The taxi takes me to city’s edge and drops me off a few hundred yards from Lake Erie. In front of me I see one of the oddest shaped buildings, a pyramid of glass and metal surrounded by castle type appointments that I think look like guardhouses. Standing on the curb for a few moments in the crisp afternoon air, I try to take in the view, shielding my eyes from the sunlight reflecting off the water. A homeless man makes himself known to me, holding out a sign so tattered, I can’t read the words.
“Please, can you spare a dollar?”
I look into his eyes and without thinking pull a hundred dollar bill out of my purse. “Can you make change?”
His eyes go wide in confusion as he eyes the money. I laugh and press the bill into his filthy hand, watching as he scurries away without so much as a thank you. Oh, the homeless today have no manners! Walking towards the entrance, I find the line to purchase tickets and wait behind a middle aged couple holding hands. I wonder how long they have been together and try to solve the riddle from their chatter, but I can’t decipher the whispers above the music, a rock song I am not familiar with.
The line does not move and I slip into my thoughts, at once wondering where Mr. Brown might be and also trying to shoo away a memory of my father. A voice announces over the loudspeaker that a new exhibit will open at month’s end as a snapshot of that evening on the day he bought me the shoes solidifies in my mind.
He drank a lot at the bar that afternoon, more so than usual. His mood got darker with each hour and his stare scared me more as dusk fell outside and he swerved the car towards home, one hand squeezing mine. I felt as if something awful might happen and began counting the time until he might pass out, going so far as to pour him a double whiskey to help that journey.
I pretended to watch television and he watched me, eyes red and angry as he slurped whiskey, spilling much of it on his plaid shirt. He tried to stand, but staggered into the wall and I rushed to prop him up before he knocked the TV and stereo over.
“Let’s go to bed, daddy,” I said, putting his arm over my shoulder and leading him down the hall. He mumbled and pawed at me, hot breath tickling my neck, causing me to shiver. I crawled into bed and wrapped his arms around me, hoping he might fall asleep…
Screams snap me from my daydream and I see people running in every direction, most towards the exits. Gunshots ring out as I feel a bullet graze my jacket, moments before the man in front of me falls, blood spurting from his neck. I scan the room, but the chaos makes it impossible to locate the shooter, though more shots tell me the location to be quite close, less than fifty feet.
My feet will not move and I stand still as the movie plays, a worker catching a bullet as she tries fleeing the ticket counter, brains flying out behind her in slow motion. The lady nearest to me tends to her fallen former companion as bullets strike the floor. I finally see a man holding a gun, with cropped hair wearing a sports parka. For a moment, he turns to the side, away from me and shoots down an elderly woman limping towards the bathrooms.
The shooter faces me and shoots the woman at my feet before aiming the gun at my head. He eyes scrunch in confusion, probably not understanding why I do not run or even lift my arms to protect myself. Sirens approach the building as the man takes a few steps in my direction, looking around for others, but it seems we are the last two in the room. Hazel eyes locking on mine, he studies me for what seems an eternity, but might only be seconds.
“Are you crazy?” he asks.
“I don’t think so.” Perhaps I am, but I do not feel fear at this moment. It either will end with me dead or it will not. My hand grips my purse, but I know it serves no purpose to attempt to stab him.
Thumb flicking out and pressing a button, the magazine ejects onto the floor as the man jams another one into the open space. I back away, my heels slipping on the blood soaked floor and I grab the ticket counter for support.
“There is something different about you,” he says, coming closer, tilting his head as he analyzes me, his breathing heavy, causing the gun to rise and fall with the movements of his chest.
Time seems to stop as I watch him. His eyes are calm and I see his finger stroking the trigger, ready to fire, my death chambered in his weapon. I can’t say I care and I only have a fleeting thought of Ray and the smallest feeling of regret of not seeing him again before I force myself to take another step away from the man. Will it all end, right now? I guess I won’t make it to Las Vegas after all.
Time starts again and I want to tell the man he would be dead already if I held the gun, but there doesn’t seem much sense in saying it. I’ll just close my eyes and wait for him to act, as he seems torn about what to do with me. I simply don’t understand why he kills these random people.
Police spill into the room from every direction. Before I can speak a man tackles me as shots ring out. The cop on top of me screams in pain and leaks blood onto my dress, shielding me as the gunfight fills the room with a symphony of bullets hitting walls and glass.
As suddenly as it began, the firing ceases and I can see the shooter dead a few feet from me, his body shot multiple times. The cop lays on me almost in an embrace and I know from the feel of the weight he must be dead as well. Footsteps approach and hands reach out to pull him off me. I don’t feel much at this moment, but have a sense I should scream or cry or something. Everyone will expect that from me having seen all this horror.
So I scream. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
A cop pulls me to my feet and puts a blanket around me, wiping blood from my face as I fight in his arms. I take a last glance over my shoulder at the shooter as they drag me away, seeing the cops kicking the gun out of the killer’s hand and securing the area. The policeman leads me outside and into a waiting ambulance, the street lined with service vehicles with lights and sirens ablaze.
Voices keep asking me questions, but there are too many faces and too many hands and I simply surrender to them inspecting and prodding me, trying to see if I am shot. I begin humming a tune, something by Handel, though I can’t remember the title of the piece. A cop watches me, confusion on his face, much like what I saw from the shooter a few minutes ago, though it seems like a year.
“Are you hurt?” the cop asks, looking down at me as they hold me tightly against the stretcher.
I smile and look up into the lights, drifting into my mind. No, I am not. I feel something inside, which I can’t put into words, bubbling up in my veins. As they tear my dress away and tend to a wound I did not feel, happiness fills my body. Warmth spreads outward, rushing to all my limbs. Before I close my eyes and give in to the coming darkness, I open my lips.
I YIELD TO YOU, SIR (WARNING OF EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT)
I YIELD TO YOU, SIR
The popping and sizzling of bacon greets my ears and the smell of coffee brings a smile to my face as I open my eyes. Stretching my legs and pushing painted toes out from under a blanket he must have placed on me in the night, I yawn and sigh happily in the pleasant warmth of the room. Swinging my legs out and onto the floor, the plush blanket slips from my body and I giggle as I notice I am wearing no clothing. The room crackles with heat, so with a smile I saunter into the kitchen, making only a scant attempt to cover myself. Josh turns as I slide into a seat at the kitchen table, bunching the blanket in my lap and crossing my legs, swinging a foot as he places a steaming cup in front of me. Wearing a brown robe and matching slippers, he smiles and shakes his head, returning to the stove, his eyes remaining on my bare legs. “You make quite an entrance.” “Thank you, sir,” I say, sipping the coffee, which contains hints of vanilla and cinnamon. “Great coffee.” Laughing, he puts a plate in front of me and takes a seat across the table, chewing at a piece of bacon as he tries looking down the blanket at my chest. Feigning another stretch, I shed the blanket and go about eating my breakfast, for I feel hunger tickling at my stomach. “You are a goddess.” I can’t keep from blushing and look away for a moment, pushing an egg around the plate in distraction. “I’m just a girl, Josh. Don’t turn me into some mythical being.” He bursts into laughter, which goes on for some time, bringing tears to his eyes. Finally, he calms down and lets out a slow, long sigh, eyes pinned to mine and containing perhaps a hint of sadness. “Maybe you are too young to understand how things are yet.” “I won’t argue with you. Tell me how it is,” I say, leaning on my elbows. “Last night I won a lottery. Every other night, girls like you are the bane of my existence, torturing me and vexing me and teasing me until they have used every bit of my soul. After that, they dump me by the side of the road like a piece of trash.” Reflecting on his words, I sip my coffee and wait to see if he will say more. I do not understand, for I find him to be a handsome man. I can’t speak for the hearts of other women, however, and do not know what he suffers. “I am here now. Try to enjoy this time and not think of the future or the past.” “It’s not the same. You are promised to another and will soon leave. I’ll never have someone like you,” he says, rising to clear the table. The reference of Ray brings a smile to my face, but I feel sad for him, standing at the sink with slumped shoulders washing the dishes. I join him and put my arms around his waist, leaning my cheek against his back. His muscles tense and I am unsure of what I am about to say and do, but, gathering myself, I clear my throat to speak, rising on my toes and pressing my lips against his ear. “Forget everything else, whatever you have experienced. Today, I am yours. Do with me whatever you want.” The water continues to run, but he stops moving and I know his mind churns my words, spinning and turning them, looking for hidden meanings. Reaching through the folds in his robe, I rub the soft skin with my hands, tracing over the tip, trying to get him to react. “How did I get so lucky?” he asks. “I have a soft spot for writers. Now, tell me. What are your orders, sir? Perhaps we can make a story together.” “Start by doing the dishes,” he says, grabbing his coffee and taking a seat at the kitchen table. He lights a cigarette and watches me, smiling as I stare at him. I did not expect that, but I push my hands into the soapy water and begin scrubbing plates. “Open your legs a little, even with your shoulders.” “Yes, sir,” I say, inching my feet apart. “And no talking, just do as I say.” I turn and look at him, surprise filling me at the authority in his voice. What? Though, I can’t be in total surprise after last night. As I ponder this change, he stands and walks towards me, putting his cigarette in an ashtray. Without a word, he unties the knot holding the robe fastened, pressing his body against mine, his hand cupping me down there as I press against his hand, trying to force his fingers into me. Gripping the sink, I wait for him to do as he wants. “I didn’t say to stop doing the dishes.” “I’m sorry, sir,” “I change my mind, you talk too much. Get on your knees.” Turning into his arms for a moment, I slide down his body, brushing against his erection and kneeling on the ground before him. I think his scent to be musky as he parts my lips and jams it into my mouth, gripping my face and fucking it with sudden ferocity. The back of my head smacks against the sink and a few light spots appear in my vision, but he doesn’t stop for a moment, grunting and slamming into my throat, stretching my lips around his hardness. “You will be my slut today,” he says, slapping my face, which brings tears into my eyes. I will indeed, sir. He pulls me out of my thoughts and off of feet, dragging me through the kitchen and into the bedroom, picking me up and heaving me onto the comforter. Flipping me on my back, he drags me to the edge of the bed, pushing my legs against my chest. Without being told, I grab my ankles as he thrusts inside me, his body slapping against mine. I scream as he pounds into me without mercy, shaking the bed which lifts me into his assault. The slapping of our skin fills the room with staccato accents and I let out high pitched squeals each time he bottoms in me. He pulls away from me and gets on the bed as I put my feet on the carpet. Putting himself against my lips he mounts and begins humping my mouth again. I can’t breathe and gag for air, his pubic hair filling my nostrils. Fighting the urge to resist, I rest my hands against his hips and help guide him, hoping to help him finish quickly. The room seems to hang in stasis other than our movement, with a cat watching immobile in a window and a slow dripping tick tock of the clock on the nightstand. Rolling off me once more, I gasp for breath as he grabs me by a hand and a foot, throwing me against the pillows. I don’t have time to brace myself or get into a comfortable position before he jumps on me. Gripping my thigh, he drives inside me with a slow, sure stroke, unlike the mania of moments ago. He smacks my ass at an angle with his palm, slapping my skin back and forth, sending slow waves of pain over my body. I let myself go, releasing all tension in my body, yielding myself completely to him. He flips me again, onto my back, and climbs atop me, wrapping his arms and legs around me, putting his face near mine. Pressing his lips against mine and kissing me slowing, he pushes into me, gently, hooking his hands under my shoulders. The embrace feels intimate and I moan into his mouth. “I am going to come. Are you on birth control?” “No,” I whisper, wrapping my hands around his back and holding him tightly against me. “Do it inside me.” “Are you sure?” he asks, increasing the pace, humping me with more intensity. “Yes. Come inside me, please. Shoot your seed in me, sir,” I say. I feel his body go stiff and rub his back as he grunts and spasms. After a few minutes of silence he tries to rise, but I squeeze him even tighter, wanting to savor the moment. “Stay in me, please.” “What is this all about?” he says in between gasps of air. I take a moment to think of an answer, not sure if I know why I did and said those things. Reaching for something that might satisfy his curiosity, I say, “I want to please you is all.” “BS. Don’t hold out on me, tell me.” “Maybe later,” I say as he rolls off me, walking naked towards the shower. Pausing for a moment to look back at me, he shakes his head as he enters the bathroom. “I don’t think this is about me at all.” The door shuts and I wipe sweat from my chest with the comforter. “Perhaps you are right, sir.”
I have struggled to write for the last month and a half. There are times I begin to wonder if I am a writer after all. One day you feel the inspiration and chatter of characters and then, it vanishes, like the spots you see on the highway on hot summer days. I can’t tell you the last time I finished a story. Coming to the bookstore was his idea, as a way of snapping out of this funk, breaking through the dastardly wall of writer’s block or whatever way you wish to describe the malaise I am suffering. He seems to think the mere presence of books is enough to push through the drought. Writing is not so simple.
The coffee I bought is almost cold and I don’t have a plot or a scene or a character in mind as of yet. Looking around the place, I see one middle aged gentleman typing like a madman on his laptop. That comprises the entirety of the company that shares this store with me at the moment. And that man hasn’t so much as glanced in my direction. Not that I blame him. I am wearing sweatpants and a plain tee shirt for the express reason of avoiding the attention of men. I am doing my best to limit distractions and excuses. But…I can’t help wondering…what is he writing?
I do think writers are natural born spies and as I move closer to where the man sits, I hope he doesn’t notice I am watching his every move. He sits erect, with his chin high. I wonder if he can see the keyboard properly. He is quite handsome for an older man, with flecks of gray in short brown hair and a strong, thick jawline. I like that he is wearing a baby blue button down shirt and grey slacks even in the middle of summer. I am a sucker for a well-dressed man and find myself wondering how much his black leather shoes cost.
