1. clarise

    clarise Precious princess

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Messages:
    16,779
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    █████That Monday evening the Turner household celebrated Carol’s first official day on the job. They held the little party upstairs, since Carol’s in-laws had the largest dining room in the triple decker. William Sr. and Carol’s mother-in-law, Mary, took the heads of the table. Tommy and Jessica sat on one side, toward the windows, and Carol sat on the remaining side with Billy, who spent much of the time disgruntled.
    █████Shortly after dessert, Uncle Mikey and Aunty Penny came upstairs with their brood. The kids split up by age and escaped to various televisions while the adults remained around the table to talk about Carol’s new position.
    █████She certainly harbored many misgivings. Having finished the day a few hours ago and having had some time to reflect, she realized it would be irresponsible to go back there tomorrow. But she had a real job now and would not be able to forfeit the paycheck unilaterally. She would first need the support of the Turner clan. She attempted to garner a shred of sympathy from Billy and her repugnant in-laws by divulging some of the less consequential aspects of the job. “I work in the same room with him, all day long,” she reported. “I have to face the wall and sit on a stool.”
    █████William Sr. sagely declared, “Good. No big puffy chair for the help; backless stool keeps you alert. No problem with that. Sounds like this feller knows his what-for.”
    █████Billy Jr. grunted, “At the sheet metal plant, I don’t even get a chair. On m’feet all day.”
    █████William Sr. addressed Carol, “Don’t get on yer lily-white high horse if he gives yer sweet butt a pinch, neither. Just thank him fer the compliment and go about yer business. Hell, I give my little worker bees a swat on the butt whenever they do right, and not a single one’s ever complained.”
    █████Gramma Mary shrewdly muttered, “Such the proud cock in the henhouse, Bill.”
    █████Billy Jr. groused, “I don’t want no white-shirt swattin’ my woman on the butt.”
    █████Uncle Mikey taunted, “Then get a real job and start makin’ a decent living so she don’t have to, numbnuts.”
    █████“Mikey’s right, boy,” William Sr. declared, “and that’s fer shit-sure. If yeh could provide fer the little lady, she wouldn’t have t’work. Yer mother here ain’t worked a day in her life, ‘cause I’m a real man.”
    █████The insinuation that Billy was, ipso facto, not a real man, made him even more irritable. He did not need reminding, at home, of his inadequacies. He heard it often enough at work and at the corner bar.
    █████Now they were all yelling at each other, the women too, and Carol really didn’t think this was going her way, so she interjected, “It won’t stop at pinching my butt, once it starts. I’ve seen and heard enough to know that Dr. Spencer believes in managing with a firm hand.”
    █████Gramma Mary sagely advised, “Face it, girl, a strong man’s guiding hand will only improve you.” Then, without missing a breath, she said, “You didn’t say you’re workin’ in a doctor’s office, honey.” She sounded impressed.
    █████Carol said, “He’s not that kind of doctor, Mary.” She tried to stare at the ceiling, but could focus on nothing at all; it was hopeless.
    █████Her mother-in-law kindly said, “Yer just bein’ a grump, that’s whut. Can’t be all bad. Can’t yeh think of some nice things about yer new job, workin’ in a doctor’s office and all?”
    █████“Well, there is no time limit for lunch, and I can take breaks whenever....”
    █████There were gasps around the room.
    █████Uncle Mikey stormed, “I only get a half hour fer lunch! We got a frickin’ young woman exec-a-tive here!”
    █████Aunty Penny jealously asked, “What exactly is it you do, honey, asides sit there and look pretty?”
    █████Carol blinked and confessed, “Well, umm, not much, really. So far the job is mostly just reading. But there will be filing and dictation, too.”
    █████Aunty Penny, her eyes like slits, hissed, “Yer’ getting twenty bucks an hour with no punchin’ out or nuthin’, just to primp on a chair and stuff papers in a drawer, and yer complainin’? Christ, honey. Sounds like yer gonna shop more than yer gonna work.”
