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I love the sound of crunching bones. Mine, other people’s, it’s just the most delicious sound I know. Call me a Sadist, or call me a masochist. Either or both would be right. It’s the pain that I love. And isn’t love meant to be shared? I happen to love the damaged figure. What fun to feel the heavy truncheon landing upon the poor, exposed and unprotected limb or torso. What fun to hear the squeals of pain, and the crack of splintering bone. I feel the delightful power when I land a solid blow against an arm held high in defense, a thigh turned away in fright or a rib left unguarded. Yet, I feel the same power and delight when I am on the receiving end. It’s the pain, the bent and tangled skeleton, the pure joy and rapture of multiple, blunt trauma that I love. I’m difficult, yes. I’m high maintenance, yes. But simply put, I’m just not satisfied with the unbroken body.
Oh humble reader, do let me go on about myself. Your narrator is named Alexis Bleu, a feisty, and fun-loving girl in her last year of teen-hood. I am tall, like basketball player tall, slender, but wrought like tight rope, fair-skinned, raven-haired with indigo Goth extensions, hazel-eyed, and freckle-faced. For those of a more lascivious nature, my tits are perky, my ass is perfect, and my legs reach down from the sky to the ground. On this particular evening, I was desiring to start some trouble and dressed appropriately so. Underneath my dark blue parochial school sweater, I wore a leather-laced bustier. For bottoms, I wore my blue and green plaid skirt which always seemed to come up high on me, due to my height. For footwear, on nights like these, I preferred thigh-high black leather boots, with zippers down the sides, with shiny, steal cleats like vampire fangs that were excellent for both kicking and stomping, and a Hello Kitty backpack full of lovely blunt weapons that I never cleaned. Not to be forgotten were my earrings: a laughing actor’s mask on the left ear lobe and a crying actor’s mask on the right ear lobe.
Then there are my girls—my gangster girls. I call them my Little Sisters. They call me their Big Sister. Together, we’re the Golema Goth Girls. They are my adorable, blood-thirsty little flowers. There is Dahlia, the wickedly smart one, stealthy and blue-haired, ever so talented with a measure of heavy link chain in her hand. Then there is Chrysie, the unquestioningly loyal one, pink-haired and green-eyed. She prefers a nice solid tire-iron or crowbar when she can get one. Last, but not least is Rosie, a dirty-blonde with two black eyes that never heal. She was built like an offensive lineman, as wide as she is tall. Not a bright bulb, but she’s mean as they come and packs the wallop of a runaway truck. She favors the use of the lower-half of a driveshaft or a four-by-four when those are handy.
This particular night we were paying a call to some dear friends of ours—The Khmer Rouge Girls. As slick as they looked in their matching olive green, PVC, Chairman Mao outfits, they lost in class with the gobs of bright red, and florescent pink make-up—brutal, yet coordinated. The Khmer Rouge Girls were our dearest enemies. We had been in a long-running turf war over The Heights. They surprised us as we were coming out of the Seven-Eleven deep in our own home grounds. They came at us with fence posts and chunks of cement, and when we had been badly battered and beaten they dragged us around the boulevard on their scooters and motorbikes. An award should have been given for the job they did on us. Me with my neck brace and arms and legs in long casts, Dahlia in bandages and a back brace, Rosie, poor Rosie, in plaster and traction with the catheter we never spoke about and dear little Chrysie in her full body cast. We were out from the hospital now, and the casts were off. The Valley trembled in our bootsteps and the Khmer girls were about to receive a visit from some unhappy lady callers.
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I rallied my little sisters together in the alley behind the drugstore in that part of the city that sits in the shadow of The Heights. The three of them did some “toots” and tequila off the sleeves of their leather jackets. Not me. Drugs and alcohol dull the pain and I didn’t want anything to dull this experience. We were hovered around an unlucky female security guard who just happened to cross our path on her nightly rounds. She was lying in a heap on the pavement moaning and going on about her “kneecaps” or some such nonsense. I noticed that Chrysie had a new look.
“I like the suspenders, Sis,” I said as I fingered the stretchy bands while my knuckles caressed her breast. We were close, me and the girls. “They make you look tougher than usual.”
“I got no choice but to wear ‘em,” Chrysie said, through half-broken teeth. “My hips can’t hold pants up right since that last lashing. I don’t walk right anymore and it hurts to sit down.”
“Don’t you worry Chrysie,” I said. “Tonight we make things right again. You have trouble walking, we’ll make sure those Khmer girls have trouble using their wheelchairs. The ones they’re gonna need.”
“I know,” Chrysie said. “That’s what you tell us. We don’t gets even, we gets the bests of ‘em.”
“So we do,” I said.
“Like we did to those Psychotic Brownie Scouts, bloodying their cute, little brown berets,” Rosie said. Her voice was husky and rough.
“And the Loco Mucho Loco Senoritas,” Chrysie said. “I heard one of them still uses a walker to get around.”
“And don’t forget the Rat Bastard Afro Sorority and the Clowns With Frowns on Skates,” Dahlia said. “You told us, ‘if they put us in the E.R., we’ll…”
“…Put them in Intensive Care,” Chrysie, Rosie and I said together. Something about Dahlia was making me a little less than happy at that moment. I detected something like snarkiness in her voice.
“Thems that don’t hit back, Little Sister, are chumps,” I said. “And with street sharks around the chumps become chum.”
“No disrespect Big Sister,” Dahlia said taking a step forward. Her forehead came no higher than my sternum. “It’s just you promised us one day The Heights and The Valley would be ours and now we’ve recovered from our latest injuries only to find we have neither.”
“Patience Little Sister,” I said. “Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. We take down the Khmers and we rebuild our reputation. We leave little presents to show our virility, like this poor uniformed woman and soon…”
“Quiet!” hissed Rosie. “They’re coming.”
We saw their shadows approaching the alley, and short they were, like the girls themselves. We ducked behind dumpsters and waited. Apparently, we weren’t the only girl-gang with a grudge against them. They may have outnumbered us five to four, but two of them were hobbling on long leg casts and crutches, one was wearing her jacket as though she were concealing two broken arms, another had a short leg cast, and a short arm cast, while the fifth had her neck in a large Philly collar and bandages all about her head.
Dahlia and I jumped out in front of them. Chrysie and Rosie sealed off the rear. Even if they could have ran they wouldn’t get very far.
“Well, well, well,” I said. “If it isn’t our dear friends from The Heights.”
“Oh shit!” Dimples said holding her casted arm to her face in exasperation. Dimples was the leader and the girl with the two broken arms-both in long arm casts suspended in army camouflage slings. “Look, the Rat Bastard Afro Sorority already took The Heights from us and this is our first night we’ve been able to walk in weeks.”
“A sad, sad story it is my dear little Dimples. Some of us could say the same. But it seems we haven’t forgotten who inflicted us with our last set of injuries.”
“How about a little mercy, Alexis? Are you going to hit a girl with two broken arms and four cracked ribs?” Dimples took her arms out of her slings and held them high above her head in a sign of submission.
“The short answer…” I took my aluminum baseball bat out of my Hello Kitty backpack and held it high over my head, casting an ominous shadow over Dimple’s face. “Vengeance is violence, girls!” With a lightening fast motion, I swept down on Dimples and cracked her plaster left arm cast in two. With an even swifter backstroke, I pulverized her right arm cast. Rosie drove the two girls on crutches into the nearby dumpster and then worked them over with the driveshaft. Dahlia was taking care of the girl with the broken ankle and wrist with her chain, while Chrysie was beating the neck collar girl with her tire iron, splattering her clean, white bandages with fresh blood.
The lovely sound of bones cracking and flesh getting pounded with metal filled the air. After several swings against Dimples legs and backside, I drove her into the brick wall of the alley. Then I put away my cherished aluminum bat and went to work on Dimples with a confiscated police baton, kicking and stomping every now and again to give my arms a rest. We continued our assault for several minutes when I detected the sound of a police siren far off in the distance.
“Beat it girls, it’s the Pigs,” I said. We left the Khmer girls, broken, bleeding and pleading on the ground, as we hightailed it out of the alley, screeching like bobcats and howling like wolves as we ran.
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We ran for blocks, up hills, down hills, through alleys and breezeways—no easy feat in thigh-high boots with two-inch cleats. We ended up in the tony part of town—the Jazz District with its artsy cafes, high-end galleries and fancy-schmancy eateries. Thank you, no thank you. Give me some McNuggets in a culvert under the freeway and I’m a happy gal. We were resting our weary bodies outside the Rubicon Coffeehouse when we were taken aback by a pleasant surprise.
“Parole Officer Sheila Brobinsky,” I declared as I stood up to greet her. She was exiting the coffeehouse alone with a paper coffee cup in her hand and a glossy playbill under her arm. “Small, small world it is, wouldn’t you say? How about some huggzies?” I went to put my arms around her where her soft, round little nose would have nestled nicely between my leather-clad breasts.
She pushed me away with her coffee cup hand. “Stand back Alexis,” she said to me sternly. “How many times have I had to tell you about ‘personal space’?” She surveyed the four of us, as we were all standing around her now in a semi-circle, while frightened patrons huddled in the comfort of the café. “Is that blood on your boots?”
Careless me, my boot zippers were dripping with bits of Dimples. And the other girls were bespattered with the red, red gore of the Rouge girls.
“We’ve taken up art school and this is merely paint,” I explained.
“Alexis Bleu, you insolent hooligan! No sooner are you out of the hospital and you are out causing trouble again. Weren’t you still in casts when I visited you on Tuesday? Did anything I tell the group of you during our visit, sink into your thick skulls?”
“It was last Thursday, Sheila, and I recall something you said about steering clear of trouble,” I answered.
“It’s not Sheila, it’s Officer Brobinsky. Don’t get curt with me, Alexis. If it was Thursday, then it will be Thursday again next week. It’s nearly midnight, and you are all in violation of your probation. If you want to stay out of jail, you turn around and take your heinies home right now. We’ll talk about where that blood came from on Thursday.” Officer Brobinsky took an arrogant slurp from her coffee cup. With hubris and vanity, she looked down her nose upon the four of us, completely unaware that she had created a foamy cream mustache on her upper lip.
“You’ve left a spot of suds there,” I said innocently.
Officer Brobinsky dabbed at her lip with a napkin she produced from inside her coat pocket, never taking her cold, coal eyes off of me. Somehow, she managed to miss the foam entirely.
I approached her. “Double mocha latte, I see. It matches your beautiful complexion. Allow me.” I ran my moist, sweet tongue up the nape of Officer Brobinsky’s neck, up around her chin, over her pouty red lips, across her latte mustache, over her left nostril of her soft nose and agonizingly slowly across her right eyebrow.
“Salty,” I declared. “You should find another coffeehouse.”
Officer Brobinsky growled and with a clenched fist wiped my saliva off of her face and tossed the crumpled napkin at my booted feet. “That’s it, Alexis. I am halling all of your asses down to the police station and we’ll get to the bottom of this art school paint that the four of you are covered in.” She rooted around in her purse, but eventually gave up in frustration.
“You must be looking for this,” I said, flipping open her cell phone. “I purloined it while cleaning the foam away from your lip.” I looked on her display. The digital wallpaper was a photo of presumably her family—the pale, plump Mr. Brobinsky and the darling Brobinsky twins. “Cute family. Should I call the Mister to tell him you won’t be home to canoodle tonight?”
“Give me back my phone, Alexis,” Officer Brobinsky said, seething.
“Manners, manners,” I said. “What’s the magic word?”
“Give me my fucking phone,” she said, slow and measured.
“I should have gone to your parochial school. At my school, the magic word was ‘please.’”
“What the hell are you girls doing in my neighborhood?” she said.
I pulled my lucky nine-iron out of my backpack and practiced my swing. “We were just looking to play a quick round of eighteen holes. Ain’t any links on the Eastside.”
“Where are the rest of your clubs?” asked Officer Brobinsky.
“Girls.” I commanded. Chrysie brought out the handle of a sledgehammer, Dahlia her tire-iron and Rosie her driveshaft. “Time to hit the links,” I said.
My first stroke caught Officer Brobinsky just below the kneecap. I squealed in delight at the sound of her tibia shattering. She cried out in anguish and collapsed to one knee. Rosie was next, and brought down her driveshaft on Officer Brobinsky’s left hip. A reverberating crunching sound echoed through the street as delicate patrons upchucked their scones and muffins from within the coffeehouse. Sprawled on her back, Dahlia went quickly to work on the arms and ribs, while Chrysie zeroed in on the ankles and wrists. I shanked a shot to Sheila’s chin with my next effort, but was accurate and true with my next drive.
“Sheila, I just might reach my handicap tonight.” I said. But poor Sheila could only sputter and cough up blood. I stood back and let my girls stomp on her toes and fingers. After several minutes of this, I rested my cleated boot on Officer Brobinsky’s right breast. I could feel the cracked ribs grinding beneath the skin. With one eye swollen shut, she looked up at me with her other eye and waived a cracked and limped arm in submission.
“Stop.” I commanded. But the girls continued to assault her. “Stop!” I yelled louder and followed this up with a loud whistle using my finger and thumb. The girls relented their assault. I got on my knee and leaned down to kiss Officer Brobinsky’s forehead already covered in blood from numerous gashes. “I just wanted to let you know,” I whispered softly. “I’m not a monster.” I stood up and placed my nine-iron back in my Hello Kitty backpack. “Let’s leave some pieces of her for the paramedics to find.”
The girls put away their weapons. Officer Brobinsky looked up at me with her one good eye and began to cry.
“There, there,” I said to her delicately. And to my gangster girls I said, “Time to make time, sisters.”
We ran off into the night howling like wolves and screeching like bobcats.
We got lost. We had wandered around parts of the city we had only heard about but never seen, for hours upon hours. We ended up in an upscale suburb far away from our turf and the city we knew, feeling the same kind of anxiety that well-heeled citizens must feel when they accidentally stumble into the dodgier parts of town. We strolled down the sidewalks of a strip mall that smelled of fresh paint and barely dry cement. We found ourselves browbeaten by haughty shops that brazenly declared their overconfidence in crass consumer culture: “The Pampered Pooch” Doggie Daycare, “The Spoiled Brat” clothing store for toddlers and the “Nothing But Cuff Links and Tie Clips” outlet for the obsessively coifed metrosexual. The sun would be rising soon and I was ready to call it a day.
I was caught by surprise to notice that I was flanked by only two of my little sisters rather than three. I looked about. She wasn’t there.
“What happened to Dahlia?” I asked Rosie and Chrysie. They both shrugged. I was growing concerned. After our incidents with Officer Brobinsky and the Khmer Rouge Girls, I knew we not only had to worry about other girl gangs but the fuzz as well.
“I’m over here,” she yelled, and beckoned us by waiving her arms. Dear Dahlia, the poor girl knew nothing of subtlety. We met her at the other end of the strip mall in front of a shiny store, lit up in a tawdry neon manner as though it were a motel that charged by the hour. In the back of the store I could make out the hair of a beautiful brunette, feverishly prepping the store before its doors were scheduled to open.
“Nothing doing Dahlia.” I said. “Dawn will be here soon and we should head on home to get away from the heat.”