He leans backward and stretches his arms over his head, a hand rubbing at sore neck muscles. His turns toward me and his clear blue eyes bore into mine with a sudden intensity. I want to look away, but his pretty eyelashes and dark pupils transfix me and I rudely and openly stare at him. A small smile washes over his face as he shakes his head, sipping a cup of coffee as he returns my gaze and I desperately do not want to be the one that looks away first.
“Hi,” I manage to say. I feel heat in my face and I have to fight the urge to run away from this man for he is reaching into my brain and touching me in places I thought locked to strangers. He does not respond and continues to probe me, not taking his eyes from mine to check me out, which is so very unusual for a man. They always look. But, he doesn’t. My stomach jumps and flips and I know I’m going to look away before he does.
“Good afternoon,” he says. His voice is a low, pleasant bass that tickles my insides and makes me squirm in the chair.
“Are you a writer?” I blurt out before I look away, not being able to take so much as a second more of him penetrating me. He laughs at my question, a slow rolling chuckle that comes from deep in his belly and rises up through his muscular chest.
Crossing his legs, he leans back in the chair and watches me, grinning and eyes sparkling as if he knows a secret about me. What did he pull from my brain with that damned laser stare of his? The heat continues to increase in my face and I know I am blushing. Images of him ravaging me appear in my mind against my will it seems and I do my best to push them back down into the abyss.
“Don’t do that,” he whispers, leaning forward in my direction.
“Do what?” I ask. How can he know my thoughts? Another image of him dragging me from the café floats across the screen of my brain and I shake my head to erase the picture.
“Don’t fight your brain. Let it take you where it wants to go. Don’t hinder or fight it. Free your mind.”
I see him pouncing on me and ripping my shirt away from my chest in a violent manner. “Should I write these thoughts or wait?”
“Why wait? Begin writing the moment a thought form into words.”
He could have me right now if he wants. I bet he knows that or feels it. The only question is if he wants to take me. Of course I am wearing sweatpants and have my hair restrained in a pony-tail. I close my eyes and wait for him to decide. Harvest me, savage me, do anything you wish to my body…oh, what am I thinking? Where did these thoughts come from? I came here to write a story and I have been possessed by this man’s eyes. Possessed I say. I might let him take me over the table, right in front of the boy making the coffee. I cannot resist.
I open my eyes and see I am the only person in the café. The boy behind the counter is starting at me and without a word or gesture to him I gather my things and make a hurried exit from the store. I am ready to write again.
I sit waiting for food as Mr. Brown looks around for the waitress, both of us ignoring my phone beeping at short intervals. My eyes stay on his face, not afraid to look at his scar. A short girl with shoulder length brown hair arrives at the table, different from the girl that took our order.
“Two shots of whiskey,” he says to her. She looks at me for a moment as if she might ask me for identification, but Mr. Brown tells her both shots are for him.
Crossing my legs and pressing my back against the booth, I study his face as the waitress places the shots on the table and hurries away. He pushes one towards me and grunts before taking his shot and slamming the glass on the table.
“Not tonight, Mr. Brown,” I say, smiling as he takes the other shot. “You enjoy yourself, I promise to watch you later.”
“We should not be here,” he says in a low voice, looking around the room again.
“Relax, you are so paranoid. We walked through the casino, no harm in that is there? Rose did not see us, I assure you.”
“Do not speak…” he begins to answer, but the waitress is standing next to the table with the food.
The brunette places a tray on a stand and a plate in front of each of us. She does not ask if we need anything and leaves in a hurry, doing her best not to make eye contact with Mr. Brown.
“I think you scare her,” I say, winking at him before I cut into my prime rib. “Ooh, rare for once. The last time I got a piece closer to medium.”
He is looking for the waitress again and I know being in public with me is making him nervous, though I can’t say what he can be afraid of…he is a mountain of a man at six foot six and two hundred eighty pounds.
“Eat your dinner,” I say as I sip my water and tend my own plate, carving away the marbled fat and cutting the meat into small pieces before I begin eating.
Eyes locking with mine, the scar bright red and throbbing as his hand grips the knife, I chew with care as he stares at me.
“Do you need me to cut your meat? I am pretty handy with a knife.”
A chuckle escapes his lips as I see his shoulders relax and I know he can’t stay mad at me. Motioning to the waitress, he orders a bottle of wine and after the girl leaves it on the table he pours a glass for me.
“You are pretty,” he says, extending his glass in my direction.
“Thank you, Mr. Brown,” I say, touching glasses and smiling inside before taking a sip of Cabernet. He empties the glass and pours another, his eyes still upon me, softer than usual. I focus on my steak and the feeling the wine makes as it numbs my tongue while hints of berries and oak tickle my nose. Placing my glass on the table, I lean against the cushion and study him. He begins to eat, cutting his steak with great zest and powerful strokes before putting a large piece in his mouth, washing it down with yet more wine.
“Why are you afraid to be here with me?” I ask, but he keeps eating, finishing the bottle of wine and calling for another.
“If Ray saw us…” he begins, but I interrupt.
“Don’t worry about Ray,” I say as my phone buzzes yet again. I hold it up and turn it so Mr. Brown can see Ray’s name on the screen.
“I should not have given you his number,” he says, gulping down more wine.
“He is calling and texting me now, so I think we can say it is quite fine with him,” I respond.
“What if he finds out about us?” he asks, his voice turning angry as he slams a palm against the table, spilling some of my wine.
“He will find out if you keep acting like a fool,” I say in as stern a voice as I can muster, but he grins at me.
Shaking my head, I signal to the waitress for the check, who rushes it over to me, her eyes whispering gratitude. Mr. Brown stuffs a few hundred dollar bills into her hand, smiling as her jaw drops and she clutches the money in her fingers.
“Have the wine sent up to the room,” he says to the waitress. “Make it a few bottles to be on the safe side.”
. . .
I grab ice cream from the freezer and curl up in the recliner, watching Mr. Brown tear through wine, the beginnings of a nasty drunk glassing over his eyes. He puts an action movie on the television and I offer no commentary as to his choice. Instead of watching the movie, he stares at me, hints of red coloring the whites of his eyes. He taps a hand on the couch next to him, the other hand holding the wine bottle.
Taking a last bite before returning the ice cream to the kitchenette, I sit next to him, pushing my leg against his and trying to look into his eyes, but he will not turn my way. I grab his hand and put it on my leg before taking the remote from him and changing the channel. He grips my thigh and squeezes, fingers turning white as he digs into my skin.
“Everything is a manipulation,” he slurs, eyes seeing the fantasy show on the television.
