A Mask of Love
Chapter 19 The Wounded Cry Aloud For Blood, For Vengeance And Desolation
Holly Dunham arrived early for her shift; she wanted to be there long before Lia arrived, and when Marsha, on duty now, would be on her rounds. Kneeling down, she opened the file cabinet and took out the package containing all the images she had taken with her cell over the years and printed off. She didn’t know why she kept them. She didn’t know why she kept them here. She knew it was stupid and dangerous, but she could not bear to toss them.
Thirteen girls over four years, she pondered, starting before Lia arrived and continuing after that arrogant cow had climbed up on her soap box; what had gotten into her, anyway?
Well, fuck her.
Dunham took out the image of the second girl she had abused; to her dismay she had not started the photos until after her first victim. She leafed through the next several girls in line, having trouble remembering details. She looked on the back of one photo, Clarice. Oh yeah, Holly recalled, the girl who had begged, at first. Pitiful.
But Holly had persisted and the girl had come around.
They always did, she thought, locking the package back in the drawer. Screw Lia, she’d keep the stash here.
Jessica stood in her bedroom, just staring. The hardest part about decisions was…making them, she said to herself. She pulled the flattened boxes out from under her bed; she counted six. She sighed and pushed them back under; she needed tape.
For some reason, twelve-year-old Megan Richards came now into her mind; maybe because she had been the first desire and the first failure. It was the failures that haunted Jessica; but what then of Meg? Why did she feel the need to run whenever something seemed to be working, she considered again?
She remembered, so clearly even after all this time, of working to become Megan’s friend, which was harder with the girl being a year older. In the end all Jessica had to show for several months of effort was a couple of glimpses of Megan in her underwear; then when the girl went off to grade seven it was in a different school and Jessica never spoke with, or even saw, her again.
The nights of lying in her bed and longing, torturing herself with all the ‘what ifs’ came back again, vividly. She had told herself over the years to work hard not to care; that was the secret. Don’t let them get to you; don’t become like her father, held by a leash; be the one holding it.
But it wasn’t easy; there were always opportunities and decisions. It wasn’t that she didn’t know what to do, she just needed to decide to actually do it.
Lauren Douglas climbed out of the black SUV with the four other women and marched in single file to the back of the non-descript brick building. Up the stairs they went to the second floor and then into the massage parlor.
Since they were already ‘dressed’, they simply sat on the chairs in the waiting area; it was ten minutes to eleven; the parlor opened at eleven and operated for twelve hours. In that time, Lauren could expect to see eight men. Some would want a massage and a hand job; some a covered blow job, some would pay the extra ‘gift’ for a full service.
Lauren would wear her smile and play her role, and at eleven p.m. she would troop back down the stairs to the waiting SUV and then back to Madera’s luxurious condo, where she would be rewarded or punished by her mistress, at her discretion.
Perhaps tonight she would be allowed to sleep on a bed; perhaps she would be given extra drugs; perhaps her mistress would hold her and caress her and make her feel so wonderful; she never knew.
All that mattered was that Madera was pleased.
So Lauren sat, staring straight ahead, her smile fixed, awaiting the faceless men.
It being Saturday, Meg and Mary would be performing at the ‘PB’ tonight, but they were already there, in the afternoon, to meet with Meg’s father. Wednesday night they had done another house concert; it had been packed as usual and many of the crowd there had asked what was becoming a regular question: do you have a CD?
“Told you lots of people still do CDs,” Mary had teased, and she had prodded Meg strongly to see where things were with her father and to stop being so shy. “He’s offered, Meggo, I’ve heard him and this is something he wants to do. C’mon!” Meg was reluctant, for whatever reason, but she couldn’t disagree.
So now they sat here with Kevin Greenfield and Dunc Rollins, a producer who Kevin had brought up from Toronto, paying for his hotel room, to begin making definite plans for the project.
“So, yeah, for sure, I want to hear you guys live, and then go from there. I’m thinking a pretty stripped down sound, eh, with the focus on your voices? But we’ll talk tonight after your set.”
Meg and Mary both nodded their heads and chimed in. Now that they were actually discussing it, Meg was excited. And there was the added benefit of this taking her mind off of Jessica, for a little while at least.
Meg glanced over at the bar and saw Marcy, smiling at them. She smiled back; Marcy seemed happy, which was good. She liked Marcy and was not comfortable with how things had gone between them. Too many girls, Meg scolded herself.
Marcy stood watching the little group of Meg, her father, Mary and a stranger. Kevin Greenfield seemed to be jumping in to a lot of things lately. His offer to buy her business was legitimate; Marcy had checked it, and him, out. She would very likely accept it and move on with her life.
And to her mind, she wasn’t really surprised that Dan didn’t leap at the idea of selling the place; although it seemed to be more like work to him; at least that’s how he acted, anyway.
