Wednesday, June 17, 2020

WEP - Urban Nightmare

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Lethal Weapons

“Hurry, Bill. We’ll be late.”

“Damn it, Gracie! Don’t yell. What’s your hurry? We’re only going down the road.”

“I know, but I don’t want to make a bad impression.”

“Bullshit! Bad impression, in that outfit?” Bill smirked.

“What? What’s wrong?” She looked at her reflection in the refrigerator. “It’s a simple summer dress. We’re going to a barbecue, not a black-tie affair.”

“You look like a whore.”

Grace cringed and mumbled. “You say that no matter what I wear.” Then a bit louder, she added, “I see you added jealousy to your outfit. Stuff it! Let’s go.”

Bill grabbed her by the wrist and wrenched, almost dislocating her left arm.
“Ouch.” She tried to pull away.

He yanked again, pulling her close. His face next to hers. “Go change! Put on something decent!” He let go of her. “NOW!”

Grace stiffened her back but hurried from the room. Tears raced down her cheek. She yanked the dress off, wiped her tears, blew her nose, and threw the new outfit in the trash. She grabbed a conservative pair of black Capris and an oversized blouse. Heaven forbid she show any curves. Flat sandals and the look was complete.

When she walked back into the kitchen, Bill nodded. “That’s better!”

*****
Dinner went well, and the conversation flowed, but so did the beer. Kay’s husband, Ernie, was a friendly guy, and he and Bill seemed to connect. But the more beer they drank, the worse the conversation got.
Grace and Kay cleared the food and dishes and drank a glass of wine in the kitchen while the boys got their boast on. During their conversation, Bill walked in and came up behind her. He hugged her tightly. His hands slid under her blouse for a quick feel. Grace tried to brush him off, making him more persistent. “Come on, babe, just want some of that brown sugar!”

Embarrassed but not willing to cause a scene, Grace turned to kiss him.

Ernie walked in. “Hey, you two, get a room,” he laughed. “Ready to go?”

“Always,” Bill said. “We’re going for more beer,” he told Grace, “don’t wait up.”

“And some fun,” Ernie said as he opened the basement door and grabbed two bats: one metal, one wood.

“You’re going to play ball at night?” Grace said.

Ernie laughed. “Yup, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” He swung the bat, barely touching Bill on the shoulder. They walked out laughing.

Grace looked to Kay, who just shrugged.

“You want more wine?” Kay asked.

“No, I’m exhausted. I just want to go home and take a nice long, hot bath.”

“That sounds wonderful! I think I’ll join you.” The women laughed as Kay walked Grace to the door.
*****
Grace awoke at six the next morning and realized that Bill hadn’t come home, again. Pissed, she went to the kitchen for coffee. “This is it. I’m leaving,” she said to no one as she pulled a mug from the dishwasher.

She’d been contemplating it for a long time, well, not that long. They’d only been married for six months, but she knew Bill’s womanizing and abuse would only get worse. She had to get out before a child made going impossible. Her problem, no money, and no car, but a bus ticket wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. She went back to her room to pack.

An hour later, packed, dressed, and ready to call a cab, Kay knocked on the door.
Kay looked flustered. “I need your help.”

“What’s wrong?” Grace said and ushered her in.

“I just got Ernie out of jail.”

“And Bill?”

“I’m sorry, Grace. He’s in the hospital.”

“What? “Grace backed up. “No one called. What hospital? What happened?” Panic began to build.

Kay took her by the arm and led her to the living room. “It’s all right. I promise. Just sit down, and I’ll explain.” Kay quickly poured a small glass of brandy and handed it to Grace.

Grace nodded and took several deep breaths, then sipped the drink. “I’m okay. Just please tell me what’s going on.”

“Last night, when Ernie said they were going out to play baseball, he meant something else.”

“What?’

“There’s this game the guys play. But instead of hitting baseballs, they hit…” She hesitated, rubbed her hands together, and lowered her head.

Grace reached out and touched her knee. “What? What is it?”

“They drive around town and swat at the black people on the streets.”

Grace stood. “What? Oh, my God! What are you saying?”

“Ernie’s family has done it for years. They see a lone black person, drive up close, try to get their attention, maybe ask for directions. When the guy leans in, they swat him with the bat and drive away.”

“This can’t be true. You’ve got to be kidding.” Grace stood but was so shocked she could only pace the small room. Her hands in constant movement.
“Why? How? And they did this last night?”

“Yes, but the guy they hit had a gun. He shot Bill.”

“Bill was shot?” Grace felt as though she were in a nightmare.