“I know this place,” she said. “Sepulveda. They sell expensive cosmetics to dim-witted rich girls and over-the-hill divorcees who wish they were dimwitted rich girls.”
“You’re make-up looks fine.” I told her. “A little bleach will take out those bloodstains.”
“I mean, I’ve cased this place,” she continued. “Sepulveda’s got bank. I heard from a friend who heard from a friend’s cousin, that every morning they stock the register with wads of money.”
“So, you think we should burgle the place?” I asked.
“Better than burgle,” she said. “We shake it down. We ask for a big pile of cash. If they don’t give it to us, we break their faces.”
“Hmmm.” I thought about that. “But, if we burgle, we take all of their cash and we still get to break their faces.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know that,” she said. “But if we shake them down, then we can come back next week and do it all over again. Why this whole valley is full of Sepulvedas. We could hit a dozen a day. Think of the big bucks we can make. This is how the big gangs get rich. We could buy a mansion or something.”
It’s every day that I’m grateful that I wasn’t cursed with the brains that Dahlia got.
“Big plans make big noises when they collapse and fall apart. Let’s just burgle the place.”
“Don’t you see,” persisted Dahlia, “we can just keep on hitting these places if we only threaten violence. Do you think this rich girl inside, is going to call the cops if we can make her believe we’ll break both her legs if she does?”
I was getting antsy. Either I wanted us to head home or take down this store for all it had, but I could tell Dahlia wasn’t going to give up and I wanted to end our first day out of the hospital on an upbeat note.
“I still think my way’s better,” I said. “But we run a semi-democratic tyranny here. We’ll try it your way, Dahlia.”
Dahlia grinned and hugged me. “That’s using the old noodle, Big Sister. Now here’s my plan. You pound on the glass door with some story about your cousin’s wedding and how you got a cosmetic emergency and your plane takes off in an hour, so the manager will let you in before the store opens. We’ll swing around the rear of the place and disconnect the alarm. Then you gotta get the manager to check for something in the back of the store. When she does that, you unlock the front door and let us in. We trash the place and rough up the manager. Then we threaten to mess her face up if she doesn’t give us a thousand dollars. Got it?”
“Got it. Now, you guys skeedaddle, and I’ll give you the all clear sign when the manager is in the back.”
I approached the glass door and pounded on it, pressing my face against the glass while letting the crocodile tears flow like a great waterfall.
“Open up, please! Bwaaah! It is an emergency.” I shrieked loud enough so she could hear me through the glass. The manager came running. What a doll she was, a compact, little thing with magnificent auburn hair that cascaded down her shoulders and glistened in the light, she had a big, round, heart-shaped fanny and large, luscious heaving breasts that jiggled as she ran, and a heavenly pink hue to her baby-soft skin.
She looked at me through the glass with big brown, pound-puppy eyes. “We’re closed,” she said, her voice filled with empathy. “Come back in an hour.”
“I can’t,” and I let out a geyser of those crocodile tears. “I’m getting married today and my plane takes off in an hour. And…” I pretended to hyperventilate. Good gangster girls know how to act. “…I think I’ve got a pimple.”
Her shoulders and arms relaxed and the defenses came down. The lock on the glass door turned. When I cast ‘em out, I really know how to reel ‘em in.
“You need help,” she said, sounding more like a therapist than a store manager. “I hope that’s not what you’re wearing to your wedding.”
I looked at myself in one of the countless mirrors in the store. I certainly didn’t look ready for travel in a bustier and thigh-high boots bespeckled with blood.
“Oh, heavens no,” I said quickly. “This is from my bachelorette’s party. What a wild time we had. But, ugh, with all the wild cavorting and drinking, and the mishap with the gigolo, I picked up a horrible zit. You’ve got to help me.”
“Let’s get you over into the light,” she said, as she wiggled her heart-shaped ass over to the make-up counter. “My, you are so tall and thin. I would love to have a body like yours.”
I gasped. “I was just thinking the same thing. You are so feminine and curvaceous, I would love to have a body like yours…to hold.”
She looked at me with a baffled expression.
“I’m kidding,” I said with a laugh. “I’m drunk, and I’m punchy and randy and…” I started to cry again. “I’ve got a giant zit on my face and I just know it’s going to explode.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s have a look at you.” She pulled my face over to the mirror-light. “Where this big zit? I don’t see it.”
“On my nose, on the tip of my nose.”
“Oh yes.” She tapped at it with her fingernail. “I don’t think that’s a zit.”
“Really? It felt sore.”
She scraped at my nose with her thumbnail. “I, uh…think that’s a bit of bone. What did you eat for dinner?”
I laughed a little school girl laugh. The manager laughed a little school girl laugh.
“My name’s Cassandra,” she said. She held out her hand and I engulfed it with my long, angular paw. Her palms were softer than cotton.
“Alexis,” I said.
“Is he alright?” she asked.
“The paramedics didn’t seem to think so.”
Cassandra laughed again. “Oh, you’re funny.” She let out a sigh. “I guess there’s no emergency after all.” She headed to the front door.
“But I’ve troubled you so,” I said, hands clasped to the lacings of my bustier. “And I really could use a few of your fine products before I get on the plane.”
“I guess you are here, aren’t you? What can I get for you?”
“Hmmm,” I thought very hard. Usually, I stole make-up from my hapless victims. But I remembered something I took once from a young punker. “Do you carry a lipstick called “Blood-Red #369?”
Cassandra looked surprised. “Yes, we do, but most people who purchase it are either prostitutes or morticians.”
“You know…for the cadavers. Not the kind of thing you would wear to a wedding.”
“Oh no, not for the wedding. It’s for the honeymoon. My groom to be has sort of a fetish for, uh…”
Cassandra’s face went ashen white. “Ewww…”
“For tawdry women,” I continued. “No, not for those other kinds of women.”
“That’s a relief.” The color returned to her face. “We keep it in the back. It’s not a big seller. Well, at least at this store.”
“Take your time,” I said. “I’m just going to poke around a little.”
I watched as Cassandra walked sexily into the back room. When she had disappeared, I ran to the front door and unlocked it. I motioned to my little sisters, who took cover behind the numerous make-up counters that lined the store. I cut off Cassandra just as she was returning.
“Can I just try on some of it right here. I think the lighting over here flatters me.”
“You would look stunning in any light, Alexis.”
I turned flush. “Oh my! Did I say I was getting married? Perhaps we can elope?”
“No, no. I’m sure he’s Mr. Right.” She held out the lipstick for me to try on.
“You’re the professional. I think you should apply it.” I puckered up my lips for Cassandra. I could feel her warm breath upon my cheeks as she coated my lips in red. Her perfume filled my lungs and I imagined the two of us making love in front of an altar as hundreds of well-dressed wedding guests cheered us on.
“You look devilish.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, snapping out of my daydream.
“It’s that lipstick. It’s the deepest color of red that I’ve ever seen. You might need the “Jaws of Life” to pry you two loose, when your husband sees you with that lipstick.”
“Uh-huh.” Cassandra was licking her own lips. “Cash or credit?”
“Ummm. Cash.” I pulled out a huge wad of bills. My takings from Officer Brobinsky, Dimples, the security guard and a couple of unlucky stiffs along the way.
“Wow. You certainly travel with a lot of cash.”
“Hee hee. Well, you know you gotta bring a lot of cash to your bachelorette’s party.”
Cassandra opened the cash register till. Unlike what Dahlia had said, there was very little cash in the drawer, two or three hundred, perhaps. “That will be $373, plus tax, which brings it to $411.14. Why don’t you just pay me $400? There’s always a tremendous markup on this stuff.”
“Four hundred. That shouldn’t be a problem. Actually, I’d like to buy some more.”
“More? But why?”
“For my friends.” I spun around and held up my arms. “Rise up Little Sisters.”
Dahlia, Rosie and Chrysie sprang out from behind the counters. With great relish, they began to smash the glass counters and mirrors, knocking over displays and trashing anything that looked fragile.
“Oh, fucking shit!” Cassandra despaired. I turned around and drew out my bat and brought it crashing down on the glass counter that separated the two of us. An evil smile spread across my face.
Now it was Cassandra who was crying. But hers were sincere tears. They gushed in long streams down her pretty pink face, running through her makeup in long rivulets. “It’s all in the till. You can have it all.”
Dahlia grabbed Cassandra by the hair on the front of her scalp. “There’s more in the back,” Dahlia said. “Show us where it’s at.”
“Security clears it out at the end of every day. Nobody ever robs us before we open. They always rob us just before we close.” Cassandra was sobbing.
“You’re lying,” demanded Dahlia. “Give us more money or we’ll break your arms.” Dahlia grabbed Chrysie’s tire iron. “Bring us more cash or we’ll pound you to a pulp.”
Cassandra turned to me expectedly, as though I were the wise one, as though I was the rational one, as though I was some kind of hero, just waiting there ready to save her.
“Why wait?” I said. I grabbed Cassandra away from Dahlia and pounded her head into the glass-top counter. I heard the glass shatter and her nose crack as blood burst across the cosmetics. I picked her up. Her face was covered with blood and broken glass. I lifted her squat, curvy body onto my shoulders and slammed her down into another display counter. Glass crashed and more bones crunched as the display collapsed beneath her.
“Alexis!” screamed Dahlia. “We’re only supposed to threaten violence. How are we going to shake her down now?”
“I can’t fake it, Dahlia,” I told her. “I need the real thing. I love the violence more than the money. Besides, you stupid twit, the real money is in all these dumb cosmetics. Rosie, Chrysie, grab some shopping bags and start loading up everything they got. I know a fence in the Valley.”
Cassandra, writhing on the floor, her frilly white shirt covered in broken, blood-stained glass, gasped and pleaded. “I thought you liked me, Alexis,” she gurgled.
“Are you kidding?” I told her. I scraped the glass away from her face. “I’m in lust with you. You’re goddamn, freaking gorgeous.” I picked Cassandra up, grasping her underneath her fleshy thighs in one arm and around her soft shoulders with the other arm, like Clark fucking Gable in Gone with the fucking Wind. I spotted a life-size mirror in the hair products section and I pile-drove her into it. Glass rained down upon the two of us like a gentle spring storm. Cassandra lay unconscious on the floor. I bent down, puckered up and gave her a big, moist kiss that left her pouty lips lacquered with Blood-Red #369. “I’ll see you again, my dear. I’ll see you as soon as I possibly can.”
I stood up and headed for the front door. “Chrysie, Rosie, let’s get out here.” Dahlia grabbed me by the shoulder.
“You ruined it, Alexis. You ruined everything. You promised me a shake down.”
I turned to her. “It wasn’t going to happen.”
“This was my caper and you ruined it. You and your goddamn bloodlust.”
“We’re not the Mafia, Dahlia. We’re not connected. We’re just common, little teenage, street thugs. When we need money, we steal it. Simple as that.”
“My caper,” she sobbed.
“There’s a reason why I’m the Big Sister and you guys are the Little Sisters, and it ain’t just my height.”
We stepped outside of the Sepulveda store. Cars were starting to fill up the parking lot and the first rays of light were beginning to shine.
“We better split up,” Chrysie said.
I put my arm around Chrysie’s shoulder like a proud parent. “Good idea,” I said. “We’ll meet at the playground in three nights. If the cops call, tell ‘em you’ve been in church the whole time.”
“Lay low,” mumbled Dahlia. She was dispirited and her chin hung down upon her chest. “Everyone lay low.”
We straggled out into the morning light, hunched over, bruised, beaten, exhausted, tired and spent. But in the deepest reaches of our hearts, we screeched like rapid bobcats and howled like hungry wolves.
I should have laid low. That would have been the practical thing to do. Of course, as you might have guessed by now, humble reader, I’m not the most practical person. And, it was only two nights later I was standing in front of the emergency entrance to Hillcrest Hospital wearing the roller skates I appropriated from Melodia, the leader of the Clowns with Frowns, who was recovering from our encounter magnificently at the crosstown St. Emory’s Medical Center. They were two sizes too snug, but I was good at contorting my toes. The beautiful white, patent leather of the skates coordinated wonderfully with my white nylon stockings and starch white cotton, 70’s era nurse’s uniform with the red crosses on the cap and sleeves. To top it off, I wore a long, blonde wig that I managed to snatch from Cassandra’s Sepulveda store.
I skated past the front desk, where busy staff took no notice of me and took the elevator to the third floor where they convalesce the multiple trauma victims. Skating by a trolley-cart full of dinner trays, I snagged one as I cruised down the quiet corridor. With the tray in one hand, I blew a kiss to the policeman sitting outside of the door of the room at the end of the hall. I knew that my lovely victims wouldn’t be far away from a police detail. They always gave these assignments to the least talented cop fresh out of academy. He relaxed his posture and smiled a devious, little smile at me. How can you go wrong with a long, blonde wig and Blood Red #369?
“Is this the room of the cosmetics store manager?” I asked, making sure to lean over just far enough to show some ample cleavage from my plunging neckline. “I’ve come to feed her her dinner.”
“You’re new,” he said slyly, like a wolf who cornered a bunny. He undressed and had his way with me with his eyes. “You know, she just ate only two hours ago?”
“With all those injuries,” I said innocently, “the best thing is to get lots of food. High calories is the best therapy.”
He leaned back in his chair. “You want this room,” he said, pointing across the hall with his ballpoint pen. The Beginners edition of his Sudoku book had been discarded on the floor. “This room here is a female parole officer. That’s why they stationed me here.”
“I’m such a ditz,” I said, adjusting my skirt. “This is only my second day.” I skated by him to the room he had pointed to, pushing my fanny out as I glided.
“What time do you get off?” he yelled across the hall.
“Anytime I feel the urge,” I said, as I gave him a wink and an air kiss.
I entered Cassandra’s room with my dinner tray in hand. What an angelic sight. Poor, poor Cassandra. She was laid out on her hospital bed like an ancient Egyptian mummy on a vast array of white, fluffy pillows. Her head was completely bandaged, except for two narrow slits where her sleepy eyes were flitting in fitful sleep. Another narrow slit accommodated her nostrils and the final slit, her precious pink lips. Her neck was ensconced in a soft white brace. Bandages were wrapped around her entire torso, including the mounds of her firm, large breasts. Above, these bandages, her hip and entire leg left were encased in a white, plaster hip spica and her right lower arm was placed in another white, plaster cast that rested on a pillow. The only skin visible were the tips of her fingers and the tips of her toes. Cassandra was certainly one of my greatest masterpieces.
She was so adorable, could you blame me for nuzzling her bandaged cheek with my nose while she wrestled in her sleep? Her cuddly eyelids opened grudgingly from their drug-induced haze, and stunning blue peepers looked up at me. I smiled at her, a deep, warm smile. She smiled warmly back at me. This vision of blonde loveliness reassured her for a few precious moments before her clearing vision and alertness led her to realize it was I, her manic attacker that was hunched over her helpless body. She nearly leapt out of all those bandages and casts and was preparing to open her mouth to scream.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” I said, putting my tray down and clasping my heart with my hands. “You have a gaping wound here, right in-between your nose and your chin. A dedicated nurse knows just what to do.” I ripped a large piece of adhesive off of her upper right thigh and wrapped it over her mouth. “Much better,” I said. “We wouldn’t want that to get infected, now would we?”
