My entry for the inagural Needle Magazine Flash Fiction Challenge. Enjoy. Or not.
Purl TwoIt’s funny what you think of. “Close your eyes and dream of England.” Wasn’t that the advice she’d read, what mothers told Victorian brides to get them through their wedding nights? But this wasn’t a wedding night. Gladys Wilson had been through that fifty-six years ago. No, she could feel the weight on her back, pressing her into the Ottoman, smell the sweat and oil and dirt on the man, feel him forcing himself . . . my God, that isn’t even where it went . . . and she thought of something else she read, how Queen Victoria refused to outlaw lesbianism because she didn’t believe women would do such things. Gladys wasn’t that sheltered, of course. She knew what the man was doing. She knew people did such things.
“Old bitch is drier than a week-old dog turd,” the man said, grunting. “I’m going with plan B. Still gotta shit, don’t she? Gotta be able to make me a hole there.” She could feel something tear, feel blood run down her thigh. She should scream, but she knew they wanted her to scream.
“Hooo-weee,” shouted the other man. “You ride that bitch, Booby. Tear that shit up, make me some room. “
She could only see a small square of the floor, pieces of plaster from when the two men had been ripping holes in the wall, the picture of her husband, dead ten years now, the frame broken at the corner, the glass cracked.
“Don’t gotta take the whole ride, bitch,” the man said, thrusting into her. “Money’s here somewheres, just gotta point ‘er out for us, we be on our way.” He leaned back and drove into her with particular emphasis. “Gotta warn you, I may be hung for a white boy, but ol’ Seephus there, you ain’t seen nothin’ like him, ‘cept maybe at the zoo. Gonna pop out your navel, he climbs on.”
Her grandson. She’d called the sheriff on him four days ago. Went back out to the barn for the first time in ages – she hadn’t planted anything on the farm, not in five years. Not since her son died from the cancer and that no-good daughter-in-law had lit out before he was even room temperature, leaving the grandson she’d already gone and messed up with Grandma. “Don’t know what to do with the kid,” the girl said out the car wndow, already another man in the seat beside her. “You’re always tellin’ me what I done wrong, you straighten his ass out.”
So she’d tried with the boy, but he was beyond learning. She rented her acreage out to Hank Sauer, just up County B. Her grandson used the barn. Kept his truck out there, his motorcycle.
Four days back, she’d stepped outside, sciatica not bothering her for once, one of the first beautiful days of spring. Figured the boy must be back in the barn. Never stop loving them. That’s all the parenting advice she knew. She’d go back, see if maybe he’d like to drive into Leesburg, she’d buy him lunch. The barn was more of a walk than she was used to anymore, nearly half a mile back down the gravel track, but she was up to it that day.
The smell hit her about halfway there – ammonia smell. And she wasn’t that sheltered. Knew what that meant. Knew where the money was coming from – money for the truck, money for the bike, money for the dirty-haired, tattooed girls. She walked back to the house and called the sheriff.
The man on her back stiffened for a moment, grunted, emptied his seed into her bowels, blood and filth running out of her as he pulled out and stood up. Only a square of floor, the pieces of plaster, her husband’s photo, the corner of her knitting bag.
“Goin’ upstairs, Seephus, clean this shit off’a me, take another look around up there.”
“You go on, Bobby.” The other man’s voice, deeper. “Me and Granny have a date.” She heard a belt buckle, a zipper, the sound of pants dropping to the floor. “Don’t learn none, do you Granny? Gonna roll you over, bitch. Better get them dentures out – you’re gonna help get this beast hard.”
She felt the man grab her shoulder, turning her, straddling her and the ottoman. He was dark black, naked, she could see the lines of muscle in his abdomen and chest. Funny what you think of. Her nurse’s training coming back to her. Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, tendenous inscriptions. The bottom of his ribcage, the zyphoid process of his sternum, just above the diaphragm, behind that the heart. The man above her so proud of his penis, his accident of birth, stroking it, looking into her eyes. Not at her hands.
She drove the knitting needle directly into his heart. Held it there, pushing, could feel the vibration in the metal, feel the chambers flailing away at the intrusion.
“Bitch!” he roared, swinging a fist into her face. Already weaker, hurting her, but not killing her, not knocking her out. Then his face changing, the message from his body reaching him, gasping, the first of the blood coming from his mouth. He tried to steady himself, grabbing the front of her blouse, tearing that away as he toppled off to the floor.
They were lazy, as all who wouldn’t work to earn their way were lazy. They’d started to search, smashed some holes in the wall, turned some furniture over, but they supposed she would tell them, supposed that would be easier. She stood up, surprised not to feel more damaged. The adrenaline, probably. Pulled the large Bible from the corner, reached behind it, drew out her husband’s .45.
“How you lovebirds doin’?” the other man’s voice, coming down the stairs. “Awful quiet down there.”
She waited, the gun in both hands, leveled at the corner where the man would come down the stairs. She knew how to use it. She wasn’t that sheltered.