m sorry, man. Hang on.” I finally got his radio free and handed both to Bailey.
She stood and slowly walked over to Charles. She held the radios out to him, but he didn’t take them.
“Take out the batteries,” he ordered.
She turned to me, asking how to comply with her tear-filled eyes. I demonstrated how to get the batteries off. Once that was done, she turned back towards Charles, her arms again outstretched holding the empty radios.
He gestured towards the door. “Throw everything out the door.”
She began walking towards the entrance and then stopped. I could see the fear of turning her back on this man spread across her face.
“If you don’t do everything I tell you to, I will have no problem shooting you. It would be a shame because you are certainly a fine looking woman, but I will blow that pretty little head right off your shoulders. Do you understand?” The tone, or more accurately the lack thereof, in his voice gave truth to his words.
New tears began running down Bailey’s face as she turned away from Charles and opened the front door. She stepped out and quickly threw the radios into the front yard. She re-entered the room and slowly closed the door, then awaited further instructions from Charles
“Now, I want you to go to that closet over there,” he gestured towards the hall closet, “and grab that duffel bag.”
Her whole body continuing to shake, Bailey walked to the closet. As she walked past me, I looked into her eyes and tried to share some of my strength, such as it was, with her. Her eyes were so wide with terror that I could barely see the pupils. They were almost completely white and seemed to glow in the dim light of the hallway.
Bailey took a big, blue duffel bag out of the closet. By the strain it caused her to pick it up, I gathered it was quite heavy. She began walking back towards him.
“No. Stop right there. Inside, you’ll find some rope. I want you to tie up… Jordan wasn’t it?” He looked questioningly at me. At my nod, he continued, “Tie up Jordan. I want it nice and tight too or I’ll just shoot her. Am I understood?”
His voice sent shivers down my spine. He spoke of killing us with absolutely no emotion. I was actually beginning to wonder why he hadn’t. If anyone had to die, I hoped it would be me. I didn’t think I could endure one more person being violently yanked from my life.
Bailey headed towards me, a look of terrified apology on her face.
“Wait.” I spoke up for the first time since the shooting. “I need to treat my partner. He’s gonna die unless you let me treat his wound.”
“You’re gonna die if you don’t lie your ass down on the ground and let this very attractive young thing tie you up. Am I understood?”
“Jordan, for once in your fucking life, do what someone tells you.” Rufus’ voice was barely more than a whisper. “I’ll be fine. Just do what he says.”
Tears streaming down my face, I leaned over and kissed him again. Then I lay down on the floor next to him. Bailey moved in behind me and began tying my wrists together.
The anger building in me was beginning to overcome my fear. “You know they’re gonna come looking for us when we don’t answer the radio,” I told him. “They know where we are, and our ambulance is parked right out front. You will get caught.”
I felt the rope bite into my wrist as Bailey pulled hard on it. “Shut the hell up, Jordan,” she whispered in my ear. “Just keep your shit together, and we might get out of this.”
The anger left me and the fear came crashing back in. I kept my mouth shut as Bailey finished tying my wrists and then my feet. She stood over me, surveying her work. Once she was satisfied the knots would hold, she turned back towards Charles.
He gestured towards Rufus, “Now him.”
“What the fuck for?” I yelled, thrashing around impotently. “He’s shot in the gut. What the fuck do you think he’s gonna be able to do? Bleed on you?” My last words had barely left my mouth when I felt a searing pain across the left side of my head. My vision wavered for a moment. When it cleared, I was again faced with the barrel of a gun. Charles leaned down and grabbed my face, forcing my mouth open.
He shoved the gun down my throat, causing me to gag. “If you speak one more time, just one more time, I will blow the back of your fucking head off. Is that clear?” Spittle showered my face as he spoke. His eyes were mere inches from mine, their former lifelessness now replaced by rage. He had gobs of blood drying to a dark red, almost black, on his face and neck. The gun tasted like the time I had swallowed a nickel. The smell of gun oil filled my nostrils, and I thought of my father. He had been obsessive about cleaning his guns.
The gagging turned into retching, and I knew I was going to throw up. Charles seemed to know it too, and removed his gun from my mouth. I vomited all over the carpet in front of me again and again until my stomach was empty. Each spasm sent a knife through my head from the blow I had taken. I felt a sharp pain in my side as he kicked me.
“Is that clear?” he shouted again.
“Yes,” I coughed. “Yes, it’s clear.” I tried to breathe into the pain but each inhalation was agonizing. I thought maybe I had some broken ribs. I rolled over and looked at Rufus who was now lying on his side as Bailey tied his hands. His eyes were filled with pain and resignation.
