One Last Chance
by Anthony Lindsay
He slung the free end of the vinyl laundry line over the rusty cold water pipe. The only light in the basement of the abandoned two flat brick building, was the flickering flame of his candle. He watched his shadow wavering on the water damaged gray concrete bricks. The basement walls and a few pipes were the only solid structures remaining. The building was condemned three years ago. It was his grandfathers first building, but no one cared. He considered the building and the women he brought there the s ame: things no one cared about.
Wood chips, dust and bits of dried insects fell from the old pipe into his eyes as he adjusted the laundry line. He blinked the debris from his eyes. The woman on the other end of the line was like all the others, skin and bones. She hoisted as easy as a sack of potatoes. He tied the free end of the line to the metal base of the ancient furnace that once warmed his family. She swung upside-down from the cold water pipe. She was gagged and bound with silver duct tape.
He kicked her in the head with the side of his hiking boot adding momentum to her swing.
He stood behind her and slapped her small bare buttocks. He wanted her conscious, the dose of Valium was only to relax her, not render her unconscious. There was no water and he didn't want to waste the beer on splashing her in the face. He simply had to wait. Waiting was no problem, it was Friday night, and he had all weekend. He blew the candle out and lay on the floor beneath her swinging head. He held her still and listened to her breath. When her breathing changed, the party would begin.
Patrice felt his hands on her face. She felt the moisture of his breath. She felt the line cutting into her ankles. She smelled the candle and the dampness of the basement. All she knew to do was pray. And hope God gave her another chance.
Samuel Davis parked his 85' Buick Regal in White Castle's parking lot on 35th in King Drive, facing the bus stop. It was the end of another double shift day at the bakery. He was still dressed in his sanitary whites and work boots and the smell of the bakery claimed the car. He loved the smell. The smell represented legitimate work, something he thought he'd never have. Good jobs were hard to find in the city, even harder for a young Black man. He was fortunate and he knew it. He checked the clock in the dashboard, it read 5:45, and Patrice was late.
He tried to push aside the feelings of doubt that were entering his mind, a year ago he wouldn't have waited ten minutes for her, he would have simply left, but she wasn't the same woman and he wasn't the same man. Over the past year they'd built a little something; they had a place, a car and both of their kids back from state care. They were a family, a family they both were proud; but if she didn't hurry up he'd have to leave and come back for her.
After six the day care charged twenty dollars for every fifteen minutes late and since the state was no longer paying the bill, he had to be on time. Good job or not, twenty dollars for fifteen minutes was more than he could afford.
His eyes had become accustomed to the dark. He gripped her head with his callused hands and thumbed her eyes opened. She was awake, had been awake, her alert eyes darted from side to side with fear. He became angry; how did let this ignorant cock roach of a woman deny him minutes of his pleasure. He slapped her face hard and rose from beneath her swinging head. The basement would be completely black to her, knowing that brought a tight smirk to his pitted face.
He grabbed her by the narrow hips stopping her slight swaying. He held her completely still from behind. He bent his head to her buttocks and bit into her left check. He pressed his teeth into her skin. She squirmed and tried to flinch free. He held her in place and pressed, until he tasted her blood. He thought about biting out a piece. He stopped tearing into her when he remembered the last time he bite a piece of flesh from one of these worthless women; she passed out and he had to wait almost an hour for her to wake up.
He heard her whimpering and it pleased him. It pleased him beyond measure; her painful whimpers were like promises of agonizing moans and groans to come. Ones that whimpered in the beginning, wept and pleaded in the end. He needed light to really get started. He bent to the floor and fumbled around for the box of candles. He wanted a new one, a long one. Candle in hand, he pulled his square metal flip top lighter from his soiled pants pocket. He pulled her body against his own, anchoring her into positio n. He forced the candle down into her, when he was satisfied that it was in deep enough to stand alone and steady, he released her and lit the wick.
Samuel parked in front of the day-care on 35th and Giles. When he walked in Tasha was sitting patiently waiting in a small chair by the door. She had on her yellow Loony Toones coat and her Tweedy Bird hat, and her multi-colored Loony Toones book bag was in her lap. Patrice's bright eyes and smile greeted him from their daughter's chubby face. Being worried about Patrice didn't stop Samuel from returning Tasha's smile. She hopped up with excitement and ran to greet him with an embrace only his daughter could give him. One that gave purpose to his life. His son on the other was not sitting patiently waiting.
