This one stems from my childhood and watching my grandfather clean fish.
|Amy woke up early that Sunday morning. Not that she had anything pressing to do. It was her foolproof internal clock that yanked her out of sleep no matter what. She thought about staying in bed and try to get back to sleep, but what was the point? Her dreams were as bland as her daily life. So, as per her rigid routine, she pulled herself out of bed and into the kitchen--if it could be called a kitchen--of the twenty six foot R.V. she called home for over a year. There, she poured some water into the coffee pot, but only to heat it for some peppermint tea. Coffee made her jittery and tasted like stale cigarettes.
With the water cycling through the coffee pot, Amy stepped outside to retrieve the morning paper. The whole trailer park was still and silent as if waiting for the sun to break free from the horizon. She gave the children at least ten more minutes before they nagged their parents into submission to go outside. Oh how she looked forward to summer break. Watching the children play was invigorating.
Bypassing the first two sections of the paper, she went straight for the sales pages. After pouring herself some tea, she sat back down at the table with a pair of scissors. It didn’t matter what kind of coupons she cut out, she still cut them out. She never knew when she might need a tube of Fixodent or a family size container Metamucil.
Outside, there came the first sounds of summer. A lawn mower roared to life a couple of trailers down. One kid was yelling for his friends to wait up. The curtain facing the road was open and Amy looked out to find Mr. Harrison watering his prized garden. She thought maybe she should start a garden. Then she remembered the brain cactus she killed in just under three weeks. Better stick with coupons, she told herself. When she was finished, she took the pile of coupons and put them in the accordion folder she kept in a cabinet below the T.V.
Since she didn’t have much of an interest in actually reading the paper, she folded it back up and set it aside on the table. Tomorrow, she would take it to the bookstore and let everyone else read it. She went to her room and dressed in a plain gray tank top and cut off shorts. She had promised her next-door neighbor, Jenna, she would come over and help her put up the play place she had got for her toddler.
It was still early, but the air was already hot and humid. She could feel her shirt wanting to stick to her pale skin.
“Hey, Jen.” Amy said through the screen door.
Jenna was still in her pajamas. “How do get up so early all the time?”
“I don’t have a two year old zapping all my energy.”
Jenna let out a laugh. “And people wonder where they get all that energy from.”
Amy followed Jenna to the back room. “Where’s Elizabeth?”
“It’s her daddy’s weekend. I want to have her room finished by the time she gets back.”
Amy had always been good at decoding otherwise undecipherable instructions, so she didn’t mind when Jenna asked her to help. They had become good friends over the last few months.
After the playhouse was put together, Amy took Jenna’s offer to stay for lunch. She ate her turkey sandwich and cheetos and listened as Jenna vented about her ex. Hearing her sob story made Amy glad she wasn’t so dependent on having a man in her life. She dated every once in a while, but no one ever intrigued her enough to keep them around.
Amy glanced at the black clock above the stove. “Is it four already?”
Jenna followed her gaze. “I’ve got to get Lizzy’s room finished. Thanks for helping me. I would still be reading the instructions if you hadn’t.”
“Come by if you need anything else.” Amy said as she walked out the door.
Instead of settling on watching T.V. for the rest of the afternoon, she opted to work on her new art project. Behind her R.V. was a small shed, which she used as her studio. When she rented the lot she had to get permission from the owner of the trailer park to build it and promised if she ever moved, it would come down too. Not a problem. When she put it together, she made sure it could be easily deconstructed to move with her.
She was about to open the pad lock on the double doors when one of the neighbors Jack Russell Terriers trotted over.
“Pepper, get over here.”
“He’s okay, Mrs. Grant.” Amy said, bending to pet the excitable dog. “He’s just curious.”
Mrs. Grant patted her leg and Pepper obediently went to her side. “I don’t know what it is about that shed, but he is just fascinated by it.”
Smiling, Amy nodded. “I keep a little deep freeze in there. He’s probably seen me bring in some meat.”
“Is that what you want? You think Amy here will give you something to eat?” She cooed to the dog. To Amy she said, “He is so spoiled. I’ll try to keep him away.”
“It’s no problem. Have a nice day, Mrs. Grant.”
When her neighbor was gone, Amy opened the door and went in. She closed it behind her before reaching up to a home made hanging light to turn it on. Along the interior walls was a thick layer of foam. In part for insulation, but mainly to sound proof the building. She learned early on that neighbors could be real nosy when she was working.
To the right of the door was a workbench with an assortment of hand tools. Beside it was a full-length mirror she had found at a garage sale. She would have liked to put in her R.V., but it was too big. Further down the wall was the deep freeze. At the back hanging from a heavy chain, was her most recent project.
Amy grabbed a pair of pliers used to clean catfish. “Good morning, Gina. You sure are sleeping late today.” She said to the dozing woman shackled to the chain. Pulling back on Gina’s long golden brown hair, Amy ran the ends of the pliers down a blood caked cheek. “Your wounds are healing nicely.”
Through the bloodied ball of cloth in her mouth, Gina made a weak moan. Had the gag been taken out of her mouth, Amy still would not have understood what she said. Soon after Amy kidnapped her, she had cut out Gina’s tongue. Amy couldn’t stand listening to the incessant pleading. It was always the same.
“Please, let me go. I won't tell anyone. I promise. Don’t hurt me.”
Blah, blah, blah.
“What shall we work on today?” Amy took a step back and put the pliers to her mouth in thought. “I know. Your legs. They are so close to being perfect.”
Gina was completely conscious by then and her dark sapphire eyes were wide with an anguished fear of knowing what was to come. She whimpered in vain as Amy knelt down in front of her.
Standing, Amy said, “I almost forgot.” She went to the work bench and put on a stained apron, then grabbed a clean fillet knife. Resuming her position and made a thin straight cut along Gina’s upper thigh. The muffled cry of pain was frail compared to what it had been three days ago. Amy gave her another day, two at the most and she would finally die from exhaustion and dehydration.
With her fingers, Amy pulled some of the skin out far enough for the pliers to latch on. As she pulled down on the flesh slowly and methodically, Gina’s fragile body quivered from the pain. Amy felt something drop onto her head, but didn’t stop. She knew it was only tears.
Inch by inch the skin tore away from muscle. Soon, time melted away. Two hours passed and she was finally able to put down the pliers to enjoy her handiwork. Gina had passed out long ago, which disappointed Amy. She wanted to go over her progress with her. She was tempted to wake the slender woman and show her the fine work, but the growling of her stomach reminded her how close it was to dinner time, so she took off the apron and put away the tools and rinsed her hands in a bucket of water she kept by the door.
“Okay, Gina. I guess we are done for the day.”
Amy made sure she didn’t have any blood on her clothes or face before leaving. With the pad lock back in place she walked back to her R.V., waving at Mr. Harrison before she went inside.
With the sun sliding down into the western horizon, she took out a frozen pizza. She didn’t feel like slaving over a hot stove just for one person. While the pizza cooked, she jumped into the shower. In her pajamas, she was ready for another uneventful night alone.