New Home

I watch from the shadows as he opens his eyes. It takes a few seconds before I’m able to recognize the confusion on his face and a few more before fear takes over. His fingers twitch but he’s unable to move his hands because of the cages I’ve fitted over them.

It doesn’t take long for him to realize that his fingers, eyes, and mouth are the only parts of his body able to move. He can’t see it, but the modular body cage and straps I attached to the padded table keep him completely immobile. It’s not very pretty to look at but it took months to construct and I’m proud of the final result.

“Good morning,” I say cheerfully as I move to the table, next to his head. I lean over so he can more clearly see my face. “I hope you slept well. Are you comfortable? Nothing pinching?”

His eyes grow wide and then narrow. He says a few words but the thick strap of leather covering his face from just under the nostrils to the middle of his chin prevent anything but muffled sound from reaching me.

“I would say I’m sorry about the restraints but that would be a lie. You were always very keen on honesty. ‘Real men always tell the truth.’ You were fairly selective on when you’d follow that maxim but since I’m a real man and it’s what you said you wanted, that’s what I’m going to give you. Here’s the truth: I plan to hurt you very badly. I want you to know what’s coming and I want you to know that I’ll be the one to say when it will stop. You have no control here. You will lie still and wait for me, night after night, day after day. You will be dependent upon me for everything and it will be up to me to decide whether I feel like providing.” I’m surprised by the coldness I hear in my voice.

The unintelligible words have been replaced by whimpers. I lean farther over his face, our noses are touching now. “You may have found God and believe that He’s given you absolution but I certainly haven’t forgiven you. You can dwell in His house after you die, but until then, you’re mine.”

I move away and grab the metal folding chair I had been sitting on while waiting for him to wake and drag it noisily to the head of the table. “I want to show you some of the toys we’ll be using to pass our time together.”

I’ve got an assortment of items that will bring back plenty of old memories for us both. I scan over the cigar, lighter, and dildo before I decide. I double the thick leather belt and bring it down hard against his bare legs. The crack of the leather and the cry of pain bring a smile to my face.

“Welcome to your new home, Dad.”

Coffee Girl

I’m happy to get out of the cold and into my favorite coffee shop. I’m pretty sure the cute woman behind the counter has a little crush on me, which is a nice bonus to the perfect cup of coffee and blueberry muffin she usually has waiting when I arrive. The attention feels nice and I don’t mind admitting that I flirt back a little. It’s all harmless and makes us both feel good. No big deal.

The place is empty and Roxanne is smiling at me when I stand in front of her at the counter. “Good morning,” she says brightly. “The usual today?”

“That sounds great, yes. Not busy this morning, huh?” I ask while she’s putting my muffin into a small bag. She already had the coffee ready for me. I love it when she does that. Like she knows just when I’ll be coming in and what I’ll want. It’s been a long while since anyone took the time to notice my habits. I wonder if she’s single. I bet she’d be an attentive lover.

“No, it’s been sort of slow. I think there are lots of people taking today off to extend the long weekend.”

“Right! I forgot about Monday being a holiday. Well that just made my day a little brighter. Do you have off, too?”

“Yep. I’m only here for a few more minutes and then I’m off through next week. I was only working in case there was an early rush. Charlotte can handle it by herself now. I’ve got some vacation time saved up and I’ve decided it’s time to use it.”

She hands me the muffin and slides the coffee over so I can reach it. I take my wallet out of my bag and offer payment and a nice tip. “Doing anything special?”

She looks me squarely in the eye and the intensity of it straightens my spine. “Oh yes, very special. Something I’ve been planning for a long time. It’s going to be fantastic.”

She holds me with her steady gaze. “Well, I hope you have a great time.” I pick up the coffee, offer a smile, and turn to go. “See you later,” I call over my shoulder.

I hear her say, “Yes you will” but I don’t turn around. I feel better once I’m out the door. I take several large sips of coffee and tell myself that Roxanne is sweet and harmless. And she makes a fantastic cup of coffee. She’s just excited about her time off.

I’m nearly to the end of the block when I feel lightheaded and stumble. I’m vaguely aware of the coffee falling from my hand as I hit the sidewalk, flat on my face. I try to push myself up but can’t make my body move.

“I’ve got you, baby.” I recognize the voice through my mental fog. Roxanne gathers me into her arms and kisses the hair just above my ear. “Roxie’s got you now.”

