Heather's dad's friends showed up wearing ski masks. They both looked like rednecks, like Heather's dad. Wiry. Dangerous. One of them handed her a dark, yellow, stinky strip of cloth. "Wrap this around your eyes," he said. Katy put it up to her nose. It smelled like mildew and crotch.
"Do you have a clean one?"
Katy reached for her purse. The man who had given her the blindfold said, "Leave it. Got a cell phone on you?" She told him it was in the purse. "Good."
She was scared, initially. The men led her outside to a car and helped her in. As the engine started up, she forgot about her fear, worrying instead about the damage the blindfold might do to her hair. It was Saturday, which meant she washed it and used cream rinse to give it an extra bounce that made strangers look at her funny when she walked through the mall. She liked that, the way they looked at her. She was monogamous, however, and she had expected Billy Walker to be the same.
When she found out from her friend Lindsey, who heard it from Kylie, that Billy let his ex-girlfriend Cheryl give him a hand-job in a booth near the back of Tubby's Pizza, on 38th Street, she tore the head off of her Curious George stuffed monkey. She confronted Billy and he denied it at first. When he offered to break up with her, she told him that was unacceptable. Billy's dad was the CEO of Walker Investments. Katy had found her Prince Charming and she was not going to share him or his wallet with any other woman. She went to all her girlfriends at Ivy Tech for advice on how to make sure Billy never strayed again. Only Heather had an idea she thought would be effective. Heather's dad was some kind of thug from the south side of town. Katy didn't want to know too much. Criminals and stuff like that, she felt, should only be on television.
Heather told her that her dad could teach Billy a lesson. "What kind of lesson?" Katy asked. Heather explained that she had been beaten and raped once by a bartender named Danny Box. Her father tracked him down and took him to a warehouse where some crazy guys smashed bricks into his dick until he couldn't walk. Katy said that sounded really 'icky' and she wanted to have children with Billy, so breaking his penis wasn't an option. Heather assured her, "There are other ways to send him a message."
They met with her father. He was tall and skinny and stank like a bar, all whiskey and cigarettes. He dressed like a lumberjack, wearing jeans, t-shirt and a red and black flannel shirt, unbuttoned. Not at all what Katy had expected, based on the few gangster movies she had seen when there was nothing else on television. His name was Walter, but he asked her to call him Pops. He said she was awful pretty and any boy dumb enough to cheat on her was probably queer. Katy said that wouldn't do. If Billy was gay, he was going to have to learn how to be normal. Pops laughed at that. "We can do some damage that'll scare him real nice." He told her five-hundred dollars was the minimum. Katy asked why it was so expensive. Pops explained that he had to pay the men who would be doing the actual work. He started to tell her what was going to happen to Billy for that kind of money. She made him stop. "I want it to be a surprise." And then she asked, "Can I watch?"
Katy focused on the stench of the leather seats in the car, instead of the blindfold. She assumed she was in the back, by herself. The two men who picked her up were in the front. They were probably leering at her thighs. She had worn the highest, tightest black skirt she had, the one she was wearing the first night she allowed Billy to play with her breasts. When he tried running his hand between her legs, she slapped him. "I'm not that kind of girl," she said. She was that kind of girl, but she didn't want a rich boy thinking she was a whore. She made him wait two months before she even touched his pecker. He got so excited he messed up her white, denim skirt she bought at the GAP her senior year in high school. She was proud that it still fit her three years later. And the dummy just about ruined it with his baby-juice. She shifted her thoughts to the car she was in. Gangsters on television always drove big, luxury models. These were south side Indianapolis shit-kickers, though. She decided it was either an ancient Lincoln or a Cadillac. Probably bought with dirty money. They showed stuff like that on Court TV. Katy realized the men in front were talking about her.
"She's a piece of ass," said one.
"Hell, she's a chunk of ass." said the other.
Then there was a smacking sound, like one was giving the other a 'high-five.' Disgusting, she thought. Men had a single-track mind. All of them. They didn't care about relevant things like shopping or television. "Where are we going?" she asked. She wanted them to talk about something other than whether or not she was a natural blonde.
"You don't need to know."
"Oh," said Katy.
The same man spoke. It sounded as if he had turned his head to face her. "Can I ask you a personal question?"
"Yes," Katy said. "I'm a natural blonde. Duh. Do you see any dark roots?" She tossed her hair up to prove it.
"Only one way to know for sure."
The other man said, "She looks like one of these modern girls, you know? Shaves the puss so nobody knows what her real shade is."
Both of them laughed.
"That's not why I..." She shut up. They had managed to make a discussion of her hair-color sexual. Amazing, she thought. They're like sharks. She realized she wasn't really angry at them. She was angry at Billy. This made her feel better about what was going to happen.