He certainly didn’t seem to get the pleasure from it that Marcy did. So he was just being difficult to be, well, difficult, she considered.
He couldn’t simply let go, and end on friendly terms. He needed to be a dick.
As the crowd began to thin out, a few staying to finish drinks and chat, Meg and Mary walked over to a smiling Rollins. “Before you ask, I’ll say, great. Really enjoyed it. I paid attention to the originals and was impressed, but your covers were great too. Gave me a sense of your vocal range. You guys fit well together, very natural harmonies.” He grinned, and Mary smiled at Meg, then both smiled at Rollins, who grinned back at them; Meg then smiled at her father, who was sitting at the back.
“Ohhh. Unn, unn, unggg, oh jeez, OHHHhhh!” Meg cried out and Mary collapsed on her, laughing; their hands clasped together and their faces against one another.
“Ohhh, fuck. Mmmmmm,” Meg murmured, as Mary slowly withdrew her strap-on dildo.
“You shouldn’t be surprised,” Mary whispered into Meg’s ear.
“Mmmmm, why’s that?” Meg whispered back.
“Dunc Rollins did say we fit together well.”
Meg laughed; it felt good. And it pushed the sad knot within her away, for a while. Bit by bit, she thought.
“Don’t get all weepy on me, Mommers,” Lillian smirked, looking down at Kendra. They were standing in the busy bus station with Lillian about to take her first ride home.
“C’mere you,” Kendra replied, clutching the tall figure in a bear hug. “You text me when you get there, right?”
“Yes, Moms,” Lillian sighed dramatically.
“And I want some pictures because I’m a nosey mom-sy, right?”
Lillian laughed, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll send you stuff. Charlie’s real cool on that. Sounds like he really wants me to see his place, eh?”
“I bet he’s proud of it. Look, you better get going, they’re loading in now.”
Lillian bent down and kissed Kendra on the cheek, “Luv ya’,” she said in her rich voice and rambled off, long hair flying behind her and oblivious to the appreciative stares of bystanders as she moved to join the line.
“Luv ya’ too, kid, see you in a week,” Kendra called after her, smiling but quickly brushing a tear from one eye, then putting on her sunglasses. The knot in her stomach was not going anywhere.
Monday was excruciating for both Kendra and Lia, although Lia had the benefit of at least being at work where she had things to occupy her mind. On the one hand, Kendra would have liked having Jessica to chat with, while on the other, she was afraid of spilling her plans because she was wound so tightly. It didn’t matter, though, because Jessica was busy doing who knows what.
Kendra did have some pictures and information from Carol Douglas, showing properties and views and such that were interesting, but Kendra had difficulty focusing on and appreciating any of that. Her mind was going crazy thinking of everything that could go wrong with her planned confrontation with the detestable men in Kenora. What if they had someone with them, an ally? What if they had guns?
But it was too late to back down now.
Lia didn’t obsess as much as her friend; it wasn’t her nature. She was also trying to figure out where Holly’s head was at. The woman had become essentially non-responsive, answering with grunts, if at all.
They were sitting now in silence in their office. “You know, I could just break into that drawer.” Lia said, looking darkly at Holly.
The woman studied Lia for a moment; she would not admit it, but Lia did intimidate her; that’s why she had liked having her with the girls. “You seem to forget who the senior officer in this room is, Einstein,” she muttered.
Well, it shouldn’t be you, Lia thought, but before she could reply anything, Holly had stood and left the room.
Well, fuck her, Lia thought.
Back at home, both Kendra and Lia had restless nights, what little night they had, with neither getting much sleep. So it was not surprising that they were up early in the morning and creeping around as silently as possible in their kitchen. Their flight left at six, and Kendra and Lia got their meagre stuff together quietly and left the house on tip toes.
They had told Jessica, or at least Kendra had told her, that she would be away for a day. Jessica had nodded but had seemed distracted or preoccupied; she hadn’t even interrogated Kendra about where and why. She seemed distracted a lot these days.
The drive to the airport was silent; both women keeping their thoughts to themselves. Their plane was a large jet, headed for Los Angeles, with stops in Winnipeg and then Denver, and it was full. The two women had not managed seats together, which was actually not bad, considering. They would have a lot of time together over the next twenty-four hours; and being together just seemed to amplify all the tension.
Once they landed in Winnipeg they rented a car. Kendra had not done this ahead of time; she wanted as little correspondence on this whole deal as possible, but they had no problem finding a vehicle, ending up with a Toyota Camry, a fairly common car, and it was white; so nothing memorable.
The three hour drive to Kenora was pleasant enough, watching the eastern prairies turn into the Canadian Shield, as they skirted north of Lake of the Woods, the elevation rising slowly. At times Kendra even forgot, briefly, what they were up to.
