where the writers are
Facade
Tony ANders

Facade       She shrugged her right shoulder in an attempt to keep her modesty intact as the torn fabric allowed her silky white bra strap to appear. She knew it is the trend to show straps and the tops of lacy unmentionables, but it isn’t her style. The shrug caused her to raise the hand that was holding the gauze on her wound and she felt the subtle warm trickle as the blood succumbed to gravity and ran towards her face just above her right brow. Her eyebrows were already matted, face and shirt stained with her own blood. The right side of her “beach” blonde hair was streaked with a cranberry shade of red, but not from the creative hand of a hairstylist, but from a series of unfortunate circumstances that punctuated her atypical morning.  

   As she wiped upward to cancel the blood flow and replace the pressure on her wound, she noticed how uncomfortable the plastic chairs were that she now occupied. As she squirmed she noticed the chairs leg appeared to be shorter on one side as the chair rocked and made an annoying clicking sound as the foot of the chair leg connected with the linoleum of the familiar flooring. With all the action her morning provided, it amazed her that she was quite distracted by the little things. The chair, the torn shirt, even the pain in her scalp and her arm were of no real concern. She was kind of disconnected. “Man that was a lot of blood” she silently said in her head as she reflected on the scene. “I mean it had to stop sometime, right?” “How much can one body ho-“, she was distracted as the nurse came to check on her.“Are you doing okay love?” Nurse Cochran asked in her typical “Mrs. Doubtfire” accent. It was soothing. She seemed more nanny than nurse.   I nodded with no verbal response. I wasn’t in the mood to talk at the moment.  

   Abby gazed around at the sterile utensils, cotton balls, and clipboards. She then cast her eyes to the window overlooking the parking lot and the flood of familiar cars, wishing she could just go out there, hop in one and go. Why was she here waiting on bandages, medical attention, and for the nurse to check on her from time to time? Why was she isolated from the other ‘sicklies’?     

  Abby had been in this building every day, 5 days a week, doing her work, and scurrying about in these surroundings, but never in this position; never in the “care” of the nurses. Never behind the door with the glass window so everyone could see, yet no one could hear. Through the panel I noticed the people glancing at me with the wonder I often had when I saw people sitting where I am. Blood attracts inquiry. I couldn’t see the top of my head to see how bad it was, but from the stares, I must have a good sized cut. It was starting to hurt now the more I thought about it.

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 The day started as many do, me running behind so my morning was chaotic. I really like my hair down and straight, with a little flat ironing, but today it is going up in a ponytail to save time. I threw on my favorite white blouse, the light cotton one with the little holes around the neck line that look like flowers. The elastic around the short sleeves makes the sleeves pucker in a cute flattering way. The waist has elastic too, and I have to be careful that if I raise my hands too high, my stomach will show and it is a constant ritual of adjusting my shirt, but I feel pretty in it, so I deal with it. My favorite linen pants, low heeled loafers complete the day’s casual ensemble. I finish my morning grooming; hair, check, teeth, check, all the stuff that makes me smell good, check and check!      I grab the report I have been working on and my bag, and head out the door with less than seconds to spare. I caught the bus as it was slowly pulling away, and fortunately, the driver sees me and extends mercy. I love it that the driver is kind and that the stop is near my house so I have a better than average cushion of time in my morning bus commute.    

  We arrived at the familiar curb in front of the familiar door and I enter extending the normal morning hellos to the familiar faces, and extending soft smiles to those not so familiar. I have found that in these halls I can offer a smile to lighten the mood as often when people are popping in and out of the rooms there is so much intensity and often the look of dread upon the faces of some, that I can do my part by offering a grin.  

  I found the slot outside of Dr. Reese’s office next to the lab, and forced my reports into the slot. He is a stickler for punctuality in turning in our written obligations as well as appearing in the lab on time. It was 8:58 am and I had two minutes to spare before the deadline. I was not required to be in the lab today, so I turned to go to the water fountain down the hall. As I turned I was abruptly stopped in my tracks. “Oh, sss-sorry Dr.Ree-“, Abby stammered.    She bumped into Dr. Reese’s six foot frame as he was entering into his office. He was a man of average build, not athletic, but not at all out of shape. He always had a deep monotone demeanor and was not one to excite. His voice was that of Clint Eastwood with a calm gruffness that was not intimidating, but you knew not to push his buttons. However he always had a sly smile and piercing eyes that would scan you before he would talk to you. He often had his head lowered and would look at you under the ridges of his brow.  

   “No problem Angel Face”, he said in his cool way.  

