Hole in One
Rosy hustled up the metal stairs of an abandoned apartment building on the outskirts of town, just as Billy Boy made the turn. She had just enough good sense, even at fourteen years old, to know that she was in trouble.
His breathing was ragged and wet,
reminding her of Jack, her father, who liked to blame her for their loss,
especially after he’d been drinking. Jack lived in his recliner, ducking ashes in
an overflowing ashtray on the armrest all day, while Rosy slaved to see his
needs met. He was a filthy bastard, pissing in two-liter bottles because he was too sorry to get up and go to the bathroom. Every morning Rosy emptied the bottles into the toilet, just one of her daily morning chores.
Billy and Jack were both short and fat, three-hundred pounds and counting. Though unlike Jack, Billy Dent loved children.
He stopped at the base of the stairs. She leaned over the railing, puckered her lips and blew him a kiss. He wrinkled his nose at her, sneering like a dog.
“What’s wrong, Billy? Don’t you remember me?”
He tapped his chest, broad and strong, unlike his crooked back. “You took picters of Bill-Boy.”
“Say cheese!” She snapped the shutter button. The flash went off, blinding him. Luring him out had been easy. She'd cashed in her life savings for the camera. Fifty bucks. She should have had a thousand, but Jack had sticky fingers and she couldn't keep him out of it.
“Stop it!” he screamed, spraying spit. “I hate picters! Get Bill-Boy cot.”
“I wouldn’t never tell on you. Let them have all the fun? No way.” She caught a whiff of him then. Death. It was on his clothes, under his nails, caught in the rotten cavities in his teeth. Most little girls shouldn’t know that smell, but Rosy did. It was like the meat in the freezer, rotten because her father was too broke to pay the power bill. The camper in the woods where she’d found Billy hiding made her father’s hoard something to be proud of. She should have called the cops.
“You wanna play a game?”
Whining, he shook the metal stairs. “Come down! Bill-Boy scared of stair.”
“Hold your horses!” She took a step forward. He swung his makeshift spear—a cleaver duct-taped to the end of a broom handle—nearly slicing her throat.
Once she’d caught her balance, she shook her finger at him. “Now, Billy. You shouldn’t have done that.”
"I sorry, I sorry. Come down."
She took a deep breath.
I can do this, she thought. She’d practiced it many times, playacting in front of the mirror.
“I just want to be your friend,” she said, smiling. “I ain’t got no friends neither. Jack won’t let me go to school. I could be your bestest friend ever. And if you play a game with me, I’ll even be your girlfriend.”
“Grrrfren?” He raised one eyebrow.
“Help me down and we’ll shake on it.”
He held up his blood-smeared hand, his nails filthy and sharpened to a point. Bill-Boy and Jack, Rosy's father, had another thing in common. They both mounted the heads of their kills on the wall. Jack had an eight-pointer mounted above his recliner. Covered in dust and spider webs, he’d killed it years before when he still left his chair.
“Peas come down.”
She rubbed her forehead. The heat was taking its toll. After their game, she planned to go downtown and see the fireworks once she’d cleaned up. She had a game planned for that too. Jack would never let her go otherwise.
“Didn’t your mama teach you patience? You ain’t got a lick of manners, I swear.”
“Mommy,” he said and kicked the dirt. “She gone.”
“Ran out because she didn’t know what to do with you. I didn’t really know her, but she’s a damn coward, if you ask me.”
Turning her back to him, she grabbed
the slingshot from Apartment 22’s door jam, the one she’d stolen from her
father. He'd made it for his son and kept it hidden in his sock drawer, just in case his boy ever came back, but he and Rosy both knew that would never happen. Another thing Jack and Billy had in common. Making weapons.
She pulled a golf tee out of her pocket, a remnant of her father’s better days. He and her brother used to go to the driving range, years before.
She swung around, snapped the shutter button again, blinding him, then dropped the camera—it hung by a strap around her neck—and pulled the rubber back, aimed and fired.
He fell back on his ass.
“Hole in one!” She jumped up and down, clapping her hands. The tee stuck out from the top of his forehead, half in, half out. Rosy giggled.
“Why for?” He tilted his head, confused. Blood drizzled down his face, running in the crack of his hair-lip.
“For Tommy Spears. Remember him?
Sweet boy. Funny as all get out. My first boyfriend.”
The plan had been to run down the stairs, but Billy was too close for comfort. She swung her leg over the iron railing, climbed over and jumped. A jolt of pain shot up her leg. A sprained left ankle more than likely. Not good, though the odds were never in her favor. Jack would be pissed too. He’d have to get his fat, sorry ass out of the chair and take her to the doctor. That is, if she ever made it back to their single-wide trailer.
She staggered over to a garbage can in the alley and lifted the lid, retrieving her father’s golf club—the driving iron, she’d hidden there earlier that day. She swung around, then pointed it at him.
“To be a good tee, you’ve got to keep real still now. Keep your back straight.”
He straightened his back.
She strutted up to him, then at the last moment leapt forward, a little too soon. He swung the cleaver, slicing off the tip of her elbow.
“God dang it, Billy! Why’d you do that?”
“Sorry!” he whined and wiped the blood out of his eyes. He looked at her, blinking. "You forgive, Bill-Boy?"
"Yes, Billy. I forgive you."
She swung the club as hard as she
could, aiming for the tee. And missed. The club smacked the side of his face. It slipped free from her grasp and soared through
the air, crashing through an apartment window. She pulled her collar up over
her mouth and nose. His stink was overwhelming.
He spit blood out onto the pavement. “That not nice. Rosy mean. I gone get you now"
She rolled her shoulders, shaking loose the tension and smiled.
“I think I found my swing. Jack
would be proud.”
Stepping back, she lowered her voice, speaking more like an adult, “Remember Kyle? You cut his head off too. Robert Miller’s little brother. He was in my grade before Jack made me quit school. Such a shame to lose one so young too. And blue-eyed Becky? ‘Member her?”
“Grrfren,” he said, coming for her.
She rocked back and forth, ready to run. “Yeah, you thought she was your girlfriend, you sick bastard.”
“I’m gone get you,” he said, grinning. He licked his lips.
“Not if I get you first.” Tilting her head, she reached behind her back, pulled out Jack’s .22 she’d shoved in the back of her pants and pointed the barrel at the tee.
His mouth fell open. “Peas, Rosie. I be good boy, I promise.”
“No, you won’t. You’re thirty years old today, Billy. If you was gone change, you’d done done it.”
“I’m gone tell Daddy on you.”
“Yeah? So what? Jack lied to me. Told me you was dead. Hid you out in that camper, so you could keep on killin’. Fucking idiot. Like father, like son, I reckon.”
“I can’t hep it.”
“Well I can’t hep this neither.”
for the cleaver. "I wuv you, Rosy. I want come home. Peas."
He cried. It was an awful sound. His crooked shoulders heaved up and down. She put her hand on his shoulder. He smiled at her. She felt queasy.
"Poor, pitiful, Billy."
He sunk his teeth into her arm. She yanked back and screamed. He chewed and swallowed.
“Have fun in Hell, Billy.” She fingered the trigger, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Keep an eye out for Jack. When you see him, you tell him who sent you.”
She pulled the trigger.
Click. Click. Click.
He chuckled. She'd thought it all through, every single detail. But one.