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Edgewood

 

31 (rough draft)

 

Richard Bly sat under the willow on the small rise to the back of the park. Occasionally, a kid would approach and ask something like, “She isn’t here?”

He’d answer with a shake of the head, sinking further into sadness with each query. Bly had watched Amaretto pass an ounce of pot to a customer, the kid returning a fistful of money. The next day, he looked up how many ounces in a pound.

“$1200.00 might as well be a million,” he muttered to himself, watching the path, realizing Amaretto wasn’t coming, yet still hoping.

He was happy to be close to her, often close enough to smell the stale musk of her hair, the odd mix of tobacco and pot smoke. When permitted, he’d stay close, the prescribed ten feet, watching her and watching the people around her. “If anyone gets out of line, Apple, I’ll pop ‘em and pop ‘em good,” he promised the willow tree, showing his fist as proof.

He thought he could create a plastic bag of pot made up of oregano. If she just put it in her bag, if she didn’t examine it, she would give him what he wanted, what she promised. He imagined her naked, begging him to violate her like the girls in the movies do.

He would.

“A pound of pot,” he said in frustration, holding his hands apart. “Just this much!”

He wondered if Rat Fowler, across the park, down the path and up by the street, had a pound on him. “I could just take it, then Apple would give me what I want.”

“What are you doing here?” a man’s voice intruded from behind, a soft voice.

“Don’t know! It’s a public park! I can be here.”

Kneeling, hooded, Bly thought it was Casey, but it wasn’t.

“Calm down, relax. I was just wondering, that’s all. You can be here.”

“Thanks,” he grumbled.

“Where’s your girlfriend?”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“I’ve seen the two of you up here on the hill, hanging.”

“Look around? Do you see her?”

“That’s why I asked.”

“She’s not here, sorry. Come back tomorrow.”

“I’m not looking for anything. I was just wondering. Don’t you ever just wonder?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“She’s kind of hot.”

“Yes! She is!”

“Did you do her?”

“What? Huh?”

He pushed Bly’s shoulder. “You know.”

“No! But I want to!”

“I bet you do.”

“I’m betting she loves anal!”

“Loves anal?”

Bly squirmed around, worming a magazine page from his pocket, carefully unfolding it. “See?”

The stranger squinted in the dark. “That does look a little like her, but older.”

“It’s not her! It’s a woman in a magazine. She loves anal!”

“She does seem to be enjoying it.”

“Mom beat me once for looking at this.”

“I guess your mother doesn’t love anal.”

Bly’s face went red. “This was my dad’s, in his closet, you know.”

“I guess your father loves anal. Sad, your mother doesn’t.”

“I never thought of that.” He offered the magazine page as proof. “I just know Apple loves anal just like the woman here and all I need is a pound, and she’s going to give it to me.”

“A pound?”

Bly put his fingers to his lips. “Sh, not so loud. Apple always tells me I’m too loud.” He whispered, “A pound of pot.”

“Just what do you and your girlfriend do up here every night?” he asked with an echo of puzzlement.

“Aw, you know. That’s why you came.”

“Yes, I wanted to buy a couple of joints, just like the kids do.”

“Sometimes more!”

“Sometimes. Why do you need a pound, if she sells pot?”

“She doesn’t really sell pot.” He scrunched his face. “She provides an experience.”

“I see.”

“Her pot is better than any pot you could ever buy.”

“What if I could get you a pound?”

“I could get a pound from that kid out there by the street, but I don’t have the money. Getting the pound is easy, the money’s what’s hard.”

“Can you keep a secret?”

“Sure!”

“What if I tell you that I’ll give you a pound of pot, if you do something for me?”

“Sure!”

“You don’t want to know what?”

Bly looked at the magazine page. “No. I’ll do it!”

The man stood, pulling a phone from his pocket. “Keep this with you, don’t use it and I’ll call you on it. You do know how to charge it, don’t you?”

Richard examined the phone. “Yeah, that’s easy.”

“I have to give this some serious thought. Don’t tell anyone that we met, don’t tell anyone about this conversation.”

“And I get the pound?”

“Yes.”

Detective Robert Banner melted into the darkness, exiting the back far side of the park, returning to his car, leaving a blissful Richard Bly to ponder how much Amaretto would enjoy anal sex.

 

Amaretto and Kyle had a brief argument. “As much as my head is turned by some guy spending money on me, you will not waste money on two rooms,” Amaretto said.

“It’s about appearances,” Officer Kyle Penrose argued.

“I’d think anything that happens after I got into your car up the street from my house would be just lumping on. Don’t waste money on two rooms. That would be stupid.”

“Maybe I’m not that type of guy.”

“Maybe you assume too much.”

 

The wind on the beach played with Amaretto’s hair, the canopy of stars falling into the ocean, the glow of the boardwalk attempting to intrude from behind.

