"That's a good boy Danny; give her a special hug like a good girl deserves."
Danny stared straight ahead. The billowing puffs of gray cigarette smoke drifted in front of the black silhouette of the tripod and the camcorder. The man stood to the side, obscured in shadow, but Danny could make out the paunch of his hairy belly, half exposed under the dirty white tank top.
Starlight droplets twinkled from the man's brow beneath a greasy receding hairline. Puffy sideburns lined his fat face and little rectangles of light shone in each lens of his small round glasses.
The smell of damp earth and beer filled the air. It was always cool in the basement. Danny glanced at Heather. She looked like a doll; her glassy eyes fixed, staring forward, unblinking, empty. But Danny could see her pulse rising and falling on her neck, sweat forming at her temples where her braids began. He caught a glimpse of the little beads that held them in place at their tips; candy balls attached to brown elastic bands that revealed white creases when stretched too far.
"Look into the camera Heather", the man said softly. He took a big drink from his beer and then looked through the lens. "That's a good girl. Ok now Danny, give that pretty little doll a special hug." He slid a cigarette into his mouth without taking his eye from the rubber cover of the viewfinder.
Danny could feel his heart beating, he always wanted to be a good boy and do what he was told; but Heather was so afraid. The man said she liked it and she never told him to stop but...
"Danny, we've talked about this. Remember what I said about the rules? Good boys and girls and bad boys and girls."
That was true. The man was very clear about the rules, and if he didn't obey the rules, there were consequences. Bad boys and girls got punished, good boys and girls got ice cream...but Heather was breathing harder now...
"Daaneee", the man said his name with a scolding menacing tone. "Do I have to come over there and show you again?"
No! Danny thought. It was so much worse when he showed him. He couldn't bear to hear Heather make those pitiful gurgling noises, the screaming, the gasping. His heart was racing as fast as hers now.
"Danny!" The man intoned as he stood up from the viewfinder, taking a long drag from his cigarette. Heather was breathing in small spurts now. The man angrily flicked his cigarette against the wall.
"You little fucking pussy" He took a step forward and Heather began to cry.
"Do it Danny!" She begged.
Danny's mind began to race. It would be so much worse if the man hurt her. Heather was his friend and he couldn't let her suffer like that. The man was almost upon them. "I'll show you how this little fucking bitch likes to get-"
Heather screamed as Danny turned and grasped her by the throat with both hands and began to squeeze. The man leapt back out of the camera's view and bent down again to look through the viewfinder once more.
Heather began to gasp. Maybe it was better this way...
The man let his cigarette fall from his mouth, "Oh yeah..."
Danny's grip grew tighter. Maybe he was being a good friend, protecting her like this.
The man reached down and unbuttoned his pants, "Oh...fucking yeah..."
Heather began to turn blue. Maybe this was the only way to make the pain go away... ---
The lamp shattered as the sweat soaked man threw the covers from his body and flailed out of the bed screaming. His shouts turned to muffled sobs as the overhead light suddenly flooded the room with nowhere to hide. The woman was at his side an instant later.
"Baby it's ok, shhh...shhh..." She cooed as she took his bloody hand in hers and removed a small piece of glass.
"MOTHERFUCKER!", The man screamed. "Fucking mother-fuck-fucker", he said as he curled up against the wall in a fetal position, trying to catch his breath. "I'm sorry baby", he said. "I'm so sorry baby" he muttered over and over again.
"It's ok", she said, calmly smoothing the hair away from his soaked brow. "None of that can hurt you now. Do you want me to get the list?"
The man began to slowly regain his composure. His breathing becoming more even, his heart rate more steady. He paused before answering, looking up into her eyes. "Yeah"
She smiled and calmly rose to her feet, carefully avoiding the shattered fragments of lamp, and made her way over to a small laptop on her night table. She tapped a few keys and then set the computer on the bed facing the man. The screen showed a satellite map with colored red dots at various locations. The website read "Sex Offender Registry".
"How about the one over on Spruce Street?" She asked quietly.
The man looked at her, his eyes calm, focused, his composure restored. He stood up and slid open the drawer to the small night table the shattered lamp had rested upon. He carefully withdrew a .40 Caliber Glock pistol and then leaned over the bed to kiss her. She returned his affection passionately.
"Yeah", he said. "Spruce Street looks good."
She smiled and caressed his cheek, "I love you Danny."
He cradled her face gently with both hands, the gun resting elegantly across her cheek. "I love you too Heather."
Copyright © 2017 Short Stories by Christopher Daniel Barnes - All Rights Reserved.