Newly revamped TKnC welcomes Robin on her debut with this beaut...
This one guy came into the Convenient most afternoons about suppertime, and every time he came, he bought himself some good beer, the kind in green bottles, and a couple cartons of yogurt. We only talked when I told him how much he owed when he walked up to the counter. He didn’t talk to me when he paid, he just handed me his money and waited for his change and said thanks under his breath when he was turning to go. I was used to that, because it isn’t like people who stop by the Convenient pay attention to the checkout girl. People are usually in a hurry to be gone.
I was in a really happy mood one day, though, so when the guy came to the checkout I smiled at him and said looks like you’re really into yeast. He stared at me like I was stupid for saying that, so I said, you know, because there’s yeast in your beer. And in your yogurt. Then he kind of smiled, like he’d missed a beat but then he found it, and he said did I wanna go out and maybe do something together when I got off work.
He was a tall, bony guy with a faded away look to him, kind of tired, kind of pitiful, with his light brown hair and his pasty face, but it was a Friday and getting dark outside, the time of day that makes a person wanna go out and do something new, so I said yes.
All we did when I met him outside after my shift ended was walk a couple blocks down to his apartment. But hey, I figured, what the hell. Maybe he’d like me and I’d get to do something different with him another night.
He walked us back to his kitchen, pulled a couple bottles of Heineken out of his refrigerator, and we leaned against his kitchen cabinets, drinking.
The only light in the room came from this skinny fluorescent tube over the stove that made us look like shadowy hiders in a secret place. It looked darker than dark outside the kitchen windows, because the fire escape stairs hanging outside the windows hid any lights from the street.
The guy told me he was a prison lawyer. He talked about the prisoners some, but other than that, he didn’t say much. I’m not sure he ever even told me his name. Not that I needed his name.
I was kind of mad we hadn’t done anything I was thinking we were gonna do, though, like maybe have a late supper somewhere nice or maybe have a nice drink in a bar or something. Plus the guy kept staring at me like I was a suspect at the county jail or one of those dead bugs stuck on a pin in a bug collection box. So I took a last swig of beer and said I’d better go, but when I reached down to get my purse off the floor, the guy, he grabbed hard on my arm and yanked me back to his bedroom.
It scared me how hard he held on, and him still staring.
I didn’t wanna get hurt or raped or anything so I said I’m sorry you’re mad when he pulled down hard on my jeans, and I stripped, and him staring the whole time, and then we were on the bed and he was feeling of me like he owned me and humping his ass on me in a crazy target practice. I don’t think he made it all the way inside me, though. I don’t think he went inside far enough for it to count. I think I won on that one, because someone on the other side of his front door starting hammering on it, or maybe someone was working out in the hall, I don’t know.
All I know is, the front door wobbled against the force of the mystery fist banging away out there, and the guy stopped to listen. He raised up just long enough for me to think ahead and slide away a little, so I said we’ve made so much noise, maybe somebody’s called the cops.
He kept listening and looking toward the bedroom door, because of all people, I guess a prison lawyer sure wouldn’t wanna be stuck in prison.
The banging stopped then, a chopped-off, silent sound that you could almost say was a loud noise of its own, like a train running sound, or maybe the sound of blood whooshing through your head that you could hear because there wasn’t any other sound to distract you. And that must’ve caused the guy to come back from his purpose-built trance and see me only halfway under him. All I know is, when he looked down and saw I’d moved some, he looked dead pissed.
Then the banging started again, like somebody was testing on a wall with a hammer to find the stud. I smiled up at the guy’s face and whispered maybe you better check and see who’s out there.
He must’ve agreed, because he slapped his pants on and loped out to the front door, with him probably figuring I was stuck in the bed and he was between me and the front door, so what the hell, I couldn’t get away, but I yanked my clothes up and ran back into the kitchen and out the window and just about jumped out on the fire escape.
I almost fell, but I made it down to the pavement and fast-fast around the corner, pulled my jeans back on, and then I ran. I made it down a block and around a corner and then I leaned up against this big brick apartment house to rest.
For a desperate second, I wished so hard I could close my eyes and open them again and a little room would've grown out of the side of that brick wall and I could live in that room, instantly. Living there would be clean and neat and the perfect shrubs and flower beds would stay all around it just like they looked now, leaves and pale flowers shining in the dark, looking like they grew perfect that way, from their birth, and never had needed any trimming. If a room could just appear right behind where I was standing, I would be very quiet so no one would care I was living in that room. But how would I go and ask for that to happen and who would I ask, and anyway, people would think I was crazy.
I saw that guy a couple days later, back at the Convenient. He plops his beer and yogurt down big as you please, and I’m standing above him on the platform behind the checkout counter, and he’s staring up at me with his bug eyes, then he smiles big, says he hopes I have change for a fifty, and I say yes I do, because hell, what else am I gonna say. Here’s this lawyer guy just about capturing people and making it look like a lucky date for them, and he looks good on paper, doing work for the already-captured people he calls the incarcerated, and if I say anything it’s only me against him.
So I gave him his change, but I didn’t smile. I was bone dead finished with the smiling. Plus, he didn’t know it yet, but he was close to being bone dead, too. I’d been thinking about how he left his kitchen windows unlocked.
The thing is, the thing people don't wanna think about but what is really true, is that all it takes to kill a person is to know they need killing, and not to feel bad about doing it.
Then figure out how to get at them when they’re asleep or something, and have a killing something in your hand so when you do get at them, it’ll do the trick fast and pretty quiet. Like maybe a hammer. Even if you’re kind of a skinny girl, so you don’t weigh much, if you beat into a guy’s temple when he’s asleep, he’ll never wake up again, especially if you crunch down on him with it a few times, even after you know he’s conked out. And by his temple I don't mean his balls, which he probably thinks about right away when anybody mentions stuff like 'my body, my temple'. No. I mean one of the two temples on the sides of his head.
Phlap down hard, and I mean hard, on one of those two suckers, cave it in a little, basically, and he's done. Not done like having his balls hammered on. No. I mean, done done. I know this is true. It works out fine. BIO:
Robin Billings lives in Virginia, United States. She's had stories published in the Potomac Journal and in Wilderness House Literary Review. Robin can be contacted on Facebook.
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