Archive for October, 2012

Excerpt 135

After thirty seconds of looking at one another, the lady gestured for Ala to follow her.  She was led to a small kitchen that smelled of baking bread.  Golden loaves were lined up on an industrial metal table amongst scattered flour. The lady began to pile the loaves into a basket.  A younger girl stood at the counter whisking deep red liquid in a bowl over an ice bath. The ladies wore the same pale gray dresses with their hair pulled back from their faces.

Ala took a seat on a wooden stool near the oven, letting the heat soak through the back of the nightgown.

“How long was I asleep?” She asked.

“Oh, well, let’s see. Bruce got in at around seven, so about twelve hours.”

Bruce had told her he was taking her home.  He insinuated that it would be safer than taking the bus. She did not feel safe.

The young girl brought the bowl to another counter and began scooping the gelatinous substance into thin casings.  She worked quickly, tying off each end, which left her hands covered in blood, before dropping each link into a different bowl filled with ice water.  Ala nearly gagged. The metallic smell over took the fresh bread and it was like witnessing murder. She steadied herself on the stool by wrapping her feet around its legs.

The older lady walked over to the oven and opened the large double doors, letting steam silhouette her body. She pulled out a rack with a dozen steaming loaves of bread on top.  She used only a thin dishtowel to shield her skin from the metal.

“Where is Bruce?”

She stopped, pushed the rack back in and turned toward Ala with vacant eyes. She went to the counter and began wiping the flour from the counter and onto the tiled floor, averting eye contact.

“Hannah, where is Bruce?”

The girl wrapped tape around a link that had sprung a leak.  The front of her dress was now spattered and neck was now spattered with blood.

“Not sure. Market?”

“I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” the old lady said, resting one loaf at a time of to the counter.

Their behavior sent currents of doubt through Ala, but she did not want to ask where she was because it would make her appear weak.

“What did he do with my phone?” She asked.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” she said while taking a bottle of milk from the refrigerator and pouring some into a saucepan on the stove.

“I had a phone with me in the car. It was plugged into the cigarette lighter.”

“I haven’t seen it,” the lady said, “Have you Hannah?”

Hannah shook her head.  Ala got up and paced back and forth.  She now had less than when she escaped, which she didn’t think was possible at the time.  The younger girl carried the basket of bread out of the kitchen.  Ala felt her feet weighted down and sinking into the floor.

“I am going to leave,” she said, “Bruce can take me to the bus station.” The lady poured the milk into a glass

“Well, you can wait for him to get back,” the lady said, handing Ala the glass, “And you can leave the nightgown we issued to you in your room.”







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Excerpt 134

When Ala’s eyes opened again she could not see her hand in front of her face. Sweating from the warmth around her, she knew she was in in a different place than where she had fallen asleep.  What made her doubtful for a sliver of a second was that she had woken up in so many places recently, that she could barely remember how it felt to wake up at home. The first alarming discovery was that she was lying horizontally and on something very soft. She had not had a healthy night’s sleep in awhile, so lying in a comfortable position, with proper support, felt very unnatural. She ran her hand over her chest and felt a plush cover wrapped tightly around her body.

She wanted to believe she was only dreaming that she was sleeping in a wonderfully comfortable, warm bed because she had been so sleep deprived. Unfortunately, her ear was throbbing, most likely from infection, indicating that she was awake and was getting sick from being run down. And also, that she was no longer in Bruce’s car.  She sat up in bed and flailed her hands around in the pitch black, trying to find a way to turn on the light.  She flipped a switch and saw that she was in a modest bedroom with wood paneling on the walls, a small wooden desk with a matching chair, and a nightstand with a glass of water. Aside from the cover, she was wearing a clean, white long sleeved cotton nightgown.

She climbed out of bed and went to the door, which was locked.  Her throat tightened and she pounded with her fist until a tall round lady with gray hair revealed herself on the other side. She looked Ala up and down and smiled warmly, wiping her greasy hands on her floral patterned apron.

“I hope you slept well. I watched you for the first few hours, and then I had to get baking,” she said in a tinny voice.

Even with the residue from recent events fogging her thoughts, Ala was puzzled.  She had been carried from the car to this room, exposed, dressed and tucked into bed to be watched while she slept. She had been taken somewhere against her will, again. Though there didn’t appear to be any immediate danger, Bruce still had not done what he said he would do. She was almost too tired to ask any questions.