Kenny was running through the day-care alone as if he was in a group of ten kids and making enough noise to equal all ten. He had on neither his coat nor his hat and his gym shoes were untied. Ms. Niles the owner of the center looked exhausted, she ignored Kenny's tirade and glanced up at the center's big Pooh clock, Samuel had three minutes to spare. He smiled at her and she shook her head smiling slightly. A nice lady she was, but she strictly enforced the late charges and they were both relived she di dn't have to penalize Samuel.
Over the years she was more of a constant in his children's lives than either he or Patrice. While they were in foster care, her day-care facility was were the state sent them. She was a character witness on his and Patrice's behalf when the judge ruled to return their children.
With the courts and foster parents permission, she'd arranged visits at her facility for him, Patrice and the kids. Tasha and Kenny had been with her since they were on bottles. Samuel owed her a great deal, but she always dismissed his gratitude with the wave of her hand and a smile. She'd tell him to keep doing right and the Lords blessings would be plentiful. Over the past year she proved correct.
Kenny saw his father, but he was determined to make one more round of the day-care before he left. Samuel blocked his path and scooped him up. He tried to squirm free, but Samuel held him firm and tickled him in the ribs. He squealed in mischievous pleasure and his gave in to his father.
With his children strapped into their car seats and chattering about their day at the day-care, Samuel drove half listening back to the bus stop, hoping Patrice would be waiting. He pulled into the same spot in the White Castle parking lot facing the bus stop, no Patrice. Daylight savings time began last week, the city was dark at six p.m., and the darkness made Patrice tardiness more apparent. Both Tasha and Kenny asked were their mommy was, Samuel told them she had to work a little later and he ho ped his creation was the truth. Another twenty minutes click of the Buick's clock. He pulled the cell phone from the glove compartment and dialed the nursing home where Patrice worked.
He hated to call her job; she worked under his Aunt Bertha. He was grateful she hired Patrice, however Aunt Bertha hired her with stipulations, knowing Patrice's past she told him and Patrice that at the first sign of trouble she would fire her. She was taking a chance on hiring her and she made it clear she wouldn't jeopardize her own job to cover any of Patrice's mess.
Patrice was never tardy for work and worked extra shifts when Aunt Bertha was short on staff. Samuel was certain Aunt Bertha was happy with Patrice's work, because he heard no complaints from her, or his mother. If she weren't happy with Patrice, she would have told his mother months ago, that he was certain of. Despite knowing that, he was still hesitant about calling looking for her, if she was not there is Aunt Bertha would sense trouble, but he had no choice, he needed to know where she was.
What his Aunt Bertha told him on the phone worried him more, the owners of the nursing home came in that morning and instructed her to lay off three aides. She tried to protest, to no avail; their census was down and she had to let three aides go. Patrice was one of the three. She apologized to Samuel, and told him soon as the census was back up Patrice would be the first she called back to work. He knew her apology was sincere, and the decision to lay Patrice off was a heartfelt one.
He told her understood, she told him not to worry and asked if he'd called home looking for Patrice. He told her no, she said Patrice left that morning and said she was going straight home and then to the grocery store. She hesitated in telling him that Patrice did get paid. She asked if he wanted her to call home and check on her, he told don't bother, he was sure she was there. He told his Aunt again he understood about the lay off, and hung up the phone.
He didn't call home because he knew his Aunt was dialing the number. He put the cell phone back in the glove compartment and started the car to leave. When he looked in the rearview mirror his eyes met Tasha's, only four, but her presence was mature beyond her years, she heard his part of the conversation and the worry showed on her face. He smiled at her in the mirror and told both his children they were going over Big Mama's for a little while. Kenny yelled with pleasure, Tasha looked out the window.
What kind of crazy bastard was he? Did he plan to kill her? Sweet Jesus why did she stop for him? She had more than enough money to buy her own rocks. She'd seen him before with other girls. They all talked about how much money he spent and how good he ate pussy. He was to suppose to be safe. Why was he doing this to her? She didn't deserve to die like this, hung upside and gutted like a pig.