Once Bailey finished tying Rufus up, more loosely than she had tied me, she turned back to Charles. “Now what?” she asked.
“Now, it’s your turn.” He moved toward the bag and grabbed another coil of rope. Bailey started to lie down on the floor next to us. “No, not here. In there.” He gestured towards the bedroom. “We’re gonna have us a little fun until the cavalry arrives.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but Charles’ look froze my tongue. His eyes dripped hatred, and his face held a smug smile as if daring me to speak. I had no doubt he would follow through on his threat.
“Aw fuck it,” he said. I saw his foot heading towards my face and then everything went black.
I became aware of intense pain all over my body. I couldn’t find a single spot that didn’t hurt. My hands and feet were still tied. My shoulders were crying out from their awkward position. My chest, back, and abdomen sent sharp pains up my body every time I moved. My knees ached and felt swollen in my pants legs. My head hurt the worst of all. I moved my tongue in my mouth and found a hole where my front upper tooth had once been. My mouth was full of blood. I tried to spit it out, but my lips wouldn’t open. There was tape over them. I slowly opened my eyes, grateful for the dim lighting. We were still lying in a corner of the dining room. At first I thought I was blind in my right eye until I noticed it was swollen shut. The vision in my left eye was blurry, and all I could make out was a form lying on the floor next to me. As my vision began to clear, I saw Rufus laying there, his eyes closed and his face white. I grunted at him, but he didn’t respond. I looked at him carefully and saw his belly rise with a breath. Thank the gods, he was still alive!
I slowly rolled over, the pain causing me to stop every few inches. When I was in a position to see the rest of the room, I searched for Bailey. Neither she nor Charles was in sight. I closed my eye and listened. I could hear a sound coming from the hallway. It was faint, but I knew it was Bailey whimpering. I could also hear the unmistakable sound of a bed squeaking. Tears sprang to my eyes as I imagined what was happening to her.
I began flailing in rage trying to free myself. I yelled as loud as I could but all that came out was a muffled, barely audible grunting sound. My hands and feet were tied so securely, there was no way I was getting loose. Exhausted and in agony, I finally came to rest with my head on Rufus’ leg.
I lay there for awhile trying to catch my breath. My nose was clogged with blood and every breath hurt. I guessed my nose had been broken as well. I couldn’t stop the flow of tears running down the side of my face and into my ear. Oh Bailey! How could this be happening? I should never have brought you along. The whimpering in the bedroom grew to a cry, and I couldn’t block it out. I’m here, Bailey I wanted to tell her. I’m here, Baby. But I was left to cry and grunt in my impotent rage.
The squeaking in the bedroom reached a crescendo and then stopped. Bailey’s cries of pain were replaced with sobs. After a few seconds, I heard a loud rattling snore coming from the room, drowning out the sounds of Bailey’s pain.
I felt Rufus’ leg move under me. I slowly rolled over and raised my head so I could see his face. His eyes were open and radiated agony. Blood was pooled all around him, his clothing soaked through. His skin was pasty and so white it was almost translucent. His face looked as if it had collapsed in on itself. His cheeks were sucked into his mouth. His eyes were barely visible under the ridges of his brow. His lips were dry and cracked. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He weakly cleared his throat and licked his lips.
Finally, he was able to croak, “Jo, can you hear me?”
He hardly ever used his nickname for me. Nobody else in my whole life had ever called me Jo. I reserved that just for him. I nodded at him. I moved up until we were face to face. Tears momentarily obscured my vision. I blinked them away.
“Jo, I need you to tell Sara I love her. Okay? Can you do that?” He coughed, sending a spray of blood onto my face.
I wanted to tell him to hang on, that he’d be fine. I wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up with his doom and gloom. I wanted to tell him he could tell Sara himself. But we both knew it wasn’t true. I looked into his eyes, trying to convey everything I felt for him in just a look. He had been the big brother I had always wanted but never had. His family had welcomed me with open arms without really even knowing me. He had been the one constant in my life for the last six years. He’d been there when Sondra died and when Tricia had left me. I had never shared with him how important he was to me. I had never told him I loved him. And now I’d never be able to.
My tears were strangling me. Snot filled my bloody nostrils, and I couldn’t catch my breath. Rufus rolled over and gave me his shoulder. A sob escaped from me as I wiped my face on his shirt.
“Tell my sons how much I love them, okay? Don’t let them forget me. Make sure nothing happens to them, okay?” His voice broke as the tears flowed down his face. “God, I wanted to see them grow up.” He gave a deep, guttural cough, blood now flowing from his mouth. “Jo, I don’t want to die.” The tears streaming down his face mingled with the blood.
