Casualties of Pretty Things -- Chapter Two
A psychotic father kidnaps teenage girls and uses them as sex dolls in place of the daughter he raped, while her guardian will stop at nothing to find her.
As a writer you draw from personal experiences. I have no idea what it’s like to be a psychotic killer, nor a teenage girl on the run from her father who happens to be that psychotic killer, but I do know what it’s like to be homeless. There are numerous organizations you can support to help teens experiencing homelessness. Reasons for teen homelessness are wide-ranging and you may feel there isn’t much you can do to help. That’s not true.
Amongst a few regulars waiting on the arrival of the city bus was the mirror-image of Penny, Carl’s teen-aged daughter Cybil. She stared down at her cell phone with earbuds plugged in, listening to her music. She carried a backpack loosely over her shoulder, its contents minimal.
The bus arrived and its doors opened. The regulars piled in, showing student IDs and passes, disregarding the driver and taking seats. Cybil boarded and dropped exact change into the receptor. She took a seat at the back of the bus, tossed her backpack near the window and occupied herself by watching traffic.
While she listened to her music the bus made numerous stops, taking on passengers and letting others off. It soon became crowded. A mother and her young daughter boarded and looked for a seat. Cybil watched them closely. They approached her. She picked up her backpack and scooted over to make room. The mother smiled. She couldn’t hear her say “thank you” when she sat and placed her daughter on her lap. Cybil regarded the two momentarily, then quickly turned her face to the window. Her eyes were watering.
The bus emptied its overcrowded contents at various stops but Cybil stayed where she was, occasionally looking down at her phone, then back to the window. The driver was watching her in the rearview mirror. For the time-being he said nothing.
The bus came to a stop for a single, and familiar to the driver, customer. Bertha was draped in what Cybil would call dirty street wear. The clothes were worn with age and her hair long, dreadlocked and unkempt. She must have been nearing fifty.
The bus door opened and the driver called down to her. “You got fare today?”
“I got a transfer,” she answered, and held up the ticket. “It’s good.”
Cybil watched Bertha climb into the now nearly empty bus and look around. Their eyes locked for a brief moment.
Bertha called back to the front. She said, “Asshole.”
“Do not start with me, Bertha.”
The bus rocked forward and Bertha reached out to grab a handrail, anticipating a fall. “Watch it!”
“Take a seat.”
Bertha went to the back of the bus, passing Cybil, who ignored her and kept her focus on the streets outside her window. Bertha intentionally took a seat directly behind Cybil. She leaned forward, and said, “Ain’t nothin’ out there but life, girl.”
Cybil adjusted the earbuds and increased the volume of the music.
“And that ain’t no life you want.”
Bertha leaned back and the bus rolled on. A few more hours passed and it pulled into the bus station, chose a slot to park, and came to a stop.
The driver stood and pulled the lever to open the door. He said, “Okay, Bertha. That’s the end of today’s tour.”
“I’m good. Leave me.”
He approached, taking note that Cybil had a look of concern on her face. “You know what?” he said. “Do what you want. You’re someone else’s problem.” He turned to Cybil. “As for you, miss…”
Cybil got up from the seat, pulling her backpack close. She said, “Sorry. I must’ve fallen asleep.”
“It’s all good, but you can’t stay. You can transfer to another bus inside the station.”
Cybil made her way to the exit. Both the driver and Bertha watched her.
“Get out of here, Bertha. Before they throw you in jail again.”
He left Bertha behind, knowing there would be more of the same tomorrow. And the next day repeated the same routine as the day before. Cybil learned to change it up. She got off somewhere before the bus pulled into the station, crossed the street, and caught a bus on another route. On one day Bertha fought with a passenger. Yelling turned into physical assault and Bertha was kicked off. But they were both back on the same bus with the same driver the next day, and both wearing the same clothes.
On yet another empty bus Bertha stared at Cybil. The girl kept her head down, eyes on her phone, which no longer worked. She walked over to her and sat nearby. She said, “You gotta make it look natural.”
Cybil didn’t want to acknowledge her. She tried to stare out the window.
Bertha said, “You need a routine so you won’t draw attention to yourself.”
Cybil was trying to hold the emotions in, but the tears were coming.
“Who you runnin’ from?” Bertha asked.
Cybil balled up her fists and tried to cry quietly. She was good at it. Something she learned a long time ago.
“Look,” Bertha said. “Someone young like you… we can get you help.”
Cybil looked up at her. “No. No help. I’m just having a hard time.”
“Hard time, huh? What about a hard life? That something you want?”
Cybil didn’t want to hear this. She signaled for the next stop and collected her backpack. The bus pulled to a stop. She was ready at the door when it slid open.
“Someone’s looking for you, sweetie.”
Cybil looked up at Bertha, her eyes pleading to say, “That’s why I have to run.” The door closed behind her and the bus drove off.