Kay nodded. “I’m sorry. Ernie told the police Bill was a hitchhiker that he thought was coming from a baseball game. He told them the baseball bats belonged to Bill. That he didn’t even know his name. That’s why no one called you. Ernie threw Bill’s wallet away before the police arrived.”

“Why? I don’t understand.”

“If Bill dies…”

“Dies? He’s that bad?”

She ran to the kitchen to get her purse and keys. “Take me to the hospital.”

“I can’t. Ernie won’t let me. Listen, Grace. I know Bill’s abused you. You told me yourself you’ve thought of leaving him. All I want is to save my Ernie. After all, it was Bill that swung the bat.”

“Oh my god, you expect me to lie for your racist husband while my racist husband is on the brink of death. No way, there is no damn way!”

Grace started to cry, then shake. “I can’t believe this. I just can’t!” She sank to the floor. “Bill never showed any signs of racism.” She put her face in her hands and rethought her words. She really did not know the man. He’d swept her off her feet. How? How could I miss that and his penchant for abuse? “Oh god. Oh god,” she said repeatedly. All she could see was her mother’s face. She even heard her words. “Mixed marriages are trouble. Nothing but trouble.”

Kay sat down beside her and hugged her close. “I know it’s a shock. It was for me too, but despite it, I love Ernie. He’s my everything,” she said, her voice coated with tears. Defeated, Kay moved to the wet bar.

“Listen, you don’t have to do a thing. I’ll think of something else.” She poured more brandy and handed Grace the liquor. “Drink all of it. It’ll settle your nerves. Then we’ll talk calmly. I’ll make sure you get to the hospital.” She watched Grace down the potent liquor.
*****
Kay watched the movers haul boxes and furniture from Bill and Grace’s house.
Ernie came up behind her and put his arms around her waist. He pulled her close. “What would I do without you?”

She smiled. “You’d have ended up on death row ten years ago. You do the job of the righteous, and I do the clean up.”

“I still can’t believe they bought that story. But leaving Bill’s car empty of gas in that lot and with several baseballs inside, convinced them I’d picked him up as I said.” He kissed her. “You are my guardian angel.”

“And don’t forget, putting her body in that hot tub screwed up their chances to determine the time of death. Now they believe Bill killed his wife too.”

“We’re just lucky he died before regaining consciousness. Talk about the perfect crime!”

Yolanda Renee © 2020
Words 1323
My apologies for the length.

Picnic
Photo by Lee Myungseong on Unsplash
Man with Bat
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash


Dear Reader:

A critical moment in history is happening before our eyes. This story was written because I can’t stay silent. I may not have the right to speak, but I want to add my voice to those fighting for justice. Writing is one way I can do that. And while this is fiction, the story is based on reality.

I learned of this sick game. Yes, it was described as a game. I learned about it when I lived in Valdosta, Georgia. I heard it from the mouth of one of the players.

Was he describing an Urban Legend/Nightmare? I have no proof one way or the other. All I know is that the man’s bragging scarred my soul, just as the scene of George Floyd’s murder did.

But I believe that change is coming. Maybe I’m being idealistic, even naïve, but my broken heart says otherwise.

****




29 comments:

  1. O.M.G.
    And rather a lot of expletives.
    How I wish this was fiction. All of it.
    And I share your hopes. So very much.

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  2. I'll echo Sue's OMG! How can this be so? The world watches in amazement, horror and confusion, waiting for Black Lives to Matter. 'A game', no less. A mighty ugly game. Renee, you've tapped into the pulse of the daily news. Raw. Upsetting. Unbelievable, but oh so believable. That twist at the end made it even uglier. Sorry, but I can't share your hopes. I think the world's going to hell in a hand basket. My only hope is that I'm wrong.

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  3. Oh Yolanda...Behind all those huge things we see, it's those around us who are racists and bigots and whatever. And yes, no matter how little we must speak up. I don't know if we should be hopeful. But I do wish all your hope sees light of day.

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  4. Well said! I'm speechless but still hopeful.

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  5. I can't believe that happens in real life. Your story was riveting.

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  6. Based in reality???? I nearly lost my breakfast...
    Horrifying.
    We must have hope and I think humanity may be finally taking steps forward

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  7. What a scummy couple. This story is very believable.

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  8. Pertinent and poignant. Also, I like the twists around following morning and later about the movers.

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  9. Such a tragic story. All the more so because it is so horribly true, on so many levels.

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  10. Perfect and powerful photo. I'm angry at Bill's attitude to Grace whatever her outfit - your dialogue strikes home. You built the tale well - subtle building. Fear? I wondered. Frighteningly topical and realistic - I suspect the UL is based on truth. I hesitated before reading the climax - fearful again. Yes, the perfect and nasty crime/nightmare. Great piece.

