Adam left me there shaking, scared to death of what would happen next. I thought briefly about going into the kitchen and grabbing a knife of my own in order to defend myself in case he came back. I buried myself under the dark covers and cried for an hour, silently so it wouldn't raise suspicion and force him to come back to quiet me. Finally, when the house was quiet and dark as the night sky outside, I took the top shelves off of my closet dresser and removed one of the 5 gallon paint buckets. I snuck out the back door, which stood like a towering gray tombstone across the hall from my bedroom. In the fogged up window centered in the door frame, I could almost make out an inscription on the window, Rest In Peace. I went to the water hose in the back yard, turned the water on and filled the bucket. Then I walked back into the house and carried the bucket to my room. I didn't dare chance going to the only bathroom, it was by Adam and Jenny's room.
I took an old t-shirt and tore it into small pieces. I used these and a few drops of dish soap from the kitchen in order to wash my body. Sitting in the floor in the corner of the bedroom, I scrubbed the invisible disease from my flesh. Blood oozed from the reopened wounds on my skin. The water was cold and made goose bumps swell all over my arms and legs. I couldn't seem to get clean enough. No matter how I scrubbed and bled, I was still dirty.
I was deep in thought, lost in questions. What had I done to make Adam hurt me like that? Why would he do that to me? I had trusted him and he took advantage of me. He clapped his hand over my mouth while holding the knife up against my throat. I could feel the teeth of the serrated blade cutting into my trachea. He leaned over and whispered in my face.
"If you move, if you scream, I'll kill you." He reached under the blankets and tore my flannel nightgown off of me, tugging and fighting with it as he went. Finally he resolved to just get it out of the way. That was the last thing I could remember focusing on until I saw him walking out of my room, the blade of the knife glinting in the moonlight streaming through the window in the back door.
I shuttered. I scrubbed some more. I cried and scrubbed and cried. Nothing could end the cycle. The water in the 5 gallon bucket turned pink as I washed out the bloody rags in the cold water. Finally I grabbed my blanket and snuck quietly through the kitchen straight towards the hallway leading to Adam and Jenny's room. A large walk-in closet close to their room was filled to over flowing with old jackets and dresses of Jenny's, things she couldn't wear anymore. They never got rid of anything. I found a cardboard box full of sheets, towels and pillow cases near the bottom of the pile that were clearly forgotten long ago and made a nest among them. I curled up in the fetal position, covered myself completely with clothes and jackets, and tried to sleep there in the floor of the closet. In no time I was being eaten alive by fleas and fearing what would happen to me if Adam discovered where I was hidden.
In the morning I was still wide awake. I heard Adam leave for the daily work hunt and Jenny was in the kitchen fixing some Ramen Noodles for breakfast. If I left the closet then, I would be spotted and Jenny would want to know what had happened. Maybe I should tell her, I thought to myself. Then a flash of the previous night's encounter with Adam sprang back into my memory.
"And don't even think of telling Jenny. Who do you think she'll believe," he smiled a sinister, evil smile and looked me right in the eyes. "the man she's going to marry, or some Bi#@h we picked up at the bus station a few days ago who's own Grandmother didn't want her?" Seething in a searing agony and pain, blinding flashes of torture and rage surged through my body. I jerked wildly under the pile of clothes and jackets, suddenly claustrophobic. Jackets and clothes flew through the air, a mixture of wrinkled rainbow articles smacking the doors and walls, sliding down into small piles around every edge of the closet. A silk scarf landed back on me, covering my face, only it wasn't a scarf. It was Adam's hand over my mouth and his blonde dreadlocks brushing the sides of my face and shoulders. I screamed at the top of my lungs.
The door to the closet flew open and there stood an alarmed Jenny. Her wide eyes tried to focus in the darkness of the closet. She stood there with one hand on the door handle and one hand on the wall, leaning in ever so slightly trying to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. Her disheveled hair looked as though a bird had taken refuge in it. She was a far sight different than she looked the day they found me at the bus stop. Had she held a broom, she could easily have been mistaken for a young witch in the days of the Salem trials.
