I didn’t bother asking where. We drove, too fast for me to consider jumping off but I still had a small sliver of hope that this fucked up plan would work, and I’d be free. As Tiny’s bike slowed down, my heart sped up.
We were headed toward Chihuahua. Nicole would meet us there tomorrow night with the money. How she was going to do it I had no idea. Worse, I didn’t know if she could do it. I only knew she had told Tiny she’d be there with the money. If she was bluffing it didn’t matter, she was buying me time. But first we had to make a stop and pick up the rest of Tiny’s ‘gang’. I was not at all excited to meet more people like Tiny, but as usual I had no choice and no say. I pulled Caleb’s jacket closer to my body.
Traveling more slowly his scent wafted up to my nostrils pulling my thoughts toward him. What would happen now? Was he looking for me? And why did the idea fill me with both a sense of dread and hope? Hope for what? For a moment I wished I had just lain in the bed next to him, given him a chance to be kind. Perhaps he would have let me go eventually. I blinked, hard. You did the right thing Livvie. This can work, it can.
As we pulled up to the run-down house I heard several voices laughing, shouting, or making chatter as loud rock music filled the air. I wobbled and nearly fell when I got off the bike. Tiny laughed as he walked to the door.
“Watch yourself little girl, you don’t want that bike fallin’ down on you.” I didn’t think it was too damn funny.
He opened the door to the house and let out the only thing more overwhelming than the music, the smell of Marijuana. I stood outside, lamenting every decision I had ever made to lead me here, and then I stepped through the doorway. All conversation came to a halt. Nine bikers, one of them a young woman, turned to stare at me. I tensed at their blatant scrutiny, most of them confused, and some of them seemingly aroused.
“Everybody, this is Jessica,” Tiny introduced me, sounding happy and counting his cash in his head most likely. I decided to use a fake name, for no other reason than I didn’t want anyone to know my real one. “Nobody fuck with her,” he looked at me lasciviously, “unless she wants to be fucked with.” Still silence, except for the long version of November Rain blasting through crappy boom box speakers. I shrank further inside Caleb’s coat, another comforting whiff of him, another regretted decision. This whole fucking thing was twisted irony. Tiny turned to me, finishing the introductions, “Jessica this is Joker, Smokey, Casanova, Stinky, Boston, Abe, Hog, Kid, and his bitch, Nancy.”
Who the fuck cared? I sure didn’t. I just stared blankly at all of them, at none of them.
Nancy just gave a snide look, as if I called her a bitch as a greeting.
I said nothing. Growing up poor and in LA taught me something. You can’t look weak, but you can’t look too defiant or someone could take it as a challenge. And fuck with me. I flicked my gaze around, holding only a few of the eyes briefly before just staring off, not responding and just giving an indifferent and vague nod of acknowledgment. I wish Caleb had taught me something more valuable than how to withstand a strong hand on my ass. I almost laughed, feeling hysterical for a moment, and bit down on my tongue. I was not going to freak out, not when I needed to be aware.
“Nancy, why don’t you take Jessica here and get her something to eat before we pack up and ride out. I want to make it to Chihuahua by night fall.”
Nancy rolled her eyes at Tiny and then looked at me for a moment before saying, “Well come on then.”
Nancy and I walked down a small hallway into another little room. Inside, a few dirty airbeds and small piles of clothes that seemed to also serve as sheets and pillows lined the floor. She angrily kicked at the clothes in her way and headed toward the corner of the room to the bed covered in clothes, make-up, hairspray and individually wrapped condoms. I looked away, saying nothing.
“Listen here girl. You better either pay me for this food or replace it cause I don’t have money to throw away on anyone.” I didn’t say anything, just a tad shocked. So much for us females sticking together or some sympathy. Then I realized that was asking for way too much. Caleb had taught me not to expect sympathy, even if he’d shown me some from time to time. Or at least what passed for it considering the source. I had to stop thinking about the son of a bitch.
She picked up a pair of cut-off jean shorts and a skimpy leather top that laced up the front. I couldn’t help it, I winced at the whore-ware. Suddenly my chest suffered a direct hit and a small pile of snack foods dropped to my feet. I gritted my teeth. She responded with a sneer. Bitch. I picked up the bag of chips and two protein bars. Yeah, I’d be sure to reimburse her for these delicacies. She continued to give a stiff upper lip as she kicked more clothes into a corner.
“Well, are you gonna just stand there or are you gonna sit down and eat?”
I looked at her, incredulous. Then loud voices drifted in from the other room.
“Are you fucking crazy?!?”
Eruption of a lot of voices arose.
“Bringing that bitch in here is a mistake man,” said someone.
“Jesus Christ, Tiny, you should give her back while you can,” said another.
“When did you become such a pussy?” said Tiny.
“What’s going on?” Nancy shot daggers at me with her eyes. I cast my eyes toward the floor. She grabbed me by the elbow, squeezed and easily pushed me out of the room before she left to join the argument. As Tiny told the real story, the shouting escalated. It went back and forth for about forty-five minutes, and then most of the guys decided to leave and avoid ‘The Shitstorm’.
Nancy returned, livid. I found a corner to hide in while they packed, not wanting anyone to see me and start yelling at me. They packed pretty quickly, most of them just throwing a few handfuls of clothes in a backpack – obviously all they came with. I watched, not feeling anything, just learning names I didn’t care about. I was just so tired and scared. I wanted…I wasn’t sure what I wanted. The fear and terror drained me, took my energy and hope. Despair in, hope out. Repeat. Repeat.