Cassandra tried her best to speak, but only a muffled murmur escaped from beneath the adhesive. Her futile attempts to escape were nearly comical. She winced with pain with every jerk and movement. Eventually, she stopped and reached for the button of the clicker attached to her morphine drip, next to the pillow where her arm lay.
“Careful darling,” I said. “It’s so easy to get addicted to that stuff.” I pulled the clicker away from her and placed it on the nightstand. “Nasty, nasty gunk. We wouldn’t want to see you wasting away on some dirty sidewalk with needle tracks on your arms, now would we?”
Cassandra’s eyes grew wide and her breathing became heavy. I reached over and gently caressed her bandaged scalp.
“There, there,” I said. “Nurse Alexis is here to comfort you in your splendid moment of need.” I lied down beside her on the bed, nudging her to the side a bit as she made a muffled screech. I placed my white roller skates snuggly up against her dainty bandaged feet, threw my long arm around her soft neck collar and put my palm on the mound of her gauzy breast.
“Let’s see what’s for dinner,” I said, reaching over to pick up the food tray I had set down, and lifted the metal hood off of the plate. “Zut alors! It’s steak and potatoes. What kind of accident do you gotta get into to earn steak and potatoes for dinner? Well, I can tell you right now there ain’t no way of getting steak and potatoes past those badly damaged lips of yours. Hope you don’t mind if I help myself.”
Cassandra mumbled and vainly tried to reach for the morphine clicker far out of her reach on the nightstand. I put her warm linen sheathed arm between my legs and placed the dinner tray on her bandaged belly. Our butt cheeks pressed firmly against each other, I cut into the thick, juicy steak and placed a large hunk of meat into my mouth.
“Oh, just superb,” I said grinning. “The only time I get good solid meals is when I am in the hospital. “Mmmph. Honestly, I could just orgasm right now.”
“I know that emotions between us must be running pretty high, right now,” I said as I munched on each sumptuous forkful. “I mean, you really knock me off my feet.” I chewed and swallowed. “And I’m hoping you have similar feelings about me.” Chew, swallow. “At least, it certainly appears that way judging from your current, physical condition.”
“I told you I’d visit you when you were in the hospital and here I am. I can only hope that you will accept my presence and this scrumptious dinner as a weak substitute for a fragrant bouquet of flowers. They’re just so hard to get at this hour.” Chew, swallow. “Most importantly, I desperately want you to enjoy your convalescence. Yes, I know it can be difficult when the medical staff poke and prod you in strange and unexpected places, but there is just something truly heavenly about the pain one luxuriates in after a multiple-injury trauma.”
Cassandra seemed slack-jawed. It was difficult to tell because of all the bandages and the neck collar, but it felt like slack-jawed to me.
“I want you to know, dear Cassandra, that I’ve been in the position that you are in now. In fact, I’ve been in this very bed before, with only some slightly different injuries than the ones you have now. And nothing ever felt as, as, as…transcending as the bliss I felt receiving numerous, painful injuries. I would so love to trade places with you right now.”
Cassandra looked at me with bulged out eyeballs as she shook in her bandages and plaster.
“It’s difficult to understand.” Chew, swallow. “And even more difficult to explain. But you see, Cassandra, I’ve gone beyond the pale. It’s not that I am indifferent or insensitive to pain. It’s that I really, really enjoy it. I enjoy delivering it and I enjoy receiving it. I enjoy witnessing completely innocent people suffering through enormous quantities of pain. Sexually, casually, vicariously, I enjoy pain.” Chew, swallow. “You see, I was the playground bully. Always the scrapper. I blame the stern hand of Sister Mary slapping my perky proboscis one too many times. By the by, I dearly hope that some day it will be you in the spankingly, stunning, tight-fitting nurse’s uniform hand-feeding me all wrapped up in linen bandages or perhaps something a little more naughty like a full, plaster body cast.”
Cassandra sighed and leaned into me.
“Hmmm. Perhaps you’d like that? You might, I don’t know, somehow be the cause of my wearing that body cast.” Chew, swallow. “Because I know you have it in you. Everyone has it in them—that ability to hurt somebody, hurt them very severely. It’s really just a matter of pushing the right buttons. Which brings up…” I was having difficulty swallowing a particularly tough piece of gristle. “You don’t mind if I drink some of your water, do you? You seem to be hooked up to your own supply.”
Cassandra attempted to shake her head no. At least I interpreted it that way and I drank from her glass of water. I put down the food tray and covered my mouth to cough.
“Ahem, pardon me. Which brings up the business at hand. Now, soon the police will be asking questions. They’re such pesky buggers. And it will be ever so important that you give them the right answers.”
Cassandra mumbled something under the adhesive covering her mouth.
“Why I’m appalled young lady that you would accuse me of being a petty extortionist. As it so happens, I’m actually a very accomplished extortionist. And I have several recovering witnesses similar to yourself that can vouch for my professionalism. So,” I said, running my hand slowly up and down her warm, bandaged thigh, “…when the pigs ask you who did this to you, you will tell them that it wasn’t four young, female gang-bangers in Goth attire, but rather a very large, middle-aged man, with a difficult to distinguish foreign accent—Bulgarian or Bolivian, one of the ‘Bs’ should suffice. This man got very angry when he found out the till was short on cash, and that was when he let his emotions get the better of him.”
Cassandra shook her head as best as possible under the circumstances.
“Good, good. I believe we have some kind of simpatico going on here. Yes, I know you’ve had many boyfriends haven’t you? No, no, don’t be modest. You’re simply too devastatingly cute not to have. But, be honest. You haven’t had a boy treat you the way that I have? Admit it, even the best sex that you’ve ever had was nothing like what the two of us have been through, has it?”
Cassandra shook her head.
“I didn’t think so.” I stood up and took out the stick of lipstick and reapplied another thick layer of Blood Red #369. Then, I clutched Cassandra’s head to my heaving, red-crossed nurse’s bosom, running my hot hand over her large, firm bandaged breast as I did so. I finished by kissing her long and hard on the adhesive that covered her magnificent mouth, leaving an imprint of my lips over the area where hers were covered.
I let out a sad, melancholy sigh. “Well, it wouldn’t be extortion if something didn’t get damaged. Or, in this case, further damaged.” I cradled Cassandra in my arms just like a very large baby and rolled over to the window. She kicked at me with her uncasted leg and tried to swing at me with her casted arm, but to no avail, her limbs were simply to short to reach me. Using her casted leg, I managed to push open the window. A cool breeze made the curtains flutter. Cassandra frantically tried to yell, but the adhesive muffled her voice.
“It’s only three floors, Darling,” I said. “The casts and all of these heavy bandages will certainly cushion your fall. I’d be surprised if you suffered anything more than a half-dozen to a dozen fractures.”
Once more Cassandra tried vainly to grab me, but with her hands so wrapped with gauze, she had no grip. “I promise, cross my heart, that the next time, you’ll get to be the nurse, I’ll be the patient and you can choose the window. I love you, Sweetie.” With that, I dumped poor Cassandra out the hospital window. She fell in a twirl of unwrapping bandages and landed with a thud and a cloud of plaster dust.
I clutched my heart and thought, “Oh, I am such a firm believer in Stockholm Syndrome.” “Think of me in surgery,” I shouted out the window.
Parole Officer Brobinsky was a whole other matter. With all those bones of hers that we broke, she was covered in an assortment of different casts both plaster and fiberglass, on her arms, her legs, her thumbs and fingers and toes, her chest and around the back of her head. That made her much heavier than Cassandra. There were also so many traction devices to get around. Her right leg was in a long cast and placed in a sling with wires and pulleys. Her right shoulder was in a spica and then placed in a sling counterbalanced with more weights. Turns out that we did such a banner job on her jaw and the cast holding the various pieces of it in place was so thick there was no need whatsoever to gag her.
“It’s me Officer Brobinsky. Your charge, Alexis Bleu. I know it’s earlier than our scheduled appointment, but aren’t you glad to see me?”
Poor, deluded Sheila. She actually thought she could hit the call button for the night nurse. Instead, she fell completely out of her bed, ass-over-tea kettle, bug-eyed and all and ended up with her shoulders on the floor and her leg twisted in knots in its sling.
“Oh dear me. You almost had another accident, Officer Brobinsky. And you’re running out of body parts to break.” I got her untangled and helped Officer Brobinsky to her feet, which was apparently an extremely painful position for her to be in. So, instead, I dragged her over to the window, heavy as she was, and pushed her up upon the sill, so that she was half inside, half outside. “Maybe some fresh air will help, Honey.” That sent Officer Brobinsky into a complete panic. “Oh my, I just seem to be making things worse and worse. What kind of a nurse am I? Let’s just relax and gaze at the stars.” I put my arm around her casted shoulder and my cheek against hers in the small patch below her eye where there was no plaster and quietly hummed a lullaby as she neared hyperventilation. “Good night, Sheila.”
When I had finished my nurse’s rounds, I removed my skates and exited the multiple-trauma unit. In the grassy courtyard below I found the products of a thoroughly exhausting night of heavy labor. In neat, little crumpled piles, and mounds of plaster and fiberglass dust so thick it looked as though a blizzard had rolled through were the twisted and mangled bodies of many of my dear friends: Cassandra, Sheila and the Khmer Rouge Girls. All were moaning, all were breathing and all were groaning. I felt something close to pity for dear Dimples, who would soon make her third trip to the E.R. in less than a month.
While I was admiring my work, I heard a familiar voice.
“Dear o, dear o, dear. If it isn’t our Big Sister out for an evening of fun and surprises. How rude of her not to invite us, wouldn’t you say girls?” It was Dahlia and she was joined by Rosie and Chrysie. The three of them stood around me.
“Little Sisters, what joy it brings to my heart to see you here. Why wait for tomorrow night and the playground? Here we all are and there is so much to do in this city at night.”
“It would seem that some of us have already gotten a good start on the evening,” Dahlia said as she polished the silver cross on the lapel of my nurse’s uniform. “Perhaps you’ve been up to a little bit of moonlighting? I’m not sure how you found time to attend nursing school, but then we haven’t being seeing much of each other lately, have we?”
“Kind Little Sister,” I said, removing Dahlia’s grimy paw from my pretty, white uniform. “Nurses don’t dress like this anymore. They lost all their style. This is a faux nurse’s uniform – a fraud, a ruse. I was just playing.”
“Playing?” Dahlia said, annoyed. She bent over the rebroken body of Officer Brobinsky, who lay sobbing and gasping on the ground. “And are these your faux patients? Because their injuries certainly look real to me.”
“Oh no, these are real patients,” I said. “You may even recognize some of them.”
Dahlia stood up and spun around. “Of course I recognize them, you moron! We were the ones who helped you put these women in the hospital in the first place. Just what the hell do you think you are doing? Trying to turn a simple ‘assault and battery’ into something more problematic, like “murder-one?'”
“Parish the thought Little Sister,” I said. “I may not be a real nurse, but when it comes to dispensing pain, I know what I’m doing.”
“Have you lost your marbles?” Dahlia continued. “An officer-of-the-law, an officer-of-the-law!” She was pointing to Sheila. “Do you know what the sentence is for killing an officer-of-the-law?”
“Never fear Little Sister, matters would never get out of control under the watchful eye of Big Sister Alexis. I was ever so careful with our dearly gathered friends here.”
“Then tell me Big Sister, how carefully did you drop them?”
“A mere three stories.”
“Just three stories?”
“Yes, that’s how far up the multiple-trauma unit is located,” I said, pointing to the third floor were there were now several open windows.
“Three floors!” Dahlia lunged at me and grabbed my pretty white nurse’s lapels by both flaps and pulled my face within spitting distance of her own. “You’re a goddamn, fucking sociopath? What the hell is your problem?”
She was being short with me, and I was angry in return. “You will not talk that way to me, Little Sister. I’m the boss of this gang and no one questions my motives.”
Dahlia let out a short, evil laugh. “Not any longer dear Sister. You’ve been too stupid for too long. Rosie, Chrysie, take out her legs.”
Rosie and Chrysie charged at me from both sides, Rosie with the post from a parking meter and Chrysie with that crowbar that she so rarely used.
“No!” I screamed, but could not run. They came at me too quickly. Within moments Rosie slammed me from the right side just below the patella, and Chrysie hit me from the left side at nearly the same spot below the knee. I collapsed to the ground, tibia and fibulas poking through my pretty white nylons, my blood splattering over my beautiful white dress. I sobbed.
“Not Chrysie, not you Chrysie. I saved you from that homeless shelter.”
But Chrysie only smirked at me as my warm, red blood dripped down her crowbar.
“You ain’t taking us down with you, Alexis,” Dahlia said. “And you ain’t our sister anymore. I’m dialing the cops right now. They’ll find you here with the bodies of all your ‘patients’ and you’ll get to take the fall for all of us.”
“Dahlia,” I cried. “How could you betray me? We were family.”
“Call it self-preservation, loser. Enjoy the big roundhouse.”
And with that, my former little sisters went running off into the night, howling like the wolf and screeching like the bobcat that I was once. I buried my head in my bloody broken legs as the cop car sirens approached.
It wasn’t a long or difficult trial. Six months and several reconstructive surgeries after my former Little Sisters betrayal at the hospital grounds, both of my legs were placed in thick plaster casts that went from the base of my toes to the tops of my thighs. Below all that plaster was a gruesome array of scars that better resembled the Los Angeles freeway system than the knees of a teenage girl. The casts were bent at a slight angle and my legs were propped up on the foot paddles of my wheelchair. The blanket that I kept on my lap was strictly my lawyer’s idea. I would have preferred to show off my two big casts by wearing a pair of my short, short plaid parochial skirts. Why shouldn’t I show off those casts, I earned them.
Often during the trial I would waive to the jurors or show them a bit upper thigh if they seemed interested. I was quickly reprimanded by my lawyer, who was turning into a real killjoy, with a swift elbow to the arm. I was trying to get the attention of the buxom, blonde sitting in seat four, but she intentionally averted my gaze and puckered lips.
Conspicuously present in the front row of the gallery, sat my three dear friends, whom the court insisted on dispassionately referring to as “witnesses,” and the prosecution as, get this, “victims.”
Dimples was healing up nicely. Her left arm was in a long arm, fiberglass cast that went down to her knuckles and hung daintily from her neck in an attractive floral sling. Her left leg was in a long, pink cast, her right leg in a short pink cast and a metal brace sprouted like a weed from underneath her blouse to support her chin. She was placed in a wheelchair and dressed in a ridiculous conservative, blue blazer.
Officer Brobinsky looked absolutely spanking in her brown and tan dress uniform that looked oh so smashing, seated in a wheelchair with an orange, fiberglass, shoulder spica, sky-blue left wrist cast, and matching red long leg casts. Her neck was in a soft collar (which I think was a fraud) and miraculously just in time for the trial, she was able to speak in more than grunts.
Then there was lovely Cassandra. Her neck and head were placed in a fantastic halo brace device with long screws and rods supporting her sad, sad face. Both of her arms were suspended in mid-air in a bright yellow fiberglass, double-shoulder spica with matching risser bars. That cast went all the way down to the top of her hips. Her left ankle was in a burgundy fiberglass short leg cast with walking shoe leading me to believe, she didn’t need her wheelchair at all. She certainly needed the nurse looking after the her or she would have gotten snot and tears all over her clean, new cast.
In my testimony, I refused to even mention my Little Sisters. We have an unwritten code of honor among criminals, about ratting each other out, which if it did not exist, the whole global criminal enterprise would completely collapse. In essence, it was my word against the word of my three dearly damaged friends. If I must say, my two broken legs looked absolutely pitiful stacked up against their fantastic assortment of fractures, bruises, scar tissue and medical appliances. I blew each of them air kisses while they were on the stand, and I’m sure this must have made a great impression on the jurors. It certainly had my lawyer turning red.
To no one’s surprise, the jury responded quickly and returned with a verdict after five minutes, which juror two read after the foreman lost his cool. I was found guilty on ten counts of aggravated assault, including two on an officer-of-the-law. I giggled in delight. The judge might have been swayed to reduce my sentence, but owing to my complete disdain for the law and utter and hopeless lack of remorse, he sentenced me to twenty to thirty years in the State Penitentiary. At last, I could finally stop looking for a job.
I adored State Pen. My first forty days were spent in the prison infirmary. The warden couldn’t find an ADA-compliant cell or even a wheelchair for that matter, so they sent me to the infirmary where the nurses were cold and ugly and the doctor made her rounds once a month, if we were lucky. I didn’t mind. I had two good hands, a bunch of donated comic books and a donated Gameboy with plenty of violent video games loaded on it. My two broken legs rested on the least comfortable pillows you could imagine, but it didn’t bother me the least.
There was one other inmate in the infirmary, Fragozi, a saucy redhead who made the infirmary kind of a second home, since her cellmate was a schizophrenic pyromaniac who managed to destroy three prison cells and four prior cellmates. Fragozi set the prison infirmary record by managing to collect enough injuries and illnesses to keep her there for five years running. Her latest condition was a serious case of food poisoning from the prison cafeteria contracted more than two months prior. Her constant retching allowed me to dominate the conversation, although she did get the opportunity to warn me away from the “Bits of Fish Casserole.”
On day forty-one of my sentence, the medical staff removed my leg casts and I was free to join incarcerated society. I did not get to enjoy my new freedom for long. I waddled out into the prison courtyard to throw a few hoops even though I despised the game. My legs had atrophied badly after seven months of restricted movement and fetching the ball was more exercise than dribbling it. No sooner than I made my first basket, I was joined by Big Bertha, former member of the girl gang the Satanic Stewardesses. Bertha was indebted to me for two broken chins, a cracked femur, a busted cheekbone and five missing teeth-none of which were replaced. Idling up beside Bertha was Lucky Lucinda, leader of the motorcycle gang, the Banshee Biker Babes. She kindly accepted from me seven broken toes, two broken ankles, a shattered pelvis, eight cracked ribs, three broken wrists (on two separate occasions, of course), a perforated ear drum and five broken noses (go figure).
One by one, old friends and acquaintances came to the basketball court to join me and reminisce about times past. Big Bertha resolved all of my dribbling problems by deflating my basketball-with one hand.
“If it ain’t our dear friend, Alexis. How nice of you to visit. Maybe you’ll even stay a while, if we’re really lucky.”
“Pleasure is all mine,” I said. With two barely functioning legs, I wasn’t going anywhere quickly.
Lucinda pulled back my raven-colored locks (my Goth extensions long having been cut off by the authorities) and began French-kissing my left ear canal. “We missed you Alexis,” she hissed. The Biker Babes have been bored without you around. They’re all here, you know?” Almost half of the seventeen women encircling me were part of the Biker Babes.
“I preferred you when you were the Bandaged Biker Babes,” I said as I retrieved my deflated ball from underneath Bertha’s foot.
“Your fighting days are over, Honey,” Bertha said. Then she delivered a crushing blow to my mid-section that cracked one of my ribs and landed me on my knees coughing up blood. It was quickly followed up by a kick in the teeth.
“Don’t humor me with your petty threats,” I said, gagging and spitting out incisors and bicuspids.
From there it was a free-for-all. Thirty-four fists and thirty-four feet came raining down blows on me from every direction imaginable. After a good twenty minutes of pounding and not a prison guard in sight, the gang dragged my bruised body into the cafeteria mess hall and began to wallop me with steel food trays, ladles, spatulas and anything else handy from the kitchen. From there they kicked me like a lumpy soccer ball into the prison library and clobbered me with encyclopedias, law books, atlases and whatever heavy reference books were available before toppling an entire case of books on top of me. Fortunately for me, my antagonizers dug me out before I suffocated. Only so they could drag me by my hair up four flights of stairs to the roof, one cement step at a time. On the rooftop, they beat me up properly and assaulted me with gardening tools from the rooftop garden. There followed a meticulous slamming of the rooftop steel door against various parts of my person before I was dragged by the hair again down the stairs. For the coup de grace, they stuffed my badly broken body into the basketball rim, which promptly collapsed from the extra weight and crashed to the ground with two hundred pounds of backboard landing on top of me. I thank my lucky stars, for at that moment the prison guards arrived to disburse the agitated crowd. They pummeled me with their clubs because I wouldn’t disburse fast enough or at all for that matter. It was at that point that I blacked out.
They dipped me in plaster. Not all of me of course. It was necessary to hold onto the toes of my right foot before dipping me in that plaster vat, but outside of my left index finger and those toes everything else was covered in plaster bandages and cotton padding. There were also the innumerable traction devices-cables, pulleys, clips, canvas slings and a wonderful array of lead weights that dangled above me like an infant’s mobile play toy dangles above its crib. A team of physicians from the local community hospital spent the better part of a week resetting and stitching my body back together. All four limbs were spread out in the four approximate directions of a compass. Wires and steel bits and appliances poked out of my bandaged and plastered face and cranium, while my chin was placed in a canvas strap that was bolted to the post rising out of the back of my infirmary bed. But best of all and what I most delighted in was the metal clip attached at one end to a cable and weight system and at the other end to my severely perforated tongue, wrapped in a sheet of plastic to prevent chafing and encourage healing. A liquid solution was inserted to keep my mouth from drying out. My head was tilted so far back that my view was restricted to the window beside me and the ceiling above. Having my tongue in traction meant my speech was limited to a single guttural sound regardless of what I wanted to convey.
“I’d give my second kidney to switch places with you,” Fragozi said, poking her head out of the plastic bucket she was still clutching to as she recovered from her extended bout of food poisoning. “After your donnybrook with the other inmates, you could be in this infirmary for years.” She heaved more chunks into the plastic bucket as a wretched odor filled the air.
I was in heaven. “Glah,” I agreed.
“Damn crazy convicts,” Nurse Crickshaw mumbled from behind her tabloid magazine. Even fifteen yards away from Fragozi’s bed, she was forced to cover her face with a handkerchief to avoid breathing the horrible stench.
Two weeks following my re-admittance to the prison infirmary, I was honored to be visited by Warden Virmenklapper. A guard had told me how rare it was for the Warden to personally visit any prisoner, regardless of the circumstances. She had a reputation for being stern and for having absolutely no respect for the personal space of others. I was immediately entranced by her presence. Minus the facial moles and liver spots, she was quite an attractive woman for her age, which I pegged to be late forties. She wore her bleached blonde hair in a chemically-induced shell that stood still even when her head pivoted. She had a tremendous nose that dipped and sloped in several directions and bulbous pink lips shellacked with Wal-mart brand lipstick. Her figure was broad and robust. Her hips spilled over the visitor’s chair that she sat in. But most remarkable was her enormous bosom-two giant hydrogen bombs cradled in a titanium brassiere that moved north to south in tandem whenever she laughed, coughed or sneezed.
Warden Virmenklapper pulled the steel visitor’s chair in close to my bed and folded her large firm hands comfortably on my plastered pelvis. The shadow of her massive breasts spread across my face, pleasantly blocking out the bright midday sun that had been causing me to squint. I looked into the warden’s face as adoringly as possible.
“Prisoner 847921-3?” She said in a voice that dripped in sweetness and molasses. Already, I was smitten with her kind demeanor.
“Glah,” I responded crisply according to appropriate prison protocol.
“Oh dear,” the warden said. “This is going to make conversation terribly difficult with your tongue in that contraption.”
“Glah,” I agreed.
She examined my body cast and full compliment of associated contraptions. “Perhaps if you just move your one free finger when you need to answer my questions. I’ll keep it simple. You could waive your finger up and down once for a ‘yes’ and twice for a ‘no’. Will that work for you?”
“Yes,” I fingered enthusiastically.
“Lovely. First impasse hurdled. Now, Prisoner 847921-3 may I call you Alexis?”
“Yes,” I fingered. I watched her massive hydrogen bombs bounce around in their solid cradle, less out of any perverse interest, more so because they inhabited my entire field of vision.
“Wonderful, and you shall call me Vickie.” She paused and blushed. “Or rather you can just think of me as Vickie given your current speech limitations.”
I demurred, quivering my finger ever so lightly.
“Alexis, as warden of this prison, I would like to say how very sorry we are that this unfortunate incident occurred. You are a ward of the State, and as your warden I am somewhat responsible for your safety, security and good health. I would like you to know that I was quite dismayed when I heard that one of my charges had been savagely beaten to an unprecedented degree while under my watch. We’ve tried to tamp down on prison violence-but, it is no secret that prisoners outnumber security personnel by a ratio of twelve-to-one and let’s just face it, the types of people who end up inhabiting prisons tend to have a natural tendency toward violence. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yes,” I fingered. No arguments on this end.
“Good. We seem to be of like mind,” she said as she gently caressed the plaster bandages on my upper thigh, as though she were stroking a compliant Airedale. “So you understand that accidents such as yours are just a part of the natural course of events and there is no need to bring in lawyers and turn a simple, unfortunate misunderstanding between friendly convicts into something more than it really is, right?”
“Yes,” I fingered hoping to God that the caressing would never cease.
“Excellent, excellent,” she practically sang. “We are going to be the closest of friends, my dear Alexis.”
I certainly hoped so.
“Now that we are on comfortable footing, or whatever metaphor you may feel is appropriate, why don’t we get down to business.”
I started sweating in excited anticipation.
“Your condition,” she continued, “…is quite delicate.”
I curled my finger in the shape of a question mark.
Immediately, Vickie the Warden understood. She paused for a moment to compose herself. “You see Alexis, it is sort of like this, the prison has spent a lot of money on you. Good gracious, an awful lot of money, and you haven’t even been with us for an entire two months. As you have probably gleaned, it hasn’t been easy putting you back together again since your little dust up with the other prisoners. There were all those surgeries performed by so many surgeons and their staff. There were those many days spent in the community hospital, the massive doses of medication, which I commend you for resisting the administration of, and then there is all these bandages and metal things sticking out of you, the boxes and boxes of plaster and weights, not to mention the extra nurse we had to hire…you do get the picture, don’t you Alexis?”
“Yes,” I fingered cautiously, not certain where the lovely Vickie the Warden was headed with all of her talk.
“Hmmm, brass tacks Alexis, your presence here at the Penitentiary has eaten up a significant chunk of our annual budget. In fact, we had to let two of our prison guards go because of these additional outlays.”
“No!” I fingered in astonishment.
“Yes, it’s true. And I know that you, Alexis, must feel very bad, very, very bad for causing the prison to lose two guards when we are already understaffed.”
“Yes,” I fingered. If Vickie the Warden could have seen underneath all of my plaster and bandages she would have noticed that my face was red with shame.
“But, you mustn’t,” she insisted. “Because I’ve read your prison record and I know that you are a good woman, perhaps a little misunderstood given your difficult upbringing, but a bright, intelligent, highly, attractive young woman full of tremendous potential.” Vickie the Warden reached her arm around my other plastered thigh, grasped my plastered buttocks and gave me a long embrace sending tidal waves of orgasmic, delicious pain sweeping down and over my entire body.
“Oh, sorry about that,” she said softly as she straightened herself. “I forget you are in such a delicate condition. Where was I? Oh, yes. We feel, that is I and the other members of the parole board feel that when you finally recover sufficiently from your numerous injuries, that some determined, unsavory and nefarious forces may try to harm your person again.”
“No,” I fingered.
“Oh yes. I’ve been the Warden in this facility for more than 18 years. I’ve seen the patterns. The word in the cell blocks is that there are more people here who would like to attack you than already have. Quite a few more.”
I curled my finger.
“Yes, what to do? I’m glad that you asked that question. Actually, you will be happy to know that I have arrived at a solution that I am hoping you will find more than satisfactory. I know I will if you choose to accept it.”
I curled my finger again.
“Of course, you are dying to know.”
She leaned closer to me, presumably so that Fragozi and Nurse Crickshaw could not hear what she was about to say. Her two ticking time bombs pressed tightly against my casted bosoms and my heart raced.
“I would like to offer you the opportunity for an immediate pardon from the Governor,” she whispered into my bandaged ear.
I was on the edge of orgasm hanging on her next words.
“If you are willing to participate as a subject in State-sponsored scientific experimentation.”
I pulled back from my orgasm, but fingered Vickie the Warden to continue.
“A for-profit organization that specializes in rectifying the disparity of emotions between victims and their victimizers is working on a radical new therapy that could eliminate the need for long terms of incarceration or even capital punishment if the therapy produces a positive outcome. Are you interested?”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but figured freedom sounded better than another near fatal lashing from my fellow cons. I fingered, yes.
“Oh superb! From what I understand the treatment is fairly straightforward, involves relatively minor amounts of physical pain and emotional suffering and shouldn’t last any longer than possibly two to eight weeks depending on how strong-willed you are. Now does that sound intriguing or not?”
“Yes,” I fingered. It sounded so much better than boring prison.
“If you cooperate completely and submit to the scientists’ every request, there should be no difficulty achieving the positive outcome that we’re hoping for. Once the Foundation signs off on the paperwork expressing their satisfaction with your results, the Governor will sign your papers making you a free woman, effective immediately.”
And I can return to my former living.
“What do you say, Alexis? It’s quite a bodacious offer, but I’m afraid I must have your answer now. There are other prisoners who are…let’s say more therapy-ready at this time.”
“Yes,” I fingered. And a “hell yes!” if I could’ve fingered that.
“Wonderful, wonderful,” Vickie the Warden said with glee. Then she gave me a big, crushing bear hug around my casted arms, neck and head. My body recoiled involuntarily as pulleys, cables and weights bounced and danced around above our heads.
“Glaaaahhh,” I whimpered. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but even a masochist with a threshold for pain as high as mine can still suffer sensory overload.
“Sorry. I guess I let my emotions get the better of me. Are you alright?”
“Yes,” I fingered as the weights and pulleys swayed to and fro.
“Excellent. Your doctor expects that you will be ready for the first treatment in sixteen to twenty months. By that time, your hands should be sufficiently healed to sign a waiver of liability. Sound good?”
“Yes,” I fingered.
“Oh, this went so well for the both of us. If you’re half as happy as I am, then I’ll be twice as happy as you are.”
Sounded logical to me.
The Warden smiled at me warmly, said absolutely nothing and gazed at my face for a very long period of time. Then something above me must have caught her attention.
“Oh dear. It seems that during our moment of joy that I must have loosened your chin sling from the metal deally-bob that was keeping it taught. Let me fix that for you.”
Without any further warning, Vickie the Warden pressed those giant hydrogen bombs firmly into my plastered and bandaged face and began bouncing them from side-to-side against my wounds as she fidgeted with the mechanisms above me.
Release, descent and detonation-KABOOM! I was blown halfway to heaven.
“There, all better.”
Within a relatively short sixteen months, the doctors had removed me from the infirmary bed and placed me in a wheelchair. All of the wires, plates and rods were removed from my body. All of the bandages were removed. My tongue was fully healed and I was able to talk again without the slightest impediment. The medical staff had placed both of my arms and legs in long, white, fiberglass casts as these were the last of my injuries that had yet to heal. It meant that I had to rely on the assistance of someone else to get around in my wheelchair. I was only too appreciative that Fragozi was willing to be my personal assistant to perform this function as she recovered from her third bout of bronchitis.
The three days of tedium, stuck in a wheelchair in my cramped, damp cell were mercifully ended when I was visited by the staff of the foundation conducting the experiment I had agreed to. Two attractive, young women in white clinical coats greeted me at my cell as Vickie the Warden and a burly prison guard wheeled me around to face them.
“Good morning dear Alexis,” Vickie the Warden said cheerily. “You must be quite excited this morning.”
“Am I,” I said. “Another day in here and I would certainly go batty.”
“This is a special day for you.”
“And I can hardly contain myself.”
“I have two very important people to introduce you to.” Vickie the Warden wheeled me out of my cell and introduced me to her two clinical friends.
“I’d like you to meet Dorothea Chilton. She’s a Marketing Director at the Hunkemoller Foundation.”
Dorothea stooped over to shake hands with me as my arm mobility was still very limited. She was an effervescent, short blonde, with long hair, neatly kept in a ponytail. She wore sexy, yet fashionable, plastic-rimmed glasses and a great deal of very expensive make-up. Her skin was creamy soft and her handshake ever so light. Underneath her lab coat she wore a sensible, professional blazer and skirt. Her figure was compact, yet curvaceous and her four-inch pumps did nothing to make her look tall.
“Please, call me Dotty,” she said in an annoyingly delightful voice.
“I shall. I’m Alexis, always Alexis, and I will comply with your every request.”
“Alexis, is one of our model prisoners,” tittered Vickie the Warden. “Dotty’s job is to make certain the therapy conforms to all of the expectations of the executives at the Foundation and their many investors.”
“You can trust me with your bottom line,” I told Dotty and gave her a coy wink.
“The main person you’ll be working with for the next few weeks Alexis, will be this young woman,” Vickie said. “This is Dr. Li Jin Kim. She’s the Head Scientist with the Behavioral Alternatives department at the Foundation”
“My pleasure,” I said, holding out the hand of my casted right arm. “Is it Li or Li Jin?”
“It’s Dr. Kim,” she said tartly, grasping hard on my recently healed fingers, a typical alpha-female handshake. “I’m the Foundation’s top psychiatrist” She was quite tall for an Asian woman. Her hair, was black, straight and tied into a serious bun. Her glasses were gold and wire-rimmed. Her cheeks remarkably round and wide, and she wore nothing more than lip gloss as make-up. Her bosoms were incredibly large for a woman from the Far East and her hips broad but composed. She wore white, no-nonsense sneakers and underneath her lab coat I could only guess was another lab coat.
“Dr. Kim will be in charge of all the testing,” Vickie said. “Why don’t I walk Ms. Bleu out to your van?”
It was a lovely stroll out of the prison facility and to the visitor’s parking lot. As my wheelchair was rolled past each cell, the sound of profanity and cat calls from my fellow inmates felt like music to my ears. I managed to affectionately waive goodbye to as many as I could. Meanwhile, I caught bits and pieces of the Warden’s conversation with Dotty and Dr. Kim and determined that the next few weeks were going to be quite exhilarating. Dr. Kim apparently, had a very low opinion of me for reasons I could not surmise. I was determined to make it my duty to turn her around completely.
It was certainly a thrill to have Vickie’s massive breasts bouncing against the back of my head while my two casted arms were placed in handcuffs attached to two beefy and demonic prison guards. I was soon going to be in the loving care of perky Dotty and the grim Dr. Kim. When we arrived at the van, Vickie came around to the front of my wheelchair to address me.
“Alexis, I would like to wish you the best of luck.” The handcuffs were removed and she grasped my casted arm with both her hands and shook vigorously, her large bosoms shaking like gelatin as pangs of pain shot through my arms and wrists. “The entire prison administrative system and the Governor’s Office are rooting for you.”
I jumped up out of my chair and standing on two broken legs, threw my arms around her. Despite the horrific pain, I gave her a long, sorrowful kiss on the cheek. “You’re the best warden a girl could ever have. I won’t let you down.”
Strapped down in my wheelchair again, in the back of the van, I stared out the window as Vickie the Warden, her prison guard assistants and the dreary State Penn. faded out of view.
“It’s a straightjacket?”
Dotty held it across her fabulous body.
“You’re a difficult size to shop for,” she said. “You’re impossibly tall, but you have narrow girl shoulders. None of the men’s sizes would do.”
“A straightjacket?” I continued. “Will that really be necessary?”
“It’s just a precaution. More for your safety, than for ours.”
“Are things going to get that bad?”
“Just the usual liability issues. Nothing a big, brave girl like you needs to be worried about.”
Dotty handed the straightjacket to me. “Go ahead and try it on.”
I was still sitting in bed having just finished another wonderful breakfast of waffles and bacon. I’d only been at the Foundation’s Psych. Institute for two weeks and had already made friends with everyone on the staff. The results of my psychological evaluations had all of the scientific members brimming with confidence and I understood I had passed my polygraph test with flying colors. So the new wardrobe was a bit of shock.
“How am I going to wear this with both of my arms in casts?”
“We had it custom tailored for you.”
I held it up. Yup, your typical, mid-twentieth century straightjacket. No frills.
“We had to widen the sleeves to accommodate your arms,” Dotty said. “But, not to worry, it will still work.”
I tried to put it on, but with two broken arms, my efforts must have looked ridiculous.
“Here, let me help you,” she said. Dotty seemed to take some perverse joy in helping me get the straightjacket on, and took her sweet, meticulous time working the straps around my crotch. But finally she had me dressed up in my new fashion wear.
“Looks like a perfect fit,” she said. “How does it feel?”
“Wonderful,” I said meekly.
“Fantastic,” she said in that manner that marketing directors have that makes your skin absolutely crawl when you hear it. “Let me just get your wheelchair and we can scoot you on off to your first day of treatment. Excited?”
“Oh, thoroughly thrilled,” I said having quickly adjusted to my new jacket.
Dotty rolled me down several long hallways and corridors until we came to a pair of double-doors that Dotty pushed me through feet first with little regard for my exposed toes or still healing broken legs. Where I was expecting a laboratory or surgery room, there was instead a small movie theater.
“Pictures. I love pictures,” I said.
Dr. Kim was busily taking notes on her clipboard and didn’t bother to look up when Dotty rolled me into the theater.
“Is our subject up-to-date on all her shots?” Dr. Kim asked as she continued to write her notes.
“All systems are go,” Dotty said with a cheap, plastic smile.
Dr. Kim shot Dotty a disapproving sideways glance. I could tell Dr. Kim and I had similar feelings when it came to marketing directors.
“What kind of movies are we going to watch, Doctor?” I asked. “I’m just hoping it isn’t something I’ve seen already. I hate watching the same movie twice.”
“You won’t have to worry about that, Alexis. These movies were especially made for you. No one outside of this facility has seen them.”
“For me?” I said. “That’s very flattering. I don’t suppose you have any popcorn?”
“We don’t,” Dr. Kim said. “Dotty, would you help me move Alexis into her restraints?”
“More restraints?” I asked.
Dotty and Dr. Kim pulled me out of the wheelchair and lifted me onto a large wooden platform. They then tied me down with numerous leather straps over my chest, neck, stomach, thighs and ankles. Then they cranked the platform up at an angle so that I was facing the movie screen and could not really see much beyond or around it.
“Kinky,” I said. I leaned over to Dotty and whispered in her ear. “What do you call this treatment?”
“Aggressive-Reduction Therapy,” she whispered back. “But our plan is to market it as ‘Victory for Victims,” and if that works we will launch a second version called, “Victory for Victims’ Families.”
“Catchy,” I said.
“Dr. Kim says it’s old school aversion therapy with a few new twists.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
Dotty shrugged her shoulders, strapped a taser gun to her hip and sat down in a padded chair near the exit several yards away.
Dr. Kim produced a pair of massive brass clamps and approached me as I lay propped up on the platform.”
“Cool,” I said. “Where are you going to put those?”
“On your eyeballs,” she said calmly as she propped them open by placing the brass clamps on my eyelids.
“Amazing,” I said with my eyeballs bulging out. “It is so much easier to see things without silly eyelids getting in the way.”
“It is necessary for us to do this Alexis, in case you should decide that the images we are about to show you are somewhat…unwatchable. You will be forced to watch whatever we show you and only I will have the power to stop the images.”
“Oh, okay, I guess. But won’t my eyes dry out?”
“Yes, they would,” Dr. Kim said. “That’s why we are placing this big machine over your forehead.” She rolled a rather large, dark, ominous machine behind me and placed its two small aluminum nozzles directly above my propped-open eyes. “Every five seconds, a sensitively balanced saline solution will be sprayed into your eyes. This will keep your eyes moist just as though you were naturally blinking. It may take some initial getting used to, but our prior tests show that within minutes you will forget that it’s even there.”
“You’ve certainly thought of everything.”
“We went through an awful lot of test subjects before we perfected this system.” Dr. Kim strapped on her taser and turned to Dotty. “You can now turn off the lights.”
The theater went black.
“Would you please hit the play button on the remote?”
I heard a click and the movie screen in front of me filled up with light. The first film depicted a young adult woman, probably in her late teens, dressed in a blue, checkered, Little Bo Peep outfit, enjoying a wonderful picnic by herself in a beautiful, grassy meadow. She was pouring real tea for her stuffed animal friends, all sitting there beside her. There was no background music or ambient noise.
“I get a feeling something really bad is going to happen to her,” I said.
“Why do you think that, Alexis?” Dr. Kim asked.
“Because she’s utterly defenseless and anyone dressed as ridiculous as that at her age deserves to be pummeled.”
“Do you dislike the girl or is it the clothes that’s she’s wearing?”
“I’m sorry. Which is it?”
“You mean I have to choose? Are all of the questions going to be this difficult?”
“Yes, Alexis. When I give you a choice, you will have to choose one of the options. That’s how this therapy works. Just tell me your honest answer. Don’t try to figure out which answer will please me.”
“Okay, Doctor. I say it’s the clothes. Just too conservative for my liking.”
“Very good, Alexis.” Out of the corner of my clamped eye I could see Dr. Kim smiling.
I smiled too.
“Let’s see what happens to this young lady,” Dr. Kim said.
Shortly, five female ruffians appeared from behind a tree. They were dressed in sharp, black leather jackets and pants and wore some serious construction boots. They proceeded to taunt and tease Ms. Bo Peep and in no time where assaulting her with tree branches and rocks. Eventually, Ms. Bo Peep began to bleed from several gashes and she cried and pleaded for mercy from her attackers.
“You go girls!” I yelled.
“Do you like the girls in the leather jackets?” Dr. Kim asked.
“Oh yeah,” I said. “Wish I had me those boots.”
The ruffians dragged Ms. Bo Peep to a large rock, where two of the gangster girls held her down, while the other girls took random punches at her. Then the girls switched positions giving the first two girls a chance to beat on her. After Bo Peep stopped putting up a fight, they stomped on her with their construction boots. Dr. Kim picked up the remote and hit the “stop” button.
“Do you think the girl in the pretty blue blouse deserves this beating, Ms. Bleu?”
“Deserving, hmm.” I had to think about that. “I’m not sure that she’s earned it.”
“Earned it, Alexis? What does a person have to do to earn a beating?”
“Show some promise,” I said. There was a moment of awkward silence.
“What kind of promise?” Dr. Kim asked cautiously.
“That the victim will enjoy the beating. I can always tell which ones enjoy it. Call it gangster-girl intuition.”
Dr. Kim thought about this for a while and scribbled some notes. “And are you the only one with gangster-girl intuition, Alexis?”
“No, but I’m the best.”
Dr. Kim scribbled some more notes then clicked the “play” button on the remote. The film changed scenes to a hospital room. There was poor Bo Peep still wearing her bonnet and whatever scraps remained of her outfit. She was recovering from the licking she received from the gangster girls. Her right leg was in traction and in a long leg cast, her left leg was on pillows in a long leg cast, her right and left arms were both in long casts and placed in traction and she had a large foam collar around her neck. In addition to that, she had an IV blood drip and heart monitor that beeped erratically. The bandages wrapped around her firm, round breasts were bound so tight I could see her nipples underneath. Poor Bo Peep was moaning dramatically all by her lonesome in the hospital room.
“How do you feel about the girl now, Alexis?” Dr. Kim asked.
“I find her….” Oh, my god, I thought. Do I tell her the honest answer or the answer I think she wants to hear? Well, she does have a medical degree in psychiatry, so…. “I think she’s sexy.”
“I’m sorry. You what?”
“I find her really sexy. I want to be Bo Peep. The bonnet, the bandages, the shreds of her outfit tattered about, all those plaster casts. I know I said she looked conservative before, but this is a big improvement. She still has her staff with her. It’s leaning against the heart monitor machine. And was that intentional, showing her nipples like that?”
“No, that’s artistic license on the part of the director. Are you sure you want to be that girl? She’s in a lot of pain.”
“Oh, god yes. I absolutely love it.”
“You do realize that you are strapped onto a board, with two broken arms and legs and wearing a straightjacket?”
“I would trade it all just to be her.”
Bo Peep wasn’t alone for long. She was soon joined by her hooligan friends and this time they brought the baseball bats. Without even bothering to torment her with threats they immediately started pounding on her poor little body. Her casts were crushed and plaster powder filled the air, her IV bag crashed to the floor and little Bo Peep was crying and whaling.
Dr. Kim interrupted again. “Do you find the gangster-girls behavior excessive?”
“Not if I was Bo Peep. I’d demand more.”
“And if they kill her?”
“That would be unprofessional. Also, it would take all the fun out of it?”
“What do you mean by fun?”
I exhaled a heavy impatient sigh. “You see, Dr. Kim, the gangster-girls are obviously in it just to inflict the pain. That’s how they get their kicks. Whereas, I go on malicious sprees of violence for the love.”
Dr. Kim snapped the ballpoint pen she was using in her hand and darted towards me quickly. She leaned over until her face was within an inch of my own, staring menacingly into my clamped open eyeballs.
“The love? The love! Tell me, where is the love?”
I adored this side of Dr. Kim. She had been so restrained in her emotions until that point. If she was any closer, I would have kissed her.
“I love my victims. Dimples, Sheila and especially Cassandra. I dearly love them all. Didn’t that come up in my psych evaluation?”
“You’re fault, not mine. I was totally honest in my answers.” I smiled, a good, long, warm embracing smile.
Dr. Kim looked like she was ready to rip me off of the platform and straightjacket and throttle me right there.
“You know what else, Dr. Kim? I love you too.”
I continued the therapy sessions with Dr. Kim for the next two weeks. More movies followed, much like the first. After Bo Peep, came Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, a cheerleader, a Girl Scout, and a Sunday school teacher. The plots generally followed the same outline as the Bo Peep movie: naïve, dim-witted girl is mercilessly beaten by girly thugs who appear out of nowhere. She recuperates in the hospital where she receives more of the same treatment. Dr. Kim continued her dreary line of questioning, somehow expecting different results each time.
On the thirteenth day, Dotty started a movie that wasn’t like the others. There were two women boxers fighting in a ring, bare-fisted brawlers pounding each other without relent. One had a broken nose, that was spewing blood down her shirt and onto the canvas and the other had a cut above her eye that was also spilling blood down her face and shirt. There was no referee and there was no crowd watching the fight. A bell never rang. The girls just kept pounding each other causing ever greater damage to their faces. I was so enthralled by this new movie
I didn’t hear Dr. Kim ask her first question. After several futile attempts, she poked me in the cheek with the rubber end of her pencil.
“Have you ever had a long term relationship?” she shouted.
I snapped out of my movie-induced haze. “No, too constraining. A girl’s got to have her freedom.”
“Ever had a boyfriend?”
“I tried several times. They’re just too fragile. You know, always breaking.”
“What about girlfriends?”
I could just barely see Dr. Kim in my field of vision. But unlike all the other days, that day she was wearing her long, black hair down and not in a bun.
“Are you offering?” I asked.
Dr. Kim furiously scribbled some more notes. “Let’s stick with the past, Ms. Bleu.”
“Mmmm. Nothing serious, not for lack of offers.”
“So, you’re happy being alone?”
“No, being alone is about the only thing that makes me unhappy. I just haven’t found the right person.”
“Describe to me the right person.”
“Well, durable. Someone very, very durable. Strong, unflinching. Someone a lot like me.”
“You know, it wouldn’t hurt to be more accommodating?”
“I would accommodate if it was more hurtful.”
Dr. Kim sighed impatiently, blowing her graceful bangs up into the air. I sensed her frustration and it made me feel bad. I wanted my treatment to be a success.
“I’m really enjoying this aversion therapy,” I said. “Just what are we trying to avert?”
“Aversion therapy? Who told you it was aversion therapy? This is association therapy. It’s entirely different.”
“My mistake. What are we trying to associate?”
“We want to associate your lustful desires for violence and destruction with an entirely new desire.”
“And what would that be?”
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
Dr. Kim started a new series of films, in spite of or because of my enthrallment with the two lady boxers. These were your typical teenage slasher movies. The kind where there is always a huge, evil psychopathic tormentor who moves methodically slow and has god-like survivability powers and an endless supply of vivacious, nymphomatic teenage girls with a penchant for always choosing the wrong room to hide in. After seven or eight of these, Dr. Kim resumed her questioning.
“Alexis, are you becoming familiar with a theme in these movies?”
“Yes, and I apologize for being aroused.”
“No, I meant that there is always a perpetrator and a victim.”
“Yes, of course, a slasher and a slashee.”
“Very good. And which would you rather be? The young woman getting gutted or the vicious mental hospital escapee with the knife who is gutting her?”
“It’s not a difficult question, Alexis. Just tell me the first answer that pops into your head.”
“Both,” I said with great enthusiasm.
“You can’t be both. It’s not physically possible.”
“You told me to give you the honest answer. ‘Both’ is the honest answer.”
“But you are telling me that you identify with both victim and perpetrator?”
“Yes, it looks like a lot of fun. If that’s not physically possible, maybe we could just alternate roles. I could be the slasher and then the slashee.”
Dr. Kim collapsed to her knees and began to cry. Great salty tears dropped onto the lenses of her wire-rimmed glasses and her body shook with emotional tremors. I was feeling a trifle uncomfortable.
“Dr. Kim?” I asked hesitatingly.
“What do you want?” she shot back.
“I think the big machine above me just ran out of saline solution.”
“I’ll go find some more solution,” she sobbed.
“Or you could just come over here and cry into my eyeballs.”
Dotty refilled the machine and soon my eyeballs were no longer parched. She helped Dr. Kim up to her feet and dusted off the dirt from her lab coat.
Dr. Kim wiped her tears away with a kleenex. “Call corporate,” she told Dotty. “Tell them we’re going to need another three weeks.”
Three weeks later, I found Dr. Kim starting our session by staring into my eyes.
“Your eyeballs are bleeding,” she said.
“I meant to say something, but you’ve both been so kind to me, I didn’t want to be a bother.”
“Dotty, go fetch me some cotton eye patches.” Dotty dutifully left the theater to retrieve the eye patches. “You’ll be happy to know that we’ve reached the last session of your therapy.”
“No more movies?” I said dejectedly.
Dr. Kim picked up a large hypodermic needle from her table of medical equipment. “Just this one,” she said. “I am going to administer a serum that will make you very sleepy. But because we have your eyes propped open you won’t be able to sleep the way you normally would. You will be unconscious, but your visionary senses will still perceive the film you are watching.”
“This is going to be a really bad film, isn’t it?”
“I’m afraid I have no choice, Alexis. We’ve come all this way and spent all this money. We simply can’t start the whole treatment over with a new patient.” From a shelf underneath the equipment table, Dr. Kim produced a small glass bottle filled with a clear fluid. She injected the needle into the rubber top of the bottle and pulled back the plunger, filling the needle with the clear liquid. She approached my platform, lifted my skirt up and exposed my fleshy upper thigh in-between the straightjacket and the top of my leg cast.
“I’ll be good,” I pleaded. “I’m a good person. I’ll do what you tell me to do.”
“I’m afraid it’s too late,” Dr. Kim said. “You are responsible for all of your actions and what I am about to do is a consequence of your actions.” Dr. Kim injected the needle into my thigh. For the first time in my life, I actually felt the unpleasant pain from a needle prick.
Dotty returned to the theater with the cotton eye patches.
“Dotty, would you please pull up video #XX27-2?”
“Oh finally,” Dottie said as she pulled out a DVD from the rolling bookcase of DVDs and placed the disc into the player. The theater filled up with light.
A spiraling image began to rotate on the screen.
“I don’t think I like this, Dr. Kim.” I could feel my skin crawling.
“So, the great Alexis Bleu has a crack in her façade of unperturbability. Tell me why you don’t like this, Alexis?”
The spiral spun faster.
“It makes me feel lonely.” Now, it was my turn to cry. “It makes me feel powerless, as though I were at your complete mercy.”
“You are, Alexis,” Dr. Kim said. “But perhaps I can cheer you up. Would you like to hear some music?”
The serum was making me feel dizzy and nauseous. The spinning pinwheel wasn’t helping.
“Yes, I would love to hear some music.”
“How about Cole Porter? Do you like Cole Porter?”
“I-I love Cole Porter. How did you know?”
“You checked out every Cole Porter CD in the State Prison. We examined your records.”
Dotty loaded the CD player with another disc. Soon the haunting refrains of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” began to fill the theater.
“I love Cole Porter,” I said. “Why am I feeling so sick?”
“Just part of your treatment, Alexis,” Dr. Kim said. “Now, look very closely at the spiraling pinwheel. You are going to begin feeling immensely tired. You’ll want to close your eyelids, but of course, you can’t. Don’t fight this feeling Alexis, it’s unavoidable. Soon, everything will turn black.”
And it did.
My world was black for a very long time. I could not see and I still could not move my arms or legs much at all. I awoke several hours after my blackout in the room I recognized by smell as my dormitory at the facility. The bleeding from my eyes had finally stopped and Dr. Kim had placed the two cotton, adhesive eye patches on my face that Dotty retrieved earlier. I must say that after five weeks of watching inane and redundant films, it was a relief not to have to see anything at all. Physically, I was a mess with my two broken arms and two broken legs sorer than before the treatment. Emotionally, I felt as though a drill had been bored into my psyche and something like pumpkin guts removed and replaced with something entirely different.
After two weeks of quiet recovery, the eye patches were peeled off of my eyes. My vision, blurry and sensitive to light at first, returned to normal within a few short hours. The resident orthopedic specialist removed the casts on my legs and announced that they were fully healed. My arms were a different matter. Five weeks of having my arms in a modified straightjacket for 10 to 12-hour stints, had interfered with my natural healing process. He re-broke both of my arms with a platinum hammer and reset them in large plaster casts. These were placed in plain, blue slings.
My sense of smell must have improved immensely during my period of blindness. I recognized Dotty’s overpriced and not terribly pleasant perfume several minutes before she entered my dormitory room.
“Wake up sleepy-head,” she chirped cheerfully.
“I’m awake,” I said with less than my usual enthusiasm.
“This is a very important day in your therapy, Alexis.”
“It is? Is there a positive outcome?”
“We are oh, so close to knowing the answer to that all important question. And believe-you-me, Alexis, no one is hoping more for a positive outcome than I am.”
“What’s there left to do?”
Dotty took my two hands in hers, holding them as they were in their slings. “We have one last test and this one doesn’t even take place in the facility.” She played with my hands as though I were a three year-old and I was so ready for any good news, that I neglected to mention how much that actually hurt.
“Will Dr. Kim be there?”
“No, Dr. Kim will not be there. She will be miles away from you watching on closed circuit video.”
“That’s wonderful news, Dotty. Not that I have anything against Dr. Kim, but our relationship has been a little too close for comfort if you know what I mean.”
“Not to worry. Dr. Kim has that affect on everybody, including Mr. Kim.”
“You mentioned a place that is miles away from here. Where would that be?”
A radiant smile spread across Dotty’s face and she clenched my fingers tighter. “We have rented for you a fully furnished downtown condominium unit for the last phase of your treatment. Isn’t that wonderful?” She punctuated her excitement by wrenching my hands in their plaster casts.
“Owwie, owwie,” I pleaded.
“Oh dear, not quite the person we once were in prison, eh kiddo?”
“I just need a little more time for recovery,” I said, pulling my hands away from hers. “Tell me more about this condo I’m going to be living in.”
“You are going to love it, Alexis. It’s brand, spanking new, and on the seventeenth floor. You’ll have a panoramic view of downtown and the Valley. You’ll get a full, modern kitchen, with granite countertops, bamboo floors and satellite hookups.”
“I’m getting a TV?”
“No, just the hookups.”
“How long do I get to live there?”
“For three days, just long enough for us to finish the last test. Then we take it all away from you and place you out on the street, where you will be a free girl again. Isn’t that great?”
Tears started to well in my eyes. “Much better than you make it sound. I’m really looking forward to my freedom. When can I move in?”
“We’re going to move you in tomorrow. We’ve hired a very special consultant to help you get the placed decorated and prepped for your big moment of truth.”
“Who would that be?”
“Yasuko Hara. She’s a professional decorator and Dr. Kim’s aunt.”
“Is she anything like Dr. Kim?”
“Total polar opposites.”
“Then I am overjoyed. Tell me more about this big moment.”
“You are going to have a party of sorts,” Dotty said cupping my shoulders.
“Yes, a reunion party.”
“Three very special friends of yours from your pre-incarceration days?”
“You mean my treacherous Little Sisters?”
“No, no, no, of course not. I mean Dimples, Parole Officer Brobinsky and Cassandra.”
“Yes, all three of them. Isn’t that fantastic?”
I threw my slinged and casted arms around Dotty’s waist and began hugging her tightly. “It’s wonderful. I can hardly wait to see those guys again. But why?”
“It’s all part of your treatment, Alexis.” Dotty delicately disengaged from my tight embrace.
“They’re an important part of your therapy. If all goes well and as expected at your little encounter….”
“You mean party.”
“…Yes, at your party. If all goes to plan, Dimples, Sheila and Cassandra will have a happy experience, Dr. Kim will be pleasantly surprised, I will be ecstatic and our investors will finally get off my back.”
“And what about me?”
“Er…well, you’ll be a free girl, Alexis.”
“Okay, there’s something you’re not telling me. What’s going to happen at this party?”
“Um…” Dotty slowly moved her hand over to her side where I noticed for the first time that she was still armed with the taser, plus a canister of mace. “You’re guests will get to beat you up.”
“As much as they like.”
“I certainly hope so after all I’ve done for them.”
“To them, Alexis. After all that you’ve done to them. It’s an important distinction if you want to keep Dr. Kim happy.”
“Oh sure.” At that moment, I realized I was going to be free again. Okay, maybe a few months in the hospital first, but then I was going to be totally free again. I could get a new girl gang and go back to my former happy life again. “I’m so excited!” I lifted Dotty two feet off the floor, gave her a tremendous embrace and whooped it up.
“Ack!…Watch the ribs.”
Yasuko turned out to be an absolute doll. She was a spry, middle-aged, Japanese woman with a fantastic sense of style and flair. We hit it off immediately. The condo turned out to be everything Dotty had said it would be and more. Using a credit card provided by the Hunkemoller Foundation, we went out and purchased the most beautiful contemporary Japanese furniture we could find: shoji paper screens, a teak dining table, a Hiro living room set, paper lanterns for the ceilings and Japanese calligraphy prints for the walls.
Using Yasuko’s help and some of her mother’s recipes, I put together some scrumptious hors d’oeuvres for my guests. Stacked high, were three platters of sushi: albacore tuna, fresh water eel, and sockeye salmon. We hung banners and streamers to give the place a festive air for the occasion and lit sticks of cherry blossom incense to cover up the new furniture smell. Yasuko and I spent the better part of a day at a medieval antiquities shop searching for just the right implements for the party. We came away with large shopping bags full of all sorts of good things: cat ‘o nine tails, iron belaying pins, lead mace, thumbscrews, billy clubs, blackjacks, Irish Shillelaghs, monkey fists and a vast assortment of meticulously crafted truncheons.
In anticipation of our upcoming party, I was decked out in a pink and gold kimono that Yasuko helped select for me from the only clothing store on the coast that carried a kimono for a six-foot tall woman. She placed my plaster arm casts in a pair of elegant Chinese silk scarves with images of fire dragons, that we used as slings. Japanese Geisha clogs and silken folding fans completed my ensemble. There was much crying when Yasuko and I parted and she promised she would visit me regularly in the hospital after the party.
When the doorbell rang, I nearly tripped over my kimono in anticipation of answering it. With a great deal of effort and after several failed attempts, I opened the door and greeted my guests to the party at my new condo. I was expecting the three of them to be more elegantly attired, but realized what was the sense? Everything would be covered in blood by the end of the evening anyway.
“I’m so happy to see you again,” I said to Dimples, Cassandra and Officer Brobinsky and gave each one a hug as they entered living room. I could immediately tell the three of them were somewhat taken aback by the beauty of the apartment and the lavish display I had put out for everyone.
“This is unbelievable,” Cassandra said as she timidly stepped inside. “I had no idea you had such an eye for design.”
“I can’t take all the credit,” I told her. “I got a little help from a professional.” I picked up one of the serving trays, having to kneel first to accommodate my arm cast. “Anyone care for an Unagi?”
“Your furniture is gorgeous,” Dimples said as she swept her hand across the cushioned bench seat. “Did you pick these out yourself?”
“My friend Yasuko and I did a bit of shopping. I’m glad you like it. Would you care for some green tea or perhaps some sake?”
Officer Brobinsky’s gaze immediately shot over to the table where the truncheons and blunt weapons were neatly laid out for display. “Alright Alexis, what’s this all about?”
“I know how you must feel,” I said. “You must be as confused as I am right now. I’ve never been to a Vengeance Party, much less hosted one. I mean, where do you even start? I wasn’t certain if you were going to flatten down the door with a steel battering ram or just kind of gently knock. I must say, ringing the doorbell was a good call. Then there’s the appetizers. Fortunately, Yasuko had some great recipes. And yes, of course, what kind of a Vengeance host would I be if I didn’t provide some spiffy and downright horrifying weaponry. I was getting all worked up when Yasuko said, ‘look, just relax. It’s a party. Everyone will have a good time, regardless.'”
Dimples picked up the lead mace by its handle as I prepared to make the green tea in the kitchen. She no sooner had lifted it when the heavy spike ball at the end came crashing to the floor.
“Careful Dimples, don’t hurt yourself.” I put out the porcelain tea set. “You should really lift with your knees not your back. Now, who takes sugar?”
Cassandra was aghast as she examined the rope-ball end of the monkey fist. “You’re supplying us with the weapons to pummel you with?”
“I know, I know, they’re just rentals. The Foundation only supplied us with so much money. I wish I could have purchased them for you to take home as mementos after the party. But they’re sturdy and don’t worry about damaging the condo, the Foundation insured it up to the hilt. And don’t be shy. If you need to know proper technique just ask me. I’ve got a lot of experience with blunt force trauma.”
After several futile attempts to pick it up, Dimples left the lead mace lying on the floor. She came over to me as I was pouring the tea. She looked more mature and attractive since our last get together at the courthouse. “I heard the biker chicks got you good,” she whispered.
“Did they ever!” I declared. “They broke more than half the bones in my body. I admire them for their thoroughness. After the six or seven different surgeries, they wrapped me in plaster from head to toe. And every part of my body was in traction, including my tongue. The bed sores were horrific.” I filled the teacups with wonderfully aromatic green tea and invited everyone to sit down on the pillows by the coffee table. I held up my casted arms. “Look, I’m still not completely healed.”
“Mind if I touch your casts,” Cassandra said as she gently rubbed the surface of the plaster.
“Knock yourself out,” I said and then turned to Sheila. “Clever turn of words, don’t you think, Officer Brobinsky?”
Sheila’s face turned red. “Cassandra, what do you think you are doing? Don’t show that woman any sympathy. She put you in casts AND a hospital bed? Do you really need to know what plaster feels like again?”
Cassandra pulled back her hands. “You’re right. It’s just that hers looked so nice.”
Sheila, exasperated, stood up from the coffee table and folded her arms.
I stood up to face her. “You’re absolutely right,” I said to her. “I’ve forgotten what the purpose of this party is all about. Once again, I’ve made myself the center of attention. And it’s not about me. It’s about you. It’s about you receiving the satisfaction that you clearly deserve.” I turned to the others. “Dimples, why don’t you pick up the cat o’ nine tails? It’s the one with all the leather straps and spiky metal balls. If I undo this Kimono a little, I’ll expose some of the knobby bits just below the small of the back. Or, if you prefer, you can truss me up over by the fireplace mantel and just have at me. Remember it’s all in the wrist. Otherwise, there will only be bruises instead of fractures.”
“What the hell are you doing, Bleu?” Officer Brobinsky said clearly agitated.
“You’re right. What was I thinking?” I said flustered. “The tailbone isn’t a proper place to hit a woman. Let me take my arms out of these slings and hold them against the coffee table. Then, maybe you, Cassandra, can take the shillelagh and give them a good thrashing. After that, I can prop my legs up against the bookcase…”
“Alexis, shut up!” Officer Brobinsky demanded curtly. “We know why we’re here. We know what we are supposed to do. Now, I don’t know if you are trying to play head games with us or if you really enjoy pain that much. That’s not the point. It’s about us doing what we are going to do.”
“Right,” I said softly and curtsied. “I’ll just stand right here. You do what you do.”
“Dimples,” Sheila said. “Just grab one of those big weapons and bring it over here.”
Dimples selected the iron belaying pin. It was a heavy metallic object shaped like a club. She brought it over to Sheila.
“Not for me. For you, Dimples. Go ahead and hit Alexis as hard as you can, anywhere you like.”
I stood in front of Dimples as she sized the belaying pin in her hand. I smiled pleasantly and mentally prepared myself for the intense pain I was about to receive.
Dimples gripped and re-gripped the pin. Finally, she brought her arm back with the pin over her shoulder. I braced myself for the coming blow.
“I can’t do it,” she said and released the pin. It made a heavy clanking sound as it hit the floor.
“You’ve only got three more days of probation. Do you want me to send your ass back to County lock-up?”
Dimples buried her pretty face in my chest and began to weep. “Maybe back in the day,” she said, “before her conviction, when I still had the anger in me. But now…”
“You’re a coward, Dimples,” Officer Brobinsky said. “I should send you to County. Those girls will break you in two.”
“You don’t understand,” Dimples pleaded. “I always wanted to be Alexis. All the gangster girls wanted to be Alexis.”
“Really?” I said.
“You get it,” she told me. “You really get it. If you want to hurt somebody, you got to want to get hurt yourself. If you want to put the fear of God into someone, then you got to know what the fear of God feels like. That’s Alexis. We feared her. We hated her guts, but all of us secretly wanted to be her. This woman’s turned 280 pound hoodlums raging on ‘roids” and Angel Dust into quivering bowls of jelly. As a girl, you just gotta love that.”
A tear welled in my eye. None of my gangster enemies had ever been that open with me before. Dimples kissed me on the cheek and collapsed into one of the cushioned chairs.
“Fine,” Sheila said, throwing up her arms. “You want to waste your one opportunity, be my guest. But I am going to make sure this…this…monster does not come away from here in one piece tonight.” She walked over to the table and grabbed the largest steel truncheon available. “Cassandra!” she demanded.
“Me?” Cassandra said.
Sheila put the truncheon in her hands. “I want you to look at this devil’s face.”
I did my best to look wicked.
“This is the insensitive brute who smashed your face,” Sheila said. “This is the psycho who picked you up and tossed you onto a glass counter. This is the cretin who drove you into a plate mirror. This is the instrument of Satin that threw your poor broken body out a three-story window and tried to kill you. You must make her stop the violence. Now, crack her over the head!”
Cassandra trembled and I could see the pain in her face. “Go ahead, honey,” I said. “Do it for me if you can’t do it for yourself. I’m begging you to just clobber me as hard as you can.” I undid the bow of the kimono and exposed my white stomach and rib cage. “It’s not going to hurt. It’s what I need you to do.”
“Shut up, Alexis,” Sheila warned me.
But Cassandra didn’t hit me. She put down the truncheon and sat down on the corner of the coffee table. “She made me a different person,” she said in a low voice.
“What?” replied Sheila in shock.
“She made me a different person,” Cassandra said. “I broke up with my fiancé.”
“Really?” I said.
“You know how many times he visited me in the hospital?” She paused and held up two fingers. “Twice. I was in traction for four months and he visits me twice. Alexis visited me once. Only because they arrested her after that. But that one time…it changed my world. She had the kind of strength and courage I’ve never seen in a woman. Sure, she was the cause of my 487 stitches and yes, she was the cause of my 26 mostly compound, fractures, but that night she came to my hospital room something just magical happened. I couldn’t say anything because she bandaged my mouth, but I knew I had met someone real, someone of substance, someone who really cared about me. Maybe those feelings disappeared when she tossed me out the window. But now, I’m starting to get those feelings again.”
“Oh wow,” I said softly.
“Very nice Cassandra,” Sheila said sarcastically. “Somewhere there’s a state in this nation where the two of you can be very happy. Personally, I know why I’m here and I ain’t so impressed with your acts of courage and your ability to handle pain.”
“You’re my last chance, Brobinsky,” I said.
Sheila walked over to the table of blunt instruments and examined it carefully. She then picked up the table and spilled all the instruments to the floor, making a horrible racket. She used her feet and heels to break off one of the sturdy legs of the table and she gripped this leg like a mighty bat.
“You have so asked for this, Alexis,” she growled.
“That’s the spirit, Sheila. I’m counting on you,” I said.
“So full of disrespect, aren’t you, Bleu? I’ve waited a good, long time for this day. And you can bet I spent every one of my days in traction, nursing my broken bones underneath a hundred pounds of plaster, just counting the minutes for this moment. I’m gonna get you good, Bleu. I paid a lot of money for this. I’m getting my full satisfaction.”
“Wait,” I said. “Money?”
“You’re going back to the hospital. What those biker girls did to you is going to feel like a flea bite compared to the hurt I’m going to put on you.”
Sheila began waiving the table leg around like a ballplayer preparing for a pitch.
“How much money?” I asked.
“None of your business,” Sheila said.
“How much, Dimples?”
“Thirty,” Dimples said quietly.
“Thirty large?” I looked Sheila straight in the face. “Who comes up with thirty large?”
“Sepulveda paid my fee,” Cassandra said.
“We had to pool together family, friends and friends of friends,” Dimples said. “Still had to take out a loan.”
I squared with Sheila. “P.O.s get paid a lot. Don’t they Sheila?”
“Enough about the money. Dimples, put the music on.”
“Music?” I asked. “You’re going to play music?”
Dimples obediently took out the CD from her purse and loaded it into the stereo’s CD player. I immediately recognized the beautiful notes of Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You.”
“Are you a fan?” Sheila asked.
“I worship Cole Porter.”
“Oh good. He’s about to have a strong effect on you.”
My arms tingled and went numb. I couldn’t move my fingers. Then my toes tingled and then my legs. My legs went numb and I collapsed to the floor. Sheila still hovered over me tightening her grip on the table leg.
“That’s it?” I said. “Five weeks of intense treatment with brass claws in my eyeballs watching stupid movies in a straightjacket for this?”
“Now you can’t hit back, Alexis.”
“I wasn’t going to hit you, Sheila. I want you to hit me. I want you to hit me as hard as you can. I want tonight to be a big, big success. I want you to feel like you’re on the top of the world.”
“I will Bleu. All I need to hear are those two little words from you.”
“What two little words?”
“Why would I say that? I’m not sorry.”
“Say you’re sorry,” Sheila demanded. “You are going to feel remorse, if I have to beat it out you.”
“Beat away. I want you to. But I’m not going to feel remorse.”
“I paid good money for this moment. Why won’t you feel remorse!” Sheila seethed between clenched teeth.
“Because I do it for love.”
“What? You expect me to believe that? Nobody hurts somebody they love.”
“I do. If you enjoy the pain the way that I do, then when you receive the pain you feel the love behind it.
“You’re telling me you beat these girls up because you love them?”
“Yes, and you too, Sheila.”
“That’s it,” she said. Sheila threw the table leg to the floor. “If you won’t show remorse, you leave me no choice.”
Sheila slapped me hard across the face and blood began to dribble out of my nose and down my lip. A small grin crept across her face, but it quickly disappeared.
“Hit me again!”
“Say, ‘I’m sorry.'”
“Dimples,” Sheila said. “What’s the word?”
“The word?” I asked.
Dimples was silent. She got up, clasped her hands behind her back and paced around the room. “Don’t”
“The word, the word, Dimples. Tell it to me.”
“What word?” I said.
“The trigger word,” hissed Sheila. “Cassandra, tell me the trigger word.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. “What’s a trigger word.”
Cassandra knelt down beside me and grabbed me by the shoulders. “Run Alexis. Get up off of the floor and run as fast as you can.”
“A car,” Sheila said. “Um, a Plymouth…a Chevy…a Hummer…a Honda. I paid good money. Why can’t I remember the word?”
“Run Alexis,” Cassandra implored.
“My feet and arms are numb. I can’t run. What is this about, Cassandra?”
Dimples turned, ran down the hallway and locked herself in the bathroom.
“A Taurus, a Suburban, a Pilot, a Scion. For god sake, would someone just tell me the word?”
“Why is she naming cars? What’s going to happen when she figures out this word Cassandra?”
“You’re numb. You’re numb for a reason Alexis. It’s the music!” Cassandra shouted.
Cassandra crawled on the floor over toward the stereo system. Sheila cut her off and booted her in the face. The blow sent Cassandra reeling left her sprawled out on the floor.
“Not so fast, Sister,” Sheila said.
I tried to stand up but it was of no use. I couldn’t get the feeling back in my limbs.
“Navigator, Sedona, Sonoma, Sonata, Pacifica, Porsche, Passat…”
“Grab the power chord, Cassandra!” I yelled.
Cassandra, her left eye reddened and bleeding reached over and grabbed the plug, pulling it out of the socket. The music stopped. There was silence. Sheila stood quietly, unable to think of any other car models. I felt the strength slowly return to my arms and then my legs. Sheila gritted her teeth still trying to think of the word that so eluded her memory. I pulled my arms out of their slings and grabbed hold of a nearby bookcase to prop myself up. When I made it to my feet I stumbled toward Sheila and cocked back my arm to hit her as hard as I possibly could. Sheila, stunned at this turn of events, did not defend herself. I cracked her in the face full force with my thick, plaster cast. Blood spurted out her nose and down her blouse. With my other arm, I backhanded her, the thick plaster crushing her shoulder and jaw. I heard the sound of her bones cracking. Sheila collapsed to the floor in a pool of her own blood. I was prepared to stomp on her with one of my Geisha clogs, when she rose up on her knees and smiled, displaying a bloody mouth with half of its teeth missing.
“I got it,” Sheila said. “The word is…”
The room exploded in a burst of white light. Although I wasn’t blind, all that I could see was white. I thought of white plaster. I thought of white gauze, the white white nurse’s uniform, the white of the bed sheets. I reached out my hand and felt for the white. But all I pulled back were clouds. Clouds were in my hands. Everywhere I reached there were white clouds. I had a sensation. That sensation was falling. The white clouds were blowing through my hair as I tumbled downward. I fell through a warm, warm breeze. Faster, I fell. It was a wonderful falling feeling. I was naked and falling. No kimono, no casts or Geisha clogs.
Then I saw it. I saw the ground open up between the clouds. There was a grassy hill in my sight. The clouds disappeared and there was nothing but grass. There on the grassy hill I saw three shining figures. Three golden loops that glittered in the bright sun. These loops turned into ovals, three golden ovals. One big oval and two small ovals. The one small oval flipped on its side and crossed the other small oval like a “t”. Then the two small ovals jumped inside the larger oval to form a symbol of sorts. It was an insignia. And the insignia grew larger as I fell to the ground. Then, I recognized the insignia and it all made sense.
