If you were enjoying my previous few writing exercises, titled “Creative Trifle” (parts 1-5), I hope you enjoy this one. I felt like changing it up a bit. I will probably get back to the other one, but needed a change of scenery.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Rather predictable, really.
A fist like an anvil moved my jaw from left to right, dragging the rest of my head with it. The blood from my mouth flew in a graceful arc before depositing itself on the bare linoleum floor with a randomness that seemed on the verge of being ordered. Before I could figure out what the pattern was trying to tell me, a second fist brought my head back to its starting position it continued moving it in the opposite direction, away from the art I felt sure had been trying to tell me something.
Thankfully, the pattern that emerged on the floor to my left was just as compelling to consider.
Not wanting to invest much time in such consideration, however, I returned my head and gaze forward, to the average man standing in front of me, clad in faded blue-jeans and a black tee-shirt. So close he might have been straddling my lap as he struck me. The only reason I hadn’t hit the floor from his blows was the chair I sat in.
Well, the rope tying me to the chair helped a bit.
The voice that came from the man in front of me didn’t seem to fit. Deep, deeper than most, the voice was like a truck on a washboard road.
“Are you ready, yet?”
I think I smiled. To be fair, it was kind of hard to tell, since both sides of my face were throbbing from the beating they’d been taking for at least the last ten minutes. But I’ll assume I smiled.
A stiff jab—I hadn’t even seen his fist move—rocked my head backwards.
“Right. To talk,” I said. Well, mumbled, really. Tough to articulate with a mouth full of blood.
“Yes,” he said, taking a half-step back, wiping the blood from his hands with a small towel he took from the counter. “To talk.”
“Right,” I said again, taking a large gulp of air and spitting blood onto the floor, careful not to do so in his direction.
Wouldn’t want him to think I was being rude, right?
There was full darkness outside the kitchen window behind him. Clearly, I’d been here for hours. Never thought I’d be glad to be unconscious, otherwise the beating might have started earlier. That would have mucked up my plan, big time.
Couldn’t have that.
Of course, if she didn’t show up soon, it wasn’t going to matter much. I could barely see out of my left eye, and I was pretty sure my dentist was going to have to finish a couple of extractions when this was all said and done.
“Whenever you’re ready,” he said, folding the bloody towel and placing it deliberately on the edge of the counter.
The stale chime of a doorbell interrupted my feverish attempts to concoct yet another delay. Not that I had a choice in trying delay, since I didn’t actually have the information he wanted.
But he didn’t have to know that. At least, not yet.
The doorbell was another issue, altogether. I was fairly certain it wasn’t the pizza guy, so options were limited, and my lint-wrapped brain couldn’t quite settle on anything else it might be.
Sighing, he moved past me toward the door. I heard it open behind me and a soft voice said, “Peter Wright?”
A soft cough, then a heavy thump, then hands worked the knots holding my arms behind the chair.
“You look like shit, Jimmy.”
I smiled. I could tell because my whole face hurt when I did.
“Funny,” I said, spitting another glob of blood—and a tooth—onto the floor, “cause I feel like shit, too.”
Finally freed, I tried to stand up. Would have failed completely if the counter hadn’t been so close. She put my left arm around her shoulders and steered me back toward the front door.
“Thanks, Jules,” I said, trying to blink life back into my left eye as we moved down the sidewalk toward the nondescript SUV on the curb. She dumped me into the passenger seat, unmoved by my offer to drive, and drove casually away from the house as if nothing had happened.
“Chief’s going to want to debrief you.”
“I know,” I said. “Tomorrow. Right now, I need a nap…”
Just as the lights went out, I heard her say something about shitty partners.
I couldn’t have agreed more. I was a pretty shitty partner.