Starting with a full tank, they managed to make the trip with only one stop; for snacks. Kendra had even made a point of parking their car to the side of the store and paying for their stuff with cash; she wanted to fly low under any radar.
“As little trail as possible,” Kendra had muttered to Lia.
“Anyone ever tell you you’re paranoid, girl,” Lia had muttered back. But she understood and really could not argue against caution.
Eventually they came up on the little town, known at one time as Rat Portage. Fits those bastards, Kendra had sighed when she’d learned that. The trees were leafed out in summer foliage and the scene would have been pleasant at a different time.
Kendra was glad she had already been here the once, so there was no delay finding the place or searching out parking spots. She parked their car where she had stopped before, and the two women, Lia carrying the camera and Kendra her bag, made their way through the bush, across a road and to the side of the property.
There was one window at the back of the house, besides a small one in the door, but the curtains were drawn. Lia boosted Kendra over the high, surprisingly sturdy, fence and then hoisted herself over. The two paused, hearts pounding, and crouched by the barrier, catching their breath and getting their bearings. The ‘yard’ provided good cover, with a couple of rusting cars, other scattered debris and bushes growing wildly.
Kendra now held the can of pepper spray in one hand; her gun was in her pocket. The women looked at each other and then began moving with stealth to the back stairs and up the six steps to the door. Lia stood back to one side as Kendra knocked, fearful that she would simply pass out with anxiety and excitement. Breathe, she told herself, breathe.
Kendra could now hear footsteps, then the inner, wooden door finally opened, and the scruffy little face of Andrew Thomas was there, looking with alarm at Kendra through the screen.
“C-can you help me?” Kendra stammered, and Thomas blinked at her, looking like an unkempt and confused owl.
“We don’t have a phone, go away,” Thomas whined nasally.
Kendra, almost by instinct, opened the screen door and placed her foot inside, Thomas looking even more alarmed but clearly not someone quick of thought. “I’ll pay you for your help. Please, I’m all alone,” Kendra implored.
“Well, I, um, I don’t know…” Thomas muttered, but he licked his lips. Obviously, a young woman alone was tempting to him; but then Kendra had pushed inside and was now staring eye to eye with the little man.
“Thanks,” Kendra said, can we just sit…”
“I…um…my, uh, friend will be home soon…” But at that moment, Lia entered and Thomas stood blinking up at her like she was an apparition.
Lia, however, wasn’t waiting around. Grabbing Thomas by the throat, she pushed him back to a wooden kitchen chair and made him sit.
“Wh-wh-what d’ya want?” The little man looked like he might cry, but Kendra had been encouraged, but also concerned with what Thomas had mumbled about Brown not being home. On the one hand it made entry easier; she had always been concerned about getting past the two of them together. But what if Thomas was making stuff up and Brown was actually away somewhere, and not back for days?
“Where’s Richard Brown?” Kendra asked, evenly but confidently, like she had business with him.
“He’s, uh, he’s just in town; he’ll be back s-soon. He ain’t gonna be happy youse is h-here, eh,” Thomas stammered.
No, Kendra thought to herself as Lia began tying up their ‘host’, he’s not going to be happy.
Thomas then looked up in bewilderment, as Kendra and Lia had both put on latex gloves.
Clarice Bey sat nervously in the waiting area of the government building; it was not the most comfortable of places to start with; government offices generally aren’t, but Clarice had the added pressure of her final assessment, and then her decision to disclose. How would that go? Would anyone believe her? Would they try to blame her?
She sat, twisting a tissue in her hands. She reached into her pocket and took out the piece of paper and looked at the butterfly, then put the paper back. It reassured her with its presence.
Thomas was bound by plastic ties to the wooden chair; neither woman was happy with the rickety piece of furniture; a sturdy man could smash it with his weight, but Thomas wasn’t sturdy. He was maybe five foot five and possibly one hundred thirty pounds, but his partner was another story. They needed to be prepared for him. Lia took out her Taser and checked it. “I say we zap the bastard just ‘cuz.”
Kendra nodded, feeling light-headed; this was not her thing and her sense of anxiety was building. Waiting for Brown to arrive was excruciating; the longer their car sat out there, even though it was in a wooded area, the greater the chance it would be seen.
The social worker sat in stunned silence. The interview with the nineteen year-old was to be the last for the girl, her probationary period over, but now this revelation.
“You realize what you’re saying is very serious, and I will have to act on it?” the woman asked, brushing some hair from her face. This was not something she wanted on her plate.
The girl looked up, her gaze defiant; she was committed to this; it had been a little over two years since the ‘bitches’ at the detention centre had abused her and she had not forgotten; would not forget. “I know it’s, uh serious, Miss Martel, duh; I’ve been like pissed on this for a long time and I’m not doin’ this for jokes, y’all,” Clarice drawled in a phony accent to emphasize her point.
