Chapter 25: Proverbs 13:20
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
“No, no, Tatiana.” His right hand gestured as though he’d forgotten it held a gun. “I want to watch you do this ungrateful little shit.” A snort, a sniff, and a wipe of the brow were an ill-fit to the smile that came with his idea.
“Please just let me leave,” she begged. “What is wrong with you? You look sick. Why are you holding a gun?”
She was two steps and an arm’s length away when his hand yanked her hair, causing her to fall to the floor. “What’s wrong with me? You fucking little cunt!” He punctuated his anger as he pulled her by her hair into a standing position and placed the gun against her temple. “Take off your clothes, and let this little shit fuck you!”
Tears ran down her cheeks, and she sobbed lightly as she shimmied off her jeans, watching him and the gun as he sank his body into the bean bag. She pulled off her sweater, scattering her hair and wiping off her tears with both hands, before tending to the bra and panties and walking toward Frank, her shadowy nakedness approaching, almost floating in some liquid entity that was filling the room.
Frank’s mouth was open, a numbing shock having taken him elsewhere so that he was now simply an observer, the girl’s nimble fingers, nails glowing in the blacklight, stripping him naked, and touching his hand to get his attention. She whispered, “Just do what he says, Frankie. Something’s wrong. He’s gone crazy!”
Frank watched as she went to her knees, lifted him, and placed him in her mouth as she had done numerous times in the past when there wasn’t a gun in the room, and he could feel something. After several minutes of her attention, she stopped momentarily, eyes looking up at him beseechingly before continuing, more aggressively, hair moving with her frenzied pace, wet sounds, growing weary, stopping to stare, the imprint of her lipstick aglow on the inconspicuous flap of skin behind it, and the thickness of her spittle congealing about its tip.
Their attention drew to the creaking sound of the bean bag as he dislodged himself, followed by the snorting, the sniffing, and another passage of the gun hand as it wiped his brow.
“You know what I think the problem is with little limp dick here? I think he’s a fag, Tatiana, so now it’s your turn to watch.”
Like delinquent tracings in setting concrete, Frankie’s mind had since hopelessly adhered to the images, his crawling frame summoned across the rug, so he could kneel before his captor, the gun, a .38 revolver, trigger cocked, cold barrel, a pressing reminder against his temple. The unnatural bulge, its prominence even more profound as the sawing zipper unveiled the white of his briefs, breathing through the material until freed from its constraints, a veiny testimony to its owner, pulsating in time with his temples, ticking nervously, purple with anger. “You’re going to learn to never question me again, Frankie!”
“Oh, my God!” she began to plead his case. “Please don’t do this to him. Please let him go! Please, I’ll do anything!” Her voice was distant, almost like it was from a telephone, and it faded into soft cries on his behalf, measured little sobs like a baby conceding to sleep, sounds that reminded him of humanity, sounds that soothed him, took him away from real time, the burning cords of the shag rug ripping into his knees, the smell and taste of another man, and the somber realization that the lesson had just begun.
Her having watched this happen to him placed her in an unpracticed position. He cried in her arms when it was over, and they were alone. She had become nurturing, loving, anything but a whore. Having helped him to his feet and through the bathroom, she prepared his toothbrush, started the shower, and watched as the blood ran down the back of his legs, swirling pink into the drain. Her fingers were delicate through the washcloth as she gently bathed him, and she comforted him afterward on the futon, head on her lap, her fingernails wriggling through his hair. Her teeth sparkled as she spoke.
“It’s okay, Frankie. No one is going to know. What else were you supposed to do? That son-of-a-bitch has gone crazy!”
Mike had been watching Frank’s eyes grow vacant during his moments of reflection. Each had been long enough to incite discomfort, this last one inviting inquiry as to his welfare until sensing curiosity spilling into the void, Frank spoke again.
“Yeah, when I saw that he was arrested for what happened with the school girl, I was happy. I just didn’t know that the shit was going to flow downstream all the way back to me.”
“Did you get charged with anything serious?”
“Well, they dismantled the rooms when they came in to search for shit. I still had some weed on me which they confiscated, about an ounce. They found the paraphernalia I was using, you know, to measure it and bag it, as well as a small pipe. I got charged with possession of stolen property when they saw the trays in the duffel bag. They kicked me out of school after that search, and Little John told me to be available. Right now, it looks like I’ll be testifying in exchange for some leniency with my case. They’ve got enough on me to make a case that I was dealing drugs which I was.” A mist began collecting in Frank’s eyes, and he again looked downward to fidget with the ashtray.
Why and how, Mike thought on his bus ride back to the school. Dan Davis is right. Flynn is a fucking predator and I’ve still got people to talk to.