I reached up and placed my forehead on his. I rubbed my cheek against the cold, clammy skin. I tried to put all my love into the touch. I lay back down, allowing our foreheads to remain connected. I stared into his eyes, willing him to know he was not alone. He gave another deep cough and blood came flowing from his mouth in a wave. As I stared into his eyes, his pupils dilated until his hazel eyes were black. One last breath escaped him, and he was gone.
I stared at Rufus for a long time, hoping he would take another breath. He didn’t. His face sagged closer to the floor as if gravity got stronger without life to hold it at bay. I thought about what I would say to Sara and the boys. How do you explain something so random and pointless? I wondered why it hadn’t been me. I had no family and no real life to speak of. The only people in the world who cared about me were Rufus and Bailey.
I rolled away from his body onto my other side. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him any more. My chest felt like someone had stuck his hand into it and ripped out my heart. That scene from Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom where the priest tore out the man’s still beating heart flashed through my mind. I felt so helpless and so completely alone.
As I lay there sobbing and trying to breathe, I saw a shadow on the floor. Charles had come to finish me too. A bolt of terror shot through me, followed by relief. Maybe I wouldn’t have to take this pain much longer.
When I turned my body towards the shadow, I saw not Charles but a police officer’s face pressed against the window. Rufus and I were across from the window in the dining area, and the woman in the muumuu had been killed on the other side of the window in the living area. I wasn’t sure if the officer could see any of us, so I gritted my teeth and began rolling towards the window. I felt the sun on my skin before I saw it and knew I was now in view of the cop. My head made its final revolution. I saw the shocked look on the cop’s face.
His mouth moved slowly, and I made out the words, “Where is he?” I moved my eyes to the hallway and pointed with my head. When I turned back, the officer mouthed, “I’m getting help,” and then he was gone from my sight.
I sank back to the floor, my face buried in the filthy carpet, for what seemed like an eternity. I became afraid I had just imagined seeing him there. My brain was starting to feel fuzzy. I had no idea how long it had been since we had entered the house. It felt like five hours, but it was probably thirty minutes. How quickly things can change in a space of minutes.
I started crying again. The tears oozed from my eyes onto the carpet. I knew we were all going to die here in this trashy little duplex. I’d spent the last five years trying to kill myself. I didn’t have the guts to just do it, so I popped pills and injected dope in my veins hoping that one day I just wouldn’t wake up. I finally met who made me believe life is worth living, right before it was going to end. It just wasn’t fair. The universe had the most fucked up sense of humor ever.
My sobs faded away as I became too exhausted to sustain them. As I quieted, I heared noises outside. There were two sirens off in the distance, their mournful wailing growing closer and closer until it stopped. I heard several cars idling outside. Then I heard the snoring in the bedroom stop. The bed creaked once and footsteps approached from the hallway.
I looked up and saw Charles approaching me. He kicked me hard in the stomach as he passed by. I bent in half like a pill bug as new flashes of pain ran through me. Charles neared the window and cautiously peered out. He then pulled the cord and dropped the blinds, leaving the room in an eerie, dim twilight.
“Now the fun starts.” His voice sounded gleeful, and he giggled. He headed back down the hallway and returned a minute later pushing Bailey. He shoved her, and she fell down on the floor beside me.
My heart broke when I saw her. She was naked from the waist down. Her legs were untied, but she had red marks around her ankles. Dried blood was caked on her thighs and beneath it were several finger sized bruises. Her shirt and bra had been ripped open and left to hang off her shoulders exposing her breasts, which were also covered in bruises. Her chest and belly had several large bite marks, the edges red and raw. A few bites had even broken the skin leaving little squares of blood. Her wrists were tied in front of her, and the skin under the ropes was abraded and raw. The rope burns extended down her hands almost to her knuckles. I guessed her hands had been tied above her head. Her beautiful face had taken the brunt of the abuse. Her bottom lip was split. Along the middle was a bleeding gash. Her left cheekbone had a large, angry red bruise with swelling that extended from her ear to her nose and up around her left eye. The white part of her right eye was blood red. Her right cheek bore a bite mark that had completely penetrated the skin. Dried blood made an oval on the skin. I looked into her eyes and saw nothing but hopeless despair. She didn’t believe we would make it out of this alive either.
She glanced back at Rufus’ body and then at me, the question in her eyes. I shook my head as fresh tears came to my eyes. She mouthed, “I’m sorry,” and reached up to place her bound hands gently on my face.
