Take a Trip

Written by Anthony Laurens

Marieʼs drunk. Thats how I know sheʼs going to kill again. She always does it this way. Two empty bottles of tequila told me that she had a busy week last week, and the crystal decanter only ever comes out when sheʼs feeling extra special. I like the way her voice gets deeper, lusting like pink powder puffs kissing the necks of young burlesque queens, silk caressing the inside thigh of a debutante riding high on decadence and the first kiss of a suitor who has partaken of many young delicacies before. Or maybe its another, more sordid, sort of depth. Inside the rabbit hole, watching myself fall, again and again, into the ageing, reckless beauty of her hypnosis I canʼt help but wonder if maybe I like it too.

And weʼre off, tracing the sky like acidic stardust. Itʼs not at all slow, I forget what this drug is called, the sky is opening as we speak. Pouring light into skin streaked with patches of nerve wrecked...Nerve Wrecked - thatʼs what itʼs called...but spelled in some hip street slang way...and a utopia feeds into my hungry eyes.

Weʼve hit the highway.

Faster, Marie hits the gas gently, gently, donʼt draw attention. But faster, Marie says no. Itʼs always like this, but she knows best. Adrenalin fighting to burst through my body, urging me on and I pull myself back into the stiff hold - an animal in a cage. She hitʼs me with another derm, this oneʼs green. At first it makes me spin, but then I zero out and Iʼm back in control, more mellow this time, and Marie is eating through the traffic with the steadiness of a mother who is going to be a comfortable 15 minutes early to the PTA meeting.

The new car has fabric seats, I donʼt like them very much. The old one had leather upholstery, easy to bleach but gets cold in the winter. Weʼre headed for this small district, Sea View. Ironically named since the only things you can see are a trailer park, a small mountain range hiding an old abandoned quarry and a huge billboard hosting the peeling edges of an old advertisement for sunny sea-side holidays somewhere a few miles east of here. Marie picks ‘em up here.

Says itʼs better as no one will notice so much. I just like it ‘cause they donʼt know better, less agro right?

Weʼre here to see Vince. His names not really Vince, but no one knows his real name save a few of the older guys, and they ainʼt talking shit about Vince to no one. Rumour has it that this one chick, real cutesy looking broad with a Barbie-doll waist and legs that went on for days, shacked up with one of ‘em and got him to spill on Vinceʼs birth-given appellation. Next day she was found half way up a scaffolding rig, lashed onto a metal bar and crucified like Christ himself; only I imagine the original spectacle didnʼt include the balls of some bloke being cut off and nailed to the front door of his trailer.

Vince gets off on just about anything, and if youʼre the right person, heʼll hook you up with just about anything you could dream of. Marie sets him up with his meth supply, at an incredibly reasonable premium, so he sees to it that she gets whatever she asks for. What Marie is asking for tonight? Girls. Tall and skinny is how she likes ‘em. Sheʼs pretty typical like that, buys into the media propaganda that a healthy rack and an unhealthy waistline is the only way to be glamorous. Tonight she wants a brunette. Last week it was a redhead, and by the amount of hair left in the backseats Iʼd say at least two blondes. She never goes for brunettes though...Maybe she doesn’t want to feel like sheʼs looking too closely into a mirror.

Tonight she wants a brunette.

Whilst Marie and Vince are conducting business I slip off to some dark corner with another derm I grabbed from the handful Marie left in her purse. I take a pink one out and roll the sleeve of my blue cop uniform. The pink ones are the shit, slow down the world and takes the edge off of all those sharp corners yʼknow? Then Iʼm climbing into the trunk, got to be quiet now. Iʼll know when sheʼs ready. She always lets me know.

So Marieʼs picked out a real dead ringer for Darine Stern this time, impossibly long legs and the softest black skin, a few shades darker than darkness itself. This exquisitely sculpted womanʼs long fingers extend elegantly as they disappear into Marieʼs hairline, grasping at each hair seductively, pulling her body forward; Marieʼs face coming close now to kiss her barely clothed breasts as she is moved, drawn in by the womanʼs firm anchorage on Marieʼs bonnet of brown locks.

Itʼs like a dance, Marie chooses her partner and they begin, falling into each other as easily as a ballerina falling into the arms of her ballerino; well rehearsed, elegant, with the grace of a woman who knows exactly how to fall.

And Marie falls so well that her dancing partner barely sees her shift into the lead, teasing the control back into her well worn hands. She pulls the last vestiges of her upper garments off and knocks an elbow on the roof of the car. Oops. Giggling. Grasping. Again. Oops.

Two knocks and Iʼm delicately working the inside catch for the trunk, popping the lid and pulling myself to my feet. Iʼm out. I close the trunk and I see Maries handprints making small windows into the back seats, through the steamed up opaque of hot breath.

I knock on the window and shine my flashlight into the vehicle, illuminating the obscured figures through the translucence of breath and sweat. The young girl, caught off guard in the heat of her exchange, startles - itʼs easier when theyʼre startled - and raises her hands obligingly. Marie winds down the window whilst fumbling artistically for an item with which to cover herself. I find myself following the usual script, asking the young ladies to exit the vehicle with their hands on their heads, sounding predictably official.