“Here with your family?” a voice did intrude.

Amaretto shrugged. “Me and my boyfriend.”

“Some boyfriend, leaving you alone.”

She turned, a boy, late teens, self-assured. She waved a hand like shooing flies. “I’m not in the mood for a kid who thinks he’s a player.”

“I’m just being friendly.”

With a roll of the eyes, Amaretto answered, “My boyfriend is off getting us a room for the weekend.”

“Oh, you’re that kind of girl.”

“You know, you and me, in this moment, a boy and a girl, no history, waves lapping at our feet, stars falling into the sea, our lives intersecting could speak of grand things like why Cassandra of Troy wouldn’t be believed, why a just God would allow us to suffer and die or how a periwinkle’s life is full, but not from where we’re standing.”

“Eh, I –”

Watching out over the ocean, Amaretto showed him a palm. “We could speak of such things, but all you wish to do is get in my pants.”

He narrowed his eyes at her, unseen, Amaretto watching the ocean. “What’s a periwinkle?”

“A periwinkle is a small snail that lives in the sea. In its lifetime, it may only travel twelve inches.”

“That’s kind of boring.”

“And, that’s the point. It’s boring to us, but to the periwinkle, it’s his life, whole, fulfilling and complete.”

“Still, kind of boring.”

Amaretto pointed upward. “To God, we are like the periwinkle.”

He blinked three times. “I guess, huh?”

“Do you love the periwinkle, and care about its life?”

“Are they edible? I might care if they’re edible.”

Amaretto smiled. “Thanks for stopping by.”

Dismissed, he started off, then turned back. “Thanks.”

She nodded.

“Who’s that?” Kyle asked, coming to her side.

“Watch your tone, Kyle. Just a kid looking to hook up.” She handed off her sneakers and socks, rolling up her pant legs to the knee.

“The nerve.”

“Hey, if I were on the beach right now, I’d hit on me, too.” She stepped into the ocean halfway to her knee, gentle waves caressing her.

“You’re not really supposed to be in the water after dark.”

Amaretto shrugged, walking in an odd dance. “I’m known for doing what I’m not supposed to do.”

“You look like that clam goddess.”

“Clam goddess.” She smiled. “Aphrodite. Clam goddess. I look nothing like the depictions of her. Not even close.” She looked down. “She rose from the foam, you know, out of the sea.”

“I thought she came from a giant clam.”

Amaretto rolled her eyes. “Human beings have always had this deep, hidden fear of their children.”

“What?”

She halted in the waves, turning, facing Kyle ten feet away. “Trust me, that’s true, even if you’re not aware of it. Anyway, Chaos so feared his son’s prodigy, he cut his kid’s dick and balls off, casting them into the ocean. Aphrodite, the clam goddess, rose from the foam. Do you still think I look like something that rose from dick foam?”

He watched her, the stars a backdrop, the glow from the boardwalk illuminating her, Kyle speechless.

She came from the sea, coming under him, watching his soft baby face, eyeing his pouty lips. “Sorry. Did you mistake me for a little girl?”

“No, it’s not that.”

“I really wish people in general would read a fucking book now and then, instead of just looking at the pictures.”

He sighed. “What do you want to do?”

“Let’s get some sandwiches and soda, go to the room and watch TV.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

 

Candice became aware of herself, a distant streetlight cutting a gray shaft across the basement. Stale books and human musk stung at her nose as she tried to breath. She watched the acoustic tiles and the inset light for an indeterminable time, her naked back stuck to the table, her feet dangling over the edge.

She wondered where her clothes were, realizing her sweatshirt and bra where pushed up to her neck. “Must get dressed,” she moaned, her body too painful to move, her groin hurt, wet and sticky as she rolled on the table, feeling for her corduroy backpack with the daisy design.

The backpack was where she thought it should be. Returning to her back, she wiped tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand, narrowing her eyes to see the display on her phone, pushing nine-one-one, the church address, “Basement. October. Only.”

Her hands dropped to her stomach as she sobbed. She wanted to pull her sweatshirt and bra down but couldn’t, she wanted to find her pants. She watched the acoustic tiles through the tears and waited.

After two and a half geological ages, the gray shaft of light wavered and disappeared. “I’m coming!” October called, thumping on the glass. The gray shaft returned. The window shattered.

Candice managed to get up on an elbow as October dropped through the opening to the floor, rushing to Candice, Candice’s arms coming around October, October going forehead-to-forehead.

“I’m sorry,” Candice moaned. “I have to get dressed.”

October took a deep breath and made determinations. She wanted to scream, You’ve been raped, but stating the obvious didn’t seem to matter.

“Abby, I think I’d better call an ambulance,” October said as matter-of-factly as she could.