Seven times worse, is what the old timers at the meetings told her. If she went back out to the streets and got high, it would be seven times worse. She thought she proved them wrong, because the first couple of times went fine.
When she got off of work early, she rode the bus down a couple of stops past her normal stop, met one of the young rock selling boys walking, brought a couple of rocks and went home and smoke them. Nobody knew and no one got hurt. She was sneaking successfully.
She would have kept that way, if not for the lay off. She wanted to get real high today, and the white man was known to get real high with girls. It's supposed to be so simple, get him off and get high. This mess wasn't part of her plan. He was supposed to be normal trick, not some psycho. Seven times worse and they were right, this crazy bastard was seven times worse than anything she'd experienced in the past.
Samuel didn't spend a minute in his home; he went in, saw Patrice wasn't there and left. His explanation to his mother was brief, Patrice was missing, and he had to go find her. He kissed her and his children goodbye and began his search.
He knew where to start, the strip. Patrice was no different than other people that slipped back into getting high, they went to familiar places and the strip was common ground for them both. He knew she'd slipped, no other explanation would take root in his mind. She gotten laid off and didn't know how to cope with it, she was a person who took everything personal. No matter how many times Aunt Bertha would tell her it wasn't her fault, Patrice would believe the lay off was due to something she did and s he would try to medicate the feeling of failure away.
He drove down forty-seventh checking both sides of the street, he saw faces he knew but none he wanted to ask had they seen his wife. His wife, the mother of his children, the woman he was planning a new and better life with. No, he wasn't going to ask any one had they seen her, he would simply find her.
He drove by four or five rock spots and saw no signs of her. The next step was to go into a couple of smoke houses. People would be surprised to see him, some would be happy, hoping he was back to smoking rocks and had some money. They would be disappointed; he was going to go in and out. If Patrice wasn't there he would leave and go to another house. He hadn't set foot in a smoke house in over eighteen months. He was well warned against old people places and things. More than one recovering addict had f allen because of past associations. He parked his car on forty-seventh and King Drive and began his walk.
He'd light more candles, over thirty burned in the basement. He was satisfied; it was enough light to watch the worthless woman flinch with each hot drop of wax that dripped to her back. He could see her pleading eyes filled with tears. He thought about cutting her down to give some false hope, but decided against it. He pulled his snub wire cutters from his back pocket and gripped her baby toenail with it. He asked her had she ever had a pedicure, and yanked the nail from her toe. The blood didn't gush as he hoped, it leaked. He drew the candle that he forced into her free, and dripped wax on the leaking toe. He asked her was that better. He looked into her eyes and saw them fading. He didn't want her to pass out. He stripped the duck tape from her mouth allowing her to gasp for air.
Patrice's first thought was to scream for help, she put the thought aside when thinking it would anger him. She wasn't sure what he'd done to her foot, she felt a slight pain but both her feet were numb. She was sure her back was blistered, it had to be; the drops burned her so. Maybe if she begged him and promised him anything, he would let her go.
Her own voice sounded foreign to her, it was raspy and barley above a whisper. She wanted to speak louder but the volume wasn't there. He must have heard her, because he pulled up plastic milk crate and sat in front of her. She asked him to cut her down. She begged him to cut her down. She told him she couldn't do the things he asked her to do earlier, tied up like she was. She heard his zipper come down. He put his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her head into his lap. In his other hand he held a butcher knife, she felt the tip pressing into the base of her neck. Make him cum he ordered, if he came, he would cut her down.
Samuel heard and felt his own heart beating as he walked up the stairs. Smoke houses were a thing of the past for him, they had no purpose in his present life and he had no business being at one, this he knew. He had eight hundred and twenty five dollars cash in his pocket. Today was payday, he and Patrice enjoyed grocery shopping and paying bills together. There was a time they didn't do either. A time when both of them were stuck in some smoke house, smoking up grocery and rent money. Now he had both in his pocket, grocery and rent money, and he was standing at the door of a smoke house. He raised his hand to knock but dropped it. He couldn't risk it.
He couldn't risk going in a smoke house even for Patrice. The life he had now was better than life he and Patrice had a year ago. This life he respected, he earned it and Patrice should respect it as well. They both had too much to loose and if she didn't know it, he knew it.
