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Josephine Damian
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finished.jpg
Art by John and Flo Stanton 2009

FINISHED

 

 

Josephine Damian

 

                                           

Seated at the bar, Amber wants to be sexy in a casual way so she tosses her long hair and smoothes her short skirt—this last gesture an excuse to touch his leg beside hers, the one he presses against her.

 

They met on MySpace. If he noticed her lie about her age, or wonders if she’s still in high school and not college like she says, she imagines he’s too cool to say so. It pleases her to see he read—really read—her profile. Without asking, he orders her her favorite drink.

 

They talk about nothing, and laugh at everything. Then he asks if she wants to come back to his place. “You know, hang out and stuff,” he says.

 

Amber sees that like her, he keeps it casual. Unlike her, his MySpace is not a lie. He’s everything he says so. She can tell. She’s been around.   

 

To stall, to make him think she needs to think it over, she reaches for her drink, her second. This time, she has to force herself to sip it. This time the margarita makes her nauseous. She hides her grimace behind her smile, her way of saying yes—yes to everything.  

 

Later that night, after the third time he rapes her and after the first time he beats her, she lives in fear he’ll kill her and dump her somewhere. Instead, he holds her prisoner in his room for five days and keeps her hungry for death. 

 

On the morning of this, the sixth day, Amber awakes. Naked and bruised, she swallows the blood that pooled in her mouth overnight. She takes in a breath, slow and easy, but that pain fires through her broken rib again. It’s an odd blessing, really. It forces her to lie on her right side, to curl against the edge of the sticky mattress—as far away from him as she can be. Throughout these nights, between her fits of slumber, Amber keeps her back to him, and listens to his soft breathing that holds steady and even, for it is peaceful dreams he has.

 

Now, Amber listens. She hears nothing.

 

Measured and deliberate so as not to rattle the chain, she rolls over. Slow. Slower. She stops. She prays her movements do not wake him. The metal collar around her throat chokes when she dares turn her face towards his.

 

Only he’s not there.

 

Six days and never, not once does he leave her alone, not even to get food. Once or twice each day he shares a wedge of frosted chocolate cake, or a cold calzone. Like a pet that spoils for human food, he throws bits of it at her, bites enough to keep her alive, alive but weak. Once or twice a day each he makes her thank him for these treats—her favorites, or so her MySpace says—and isn’t he nice, he asks, for remembering what she says she likes. She always agrees, knowing too well the price not to do so. Bite by bite, Amber watched the rations vanish, for she knew once their food was gone, so too would her time here be over—something she looks forward to, for once or twice each day he rapes her.

 

But now he’s gone.

 

In giddy haste, Amber scurries for the door, but the chain, measured so, reins her back. Half-hearted she comes within reach of the curtained window.

 

Almost. No surprise. Though gone, he finds ways to taunt her. Hand over hand she follows the chain back to the bracket that bolts it to the bedside wall; its metal links a cold jolt against bruised flesh. Amber clasps the end of her shackles, and places a foot to either side of the mounting. She yanks.

 

Broken rib aching, her muscles straining, Amber tugs and kicks, grunts and writhes from side to side but soon loses purchase. In silence, she curses sweaty wet palms. Spent, finished, she lays on the crumb-specked floor.

 

Minutes pass. She wonders: Is it possible to will yourself dead?

 

Amber focuses—she commands her fear-addled heart to seize and sputter, so at first doesn’t hear the car door slam—once, and then again, or the jangle of his keys, or the rustle of his paper bags. Panic as he enters for she sees the mattress is displaced from her futility with the chain; deep instinct makes her—quick—right the bed lest he demonstrate the length and breadth of his contempt.

 

Please God. Let this death be quick.

 

His long labor with the bags, bolts, and locks gives her time enough to crawl back onto the mattress. Knees drawn to her chest, arms wrapped around her knees—the only modesty nudity allows—Amber keeps her head down. She waits. For certain, this is where it ends.

 

“Hey, beautiful,” he says.

 

Hearing the smile in his voice, Amber risks a look up at him.

 

Oh, no.

Not trusting her eyes, she blinks. It can’t be, but it is. He’s not alone. There’s a young girl cradled in his arms. She hangs limp. Dead weight.

 

Eager for Amber to admire his prize, he sets the girl there beside her on the mattress. Stunned, she watches his fingers fumble as he undoes buttons on the girl’s blue flowered dress. A glance at the gash in her skull is answer enough to the question Amber need not ask.

 

“Amber, this is Megan.”

 

The fasteners frustrate so he wrenches the bowie knife from its ankle holster—a weapon brandished when she first got in his car and fought back, her anger fueled by the realization her margarita boasted more than one kind of twist.

 

The eight-inch blade makes quick work of the girl’s dress—all lace trim and billowy folds. No doubt an aging mother’s choice, so Amber presumes.

 

He smiles when he severs Megan’s white bra straps, but frowns as the knife slices the strings of her red thong, this rebel flag of adolescence.

 

That first night with Amber, with his fists and with his cock did he show her his disappointment over her not being a virgin. Each time he raped her he made her tell him all about her first time. Did it hurt? Did you come? No to both questions, but she knew enough to tell him otherwise.

 

He said he wants them woman enough but so young that when he shoves it in, he can feel their bones crack. He said he likes to watch their virgins’ eyes roll back in their head from the pain, from that and the horror of their school girl folly—for posting profiles designed to attract. He said more than anything, he knows they enjoy what he does to them no matter how much they try to hide it. He says it’s payback for all the virgin whores who taunted him at school: their first and last fuck, his most sweet revenge.    