“Are you going to complain all night because I mentioned Ray? Grow up,” I say as I slip my hand into his, but he flails his arm to break free and pulls at my pajamas. “Stop it.”
Pushing me against the arm of the couch, he climbs on me, breathing hot wine against my neck.
“You think you can play me?” he growls at me, pushing a hand under my chin and gripping my throat. I fall limp into his hands, not bothering with even a show of resistance. Fingers wrap around my windpipe and I close my eyes for a moment, hoping he will be quick about whatever he is planning. I hear my phone ring and my eyes snap open as he lets me go.
Diving towards the table, I grab my phone and press the button.
“Ella?” I hear his voice, a deep bass that brings a smile to my face.
“Ray!” I yell into the phone.
“Give me that,” Mr. Brown says, grabbing at me. I push at him, but he falls on top of me, crushing me against the couch. Clutching the phone in my hand, I curl into a ball trying to keep it away from him.
“Ray, where are you?” I scream into my hand, but before I hear a response, Mr. Brown rips the phone from me and ends the call.
I feel him pulling at my pajamas again and I do not fight. There is no point to fighting him. One hand yanks my hair as he presses against me, the other gripping and pinching and punctuating the assault with a hard slap against my bare ass.
“Stop please,” I say.
“I want you to want this,” he slurs into my ear.
Moving my legs apart, I guide his hand against me and use my strength to turn my shoulder, looking into his glassy eyes.
“I do, sir, I do,” I say, putting my arms around his neck and closing my eyes.
I’m coming, Ray. Very soon. Everyone tries to keep me away from you, but it will not deter me. I shall look upon your face within the week, if the gods be good. Until then my love, adieu.
I take my time organizing everything on the tray. I want it to be perfect. Coffee with cream to the right of crispy bacon, two eggs over medium served with the morning paper. Tying the robe about my waist, I push my feet into new slippers and carry the tray into the sitting room to Mr. Brown. He pretends not to look at me, eyes making a show of focusing on a news program on the television, but I see the corners of his mouth lift, a touch of smile fighting through the effort he makes to hide his feelings.
“The morning paper,” I say, placing the tray on the beveled glass table in front of him. I run a finger over ice sculpture figurines etched into the glass as I wait for him to speak to me, tightness spreading in my stomach. He grabs the paper without a word and eases back on the leather couch, scanning the headlines for a moment before taking a sip of the coffee.
“Less cream,” he says. Sudden heat in my face, I fight the urge to snap at him and hold my tongue. His eyes stay on mine, as if expecting something of me and after a few moments of me holding my breath, he pats a hand against his leg and waits for me to react. I sit on his knee and he wraps an arm around my back before returning his attentions to the paper.
“You could read on my tablet,” I say to him, moving closer to his body.
“I don’t read on plastic,” he said, his voice low and on the edge of a growl, but again a smile betrays him.
I slap at the paper and as he makes a show of being mad I press my lips against his neck, kissing him several times. Folding the paper and placing it on the table, he turns on the couch and is on top of me in a rush.
“Let me have my breakfast, girl,” he says, eyes looking down into the folds of my robe.
“Yes, Mr. Brown,” I say, waiting to see what he will do, closing my eyes for a moment, wondering where he will touch me.
Instead he pulls away and eats a piece of bacon, washing it down with a mouthful of coffee. I smile and go fetch the pot in the kitchenette, returning to see the plate is empty. He pushes it towards me as I fill his cup and he nods towards the small pantry area.
“More, Mr. Brown?” I ask, smiling. He grunts approval and I set about making a second breakfast. Watching him as the eggs fry, he turns on the financial channel and seems to forget about me for a moment.
“The Fed is going to step in with more easing soon,” he says, narrowing his eyes as he watches the scroll of endless letters and numbers at the bottom of the screen.
I serve him another plate as he makes a few notes in ink in the newspaper margins. Trying to see what he is writing, I lean over him and place a hand on his leg to balance myself. He brushes my hand away and I give up my attempt, leaning my head on his shoulder.
“Why is the fed important?” I ask.
“The Fed controls the money,” he answers without pause, pulling my cheek against his chest.
I begin to respond, but I decide to hold my comment and watch the television with him. I place my hand on his stomach and rub my nails over his white tee-shirt as a pretty lady yawns on and on about the six month old bull market being ‘tired’. As I do not know how long it takes bulls to get tired, how am I to know if this is good news or bad?
“What is a bull market?” I ask.
He jumps from the couch and begins pacing the room, grabbing the coffee off the table in mid stride, managing not to spill any on the carpet.
“What am I going to do with you? I am trying to talk to you about something serious and you are caught up with getting me…”
Stopping next to the table, he pauses and looks down at me, seeming to calm down by taking deep, even breaths while flexing his fingers.
“Stop pushing me every moment. Just stop,” he says, placing the cup on the table before thudding down next to me on the couch.
I sit and wait, remaining still as I wait for his anger to pass. Slipping my hand into his, I watch the television, making an effort to comprehend what I see. Seeing a pattern of letters in the constant crawl, I clear my throat and speak.
“The ones I see the most are the popular stocks?” I ask.
He squeezes my hand and I take the opportunity to lay my head on his arm, keeping my eyes on the television.
“Not always in a good way,” he says with a chuckle.
As I look up at him, he takes my face in his hands and kisses me, slowly parting my lips and teasing me with his tongue. The moment passes as he pulls away, but the warmth remains on my skin.
“I am a quick learner,” I say as he kisses me again, this time with more force, pushing me against the couch. I expect a response, but instead his hands pull my robe apart, exposing my stomach and chest.
He presses his beard into my neck as he kisses my ear, hands squeezing and pinching, causing me to gasp.
Waking to an empty bed and the sun leaking through the blinds, I rub my temples and grab the water bottle, my head pounding from hangover and dehydration. I have not made it habit of yet to drink water when out at the bar. Maybe I need to put a voice reminder in my phone, for I do not wish to feel this overwhelming nausea again anytime soon.
I can’t recall the events of last evening and as I look around the room, I see nothing except empty wine bottles. Where did the boy go? Did he spend the night? These questions swim in my mind as I stagger to the bathroom and start the shower, testing the temperature with my hand, turning to the knob to make the water as hot as I can tolerate.
Leaning my head against the tile in this enormous shower, the water scalds my skin as I try to collect the snapshots floating in my head into something resembling a coherent memory. I remember sending the boy for a bottle of whiskey, but after that it is all a jumble of shots and flirting and wrestling on the carpet. I let the boy pin me and grope to his heart’s content, but can’t tell you more.
Fighting the urge to fall asleep under the water, I manage to put conditioner in my hair and grab the razor from the tray under the shower head, shaving with special care. As I step from the glass enclosure and wrap a towel about my shoulders, I walk into the bedroom, water dripping onto the carpet as I pick an outfit from the clothes tossed onto the couch.