    █████William Sr. snorted, “Well said, Penny. Billy, what d’yeh think o’that? Think yer little lady can put up with a little swat on the tush now an’then fer twenty bucks an hour into the cookie jar?”
    █████Billy Jr. muttered, “Shit, I don’t make no twenty bucks an hour. An’ I gotta punch out, too.”
    █████Uncle Mikey said, as though stating the blatantly obvious to a child, “B’cause yer a brainless dipweed, like I’ve been tellin’ y’all yer mis’rable life.”
    █████Gramma Mary pried, “Sooo, this doctor o’yours, how old is he, anyway? Bet he’s an old coot, all the doctors is old, that’s whut.”
    █████Carol stammered, “I dunno.”
    █████Uncle Mikey suggested, “Well think, girl! You’ve seen his desk. What about the pictures of his kids? How old are they?”
    █████Aunty Penny glanced at her husband with approval, apparently impressed by his powers of deduction.
    █████Carol murmured, “He doesn’t have pictures of kids.”
    █████Gramma Mary suggested, “Prob’ly all off to college then.”
    █████Aunty Penny nodded.
    █████Carol thought this might have been the end of it, but Billy Jr., had become uncomfortably obsessed with the question and pressed, “Well, woman, how old do you think he is?”
    █████“Umm, not that old, really....” She knew for a fact he was twenty-six, and younger than she, but she prevaricated, “Most likely in his late twenties or early thirties.”
    █████Billy Jr. railed, “Well, goddamnit, that’s your age! Does he wear a ring?”
    █████“Umm, no,” she said, staring at her lap.
    █████Billy Jr. stood so abruptly that his chair and beer can went flying. “Yer quittin’! Yer quittin’ tonight, bitch!”
    █████William Sr. dangerously hissed, “Sit down, Billy.”
    █████Billy Jr. did not hear his father. He jabbed a finger at Carol’s forehead and said, “I won’t have no wife o’mine lookin’ sexy fer a white-shirt who might-a necked with’er in some car in high school!’
    █████William Sr. stood, hauled his arm back, and backhanded Billy Jr. across the face, knocking him back into the cupboard. Billy Jr. staggered back up with a bloody lip and clenched fists.
    █████“I said, sit yer dumb ass down, Billy.”
    █████Several kids peeked around the corner— the youngest of Uncle Mikey and Aunty Penny’s brood, as well as Tommy.
    █████One of the cousins declared to Tommy, “Grampa Bill just kicked your Dad’s butt.”
    █████Tommy shrugged and mumbled, “They fight all the time.”
    █████Aunty Penny yelled, “Go play afore I tan yer hides.”
    █████Carol cast her eyes about furtively for Jessica and Colleen, suddenly filled with anxiety that they might have been spying from around a corner, perhaps listening in on this trash from behind the parlor’s entertainment center. Carol did not condone Jessica’s exposure to swill of this kind, but in such a tiny house, with three families packed in on top of each other, the occasional broadening of Jessica’s horizons could not be avoided.
    █████Gramma Mary stood up and brought back a few more beers, saying to Carol, “Well it sounds t’me like yeh picked yerself a nice young gentleman t’work fer. Doctor ‘n all. An’ Billy,” she said to her son, “don’t you worry none. Carol knows her place, an’ she’s a happily married gal, an’ this Dr. Spencer sounds like a real gentleman and a puhfessional, so you ain’t got nothin’ t’worry about.”
    █████Carol quietly said, “Maybe entering the workforce is a bad idea.”
    █████“No it ain’t,” said William Sr. “Hell, someone downstairs gotta pay the rent. Don’t you worry yer little head, an’ if my boy gets all smarmy, you just come’n see me, and I’ll take his scrawny ass out t’the woodshed straightaways. Asides, we’ve all been waitin’ fifteen years fer you to get off yer ass and apply yerself.”
