Joshua Richmond–or Redmond–or Something07 Aug 2013, Posted by Short Stories in
LEXI-BELLE WAS GOING TO LOSE HER VIRGINITY by the end of the night. Now that Gina Anderson had done it with Johnny DiMacchio’s on the Fourth of July, Lexi-Belle was the last of the sophomores to still be a virgin. She hadn’t figured out all the pa’ticulars, but sometime between the opening kickoff and the last dying ember of the post-game bonfire, one of those big, dumb sons-a-bitches was gonna get lucky. Of that she was sure. Or at least she had been sure by the time she and Mary Ann—already drunk enough to be a bit unsteady in their steps—headed over to the pregame tailgate.
Now she wasn’t sure of much of anything. Other than her head felt like someone was pounding on it. She pulled the blanket up under her chin and forced her eyes open. Where the hell was she? Was she hallucinating, or had she fallen asleep next to the bonfire? Because she was staring into the . . .was the word ‘undulating’…glow of a tidy campfire. What she saw next told Lexi-Belle that she had not, indeed, nodded off by the bonfire. It also scared the shit out of her.
This older guy, graduated a few years ago, Joshua Richmond—or Redmond—or something, was leaning against the stump of an old oak. Across his lap lay a .20-guage. Joshua was staring off into the night sky, stroking that shot gun like it was his favorite hunting dog or something. She’d seen Joshua around town now and then. At the Feed and Seed, maybe, or the A&P. He was cousins with a girl in her class. He’d been a big-time player, maybe a linebacker or something, when Spencerton went to states a few years back. Now he walked with a limp and loaded folks’ purchases into their trunk or the back of their truck. No one had ever said nothin’ about him being a perv.
Lexi-Belle felt for her cell phone, which of course wasn’t there. She considered her options. Screaming was probably a bad idea. She had no idea where they were, how far from civilization, or even what time it was. Screaming was unlikely to help and very likely to piss off her captor. She couldn’t feel any obvious pain in her limbs, so running off and hiding in the woods might work, although it would be best to wait for him to nod off.
She damn near jumped out of her skin at the sound of his voice. She sat up and looked hard at him. “I know who you are. What is it you want from me?”
He held up both hands, like a music conductor telling the band to play more softly. “Take it easier, there, sis. I don’t want nothing at all, ’cept to get you home in one piece.”
This response puzzled her, which probably showed up on her face pretty obvious, because Joshua said, “Here, better take a look at this,” and tossed her a cell phone. Not hers. It was cued up to play a video clip. Keeping one eye on Joshua, she pressed the screen with her finger. On the screen, two boys from her school wrestled a girl to the ground while another was unzipping his jeans like he was going to pee or something. The girl was pretty out of it, but she had some fight in her. Then, suddenly, she vomited, and one of the boys shrieked and rolled off screen. When the girl turned her face back toward the camera—Christ in Heaven—it was Lexi-Belle. Lexi-Belle, drunk as shit and about to be raped by a loser guy in her history class.
When she heard the shot gun blast her instinct was to look over at Joshua, but he gun lay peacefully in his lap. No, the shot had come from the camera. Suddenly the screen froze as the video clip came to an end. Lexi-Belle felt suddenly naked, exposed.
“You watched this?” she asked.
A smile toyed with one corner of the young man’s lip. In the morning light she could see that, skinny as he was in the legs and waist, there was power to be reckoned with in his arms and torso. “Well, I saw what was going on when I came across it—you—in the woods last night. But no, I didn’t watch the videos, if that’s what you’re asking.”
From the pocket of his vest Joshua produced two more cell phones. “I confiscated three in all. Can you believe they thought videotaping an attempted assault on a young lady was a good idea?” He patted the butt-end of his shot gun affectionately. “The one with his pants down is going to have an awful sore head this morning. Trust me, it was all I could do not to make that little asshole an early morning appointment with Jesus Himself.”
“What do I do now?”
“Well, you could go straight to the police. Pretty clear case of attempted sexual assault of a minor. Or”—here he broke into a wide grin. “Or we could go track those boys down one at a time and shoot a hand or foot off of each one. That’d made ’em think twice next time, eh?”
“What would you do. I mean, if you was me?”
Joshua seemed to weigh the matter gravely before responding. “If I was you, eh?” He reached for a small silvery cup on the ground next to him and spit a respectable stream of tobacco juice into it. “If I was you I’d make sure I got a copy of those video files on a computer disk or two, and make sure those files and those phones go someplace safe and sound, like one of those bank boxes.” He paused as if to consider the completeness of his recommended course of action, then he looked off in to the woods past Lexi-Belle, avoiding her eye contact. “And hate to say it, but I think I’d avoid getting myself shit-faced drunk around crowd of asshole boys in the future.”
He pulled his spittoon up close to his mouth and spit again.
“That’s a disgusting habit, you know,” Lexi-Belle lectured. “And it causes cancer just as bad as smokin’ does.”
Joshua chuckled. “I assume by that you mean, ‘Thank you, sir, for saving my ass.’ So you’re welcome. As for the tobacco, well, I’ll take your good advice into consideration, I surely will.”