The car slowed down and veered to the right. Katy heard gravel crunching and shifting beneath the tires. They parked. The front doors opened and closed and then hers opened and she was helped out. They led her by her elbows, one man on each side of her, across what she assumed was a parking lot. When they stopped, the man to her right let go. She could hear him struggle with a metal door, pushing it along a track that squealed as it rolled. Then she was nudged forward.
The door closed behind her. Pops whispered in her ear, "Take the blindfold off, but keep your mouth shut."
She did so. As her eyes adjusted to what little light was available, she saw that she was in a large, aluminum warehouse. Her drivers stood behind her.
Underneath a single, hanging light bulb was a wooden table-chair. Seated in the chair was Billy. His hair was uncombed, a stupid habit he picked up from watching celebrities on TMZ. He was wearing his Bears jersey, the one with holes all over it that Katy had begged him to throw out and jeans she bought him to replace the pair he had been wearing since, she figured, puberty. His arms and legs were taped to the chair's arms and legs. He was gagged and squirming and trying to protest. He had on a blue blindfold. Katy wondered if it smelled as bad as the one she had to wear. Something developed in her stomach. She thought it might be a reaction to the teaspoon of humus she ate for breakfast. Part of her wanted to laugh. Seeing Billy so helpless, she wanted to chastise him, ask him where his father was now, who was going to save him? More than that, she wanted to tell him exactly what he had done to end up there.
Standing on each side of the chair were two men who looked pretty much like the ones who had driven her there. With the exception of Pops, they all wore ski masks. Pops nodded to one of the men standing near Billy. He walked off into the darkness. The creaking of wheels on a metal cart echoed across the warehouse. When it came into view, Katy could see a handheld sledgehammer and a regular claw-toothed hammer on top of it. Pops motioned for her to follow him over to the cart. He pointed to each implement, the way a model on The Price Is Right might point to a fabulous new car or maybe an awesome set of jewelry. Katy understood what he was asking her. The unpleasant feeling in her stomach spread. She imagined a small animal in her belly slowly stretching its limbs. She took a deep breath. Pops pointed again, this time with jerky, impatient movements.
Katy decided the sledgehammer looked too vicious. Pops pulled her back. The man on the other side of Billy walked around and picked up the claw-toothed hammer. He moved the cart out of the way. The pain in Katy's stomach felt like a hand, pulling down at her throat. She wanted to throw up but her belly was empty. The man with the hammer turned it around and slammed the claw-end of it down on the center of Billy's left forearm.
The hammer landed with a thud and the claw cut into his skin. Billy tried to leap out of the chair but only succeeded in reinforcing the tape around his wrists and legs. His head shook back and forth. The screams forced through his gag came out in panicked wheezes.
The man with the hammer smashed the claw-side into the same spot until the thud was followed by a 'clicking' sound that made Billy react so ferociously he brought the chair off the ground and turned it. Katy screamed and immediately grabbed her mouth. It was the most disgusting thing she had ever seen, with the possible exception of Saw IV, which her last boyfriend forced her to watch because he was a weirdo and that seemed interesting when she first met him. She realized the warehouse had gone quiet again.
Billy murmured her name through his spit-soaked gag"Katy?" It was clear enough that everyone understood it and stared at her.
Pops sighed. He took the hammer from the man who had been using it. He brought it back to Katy and said, "You break the other arm."
Katy refused to take it. She was crying and couldn't speak without choking back her breathes. "I...don't..."
Pops grabbed her by her arm and roughly walked her to the chair. He ripped the gag out of Billy's mouth and removed his blindfold. He wedged the hammer into Katy's hand. "Break his other arm. Now."
Katy shook her head. She could feel Billy trying to make eye contact with her. She didn't want to see anybody, didn't want to be anywhere right then. "I can't," she said again.
"Katy," Billy blubbered. "Please, Katy..."
Pops clenched his fist around Katy's hand holding the hammer and arched her over Billy's right arm. She tried to resist, tried to pull her body away. Pops drew her hand back and forced it to slam into Billy's arm, over and over, until the claw tore into the muscle and flesh and chipped the bone. Pops let go of her and she collapsed, sobbing.
Billy stopped moving. Katy thought he had gone into shock. She learned all about that on ER. And then Billy said, "Don't worry, baby. My dad will get these guys."
Pops shook his head. He turned to the men Katy assumed drove Billy there. "Eighty-six," he said.
They removed the tape holding Billy to the chair. One of the guys picked him up and draped him over his shoulder. The other man pulled Katy to her feet. They led them out of the warehouse to the parking lot.
Katy's eyes adjusted once more. She was shoved into the back of a white, stretch van, along with Billy. He seemed to be in complete shock, carrying on about how he preferred orange Kool-Aid to red Kool-Aid. Katy held her nose. The van smelled worse than the blindfold. There were dark red streaks along the walls. She felt sick again. As the van carried them away, she looked out of the back windows. She had been wrong about the car that brought her there. It was an Oldsmobile.
Copyright © 2011 by Alec Cizak