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Excerpt 133

Bruce was right, but Ala felt herself growing angry with him, mainly because he was the only person around to be angry with. She had looked forward to boarding the bus, finding a window seat to curl up in, and calling Danno.  Thinking about his voice made her fingers shake, and she knew calling him in front of anyone would make her self conscious, preventing her accurately telling him how much she needed him. Bruce must have sensed her shift in mood, because he leaned over and handed her a sugar cookie.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “We aren’t far now. She tried looking ahead and still could not recognize any of the signs for any restaurants or stores.  It would’ve helped to know where Bruno’s team had taken her.  It wouldn’t matter now though because she had slept much of the time that Bruce was driving. “How old are you?” He asked.

“Twenty-four,” she said, and then was sorry she had.  He nodded and turned on the radio.

They listened to Blue Grass music as she broke off pieces of the gritty cookie and shoved them into her mouth.  She scrolled through her missed calls to see f anyone other than Danno had tried to reach her.  There was a call from Gene. Her parents had not tried to contact her.

Her parents would not be hurt when she would run off with Jase and this was a relief. She had always felt pressure to try to keep them involved in her life and to make sure they weren’t lonely.  She had thought that moving back from Boston would alleviate some of the tension that must have built between her father and mother, having only one another to deal with in the house everyday. She hadn’t any idea that they were happy she was an only child. That once she was out of the way, they could have their lives back.

Bruce stopped at a filling station. When he went into the convenience store to pay for the gas, Ala gathered up the food and straw wrappers that littered the carpet on the floor of the car.  She picked up the receipt from the drive through.  There was the chicken and two ice waters listed, but no mention of the cookie.  She tossed everything into the bag and tied the handles closed. Bruce came back with coffee.

“You don’t smoke, do you?”

“No, I never have,” she said, “Why?”

“You smell like smoke.  Less now, but when you were first in the car, a lot.”

She decided not to mention the fire.  Hopefully she could get home without relaying the whole incident to him.

“How long do you think it will take to get back?”

“A few more hours.”

“Do you mind if I sleep?” She asked.

“No, of course not. Should I turn down the radio?”

“No, thanks.” She leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes.  She did not feel tired, but did not want to keep having to answer questions. There was the option of getting out of the car, but she did not want to walk around in a blanket and this was the only free ride she had.

She heard his fingers drumming on the steering wheel. They weren’t miming the beat of the music and it sounded strange, as is he was trying to keep her awake.  She closed her eyes tighter and thought of bringing Danno to the part of the ocean that she swam in shortly before they met.

She heard the horse hooves hitting the soft ground as they drank vodka with ginger ale in the bar. The drumming stopped as she watched herself jump into the pool the night she let Danno take her to dinner.  She could taste the steak they ate before Rainbow showed up. She became tired scanning her mind for nice memories that had been covered up by recent events. She would sleep for ten minutes she told herself. And when she woke up, she would get out of the car, no matter where they were, to call Danno.

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Excerpt 132

She would no longer say anything that she did not intend to follow through with.  Her mind was nearly taken from her.  Mental control was something she had always assumed could not be taken away from her, barring disease.  Now she knew that even though someone could not take it away, it could be diminished.  Someone really could drive you crazy and take over your thoughts.

She would never again take advantage of her freedom and being able to say anything she wants to out loud. She would never say she would harm someone without meaning it.  And if she said something out loud about bringing harm to those men, she would be involving the person who was saving her life.

He turned into a fast food restaurant parking lot and approached the drive through.

“You should eat something,” he said.

She wondered how he could act she normal when she was barely dressed, had bruises and blood all over her body and was clearly disillusioned.  She did not want to eat in front of him because she worried that she had forgotten how to and would spit up. She looked at the menu board. None of the sun-bleached pictures of food looked appetizing and all of the corners were caked with dirt.

“I’ll have a piece of chicken.” He nodded and ordered.  She looked out the window, trying to recognize a store or a gas station.

The smell of the chicken was overwhelming and she could hardly unwrap it fast enough before taking a bite.  Although juicy, the first bite was very salty and she swallowed quickly, burning her throat.  The man handed her a cup of water as she peeled the skin off and threw it into the bag.  She peeled the meat from the bone and chewed slowly.  Just as she wished she had ordered another piece, the man handed her a biscuit.

“What is your name?” She asked, suddenly feeling self conscious with her misshapen hair and lack of makeup.

“Bruce,” he said and then didn’t ask her the same.

“Thank you for everything,” she said.

“I’m just glad I was there. And I was just thinking, you don’t have any identification, do you?”

“I don’t,” she said, remembering the smoldering pile burning. He nodded.

“I should probably just take you all the way home then,” he said.  “It’s not a good idea to travel without an ID.”


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