  “Don’t call me that” she thought to herself. “You are not allowed to call me that!”

Out of respect for authority and to stay in good graces she let it go. He was charming, but still it bothered her.    

 Dr. Reese often had a nickname for about everyone, but most were usually playful, or goofy names that reflected ones abilities or character. Like “Sticks”, the name he had for Mr. Burroughs who was a “custodial engineer”, because he was always pushing a stick around. At the end of the stick was usually a mop or broom bristles.  

   “I hope you like my report!” I said as I avoided acknowledging my nickname. I cast my eyes downward and proceeded down the hall.“I am sure I will”, he replied.  

  The day proceeded as a typical day; lots of writing, doing research, numbers, stairs, rooms, friends, strangers, a lunch in there somewhere and the hours passed. 

  “Hey Abs, Dr. Reese is looking for you and wanted to see you in the lab before you went home!” said Brenda.     Brenda was one of my best friends but now we were assigned to opposite sides of the building, so we were used to either texting or chatting in one to two sentences on our way to somewhere down the long halls.“Call ya later!” I said.“You Better!”

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 I approached the door to the lab and it was locked. This was not uncommon as the lab had lots of chemicals, and expensive equipment in it, and the glass pane of the door was covered with a large black piece of construction grade paper to keep prying eyes out and Dr. Reese would post memos, notes, assignments and other pertinent info on it to catch our attention as a reminder of deadlines upon leaving the lab.  

  As I twisted the handle it gave way with a force not applied by me and Dr. Reese was holding the opposite handle on the other side.“Come in Angel Face” he offered.    I turned my curled snarl quickly into a smile and politely nodded, and said a soft, “Thanks.”     Dr. Reese extended some compliments to my work, as well as mentioning he thought I looked nice with my hair pulled up for a change. He said it showed off my pretty features.  He glanced back for a reaction and I simply gave a forced smile and another “thanks” that I had saved up for this visit.    

 He escorted me back to his desk in the upper corner of the lab room just to the left of the door we entered. In looking in the door of the lab you had to enter the room, swing the door out of the way, and peer around it to even see Dr. Reese or his desk. The desk itself was obscured by the working desktop that appeared to be made out of a black marble composite that had a sink, a gas line leading to a burner, and many random glass beakers and a wire shelf that had glass jars with various powder and liquid substances. The top must have weighed hundreds of pounds and was supported by wooden cabinetry underneath.   

  He sat at his desk and I stood beside him noticing my report on his desk. He just stared at me for what seemed like a song’s length, but either way, it was an awkward silent few seconds.     Dr. Reese extended his hand to connect with Abby’s cotton covered shoulder and he said, “I really like the work you have been doing”. “I really have noticed your effort as well as your desire to try and please me”.     I peered to the left at his hand on my shoulder then back to him and said, “Thank you, the quality of my work is important to me.”     “You really have a talent for writing and a quick mind.” His hand slowly started down the length of her arm touching her bare skin on the side of her arm down to her wrist.  “I would like to spend more time helping you personally”. His hand started moving to her wrist as she noticed it tightening now to a grip.   

   His gaze dropped noticing her shirt had hunched a bit from perhaps a shrug or reaching to get something, but a few inches of alabaster flesh appeared from her belt line to the bottom of her slightly hiked blouse.     His focus seemed to lock on to her midsection as he paused only momentarily. He took his index finger of each hand and placed them under her shirt raising them to just below her petite breasts, ran them back and forth as if to feel the fabric. She knew by the man’s fingers close and uninvited to her to her body, and the fact he wasn’t in a hurry to quit, he was not adjusting her blouse. She could do that just fine herself.    Abby shyly, but abruptly yanked down her shirt just below her waistline knocking his hands out of the way and started to object, “Dr. Reese, I don’t think that…”     “I’ll tell you what to think”, he said with a deeper voice and stare than she had ever encountered, his hands once again trying to find a place to connect to her skin. 

    She looked around the room trying to start to put space between her and the man who was making her increasingly uncomfortable. She was scared actually.“I- I think I better go”, Abby stammered.“We are not done talking yet, you are alright!” he tried to assure her menacingly.     However as he was assuring her, he was also reaching back pulling the hair band from her hair that held it into place. Her head raised back as he pulled some hairs out with it and it was painful. The discomfort of the situation was now also getting physically uncomfortable and she simply wanted to go.    