I am holding a pleated, plaid skirt (Ray’s favorite) as I hear grunting sounds coming from the second room and I can’t help smiling as I remember a small bit from yesterday. As I enter the room, the towel draped across an arm, but covering almost nothing, I see Mr. Brown tied to a chair, his arms and legs bound with thick rope and a generous amount of duct tape covering his mouth.
His eyes narrow as I approach and I can see he is angry, hands trying to rock the chair beneath him, but I tied the knots myself; he is not going to escape.
“Will you behave?” I ask. I hear more grunts and I wait for him to be still before I peel the tape away from his lips. After I do so, I put a finger on his lips and whisper into his ear not to speak. I retrieve the water bottle from the other room and hold it against his mouth, pouring a small amount for him to drink.
“What kind of stunt is this?” he says after he swallows the water, some of it dripping down his chin. I wipe his face with the towel and run a hand through his hair as I straddle the chair and sit on his lap.
“I will not be your prisoner, Mr. Brown,” I whisper into his ear as I continue running my nails over his scalp.
“You are not a prisoner, you are free to do what you will as long as you stay away from certain people,” he says quickly, the anger still in his voice as I caress his cheek.
“Oh, Mr. Brown, you are in no position to be telling me what I shall do and whom I shall see.”
I can hear his teeth grinding and I laugh as he continues trying to pull his hands free from the rope.
“Can you at least put on clothes?” he asks trying to avert his eyes from my skin. I shake my head in the negative, water spraying in the air and I can’t help laughing again. Adjusting myself on his lap, I press myself against him, grinding on his jeans, which brings a groan from his lips.
“Ray gave you to me. I do not take orders from you. It is the opposite, I can assure you,” I say, making a motion with my eyes over the ropes, hoping to impress upon him my meaning.
He grunts again and turns his eyes away from me as I wrap my arms about his neck, pulling myself against his chest.
“No more boys in here. It isn’t safe, anyone can be a spy,” he says.
I grab his face and make him look into my eyes.
“Are you jealous?” I say, smiling.
“I can’t keep you safe if I am tied to a chair,” he growls, ignoring my question.
“You are not here to protect me, you are here to obey me,” I scream into his ear and get off of his lap. I walk into the other room and put on shorts and a tank top before grabbing my knife off the table.
His eyes go wide when he sees the knife and I smile as I pull a chair next to his and sit, crossing my legs.
“Why is Ray making me wait?” I ask him, but he offers no more than a grunt in response.
With a sigh, I cut one of his hands free and sit back, waiting for him to speak. He flexes his hand and moves his fingers before attempting to pull at the knot restraining his other arm. I wave his hand away and cut through the other rope, freeing both of his hands. Rubbing at his wrists, he winces in pain as his eyes lock with mine.
“This is bigger than you can imagine.”
With a laugh, I cut the rope from his ankles and watch as he tries to stand, but falls back onto the chair.
“Sit for a minute,” I say, taking one of his hands into mine and rubbing at the white rings around his wrist. Lifting his arm, I kiss his skin, which feels abrasive against my lips. His hands grip my arms near my shoulders, his fingers pinching my skin and I yelp in pain as he pulls me on his lap.
“No more boys,” he says in my ear.
“I promise, Mr. Brown,” I answer as I feel his hands on me. “Now tell me what I want to know.”
I stare out the window as I wait for words and thoughts to resolve into sentences, seeing the tourists pour out of the casino into the hot Vegas afternoon. Spring vaults into early summer in a flash in this city and I see shorts and tank tops and flip flops where a mere week ago I saw pedestrians wearing hooded sweatshirts and jeans.
I wish to sit by the pool or sip a margarita at the bar, anything rather than wait for the muse to strike me with lightning. Being in this room alone for these weeks, I am sure I hear voices and I don’t mean the ones inside my head. The need to finish this novel exerts a physical pressure that I feel in my chest, a tightness that extends into my stomach and keeps me awake at night, staring at the ceiling.
Flipping through my notebook, a loose sheet of paper falls from the pages and I see an old letter written to me by Ray. I know it by memory and as I close my eyes, I can hear his voice reading the words to me.
…you are not ready for this, you have yet to live. What have you experienced? Don’t come to me until you have done things, seen things. Finish the novel, drive cross country, have a few affairs…live before you tell me I am the only one for you, that we are destined to be together.
I want to speak with him so I can tell him about my adventures. I have driven cross country and spent a few nights with random men, enough so that I can say with truth I have experienced a few affairs. As for this novel, I shall finish it before I see him. It is my motivation. I will place the finished manuscript into his hands and I can’t wait to see the look on his face.
My phone is buzzing and I look at the screen, but I do not answer. I will not talk to him. Grabbing my notebook and pen and laptop, I stuff all into my backpack and walk from the room. There must be inspiration somewhere in this casino, right? I can’t sit locked up in the room like a prisoner, I have to live. I am only following his words.
The casino is almost empty today, with the lone gathering of tourists surrounding the pool entrance and I get in line without knowing it, standing behind a group of local college boys. One boy, with blond hair and no shirt, well-toned muscles glistening with bronzer, eyes me and smiles and I decide to grab a chair near his group, following them at a close distance. I hear their conversation or rather debate about which member of the group will get a girl first.
I take my notebook from the backpack and place it on my stomach, but leave it closed, sensing that the blonde boy will talk to me soon enough. However, he throws a towel onto the chair and jumps into the pool. Grabbing my pen, I open the notebook and write:
Men are stupid
I hear a laugh and turn to see an older gentleman in the chair next to me peaking over my shoulder at what I wrote. Closing my notebook, I glare at him and wait for him to speak.
“You are quite right,” he says, winking at me, his gaze following my blonde boy as he swims a few laps of the pool.
“Don’t you know it’s rude to spy on people?” I say, turning in the chair to face him.
He eyes return to mine as he laughs and I smile in spite of my feigned anger, loving the sound of his voice, low and comforting. I kick off my flip flops and cross my legs, giving him a generous view of thigh as he continues to laugh and look at me.
“You look like someone I know,” I say to him as the blonde boy flops on the chair next to me, splashing water on my notebook.
Turning to him, my first thought is that his eyes are a pretty shade of blue and I forgive him getting water on my journal.
“You’re hot,” he says, rubbing a towel over his chest and giving me what I think he means to be a sexy smile.
“Tell me he didn’t say that,” I say, turning to the older man, but the chair next to me is empty.
“Who are you talking to?” he asks.
I take a moment before answering, not sure what to say.
“I am talking to Ray,” I answer.
He stares at me for a long while, mouth slowing widening in confusion as he tries to comprehend my words.
I grab my notebook and write:
She soon invites him back to her room so as to prevent him from speaking. He is beautiful, but she knows if she makes him think, his brain might explode. This is destined to be a physical relationship only.
“Listen, you are in over your head here,” I say to him as he continues to stare with his mouth open.
“You don’t know me. You don’t even know my name,” he says after a minute or two.
