I was dumber than shit when Big C started talking to me. Don’t know what I was thinking, guess I kinda liked the attention from the new guy at school. He’d just arrived that term and was busy hanging out with the guys hanging out at the basketball court, they’d sit around, skipping class and smoking weed and talking shit.
I almost forgot what his real name was – Clarence, or Clayton or something like that. Big C is what everybody called him. He was big enough, I guess.
One day after school he just started talking to me, I was standing beside the basketball courts with Keisha, and she was busy checking out Devon on the court, and he’d asked me out, just like that.
I guess I looked kinda surprised, cuz Big C said, what, don’t guys ask a pretty girl out at this school? And I just kinda smiled stupidly, not sure what to say, but around here guys just circle around us girls, almost like fish in a bowl, too scared to touch anything, so they end up being friends a real long time before anybody gets up the nerve to ask anyone out. By that point, they’re either bored of each other or practically married anyway, so there wasn’t much point to any of it.
But I couldn’t explain this to Big C.
He was sweet, at first, and as usual, my Mama just said nothing to him and tried to freeze him out, but after a few times of him being nice to her, and him always dropping me off on time, she let down her guard, just a little, and started saying hi and joking with him.
And then he asked me to go to a party, and I said sure, can I bring Keisha and he thought about it a while and said she probably wouldn’t like his friends and she’d most likely be going out with Tyrone anyway, and it was on the tip of my tongue to ask if they both could come along, and I didn’t want to say I was feeling nervous, but then he picked up my hand and said he was glad it was just us going, give us a proper night out, and I didn’t say I was nervous cuz he was being so sweet, and then he told me to tell my mom I was going to a party at his cousin’s house.
He even wrote down the address so she wouldn’t worry.
Cell phone too, but none of it mattered cuz it was all wrong –Wrong, wrong, wrong – I shoulda listened to my nerves.
We got there, to a party nowhere near the address he gave, and there were a bunch of older guys all drinking and smoking and girls in nice clothes and makeup and good hair dancing with them and grinding up real tight, and a couple girls riding guys in a corner, and I saw one guy pick up a girl’s hand and lead her toward a back room, she looked scared and couldn’t be all of fourteen, but he bent and whispered something in her ear and she seemed to smile, a little, but her eyes still looked scared.
When I walked in I felt real shy, and Big C was busy talking to the guys and smoking, and then he’d pop back over to me and get me a drink, and then go back to talking to the guys and leaving me alone. I stood around not knowing anybody and sipped my drink it was fruity and tasted like punch with a clear burn afterwards and halfway through my glass I found myself out on the dance floor with two other girls and we were all shaking everything, real wild-like, and dancing together and then another guy came up to us and tried to join in, dancing, and soon he was right in my face, matching me move for move and I said I had to sit down and he followed, and he brought me another drink.
He tried talking to me, and I sipped the drink, and then things got real fuzzy, and I don’t remember much, time seemed to go real fast and then slow and then I’d shut my eyes for a real long time and the noise was too loud but it all seemed far away –
Somehow I ended up in bed, and I wanted to sleep and kept closing my eyes, but it hurt too much, and I kept getting shoved around and then my stomach really hurt with something poking at me real rough, and my arms and legs were all pins and needles and I think I peed the bed –
Then the next morning I woke up in the back of a minivan with the sunlight streaming through dirty windows and as I looked up at the driver I had no idea who he was so I might have peed myself a little then, it was hard to tell, everything was so sore and as I lay there not daring to breathe he looked up in the mirror and smiled at me.
And then I knew I peed myself. I was scared shitless.
I sat up a little and tried to look where I was, but all I could make out was the interstate whipping by and all kinds of cars and people going everywhere, and I had no idea where I was –
“Don’t be stupid.”
I looked up at the driver, he was clean shaven and old enough to be my father, and he stared at me through the mirror, then he kinda smiled a little, but it wasn’t a smile, it made my skin crawl.
