My arrival in this place has left me a bit dazed and disoriented, the bright shiny people sparkled in the filtered light, not an unflawed face to be found. Dressed in my best, where once I felt fetching enough to please the eye, I’m now left floundering in a sea of couture that couldn’t be real. Pulling my small bag behind me, camera equipment that would mean the death of everyone near and dear should it vanish, in my tight grip, I wandered down the concourse. More shiny things invaded my eye and dampened down my self-confidence further twinkled in the lights. My employer has insisted I come to this place, much to my chagrin I would prefer to be home and in the company of those fabulous bitches, my sisters.
As I exit the concourse, I see people hugging, laughing, crying. They fall into each others embrace, so thankful to have their loved ones back in their arms. It won’t last. It never does. What sounds like an explosion shatters the joyful sounds and the bystanders scatter like quail, most screaming like fools. A man approaches me, crouched like some Neanderthal and grunting just the same and attempts to pull me to the floor, I throat punched the fucker and watched his body drop like a rock. Glancing over my shoulder, I see a body lying in an untidy heap, the top of its head a raw mess of bloody brainmeal and bone. A small child stands, her fists clenched at her sides as she howls her terror to the roof, the terrified thing screaming as what is presumably her father’s blood drips down her tiny face. Fascinated, I turn and openly observe her grief, finding the raw emotion intoxicating. The bystanders are creeping back, their eyes wide as they take in the mess that lies before them with sickened smiles on their lips and their phone’s clicking away as they record it. And they say I am mad. They are correct of course.
Against my better judgement, and my nature, I stride to the child and kneel down in the rapidly cooling pool of blood, feeling my knees slide slightly as I do. Taking the distraught child by her narrow shoulders, I murmur, “Darling, where is your mother?” Her lips tremble and her eyes eat up her face, growing larger with each moment she struggles to speak. I whisper into the pink shell of her ear, “Your mommy sweetheart. Where is your mommy?” Her honey blonde hair smells like strawberry and copper, and it mixes unfavourably with the scent of her anguish. She falls into my arms, her frail little body shaking relentlessly and I am taken aback. And a little bothered by it. Her breath comes in a harsh sobs against my shoulder, “Dead. There is only Daddy and me. And now I’m alone…” her small sweet voice nearly sings, the jingle of dozens of tiny bells that contrasted sharply with the gore splattered anguish I saw on her face as she lifted her head.
A woman’s scream, loud as the clarions of hell shatters the nearly heartfelt moment, and the child’s face freezes. She bares her small teeth in a biting smile that spreads slowly across her gore splattered lips, and becomes still and cold as steel. Raising an eyebrow, I ask, “Your mother, Demon? Let me give you a tip. Next time make sure your other parent isn’t in the same building. It’s more believable. ” I drop my arms from around the little monster and rise to my feet, disgusted by the sensation of the now cold fluid sliding thickly down my legs. Meeting her mother’s eyes I smile, enjoying the way she recoils and backs up a step, and trips over her husband’s corpse, landing on her ass with a dull thud. I laugh at her, at her shocked and pale face, her legs sprawled over the corpse of her husband. It earned me some filthy looks but I didn’t care. I grab the handle of my bag, and snatch a handful of paper towels from the cart as I passed her, heading for the nearest washroom and leaving bloody wheeltracks in my wake. “Charming child you have. Good luck lady. You’ll need it.”
The washroom sink did little to remove the blood from my legs or the hem of my once pristine ivory skirt. Sadly it would have to be thrown away, and that distresses me more than the missing ride that was to meet me. My little journey into the game of a junior psychopath has delayed me grievously, and left me stranded. So be it. I could find my own way, I thought as I exited. A dangerously familiar voice growls at my ear bare seconds before an arm halts my movement, causing a shiver of fear and thrill to ripple over my skin. “You’re late” Hot breath, on my neck sends more chills coursing over my flesh and causes me to try to twist away. “Not my fault. Apparently the psychos per capita is high here. See? Blood on my hands. Please let me go,” I throw back, my heart racing as my mouth runs away with itself, in defence.
“The car is waiting. Come with me,” My benefactor appears at my side, an appreciative smirk on his lips as his hand falls to the small my back and propels me forward even as I hesitate I’m angry that his is attempting to handle me, and a little afraid as well. He is bigger than I am, but should it come to it, I could take him down. And would if I had my chance. Survival of the fittest after all. “That child, should she survive her childhood and not be caught would certainly be one of the most prolific killers of our time. You’d do well to keep your eye on her. I know you had someone there.” I bit the inside of my cheek hard, cursing myself in a filthy inner monologue that I was sure would surprise the most profane in my world, for attempting small talk with this man.