Patrice was a grown woman, who knew what he knew about staying clean. Yes, he loved her, but he also loved Tasha and Kenny. They depended on him. Patrice was doing wrong; he had to do right. He turned his back on the door and took the steps down two at a time.
The word coward entered his mind as he started the Regal. He laughed; yes he was a coward where cocaine rocks concerned. They had beat him enough, he knew he had no strength against them. His best weapon against them was to stay away from them. He had a family to protect. Yes, Patrice was part of his family, but she was in an area where he could not and would not tread. She was on her own.
Patrice fell to basement floor hard. He cut her loose after he released in her face. She twisted her hands free of the tape and wiped his filth from her face. She tried to stand but her feet and knees were weak. She drew her knees up and got into a crawling position. He was behind her. She felt one of his hands on her back. The other held her hip. He was still hard, she felt him forcing himself inside her. She clasped to the dirt floor and let him finish his business. If he satisfied himself, he might le t her go.
She heard his grunt of completion, but he remained inside her. She told him it was good and squirmed a little for his pleasure. She told him it was the first time she came in months. Maybe it was something to be tied up and spanked she told him. She heard him chuckle as he rolled off of her. She didn't try to get up; instead she rolled towards him and cuddled against him. She asked him where he learned this game. He didn't answer. He sat up and cut her feet free of the laundry line.
She saw stairs leading up on the far side of the basement; she didn't see a door. Maybe in the darkness of the other side, a door existed, but she put her thoughts on what she could see, the stairs. He stood, he was a big man; four times her size. He went to a duffel bag and pulled out a blanket. He spread it on the floor and ordered her to it.
She smiled at him and crawled to the blanket. The blanket was closer to the stairs. She sat and watched him fumble through his pockets, he pulled out a plastic lighter, a metal crack pipe and a hand full of cocaine rocks. He tossed the items to her and grinned.
She delayed his true pleasure. This worthless woman got him to cum, a temporary delay from the ecstasy of watching her die. He always came then. He rewarded her with the only thing any of them really cared about, those damn rocks. It had been over a two years since he reached an orgasm through sex with a live woman. Their dead bodies proved much more permitting. No waiting for them to smoke another rock, no complaints about anal sex, dead bodies bent to his will.
Never in his life had a woman told him he gave her an orgasm from his dick. It was always a complaint about limited duration. She said she came, well that got her a couple of more moments of agony free life, and one last good high. What was it she asked him, where did he learn this game, did she really think it was a game, well if so, the end would definitely be a surprise to her.
Patrice didn't want to get high. She wanted to get him talking, get his mind off her death. She knew he had no plans of letting her leave alive. Killing her would be the only way to stop her from going to the police. She had to convince him that she was not a threat, that she enjoyed his game and would like to play it another day with him. To do that, she had to get him talking. She patted the spot on the blanket and asked him to come sit next to her. He took his own clothes off and came to her with butc her knife in hand.
She asked him why he needed the knife, he told her to cut her heart out after they were finished. She giggled and patted him on the chest. She said he did play the game well, keeping her scared turned her on more. She offered him the pipe; he refused and ordered her to smoke a rock.
She thought about what some of the other girls had told her about him. He liked to eat pussy. She sat facing him with her knees up and her thighs open. After she melted a rock on the pipe, she opened herself and fingered herself for him to watch. No pussy eater could watch a woman playing with her pussy without wanting a taste, at least not in her experience.
She moaned and twisted in pseudo pleasure, while she inhaled the smoke from the cocaine rock. She saw the corners of his mouth raising in a smile. She watched his tongue lick his thin lips. She circled her opening with her forefinger, darting in and out, she increased her moans. She watched him watching her intently. She thumbed on her clitoris and gasped in the phony pleasure.
She begged him for his assistance, she told him all she needed was a little lick right on her clitoris and she would cum again. She whimpered and pleaded like a spoiled child, begging him to bring his tongue to her.
She saw the debate in his mind on his face, he wanted to, but something was stopping him. His tongue was rapidly running across his lips. She almost had him and she knew it, she opened her thighs wider and slide two fingers into herself. She put the pipe down and worked on herself with both hands. She had one finger in her anus, two in her vagina and her thumb on her clitoris.
She whined. She pleaded that she needed his tongue now. She told him she didn't care if he killed her later, just bring her his tongue now. She saw the debate end in his mind. He put the point of the butcher knife under her chin and his head between thighs.