“No, can’t, don’t want to.”

“Okay, Abby. Can you stand?”

“I don’t have any feeling in my legs,” she sobbed.

“Try, lean on me.”

Candice staggered to her feet.

“There’s a restroom,” October said, nodding. “We have to get you in there.”

“Am I bleeding out?”

Must feel that way. “No, Abby. That’s not blood.”

Candice managed some steps on her own. “I lost count, Ockie. I lost count.”

“Sh, let’s get you out of here.”

With the water in the sink running and fists full of paper towels, October had Candice feeling almost human. October found Candice’s pants, panties and socks neatly folded on the table next to where Candice was raped. Dressed, up the stairs, the door opened from the inside – October thought she might have to break it down – leaning on October, October pulled Candice a dozen blocks from the church, putting her on a bench.

October, phone to her ear, requested a cab. “I’m taking you home, to my house, Abby.” October said.

Candice nodded into a handful of paper towels.

As cheery as possible, October said into her phone, “Hi, Mrs. Abbott! Abby and I are going back to my house, she’s going to hang, you know, with the weekend, catch up on our schoolwork and have pancakes for breakfast.”

“How was Abby’s first church?”

“Fun was had by one and all, I’m sure.”

She closed her phone. “The way you’re beat up, Mom’s going to ask questions, but certainly not as hard as your mom would.”

“I’m sorry, Ockie.”

“You say you’re sorry one more time, I’m going to smack you so hard, your grandkids will feel it.”

Candice looked up with painful eyes from the paper towels. “I know for a fact you’d never smack me, so just cut it out.”

October dropped on the bench, taking Candice to her shoulder.

“How could I be so stupid?” Candice asked.

“The dimples?”

Candice sobbed, giggling. “The dimples are cute.” She snuggled in. “You can never, ever tell anyone.”

“Because you don’t want Brig and Apple doing rock-paper-scissors for the honor of burning the church down?”

“I don’t want Brig and Apple arguing over whether to beat Christian to death or skin him alive, staking him out for the ants.”

“I guess we’re not going to the police?”

“No, Ockie, I can’t. I was so fricking stupid. A blind guy driving by fast could have seen that coming. Apple told me. She fricking told me. I got what I was asking for,” she said into October’s shoulder.

“No, Abby, you did not ask for this.”

“I didn’t mean it that way. He picked me out. He said it was a tossup between me, Sally Gunther and a girl I never heard of.”

“Prettiest girl in the grade. If that were the criteria, I would have picked you, too.”

Still in October’s shoulder, Candice said, “Pretty girls need to understand their place, and Christian’s mission is to do that.”

“You okay?”

“I think I will be. This is like a day in the life for Apple, huh?”

“I have great respect for Apple and what she endures, always standing tall as the world kicks her in the gut repeatedly.”

“I knew, but never imagined, never gave it any thought, the reality.”

“I think you should talk to Apple when you feel up to it.”

“I’ll see. Apple gets that look in her eye, you know. Like when she talks about Fisher. She says it’s all understandable and forgiven, behind her, but those eyes, Ockie, those eyes. One day, they’re going to find Fisher skinned and strung upside-down in the Pines, Apple with that smirk on her face, claiming to know nothing about it.

“She’s scary sometimes.”

“She’s my new fricking hero.”

 

Casey walked in the night, unseen and unheard, casing a dead end street. He didn’t much care that the street was a dead end, but he couldn’t do anything about that. He located the house he wanted, a stand-alone bungalow surrounded by a wire fence, the driveway gate open, a car in the driveway. One light shown from the house, a dancing blue glow, which Casey assumed was a television.

He watched for a short time, then slipped along the driveway, into the backyard, waiting. The adjacent yards were dark, quiet, lights in windows bore witness people were home. Dogs would not betray his presence.

 He looked in the back window, a window into the dining room, unable to see much, but could see enough. The window was on a crack. Casey knew he could remove the screen, open the window, enter and then exit, with no one knowing.

Casey walked the three miles home. He considered stopping over October’s but changed his mind.

 

Weighted down with her duffle and dark Hello Kitty backpack from the trunk of the car, still barefoot, Amaretto pushed by Kyle, entering the room, dropping her bags and her pants to the floor.

Kyle placed his bag on the bed, narrowing his eyes at Amaretto.

“What?” she asked, looking down, putting her hands on her hips. “You didn’t think I had any modesty, did you?”

“I didn’t expect –”

“My pants got wet – in the ocean.”

“Oh. You look much different, you know.”

“You mean without my Halloween costume?” She pushed buttons on the TV remote, scrolling channels until she found a black and white image. “That’ll do,” she said, dropping the controller on the desk.

“Yes. You look much younger.”

 Now, you’re wondering if you can fuck a kid, now that I look like a kid, she thought, giving him a slow up-down. “You look much younger without your uniform, too.”