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  2. clarise

    clarise Precious princess

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Messages:
    16,779
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    █████Colleen and Jessica had been hiding around the corner, behind the colossal entertainment center, just as Carol had suspected, and they had heard the entire exchange. Now the conversation between the adults had devolved, if such a thing were possible. They had popped another round of beer cans, and the cousins knew that all sense of coherency would soon be lost. They crept back to the stairs and retreated to Jessica’s narrow, cheerless bedroom. Colleen flopped onto the bed and scowled at the hanging lightbulb. Jessica sat cross-legged on the old chair at her small desk, and absently riffed the pages of a book that she wanted to return to before bedtime.
    █████Colleen gushed, “Your Mom’s new boss sounds like a real catch.”
    █████“Yes,” Jessica agreed, “and Father Figure thought so, too.”
    █████Colleen qualified, “But, like, it sounds like your mom might go over his knee now and then. You catch that bit about a firm hand? Your Dad didn’t like that part at all.”
    █████Jessica shrugged and said, “I don’t see why it troubled him. At least I won’t be the only one around here hiding bruises.”
    █████Colleen stared at the ceiling, altogether oblivious of Jessica’s melancholy, and said, “You’re so lucky your Mom’s going to work. I wish my Mom would get out of my hair.”
    █████Jessica thought about her father, and how he hovered around the hallway whenever she stepped out of the shower, and she wondered whether the dresser would be enough to barricade herself in this bedroom. She replied, “Umm,” and wistfully thumbed through a text.
    █████“You and your goddamned books. Don’t tell me you’re gonna do more homework tonight.”
    █████“I am the youngest in my class. I have to work doubly hard to keep up.”
    █████“Hah. I know some girls in your math class with Marshall. They say you always have the right answer, always.”
    █████Jessica shrugged.
    █████“They also say you could be friendlier.”
    █████This accusation made Jessica wince. It struck a nerve. She had no friends, outside of family. None. Zero. Null. Naught. “I am friendly to you, Colleen.”
    █████“Duh. We’re cousins, and we live in the same house! And speaking of friends, I gotta say this: you could be a better friend to me.”
    █████“How so?”
    █████“Why do you keep trying to break up with Jimmy?”
    █████Jessica sighed. “Because I don’t like the way he touches me, and I have nothing in common with him. He never wants to talk. He is childish.”
    █████Colleen scoffed, “Childish! He’s a year older than you are, you nut! You should feel lucky to have an older boy. Especially being, well— oh, don’t look at me that way, Jess”—
    █████“A freak.”
    █████“Not even! Just, well— nerdy. In a cute way. Like a shiny bug.”
    █████Jessica petulantly said, “Thanks. Thanks a lot. So, according to Miss North Shore, I’m nothing but a bug. Whatever. Look. Summer is over, Coll. I am extremely busy with school, and I don’t see why I need a boyfriend.”
    █████Colleen chittered, “You’re such a little girl sometimes. Come on, Jessi, I’m trying to get it on with Carl; you know that.”
    █████“I don’t see what that has to do with me.”
    █████“Well how are we supposed to do stuff together and hang out if you don’t have a boyfriend?”
    █████“Colleen, I do hang out with you. We do aerobics together, just about every afternoon.”
    █████“Yeah, a whole fifteen minutes. I mean with guys. You gotta have Jimmy on your arm when we hang out, to put the idea in Carl’s head that he should have a girlfriend, too.”
    █████Jessica stared at Colleen and gritted her teeth. The freckled redhead had stunned the whole school on the day after Labor Day weekend by strutting off the bus with the bombshell figure she had grown over the summer, which she flaunted to devastating effect with low-cut tee shirts that exposed the edges of her push-up bras. The daily aerobics and calisthenics endowed Colleen with a tiny waist and firm little butt to match. Jessica had observed the way Colleen drew boys’ eyes. Jessica didn’t think that her vivacious and extroverted cousin needed help from anyone. But then again, she had the distinct impression that Colleen would not get the hell out of her room, and let her get back to her homework, without some kind of concession.