Mike’s second semester schedule did not change drastically. Sociology took the place of psychology as a semester offering and met at the same time in the afternoon. Creative Writing had a part two which he had to maintain as an elective, and his journalism comings and goings had the blessings of Dr. Brown who appeared to be grooming him for a career after college. As he sat awaiting his appointment outside Dr. Spencer’s office on Wednesday afternoon, wearing his blue jeans and a corduroy blazer he borrowed from Kurt, he thought of Donna. His newspaper efforts had succeeded in keeping him occupied, but during times when he wasn’t so engaged, he recounted the time passed in his private hell, this one being day 38 since his world changed forever for a second time. There was a physical nature associated with these thoughts, a feeling where his heart had exited his body, his chest a gaping compartment, just opened doors feeling the stiff breeze and looking upon grayness. The heart was beating through the grayness and felt close enough to pull back in with two strong arms, arms that stretched and recreated the space that Donna’s body once filled.
“Mike, nice to see you, please come in,” Dr. Spencer greeted him at her office door.
“You look different without your scrubs on,” Mike said. She wore a Navy pantsuit, her stethoscope was replaced by reading glasses secured to a small chain around her neck, and her hair cascaded gently to her collarbone.
“And you look better than the last time I saw you. I know you’re not one of my nursing students, so why did you make an appointment to see me during my teaching office hours?”
Mike explained his involvement with the Carter Flynn investigation and his need to have her share her perspective on the physical and emotional scars inflicted upon people who saw her for the same reason he did.
“Mike, I only can speak in generalities given my obligation to client confidentiality,” she explained. “But let me ask you something. You cancelled your follow-up with me, and I’m guessing that you haven’t called the therapist I suggested you see. Am I right?”
“Actually, I am seeing the therapist, and I’m doing my best to put this all behind me without involving too many others.” His eyes found the diversion of her diplomas on the wall behind her desk as he remembered being examined and treated by her and a female nursing student.
He had remained focused on the dotted patterns within the acoustical tiles and the buzzing of the fluorescent lighting, anything to stay distracted. His paper exam gown rustled annoyingly with every fidget, its thin trappings allowing the cold to filter through. At the behest of Dr. Spencer, she entered first, a nursing student, pretty, thin, and blonde, no more than twenty, the gentle smell of her perfume remaining even after she briefly introduced herself, said something about being there to assist, and had gone on to wash her hands, don latex gloves with whip-like snaps, and begin to populate a silver tray with instruments. From the peripheral vision of his left eye he saw the gleam of the lighting bouncing off the tray, leaving a fuzzy corona over her preparations, the clinking of metal objects unnerving him. He was scared and not fully-processing what would be happening. Why was she there? Did she know Donna? Would she be there to see him naked?
A gust of cool air had accompanied the opening of the door as Dr. Spencer re-entered; it filtered under his gown and reminded him of vulnerability. She sat down on the stool and began jotting onto a clipboard while speaking in a business-like tone regarding positioning the patient. Again, the perfume arrived to accompany her nurturing voice as she spoke to him at the head of the exam table, offered explanations with key words that spoke to his horror at the extent of her involvement. She gently touched his shoulder. Wasn’t she still a student? Did she know Donna?
There had to be more than a thousand dots, constellations on the tile, as he tried to think of anything else, apprehension governing him. The sound of water running as Dr. Spencer washed her hands and donned gloves, the sight of the silver tray emerging from periphery to prominence, ominously gleaming as if in jest, bringing imminence, inviting movement under the gown.
Having clanked the tray down on a cart at the foot of the table, the student nurse began the proceedings. She placed a folded bath towel on his chest area, effectively blocking his view. Then, without warning, she folded up his gown, exposing him before he could protest and in just enough time for her to watch it happen. Governed by his shame, he uttered an apology which Dr. Spencer kindly addressed with the perfectly-normal-reaction hypothesis. He closed his eyes, and he thought of how nothing would ever again be perfectly normal in his life.
He sat at the Underwood pounding away on the keys and imagining that the ribbon was coated with blood, his blood. He knew that he needed to go no further than revealing his story because its carnage made all the other stories that Dr. Spencer shared pale by comparison. He was setting the tone for this follow-up and taking stock of people with whom he still had to meet, one of which would be seeing him at the Railroad Inn.
She was one of Carter Flynn’s escort girls, tall, beautiful, older looking than her years and willing to mortgage her present. She took off her wool hat and hung her ski jacket across the back of the chair, revealing a pink sweater, that wouldn’t dare to hide her breasts, and tightly fitted jeans that were tucked into furry boots. Her long and neatly manicured, blood-red fingernails seemed to get in the way of the cigarette she was smoking, and the lipstick stain around its filter probably was the first one among all the full ashtrays that were part of the Railroad Inn’s charm.
“You always bring ladies to such great places?” she joked. “That’s okay, I really need to get this off my chest. I’m glad I’m here.”
Mike looked at her with a trace of disgust and a trace of sorrow. He dispensed with formalities and cut to the chase. “How did you get involved with Carter Flynn?”