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  11. I hoped Ernie killed Bill. This was worse. 😕 Good writing though!

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  12. Hard to read. Excellent writing, though. I rather wished Grace could have come out triumphant, but this is the sadly real version. From that first moment when Bill was nasty about the outfit I wanted her to get away from him.

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  13. Wow, incredibly impactful. I can't say I would be surprised to find out something like the "game" was happening. People are sick. Most of all, though, there are those who have the ability to dehumanize others, which makes hurting them so much easier.

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  14. How horrific that some people treat racism as a game! An incredibly powerful and immersive flash, you took my breath away.
    I do hope the tide is now turning and the imbalances will be corrected. Hopefully, a less discriminatory, more just world will emerge out of the anger and activism - soon.

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  15. This story is based on truth? That is so tragic. I'm glad you've used it in your story. It highlights how bad things are. Now, to the story - it's a clever one and I didn't see that coming. I thought Kay would convince Grace to run away as she had planned before she heard about the incident.

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  16. Hi,
    No, you're not being idealistic. You're facing truths that hurt the soul and causes people to do whatever they can to help or to hide from the reality. The sad thing is that most people close their eyes not only to the injustices in the United States but the injustices done all over the world. These injustices didn't begin with George Floyd. They began ever since Man has tried to dominate Mankind. There has always been slavery and it has propagated itself throughout the cultures as acceptable. That's the scary part that should make us all shudder because it could happen to anyone who is a minority living in another country.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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  17. Tragic. Is there no depths to which people will go? Thank you, I was riveted till the end.
    Carole Stolz

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  18. It is painful to see what humans are capable of in their treatment of others. Thank you for the bravery and honesty of your post.

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  19. Oh, this is one twisted story! You sure do know how to tell a captivating and surprising tale. It's too bad Grace didn't make it out the door to get a bus ticket before Kay showed up. Kay and Ernie sure are quite the pair. I definitely wouldn't want to come across either one of them.

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  20. Hi Yolanda - yes ... I wimped out - I'd love to write like this - excellent story line ... I wonder if in time they'll re-open the case.

    Dreadful life we're in the middle of at the moment ... I sincerely hope we can resolve our world ... and stop the kind of life you describe.

    Frightening writing - brilliant story - take care - Hilary

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  21. Your story told us how these kinds of things still happen which I find totally incomprehensible. It should not happen to anybody, anywhere, I just hope we can stop it soon.

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  22. A tale that captures and reflects the chaos and horror that is everywhere, as people try to balance history and what is right. Well done, Yolanda.

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  23. Wow. I really wish that evil didn't triumph. But that's the way of it too often, isn't it? Well written, but depressing (due to reality).

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  24. Gripping. And how easily people can be 'used' in different levels. Some feeding on people's desire to hurt and on other's desire to escape. Wow.

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  25. Thanks Yolanda for this poignant rendering of reality. Wishing you an inspiring month of writing.

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  26. Wow, Yolanda! What a twisty, horrific, gripping story. My first thought was 'Bill... ugh!' Toxic male. Which he is, completely. But my disgust was redirected at the end. I find it so hard to believe that there are people out there with so much hate in their hearts. And sad to hear how close this is to the truth, from the people who are on the receiving end of it every day. There's no happy ending in this story, but I have to hope that we can all move forward to a better place where such atrocities no longer happen.

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  27. Thank you, every one! I usually speak to each comment but as usual life got in the way. But please know I loved each and every word! I'm so glad everyone shares my hope for real change and a future where BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!

    So many have suffered atrocities that is beyond the pale. It has to stop!!!

    And NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE has the right to claim ignorance. I have witnessed the atrocities, we all have. But we look the other way. I mean for God's sake it's been in the news, flashed across our TV screens ever since I can remember!!! Why have we so successfully pushed it aside? Why did it take seeing a man beg for his life?

    Why did we have to see a man, a policeman, an individual we've been told and most of us have believed, is instilled with the value of truth and justice, and that his only mission is to protect and serve, turn into the ultimate villain in front of our eyes. This man had zero compassion and even seemed to get pleasure out of taking what he had no right too?. I'll never, ever forget the grin on his face, or his knee crushing the life out of another. If that in itself does not get this man life in prison, nothing in this world will! He epitomized evil in its worst form! All the intolerance, the HATE, the lack of empathy that is missing from our world and in such a way...words escape me. But I have to believe in change or I can't justify man's continued existence! Harsh, but true. We don't deserve our blessings if we can't eliminate what that scene of torture says about our humanity.

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  28. In a thoroughly sickening true-to-life tale, that twist at the end was...something else. My dear - how *do* you sleep at night??? ;-) (Nevermind - some of the things I've written have made me ask myself the same thing.)

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