by S.C. Rood
Teenagers set out for a little wild fun get more than they bargained for.
|*a chapter excerpt from a novel in progress*
Johnny sat in the back, leaning against the wall and dosing in and out of sleep. The teacher didn’t care, she was just happy that he had made it to class. Johnny was a quiet kid and when he spoke he told stories of catching squirrels and rabbits in his snares and slaughtering pigs, laughing when he got to the part about watching them choke to death. Two rows up sat the kid from New York. Sal Moretti was big time. The back of his head looked like an oiled skunk sitting on top of a hot dog bun. His was the only desk that didn’t match, they had to bring it in from the art room and it didn’t have a chair connected to it. He had gotten stuck in the first. The winters in Georgia were nothing like where he came from but for Sal’s first two weeks he wore a jacket made of real leather, black, with white sleeves. Weird words flew out of his mouth faster than any of them could understand and he went on and on about getting mugged on the subway and playing poker in an underground ring. The other eighth graders had never heard stories like Sal’s.
The bell rang, books slammed shut and the cement steps to the playground were hit like a stampede. It was the end of the day but the kids stuck around, someone had stepped on Sal’s foot and a challenge had been made. Johnny climbed to his usual spot and hooked one leg on the top beam of the jungle gym, the highest point in the yard. The others gathered in a circle around the monkey bars where two boys stood in a faceoff. Sal was ready to brawl but the other boy, Thurston, was half his size and while mimicking his opponent’s posture looked like an egret taking on a bear. Johnny leaned in and heard Sal tell the bird to take a step forward. A rush of adrenaline hit the king of the jungle gym, who hadn’t seen a real fight since his brother knocked out Billy Jones for calling him a shithead. The childish chanting got louder and Johnny’s heart was pounding but Thurston’s had nearly hammered through its thin bone cage. The bird’s foot shuffled forward and quick as lightening, Sal’s right hand flew in and out of his jacket pocket, his fist closed tight around a handle, and then his fat thumb flicked forward and with a click, the bright afternoon sun glinted off a blade. He looked like a movie star. Johnny’s sweaty hand slipped on the metal frame and his eyes widened in anticipation of the first swipe. Down below, mouths clamped shut and the scene froze before Thurston’s feet retreated backwards to the safety of the crowd, his white palms a vacillating shield, his stomach a fermenting pit of fear. The armed assailant laggardly pulled his feet together, closed the knife, put it in his pocket and raised his own palms in surrender. Johnny watched with abhorrence as Sal hoofed it over to the bird, shook his hand, and started walking him through the motions of a solid defensive stance. Johnny’s heart sunk. He wanted to see what a switchblade could really do.
The onlooker snubbed the self-defense lesson and scanned the crowd for thick, blond ringlets. He found them quickly, at the front, shining in the sun and sweeping down her back, stopping just above her bubble butt. Stephanie was Sal’s older sister but, having a different father, bore little resemblance to the beefy meathead. Her blue eyes were even brighter than Wyatt’s and her round face looked like it belonged on a doll. Johnny watched her eat lunch every day. She ate in a naughty way, licking the back of her spoon and tracing her fingers across her plump lips after every bite. At least once each meal, Stephanie would look him right in the eye and wink. She made him feel dirty for watching but he couldn’t stop. She was a fast talker, like Sal, though she never talked to Johnny. She was just as loud as her brother and she said things that the other kids had only heard old men mutter. Stephanie sauntered out of the crowd and leaned against the high bar. She walked like a movie star. Almost every day she wore a tight skirt that hit two inches above her knees and a thin v-neck sweater that showed off the glitter on her derricked chest. Stephanie played on the high bar every day at recess, an amateur gymnast always flipping around the pole. Her golden hair would whip around her face as she spread her legs and hung upside down from her knees. Her shirt always fell to her face and she tucked it in her bra so that only her white belly would show. The fire ignited in Johnny’s groin. He wanted her to start flipping around but she didn’t, she just leaned against the pole with her arms crossed and watched her brother. He hated the way she made him feel, the way he thought about her. If Johnny leaned just the right way from the high point, he could catch a glimpse of her underwear when she was upside down. They were always brightly colored and he wondered what she was wearing today and if her bra matched. The other girls didn’t wear bras. He thought about what her breasts looked like, hanging upside down like that, weighted and reddened from the extra blood. What her nipples would feel like in his mouth. He figured they couldn’t be as hard as pig nipples and he licked different things, trying to imagine them. They had to feel like tiny raspberries, juicy and squishy and perfect to roll over his tongue. Johnny’s hand slipped again and the dizziness started that he sometimes got when he watched her. He started to climb down so that he could run home and masturbate, maybe not even home, maybe just inside the trees. Every night he touched himself, thinking about her. She was so beautiful, what a shame she wasn’t an angel any more. The way she made him feel was surely the devil’s work. Again and again, the young boy beat himself raw and then scoured the bible looking for a way to stop his lustful thinking. One day he found it.