“Yes, I do. You are called chapter ten and I will tell you what your name is tonight. So, Brad, will you please take me up to my room and undress me.”
He walks behind her in silence, following her onto the elevator, not touching her in any way before she leads him into the room by the towel around his neck. After closing the door, she pulls the towel off him and throws it onto the armchair with her backpack.
“My name is Eric,” he says.
“Brad,” I say.
He begins to reply, but I hold up my hand for him to stop and he does. I reach into my bag, pull out the room keycard and place it into his hand.
“This isn’t up for discussion,” I say, standing and throwing the backpack over my shoulder. I walk some twenty paces towards the elevator before I look over my shoulder to see if he is following and I see him less than an arm-length behind me. With a smile, I press the button for my floor as he stands close to me, his hand brushing against my thigh, the tips of his fingers lingering on my skin.
“What is your name?” he asks as the elevator rises.
“That is none of your concern,” I say as the bell rings to signal my floor.
Do as you are told and do not ask questions. You are in over your head. Pretend I’m the blonde girl from across the hall in your dorm. Got it? There is nothing else to see here. I’m a simple, garden variety slut. I am not secretly planning your demise with each thought in my mind. Never. I swear. Goodnight, ser.
I can’t piece together what happened last night or how I came to be nestled in your arms when I woke this morning. Now I sit in the recliner, my knees tucked to my chest and against my chin, letting the water from the shower drip onto my arms, making no attempt to get a towel. I feel you watching me, the usual desire absent as you study me, trying to make eye contact, but I look away.
You grunt at me and I see you grab the brush off the dresser before walking over to me and motioning for me to get off the chair. I stand without looking at you, waiting as you sit down before pulling me between your legs. The brush catches on snarls as you run it through my hair and for a moment you press your face into my curls.
“You smell like apricots,” you whisper into my ear as you begin brushing once again.
I do not answer and sit numb and still as you wrap your legs around me, locking me inside a cocoon of warmth. Feeling your lips against my neck soft and light, I relax my shoulders and give in, the touch of your hands against my arms and stomach and chest brings heat to my face. You sway as you hold me, squeezing me with thick arms until I am swallowed in your embrace.
“Tell me about your dream, girl,” you whisper again into my ear and I feel a chill run over my body as hot breath touches my neck.
Your hand goes lower on my stomach as I wonder what to tell you, gasping when you grab me there, my hand shooting to yours and pulling you away.
“No,” I say and you release me for a moment. I make no move to separate, the touch of your skin against mine calming my nerves and as if sensing my thoughts, you slide an arm across my chest and pull me against you.
After Ray told the police about my father, the state put me into foster care. I heard later that Ray left town following the incident and to the best of my knowledge did not learn that the state dropped all charges after a two month investigation and returned me to father’s custody.
The first day home, I waited for father to speak to me, to hug me, to otherwise show that he knew I existed, but he spent the day drinking his government check away at the bar. I slept on the couch waiting and he woke me later that night, drunk and needing me as always, his body pressing against mine, his foul sour breath fighting to mix with my own as he attempted to kiss me.
“Why speak about this?” you ask, clutching me even tighter, your palm cupping my breast and squeezing.
As I lay awake that night, listening to him snore, I cried to myself and thought of Ray. Why did nobody tell him? Or did someone tell him and he chose to do nothing to save me? I did not understand why the state returned me to father, but I knew enough not to fight him that evening, staring at the ceiling as he whispered he loved me into my ear.
I remained awake watching MTV as father began to stink of fermented alcohol, the stench oozing from his pores. Without seeing the videos, I hummed the songs as he slept like the dead beside me, one arm across my chest tight as a vice. I…
You wipe tears away from my cheek as I am too emotional to continue. Pushing us off the chair, you carry me to the bed and pull the sheets over my body before getting in next to me, once again wrapping your arms and legs around me. I feel you kissing my neck and shoulders as the tears flow and I can do nothing to stop the storm, a deep sob escaping my lips. Tucking my face into your arm, I let myself drift into you as sleep descends over my thoughts.
How did this come to be, Mr. Brown? I smile as you snore, laying on your back beside me, shirtless, arms behind your head. I run a finger down your side to the top of the thick denim you wear and tug at the button, but you do not wake.
I sit and grab my notebook off the table, watching you as I wait for my mind to focus on an idea. My leg keeps shaking and I get up for a moment to change the temperature.
What am I to do with him? At first I paraded around in skimpy clothing to tease him and now he is half-naked while I’m wearing pajamas that only show hands and feet.
I look over and notice that you have lost your pants in the minute or two it took me to write in the journal. You remain asleep, part of you anyway. I can’t suppress a small giggle and hold the notebook in front of my eyes for a moment. Looking again, I am not giggling and I feel a small shiver pass over me as I contemplate sleeping next to you.
Will he take me in my sleep? Will I protest or scream? I can’t tell you a thought in my head, but I know what I want. I wish to wake to him tearing away my clothing and taking me without a word. ‘Got to sleep and let him decide.’ I hear a voice in my mind say. Pulling off my pajamas in a rush, I dive under the covers naked and place my head against your shoulder, sleep coming on as I fight to stay awake…
I feel hands upon me before my eyes see your face, close to mine and concerned. My arms flail to push you away as I try to lift myself. I feel as if I am drowning as I grab for you and I hit you and scratch you. You finally envelop me in your arms and whisper in my ear.
Since arriving in Vegas, I haven’t seen much of the city. I am being kept a prisoner of sorts in this hotel room, Mr. Brown watching my every move or so it seems.
He does leave at times, though I know not what he is doing during his hours away. Is he with Ray? Do they talk about me? So many questions fly through my mind that I end up dizzy and can’t concentrate on my writing.
It is an odd feeling to share a room with Mr. Brown. I want my own place, an apartment to call my own. I do not mind him being here, I just hate the feeling that he is controlling me and doesn’t listen to my wishes. I know he feels things for me in the way he looks at me as I parade around the room wearing nothing except a tee shirt (I know, naughty!!).
He is watching me now as I write. As he sits in the armchair pretending to read the morning paper, he steals glances at me every few moments, his eyes making a journey up my legs, bringing a smile to his lips. It makes me happy that he stares at me so often, his eyes filled with hunger, as if he could grab me, possess me at any moment.
"Do you wish to read my new story?" I ask him, but he does not respond and I am left to continue scribbling in my notebook.
Shall I tell him that I dream of him as well? I wish to feel his strong hands upon me, making me submit. Rip this shirt off me, ravish me, do as you will, Mr. Brown.
It is cold and windy today in Las Vegas and I want to cuddle with Mr. Brown and watch movies, but he isn’t the cuddle type. He allows me to lay my head on his shoulder and at times place my arm across his chest, but no more. It vexes me and I feel a flush in my face as I write, knowing he is watching as I think about him. Can he read my thoughts? He must feel my need for him.
