The first time I met Will Hudson, the man had everything. Sports cars, houses, women, and anything else that might make a man like me jealous. This morning, as I tried to leave his room, he grasped at me with handless arms, still fighting back. Some people have more to live for than others but I’ve never seen a man hold on for so long or fight so hard.
Six months ago, I picked him up from Kansas City International Airport in a black limo shinier than my Grammy’s wine glasses. You know the kind, top shelf, where no little fingerprints ever get to them. I remember thinking how tall he was, much taller than me and I’m hardly a short-ass. He must’ve stood about six-nine. Not anymore.
One little drive up I70, and Will Hudson, if he could stand at all, would have found himself my height, his feet amputated at the ankles.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no surgeon, and I certainly don’t know much about this kind of thing, but the jokes are growing unfunny at this point. What do you call a guy with no eyes, no hands and no feet? Will Hudson. See, it won’t get any funnier if they keep cutting him up.
I flicked a butt from the window of my ’08 CTS and hit the button to raise it. The drive to Independence would take me about forty-five minutes, and I wasn’t in the mood for music. Not after the day I’d had.
Marci actually shouted in my face today, crazy bitch, and while I’m not to sort to let a woman emasculate me in front of my superiors, sometimes you gotta let the small stuff go. Especially when it’s the mad scientist-looking mother-f ucker, vivisecting people up in her secret lab. Most of the times you hear me utter, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” you can bet the image of Marci sawing Will’s foot into little pieces and cauterizing each with mad delight painted all over her fat face, is on my mind.
You gotta be a little crazy to do this kinda job, but then you gotta remember who you’re working with. Other crazy people.
Yessir, rolling hills of family farms and neat little yards full of chiggers hide more than hicks and hillbillies. They hide crazy people, by the dozens. Mind-f ucked, certifiable, psychotic nut-jobs. Oh, and a secret lab, underground, where no one can find it.
Off the grid, sustained by its own generators and the supplies of a dozen local businesses, “the office”, is completely self-contained, and self-reliant. Four of our employees live in the same apartment block in Independence. Thankfully, Marci isn’t one of them.
I can’t remember how I got this job. I figure I’ve worked for Santino for five years. My car’s an ’08, my lease is month-to-month, and I have pictures of a dog on my wall I can’t remember. And there’s no trace of fur in my house. My driver’s license says I’m thirty-two, but I’m betting it’s fake. I don’t recognize the name Harvey Sanderson, anyways. I remember my parents, nice people. I doubt they’d name a kid Harvey. They seemed to care too much, for that.
I figure I was in school when Santino bought me this car. I always wanted a black Cadillac, just like Grammy’s. Problem was, when you drive ‘round places like Warrensburg and Holden every day, your black car, isn’t. Wish I’d thought of that, and just told him, “Thanks, but no, thanks.”
I shifted it into park, got my things out, and hit the lock button. “I’ll take you for a wash when I wake up,” I said, patting the hood, careful not to cause a scratch with the coating of dust covering my baby.
After grabbing my mail, I headed up, ready for a night of pizza and football.
I was just about to flick the lever on my La-Z-Boy, when the bell buzzed.
I jumped up, not about to argue with a pizza arriving in ten minutes, and opened the door, money in hand.
No pizza. Just Rita from the office. She held out a bottle of wine and winked. “Mind if I come in?”
Actually, I did, but I resisted telling her so. Rita turned up every weekend or so, and sometimes didn’t go home till Monday. She’d come by, we’d exchange a few pleasantries, then go back to my room and f uck like rabbits until we collapsed or the sun came up.
It was an okay arrangement, I guess. About all you can ask for from two people with no memories. She’d never come by on a Thursday before. We both had to be at work in the morning.
“I’ll just get some glasses,” I said, stepping aside so she could enter.
I searched my cupboards for glasses, but found nothing appropriate. I laughed, thinking for the second time that day about Grammy’s wine glasses. I didn’t own any. I’m more of a “beer straight from the bottle” kinda guy.
“Nice pants, sailor,” Rita purred, sliding her hand over my backside. I don’t know whether that meant she was impressed with my ass in my Chiefs lounge pants, or my fashion sense. I figured, neither.
Rita was a pretty, little Mexican girl, with big brown eyes and soft hair. She didn’t have an accent, but spoke fluent Spanish, so I guessed she was second generation. She was lovely to have around, and I truly didn’t mind missing a game for her, just so long as it didn’t become a habit.
As I uncorked the bottle, her hand slid around and slipped into the front of my pants, bypassing the elastic waistbands with ease. Ah, there you go, I thought. No beating around the bush with Rita. Woman knew what she wanted and didn’t hesitate a moment.
For obvious reasons, I abandoned my quest for glasses, even the plastic cup variety I was just about to pull from the cupboard, and turned to pull her into my arms. Kissing Rita felt so right, like the one thing that really belonged, in a world I didn’t understand. She grabbed two handfuls of my red sweatshirt and dragged me to the bedroom door.
“Didn’t you want wine?” I asked, pulling my mouth from hers as I fought for air.
“We’ll have it after,” she purred in my ear, leading me toward my bed.
She shoved me and I played along, enjoying the game. When I fell on the mattress, Rita jumped on me, sinking her teeth into my neck and pulling my hair. I don’t know whether I ever liked the rough thing before, but Rita did it so nice.
As she mauled me, I unbuttoned her shirt, revealing a lacy bra in hot pink. Intriguing. I wondered whether her panties matched. But, before I found out, the buzzer went off again.
When I sat up, she didn’t want to let me go. “Pizza,” I said, to explain.
She slid down in the bed and pulled me from my trousers, only to wrap her sweet lips around me in warm ecstasy. Fighting the urge to shout for the pizza guy to f uck off, I slid Rita’s beautiful face away and kissed her. “I’ll be right back.”
Adjusting my pants, so as not to frighten the guy at the door, I pulled my sweatshirt down as best I could. I opened the door, took the pizza, and thrust a twenty into his hand, shouting, “Keep the change,” as I slammed the door and locked it. I set the pizza on the counter and tried not to flat-out run back to my room.
When I returned, Rita lay naked on my comforter, on her stomach, with her feet kicking cutely in the air. I stripped off the sweatshirt and lounge pants, not caring whether a girl found my striptease sexy, just wanting to get to business.
When the sheets were wet and Rita smiled in delight, I kissed her cheek and went to the kitchen. We dined on cold pizza and warm wine, straight from the bottle that night, in my rumpled bed, with blankets and pillows scattered around the room, but no one was complaining. It was the best dinner I could have imagined eating.
I closed the box, reminding myself to take it out to the kitchen before passing out, so my room didn’t smell like stale pizza in the morning. I’d rather have it smell of Rita’s perfume.
“Harv,” she said, setting down the wine bottle, after taking a swig, “I had a weird daydream today, about a woman I can’t stop thinking about.”