He didn't eat the pussies of the women he killed. He didn't give them that pleasure. Those he killed were to please him, but eating this worthless woman's pussy might please him, no woman had begged him to eat their pussy and none had put their pussy on display in such a manner. He would kill her the moment he heard her cum. She was moaning from playing with herself, he was certain she would scream when his tongue pushed her over the top. When he heard that scream, he would shove the knife up into her ne ck. His plan excited him; she would be the first woman he killed who was cuming. He buried his head between her thighs.
Patrice did not hesitate. She locked her thighs around his head and squeezed. She grabbed the butcher knife with both hands, prying it from his hand. He was clawing into her back with his other hand. She ignored the pain and continued to tighten her thighs.
His head slipped up from her crouch. He was biting into the bottom of her stomach. Her thighs were now around his neck and the butcher knife was in her hands. She crossed her angles and squeezed with all her had. She brought the butcher knife down hard into the side of his head. She felt the knife go in, she pulled it out and brought it down again.
He tried to stand, but her grip held him. She got the knife into his mouth forcing his teeth from her stomach. She cut herself digging into his mouth with the knife. The blade broke, with what was left she dug into his eyes.
When the only movement on the blanket was hers, she relaxed her thighs and rolled free. Hand trembling she put her fingers on his bloody neck and checked for his pulse, there was none. She thanked God. She laid face down on the blanket and breathed heavily through her mouth. The crazy bastard was dead.
She tried twice to stand and fell. She crawled over to the wall and eased herself up. She stood, weak but alive. She limped to the steps and stopped. She was naked. She had to have some type of clothing. She looked around the basement for her clothes. She saw them balled up in a plastic milk crate. She crept over to it, as if not to wake the dead crazy bastard. She slid on her white nurses aide uniform pants. She wasn't going to cry. She had to get out. Later, when she told Samuel what happened, she woul d cry.
God, Samuel was waiting for her. She hadn't called him to tell him she was getting of early. He's going to know she'd been getting high. He's going to leave her for sure. Her feet hurt too much to try shoes or the socks. She didn't want to stain her uniform top with her blood; she put her coat on. She checked her pants pocket for her money; it was there. Thank God.
Samuel would believe her when she showed him the money. She had made up kidnapping stories before, when she'd messed up money. The money would be the proof she needed. Hurrying to the stairs she tripped over the crazy bastard's duffel bag and a kerosene lamp. The kerosene spilled and ran to the blanket.
It would be a fire and no one could tie her to the crazy bastard's death. She hadn't thought about going to the police, she was going home, to Samuel and the kids. The crazy bastard was dead; going to the police would only complicate her life. She would tell Samuel the truth, that she'd been getting high for a couple of weeks, but that was all over now, God had given her another chance and she was going to be honest from now on.
Samuel would believe her. God wouldn't give her another chance, only to take Samuel and the kids away. Everything would work out fine. When she tried to take the first step up, her stomach spasm in pain. The pain forced to sit on the steps. A first aide kit had spilled from the duffel bag. She reached to it and poured peroxide on her stomach wound and bandaged it. She noticed several candles were flickering inches away from the blanket, maybe the kerosene wouldn't make it to them.
Her blood was all over the crazy bastard and her finger prints were everywhere. The police would find her if she just left, but if she went to them they would notify the state, and her children would be taken again. No, she couldn't be tied to this. She rifled through his duffel bag looking for more kerosene. What she found was pictures of other women he'd brought down there and killed. She counted nine slain and gutted women. She couldn't stop the tears. God had truly spared her.
Maybe if she gave these pictures to the police, no, she was still involved and they would still notify the state. She emptied the contents of the duffel bag on the floor, no kerosene, duct tape, ropes, clothes, a straight razor, craving knifes, acid, lighter fluid and money. She picked up the roll of money and dropped it in her coat pocket.
She grabbed the duct tape, the pictures and the lighter fluid. She limped over to his body and rolled him over. She taped the pictures to his chest and rolled him back over face down. She squeezed out the remains of the lighter fluid and kicked a candle to the blanket. She ran up the stairs as best she could, and out the back door.
She'd left her shoes, her bra, her socks and her uniform top, but she didn't turn around for them. God's will, will be done she thought.