These days are filled with frustration. I wait for Ray, yearn for Mr. Brown and sit in anticipation of summer. July feels like it is a year away.
The ceaseless circles of everyday life turn again and again, leaving a feeling of light headed nausea. Indeed, some consider cars making left turns for entire afternoons sport. The sport occurs when one mad man left turn taker skids on an oil slick and crashes into a concrete barrier at two hundred miles an hour. (I am not sure what speed that equates to in Kilometers per hour, but I assure you it doesn’t change the effect.) The sport reaches its zenith when said mad man escapes the wreck, engulfed in flames, and dances in a frantic attempt to avoid death by barbeque.
I change the channel, the fire extinguished and the sport over, five hours left to kill before I attend party. I know little of this party, but rest assured it will be the same as all the others. Talk of jobs, bills, wasted life, juvenile attempts at humor; all in a night’s cookie cutter existence at party. I will be bored, waiting for someone to catch fire or urinate from a balcony on unsuspecting girls wearing skimpy clothing. Party comes and party goes, soon to be the day before yesterday and a tired story to tell at yet another party. As in:
“Do you remember that time?”
Yes, I do. Since I remember, why doesn’t the person nod and save all ears within hearing distance the usual you had to be there filler stories told at all parties? Repeat after me: Blah, Blah and more Blah.
Someone on the television I have not met is certain he knows the secret to me living a happy and successful life. I hope he is selling semi-automatic weapons that will match my handbag of choice for the evening. If not, he isn’t offering me what I desire. It turns out you must purchase a video to see his secret. I’d offer an opinion about the content of said tape, but I changed the channel. Trapped in a haze of choices, I’ve become lost in a cooking program. I turn to the next station to prevent wishes of burning this apartment from overcoming my self-control. Hundreds of channels devoid of life; blah, blah and more blah.
A sport is on and I don’t think I have ever seen it before this moment. I’ll get a drink from the kitchen to celebrate. (I’ll make sure to step over the puddle building before the cabinet, the result of not wanting to come into contact with my slave owning landlord for a long enough time to tell him the icebox is broken, which leaks and wheezes on its way to certain death)
I must have a few rounds of cocktails before I can attend party. I want a strong drink: whiskey will do the trick. I pour a glass and head back to the square picture opiate in my living room.
Two women stand inside a roped podium, some twenty feet by twenty feet in dimension if I had to guess, wearing tight shorts and tube top shirts, their fists adorned by puffed red gloves. These women have agreed to punch each other in the face until submission or a great sale at Express, whichever comes first. Spectators stand and cheer the blows, especially all blows to the chest area. The girl in red lands a glove to the jaw of the woman in blue. The crowd goes crazy. The woman in blue responds with a punch below the waistline. The crowd bellows in delirium. The match ends with the girl in red being disqualified for pushing the referee out of the way, her zeal to destroy the other woman getting the better of restraint; the crowd booing with derision and throwing batteries into the roped area in protest of the decision.
The second glass of whiskey tastes no better than the first, but gives me the motivation to get ready for party. I take a last look at a channel displaying animal mating behavior before dressing in a short white skirt, which leaves little skin covered and clings to my pale thighs, and a blue low cut tee shirt advertising plenty of heaving bosom. I prefer boys to stare and touch rather than make conversation.
I am here at party, noticed and watched and touched by many as I do my best to make friends with solitude. I feel empty when in the presence of too many and it makes me want to vomit my whiskey. A boy, with blue eyes and cropped blonde hair, attempts to inch his way towards me, with varying degrees of success. I sip whiskey and he tells an anecdote.
“One time…” he begins, his story taking forever plus another fortnight. I move away before he lulls me into a coma.
A game of throw the ball into a plastic cup, for hour and hours, is taking place. Throw the ball, miss or score, groan or cheer; drink, rinse and repeat. This game is an endless source of entertainment for brain dead lemmings. I play for a few rounds, throwing the ball off the playing table in too hard a fashion, bringing forth complaints from all contestants, although it not being a serious enough offense to keep the boy closest to me, a tall boy with a crazy mess of brown hair, from placing his hands on my hips and grinding his erection into my ass. I ignore him, preferring to wink at the opposition and waiting for my turn to throw. The opposition smiles back at me as the tall boy continues to molest me, not showing the least care that I am not responding. I get a turn and throw the ball at the boy across the table. He growls at me and tells me I’m awful at the game. I leave and I’m crushed that I will not have a future or a pro career in throw the ball in the cup game. What WILL I do with my life?
I find a boy and send him for another cocktail. While I wait, a boy with the number five printed on his tee shirt in homage to a sports star of some kind attempts, for the better part of a minute, to introduce himself. I want for a cocktail and a name, not sure what I will receive first. At the moment the boy returns with my drink, the mute one manages to mumble something about my body, which I understand to mean he wants to do sex to me.
I stare at him in silence, waiting for the inevitable chatter.
“Are you here with somebody?”
“How do you know (fill in the blank)?”
“Do you like music?” No, I like hotdogs, I enjoy music.
“Want to go see my pet iguana?”
My eyes glaze, my drink empties and I walk, no—run to the next stall at the circus. Card games. Guess higher or lower they ask. I think I will.
“Is the combined IQ of the six players higher or lower, combined, than one hundred.”
Six blank shiny stares, silence and tension.
“The answer is lower,” I say as I rub the head of one boy and pat another on the back. “You poor little animals. As soon as women begin breeding from test tubes on a mass production level, you will be gassed.”
I laugh and move on, wondering what the next group of mindless automatons will bring. I sit on a couch and wait, an electric light waiting for insects. I’ll count the seconds until a fly begins to buzz.
“Hi there,” a boy says. I laugh and laugh at a thin boy with glasses and breath reeking of alcohol standing near me.
“I can’t help laughing. I’ll never learn to count at this rate,” I say.
“What?” he looks confused.
I sink into myself, automatic response button activated. He talks on and on about the weather, sports, the possibility of getting corrective eye surgery, more sports, shoveling shit for a living, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.
“Do you want to see my room?”
He watches me, his eyes almost pretty, dark intense brown with long lashes like a woman. His jawline is thin, but a certain thickness remains in his cheeks, giving his mouth a strong look despite the plump red fleshy lips I find to be distracting.
“Do you live here?” I ask, intrigued.
He moves closer and whispers in the affirmative. His voice is deep and melodic and for a moment makes me forget it was the instrument used to convey never ending reams of empty information. I nod and he rises, leading me by the hand along the hallway and into the last room on the left. A lamp by the bed reveals stark furnishings; I see a bed, a desk and a small dresser, the sole piece of life in the room a large poster of a popular singer placed over the bed.
He begins again with the chatter, trying to get answers from me, telling me everything about him in a hurried rush. I sigh and wait for the inevitable: the first timid accidental touches, which will lead like the ruins of history to the gentle stroking of thighs, the urgent growing necessity to kiss, to place hands beneath clothing, the slow dripping silence of short breath.