To kick off her summer break, some of the kids met up at the creek after church to swim. Johnny wasn’t invited so he hid in the woods and watched the others. There were five of them in all- the Baker sisters, Tommy, Sal and Stephanie. Mr. Baker had attached a knotted rope to a limb of an old willow tree and for a good while, Johnny watched the kids swing on it, jumping into the water, splashing each other. The sisters said they wore t-shirts and shorts on account of the leaches but they had mosquito bites for tits and a real bathing suit would have nothing to cover. Stephanie wore a shiny blue two-piece bikini with gold rings on the hips and Johnny saw more female flesh than he ever had. He touched himself in the bushes, watching her mounds wrap around the rope and her bottoms slide down her hips just a little when she let it go. Someone shouted, “isn’t this fun?” and Stephanie said she was bored, dared them to skinny dip. Sal thought she was gross, the Baker sisters blushed and covered their chests but Tommy was game. Both he and Stephanie stood on the bank and with the others in the water, Tommy slipped his trunks down just as fast as he could and then ran to hide with the others, his tiny shriveled pecker bouncing. Except for Sal, all eyes were on Stephanie and she liked it that way. Johnny’s hands were trembling. He had already exploded in the bushes, twice, his arm was tired, the pit burned in his belly and he watched her pull on the blue string at her neck. The triangles fell and there they were, tiny dark nipples, pinkish flesh, milky flesh. Tommy sunk deeper into the water. The fresh tits jiggled as Stephanie shimmied out of her bottoms, threw them in the wood line, swung her naked body out on the rope and slammed into the water. Johnny stopped touching himself, the heat was there but it was different, stronger, like anger. The boy crept quietly through the underbrush towards her bathing suit, the screaming from the kids covering any noise, snatched up the wet scraps of materials and disappeared again, hiding at the base of a tree on the ridge. It cooled his skin as he pressed it to his face. Johnny inhaled the stench of red clay, stagnant water, licked the lining where her nipples had been.
After a while, Sal and the Baker sisters went out to the road to wait for their friends. Once they were out of sight, Tommy and Stephanie started kissing in the water. Dark eyes watched the two teens move their hands over each other’s faces, necks, shoulders, down beneath the surface, the water undulating and churning around them. The other boy buried his face in the dark, wet curls that belonged to Johnny, greedily palming and squishing the perfect tits, jerking and thrusting the hips of a tyro until he suddenly stilled, pumped two slow ones, let her go, and walked to the road. It was the last time he saw her until the funeral.
When he left, Stephanie came out of the water and walked towards where she had taken off her bikini. She turned in circles, her naked body crouched and moving further into the wood line, her darkened hair hanging over her breasts, her ivory skin now pink from pressure.