"Jenny?" I said, cautiously, "It's just me."
"Oh my Lord, you scared me half to death! What were you doing in there? Oh! I forgot to give you another pillow, didn't I? I don't think there are any in the closet though. Come on out and I'll grab you one from my bedroom closet." Jenny had given me a way out of the closet without even realizing it. It was obvious she didn't know anything about the last night. She trotted to her room and fetched a pillow off the top shelf of her closet and handed it to me. "Look at the pretty little jade coyote I bought for Adam. He just loves it." She set it on the kitchen counter and I looked at it for a minute. Then I looked back at the pillow in my hands.
"Thanks," I said and trudged back to my room.
I got dressed and then tried to figure out some way of getting the bucket of pink water out of my bedroom. As Jenny went into the bathroom to shower, I snuck the bucket out the back door and dumped it off the porch. Then I snuck the bucket back to my room, placed it back on the shelf and put the wooden planks back in place. Everything looked normal once more.
"Your turn for the shower," Jenny called out to me. "Oh! And I have some good news!" She came down to my room and poked her head around the corner. "I found a friend to help you."
Fearful of anything that moved right then, I asked what kind of a 'friend' and what they were going to do to help me. I was plainly skeptical. I had trusted Adam and Jenny, and though Jenny didn't betray me, Chadwick Adam had betrayed my trust more than any single human being on the face of the earth.
"Oh, he's a good guy. He's Cuban, but he doesn't have an accent. He said he would help you find a job."
"And how is he going to do that," I asked nervously.
"He has a car. He said he would drive around and pick up a bunch of job applications for you that you could fill out. Then he would take you around to drop them off. Isn't that a great idea?"
"Is he your friend or Adams?"
"Does it matter? He's Adam's friend, but I like him too."
My blood pressure raised, my heart beat into my chest and I felt an instant headache. My hair at the back of my neck stood up on end and I knew this was a bad idea. I ignored all of my instincts though and decided that I needed the job applications badly enough. I could walk in order to drop them off, but I would at least let this stranger pick them up for me.
I doctored my wounds the best I could with a little help from Jenny. She had a liquid foundation makeup just a shade darker than my skin tone that we dabbed on my wounds. It didn't completely cover the marks, but it helped in some way.
We inspected our handy work. Looking at the mirror from a distance I almost looked like an albino Dalmatian. Jenny tried to blend things together a little better, but that didn't work - so she spread on more makeup. By the end of it all, I was a full shade more tan than I had been. I loved Jenny. She was such a sweet girl.
I walked for hours that day. I didn't pick up a single job application or talk to a single person, or look anyone in the eyes. I didn't eat. I didn't drink. I didn't even stop. I just... walked. I felt like a hollow shell, my soul floating somewhere just out of reach, so that I couldn't hurt it anymore. I was numb to pain and cold to the world. A piece of me was dead, as though the knife held up to my throat had cut something out of me. There was an emptiness inside the pit of my guts that I couldn't fill.
That night I slept in the closet again, buried by clothes and blankets - but this time I had a knife with me. I had stolen the large kitchen knife that Adam had used on me the night before. I laid away for hours waiting for him to creak past the closet on his way to the kitchen and my room beyond. Finally I drifted off, safe and sound under my protective layers of junk.
Then I heard it. I didn't sleep well from then on and even now I'll wake up if I hear a floor board creaking. His weight shifted and I hear the board creak back into position. It groaned under his stocky build. I listened carefully with my ear up against the wall of the closet facing the kitchen. I heard the kitchen drawer slide open. Forks and spoons rattled around, but he didn't find what he was looking for. I gripped the handle to the blade tighter. This was it. He was going to look for me in my room and discover I wasn't there. There weren't too many places to hide in this old house. It wouldn't be long before he discovered me.
His feet creaked on the floor as he crept down the hall towards my room. I heard my bedroom door push open, groaning as though it was trying to warn me of the bad intentions Adam had in mind. My door handle thunked against the wall. The house fell silent. Surely by now he had discovered that the lump in my bed was actually the extra pillows Jenny had given me that morning.
I heard the kitchen floor groan again. Then I heard the floor board creek just outside of the closet door. I shivered in place, ready to spring into action if he came through that closet door. He'd never know what hit him.
I played the scenario out in my mind a thousand times. I was going to aim for his eyes. I didn't want to kill the guy. I just wanted him to leave me alone. Yes, I did want him dead. I wanted to kill him. But could I ever kill anyone? Could I kill Adam for what he had done to me? Sure I could! Who did I think I was kidding? I was just a scared little 19 year old girl who had nowhere else to go. I couldn't kill him. I couldn't even look at him. But if I stabbed him in the eyes, I wouldn't have to look him in the eyes again. But I would forever see his eyes staring back into mine as he held the knife up against my throat every time I tried to close my own eyes for a second. I would still see that evil, intense stare from him coming from the same eyes that looked at Jenny, poor 15 year old unsuspecting Jenny, with such love and admiration.
I heard the door handle squeak. It started to turn. He had come straight to the closet first. Had Jenny told him that she found me there that morning? How else could he have known where I was if I wasn't in bed?
The door slid open silent as the grave. Even through the pile of clothing over me, I could feel the evil near by. The hair on my neck stood on end again and I held my breath. I didn't dare move. I laid there in the fetal position as close as possible to the flea infested floor, piled on top by three feet of clothes. My heart thumped up between my ears and I was amazed he couldn't hear that even through my protective layers.
He kicked the pile of clothes and they shifted. I rolled with the sway, not wanting to give him reason to suspect I was underneath. He grabbed something off of the top and picked it up. I heard it pat against the wall and slide down to the floor. He picked up another article of clothing and tossed that, too. He got quicker, picking up more items, tearing them away with lightening speed. I gripped the knife tightly in my hands, ready to spring into action. I realized just then that the only area I could stab for would be his legs. But if I could get him down on the ground I could castrate him. That thought almost made me smile with the anticipation. I shook in my own skin, scared beyond belief.
I heard a ripping sound and looked to my left. Pressure and force had driven the blade of another knife straight through the pile of clothes and right between my face and my hand holding my own defensive weapon. It was about 2 inches from my nose. The knife slid out of the clothes and I couldn't move.
"Adam?" It was Jenny's voice. Adam dropped his knife on the floor and kicked it off to the corner.
"What are you doing?"
"I thought I'd empty out the closet," he replied with a lie.
"At 2 in the morning?"
"I couldn't sleep."
"Come back to bed. I know what will make you sleep."
Things had gone too far. I needed to get out. That very second I went and packed all of my things and carried them outside. I grabbed out a warm sweater and threw that on over a t-shirt and jeans. I shoved my suitcases under the broken lattice work surrounding the dirty underbelly of the old house. Then I grabbed the blanket I stole from my bed and went across the street. On my hands and knees I crawled under the porch of the house across the way and laid down in my blanket to wait. I didn't care or even think about snakes, poisonous spiders or scorpions. I slept under the porch that night and didn't wake up until the footsteps above me in the morning knocked bits of dirt onto my face.
I rolled over on my blanket and watched across the street. It was still early. The feet on the porch above me started to come down the stairs I was watching between and I shrunk back, afraid of being seen. The pair of boots and overly stuffed overalls walked over to an old maroon truck and got inside. The truck started, backed out of the drive way and trundled off down the road. A noise across the street got my attention.
I turned and watched Adam walk to the corner and disappear. I rolled out from the blanket, crawled out from under the porch, and jogged around the house to the back door. I took a second to lean over and check on my luggage. It was all still there. If Adam had gone back into my room at all that night, he would have thought I had run away in the night, taking their blanket with me. He wouldn't have said anything to Jenny, because she would have asked why he had been in my room in the first place.
I went into the house and waited for Jenny to come out of the shower.
"I guess it's your turn for a shower" she said, looking me up and down. "You look like you've been playing with a dust devil!"
"Jenny - do you trust Adam?"
"More than I trust anyone else in the world. Adam takes good care of me. He's never lied to me or yelled at me. He's always done everything he could for me. Why?"
"Never mind..." Absentmindedly I picked up the jade coyote on the kitchen counter and started to feel the smooth surfaces of the carved body. It really was lovely. It fit in the palm of my hand. "What time is that friend of yours going to be coming by today?"
"Oh, about 1 I think. And I wouldn't call him my friend exactly. Since you asked me yesterday if he was my friend or Adams, I started to think about it. I asked Adam how he knew the guy. He said that they met in jail. I decided I don't want him to be my friend."
Jail. Adam had been in jail. This was one of Adam's friends from jail. Jail. The word echoed in my mind, bouncing off the cavernous walls as though nothing else existed. Jail. Jail. Oh no. Jail.
"Adam went to jail? What for?"
"Some girl tried to say that he raped her. They didn't have any proof so he was let out. I tried to tell the girl that Adam wouldn't do something like that. Adam was with me and loved me. He just wouldn't need to do something like that."
"Jenny, how long ago did Adam get out of jail?
"About three months ago." I swallowed hard.
"And what was his friend in for?"
"Esteban? I don't know... but I think it was something having to do with drugs."
"That's the one coming over today, right?" Drugs. That sounded like someone I needed to stay away from.
"Yeah, I think so."
Without realizing what I was doing, I put the jade coyote in my pocket and walked to my room. I didn't have anything left in there, but I didn't want Jenny to know that. I sat down on the air mattress, pulled out the jade coyote, and found myself lost in thoughts.
By 1:00 that day, I had been alone with my thoughts for hours on end. I had come to terms with a few things and was getting a grip on reality again. Esteban showed up right on time and I walked to the front porch to meet him.
He had a sweet face and a kind disposition. He was rather handsome and oozed charm from every pore. He smiled and a full row of sparkling white Chiclets shined with a gilded gift from the sun. His dark skin and shining chocolate eyes were warm and inviting, and I couldn't help but like him right off the bat.
"Hi, you must be Amanda," he said to me, reaching out a hand to shake mine. I offered, and rather than shake it, he kissed it like a gentleman, bowing his head ever so slightly. I couldn't help but swoon a little.
"Hi," I grinned. "Yeah, I'm Amanda."
"I was just telling Jenny here that I had done something very stupid and left all of the applications at home. I could give you a lift over there and give you a ride back if you like."
Bells went off in my head clanging like someone just got married in a cathedral.
"No, that's ok. It's really nice out today. Why don't you tell me where you live and I'll walk over and meet you there."
"I donot mind giving you a ride," he said, pronouncing the second and third words as though they were one.
"I'd just rather walk," I said, noticing the disappointment in his face.
"You donot trust me."
"I'm sorry - I don't know you."
"Is ok. I understand. I donot live far. Just go two blocks up Ridgeline and turn to your right on 1st."
"I'll see you there," I replied and headed out for the walk up Ridgeline Drive, otherwise known as Pro Drive, Pimp Place or Crack Avenue.
His car was in the driveway when I arrived. The door at the very end of the long house was open. When I walked up, it looked simply like a long, dark hallway with multiple doors on both sides leading all the way down to end at a bathroom. The first door on the right was opened.
"Come on in," Esteban called from inside the room.
"That's ok," I said, lingering near the door. "Can I grab the applications?"
"Sure. I accidentally left them in my roommates room though, let me run grab them. Make yourself at home."
I looked at the poster of a mostly nude female model hanging on the front of the front door and wondered how close to making myself feel at home I could get. This was obviously a bachelor pad. Already I was feeling very uncomfortable. The front door to this room was so close to the open door out of the building that I felt a little more comfortable. Esteban walked out of the room and started down the hall. "Seriously, just have a seat on the couch, I'll be right back. I have to go to the bathroom first." He flashed his winning smile at me and I felt a little better.
I sat on the arm of a long red couch as close to the door as I could get. I started to take in my surroundings and caught movement out of the corner of my eye. A very tan arm reached across the doorway and caught the handle of the open door. The door slammed shut before I could reach it and I heard a lock click on the other side.
I tried the door handle and it turned - but the door didn't open. I had been locked inside.