1st John -- Chap. 4
The lights flickered on. Margaret stirred on the floor. She opened her eyes, realized Russell was coming back, jerked up and pointed the rifle at the door. Russell was already there, looking at her, holding a tray of food and a bottle of water. Margaret blinked, trying to focus.
Russell disregarded the threat. He said, “You really slept.”
Margaret steadied the rifle and Russell approached her.
“But so did I. A good night’s sleep helps put everything into perspective.”
Margaret ordered him with a new-found authority. “Don’t come any closer.”
Russell stopped. “Or?”
He gave in. “Alright.”
Russell took the tray and sat with it in his lap in one of the chairs. Margaret got off the floor but kept the rifle frozen on him.
He said,“Sister Margaret, you’ve been asleep for about nine hours. You’re probably a little confused.”
Margaret did not believe she had slept for nine hours. She disregarded the statement. “I’m not going to let you kill me.”
“The gun is not loaded, Sister. And just at a glance, I can see you tore this place up looking for ammo.”
She thrust the rifle forward at him, careful to keep a safe distance. She asked, “And did I find any?”
He stood and sat the tray down in the chair. Margaret backed away, rifle still trained on him. He said, “I need to be honest with you. This place? The garage, the harness, the setting, everything in it—the whole shebang—is a ruse. Even that rifle. First I torment you with a little hopelessness, then I leave you hopeful. Up and down, back and forth. You don’t know if you can trust anything I’ve told you. But that’s all part of your conditioning.”
She refused his explanation. “I’m getting out of here!” Determined to make that proclamation a fact, Margaret squeezed the trigger. Nothing! She screamed at Russell and swung the rifle at him like a war-club. He avoided it and knocked it out of her hands. The rifle slid away along the concrete floor. He forced her back down into the chair, then picked up the tray of food and tried to hand it to her. Margaret knocked it away. “Why bother?!”
Russell walked over and picked up the bottle of water. He said, “I’m not cruel. Your throat must be killing you by now. At least drink the water.”
Out of need alone Margaret opened the bottle and drank. She wiped her mouth, and said, “Let me get this straight… You’re taunting me with hope?”
Russell sat again in the same chair. Margaret watched him settle, then threw the bottle at him and made a break for the door. Russell remained where he was. The door was locked. She screamed and pounded her fists against it, over and over.
When she was done she looked back at Russell. He was holding up a set of keys. She looked back and forth at the shovel and the rifle. Either could be used to bash his skull in.
Russell saw where her eyes were darting. He waited, made a nod with his head, as if to say go ahead.
“Let me out, or I swear I’ll do it.”
“If you’re going to surprise someone, Sister Margaret, you shouldn’t announce it.”
“Maybe I want you to see it coming.” Her threats were empty.
He asked her, “You know the story of Pandora’s Box?”
She didn’t care. “Let me out!”
“Come on over and have a seat, Sister. You know you’re not getting out.”
Margaret knew it was true. She walked over and reluctantly took a seat.
Russell went on. “Zeus took all the evils of the world and he put them in Pandora’s Box. Now, most folks think that by shoving Hope deep down in that same box with all that evil, Zeus must have had a special love for mortals.”
Margaret was not looking at him.
“It’s rude not to pay attention, Sister.”
She looked back at him. The agitation burned in her eyes. She said, “What do you want from me?”
“Zeus had no love for mortals. You read the legends and you see how little love Zeus had.”
“Make a point.”
Russell leaned in and pushed his index finger against Margaret’s forehead. She recoiled. “Think about it,” he said. “Hope was trapped with all the evils of the world. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that hope itself is evil, if not the most evil of all evils?”
“That’s a brilliant revelation, Russell. Why don’t you share more of your wisdom?”
Russell sat up straight in the chair. He was motionless, staring at her. The frustration was getting the better of her. He said, “I’m glad you’re more talkative.”
“I’m getting sick of your bullshit.”
“Now you’re coming around. Let’s pull the real you out.”
Margaret spat at him. Ineffective. He had been expecting much more, but it was all she could do. “What do you want from me, goddammit?! You want me to confess? Confess to what? Confess to something I did to you? I never did anything to you. Confess to a sin in your perverted little imagination?”
Russell stood. Margaret noticed that something she said finally affected him. He was visibly unhinged by her allegation. He said, “I’m not the pervert, Sister.”
“And you’re not sane.”
Russell paced. The façade of control he had been holding was cracking.
“Perversion is what you did to Jenny.”
“Jesus!” she cried. “You want to know what I did to your sister? You want to hear it? You want to hear my confession? Because I’m ready to give it.”
“At last.” Russell sat. He attempted to gain control of his emotions.