Roses

The curtains are sheer enough to see their silhouettes but little else. I remember when we picked them out. I only wanted something to cover the large windows but Marla had very specific requirements. They had to go perfectly with the walls and furniture. That’s how she approached every aspect of her life: the perfect accessories to create the perfect image.

I stopped being the perfect accessory a year ago. It took her three months to find my replacement. Her new wife couldn’t be more different from me: tall to my short, fair to my dark, sweet and simple-minded to my direct and intellectual. And, of course, she’s much younger. Our life wasn’t very exciting or perfect after seventeen years. It was time for a change. I only wish I had seen it coming. I could have prepared. Lesson learned. I’m a planner, now.

It’s a cold night but I won’t be here much longer. My spot in the bushes across the street protects me pretty well from the wind and, really, that’s the worst part. The wind and the damp ground that I’m kneeling on seep into my bones. I’ll need to take a long, hot bath when I get home to completely get rid of the chill. Three minutes to show time.

Valentine’s Day was never a big deal for us but I guess the new Mrs. Hughes feels differently. I wonder which one of them had set up the candles and spread the white and red rose petals on the bed in the master suite. I was surprised and, if I’m honest, hurt to think that Marla would have done something so romantic. She was never like that with me. I must not inspire that sort of lust and desire.

I only had a few minutes to get my own surprise set up and check out the rest of the house. Not much had been changed since I moved out. The biggest difference was that all of the photos of me and Marla had been replaced with ones of the new couple. It took an incredible amount of will power not to destroy the large wedding portrait hung over the fireplace in the living room. They do look good together, I’ll give them that.

Their shadows are moving slowly in the flickering light and I imagine there’s a cozy fire burning. As they lean in for a kiss, there’s a flash and a ground-shaking boom. The force of the explosion knocks me onto my behind and I’m momentarily stunned. A few seconds later, neighbors are streaming into the street. As I prepare to escape through the dark yards, I notice a scrap of white against the black ground. As soon as my hand touches it, I know exactly what it is and bring the soft petal to my nose. It still smells sweet. Happy Valentine’s Day, Marla.

Blast

“Thank you for calling. This is Sheila, how can I help you?” I don’t really want to help but that’s what we have to say. Honestly, I don’t want to speak to anyone at all. I had a terrible night and I know that everyone who’s taken a moment to glance at my face would have noticed my swollen, bloodshot eyes.

It’s nearly 9:30 and the noise level in the open workspace has increased considerably. There’s always more chatter on a Monday morning. Everyone catching up with each other about what they did over the weekend. I don’t participate and hope no one asks me to join in. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the occasional small talk with co-workers, it’s that I haven’t got anything I want to share. I spent the past two days arguing and defending myself against claims of infidelity. As if anyone would even want to have an affair with me. I’m 53 years old, overweight, and haven’t been called pretty once in my life. But Jeff would hear none it. A few texts from some stupid man who had the wrong number but wouldn’t stop with the sexually explicit messages – even though it was clear that he had the wrong person – seemed to be all the proof he needed. His paranoia has been growing since being laid off and I’m beginning to fear for my safety. He’s never been violent before but he’s changed so much.

I’m still listening to the caller ramble on about her billing problem when there’s a loud bang near the reception area and the conversation around me ceases immediately. Another booming sound reverberates around the us. Then I see him. Jeff, his eyes wild and his face red, is steadily making his way toward me. He hasn’t said a word but is scanning the room, like he’s looking for someone in particular.

I am completely unable to do anything besides watch as he turns to his left, brings the shotgun to his shoulder, and shoots Paul in the face. The group of women he had been with scream and drop to the floor.

“Was it him, Sheila?!” He’s not looking at me when he shouts but, instead, moves to the right a few steps where Carl is still seated behind his desk. Jeff raises the gun again and I can see the back of Carl’s head explode.

I jump to my feet as he’s reloading, pulling shells from the pocket of his black parka. “It’s no one, Jeff! I told you! There is no one. Please, dear God, please stop!”

And he does stop. He stops, looks me in the eyes, and aims the shotgun at me. “You fucking whore.” He says it quietly, calmly, and I can barely hear him.

Without lowering the weapon, he marches up to the front of my desk and presses the barrel to my forehead. It’s still hot.

“Whore,” the word reaches my ears a split second before the blast.