A limousine awaits us by the curb, its midnight shimmering in the bright sunlight, nearly blinding my eyes. I hiss, slapping my shades over my blues and snicker at my own hilarity. It earned me a stare that froze my blood, and made me chortle even louder. “Deal. It was funny. You should get a sense of humour. It appears you’ve lost yours.” I smile in his direction, feeling it lie corpse-like on my lips, a rictus rather than genuine. A large hand takes my bag from my grip, having to pry my fingers from the handle and a very large man places it carefully in the trunk, along side a bound and gagged woman, her eyes wide and pleading on mine. “I’d rather that travels with me, if you don’t mind,” I mention as I stare curiously, “Obvious reasons aside, it’s fragile and she’s desperate.” He glances at my benefactor, who nods, and removes my luggage to the inner sanctum of the vehicle, before gesturing that I should enter. A light shove gets me moving and I climb into the spacious interior, amazed at the way it muffles the sounds of the screaming from the trunk. The door slams shut and I sit on the long leather backseat, My eyes taking in the individual before me.
“Why am I here?” I asked, less than respectfully and earn myself yet another hair-raising stare, and no answer. Typical. He was still staring, his eyes felt like a tongue running across my skin. “You can’t keep it from me forever. I will find out…eventually. And stop that. I’m not your afternoon snack.” That mildly threatening look had taken on a predatory glint that was beginning to make me angry. “Fuck this. I’m getting out,” I snapped, reaching across to open the heavy door to my freedom and sanity. I’d come far enough without this shit to make my life miserable. His hand finds my throat, the palm squeezing just hard enough to cut my air by half and inflict a small amount of pain, soliciting a unwelcome groan to escape my lips and few choice adjectives to punctuate my displeasure. “You don’t get to touch me. Let me go,” I demand, and feel his hand tighten in response.
His lips brush my jawline and linger, his tongue running over the thin membrane where my carotid pulses. “I could cause you serious harm,” he murmurs then presses his lips lightly over the lightly throbbing skin. “From the feel of your heart rate, I’d say that excites you.” I don’t respond, won’t deign to give him one, and shiver slightly before pulling free. Impressively ballsy son a bitch he is, and I slap his handsome face. “You don’t intimidate me. Stop trying. Now tell me why I’m here.” He gestures for me to sit closer to him while pushing a button on the armrest. The car pulls out amid a flurry of horns and presumable irate drivers. Frankly, I wish myself back on a plane to anywhere but beside this man, but I did as he requested nonetheless. “The woman in the trunk is to be your crowning achievement. Photographic evidence, shall we say, for our employer. Would you walk away from that?”
Photographic evidence. I look out the window at the busy freeway, the nondescript downtown cityscape that looked like a hundred that Id been in at the behest of my employer. The woman in the trunk could be anyone. Could have done anything. Or nothing. An innocent. I prefer my own victimology, making my choices situation by situation. “Who is she,” not bothering to meet his eyes. His stare crawls greedily over my face, like fingers probing my expression. Silence. I despise this lack of forthcoming information and the mere fact he’d deliberately fallen speechless lights the fuse of my long-buried anger. It had been months since I allowed myself to drop the mask, and I turn my eyes to meet his. “I expect an answer. Or I’m gone and YOU can explain to the boss.” Unflinchingly I hold his attention, fully for a change, and I feel a small charge of victory as he shifts in his seat, interestingly uncomfortable. The car had taken a offramp and is rolling to a stop when I grab my bag with one hand and fling the door open with the other. “Continue this delightful conversation on your own. I’ve heard enough bullshit,” I throw at him, sliding from where I’d sat and rise to my feet.
I hadn’t been paying attention. I should have paid attention. My eyes meet the too wide ones of some soccer mom, her streaked blonde hair an obvious holdover from her glory days. She’d been listening to some ear vomitus boy band, their inane tones cut off in mid harmony, thankfully. The electric window whines as she leans over, pointing. I flip her the fuck finger as I yank my bag out of the door behind me, and see her jaw drop. A light tugging on my blouse warns me just before a hole appears dead centre in her forehead, spraying the seats behind her with brain matter and gore.
“Get in now,” his deceptively calm voice commanded. I barely heard him over the ringing in my head. Not a request, I realised, as the itch started to intensify at the back of my neck. He had a weapon, and I was unarmed. My desire to be through with this situation dies then with a whimper. I had no wish to be shot screaming in the street. Placing my bag inside, I climb back into the vehicle, and slam the door hard behind me. “You motherfucking idiot. You SHOT her. In broad daylight. With Witnesses. Damned close to me too asshole. What the fuck is your problem?”
