Chapter Two – Back in Black
Several minutes went by before the pain and pleasure abated and Jay focused. On all fours, naked, wet, reeking of the polluted mud and creek, she looked into their eyes. She saw hardness and hate, grief, anger, and exhaustion—and years of struggle from a war no one wanted. Some did; she wasn’t one of them. They did what they had to to do in order to survive—to be free.
She rose to her feet, standing upright, hands on hips, watching them closely, looking for signs of an impending attack; none forthcoming—yet.
Her mind skipped and hopped over how she got here, dismissing it over greater more pressing concerns, like the mission and those kneeling in front of her. The memories and emotions from that day thirty-some years ago still fresh in her mind; along with the many more recent ones causing her to pause and reflect resulting in a layer of emotional awareness that befuddled her—another layer spread anew; time echoed and unfixed; each iteration generic and novel; abstracts unfolded concurrently in real time.
And here she was.
Circumstance led her here. Not skill, nor courage, nor affection. Not for these people sitting in front of her. She tried to grab at small sentiments that fired in her now blackened heart. Remnants lingered from the merge of memories past and present. Alas, the coals were cold. She had no desire to rekindle that flame if it ever indeed fired full. Childhood friendships and lovers were often times best left in the past between the panacea of pages in words and memories and illustrations—anecdotes never fully formed; dissolved like smoke. Nostalgia proved impractical and served no real purpose in her experience. Not in this world. There was nothing to do but die again and watch the world decompose in rot around her.
But this was her purpose. Her duty.
She looked for the crate of supplies. Honing in, she saw it. It sat behind them like a beacon. She moved towards it. Watching them edge aside, easing to their feet with the accompanying involuntary grunts and grimaces that arrived with age, they examined her curiously and warily.
Popping open the crate, Jay removed a pack with her name on it. Alien symbols long familiar. She pulled clean black clothes over her muddy body. Middle-aged, but faring better than theirs, her body implied some type of irregular exercise—not indolence, but certainly nothing intense; the hint of activity to ward off the ensuing deterioration.
Age comes for us all eventually.
Natalie—a petite frame and a part-time runner—bore the marks of birth of four overly large males gifted to her by her six foot four, two hundred seventy pound husband—all now dead. Jay heard the family horror stories of a stretched torn vagina after the birth of the first male child and the continued tearing in the subsequent births until eventually it no longer worked. Something called rectocele and all other ‘celes and a finger in the rectum to release the poo, and that’s all she needed to hear to be traumatized for life.
She had no desire to break her pussy.
Natalie’s stretch marks spread across her body in a fascinating pattern, like pale branches on an olive desert. The sight made for an alluring canvas amongst the mud and broken bars of moonlight. She found herself staring at Natalie’s body in awe. Compassion washed over her. What Nat must’ve gone through: the pain, shame, humiliation—the leakage. Making eye contact with her—Nat’s green eyes and brown hair unlike that of her brothers, Cody and Ben—Jay recalled other family secrets long buried. She dismissed those secrets for now parking them just outside the plan if she needed to exploit them at a later time.
Natalie noticed her stare and looked away unsmiling.
Jay shrugged not bothered nor surprised and continued pulling clothes over her body while looking over the rest of them.
Of the men, Cody was the most fit down to the contours of his solid abs, pecs, arms, and thighs. His bougie blue-collar bod seemed to have aged well with some work. She unapologetically lingered a bit too long on his nude frame reminding herself that he was a blood relative and incest was gross.
Game of Thrones, fanfiction, and royal families aside. All those put-downs over the years directed at her on West Virginia incest made her chuckle.
Jay’s eyes met his and she gave him a shameless nod of approval. She imagined his blush surpassed his short pale ginger hair and scruff and her lips twitched in a micro-smile before falling away to nothing. Flashing back to young fumbling hands and inept wet tongue kisses, Jay eagerly embraced that curiosity and the rawness of adventure while they were—wary. She looked from Natalie to Cody. A small grin played across her lips. They met her eyes briefly then looked away. Their shame and judgment slid off Jay easily enough along with their anger and all those other emotions that highlighted their maladies—their social diseases weren’t hers.
A shimmer of recall nudged her, slightly. She noted it and continued.
Ben had the dad bod with the little boy guise that made him appear innocent, brainless, and charming. He wore the dumb blond look perfectly and she pictured him as a reverend—one of his many daring identities he forged briefly in the midst of all that bourgeois white male mediocrity. He moved on shortly thereafter; to what, she hadn’t a clue and didn’t really care. As the youngest child in his family, he continuously searched for his path bouncing around eagerly without direction.
Of this, Jay could relate.
She winked at him. His reply—a gentle smile and kind eyes—was genuinely warm, but hesitant and unsure.
Both he and Cody will make impeccable honeypots if and when needed.
Perhaps that will work.
The last two of the men stood in front of them—their bodies bloated with neglect—hadn’t fared as well. She imagined the big dent their asses put in the sofas or computer chairs as memories of their lives flashed like a montage in front of her. Their unhappy wives and children bore the brunt of their laziness and repressed emotions. She dated one and rejected the other. They’d be lucky to make it through the night.
Jay strapped weapons to her waist, thighs, and lower back, and slid the armband around her left forearm. It latched onto her like a leech and began working immediately. Glancing over her shoulder, they continued to search for clarity and comprehension as she pushed one into the chamber of the Glock 19 and slid it back home. She removed the remaining packs from the crate and dropped them at their feet. Each one bore their names in symbols.
“Get dressed,” she told them. Her voice was low and hoarse, like an unused door.
“Where we going,” Reese asked.
“South 153 miles.”
“On foot?” Reese asked outraged.
“You wanna summon an Uber, have at it,” she told him.
While the others exhibited signs of comprehension, her remark sailed over his head. She shook hers looking him over wondering how she could’ve ever dated him as a teenager.
What a difference thirty-some years made.
© 2020 Pamela Gay Mullins