I feel his sweat upon my skin and close my eyes. I dream of Ray and think that the time until we are together grows shorter each day. Soon, it will be him touching me, caressing my skin. I imagine it is Ray removing my clothes and pretend it is done with more assured hands and gentler touch. I moan in my mind as Ray pulls my skirt down my thighs and runs the back of his hand against my softness, all while whispering a favorite story into my ear. I tell him I have dreamed of this moment all of my life.
I am forced from my daydream as the boy mutters something I can’t understand.
I feel him shudder into me, against me, his fingers gripping my shoulder. He breathes into my ear as his hold on me begins to relax, laying on top of me as if one of the dead. I break my stillness and rub his back, feeling the dampness of his skin. I feel consciousness fading and I fall asleep.
I wake at five in the morning, a deep silence filling the room as I lay under him. The once warm wetness feels chill as the morning breeze enters the window. I push him off me and gather my clothing, taking a last look at him as I dress. He does not know I am here. He sleeps with a smile, dreaming what dreams I know not. I pull the sheet over him and kiss his cheek before I take my leave.
The house is quiet. Boys lay here and there on the floor, cups and other assorted trash lay near their unconscious bodies. I see boy number five. I kneel next to him on the floor.
“Thank you for not being the one tonight.”
I am back in my lovely abode. I change my clothes and smoke a cigarette, another day ready to end. I think of turning on square picture opiate, but I need sleep. I must work tomorrow.
Feeling disappointment over the lack of adventure to be found this day on Las Vegas Boulevard, I fight through the tourists towards the hotel, keeping an eye out for certain individuals that may be hawking drugs that you can’t procure in a pharmacy if you catch my meaning. Allow me a moment to complete this transaction.
Thank you for the patience. This evening will be spent enjoying weed, movies and daydreaming about him. (side note: if you don’t know of him yet, let’s pass over that subject for a moment so I don’t get sidetracked by my obsessions) I purchase a bottle of chardonnay in the store next to the casino and rent a few movies for a dollar from the automated entertainment machine in the parking lot.
My phone keeps buzzing with messages as the elevator finds my floor, but I don’t care to look. I know it will not be Ray, so I am not interested. Pushing the door open with my foot, I throw my bags on the counter and open the bottle. The heat sure gives me a thirst for cold white wine. I kick off my sandals and walk into the bedroom area of the suite, one hand rubbing the soreness in my neck. Stopping in my tracks, wine sloshes over the rim of the glass. There is someone sleeping in my bed.
I can’t see any part of the intruder, as the body is covered by the black comforter and I run through the memories of my brain. Is it possible I brought someone back with me last evening and do not remember? Placing the glass on a card table near the television, I tip toe towards the bed. I push the form under the blanket, hoping to wake the person or heaven’s forbid, animal.
In a flash, a small girl darts from under the covers and takes a stance opposite me, holding a sword in my direction. The sword is as tiny as the girl, who wears brown clothes of a sort, her shirt seeming to be some type of protective vest. Her hair is short, dirty and wild on her head and pretty brown eyes search about the room in utter panic as I wait for her to speak.
I walk backwards toward the bed and reaching behind me and taking care to be slow and quiet about my movements, remove the knife from my purse.
“Are you a Lannister?” the girl asks after what seems to be several minutes.
“I am not,” I say, trying to suppress a laugh.
Her eyes flash in sudden anger and she lunges at me with the mini-sword, but I parry and jump to a safe distance. I hold out my knife in hopes that seeing I am armed must dissuade another attack.
“Where am I?” the girl asks, eyes once again darting about the room.
“You are in Las Vegas,” I say, trying to stay calm.
The girl seems to stagger for a moment, looking weak and pale, the tip of her sword digging into the carpet for support. I run to her, take the sword and lead her to the bed, forcing her to lean against the pillows.
“Are you hurt?” I ask her. She struggles in my arms, trying to escape, but does not have the strength and gives up the fight.
“I am hungry. There is little to eat as we walk towards the wall.”
I release her and for a moment stare, not knowing how to respond. As we walk towards the wall?
“What is your name, girl?” I ask.
“I am not a GIRL!” she yells, trying to make an escape, but I catch her once again in my arms.
Holding her until she stops struggling, I notice for the first time she wears no shoes and her tiny bare feet are caked with dirt and grime.
“Ok, whatever you are, what is your name?”
“Harry,” she responds.
I laugh again and sit next to her on the bed, not wanting her to think I mean her any harm. Seeming to understand, she sits up, her knees under her chin.
“Let me call for food and while we wait, you need a bath post haste,” I say, grabbing the phone and ordering an array of sandwiches, soups and desserts.
I pull clothes from the dresser and motion for her to follow, which she does in silence, leading the way towards the bathroom. Placing the clothes on the toilet seat, I walk to the door.
“If you need anything, yell,” I say.
She does not move and looks about the bathroom in confusion. I shake my head and pull back the shower curtain and turn the knobs to start the water. Taking her by a hand, I lead her to the edge of the tub and try to wave her inside.
“What is your name?” the girl asks, unbuttoning the thick leather vest she is wearing.
“Call me Ella,” I say as I exit the room.
The water stops running as the food arrives and before I finish unpacking all the boxes and setting them on the table the girl opens the bathroom door and steps into the main area. Looking adorable in the pink sweatpants and white tank top, she runs towards the food, grabs a sandwich and begins eating. She finishes the sandwich and begins drinking from a bowl of soup, which causes me to laugh again.
She looks up at me again, brown eyes flashing anger once again, but this time with less intensity.
“You don’t like being teased, do you?” I ask as I watch her eat. She gobbles the chocolate bonbons by the handful and shakes her head in answer. After eating almost everything on the table, she drinks from the wine to wash it all down. She stares at the wine for a few moments before burping.
“My brothers tease me without mercy,” she says after a minute of silence, her eyes closing for a few moments and head tilting forward.
“You must be exhausted, please take a nap,” I say, leading her to the bed.
I put on one of the movies and begin cleaning up the room as the previews come on the television. I see her fighting the desire for sleep and trying to watch the images on the screen. Walking to the bed, I pull back the covers and slip in next to her, which causes her to jump. I place a hand on her arm, trying to calm her.
“You are safe here with me, little Harry, try to enjoy the movie,” I say, grabbing the bowl off the counter, which I prepared as she showered. Lighting the bowl, I inhale deeply, smiling as calmness fills my being. I hit it again and let out a laugh, seeing the first images of the movie flash onto the screen.
The title appears on the screen—LOLITA—-and I give a small clap of approval. I look over to see if the girl is still watching, but she is asleep and curled into a ball, her head buried in the pillows, strands of hair shielding her eyes.
“We shall be famous friends, I can feel it,” I whisper to her, pushing the hair from her eyes.