DICE

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The Interrogation

“Your husband is heavy as fuck, Pen.” Deena groans, walking down the wooden stairs beneath me. “What the hell have you been feeding him?”

“Sedatives, Dee.” I deadpan.

We manage to get him down into the basement, nearly dropping him a few times as Deena stumbled down the creaky wood.

The basement is the one room we haven’t refinished. As it remains, it’s still the old, damp, and darker than dark place it was when we moved in. It’s literally reserved for bins of winter clothes, old decor, and a few random items that were here when we moved in. An exercise bicycle from the sixties still resides in the corner of the outdated space, along with an old dining room table with a few mismatched chairs to go along with it.

“Wait, wait...” I grunt, losing my grip as we make the final turn around the stairs.

I lose my grip as his upper back slumps to the floor. He groans as one of his arms lifts, then falls back to the floor.

“Shit,” Deena says at the sudden movement.

“Are you sure we gave enough?”

“Enough to get him in this chair,” she replies, readjusting her grip. “C’mon, lift!”

We successfully get Tom sitting back in a wooden chair. His head rolls back as Deena takes the rope out of her bag and begins tying him up, arms to the arms, legs to the legs.

“Make sure he’s in the frame,” she says to me, nodding towards the video camera she has perched on a tripod nearby.

Guess being a dog trainer has its benefits. She’s got everything for an abduction, even a camera on standby for destructive behavior while owners are gone.

Ensuring he’s in the frame, I walk closer, pulling a string, lighting a single bulb over his head. Deena anchors him in the seat, tightening the rope around his wrists for good measure.

We both step back, staring at the strange scene before us in complete silence.

I can’t understand why I don’t feel guilty about this right now. I should feel bad for doing this to my husband, right? I shouldn’t want to see him in this condition, should I? This is the man I fell in love with. The man I’d chosen to be the father of my child. I can ask myself these questions repeatedly, but the same peculiar feeling sweeps over me.

“Well...what do we do now?” Deena asks me, eyes still on my tied-up husband.

I look around the place, seeing nothing to entertain us. We potentially have a few hours until he’s coherent enough to start talking and answer questions.

“We could go watch The Bachelor?” I suggest with a shrug.

Deena turns to face me, a bewilderment about her, before she faces Tom again. She shrugs and nods. “Alright...”

The final rose of the night is given when we hear movement coming from the basement.

Our heads snap towards each other’s and we both stand, making our way around the couch, rushing towards the basement door.

“Shit! The masks,” Deena says, grabbing the black ski masks from the kitchen.

We throw them on, then practically fall down the stairs as we see Thomas attempting to rock the chair over.

“Oh hell no, you don’t,” Deena says, grabbing the corners of the chair and holding it down.

“Deena?!” He looks at her, then sees me behind her. “Pen?! Pen, what’s going on?!”

The masks don’t hide our voices, which are completely picked up by Tom, but that’s alright. We only need them when the camera is on. I flip mine up, leaving it on the top of my head as I eye the man I used to love.

“Keep quiet or I’ll duct tape your face, Snake Eyes,” Deena scolds, tying the chair to the nearby pole more securely.

I walk before him, his eyes trailing my every move. If there was an expression on my face, I doubt he’d be able to pin it. Grabbing a folding chair from the corner, I pop it out with one hand, setting it down about two yards in front of him as I casually throw a leg over, taking a seat.

Tucking my hair behind my ears, I can’t help the way my lip curls its way up the corner of my face.

“What is this, Pen?! What the fuck are you guys doing?!” he screams, flexing his arms and attempting to free himself.

Deena hits him in the back of the head, making me jump. I scowl at her as she raises her hands at me, shrugging.

“What? I told him to shut up.”

Shaking my head at her, I turn my attention back to Tom. He looks up at me, his gaze searing through me, his nostrils flaring as he breathes.

“We’ll let you out of here once you do what’s right.”

His eyes narrow at me before he tilts his head to the side, seeing the camera set up behind me.

“You bitches are crazy!” he screams.

He shakes the chair aggressively, screaming out as he does, attempting to break through the ties with his muscular frame. I suck in a breath as he tips the chair again. Deena pulls something from the corner of the room and approaches him from the side. With a quick swing, she slams a baseball bat into his shin.

I hear it hit bone. The sound, like a crack of lightning. I should flinch, but I don’t. I stare as he wallows in pain, wondering on the scale of paper cut to slitting throats where his discomfort fell. More than likely not high enough.

Deena holds the aluminum bat in front of his face. “I told you to shut the fuck up,” she growls.

Tom’s chest heaves as he stares with an open-mouth gaze at Deena. He can’t believe she actually hit him with a bat. A man who carved baby out of a dead woman is appalled that he was struck with a bat. Hilarious, really.

I stand from my chair to plant myself behind the camera. Ensuring the lighting is good enough and the batteries are full, I hit record and make my way back to the chair, pulling my mask over my face.

He swallows nervously as he focuses on the camera.

“I’m going to ask you some questions and I want you to answer honestly,” I begin, folding my hands over the edge of my knees.

I peer at Deena, then back at Tom. This is completely spontaneous. We should’ve discussed a bit more in detail what our plan of action was going to be instead of being so wrapped up in whether Britney or Tamera was going to get sent home without a rose.

