Slippery Slope

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Powder Leash

Powder Leash – a cord or belt used to attach skis or snowboards to a skier so that they don’t get lost in deep snow.

Hilda pulled the gun away from Brent’s temple.

“Very good, Brent,” she said. “You did real well.” Hilda shoved the phone into her pocket.

Brent just stared up at her from the couch.

“Thanks. I’m pretty easy going when I’m tied up and I’ve got a gun against my head, you crazy bitch.”

Hilda laughed, “Aw, Brent, don’t be sore.” She bent down next to him, “You should have seen Kristy’s face when I told her you wanted nothing to do with her. She was so upset. She got a little violent, too.”

“You’re lying.”

“No, she came at me. I’m as surprised as you are. I thought she was the door mat type. Asher stopped her. You know, you should really watch the type of women you go for, Brent.” She whispered close to his ear. “You like the psychos.”

Brent laughed in disgust, “Then why don’t I like you?”

Hilda stared at him for a long moment. “I don’t know, Brent. I tried to be nice to you. I tried to be nice to Kristy, too. I thought maybe I had found some friends. But you’re only interested in yourselves. And, Kristy, that whore. If I had known she was one of Derrick’s sluts, I would have never tried to be friends with her in the first place.”
“Wait a minute,” Brent said, “Is this about Derrick? How do you even know him? He hasn’t worked at the lodge since before you started working there.”

“Oh, I know lots about Derrick. Derrick and I go way back.” Hilda squatted down in front of him. “You want to hear about a man who doesn’t respect women? That can’t keep his penis in his pants? That plays with people and then tosses them away? A man that has children with a woman he doesn’t love, when there is a woman who loves him, would do anything for him?”

Brent looked at her face. It was red and puffy, a vein bulged in her head. She leaned in, millimeters from his face.

“That’s your friend Derrick.” Hilda stood back up. “But you’re no better. Look at the man you are, if you can call yourself that. All this time you love Kristy and you let him have her. What a wimp.” Hilda walked over to a small round mirror that hung on the wall next to the couch and smoothed her hair.

“Men like you and Derrick are worthless,” she said, turning back toward him, her eyebrows arched. “And so are the women who love them. And what’s worthless isn’t worth keeping around.”

Hilda began to gather things into a bag and Brent strained his neck to see what she was packing. She had been calmly inspecting guns and ammo since she had returned.

He was trying his best to remain calm, “Hilda, what are you doing? Where are you going?”

Hilda stopped and walked back over to him. Once again, she crouched next to him. She put her lips on his and sucked at them.

“Oh, sweetie. Now you care?” She smacked him hard in the face. “Too little, too late.”

Brent tried the only thing he could think of at the moment.

“Hilda, no one knows I’m here. Kristy thinks I’m on my way to Edgewood. For all she knows, I could be working for days in a row. You’ve bought yourself a lot of time. If you let me go, I won’t say a word to anyone.”

Hilda was silent for a moment and then burst into laughter. “Do you really expect me to believe that? I’m not stupid, Brent.” She pulled a gun out from behind her back and stuck it in his face. “Do you think I’m stupid, Brent?”

Brent took a deep breath, “No, Hilda. Not at all.”

She pushed the gun against his cheekbone and he could feel a sting and then wetness where the gun had dug into his flesh. Hilda licked the wound with her tongue and then ran the blood over her lips. “You know, Brent,” she said softly through hooded eyes, “I don’t need a gun to kill a man. I’ve killed with my bare hands. Do you believe me?” When Brent didn’t answer she grabbed a handful of his hair and pulled his face toward hers. “Do you?” she screamed.

“Yes, Hilda. I totally believe you.”

She smiled and released his hair. He fell back onto the couch, breathing hard. His arms and legs were almost completely numb from being tied for so long. He decided to take a different tack.

“Hilda, I know that you are completely in charge here. I get it. So I’m asking you, politely, can you loosen these ropes just a little? My circulation is really cut off. I won’t try anything, I promise.”

Hilda kissed him again and ran her hands through his hair, “Oh, my poor baby. I’ll tell you what.” Hilda removed a bottle of pills from under the couch and shook it. “Time to take your medicine,” she announced. She pinched Brent’s nose shut until he opened his mouth and she shoved the pill in, holding her hand over his mouth. Brent coughed and choked, and swallowed. Hilda stroked his face.

“Aw, there, there,” she said. “You’ll feel better soon.” She stood up and continued to swipe things off of the table and counter into bags. By his count, she had at least three guns packed and one on her. She was loaded for bear.

Hilda wagged a finger at him. Her accent came back, “You stay put now, ya’ hear? I have to go. Errands to run; lots to do. Ta-ta.”

Kristy pulled into the parking lot at Edgewood Lodge. The place was packed. She looked around for Brent’s car, which ordinarily would stick out like a sore thumb, but the lot was too full to find it. Perhaps there was another lot for employees. She opened the door and stood up, leaning atop the cab roof of Asher’s truck, peering over the cars. There were more luxury vehicles than she could count. She shook her head in frustration. Brent must have gotten there before her and already gone in. Although she knew in her heart she was probably going to make things worse, she decided she would go to the front desk. It couldn’t possibly hurt to just ask for him.

The atmosphere of Edgewood was so different than what she was used to. Having spent her whole life on skis and in harsh weather conditions, she had never considered her lifestyle to be fashionable. But before she had even gotten to the lobby she had seen more Gorsuch parkas with fur and pricey Apres coats than she had seen in six months at the lodge. She looked down at her old North Face jacket, still in decent condition, and thought of the sacrifice it was to buy it. She imagined that working here could be lucrative, one could probably make in tips in a day what she made in a week, but she hadn’t known Brent to ever care about things like that. Still, there was something to be said for making a decent living.

Kristy pushed through the glass doors of the main lodge and into the brightly lit and bustling area of the lobby. Stealing her nerves, she approached the main desk. A girl with dark eyes and a bright smile greeted her, “May I help you?”

Kristy nodded and leaned in close to her to not be overheard by the serious looking older woman nearby, tapping away on a computer keyboard.

“Yes, I’m looking for one of your employees – Brent Jendanon.”

The girl gave her a blank look so Kristy continued, “I’m so sorry. He’s just starting today. But it’s very important and I’ll only take a minute of his time. Can you tell me where he is, please?”

The girl frowned and swiped at the tablet in her hand, “What did you say his name is?”

“Brent. Brent Jendanon,” Kristy repeated.

The girl swung her pretty, thick brown hair and shrugged. “No one by that name that works here.”

Kristy wasn’t sure what to say. “He just told us, me, that he was starting here. Today.”

The girl shook her head again, “Nope. I would know. I know everyone who works here. There’s no one by that name here.”

“Are you sure? He’s new.”

The girl’s sunny demeanor evaporated. “Hold on,” she said and walked away. The serious, older woman walked back over with her.

“I’m the manager,” the woman said, “May I help you?”

“I hope so,” Kristy answered, “I hate to bother you but I need to speak with Brent Jendanon. He just started working here.”

“I know Brent,” the woman said, “and I offered him a job, but he turned it down. I’m sorry, Miss, he doesn’t work here.”

“But that’s not possible. You must be mistaken. He told me he was starting here today, now. ”

“I think I would know if I had a new employee starting. You must have misunderstood something. Excuse me,” she said dismissively and then walked away.

Kristy walked slowly back to Asher’s truck but her mind was racing. She could not understand why Brent would send Asher a letter of resignation and tell her himself that he was working there if he wasn’t. Something wasn’t right and she knew that Hilda had something to do with it. Kristy pulled onto the highway. She drove for about twenty minutes when she slammed on the brakes and pulled over.

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