Ramen noodles, two eggs and a beef frank for dinner. As the water boiled in a pot too small for the job, Angie took another drag on her slim filtered cigarette, causing a chemical cloud to settle over the bowl of McIntosh apples on the kitchen table reserved for her estranged husband.
Using a butcher knife, she diced the frank like a chef, dumping the pieces, eggs, and noodles in the pot. Steam rose from the nauseous looking mix, a boil over narrowly avoided as she removed the pot from the burner. The doctor she was dating hated her cooking skills, and the heavy drinking.
“You got two choices. Ether take us out for dinner or get used to my cooking.”
Angie, a twenty-something blond pinup type girl with an hourglass figure immediately took advantage of the fifty-year-old obstetrician when his eyes lingered over her too long during a planned parenthood visit.
“Kids are a problem. I don’t want them… ever,” she told Dr. Brotman. “Kids decide what car you drive, and what community you live in.”
She looked around the fixer-upper house that her husband seldom had time to work on. “Or what home you own” she mocked, thinking of the day she had a rendezvous inside the single doctor’s expensive townhouse.
Her husband tried to start a family with her at the beginning of their 6-month marriage. Finding her birth control pills was the last straw of the one-sided marital bond. The 25-year-old Sussex County police officer moved into a cramped studio apartment with a childhood friend that earned a living as an App developer. They worked opposite shifts to stay out of each other’s way.
Angie took a swig of vodka while deciding to let her soupy mixture cool down. Without finishing the cigarette, she stamped it out on the kitchen floor, an act of defiance to her neat and orderly husband who came from old money.
“He’d rather work than spend a dime from his trust fund,” she grumbled.
Turning up the TV volume helped mask the sounds of nature gaining momentum as the sun set. Fear of living alone and of four-legged critters running around outside the rural country home faded as she drank another round of 80 proof courage. Glassy eyes looked out the living room window for bear, deer, or coyote. Something was lurking about.
Her peripheral vision caught the glimpse of a shadow off the TV screen. The image moved slightly as she turned to face the presence of a man standing in her living room.
Screaming, she jumped off the sofa, attempting to run. The glass tumbler she held crashed to the wood floor, breaking into shards as the man grabbed her by the hair. The intruder, tall and wide as a tree, wore clothes that accented a muscular body. He yanked her head back towards him, pulling roots as she spun around.
“Stop squirming Angie, or I’ll break your neck,” he threatened as the hand pulling her hair found purchase around her throat, lifting her off the ground.
He called me by name? Stocking hose covered and distorted an unfamiliar face. Who is this man? Thought’s raced through her mind as her feet dangled inches from the floor. The man lowered her just enough for one toe to touch the floor like she was a ballerina dancing to the Blue Danube. He loosened the vice grip from her throat allowing her windpipe to resume providing life-saving oxygen to her lungs. Nostrils flaring took in the acrid, ammonia-like smell of his hand as she gasped for breath.
Rape? Would this be my punishment for pushing my husband away? He’s a small town cop. Just another Barney Fife who gave out traffic tickets, his big contribution to society.
‘But god! I need him now!’ The thought raced through her head.
The intruder lowered her enough for both feet to touch the floor but held his grip on her throat. Her arms flailed about, not finding purchase, useless limbs against brute strength.
“What happens next depends on the men in your life.” A sandpaper-like voice gritted out.
“What? Harry?” Angie managed to say while trying to take another breath. Or is this is about Ben? Was this a guy that had a grudge against him for parking tickets?
“I have nothing to do with what’s going on between you and Ben,” Angie blurted out.
His anger flared as she was lifted again in mid-air. She saw white lights as he slapped her face left with his backhand and snapping it right with another blow.
He continued the brutal blows pummeling her face, finally sending Angie into darkness as her body went limp.
Slowly reviving from a hypnopompic sleep, Angie opened her eyes trying to focus. Disoriented, her head throbbed, ears rang. A scratchy sensation in her throat worsened when she tried to swallow.
‘A bad hangover, that’s all.’
Through a light-headed fog, she determined she was sitting in the kitchen.
‘Maybe some noodle soup and Advil.’