My carelessness surprises me as I replay the events in my head.

“How long have you been cheating on me?”

Thomas straightens his head, his eyes narrowing as his lips part.

Did he really not think I knew?

“I’ve never cheated on you, Penelope.” he says with a straight-face.

Deena brings the bat down on his tied-up thigh. Tom cries out, then grits his teeth in pain and it doesn’t hurt me to see it.

“Fuckin’ Christ!” He finally spits out, breathing through the inability to rub the tortured leg.

“I’m not playing games with you, Tom. Answer the question,” I repeat calmly.

“Pen! I swear, I’ve never touched a woman that wasn’t you!” he pleads.

The desperation in his tone nearly disgusts me. The fact that he can lie to my face, assuming I’m going to succumb to the sadness of losing my marriage and just let this shit fly, is asinine.

“You have to believe me,” he continues in a cooler tone. “Let me out of this and we can talk like adults. What you’re doing is wrong.”

“Ah, so that’s what this is about.”

I look at Deena and give her the head nod. She knows what it means. Walking to the other side of Tom, she chokes up on the bat, then swings at his other shin.

He cries out in pain, and I wonder how Samantha sounded. Did she scream before he slit her throat? Was he sick enough to cut into her abdomen before he killed her? I grind my back teeth as the thought encompasses me.

I shouldn’t feel a comradery with the mistress my husband was sleeping with, but I do. We were both mothers, even if only for a short period of time. We held life within us, just for that life to be stripped away. Hers by the hands of the man before me.

“Alright, so you don’t want to answer my first question. I’ll go on to the next.” I spin the chair around and flip my leg over it, gripping the back of it with a firm grasp.

Tom’s pants slow as his pleading eyes find mine again. His forehead is dripping with the perspiration that’s accumulated there, making his long, dark hair cling to it. The greyish-blue eyes connect with mine as I continue.

“When did you first bring Samantha to our home for sex?”

“Saman-Samantha?” he stutters.

“Don’t play dumb, Snake Eyes, we saw the photos,” Deena adds in making him flinch.

He stares down at the dirty cement floor beneath him, probably trying to piece his way out of this.

“The benefit?” he asks, looking up at me, then Deena. “Is that what this is about? Pictures from a benefit?”

“Answer the fucking question, Tom.”

“I-I’ve never...” he stutters, his eyes wide with terror. “I’ve never been with Samantha like that. We’d only just met.”

“I saw your hand on her lower back. She was gazing lovingly into your eyes. Her fucking earring was in our bed.” I tip my head to the side. “Funny how that got there, huh? Didn’t look like a couple who had only just met.”

He swallows, his mouth falling back open to breathe as his chest presses against the rope in its own rhythmic dance.

“W-we met before that night...” He looks at me, then Deena’s baseball bat. “If that’s what you mean. But I wasn’t sleeping with her.”

I stand, tossing the chair behind me. Walking before him, I crouch down in front of him.

“Your suit, Tom. That gorgeous Armani you had on? Where did it go?”

“I don’t know, Penelope,” he answers, his eyes attempting to find the answer as they scour the space behind me.

“You don’t know? You don’t know where your five thousand dollar suit is?” I cock my brow, then chuckle.

I stand, making my way around him and the pole in a slow, antagonizing way.

“Where were you at 10 o’clock the night of the event?”

“I-I don’t remember.” He peers down at the floor, then at my hand, that’s now grabbing the baseball bat away from Deena. “I honestly don’t know what don’t what happened.”

“You don’t seem to remember much, do you?” I pull the bat from Deena as she gazes at me questionably.

Tom swallows, adjusting in his seat the best he can.

I rest the bat down on the cement floor, placing both hands on the end as I lean forward on it.

“Where’s the fucking suit, Tom?” I ask sternly.

He just stares at me, shaking his head. “I don’t know, Pen! I remember very little of that night. I was really drunk.”

I sigh, picking up the bat and smacking the end of it in my palm. “You see...that answer isn’t really working for me.”

The image of her face flashes before my eyes, before the image of the blood pooling beneath me in the bed that morning.

Taking the bat, I swing it with all my strength into his abdomen. He grunts in pain; the words removed from him as the inability to breathe hits.

Dee runs over to be, reaching for the bat from my hands as I watch him struggle.

I pull the bat away from her grasp, walking around her as I approach him again. His hair is wet from sweat, a mess around his beautiful face. His pink lips hang loose as he breathes through them, his eyes screwed tightly shut.

I grab the hair at the top of his head, forcing him to face me.

“What...do you think...you’re doing?” he asks between pants, venom on his tongue.

“I’ll ask you again. Where were you at 10 o’clock the night of the event?”

Beads of sweat drip down his forehead, a drop dripping from the tip of his nose.

“I...uh, I was at the Viper Room.” He swallows and nods. “Yeah, that’s right...I remember being there for a drink after.”

“The Viper Room?” I turn my face to Deena, who looks confused as well. “You still know the bouncer?”

“Of course,” she says, her eyes darting towards Tom’s then back at me. “I’ll go make a call.”

I nod as she makes her way up the stairs. Turning back to Tom, I glare down at the man who’s taken so much.

“We’ll see who’s playing nice.”

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