    █████“Okay. If Jimmy can act civilly for three days in a row, I will think about hanging out with him again. But only as friends, and only for you, and only if he keeps his hands to himself.”
    █████Colleen nodded rapidly and enthused, “Great! You’re the best, Jessi!”
    █████“Just as friends, I said!”
    █████“I’ll tell him, I swear.”
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  3. clarise

    clarise Precious princess

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Messages:
    16,779
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    █████Hours later, Jessica lay upon her bed, in the darkness, wide awake and stark naked, surrounded by books. She had barricaded the door soon after Colleen had left. Jessica touched the opposing posts of the footboard with her toes and imagined that her ankles were tightly bound apart. She stretched her left arm up and back, to grip the post of the headboard. Her right hand worked feverishly between her legs, but with the aid of her better than average imagination, she could convince herself that all four limbs were spreadeagled and tightly bound. She arched her back, slippery with sweat and exhausted by constant terror, and writhed in imagined agony, due to the mice. She had begged her abductors not to tie her down on the cellar floor again, because the mice would return and gnaw at her flesh. She felt their whiskers first, and by thrashing she could usually scare them away before they bit, but it had been hours tied down here, and she was so tired, so terrorized by the mice, and so fatigued by the cold that it would almost seem a mercy when the horrible men finally came back and turned on the lights to scatter the mice and ravish her until she lost consciousness.
    █████Jessica had lost track of how many days this torment had gone on, since she’d been snatched off the street on her way home from school. She could no longer tell for sure whether it was day or night, nor could she recall the last time she had slept. Not since before the abduction, she supposed. She couldn’t sleep a wink, not with the relentless assaults of the mice. Yet all the while a deeper dread loomed, the heavy oak door at the top of the stairs, which would open and shatter the darkness with a spear of bright light, and then the boots would descend. The first two times, it had been one pair of boots, but last time, four men had come and ravished her hard, to make her learn, while the leader had eaten her meager supper, the slab of bread and butter, right before her famished eyes. Hours or years later they had trudged back up the stairs, laughing and high-fiving each other, and had left Jessica chained naked to the stone floor in pitch darkness to await the return of the mice. In parting, the leader had promised that he would bring even more men next time, to entertain her. He had promised that they would have a real party.
    █████Next time.
    █████But then she heard noise from a new direction, from above and behind her head, first a scratching that mercifully scattered the mice, and then the muffled tinkling of broken glass, followed by a loud, persistent pounding on what sounded like flimsy plywood, until splinters of particle board burst into the room and pattered upon her naked body as the room was cloven in two by a shaft of bright sunlight. Then a tenor hail called into the hole, propelled by the sunlight, the melodious voice of an angel.
    █████“Jessica? Jessica?”
    █████Her breath caught with sheer incredulity in response to the voice, her savior, her angel, and he called two more times before she managed to sob, “Ronald? Ronald, is that you?”
    █████The pounding and clawing on the particle board became more frantic, and she burst into tears, sobbing, “Please hurry, Ronald, before they come!”
    █████Her angel rashly divulged, “They’re upstairs; hold on,” and Jessica’s chest was filled with terror— not for herself, but for her savior, her angel, who had placed himself in peril, just for her.
    █████Most everyone paid Ronald little account. To Jessica’s mother, and her aunts, and Colleen, Ronald was just the young man who delivered the pizza on weekends. But Jessica knew better. Ronald led a secret existence, just for Jessica, in the role of her glorious angel.
    █████He tossed a sledgehammer through the cellar window, and it clattered on the floor. Her abductors must have heard it, because now muffled yells from upstairs shook the floorboards, and boots pounded upon the rafters as her tormentors raced for the cellar door.
    █████“Oh god, oh god oh god, Ronald, please hurry, save me!”
    █████“Coming,” he said, pulling himself head-first through the window. He grabbed onto the basement’s ceiling joists, flexing his massive arms with easy power, and he dropped in a lithe, fluid movement, like a cat, onto the floor. He wore bluejeans, boots, and nothing else. His long, dark curls draped down over the slabs of muscle on his chest, and his coal-black eyes smouldered as he looked down upon her ravished, emaciated form. “Oh, Jessica!”
    █████“Please, my love, they are coming!”
    █████But he had run out of time. “One moment,” he snarled, and snatched up the heavy sledgehammer just as the stout oak door at the top of the stairs slammed open. Suddenly the small basement room exploded with harsh fluorescent light, and Jessica screamed with terror at the clomp-clomp of descending boots, but Ronald, the Pizza Boy, her angel and her god, brandished the iron sledgehammer and charged them heroically. The battle happened so fast that Jessica barely had time to exhaust her first scream. Ronald fought with a frenzy for his love, somehow wrested a knife from one of them, and had just managed to take down the fourth and final rapist before a gunshot rang out. Jessica screamed herself hoarse and craned her head to see Ronald on all fours, stabbing down repeatedly into the torso of the monster with the gun. Then all was silent, except Ronald’s hoarse, ragged breaths.
    █████“Ronald, oh god... Ronald? Please...”
    █████She heard him crawling toward her, his hoarse breath growing louder and more labored. Then he reared up into view, drenched red with the blood of the monsters he had vanquished as well as the life that pumped like a dam-break from the ragged hole in his chest.
    █████“Oh god, oh god Ronald, no, noooooo!”
    █████With the last of his strength he gently cut the leather straps and helped Jessica to remove the buckles from her ankles and wrists. Jessica registered the burning pain that returned to her hands and feet as blood flowed into her extremities for the first time in eternity, but how could she begin to acknowledge that feeble pain, in terrible proximity to the death of her god and savior before her very eyes? She raised her little hands to his beautiful face, caressed his cheeks, bathed his forehead with her tears.
    █████“I love you, Jessica Elizabeth; I will always love you.”
    █████“Oh Ronald, I love you too, please don’t, please don’t die! I’ll get you out of here.”
    █████He rolled weakly onto his back, and on every labored inhalation bubbles and spatters of fresh blood burst from his perforated lung like spittle.
    █████“I will save you, Ronald, hold on, don’t die!”
    █████“No, no. Please, Jessi, just— just get out of here. Run, go now, before more of them come.”
    █████“Noooo, no, Ronald!” she wept, clutching his face, caressing his long curls, “Come with me, get up, lean on my shoulder!”
    █████“Can’t... can’t, so tired....”
    █████“Don’t you close your eyes, Ronald! Don’t give up on me; you can’t die, you can’t!”
    █████Jessica’s attention began to drift. The vision dissipated; darkness took her, and she half-awoke with just enough lucid cognition to form a small smile. She would await the new dreams, the dreams to come, with anticipation. The Ronald Fantasy needed more work. It might proceed with more realism, more plausibility, with minor adjustments. Maybe not a gunshot. Maybe just a knife wound. Not quite fatal. So that she would be able to thank her god and savior properly, whilst lovingly nursing his near-mortal wounds of passion. On further reflection, the story needed work in every respect. Pizza Boy as Adonis, indeed!
    █████Yes, Jessica decided with sanguine conviction as the darkness took her and pulled her back into dreamland, she needed better material.
    █████Her dreams had always sufficed to entertain. Until lately. Jessica Elizabeth Turner, despite her humble upbringing, had never wanted for anything, had never found a single aspect of her life lacking. Lately, however, she would gaze at her reflection and behold a woman strangely unfamiliar, a nascent beauty in search of an evasive and indefinable sublimation, a stranger transfixed by new, barely comprehensible desires.
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