“It’s God! God is a Toyota Prius. Here I am God.” I opened my arms which were now back in their casts. My kimono flowed in the breeze and I ran clumsily on the wooden clogs toward Her. The gold insignia engulfed me. The driver of the Prius on Interstate 497 slammed on the brakes and I smelled the scent of burning rubber as her car piled into me. My legs snapped and cracked at the impact with the front bumper, my arms crunched and splintered as I hit the car’s hood. My shoulders and hips were crushed as they smashed into the windshield. And my head twisted and cracked as it hit the pavement afterward. There was pain. There was unfathomable, horrendous pain all over my body. And it was good.
I awoke in cast heaven. Following surgery number eight, the medical staff at Bayview Hospital put me in the most beautiful of casts-two casts actually. Oh, what a stunning combination. There was a cast for the top of my body and a cast for the lower half of my body with a small sliver of space for my midsection. The top cast was a plaster, double shoulder spica with risser bars supporting both my arms that protruded from my sides like tree limbs. This cast started from just above my belly-button and extended up my neck and over my head forming a delightful Minerva cast. All of my fingers and both of my thumbs were encased in plaster. The bottom portion was a plaster, double-hip spica starting only a few inches below my other cast, swathing both my hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet and up to the tips of my toes where only a narrow portion of toe flesh was exposed. The edge of the cast tickled my crotch and cooter and left exposed my crevice and butt cheeks that were daintily set on a soft, down-filled pillow. Meaning not only was I able to orally converse, but I could answer calls of nature without tubes or catheters and partake in erotic pleasure if a willing partner was at the ready.
Unlike my stay in the prison infirmary, the top of my hospital bed was cranked to a 35-degree angle so that I could easily greet visitors or watch the goings on of other patients down the narrow hallway. My legs were propped up on numerous pillows and the room temperature was kept just right. I had TV and headphones and a warm, loving medical staff. I was comfy and cozy and magnificently prepared for a long, cheery recovery.
After nearly a month of this wonderful living, I was delighted to receive my first outside visitor, Vickie Virmenklapper, the State Pen. Warden. Vickie was locked and loaded in a tight, mauve woolen sweater that would have turned Mamie Van Doren green with envy and a black cotton skirt that tastefully came down over the knees. She pulled up a chair next to my hospital bed and from where I was sitting I could see cleavage for days.
“Good morning, Alexis. I’ve brought you a fuzzy panda.”
I didn’t see anything in her hands, so I became quite excited at the prospect of seeing her fuzzy panda.
“Excuse me,” Vickie said. “It’s in my purse.” She retrieved a small, white and black stuffed panda and laid it by my side where it rested against the plaster that covered my rib cage.
“Delighted to see you, Warden. Oh, how I’ve missed you these months.”
“You look wonderful, Alexis, flush and full of color. I keep thinking that one of these days we should meet when you’re not so broken.”
“You know me Vickie, always finding trouble. What can I do you for?”
“I come bearing news, dear Alexis. I would have come sooner, but your doctors said that you needed your rest. I hope that you are feeling well.”
“Tip-top Vickie. Couldn’t be better. This news, is it good or bad?”
“It seems that once again I find myself in the position of having to apologize for the State. Here you are once more with horrific injuries from head-to-toe, and it has all happened under our not-so-watchful eye. Apparently, the eminently qualified and highly distinguished medical psychiatrist we entrusted with your care and rehabilitation has led us astray. She has committed wicked crimes upon your person and much more worrisome, she made horseplay of your personal convictions.”
“She drilled a hole into my soul, Vickie. She removed my very spirit and replaced it with something vile and crass. I would rather endure these numerous fractures a thousand times over than bear witness to anyone having to suffer what I suffered at her hands.”
I sensed that Vickie was somewhat grieved and perhaps just a little guilty about my treatment at the Foundation. “Yes, a number of religious organizations were quite upset when it was learned that the Foundation had tampered with your core beliefs in such a manner.”
“Why if Dr. Kim had her way, I would be dead right now.”
“The religious organizations weren’t particularly distressed about that.” Vickie straightened up and composed herself. She leaned over and placed her warm hand just below my plastered breast. “Dear Alexis, it seems that your lawyer is causing quite a stir. She seems to think that the Foundation and the State for that matter should be brought into a court of law and in some painful, both emotionally and financially, manner brought to bear for all of the injuries you have suffered. Indeed, she may have already attempted to contact you.”
“Not to worry, Vickie. The doctors did not let me receive any calls or visitors prior to your arrival. You have my word that we haven’t spoken.”
“Alexis, you cannot imagine how honored it is for me to be your first contact with the world outside of this hospital. Words truly cannot express my gratitude. Now, I do have something very special for you.” Vickie pulled a document out of her purse. “This is just a little something we call a ‘Release and Promise Not to Sue’ form. It’s nothing really. If you sign it I am sure we can find a small token gift to show you our appreciation such as a nice government job waiting for you when you are fully recovered.”
“Oh, really you shouldn’t, Vickie. I never look for gifts. But perhaps if the State and the Foundation might just do me the honor of setting up a humble little bank account in my name with say a, oh, I don’t know, a seven or eight-digit figure, we could all be very happy with each other. And the best part is, my lawyer doesn’t even need to know.”
Vickie rolled this matter over in her mind for a moment. She patted my breast like the head of an obedient child. “It is such a pleasure to see my wards using their wits, Alexis. I’ll get a new release form drafted right away.”
“Why wait, Vickie? Let’s just write it in.”
Vickie looked at me coyly. “And you’ll sign?”
“Did you bring that pardon from the Governor?”
“Yes, I did young lady. You’ve certainly bested me this time. It’s effective as soon as you sign the release. Now, will you sign?”
“Just one more little thing.”
Vickie sighed. She was clearly exasperated. “Yes, what is it?”
“The pillow behind my head is awfully uncomfortable. Would you mind just repositioning it?”
Vickie beamed and chuckled. She reached her arms around my casted head and pressed her titanic bosoms against my face.
“A little to the right,” I said. Her enormous left breast slapped against my exposed face. “A little to the left now.” Her enormous right breast slapped against my face. “Now, just a little up and a little down. Oh yeah, perfect!” After a few minutes of quiet comfort, I regained my composure.
“Are we feeling better now?”
“We most certainly are,” I hummed. “Bring me the pen.”
Vickie took out a pen and wrote an amendment to the release that made me an unbelievably happy gal. I signed the release with my teeth. And Vickie gave me a warm, wet peck on the cheek and a loving embrace that made all of my numerous fractures tingle with delight.
“Tell me then,” I said. “Where is that pernicious Dr. Kim now?”
“In an asylum for people recovering from severe mental illness. It seems that she did not handle the intense negative media pressure very well. They gave her a jacket with extra-long sleeves and she gets to wander around the gardens twice a day.”
“And cute little Dotty?”
“Now a successful Assistant Shift Supervisor at the Rubicon Coffeehouse.”
“I must revisit sometime. It brings back such pleasant memories. Speaking of which how is my dear P.O. Sheila Brobinksy?”
“Former P.O., Alexis. You’re a free woman now. I must commend you for the way in which you deliver punishing damage to your opponents. Mrs. Brobinsky, soon to be a ‘Ms.’ I’ve been told, is recovering in a facility in another county very far from here.”
“Oh, just like me. What kind of points did I score?”
“Let’s see if I remember this. A pulverized shoulder, a shattered jaw and cheekbone, some significant cranial injuries and enough dental damage to require the services of several oral surgeons for the next three months. For a woman with two broken arms, you acquitted yourself quite well.”
“I do what I can to turn my handicaps into advantages. How does she look?”
“Not bad, all things considered. She has a cast about her head like yours, only it covers all of her face except the lips and nostrils. Also, her upper body and whole right arm were placed in a cast. She’s handled the whole episode extremely well once she received proper medication. I’ve been told that after she recovers she will get a transfer up north.”
“Ah! How far north?”
“A small village, just outside of Barrow, Alaska. She’ll have a new job with wonderful bennies, such as her own team of dogs and a brand new snow shovel.”
“How about Dimples? Have you heard from her?
“Interesting you should bring that up. We gave Dimples a challenging government job and we are hoping you might be inclined to accept something of a similar nature, once your fully recovered.”
“That’s intriguing. What is Dimples doing?”
“Well, it seems that an interesting thing happened during your treatment, incarceration and multiple recoveries. Your former friend Dahlia formed her own girl gang.”
“Get out!” I jested.
“It’s true. Not a small gang like the one you had. But some huge monstrosity, a teenage, girl-gang crime syndicate of sorts. She took her gains from a number of cosmetic store robberies and funded a fully international operation, with her hands in a number of illicit cookie jars. She calls herself the Black and Blue Dahlia now.”
“The Black and Blue Dahlia? It has a certain mystique to it.”
“Yes, and she’s turned into quite the wickedly vile young adult. Since your little accident at the hospital, street crime in the city has skyrocketed more than 341%. Most of that attributable to Dahlia, and not to flatter you, but to your conspicuous absence as well. We entirely underestimated your value in holding down crime. You kept more girl gangsters off the street than all of the members of the city police department. Did you know it is cheaper to put someone in the hospital rather than in prison? I was certainly shocked.”
“What does all this have to do with Dimples?”
“Yes, well here is where it gets interesting. Dimples is now in charge of a special crime-fighting unit that targets female crime syndicates. And Dahlia’s operation takes up about ninety percent of her time. It’s a challenging position, it involves a lot of beat work, investigation and a little bit of strong-arming of criminals now and again. Dimples just seemed to have the perfect background for that kind of work.”
“And you said you have a job for me? Would I be working for Dimples?”
Vickie shook her head. “I’m afraid not, Alexis.”
I was disappointed but still interested in what the State had to offer me.
“Dimples would be reporting to you. No one can match your level of expertise.”
I was overcome with joy. “I wish I could hug you right now Vickie, but it’s physically impossible. If you could just…”
Vickie reached over and gave me a warm, gentle hug.
“I guess I should be going,” she said as she adjusted the straps on her poor, overworked brassiere. “You’ve got a lot of things on your mind and I have a very busy prison to run. I’ll send your nurse in. I’m afraid with all my blabbering I’ve run over into your lunch time.”
“G-bye,” I said to the lovely Vickie the Warden. “If I could, I would be waiving right now.”
I settled back in my casts, let out a heavy sigh and relaxed. The nurse approached my bed with her back to me as she was pulling a large food trolley into my room. I didn’t recognize her as one of my previous nurses. There was something familiar about her shiny, auburn hair and her curvy heart-shaped ass. She pulled the trolley up to the side of my bed.
She placed a cotton soft palm against my cheek and Cassandra said, “We have a number of choices for lunch. What will be your pleasure?” She was wearing the same white nurse’s ensemble I was wearing on the night of my betrayal, only in a much smaller size. Also, she had the cutest white eye patch over her left eye with a red cross on it that matched the one on her cap. A final gift no doubt from the soon to be former Mrs. Brobinsky when she kicked poor Cassandra in the face.
“I’m hoping that pain is on the menu,” I said. “If it is, I would like an extra large helping.”
“You certainly have quite the appetite,” she said. “I’ve brought some music. I hope you like Cole Porter? Your doctors said that the blow to your head cleared away any bad associations you might have had with Porter’s music or hybrid cars.”
“Oh please. Cole Porter is the perfect mood music.”
Cassandra popped a CD into my music player and the beautiful melody of “Begin the Beguine” began to play. She placed a paper napkin in between my chin and the cast supporting my chin and removed the metallic lid from my plate.
“Please tell me you brought my favorite,” I said.
“Porterhouse with baked potato.”
“You’ve got me shaking in my casts.”
“Let me just cut that up for you.” Cassandra cut the steak and potato up into small bite-sized bits.
“I said this day would come. I said one day you would be the nurse and I would be the patient.”
“You also said you would be in a full body cast.”
“Pretty damn close. You’ve got to give me an ‘A’ for effort.”
Cassandra took out some lipstick and applied a layer of magnificently dark red lipstick, the kind only a cadaver or hooker would use.
“Divine heaven! Is that ‘Blood Red #369?'”
“You bet it is, Sweetie.”
I was ecstatic with delight. It was going to take more than several dozen fractures to hold me down. “I know exactly what I want you to do. The windows are sealed up here, but I know how to get around them. If you drop me butt first…”
“We’re on the seventh floor, Pumpkin, and it’s nothing but pavement below. And don’t forget I don’t have quite our strength.”
“Not a problem, Honey-pie. I know how to disable the elevator. If we stop it on the third floor you can load me in a wheelchair and just push me into the empty shaft.”
“Lots of spikey objects on the top of an elevator. Wouldn’t want to get you impaled. Here, try the steak it’s getting cold.”
I took a few chews of delicious steak, but was so excited I began talking again with a mouth full of meat. “You’re so cautious. Ok, then, you put me in the wheelchair and you dump me down the staircase. If my casts get caught up in the railing, you just give me a good swift kick.”
“Chew, Alexis, chew.”
“Or just surprise me. I love surprises.”
“Alright then, how about this one?” Cassandra leaned over and pressed her firm, large breasts against my plastered breast and gave me the softest, warmest kiss that an angel can give. I felt the thick layer of Blood Red #369 implanted on my forehead.
“Ohhh, that’s a good one. Then what?”
She moved to my lips, sucking them up in her beautiful red ones. She ran her tongue around my teeth and then pressed her tongue against mine. In my entire life, no one had ever committed such an act of passion upon me like that.
“Ohhhh,” I moaned. “Tell me. Tell me when do you hurt me? I’m not very good at the whole foreplay thing.”
I trembled nervously. “You d-don’t? I don’t understand.”
Cassandra climbed on top of me straddling my casts. She had the slightest bit of a belly, one of her many fantastic curves, and it brushed against my ironing board stomach in between the two spica casts. I felt the loveliness of her warm body pressed against mine. She wrapped her arms around the neck of my Minerva cast and began lightly kissing my face.
“No vengeance? No playfully getting even?” I pleaded.
“For all the things I’ve done to you?”
“For all the things you’ve done for me. This is what I give you in return. The doctors say you will be in these casts for at least 14 months, possibly more. You’re going to have to get used to this.”
I was overcome with a frightening realization. My hands were completely broken. My arms badly fractured. My legs, feet and toes were practically pulverized. My whole body was immobilized by plaster. There was absolutely nothing I could do to stop Cassandra. I was going to have to submit to her every whim!
She finished her warm kisses. My face was a lacquered mask of Blood Red #369 lipstick. Cassandra nuzzled in the plaster that covered my neck. Softly, she began to purr, purring like the cuddly little kitten that she was in her heart and soul.
Then I felt it. That hole that Dr. Kim had drilled into me. It began to fill. I wasn’t certain at first what it was I was being filled with. But like a glass slowly lowered into a pond I was filled with something new and different. The gunk that Dr. Kim had put inside of me was gone and replaced not with my old pumpkin guts, but something much, much better.
Cassandra pressed her cheek against my breast and started humming along to “Begin the Beguine.”
I realized what it was that had filled my soul and said it aloud. “So, this is love?”