“Come on Kid, let’s just go.” I heard Nancy. I lifted my gaze toward the fighting twosome. The way she was clinging to him, I was assuming he was the boyfriend.
“You know I can’t do that, I’m not leaving Tiny alone. Besides, I ain’t afraid of no fucking pervert. Let him come, Tiny’ll put that fucker down for good.”
They argued. “Baby please, let’s just go.”
A few tense moments later Kid replied, “No.”
“Fine,” she said lowly, seething. And then she stormed out of the room.
When it was all said and done, only Joker, Nancy, Abe, and Kid stayed to keep Tiny and me company. I had to admit, they didn’t seem like the nicest guys and Nancy I already knew was a huge bitch, but at least I was headed home in the morning. They decided we would spend the night.
It was late, I didn’t know the time, but it was dark. I stayed in my corner a long time while they all sat around drinking beer and laughing loudly. I think I sat there for so many hours that they may have forgotten I was there. No one slept, and I couldn’t stomach anything.
I just waited for night to fall, and sat in my corner, listening to the time tick away. But toward what, I had no idea.
Ransomed. She’d been ransomed. Javier’s family huddled in a corner, Javier himself just a limp body, barely breathing but still alive. The motherfucker was going to get a cut of the ransom if he helped smuggle what was his.
He chanced a glance in their direction and instantly recognized the pitiful pleading expression on the woman’s face. Kitten would look at him like that when she was terrified of what he’d do next. In some ways, he imagined that look had softened. As he kept staring at the woman, Javier’s wife, something inside him twisted and he had to look away. It was a good thing he had decided to come alone. It was also a good thing Javier’s wife and child were at home with him. They were the reason Javier would live after tonight. He would never kill a man in front of his child, but Jair and the rest would do so with too much pleasure.
Caleb walked toward a coffee table and picked up a short pencil and a pad of paper resting near a phone. Kitten had used that phone, today. She had touched all these things, but there was no sign of her now. He thought of her smell, still embedded in the pillow on his bed, some of her hair too. At the time he had felt anger, now….
He dropped the pencil and pad next to Javier. “Direcciones. ¡Ahora!” Directions. Now. Javier sputtered and wept, bloody drool dripping from his quivering lip as he forced himself to write. Caleb looked on dispassionately. Ransomed. If they were holding her for ransom, if they didn’t care about the law, about getting back to the U.S., then what else could they be doing to her at this very moment? Rage ripped through him and he fought the strong urge to kick Javier. Emotions were only useful to control, survive and succeed. He was apparently re-learning that lesson he thought he’d mastered.
Caleb collected the piece of bloody paper. The biker’s weren’t too far away, but he also knew he couldn’t go in alone. He would have to return to the house and gather Jair and a few more men along with weapons. The bikers were armed. To his shock, it wasn’t his own safety he was concerned with. That girl, that damn stupid girl. He had to get her back.
Caleb couldn’t wait until he saw the bikers.
I got up and ran to the bathroom to throw up. I heard their laughter in the background and Kid saying they were assholes. My arms wrapped around the top of the toilet, and probably touched piss, but with no food in my stomach and getting high off the heavy pot fumes, I couldn’t really do too much about it.
They laughed at me. Assholes. I should never have let my guard down. I should never have trusted anyone. I should have run away from Tiny, and I definitely should not have fallen asleep in the bathroom. But the gagging and dry heaving had worn me out further and I was exhausted. And high.
It started out simply at first, my skin felt warmer and that was nice. Little tingles spread throughout my body and I stretched out. My thoughts felt liquid and surreal, like nothing was what it was, like I was falling, but it was okay to fall, and so I did. I felt enveloped. Then the softness became rougher and the warmth hot and uncomfortable. I jerked, my body confused. My buzzing head. My eyes began to flutter, but I couldn’t open them all the way and suddenly I had the odd sensation my nipples were being tugged through my dress by something blunt but firm.
Instinctively, I pushed at the pressure, of hands. When I realized it was someone, I pushed with my sluggish and weak arms and then I attempted to protest, scream bloody murder but my head felt huge and my tongue felt dead in my mouth. When I felt a mouth on my breast, sucking harder, a yelp escaped my lips. I finally broke through the haze. And I woke up.
“Shhh, you don’t want to wake everybody up.” The voice was feminine – Nancy’s. What the…fuck…was going on? I tried to scream and a hand covered my mouth. Too heavy and large to belong to Nancy. I tried to scream louder, beyond the hand. And still, I heard another voice. Three. But who? It was too dark to tell.
“Hurry up man, she’s wakin’ up.” I swung my arms wildly, surprised when feminine hands grabbed them and held them down. Fabric ripped and my chest was suddenly bare. The man on top of me wasted no time in sucking my breast into his mouth, scratching me with the stubble of his beard. With his free hand he pulled at my dress, trying to raise it up. I kicked wildly, but he forced his way between my legs and his naked chest lay on mine.
“Don’t be shy baby, I know what you are. You’re a whore aren’t you?” And then he let out the shrill laughter that finally gave away his identity – Joker.
“Flip her over,” said the other man.
“I can’t man, if I move my hand she’s gonna start screaming.”