Looking towards the stove, she spotted the little pot she left to cool. Angie tried to stand to get it, but her legs wouldn’t respond. To her alarm, she realized she was tied to a chair. The events of the evening flashed back as she recalled the grip around her throat, the vicious slapping and passing out.
‘How long was I out before being tied to a chair? The man said something about Ben, or was it, Harry? I’m going to die tied up in a shabby kitchen, in a shabby house,’ she thought as she tried to wiggle her hands-free.
Footsteps coming close took her out of a pity trance. Standing in front of her was a big man wearing a pantyhose face mask that still revealed watery blue eyes. They squinted at her as his massive frame came into the kitchen.
Angie opened her mouth to shout “get away from me,” but nothing came out. She drew in a breath of air as teeth chattered from the chilly fall temperature.
The man looked around her kitchen. Grabbing an apple, he rinsed it off in the sink.
After polishing it with a paper towel, he admired his work. Angie watched him use her butcher knife to cut it on her chopping block. He made small bite-size pieces, popping one in his mouth.
“You mind if I have one of your smokes?” he asked, but took one out of the pack on the kitchen table without waiting for an answer.
He inhaled the smoke and blew out small puffs before placing the cigarette in the holder on the table.
“My associate Mr. Red is shaking down your sugar daddy as we speak for the 50 K he keeps in his home safe. A fair price to keep his life. My associate Mr. Green is chatting up your husband for 1.5 million for your safe return. Hubby’s making a down payment today of 250 thousand dollars from his trust fund. Looks like both boys care about you,” he added. “So far they are on the same page and complying… but I feel they might need more convincing that we mean business.” he hinted.
“What, what are you talking about?” she stammered.
“I’m going to send Ben and Harry a picture of… a piece of you.” he mocked.
Angie screamed “No!” while trying to break free from her restraints. She bucked the chair while watching him pick up her butcher knife from the counter.
“This may hurt a bit, but it should keep them from talking to anybody else if they really want to save you,” he explained as he moved closer to her.
“No! Wait a minute! she pleaded.
Angie alternated screams of Help! Help to Fire! Fire, as if one might bring aid if not the other. Reaching behind her chair, he grabbed her left hand. Forcing the pinky finger open, he quickly sliced a piece of it off, just above the first joint.
The pain was sharp and quick. Angie screamed at the top of her lungs while trying to free herself. Her hand with the injury pulled free from her bindings, adrenaline fueling her will to survive. Nails scratch the man across his masked face causing him to drop the knife by the chair and step back. Her hand desperately tried to reach it to no avail. The man recovers his step and slaps her across the face with enough force that the chair almost topples over.
Angie again falls into an unconscious state. The man picks up his cigarette from the tray on the table. He takes a pull lighting the ambers to a bright orange. Holding the bleeding finger he cauterizes the wound as Angie twitches involuntarily.
Eyes flutter. Awake. Angie, riding in the back seat of her brothers 2014 Suburban, takes in the moving interstate highway.
“She’s waking up,” a voice from the front seat says.
“Ibuprofen and some booze please,” Angie asks her brother Michael while holding her bandaged hand.
“Everything worked like a charm,” he proudly tells his sister.
“I sent them a video of me roughing you up. Then I sent pictures of your pinky tip cut off with the promise of more if we didn’t get the money. Your man Ben handed over 250 thousand dollars as down payment for your safe return. Dr. sugar britches gave up 55 thousand and a Rolex watch to cousin Walter, I mean my associate Mr. Red sitting next to you.” He laughed. “I wished we could finish this long con. That 1 million was there for the taking in just 3 more days.”
“No, it was better to cut and run,” Angie assured.
“Ben’s friend was getting suspicious when I came on to him, asking how much money he made developing Apps. Besides, we’re already miles away with no one following.”
Angie continued, “If you want to save the long con, then you go to Ben and lay on your back with him on top of you,” she complained, but the hate was directed toward her lovers. In the second place, you cut off my damn finger!” she yelled.
“Just the pinky tip. Besides, I read as long as I keep the limb on ice we have anywhere from 12 hours to two days to have it reattached. I just happen to know a single doctor that specializes in this kind of surgery. I say we go pay him a visit.”
A/N: This story is dedicated to the invisible unreliable narrator
Copyright © 2018 Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved.