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Author’s Note: I’m not a doctor in any sense of the word. I don’t work in any medical field. So, please accept my apologies in advance if I end up with some inaccuracies. Thanks for reading!!
Vince’s truck stayed right behind Arthur’s car when they were on the road.
Jake’s red car was behind Vince’s truck.
Arthur nearly lost his cool again, but he convinced himself that he was safe and everything was going to be fine. He had to do that, otherwise he’d accidentally drive off the road.
When they were finally at Vince’s house, Arthur drove onto the yard and parked the car. As he was told, he didn’t unlock the doors. He stayed right where he was. There was the rural equivalent of a single street lamp in the yard. It kept the pitch blackness out of everyone’s eyes. Arthur watched Vince’s truck roll up beside his car. He heard the engine stop and the passenger-side door open and close. Vince quickly walked around just as Jake’s red car’s lights glared behind them all. Jake was officially in Vince’s yard. He was trespassing.
Arthur put his palm over his heart and tried to comb his breath out of its tangled state.
He saw Vince’s shady figure turn as stiff and hateful as a pissed off cat. Then, to Arthur’s horror, he saw Jake stalking up towards their vehicles.
Vince ran up to him, and the first thing he did wasn’t to say something like, “Get the fuck off my property!!” Nope. The first thing he did was put an arm around Jake’s god damn throat and force him down to the ground. There was some struggling and grunting, along with shouting that Arthur couldn’t quite make out. He was pretty sure there were some punches and kicks sprinkled into their frantic rolling around.
All the activity suddenly stopped.
A rigid moment.
Vince got up and literally kicked Jake, making him roll over. Then Jake pushed himself up to his feet and limped on over to his car.
And Jake just … drove off.
Arthur felt as if his entire being had been scraped out. Ice cream angrily dug out of a carton with a spoon. He watched Vince go up to the car. He wasn’t limping at all. He gently knocked his fingers on the window. Arthur rolled it down. “Are you okay?”
Vince nodded. His hair was a mess. “I got a few bruises on my chest and belly, but I’m okay. That guy can fight, but not like me. I’m surprised he didn’t bring a weapon.”
“Maybe it really was a stupid coincidence,” Arthur said, “and he didn’t expect to see me back there. He probably thought he could just grab me the moment I was somewhere private.”
“What a dumbass,” Vince hissed out. “Okay, come on in. You’re staying the night.”
Arthur didn’t know what to say to that.
“We’re going to the basement,” Vince said as he locked the front door. There was a keypad for a security system near that door. He pushed a few buttons that made beeping sounds.
Arthur put his hands on his hips and asked, “Why?”
“Well,” Vince said as he made a beckoning gesture, “I have a secret bomb shelter. If Mr. Asshole decides to come back with friends, at least you’ll be where he can’t find you.”
Arthur blinked twice. Then he followed Vince off to the entrance door that led to the basement. “Where in the absolute fuck did you hide a bomb shelter? There aren’t any other doors in the basement.”
Vince shrugged and sucked his cheeks in a bit. Then he made a wet noise in his mouth. “Think about it, Dummy. Why would you be allowed to see a secret door?”
Thinking he needed to see this to believe it, Arthur went downstairs with Vince to the basement, where the personal gym was. Then Vince went to a wall that looked fairly normal.
And he moved the wall like a sliding door.
Arthur hadn’t even noticed the crack.
Behind the wall, there was a thick, metallic door with a tiny window, a handle, and a rotating crank that reminded Arthur of a centuries-old ship’s wheel.
Vince opened the door. It made heavy creaks. Then Vince very politely asked Arthur to go in as if this was completely normal.
It was basically a second house, but underground. Two plain bedrooms. Two super clean bathrooms. A living room with a huge gun safe in the corner. An office with a PC and file cabinets. A library of books. A kitchen that might have never been used. A small dining area that looked like it was cut out of a magazine. A huge storage room full of medical supplies. A second storage room full of water in bottles and jugs. A third storage room full of all kinds of non-perishable foods and freeze-dried meals, including some military MRE packages.
These were all the things Arthur saw that he could basically understand. There were a few other rooms full of things he didn’t quite know what to think of. Oxygen tanks. Gas masks. Weird tools and machines. Lots of stuff.
“Pick a room,” Vince told him. “You can sleep in it. I’ll go upstairs and make sure the whole house is secure.”
Arthur tried to make himself comfortable inside the smaller bedroom. He güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri took off his shoes and sat on the bed.
But he couldn’t figure out how to make his hands stop shaking.
He rested on his side and tugged his knees up close to his chin.
His belly felt sour and cruel. His face was nearly feverish.
When a knock sounded, Arthur jolted back up to a sitting position. “Hey,” Vince’s voice said from outside, “are you okay?”
Arthur’s voice sounded like his balls had only dropped a few minutes ago. “Uh … uh, yeah?”
“Yeah, no. You’re not okay. Mind if I come in?”
After a chunky gulp of stress, Arthur said that was fine.
Vince entered the room with a gloomy frown on his normally charming face. He closed the door behind him. “Do you want some cake? I got all kinds of stuff for baking a cake.”
Arthur’s fingers clawed as he put his hands on his thighs. “Sure, that’s … that’s cool.”
Vince wasn’t wearing any shoes. His white socks pressed into the carpet as he moved in. “You really don’t look so good.”
With an unusual vigor, Arthur shook his head back and forth. “I’m good! It’s all good!”
Vince took a spot on the bed, on Arthur’s left. His weight made the mattress grouse and grumble much more than Arthur’s weight had done. “I’ll bring the ingredients and cake mixes down here, and you can help me bake it if you want.” His closed fingers lightly tapped Arthur’s shoulder. “What kind do you want?” We can do chocolate, vanilla, lemon, angel food, even rainbow sprinkle crap.”
Quite randomly, Arthur chose chocolate. Normally, Arthur would’ve made a joke about dirtying up such a nice, clean kitchen, but he wasn’t in the mood. As he mindlessly performed each task given, his brain was swamped with negative thoughts.
He’d ran away, just as before. He didn’t face Jake. He just ran away.
Like a scared little bitch.
“Hey, you can stop mixing that.”
Arthur looked down at the bowl of batter he’d been mixing with a spoon. Vince had an electric mixer, but he hated cleaning it. “Oh,” Arthur said with no emotion. “Okay.” He slid the bowl across the counter, towards Vince. “Here you go.” While Vince poured and scraped the batter into the cake pan, Arthur sat down on a stool and looked down at the shiny tiled floor.
Soon, he heard the oven’s door being opened, the pan being placed on the rack, and then the door shutting.
“Hey, you need some water?”
A stupid, weak little bitch.
Arthur could hear Jake’s screaming, and he actually felt his arm ram into a wall right after being shoved.
Snap, snap, snap!!
Vince’s hand was before Arthur’s eyes, rough and insistent. He’d snapped his fingers. Arthur blinked at them and lazily said, “Oh, what’s up?”
“You’re totally out of it.”
“No,” Arthur slowly let himself off the stool. When his socks slid on the tiles, and he fell down, Vince caught him.
“Woah! Be careful, Man!”
For some reason, that was the breaking point. That was when tears escaped and Arthur screamed into his palms.
Vince walked him to the living room. On the way, Arthur sobbed out angry and shameful things.
“I can’t do anything! What kind of man am I?! I couldn’t fight back! I just ran off like I always do!”
Vince sat him down on a couch. “Calm down!” He gripped Arthur’s shoulders like he thought Arthur would keel over. “Why do you need to hate yourself? That’s not healthy.” His fingers pressed down a little bit more. Arthur thought he wouldn’t move even if something from behind pushed him. “Everyone has flaws, but come on.”
Wiping his face with the heels of his hands, Arthur blubbered out, “A man should … you know … do stuff! I’m a god damn coward!”
Vince literally shook him, stunning him enough to hush him. “Hey, you’re not a coward.” His voice as low, but fuzzy and comforting, a soft blanket on a cold day. “You just did what made sense. We can’t all be raging badasses.”
“Huh?” Arthur made the grossest sniff. Then he looked ahead at Vince’s shirt and wrinkling jeans. He’d changed clothes before getting all the cake stuff. He faintly smelled like fabric softener.
“Just calm down and stop beating yourself up.” Vince let him go and took a step back. He put his hand on his hip. “Let’s watch a movie or something.”
As Vince went to the television, Arthur watched his long legs move in those jeans. He was like a hero from of an old pulp fiction book cover … well, almost. The hairstyle was a bit too wild and crazy.
And he really was, honestly and truly was, the nicest guy Arthur had ever met.
On the following morning, everything seemed okay. Vince even said so. After eating a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, Arthur went back home. He got a few texts from his friend. “You ok? Ok. Hey, you still ok?” Arthur thought it was sweet.
He wondered for a while if Vince could possibly, maybe, just maybe … be interested in güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri …
But he shot the thought down.
Vince probably wasn’t interested in men.
And even if he was, there was little chance that Vince would even think of Arthur that way.
Didn’t Vince even say that he didn’t care what Arthur’s sexual orientation was?
Yeah, yeah. That’s right. Vince never took that into consideration.
They were buddies.
Some time went on very peacefully. Arthur had obsessively checked his place for any signs of anyone watching him, but he found nothing. Of course, his main source of socialization was Vince, and Vince was very supportive.
“Have you had any more problems lately?” Vince asked.
They were in Vince’s kitchen, certainly not the one in the basement. Vince was chopping up some mushrooms and green peppers while Arthur was stirring some boiling angel hair noodles.
“No,” Arthur said, “everything’s been quiet.” He moved on to the browning ground beef in a pan nearby.
“Well, that’s good.” Vince put a large draining dish onto a plate. “But you’ll have to let me know if something does happen.”
Arthur nodded. “Uh huh.” He didn’t want to talk about Jake, really. He wanted to eat and play games.
And that’s what they did later. It was a nice time.
But Arthur noticed something a little bit strange. He was washing dishes, because why shouldn’t he? He thought Vince was watching TV in the living room, but happened to see him casually walk close to the front door. Vince reached for the shoes that had been neatly arranged in rows on a mat. Arthur thought he might have been thinking of going for a walk. “Hey,” he called out to Vince, “wait for me so I can go with you.”
Vince actually nudged a shoe perhaps a quarter of an inch. “Oh no, I’m just having an OCD moment.”
Not knowing if what he was doing qualified as OCD, Arthur shrugged and put more effort into scraping sticky leftover noodles off of a dish. He thought he heard Vince push a few other shoes around, and then Vince’s footsteps echoed away. “Going to the bathroom,” he said as Arthur rinsed a dish.
Arthur heard the footsteps bang all the way upstairs.
He put the dish on a rack for draining.
BAM!! BAM!! BAM!!
Arthur jerked a bit, looked up at the ceiling, and said, “What the fuck?!”
He heard Vince’s voice. He was hollering his answer. “Big ass spider!!”
“Must be a really scary spider,” Arthur mumbled to himself.
Upstairs, in the bathroom …
Vince was happily humming to himself.
The side of his hand swept a tiny crumbled mess of wires, plastic, metal, and glass, into his other hand. Then he dumped that into a small plastic grocery bag. He kept some of those bags under the sink for when the trash can needed to be lined. He tightly tied the handles into two knots. Then he hid the bundle under a box of cleaning supplies, planning on burning it later.
On the kitchen sink’s counter top, there was a small towel and a hammer, instead of a dead spider and a shoe, slipper, or fly swatter.
Whenever Arthur looked back on the situation, he always wondered if there was anything he could have done to change fate’s peculiar course.
The first mistake, if it could’ve been called that, was leaving the house while the sky was darkening. Arthur had realized he didn’t have any milk, and holy fuck did he want some cereal. There were a few other things he wanted too, so he thought he might as well drive on to Walmart for late night shopping. He did tell Vince in a text, though. “Talk later, need to go to Walmart.” It was a normal text.
The second mistake was after Arthur parked his car in a darker area of the parking lot. He left his car, as a normal person would, and he didn’t pay a large bit of his attention to his surroundings.
And a hand slapped onto his mouth. The business end of a handgun was pressed against the side of his head.
“Get over here, now.”
He knew who that was.
Arthur was forced into the back of a black van. It smelled like cigarettes. The seats were folded down. There was a driver in front. Arthur’s kidnapper climbed into the back with him. Any time Arthur tried to make a significant move, that gun would click and his throat would he grabbed. Then something along the lines of, “Don’t fucking move,” or “You want to die?” would be spat out at him.
Fucking Jake. Of course!!
Arthur didn’t think Jake literally wanted to kill him, but he’d probably shoot him in the leg just to make him suffer. As for the driver, Arthur had no idea who it was. It could have been some guy happy to make a few hundred dollars, probably fresh out of prison with little job opportunities.
He felt and heard the van as it moved. He dug his fingers in a groove in a folded seat, something that was meant to be pulled up. His breath went into overdrive. His heart felt güvenilir bahis şirketleri like it was being abused. His palms and the undersides of his feet tingled.
Out. He needed to get out. How. How?! How to get out?
If he jumped out of the van, even if he tucked and rolled, he might break a limb and be unable to move. Plus, Jake would just snatch him before he touched the door handle.
“Did you hear me?!”
Arthur’s head was slammed into the back of the seat on the passenger’s side. He bounced and coughed. There was a cushion, but it was still enough to make him a bit dazed. He’d felt the metal rods supporting the headrest, after all.
“What?!” Arthur wheezed out. “I don’t know what you said!”
“Where’s that juiced guy, huh?!” Jake’s breath reeked. Alcohol, cigarettes, and maybe a hint of vomit. Arthur thought he could feel it settle on his cheek like moss. “Not here to save you?! Fucking A!!” He literally used the letter A in that phrase. “What’s he good for?! Probably all you’re good for!”
More ranting, more stupid ranting. Think you got away? Think you’re smart? Think again, Bitch. You’re back with me, now!
Stupid, enraged statements.
When the van stopped, Arthur was grabbed by his hair and dragged out of the van. It felt like his scalp would be ripped off. He landed on his knees, which was pretty painful. There was at least grass, though. Arthur felt it on his bare hands. Arthur looked up, and between Jake’s long, dark legs, he saw a mobile home similar to the one he lived in. The van started up again and drove off like it was afraid of something.
When Arthur tried to get up to his feet, Jake’s shoe, likely a boot, rammed into his head, knocking his face into the ground and sending dazzling agony all around. He saw a combination of darkness and fireworks. Another kick went to his belly, which had him coughing up who knows what.
So much more pain. So many strikes.
Arthur tried to get away. When that didn’t work, he tried to curl into a ball.
Anything he’d ever learned from working out with Vince, unfortunately, went out the window. Then again, all he really knew was how to hit a punching bag really hard. Even when he’d tried something with Vince himself, Vince had gone stupidly easy on him, and Vince certainly had never used a gun to make him cower. All those guns in his safes, so many guns, none of those had ever been pointed at Arthur.
Arthur wasn’t tough. He’d never been tough. He never stood a chance against anyone.
Flooding everything in Arthur’s mind.
Arthur was shaking in the dirt, suddenly realizing there was a lack of assaults his body. The cool air felt so much better than normal. Everything ached. His eyes felt like they were tugging on his stomach, trying to draw vomit out. He was surprised that none was peeking out from his throat, but that could always change. He wanted to push himself to at least a kneeling position, but his limbs were so amazingly slow. It was like he was four eye blinks away from a deep sleep.
Somehow, some way, Arthur shut his eyes, grit his teeth, and finagled his muscles into an appropriate movement. He was on his hands and knees, his fingernails nearly cutting bent blades of grass, when he thought he heard someone yell something with an oddly … delirious tilt in the words. “I’M SO FUCKNG ANGRY!!”
And … laughter. Laughter that just didn’t sound … normal. It was practically unhinged, off the typical model, nails on a chalkboard, forks and knives all over a plate.
Weakly, Arthur opened his eyes and tried to adjust to the cruel lights. They were coming roughly from Arthur’s left. They seemed to be car lights.
Something blurry, something dark, was on the ground some feet away.
Arthur figured out it was a gun. Jake’s gun? He didn’t want to pick it up. He didn’t know how to shoot a gun.
First one, it made Arthur jolt and close his eyes again. He heard someone cry out.
Then a second one. Another cry. Arthur coughed.
Wait. If there were gunshots, then they didn’t come from the gun on the ground.
The light wasn’t doing him very many favors. When he forced himself to kneel and looked around, he saw two nearly silhouetted male figures. One was on the ground. The other was standing over him, and kicking so much shit out of him that Arthur wondered if anything was breaking.
Between each kick, there was a bright, insanely thrilled statement or a bit of laughter from the attacking figure.
“Stupid little prick!!”
“I warned you, didn’t I? Haha!!”
“Well how’s it feel now, Sweetheart?!”
Arthur was certain that the assailant had a gun in one of his hands.
“Feel pretty big?”
“Feel like you can do shit?!”
And a crunching STOMP!!
That last movement finally made the man on the ground turn quiet and still.
Arthur tried to gurgle something out. He felt like a corner of his head had a huge, throbbing tumor hanging off of it.
Then he heard more vehicles drive up. Their lights blinded him. Arthur covered his eyes with an arm and tried to shout.
Someone else shouted. “Arthur!!”
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