Charles, who had been standing with an eye peering through the blinds, turned and saw Bailey touching me. He kicked at her hands viciously, and I heard a loud snap. Bailey drew in a gasping breath and then screamed. Two of her fingers hung at awkward angles, obviously broken. She pulled the injured hand into her abdomen and writhed in pain. Charles stomped to the bedroom and returned with the roll of duct tape. He ripped off a piece and stuck it over her mouth, silencing her cries.
At that moment, the phone rang. Charles looked at it but didn’t pick it up. Finally it stopped only to start again. The sound was jarring in the silent house. After the third series of rings, Charles picked up the receiver. He didn’t say a word.
After a few seconds, he said, “It don’t fuckin matter what my name is, and I don’t give a good goddamn what yours is either. Look, I don’t want nothing from you. I’m almost done here and then y’all can have the bodies.” With that, he hung up. He ripped the phone from the wall and threw it down the hallway.
He towered over me. From my position on the floor, all I could see was his lower legs. I just knew he was going to kick me again. Instead, he bent down, his knees popping loudly. He grabbed the tape covering my mouth and cruelly ripped it off.
The pain was excruciating. I was convinced all the skin from that part of my face still clung to the piece of tape. I started to cry out, but he stuck his face in mine and spoke in an ominously quiet voice. “Shut the fuck up. Our last deal still applies. If you speak a word without me telling you to, I will shoot you. You do believe me when I say that right?”
His breath was hot on my face, and it smelled as if something had crawled in his mouth and died. His body odor was overpowering, but underneath it was the faint smell of sex. “Yes,” I croaked. My throat was raw and sore. My voice was barely more than a whisper.
“Good. I’m glad you realize the stakes here. We are going to play a little game.” He sat down on the floor Indian style with Bailey and me on each side of him. He tapped her on the head with the gun. “While this one and I were…bonding, she told me about you two. Said y’all were lovers. I’m assuming y’all mean something to each other. So, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to ask you a question, and if I’m not satisfied with the answer, I’ll shoot her. You got that?”
I nodded and looked at Bailey. Her eyes were full of terror. Did she trust me with her life? Did I trust myself?
He caressed Bailey’s injured cheek with the gun and then turned back to me. “How old were you when you lost your virginity?”
I hesitated for a moment, the bizarre question catching me completely by surprise. He pointed the gun at Bailey’s head.
“Do not make me repeat myself.”
“I was seven,” I whispered. “Please don’t hurt her.” My tone was pleading.
“Whether or not I hurt her is totally up to you now.” He paused and ran his hand over Bailey’s breast. “Although it would be a shame to kill her. She has such fine tits. Has she told you how much she likes dick? She told me over and over again how much she enjoyed having my dick inside her. Oh yeah, she begged for more. You can’t give her that, can you?” He eyed me, waiting for an answer.
“No. No, I can’t.”
“Damn right, fucking dyke. I’ve never understood your type. Why would such a fine ass woman as this want to fuck someone without a dick? I just don’t get it. Don’t get it at all. So, you were seven huh? What’d you do, fuck the little retarded girl in your class?”
“No,” I said not wanting to go down this road. How much more degradation could this bastard cause?
“Come on. I need more of an answer than that. You wanna save your little girlfriend here, I want details.”
“My father fucked me, alright. He fucked me until I was 14.” Bile was rising in my throat. My stomach was empty, but I felt the dry heaves coming on. I took a few deep breaths, and the feeling subsided.
“Your father, huh? That explains everything. No wonder you’re a dyke. So, what happened when you were 14? You get too old for him? He only liked baby pussy?”
I felt the rage growing inside me. I tried to quell it, fearing for Bailey’s safety if it came out, but I just couldn’t. Years of anger boiled up from my stomach and came spewing from my mouth.
“I KILLED HIM, YOU DISGUSTING PIECE OF TRASH! I TOOK A FIREPLACE POKER AND HIT HIM IN THE HEAD OVER AND OVER UNTIL HIS SKULL BURST OPEN AND HIS BRAIN FELL OUT! I SMASHED HIS FACE IN UNTIL THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT BUT HAMBURGER MEAT! AND THEN, I TOOK A BUTCHER KNIFE AND CUT OFF HIS DICK! AND IF I GET LOOSE, YOU USELESS PILE OF HUMAN SHIT, I WILL DO THE SAME TO YOU! SO IF YOU’RE GOING TO SHOOT SOMEONE THEN SHOOT ME BECAUSE I’M NOT PLAYING YOUR GAME ANYMORE!”
I flailed on the ground trying desperately to free myself from the ropes.
“But I told you what would happen. It’s not you I’m going to shoot.” With that, he pointed the gun at Bailey’s chest and fired.
My eyes widened in shock. Before I could scream, I saw the barrel of the gun pointed at my head. I saw a bright flash and then nothing.