 

Replacing the knife in its sheath, he balls Megan’s shredded clothes and underwear in his fists. With a flourish, he tosses them in the overflowing trash can. He does not wait or care that he misses.

 

His eyes have already joined his hands, on Megan.  He starts to tell Amber all about his new girl. How her MySpace says she loves horses and drawing, burgers and fries. Amber eyes the bulging grease-stained paper bags he tossed on the desk when he first came in, and with a sinking realization she understands. That food will not be shared with her.

 

He goes on, saying Megan wants to be a teacher when she grows up. And then he laughs.

 

This close, Amber can’t help but see the girl as he does: a captive little miss: budded breasts, a hip with a promise of curve, the tentative sketch of hair between her legs.

 

Jesus. She’s just a kid. Thirteen? Fourteen? Probably a virgin.

 

Like he hoped she was. But what if Megan isn’t?

 

When Amber averts her eyes, he grabs the knife and jabs Amber with it. Blood trickles down inside her thigh, the soft place where his blade hit home.

 

“Don’t look away, bitch. I want you to watch me fuck her.”

 

This last he slurs so that it comes out: watch me, fucker.  She glares back but then concedes. She tries to keep her gaze unfocused.

 

He peels off his white T-shirt and bends over Megan. His tongue, his lips and fingertips explore this find, and his eyes, they now prefer this novelty to Amber.

 

As she tries not to watch him probe and violate the girl, she wonders if she can make him angry so he’ll use the knife on her again. If she refuses her role as audience for his sick show, he’ll kill her now, for certain. Her leg inches off the mattress, leaving a blood trail in its wake.

 

About to make a break for the bathroom, Amber hears something: a moan. She looks down. The sound is not from him, but from the girl, this Megan, who comes to now, about to be aware of what he does, of what he is about to do. 

 

“Hey princess,” he says, his voice avuncular and yet a lover’s croon. “You’re just in time.” He backs off the mattress, stands and unzips his black jeans. He wiggles them down and off along with his shorts, but the blade in its ankle sheath impedes, so he plucks at the holster’s Velcro stays and then places the knife on the floor beside the mattress, out of Amber’s reach.

 

Already erect, Amber can see the pearl of cum that adorns the tip of his cock.

 

He settles in on top of Megan and uses his legs to ease hers apart, wide.

 

Ambers knows now. There’s only one way to stop him. “Hey, wait.”

 

He glowers, for hers is not a speaking role.

 

Ambers spreads apart her own legs. She touches herself. Her middle finger slides in, slides out, and in and out, to whet his desire while she formulates a plan. Megan stirs but he doesn’t pay attention. From the look on his face Amber can tell she has him.  

He kicks Megan off the mattress. Amber tries not to wince when she hears the girl’s head bounce against the floor. She hopes the jolt wakes her. She needs Megan’s help.

 

When he squeezes Amber’s left breast, hard, she sighs and shifts her hips lower. She seeks the heat of him.

 

With a grin he says, “I knew you’d come around.”

         

To prove it she wraps her legs around him and lets him thrust into her, deep, and deeper still, more deep than all the times before. This time, he finds her sweet spot.

         

Come on, Megan. Wake up.

         

“Oh yeah,” she says. “That’s it.” And louder, “That’s so good.” From the corner of her eye she sees Megan peep over the edge of the mattress. Her tear-streaked face, a mask of shock and horror.

 

Clutching him to her, Amber writhes and rocks beneath him.

 

“Mmm . . . baby, you’re juicing up nice,” he murmurs, his face buried in her neck.

 

“That’s it,” she says as her eyes move from Megan to the knife, Megan, the knife. At the girl, she mouths: Megan, get the knife.

 

Alert, sensing her distraction, he jerks his head up, but Amber makes her move. Swift and sure, she maneuvers him around and under. Now she’s on top, the one who’s doing it. The chain rattles, keeping time with her movements. Like waves crashing ashore, the storm’s advance, her body ripples in rhythm. She leans forward and lets her long hair caress his face. She tickles his eyes closed.

         

Megan understands the cue and moves but her hands tremble, bad. All she can do is to push the holstered knife at Amber, behind her, near.

         

He’s raped her so many times, Amber knows, can feel him, getting ready. Familiar is his tense focus, the distortions of his face, the quickening of his breath. Arching, reaching back, she grabs for the knife just as the force of her own orgasm rips through her once, and then a second aftershock. An astonishment. Surprise! 

 

He holds back on himself and enjoys the sight of Amber as she shudders, gasps, and then goes limp. Panic when he sees the knife gone from where he left it.

 

Before Amber can understand the madness of her plan, he gets the knife away from her. She’s back now where she started, pinned beneath him. Straddling her, with both hands raised, he plunges the knife into her chest. Her skin, her flesh, her bones give way. Her disobedient heart, at last, surrenders and when Amber’s eyes roll back in her head he comes inside her.

 

Safe, sated, vindicated, he pulls out. He unlocks the chain from around Amber’s neck and kicks her bloody carcass on the floor. He grins at Megan.

 

She cowers on the floor beside the mattress, too scared to scream.

 

 

 

 

Josephine Damian holds a certification in Advanced Sexual Predator Analysis. In December 2008 she earned a master’s degree in Criminal Forensics Studies: Behavioral Analysis, and wrote her thesis on everything you always wanted to know about sociopaths but were way too afraid to ask. When she was the assistant to a diva forensic anthropologist at the Medical Examiner’s Office it was Josephine’s job to cook the corpse. Since 2007, her short fiction has appeared in Out of the Gutter and Bad Things.

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