“You’re a good girl, right?”
I nodded ‘cuz what else could I do, and I was too scared to think about anything at all.
He drove for a while without saying anything then ended up pulling off the highway and went through a drive thru, ordering a fish sandwich and onion rings for himself and asked me what I’d like. I said I wasn’t hungry, but he got me a burger anyway, and fries and a Coke, and I was sipping the soda when he asked me to go down on him.
He said it like it was the most normal thing in the world, like asking me if I wanted a burger.
At this point we were pulled into a parking spot at the back of the lot with no one around us, and he climbed through the van and sat beside me, and I thought I was gonna puke up the soda, and my stomach rolled real queasy.
He started petting me like, but it wasn’t petting, just his hands wandering all over my body, squeezing my breasts and tugging at my crotch. I sat there frozen, the drink still in my hand, and then he picked up my other hand and placed it on his crotch and I felt his hard boner through his pants and he whispered how I’d suck it for him and then he was unzipping and lifting himself out when my stomach flip-flopped again, and I bent forward, retching, and puked up a yellow-green mess inside the car.
“You little bitch.”
Flash of white, then pain shot through my head, and I nearly puked again but managed to hold it in, and I blinked, and just stared at him, his hand raised toward me.
A long while passed by, and I felt a little dribble run down my legs like my bladder wasn’t working right; things were still pretty sore down there.
Finally, I said,
“I gotta pee.”
Here he laughed,
“Looks like you already pissed yourself. Sure, go in, and don’t worry ‘bout a thing. I’ll be right with you.”
We walked across the parking lot, his hand on my arm, like he was a father walking along with his daughter, but his hand was real tight, like his fingers were digging through my skin, and we went into through the doors closest to the washrooms, nowhere near the cash and I was looking around for anybody to help me but the place was near empty after the lunchtime rush. Just a woman in a brown uniform mopping the floors across the restaurant. I started to turn toward the ladies’ room, but then he steered me toward the family washroom.
“In here, honey, so daddy can help you.”
His voice had a sick sing-song feel to it, and he shoved me inside, and stood with his back against the door, watching.
Single toilet and sink. No dividers.
“I – I can’t go with you here.”
And he stared at me with those cold eyes and I thought how he was old enough to be my father, ‘cept I didn’t have a father, just some guy Mama talked about called a no-account rascal who was supposed to send money and never did and said he’d take me for Christmas and holidays and –
And while I was standing there I felt my bladder twinge and thought I’d pee myself again so I hiked down my leggings real fast and plopped my bottom on the toilet and felt the sheer relief of my bladder finally letting go and I didn’t see nothing, just stared down at the crotch of my leggings and wondered where’d my underwear go – all I had on were my leggings, except they weren’t mine – they were spattered with blood and chunks of white stuff like I’d gotten my period and cottage cheese mixed together, all of it reeking of piss and I stared at the mess a long while before he finally said something and I jerked my head toward him like I’d forgotten he was there.
“You done yet?”
I grabbed at the tissue and blotted at myself and tried to scrape the gunk off my leggings as best I could and flushed the whole mess down the toilet.
He stood, hand on the door while I pulled up my leggings and before I could wash my hands he grabbed my arm and started muscling me out of the restaurant, his feet moving fast so I had to keep up or fall, all the while he was smiling and saying,
“That’s okay baby, daddy’s got you – watch your step now, sugar.”
Across the restaurant, I could see the lady in the brown uniform stop mopping and look at us funny. He smiled at her and then patted my arm,
“C’mon sugar, daddy’s got your fries back in the car.”
“Uh – wait – I forgot something.”
Truthfully I didn’t have anything to forget, my purse and cellphone were long gone, but that was the only thing I could think to say.
“What?” he slowed his step.
I took my move and twisted my arm, and pulled away real fast. He was suddenly thrown off balance, and I shot out from under him as he lurched sideways. I skidded on the wet floor a little and ended up by the garbage cans. By now the lady in the uniform had put down her mop and was walking toward us.
