Chicago, Summer, 1984

Consciousness returned slowly, with pain and nausea as unwelcome companions while confusion slowly settled into first fear, then anger, then cold rage. I was naked, twisted in an uncomfortable position, and my hands and feet were bound. My left shoulder and arm were in agony. Inside I was raw with a familiar and infuriating pain. There was tape over my mouth. I tried to focus, remembering only vaguely that I had been approaching my car in the parking garage… what had happened?

A sound broke through the fog, rhythmic sounds and grunting- a man digging, the sound of the spade splitting the ground unmistakable. My head ached, and I peeled open my eyes, actually my right eye, for the left was swollen shut. I felt panic as the scene failed to resolve itself, dark trees, and the smell of carpet and blood, something hard and painful gouging in to my spine. It snapped in to sudden relief: I was lying in the open boot of a car.

I worked my wrists against the bonds, stifling the almost involuntary cries as my left side protested savagely- they were tight, but the material was flexible- perhaps one of my garments? I strained quietly, keeping motion to a minimum as I felt the material stretch and loosen until my hands were free. I felt around, searching for anything I might use as a weapon, and my right hand settled on a nylon bag- my bag. This was my car! I carefully worked open the zipper, turning the bag on its side without looking. I would only have one chance at this for the digging sounds were close by. I fished through the clothes and other things for what felt like an eternity until I finally felt the cold hard form of the holstered .38 and snaked it free from the bag.

With the pistol free of the holster I mustered my energy for what must follow, drawing the hammer back until it clicked. It would have to be done quickly. I forced the molten column of pain that was my left arm to move, thrusting myself up in to a sitting position. His back was to me as he worked his shovel no more than five yards away, so I allowed an extra moment to aim, then squeezed off a shot. In the quiet muggy heat of that night the gun sounded like a cannon, and he jerked as the bullet struck him in the upper right portion of the back, sending him spinning as he toppled in to the grave he had dug for me.

When he did not immediately stand up I swung my bound feet over the lip of the trunk, taking the pistol in my numb left hand so that I could pull myself out. My feet touched the ground and he roared as he leapt up, charging at me with the shovel in his hands. I lifted my left hand and fired at him, the recoil tearing the pistol from my grip, but fate smiled upon me as he buckled, the second shot having taken him in the right knee.

“Fucking bitch!”

I ignored him as he started towards me on one leg and two hands, trying to reach the pistol, but I was now very calm and simply bent over and picked it up a moment before he reached it. He grabbed my bound feet, pulling at them, trying to bring me down, but I drew down on him, the third shot taking him square in the spine at the center of his back. I kicked myself free of his grasp and hopped back a couple of yards until I was certain he was not coming after me again, then I sat, set the pistol down, and went about freeing my ankles, which were wrapped in duct tape, then peeled the tape from my mouth, flesh tearing free with it from a wound to my mouth I hadn’t even realized was there.

He was lying face down by the rear of the car, not moving at all from the waist down, his arms flailing as he cursed at me almost nonstop. I did not say a word, instead going to the car where I found a large roll of duct tape in the back seat. Using the tape I secured my left wrist, wrapping the tape in a figure eight around the wrist and the support column between the doors. Once that was done it took a few minutes to find the right angle, the pain becoming exquisitely hot until I was able to coax the shoulder joint back in to its socket.

I think I passed out for a few moments after that, because his shouting startled me back to reality. Images were returning, the way he deliberately twisted my arm until he dislocated my shoulder, the pain of his fists pummeling my face and chest as he violated me, and the vile incantation of murderous rage he spewed forth through it all. The myriad insults to my body clamored for my attention now that the adrenaline rush of the past minutes had subsided, ribs cracked, chest on fire, the vision in my one open eye going blurry as my head spun.

Shaking violently now I forced myself back to my feet, freeing my wrist from the tape, then picking up the revolver and returning to where he lay. I looked in the trunk and saw my panties twisted in a knot, and I nearly burst out in laughter.

“What the fuck are you laughing at?”

“You,” I replied and I snatched my underwear from the trunk before turning to face him. He’d managed to roll on to his back, and there was blood at the corners of his mouth, perhaps from a punctured lung. It gave me pause, looking at him, but I was not truly surprised. Even lying there slowly bleeding to death he looked so very ordinary: white, fortyish, balding, his face reminding me of a college professor of all things. I realized I had seen him before around the library and the parking garage- had he actually been stalking me?

I dangled the knotted panties from the index finger of my left hand. “Like to tie up your victims in their underwear? If you’d used duct tape you’d be putting me in that hole right about now.”

I know I slurred the words, but it did not matter. He heard what I had said. I do not know if he had something to say back to me because I shot him once in the forehead. I needed to be done with him.

The sky was turning gray. It had been sometime after six when I left the library. There was a chance nobody had missed me yet, but I was running out of time. I grabbed the corpse by the collar and dragged it to the grave. It was not nearly deep enough, but I simply did not care. Covering him up took quite a bit longer than I wanted it to, but I had no choice. I needed the body to stay hidden for at least a few days and I was hardly in any condition to do it quickly. Pain, weakness and hunger made it a struggle, but once done I collected every scrap of anything that might be called evidence and threw it in the trunk along with the shovel.

When I saw myself reflected in the rear windshield of the car I realized I had larger problems than somebody wondering where I was. My face was a black and blue nightmare image- I still could not see out of my left eye. My body was a patchwork of livid black and purple splotches, there was dried blood streaking the insides of my thighs, my mouth was an open wound. I had clothes in the trunk, but they would hardly serve to disguise this. Any who saw me would, assuming they were of the Good Samaritan type, seek to bundle me off to a hospital. I had to avoid that at all costs.

I sat in the car, thinking furiously as my belly growled at me. I was not sure where I was, though I had a notion the city was to the east of me. The clock in the car said six-thirty, far too late to attempt a return to my apartment… except that in my current state I had little choice. I could park in the lower level of the garage and wait until all the work and school traffic had passed, then take the stairs and hope my luck would hold.

There was a gallon jug of water in the trunk, part of my emergency kit. I cursed myself for not storing food as well, an error I would never again repeat. Half the water went down my throat, the rest I used to clean myself up as much as possible. The bag in the car held mostly shorts and t-shirts- summer clothing. There was one pair of jeans, but I doubted I could get in to them in my current state. I dressed in the loosest things at hand then closed the trunk… and found my keys in the lock. How could I have forgotten to search him? I could have been forced to dig him up again!

The car lurched along the close path as I followed the tire tracks out.

Comments are closed.