". . . you weren't the one who let me down, but thanks for offering . . ."
It was like a prayer.
The words in her head. Her mouth moving, and no sound, or at least very little, coming out.
Hearing the music calmed Paige.
Music had always been there, probably the one aspect in her life which had never let her down.
Those times, as the gawky teen, or the college student struggling with advanced mathematics, the girl struggling with boys, the woman with men. When Paige reached those low points, felt as though her very existence was about equal in worth to a teaspoon of sawdust. The music was there.
Whether it was the songs, themselves so down, so depressed, that her life could only seem cheery by comparison, or the driving, guitar rock that made her brain slam dance off the insides of her skull, made her heart pogo in her chest, made her knees rigid, her hands form fists, her toes curl, her mouth snarl.
That was what she needed now.
But she couldn't be distracted by her Walkman, Paige needed for her senses to be acute.
She needed to hear, so instead mere memories of the melodies played themselves in her head, tunes that she had cranked in her Saab, danced naked to in her apartment, songs that made her Quantico superiors wonder what planet she was from, songs that had made Steve laugh and say, "How can you listen to that?"
Paige had heard the screams, Mark's screams, the subsequent gunshot, and the cries from Greta after that.
The walls as paper thin as Alison had advertised.
And now she waited.
If she had Goop's personality pegged, he'd be seeking a little relief, and Greta would be so lethargic that she'd hardly give him the rush he needed.
Alison was simply too old for his tastes.
And that left her.
Paige was wearing most of the clothes she had pulled. Only her black leather bomber was hung on the back of one of the chairs.
All three windows had been unlocked, and opened, just to make sure they wouldn't stick.
She leaned now, back against the edge of the bed, facing the door. Her hands calmly resting open and flat against the tops of her thighs. She took deep breaths, controlled, even, and focused on the sounds coming from the other side of the door.
Footsteps. Comically cautious. As if a bull were attempting to tiptoe its way through the proverbial china shop.
Paige heard the metal against metal scrape as the key slipped into the lock. She stared at the door handle, noticing as it turned, almost imperceptibly counterclockwise.
The sonofabitch was trying to surprise her.
She heard the lock retreat back into place, as it granted access or freedom.
Access or freedom. Access or freedom. The words repeated in her head, falling and fading away, swirling like a Hammond organ . . .
The door slammed open.
Goop took one giant step into the room, and grinned. "Ready to rock n' roll, honey?" he asked, slamming one mighty fist into the palm of his other hand.
Paige smiled, just the slightest hint of an malevolent grin, one almost matching his.
"Are you?" she replied.
Goop nodded once, then a half time more, snorted out a laugh, and kicked the door shut. He was unarmed, planning on taking her apart with his hands, with his fingers, like eating chicken off a bone. He made a pelvic thrust, and said, "I'm gonna Iggy Pop ya."
Paige leaned hard into the bed, moving up onto it, never turning her back, never taking her sights off Goop as he slithered closer.
"That wasn't very nice before," Goop said, in a firm, chidingly tone. "You could have hurt me down there. I'm surprised Elliot let you live."
"Lucky me," Paige said.
"If I hadn't intervened," Goop said, bouncing the old black skeleton key in his hands, then taking it and placing it down on the closest nighttable, "You'd be," and he drew a finger across this throat, "pfft."
"Pfft?" Paige said, repeating the sound.
Goop nodded, staring up and down her legs as she moved higher onto the huge bed.
"How tall are you?" he asked.
The question was so out of left field, it almost broke her concentration.
"Five eleven," Paige answered, lying.
"That sounds about right," Goop said, now standing at the edge of the bed, only a lunge away, adding, "Amazing legs."
His eyes roamed over Paige's body, looking so trim and fit, even when covered by all those layers.
"Thanks," Paige said.
Her reply made Goop laugh.
"Got any tattoos I should know about?" he asked. "Ol' Felicity had a slew of them."
"Just one," Paige said.
"Let me guess. On your ankle."
"I know women," Goop said, explaining his guess, his eyes still devouring her.
"You know what scares us?" Paige asked.
"I know what turns you on, turns you off, turns you over," he said, as his eyes suddenly locked onto her crotch, as his tone morphed from lustful to direct, "Now take your fucking pants off."
"Ooh," Paige said. "Now that got me hot."
The comment made Goop raise his gaze. He stared into her face.
"You think you're so fucking smart," he said.
"Well," Paige said, a wise smile forming on her lips. "Yes."
And with that Paige kicked out, aiming right at his groin.
But Goop was ready. And he was a lot faster than she'd have ever expected. He grabbed her ankle, snatched it in mid-kick, and twisted hard.
The pain shot up her leg. It felt as if he was going to twist it out of her hip, and break it away.
Paige rolled with the leg, turning onto stomach, toward the foot of the bed.
This was not the position she wanted to be in.
She tried kicking back with her free leg.
But Goop grabbed hold of that as well. He pulled her toward him at the edge of the bed, and began to laugh.
