Many great eons ago, my friend Fred posted this picture as his Facebook status and challenged people to make up a caption. I told him I'd take it one further and write a story. Fred probably thinks I've since forgotten, and maybe so has he, but I haven't. I look at this photo every now and then and ask her what her story is. This past week, she's finally gotten comfortable enough with me to tell the tale. So, here you go, Fred, especially.
He walks past me and I can tell he's trying hard not to look. About ten feet later, his curiosity gets the best of him and he turns. "You do realize that we're nowhere near Halloween, right?" I level him with a look that people typically interpret as "go the fuck away", which they also typically comply with. But maybe he isn't getting the proper translation due to the interference of my mask, because he just stands there. So, I make him wait as I take a slow drag off my cigarette, follow it up with a sip of wine and say, "I'm a prostitute. My john, who is late, gets excited when I wear Daisy Dukes and a Bat Girl mask."
I'm rewarded with an actual jaw drop.
"For real? You are?" He has that nerdy, stammering, William H. Macy adorable thing going for him. "I mean, it's okay if you are. I didn't realize I'd booked into that kind of a motel. Shit. Not that it's a specific kind of... um... seriously?"
"Nah. I'm fucking with you. I'm what's known in current vernacular as a soccer mom. Once a month my husband, Jack, and I like to keep the pot stirred, so to speak. We hire a sitter and check into a motel and get up to a bit more wickedness than we normally allow for, what with the constant threat of children walking in on us. Yesterday I was going through old boxes of crap, looking for stuff to give to the shelter and came across this mask. Our daughter wore it to a party a couple of years ago. I figured, what the hell, I'll change things up a little on date night. That, sir, is the true, boring story."
"It's kind of sweet, I think." He says. "And more impressive than the hooker story. How many kids?"
"Three. One girl, two boys. Eleven, eight and six. They are the joys of my life but for the many times a day when I want to auction them off to the highest bidder."
"You could just give them away...?"
"Never! I require recompense for the hard work I've put in, the least of which was a cumulative thirty seven and a half hours of labor. For free? No way in hell. And why am I telling you all this?"
He cocks his head and points at my now empty wine glass. "Could be...?"
"Oh, no. Momma can hold her liquor quite well, thanks ever so. It's probably more because I haven't talked to a grown up in over three days. My husband has been out of town - and where is he? He was supposed to be here over an hour ago. The only person I've talked to is the grocery store check out girl. She's hardly a grown up. I'm certain that if I named an early 90s band, she'd tell me how much her mom 'totes loves' them." I suddenly remember that I'm still sporting a Bat Girl mask. "You don't find the mask disconcerting?"
He gives me a shrewd once over. "No. I kind of like the anonymity of it. Plus, without it, I wouldn't have stopped to talk and I'm enjoying this. Nice evening, mysterious stranger... beats whatever's on TV."
I smile, but it's not a great smile. I'm really beginning to worry about Jack. I pull my cellphone out of my pocket and say, "Hang on a sec. I need to find out what's keeping the man." It goes to his voicemail. "Hey. Last I heard you were on the ground and about to head over here. Kind of worried that you're not here yet. Call or text me? 'K. Love you, babe. Bye." I shove the phone back in my pocket and turn my attention back to the William H. Macy Wannabe. "Sorry. I'm kind of concerned. It's not like him to be this late."
"You want me to take off? Probably wouldn't look good anyway if I was standing here when he drives up."
"No, it's okay. He knows me well enough to know better than to make stupid assumptions. And, you're helping pass the time which is helping to keep me from freaking out. I think I was a border collie in another life. I'm not happy unless I know where my flock is. So, now that you know everything there is to know about Bat Girl, tell me about you."
"I'm a serial killer."
My turn for the jaw drop, which makes my laugh sound strangled and rough. I raise my hands in surrender, "Whoa. Okay then, Mister Serial Killer. Woo woo... seriously."
"Seriously. I am. See the van over there?" He points across the parking lot. I nod, feeling chilled. "I have your husband. And if you want to see him one last time before you both die, you'll come with me. Quietly. Or, I can walk away. But you'll never see him again and I know where you live. Maybe I'll stop by sometime when your children are home."
I stand up, letting the cape drape over my arms. I'm hoping he'll forget I have the wine glass. And the cellphone. And... fuck. "This isn't happening." I whisper.
"Oh, but it is." He pushes my shoulder a little to get me moving. My legs feel weighted and the parking lot feels like it's miles wide. He nudges my shoulder a couple times to keep me going. We finally get to the van. He fishes through his keys and puts one in the lock.
I clear my throat. "Um. Is... Are you..." As he turns to look at me I grip the stem of the wine glass as tightly as I can, bring it up and ram it into him just below the jaw line. It shatters against his windpipe. Blood spatters my face as I bring my knee up hard into his crotch. He howls - I'm happy to say it is a gurgling sounding howl - as he stumbles away and falls to the ground. Before he can recover, I whip out my cellphone and dial 911. Before the operator can spit out, "Nine one one, what's your emergency." I interrupt with, "A man just tried to kidnap me, I hurt him, but he's still conscious. He says he has my husband. I'm in the parking lot of the Waterside Motel. His van is in the parking lot, a powder-blue Ford, license number three beta seven roger nine beta." I'm surprised by how calm and clear my voice is. The operator comes back with, "Stay on the line, Ma'am. Help is on the way. Are you safe right now? Or can you get to a safe place?"
I tell her to hang on a second. I walk over to where Mister Serial Killer is moaning and writhing. I kick him in the back of the head, right at the base of his skull. The gurgling moan stops. I put the phone back up to my ear. "I think I'm okay right here. My husband - he said he had him. The guy is unconscious right now. Or maybe dead. I don't know. I just kicked him... I'm... I..." It might be raining, because the flashing lights that are speeding toward the motel waver, but it isn't raining - I'm crying. "They're here. I mean, they're still coming down the street, but they're almost here...."
"Stay on the line, Ma'am. Don't hang up until they're right there with you."
Three police cars pull into the parking lot. I begin sobbing. Two cops run to where the killer is, one trains a weapon on him while the other cuffs him. Two others jog over to me, while another two hang back at a distance. "Ma'am? Ma'am? Are you injured? Is that your blood? Let me take your phone. It's okay, it's gonna be okay."
"No, not my blood, I don't think, I don't know... I'm.... I think I'm..." My knees suddenly refuse to work and I wobble. One of the cops grabs my elbow with one hand, wraps an arm around my waist and helps me sit down on the ground.
"Do you mind if I take this mask off of you, Ma'am?"
"Oh my god. I didn't even realize. Yes. Take it. Take the fucking thing and throw it as far away as it'll go. I never want to see it or touch it again... I..." I'm making big chuffing, sobbing noises between every other word. They're in rhythm with a loud banging noise. My head is swimming - noises sound like they're under water, lights look alien and surreal. One of the cops whirls about in slow motion and turns the key that was left in the van's back door. The back door yawns open and there is Jack, pale, wild-eyed, wrists and ankles bound with rope. What little grasp I have left on my emotion slips completely. "Ohhh. Oh... J-J-J-Jaaaack! Ohhh..."
Medics arrive and one of them gives me "a little help calming down" is what he called the shot. My husband has been released from his bonds and checked over and now has his arms wrapped around me. I'm mostly back in the real world. One of the cops squats so that we're eye to eye. "Ma'am, we'll take a longer statement later, but we'd like to get something from you while it's all fresh. Can you give me a brief description of what happened?"
I turn my head and give Jack a watery smile. "Yeah." I nod. "Yeah, I can tell you. I can tell you that bastard picked the wrong day to fuck with Bat Girl."