“This what you want?” Johnny asked, his grave voice giving nothing away. Stephanie startled and saw a boy from school on top of the ridge, looking down at her with dark eyes, his body clad in jeans, a filthy grey t-shirt and a scowl. His worn tennis shoes trampled a thick covering of underbrush and a few small, purple flowers. He tossed a handful of blue down to her.
“Hey!” she cried, grabbing the shiny cloth and attempting to cover her chest. “What’da hell are ya doin’? How long have ya been there?”
Instead of answering, Johnny hooked his thumbs in his pockets and observed her feet as they found the proper holes and then the gold rings as they slid back up onto her hips. She raised her head and saw that he was watching her. The boisterous New Yorker stood up straight, folded her arms across her chest, sniffed the air and pretended to gag.
“Ugh,” she scoffed. “Ya do smell like a butthole, you little perv. Sal was right.” His eyes deepened and Johnny disappeared into the brush while Stephanie scrambled to dress. She was fumbling with the strings behind her neck when Johnny appeared and cracked her over the head with a fallen tree branch. Her body slumped as it hit the ground and her bare breasts stared him right in the face, plush and seductive. The fourteen year old fought down the greatest fire he had ever felt in his groin, slung her over his shoulders like a calf and moved quickly over the ridge, away from the road. Johnny wasn’t a large boy but a lifetime of working on farmland had given him the strength of a man. He followed the creek for a while and heard voices calling her name in the distance. When they stopped, he moved back towards the road and crossed it to head home while the others ran in the opposite direction towards town.
Wyatt sprung a hard on when he saw her. Loud-mouth Stephanie was unconscious at the base of a tree, her legs folded beneath her blue bikini bottoms, her top shoved in her mouth as a gag and her arms wrapped around the trunk, tied together on the other side with the string meant for her neck.
“Oh, boy, you really did it this time,” he said, a jack-o-lantern grin spread across his pitted face. His brother had gotten into trouble before but never like this, this was exciting, dangerous, wonderful. The two carried the girl down an old hunting path Johnny still messed around on and covered nearly three miles before it opened up at their backyard. They came out behind the barn, moved down the gravel walkway past the detached garage, through the backdoor of the house, beyond the kitchen and up a flight of stairs to the empty bedroom. Johnny was calm and placid while they went through the motions of tying her to the bed and replacing the gag with a hand towel. His mind weighed options on the impending process and he knew what to do, just not how to get started. With the work finally done, the two stood at the foot of the bed with their hands on their hips, the way their father always had after fixing on a car, and observed the beautiful naked form attached to the bed. Their heavy breathing slowed and Wyatt smugly put his hand on his younger brother’s shoulder and squeezed it.
“Man,” he said, wiping his brow. “What ya gonna do now?”
Johnny hooked his thumbs in his pockets.
“Turn her back into an angel.”
Sal, Tommy and the Baker sisters ran back into town as fast as they could. The girls lived the closest and within thirty minutes the group returned to the creek with Mr. and Mrs. Baker in tow. They found no sign of the girl or her bathing suit and after another hour of searching, sent Tommy to get Mr. Moretti since his own kid couldn’t even make it once around the track. He should have been faster but Tommy’s nuts throbbed with every foot strike so it took nearly twice as long for him to get help. The search party slowly grew and the teens fielded tough questions like, “why didn’t you all go out to the road together?” They bullshitted their way through most of it but by nightfall the police were involved and the skinny dipping escapade was revealed. If Sal was a Black bear then Mr. Moretti was a rabid Grizzly who broke the boy’s nose when he leaned that his daughter and Tommy had been alone together. After two weeks with no hard evidence to support a continued search, the rescue efforts were called off with the only result being a restraining order that was granted to Tommy’s family against Mr. Moretti.
Halfway through the new school year, Sal had been suspended four times and then finally expelled for punching his math teacher. The New Yorkers eventually moved back to New York without their missing daughter. Stephanie had simply vanished until one day, nearly seven years later, her skull was discovered not far from where she had disappeared.
A set of wings had been carved into the back.