“Finally, there’s the girl I know. Still haven’t forgiven me have you? Come now Princess. Say your glad to see me, and let’s kiss and make up.” His snicker at what just occurred enrages me and I slip closer to his proximity to glare into his ruggedly handsome face. No. I hadn’t. Some things can never be forgiven, let alone forgotten. “Did you just call me Princess? Kiss and make up? Are you fucking INSANE? Let me out. NOW.”His less than respectful snickers turn into outright guffaws at my demands, and my mask slips slightly, affording him a glance at what others had only seen in moments before death. If nothing else it gives him pause, and cuts the laughter as though with a knife. To my pleasure. “I thought he was full of shit when he told me what you’d become. I didn’t entirely believe him ….apparently I owe hm $5. Jes? Can’t we let it go? It’s been 10 years.”
Ten years. I despised my still raving attraction to the man, though less so than being thrust into this position. “You left me Zander. Your hands were as bloody as mine. And I was left holding the bag and looking like some idiotic fool to be pitied. I won’t forgive that. Now. Why am I here?” I felt those hateful tears burn my eyes, and I looked past his shoulder at the graffitied walls of the establishments that lined the street. Wherever we were going it certainly wasn’t in the best area of town. Drunken men staggered from a tavern as two women brawled on the cement. I watched captivated as one rammed a small bladed knife into the nape of the others’ neck, and bent her face forward as she pulled it free, bathing in the up splash of red that coated her face and neck. I watched from the rear window until they were all but gone, my heart beating hard against my ribs. Desire, that self-centred cunt, made me water at the mouth with want. I was hungry.
“To photograph one of the most prolific men in the world creating art in death. As he creates and causes it.” Zander says, from close behind me, his hand resting on my shoulder. Utter disbelief floods my mind. The woman in the trunk was to be the canvas in which my employer visited his attentions. I disapproved of this. How one chooses to expedite the death of another is personal. Each kiss, each cut, each method of inflicting pain an intimate experience. “Bullshit. No artist reveals his methods until the finished product is ready. Try again. Please stop touching me Zander.” My cellular screams, a ringtone I found most amusing, startling me from the danger zone I was drifting into. Pulling it from my pocket, I feel a chill run it’s icy nails up my spine and spared Zander a glance before hitting the answer button.
“Jes. Stop arguing. Accept it. Kiss and make up – this is a happy time. Together we will make history. See you shortly.” Just those words were enough to kill the fight. The Boss had spoken and I slumped back against the seat with a sigh, frustrated and defeated. Zander’s palm finds my cheek and he turns my head so that I am looking into the face of the one who abandoned me. “Come on Jes. You know you’re happy to see me. Why pretend? I’m happy to see you.” The warmth of his skin on mine makes my heart turn over in my chest, and I glare back at him with all the venom I could muster. “You left me. You hit me with a fucking HAMMER and you left me.” My fists pummel him, landing in a flurry of untimed hits, one glancing off his jawline and causing my finger to screech in flared pain. “I fucking hate you!!!!” I try to say, my thoughts barely coherent under the intoxication of his lips on mine. I barely register his arms around me, or that I ‘d been moved onto his lap, lost to the familiarity of his touch and the desire.
The car slows to a stop in front of an ill-kept home on the outskirts of town, its windows sparkling in the fading light, most unusually whole. I slid off of Zander’s lap, feeling that regretful emptiness that always comes after love, and smooth my skirt down over my thighs once again before buttoning my blouse once again. His hands slip inside, cupping my breasts with a proprietary air, and I slap his hands away. “Enough. It’s time to work. You’re dick is hanging out. Tuck it in and zip it up big boy.” He pouts in a way he always thought was sexy but only made him look like a 7-year-old denied his toys, and I snickered. “You’re still a bitch.” I shrug, and deny nothing, placing my hand on his still semi hard cock and licking his cheek. “I didn’t’ hear you complaining. Stop whining and open the door.” I could see the driver climbing the steps to the rickety front door, the woman’s limp body over his shoulder, and was anxious escape my confines. I could almost smell it, taste it in the air. To see the artist at work, to document his process was gold in my palm. Zander looks out the window a moment, his hand on the door handle, before looking back at me soberly. “Jes, have you ever met the boss?”
I draw back a little, wary at the odd question. “I’ve spoken with him only on the phone and via email. Written always in code of course. Why?” I remember thinking he was like a wet blanket, smothering my excitement with this cautious tones. This was my playground and I wanted to play. “He’s quirky. Sorry,” “What the fuck did you? Zander….I’ll ….” The world is cloudy as I fall backwards onto the seat, the hand I’d clasped to my neck tumbling away. “I am sorry Jes. I’ll see you soon.”