“You alright, honey?” the lady asked.
The man smiled at her, “Don’t mind Darlene here, she has these little fits. Special needs, you know. Just want’s her fries, that’s all.”
I stared at the lady and shook my head, not trusting myself to speak.
“Hon, you okay now?” she asked again, concern creeping into her voice.
I shook my head, no. The man reached for my shoulder, I flinched and spun away, staring at him.
“Sir, I think you should –”
He didn’t wait to hear what she had to say, just turned real sharp and ducked out the door we’d come in through. I started crying and the lady in the brown uniform sort of caught me in her arms, and I was sobbing on her shoulder and somehow or other I got my feet to work right.
She ushered me into a backroom, the manager’s office with timesheets and closed caption television screens on the wall, and big desk and a punch clock and time cards. The manager stepped out and called the cops. The lady sat and patted my hand while I blubbered out the whole story. I snuffled and watched people come and go on the television screens, and the lady brought me a soda and I sipped at it, staring down at the ice melting into fizzy bubbles.
By the time the cops arrived, I was nibbling some French fries, and the lady’d told me a little about herself. Delores her name was. Or something like that. She had two daughters, both of them about my age.
She stayed with me while the cops asked questions, and although they tried to shoo her away, she said she’d stick around.
It was two cops, a guy, and a lady, and the lady bent and said something into her walkie-talkie about transport to the hospital. I asked why, I wasn’t sick.
That got a smile from the male cop, but the female just scribbled into her notebook. Then they started asking me questions, real fast about where I was from, and how I got there, and the van.
They were stuck on the van.
“Do you know the make and model?”
I shook my head.
I shook my head again.
“Description of the suspect?”
“A guy – kind of ‘bout my father’s age.”
As the male cop rolled his eyes I wondered if he too was around my father’s age, and if he was, did he have any kids in school.
“Any distinguishing features?”
I thought for a minute, and my mind dissolved into blankness, like a hole in a picture where his face was supposed to be. Nothing. Finally, I thought about him sitting beside me in the back of the van.
“Uh, he was circumcised.”
The male cop snorted while the female one shot him a look.
But the officers kept asking me about what kind of van I was in like it was real important, and I didn’t know, didn’t even know the color, never mind make and model and who the hell pays attention to those things anyway and then the male cop said,
“You could’ve just looked when you were out of it.”
Then my mind lurched, and all I could think of was being quick marched across the parking lot, reeking of piss and still a dribble of puke on my shirt and the sight of that guy’s dick, bald and shiny and how he’d wanted me to put my mouth on it
“Suck it,” he’d whispered.
And I just stared at the male cop wondering if he was old enough to be my father and what his kids were doing now.
A flicker on one of the closed-captioned television screens caught my eye.
Both cops turned toward the picture of a pickup in the drive thru.
“That’s the truck?” the male cop asked.
I shook my head,
“No, it was a van. But he got a fish sandwich, and onion rings about an hour ago. Burger, fries, and a coke for me. Maybe you could –”
Delores spoke up for the first time she was there.
“Go through the drive thru register orders. Find out the time he ordered, and match with the vehicle.”
The cops stood up and talked together a moment, then the female cop directed me to her car, her hand on my elbow like I was real breakable or something, and I hung on to the soft drink Delores’d give me, now nearly half gone, ice sloshing and sliding around the bottom of the cup, and I’d tucked the scrap of paper with her phone number into my shirt sleeve so I wouldn’t lose it.
She’d told me to call her when I got someplace safe.
As I sat in the back of the cop car watching traffic pass by around me I wondered at the cars slowing down around the cruiser, then one guy in an SUV slowed a little bit, then moved to pass, and I could see there were a couple of girls about my age in the back seat, young and dressed real nice with good hair and decent clothes, and as I looked at the driver, I thought, he looked to be about my father’s age.
But it was hard to tell, we were all caught up in traffic.
— THE END