"Bet you're feeling real smart now," Goop said, lifting one knee onto the bed, using it to pin down the twisted ankle, then taking his free hand, he slapped it onto her ass. "Your finest aspect," he added, drawing out the first syllable of the last word, driving his point home, his powerful thumb pressing hard between her cheeks, into the material as if it were going to rip both through it, and through her.
Paige gasped. This wasn't happening. Goddamnit! This couldn't be happening.
She hadn't spent those years, the training, for a violent Lexus reprise.
Paige reach out toward the head of the bed . . . if she could just get her hand under the pillow. But she wasn't even close.
Goop crawled up on top Paige, smothering her with his bulk. He grabbed the waist of her Levi's and began tearing, right down the center seam, ripping them off.
"A little overdressed for the occasion," Goop said, sliding a hand under the elastic waist bands of both her leggings and the thermal underwear beneath.
"Stop," Paige yelled.
Laughing, Goop leaned forward, sticking his tongue into her ear, moving his hand over the flesh of her ass, squeezing it hard, then . . .
"No," Paige cried out.
"Aw, just relax, darling," Goop said, his fingers moving hard inside her, "This ain't gonna hurt a bit."
The word shrieked into her head. Paige could feel her blood boil, her fists clench. Focus, she ordered herself. Be calm, and fucking focus!
"Turn me over," Paige said, gasping and desperate.
"What's that?" Goop asked.
"I want to see your face as you fuck me."
There was such savagery in her tone, that Goop misread it as sexual. He misread it, thinking that she was actually turned on.
"I like that," Goop said, as he leaned up, grabbed her shoulder and spun her around.
Still straddling her, Goop undid his belt, then the top button of his trousers. Then smiling down at her, he unzipped, then unleashed.
"Meet Godzilla," he said.
Paige's forced her eyes to go wide in admiration.
"Quite a monster you've got there," Paige said, toying with him, stretching back, reaching out, her right arm, extending toward the pillows.
Goop watched her as he stroked himself. He began muttering the theme song for "Popeye, the Sailor Man," slapping his cock down against her still covered groin to emphasize the toot toot's.
With her left hand, Paige began pulling up her top, past her taunt belly, drawing his eyes down, away from her face, away from the outstretched hand, and onto her chest.
Goop watched as the material of her shirt moved up, past her breasts. With her other arm stretched out, it almost seemed as if she were making herself enticing, just for him.
Goop's singing slowed to a barely audible crawl, even the toot toot's.
He gawked as Paige unhooked the snap that held her bra together, and slowly, teasingly began sliding the material aside.
Goop actually licked his lips at the sight of one of her nipples.
He was so mesmerized that he never saw her right hand move until it was too late . . .
A flash of steel . . . a razor . . . . Steve's straight razor, bless him . . . bright . . . the gleaming edge . . . aimed at the side of Goop's face . . . the blood . . . so red . . . so warm . . . gushing . . .
Goop fell back off the bed and onto the floor.
He yelped like a child, an animal being terrorized, who couldn't possibly begin to understand.
"My ear," Goop muttered, his voice a mixture of evil and innocence, full of wonder on the one hand, debauchery on the other. "You cut off my fucking ear."
Paige jumped off the bed. Arms out, the straight razor in one hand, the other balled into a fist.
So centered, the adrenaline, the rush . . . the revenge.
She kicked up, the toe of her Doc Marten's landing forcefully into Goop's mostly exposed crotch.
The impact so hard, Paige could swear she heard his cock snap, and at least one of his testicles burst under pressure.
Goop hunched over, slamming one hand to his privates, the other to his stomach. He was bleeding and sweating and mumbling and drooling. He looked as if he were about to pass out. He looked as if he might vomit.
"There's my ear," he said in a weak voice.
Reaching out for a piece of his flesh that quivered on the floor near the edge of the bed, Goop picked up the ear, pressing it with a quaking hand back against the side of his head. He began retching up his guts onto his shoes. The vomit blending in with the blood, and finally the ear, which fell back off his head onto the floor, making him wail.
Paige leaned in for the kill, bringing her elbows down hard against the back of his head, knocking him with a heavy splatter to the floor.
Stepping around him, slapping a hand onto the nighttable, Paige snatched up the skeleton key, then jumping back, she reached for her bomber jacket, and threw herself into it.
Goop groaned, and crawled, and whacked a hand in her direction.
The sonofabitch was down, but he wasn't out.
Paige would see about that.
She leaped onto the hand, feeling for a moment as if she were Catwoman, a female Zorro, landing both heels, bruising, if not crushing, the bones, the sound as loud as his cry.
Then swinging the blade down, slashing twice, once against his wrist, the other time slicing the Edvard Munch tattoo masterpiece in half, Paige stepped back, slipped the razor into her pocket, alongside the key, then ran to the window on the other side of the bed.
It swung open easily, and she crawled through it, out onto the steeply pitched roof, where she began the slide down.
Hopefully the snow would provide enough padding to break her fall, but really, did it matter?
Not at the moment.
Paige felt impervious . . . the cold, the storm, the fall, Goop . . . she was fucking invincible.
And she was flying . . . sliding . . . down the roof, into the dusk, laughing, lighter than the cold, more invisible than God . . . free.
"Tell me all about it."
Elliot and Lauren were seated as before, he on the sofa, she in the Stickley chair.
Alison had retrieved Greta, helping from the floor, from Mark. She wiped the blood from the young woman's face, and some of it from her dress, with a kitchen towel, then sat her down in one of the rocking chairs near the great fireplace.
Greta rocked now, back and forth, oblivious and whimpering, lost in the snake pit, staring into the fire.
They had all heard the sound of struggles coming from the second floor. All ignoring them in their private ways. Except for Lauren, who buried her face in her hands, and seemed to weep for a moment, wiping her eyes, sniffling, before looking up and facing the crowd.
That Elliot would ask now, at this juncture, made Lauren laugh slightly. Did it matter anymore, could this be put aside, forgotten? Would paradise ever really exist for them?
"Okay," Lauren said, "To quote the real estate ad: 'Sea Cliff, a deluxe five bedroom/four bathroom mansion located on the secluded east point of Little Cayman Island, offers dramatic three hundred, sixty degree views of the Caribbean. Enjoy the comfort of a fresh-water swimming pool, gourmet kitchen, air conditioning, and eight completely private decks.' End quote."
Lauren loved the place. It was paradise. And she knew quite well that she could find other companions, other lovers, a man who'd mend her spirits, who'd kiss her soul.
It wasn't too late.
This plan would work, with Elliot, or without him.
Elliot moaned in pleasure. "Sounds delightful," he said.
Lauren looked at Elliot. She missed hearing that tone in his voice. That far-away sound when he dreamed, made plans. When he spoke about their island retreat. Just the two of them, away, forever. Growing old in the tropical sun.
Just one more job.
Unfortunately, Lauren heard that line a few too many times. And after the Paris shopping spree, had almost given up hope. Until Christmas Eve, in Bedford Falls, Idaho. That morning, when she awoke, Lauren found Elliot staring up at the ceiling, quite wide-eyed and pensive.
"This is the last one," he had told her.
But then an unexpected drop in the temperature turned the expected rain to snow, and well . . .
The voice was Elliot's, but gone was the dreamy tone, replaced by something Lauren had never heard before.
Not that she, over the years, had not been exposed to Elliot's kinder, gentler side -- how she missed, longed for that side to maker an appearance -- but this was something different. Could it possibly be his maternal side?
Lauren watched as he stood, then followed his line of sight.
"Oh, my God," Lauren said, gasping.
Goop lay at the top of the stairway, a hand reaching out toward them, dripping . . . crimson covering the stairs . . . his face, his hair, all caked in blood.
Greta turned from her stare into the great divine of the fireplace, and looked up at Goop. She raised an arm and pointed, beginning to laugh, to cackle. It was a little crazed, a little nerve-wracking. Like old Joan Crawford as she served up the blue bird of happiness.
Elliot ran up the stairs, three at a time. He took Goop into his arms, pressed a hand against the wounds on his wrist and bicep to stop the flow.
"She did this to you?" Elliot asked.
"My ear, man," Goop cried. "She cut off my ear."
Elliot screamed. He pointed at the still laughing Greta, then, in a voice so cold, so calculated, that it actually made Lauren queasy, he turned toward her and ordered, "Shut her up, before I do."
Lauren hurried to Greta's side.
"I don't want to have to shoot you," Lauren said, her tone edgy and frightened, adding pleadingly in a voice only loud enough for the teenager to hear. "Please."
Greta looked up into her face. There was a trace of vengeance in her voice. A hint of euphoria.
"You didn't tell him," Greta said, loudly, more than loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. "Did you?"
"Tell me what?" Elliot barked.
"About Paige," Lauren said, not taking her eyes off the young woman. It was a staring contest between them. But one bullet, one squeeze of the trigger of her gun, and Lauren could win.
One bullet, one squeeze of the trigger, and Lauren could put herself out of this misery as well.
"What about her?" Elliot said.
Finally Lauren turned, breaking the stare, giving Greta just the slightest in consolation.
"She's a fed," Lauren said, "F.B.I."
Elliot stood, slowly, took a deep breath, then pointed down at Alison.
"Help him," Elliot said, motioning at Goop. "If he dies, you die."
He shot Lauren a glance of such determined hatred, that it made her break out in a cold sweat. Then Elliot took a few steps down the hallway toward the honeymoon suite.
"I'll deal with you later," he yelled back at Lauren, beginning to run, his gun at the ready.
Lauren turned toward Alison. "There's a first aid kit in the bathroom off the kitchen."
Alison took a few steps in that direction, then stopped herself short, turned, and in a soft voice, asked, "How come you didn't tell him?"
Lauren hesitated a moment. She glanced up at the bloodied man at the top of the stairway, as if for a confirmation, then turned back.
She knew the answer so loud and clear it almost made her smile to say it out loud.
"I thought Goop might enjoy the surprise," Lauren said.
SNOW BLIND ©2004 Gorman Bechard - All Rights Reserved