“What’s the movie?”

“Old sci-fi from the 50’s. I’ve seen it a couple times.”

“Really.”

“It’s a commentary on how human beings suck, as was most sci-fi from the 50’s.”

Kyle rifled through his bag, putting a tee shirt and sweatpants over his arm. “You think that, don’t you?”

Amaretto wrestled from her sweatshirt, leaving her in just her high cut white cotton panties. “Think what? I’m going to take a shower, if you don’t mind.”

“People suck. Why should I mind?”

If you don’t mind is rhetorical, a phrase we add on just because and yes, I feel most people suck, most the time.”

His face went early morning sun red, yet he couldn’t turn away. “You don’t really have a little girl’s body,” he managed to blurt out.

And, excuses and justifications begin. “Thanks, I guess.” You don’t want to attempt comparing me with another goddess?

Scrubbed, lathered and rinsed, Amaretto lingered in the shower, the delicious hot water filling the room with steam. She liked the shore, the ocean, the boardwalk, the salt-rich air and the stench of decaying sea creatures, both animal and vegetable. She smiled, recalling people saying I like the smell of the ocean, not realizing most of that smell is the smell of death.

Amaretto thought how nice a visit to the shore would be if she weren’t working.

“Do this often?” she asked, sitting on the toilet, peeing, the door open.

“Do what?” Kyle answered.

“Bring girls to the shore.” She knew the answer.

“No, not really. Actually, not at all.”

She reentered the room, watching him watch her, pulling her panties up, fluffing her oversized tee shirt with the cartoon cow print. “What’s happening?”

Kyle, sitting against the backboard, changed into sweatpants and tee shirt, held a wrapped sandwich forward. “The humans don’t seem to like the alien.”

She took the sandwich, unwrapping the paper, dropping on her belly, facing the TV. “If I were to write this, I’d have Klaatu hypnotize Benson and rape her, then in movie two, call it The Day the World Got Fucked, twenty years later, the kid would discover how human beings treated her father, and using alien powers, she’d fuck up all the humans.”

“No happy ending?”

“That is my happy ending.”

“Klaatu’s the alien guy?”

She looked back at Kyle. “Are you checking out my underwear?”

“Apple, no!”

She smiled. “Well, you haven’t been watching the movie.”

“Kind of boring.”

“I’ve got good company, a TV, a roast beef hoagie with cheese and a Coke. That’s maxed out excitement for me.”

He pulled his bag off the floor, fishing, coming up with a bottle. “Bourbon? You like Bourbon?”

“I’ve tried it and no. I like beer once in a while. Love, love my pot.”

“Pot’s illegal.”

Us being on this bed together is illegal. “I know, I know. I can’t drink, either.” She reached back, pulling his gym bag to her.

“Hey!” he objected.

“You’re check out my underwear, I’ll see what you have.”

“That’s private!”

“So’s my underwear.”

Leaning forward, he yanked the bag away, but not before Amaretto pulled a bottle of pills from it. “Rohypnol? What’s that?”

“Give it here.”

“Calm down, Kyle. It’s not like I’m going to call the cops.” She shook the bottle. “What this for?”

“If you must know, Apple, sometimes I get anxiety attacks.”

“Is it a good high?”

“It’s not about being high.”

“I’ve tried most the shit.”

“You do remember I’m a cop.”

Handing the bottle over, she said, “I’m not sure you could arrest me for things I say without collaborating evidence.”

“True.”

“I watched a guy overdose on coke. Not pretty.”

“Did he die?”

“Not that time, but it certainly made me think about drugs, you know.”

 Kyle tucked the pill bottle in the bag, zipping the bag shut, stowing it on the floor. “You don’t drink?” Kyle gathered up the trash from dinner, passed the remote to Amaretto and returned to his position against the headboard, working on his bourbon.

“I said. Just beer once in a while.” She clicked the TV off. “I really do have this dark thing going on, Kyle. Depression, sometimes so bad it’s like a dark fog hiding everything good. Pot helps push it back.”

“Sounds like an excuse.”

You don’t have a little girl’s body is an excuse. That I put my panties in you face is an excuse. “Maybe I just like getting high. Would that be so terrible?”

“Did you bring any pot with you?”

Of course. “No. I didn’t want to put you in that position.”

His hand came to the back of her upper leg. “Do you dance? You have strong legs?”

“No.”

“You do know you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do?” Kyle asked, his hand kneading her flesh.

And, there it is: The granddaddy of all excuses. “I know, Kyle.” I only wish your touch creeped me out, but I feel nothing. “That feels good.”

His hand came up, his finger touching her underwear. Amaretto bit her lip, holding back tears. “That feels even better,” she said in a coo, wishing with all her being she were high or with October.

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