Ms. Martel studied the face before asking, “You know the authorities will come at you hard to shake your story on this. You need to be firm and clear. Accusing officers is a nightmare.”
Maybe this would just go away if the girl’s story was shaky, which it likely was.
After what seemed like hours, though in reality it was thirty-five minutes, Kendra and Lia both turned and looked at the door; they had heard the sound of a vehicle outside.
Lia had been proactive and had already gagged Thomas, but there was still a chance he might make some noise, alerting the more dangerous Brown. Lia grabbed Thomas by his shirt and stared down at him with that look of hers, before running her finger across her throat in the accepted gesture for ‘you’re dead’. Thomas nodded, his eyes almost popping out of his head.
Lia then went quickly to stand behind the door; she had been trained in the use of her Taser, but had actually never used it on a human body.
Kendra was standing facing the door so she would be the first thing Brown saw when he entered; Lia would then do her thing; at least that was the plan.
Brown came up the stairs to the door quickly and entered; he was taller than Kendra expected, looming above her with a look of bewilderment on his narrow face; he was thin but still imposing.
“Hey Asshole,” Lia called from behind and when Brown turned she hit him just below his chin with the Taser dart and the man collapsed, clutching his throat.
Considering how much her hands were shaking, Kendra did well to pull one of the man’s arms behind the fallen figure while Lia pulled the other, and then a plastic tie was pulled tight around the wrists. They had just placed a second tie around his ankles, the whole process not taking more than fifteen seconds, when Brown began to resist, the effects already wearing off.
They had just got him propped up on a second less- rickety chair when he began to shout out accusations and expletives. Lia delivered a solid backhand blow with her big fist that caused Brown to pause and look up at them, hate in his eyes.
“What the fuck do you bitches think you’re doin’?” he spat out, as Kendra and Lia regarded him, like a trapped beast.
“It’s called justice, mother fucker,” Lia snorted, delivering another solid, head-snapping back-fist.
Meanwhile, Andrew Thomas sat with his eyes tightly shut; his lips moving. He might even have been praying.
Clarice looked calmly at Ms. Martel, then took out a piece of folded paper. “I gots this; good ‘nuff?” She asked, her eyes bright. On one side of the square of yellow paper was a picture of a butterfly and on the other, dates. ”The older bitch…”
“Clarice.” Martel reacted.
“Yeah, whatever. The older one, she had this tattoo, below her belly button, waaaay below, like here,” and Clarice pointed to a spot more than halfway between her navel and her crotch, possibly an inch above her vulva. “Now, how you s’pose I seen that, hmmm? ‘Cuz her pants were down. An’ I got lots of detail in my picture, see, ‘cuz I seen it twice, when I had my face down there. How’s ‘dat? An’ these are like the dates it happened, so you can check with my records.” Clarice sat back and folded her arms.
Damn, Lana Martel thought, this was bad. “You, um, remember any names?”
“Sure do,” Clarice replied, “I ain’t never gonna forgot those two. Holly Dunham and Lia Robinson. They’re the ones. The tattoo was on Dunham.”
Damn, Martel thought again.
With a surprisingly quick move, Lia swung her large hand backwards again, striking Brown another solid blow across the face with her fist; she then did the same thing with her right hand, snapping the thin face in the opposite direction, and clearly stunning the man. It took Brown a moment to recover, and when he did, he spat a mixture of blood and saliva in Lia’s direction. “Bitch!” he yelled, but there was now fear in his eyes, along with the hate.
Lia, looked down at the glob on the floor and sneered “Missed me, mother fucker,” and then she slammed her fist into the thin man’s midsection, resulting in a loud grunting noise.
Taking a roll of duct tape from the bag, Lia peeled off a generous strip and placed it over Brown’s mouth, despite his efforts to resist and move his head. “Nice try, Jackass,” Lia said, pressing the tape down.
Kendra had watched all this wordlessly, almost in a trance. As Lia spoke, Kendra now shook her head and stepped up beside her partner.
“We’ll leave you for a minute, and deal with your stinkin’ mother fucker buddy,” Lia growled, turning to Andrew Thomas, who was literally quaking on his chair, his eyes now wide open. As both women then turned to face the small figure, they noticed the front of his dingy grey sweat pants darkening.
“Fuck, he’s pissin’ hisself,” Lia jeered.
Lana Martel placed the blank forms before her and looked at her notes. Damn, she thought for the umpteenth time that day; but there was no going back from this. The young woman was determined and her case was strong and disturbing.
The two correctional officers had a great deal to answer to and for; tomorrow would not be a pleasant day.
(End of Chapter 19)