Predictability is important for this bit.

Theyʼre out of the vehicle. Whilst the shock is fresh in the system itʼs best to move swiftly. Thatʼs why the pink derms help, everything slows down and you feel like a video game hero locking on to your target with enough time to lock on to all the weak spots before you pull the trigger. A few carefully recited lines later and their hands are on top of the vehicle, itʼs important to lack enthusiasm...no one in these parts enjoys being a cop, and no one wants to be the reason a copʼs gotta fill out paperwork for discharging a weapon.

I move towards the young woman first, stereotype dictates that I change my script somewhat here. Usually Iʼd take the line of seedy, taking full advantage of my position of ‘authorityʼ to have a bit of fun with the girl, but no oneʼs going to believe that a police officer in redneck country passed up the opportunity to be a despicable human being to a woman of colour.

I handle her with the precise deadpan attitude of a robot without instructions. I move her by her arm that little bit more brutishly and tighten the cuffs just tighter than they need to be, trying to play a part I donʼt understand. This isnʼt how it usually works, I need a script. I throw in some racial slurs, buy myself time to think. I donʼt really know how to think. Iʼve never had to care about this bit.

I donʼt care of course, I donʼt care about any of it, Iʼm just desperately trying to improvise a part I play every time Marie calls my name. She doesnʼt like it when I feel things. She likes it when I play her game. She doesnʼt like it when I add my own rules.

Iʼve taken too much time, improvising wasnʼt part of tonightʼs game. Marie made it a part of the rules but she didnʼt tell me. She didnʼt tell me and Iʼve blown it. The woman is asking questions, the shock is wearing off. Sheʼs seen that there is no cop car. How did I get here? How did I know? Sheʼs pulling away from me before Marie has had time to move, before Iʼve secured the cuffs and sheʼs slipping from my grip. My palms are sweating, this doesnʼt usually happen.

Then she pulls the trigger

Marie is holding my firearm. Marie is calm. The body of a sultry vixen lies fifteen feet in front of us. Like an angel, arms like wings spread palms down into the dirt, draining blood from the entrance hole at the tip of her spine.

Marie gathers her up, a bundle of limbs bobbing lazily with soft momentum as Marie walks towards the car. Blood. Blood in the dirt. Blood in her hair. Drops forming a dot to dot across dry, dusty earth. This has never happened before. Itʼs always neat, subtle, clean. And always in the car.

I open the back door.

Sheʼs laying there, our angel, it wasnʼt meant to be this careless. Iʼm sorry. The adrenaline fast-tracks a comedown from the cocktail of drugs in my system and I fall, barely steadying myself against the rear of the front passenger seat. The rollercoaster is coming to a stop and I want to get off. I vomit. Thereʼs blood. Shit.

Marie is gone. Iʼm stumbling to my knees outside of the car door now, catching the fabric of the seat in my nails, knees scuffing the ground, nothing but my DNA dripping onto the dirt floor from the door seal, and her body losing warmth next to me. Iʼm unconscious.

The police said it was a 17 year old girl, high on a hallucinogenic cocktail of drugs. The local strip joint Vinnieʼs has been operating out of the east coastʼs more vibrant down-town area for decades. Bright neon lights illuminate the frontage of Vinnieʼs and you can see nothing but miles of brilliant white coastline and the discarded paraphernalia of its customers wild habits on its doorstep. The billboards on the street are alive with plastered posters of porno flicks, including the hotly anticipated ‘Trailer Trash Prom Queenʼ, hyped for its controversial casting decisions. They never found the bodies, but the getaway vehicle was found five miles from the shooting, dumped at the beach, and a trail of booze, blood and bodily fluid marked the trail across the pier and into the ocean.

The media reported that the girl had no family to speak of, had often been seen by neighbours to be ‘disorientatedʼ and arguing with herself. She had lived alone in a run down basement apartment that stank of urine and had bags of hair cut-offs, wig glue and disposable razors littered across the unfurnished floor. The walls were found to be decorated with clippings from newspapers, missing persons reports of known working girls in the area, an array of blonde and red-head beauties. None were ever found.

After that night the disappearances stopped, no one ever rented out that crappy basement apartment and Vinnies kept on trading like it always did. The car was never towed away, something about the police force being too busy with real problems to clean up another chunk of metal debris that littered the coastline.

I floated for what felt like days. I watched the blackness of the sky swarm around overhead, ticking down the last moments of my memory, the harshness of the cold ocean wind burning my wet cheeks. Pictures of women plagued my hangover, intermittent transmissions of unfamiliar faces broken up with visions of screaming and blood. Was Marie ever really with me? I see skinny white women, sweating, moaning. Screaming. Iʼm in the back of the car, flashes of tequila, lipstick smeared across leather. No. Fabric. Iʼm sliding a pistol up her skirt, this one was blonde, something about putting her hands in the air, or am I kissing her. Sheʼs frightened. The razors werenʼt there to hurt her. No, not the razors. But they were all afraid. Pretty.

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