“She came to me,” Margaret said. “She was always coming to me, telling me how attracted she was to women and how she could never tell anyone in her family, because everyone would hate her for being a lesbian. No one would understand, not even her brother.”
Russell wanted to interrupt, but he censored himself and listened to what he had been waiting to hear.
“Then she kept coming to me, Russell. Almost every day. At first it was at the office. Then she was at my home.”
He stopped her. “What was?”
He clarified. “What was at the office? What did you take her to your home to do?”
Margaret thought the insinuation was clear. “I told you. She came to me.”
Russell jumped up, flipping the chair behind him. “You haven’t told me anything, Sister Margaret. What did you do to Jenny?”
“I—she wanted to know what it was like.”
Russell paced back and forth again. “What what was like?”
Margaret dropped all sense of resistance. She wanted to hurt him, wanted to draw it out. She said, “Kissing! She wanted to know what kissing was like.”
“Kissing? It’s not so odd that a fourteen year old girl wanted to know what kissing was like. You’re telling me Jenny just wanted to kiss you?”
“And touching! She was—there was touching.”
Russell balled up a fist. “Oh, touching. Now we’re kissing and touching. Seems innocent.” He pulled in close to her, restraining himself. He said, “I get the feeling you’re leaving out a few details, Sister.”
Margaret fired back. “Fine! You want the details, you sick fuck?”
Russell lost any composure. He shouted in Margaret’s face. “I want you to tell me what you did to my sister!”
Margaret was equally explosive. She knew that she had him in a vulnerable position and wanted to exploit that. “I fucked your sister! I fucked her like only a woman can fuck. With my tongue.”
Jenny’s brother fell silent.
Margaret used these sexual details as a weapon against him, driving them into his spirit to kill him. “I explored every curve of her naked body with my tongue. Her milky white thighs invited me. She ached for the pleasure.”
Margaret was staring with insolence into Russell’s face. She enjoyed the pain she was causing him. He fell to his knees, choking on her hatred. She fed it to him. “Her cunt… her sweet, delicious cunt, quivered in my mouth each and every time I made her cum.”
He bent over in tears, weeping. Margaret fed him more. “When it was over I told her to go home and never come back. But she always came back, Russell. The girl was in love. She always came back.”
Margaret watched him cry. She loved it.
Any charade he was playing was over. He said, “You took advantage of a child. She was fourteen. She was just a child.”
Margaret saw here a chance to escape. She rose to her feet while Russell was bowed before her. She said, “Jenny was old enough to know what she wanted!”
Margaret kicked Russell as hard as she could, first in the abdomen and then in the head. He fell back to the floor, gasping. She leapt on him and fought to grab his keys. She continued kicking at him until she pulled the keys away and made a run for the door. Russell grabbed her by the feet. She fell to the floor and Russell overpowered her.
The keys went scattering away, across the floor. They came to rest under the workbench.
Russell reached into his back pocket and pulled out a few plastic zip ties. Breathing hard, he said, “That was pretty good, Sister Margaret. I would’ve done the same thing.”
Again they struggled. She fought beneath him, resisting the restraints. He used his knees to pin her arms to the floor.
“Get the fuck off me!”
“No, you’re not getting away.”
He used two plastic zip-ties to shackle her wrists together. Margaret used her legs to try and kick her way free from him.
“I know we’ve got some trust issues...” he said, turning to grab both her legs. She was stronger there and he was forced to hurt her to bind her by the ankles.
She yelled at him. “Goddamn you!”
“...but if there’s one thing you can believe, it’s the fact you are not getting away.”
She continued to scream.
He bore down on her, face to face, and said, “Especially not now.”
Russell picked himself up from off the floor. He pulled Margaret up into a chair. She jerked around in the chair, hands bound in front of her, feet close together. She screamed at Russell, spat at him, and he watched.
Her tantrum went on.
When she tired herself out, he said, “I’m going to let you catch your breath.”
He turned for the door.
Margaret shouted, “No!”
Russell reached down for his keys. Not there. He scanned the floor but did not see them. He looked back at Margaret. He knew she did not have them, and she was in no condition to walk out. He tried the door. It locked behind him. It did not open. He said, “Keep your shirt on. I’m not going anywhere yet.”
Margaret taunted him. “Lock yourself in?”
Russell searched for the keys on the floor. When he could not find them he picked up the crowbar and took it to the door, where he used it to pry the door open.
The door opened and Margaret could see into a utility room lit by daylight. Inside was a washer and dryer. Russell walked through the entry. He turned back. “Don’t go anywhere.”
“Get back here, you fuckin’ pussy!”
Margaret screamed after Russell, her anger hot, and the sound of white noise drowned her out. The disembodied voices she heard before returned. Some were accusatory and aggressive. She fought them. They should not be inside her. They faded, as did the white noise. All was replaced with loud ringing.