 Abby opened her eyes wide with amazement that the man she respected was encroaching upon her in way that was not acceptable. As she started backing up toward the black marble-topped table hoping to put some distance and furniture between them, Dr. Reese grabbed the front of her pants where they fastened and gave her a forceful pull towards him. He seemed to be trying to get her as close as possible to him. He pulled her in close like a hug, but an unwelcome hug. His grasp was strong and Abby could not break free.    

 “Leave me alone!” she said as she wiggled and tried to break free of the menacing grip he had upon her. “Let me go!”   

  As Abby was wriggling about trying to break free her head tilted back as it was about the only thing she could move in his bear hug. He seemed to be smelling her deeply as he buried his face in her neck inhaling long deep breaths.    

 “I don’t want to hurt you” he said, but it was said in the way that I knew he would, and in a very bad way he would.     He had risen to better dominate and intimidate her as he held her close caressing her soft body that was now tense with fear. She realized that she had now missed her bus and the others who were eager to make it would no longer be around within earshot. Abby also noticed that the windows she had peered out of many times before had faced the woods flanking the building so she was not in much luck of being seen from a passerby.  

   “Please stop!” as the commands turned into begging. She was getting progressively frightened as his hands were now seeking areas of her body she did not wish to share. She found herself becoming nauseous with fear, and also was becoming frantic, and the more frantic, the more paralyzed as she now realized she could not even muster sound as she felt his mouth on her, and his hands where they did not belong.

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      Abby’s father was old school. He was not a street tough but more so “redneck,” but with the value system of how a women should be treated, respect for God and the law, and a hard worker. Sadly, he also felt it was okay to have a few beers far too often, and Abby’s mother was not in the mood to spend her life with an absentee husband when Dad thought that “boys will be boys” and needed their space. She gave him a lot of space with their divorce after a handful of years of marriage.    

 Abby’s Dad eventually gave up the booze so he could spend time with her and get the blessing from the courts and Abby’s Mom. Dad also got back into shape, and reignited his passion for martial arts that he studied as a kid. He had his black belt, but as with other dreams of his adolescence, it waned during his adulthood. He was quite good and had a small handful of awards and quick hands and feet. He shared these skills with Abby when she would ask, “Show me something Daddy”. Like any typical father who sees the future of boys “comin’ a callin’”, he showed her some quick moves that may come in handy should a confrontation arise on a date.  

This wasn’t a date. The situation arose. 

     One thing her Dad shared with Abby early on was the main secret boys don’t want girls to know. A shot to the testicles not only hurts, but is quite debilitating. It is male Kryptonite. Abby remember Dad always saying, “If you get in a tight spot, a shot to the beans will tip the scales in your favor!”     

Abby’s knee connected squarely with Dr. Reese’s groin and he didn’t scream as much as let out a full exhale with a dry gurgle helping it escape. His head snapped back as his grip went from her behind to his “beans.”     

 She felt freedom and stood for a moment as the surreal picture still had not sunk in yet. She just knew she had her space once again. She slowly turned and was still too terrified to run, but she made her way to the marble-topped island and turned to retrieve her purse, she might need her cell phone, and just by instinct she turned to grab it. 

    Dr. Reese’s weight pulled her down and backward as he said, “it’ not going to be that easy you little bitch!” tearing the sleeve on her favorite blouse exposing her bra and sliding down to the crook of her arm. The fabric giving way caused him to slip once again to his knees as he was still only firing on about one piston as he hadn’t yet caught his wind, and the throbbing in his head and his groin was disorienting.    

Abby shrieked as the predator kept coming at her. The doctor was able to get into a partial stance and grab Abby by the hair at the back of her neck and place a hand over her mouth. Her excited breathing made it real hard for her to breathe and she worried about being able to stay conscious let alone what the mad doctor would do next.“I …Just…want…to …TALK…to you!” he hissed as he once again pulled her close.   

 Now he was becoming a blurred image as the tears in her eyes were clouding her ability to see. Abby was finding it harder to stand as her air was in stifled supply and the horror and grasp of her aggressor was getting the best of her. She didn’t have much left to give to her defense.     Dr. Reese got real close to her face and he said, “Shhhhhh, if you say one word, I will kil –“, and that is when she bit a chunk of flesh from his palm.     

 His hand flailed back as he screamed in pain. She spit the chunk of meat to the floor as the two squared off both in shock. She stood frozen and wide-eyed with a trickle of blood coming from the corner of her mouth like a vampire.

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She remembered one time being at Brenda’s house where Brenda’s younger brother was playing a video game called Mortal Kombat. The martial arts moves featured in the game were attractive as she imagined her Dad being able to do those moves and maybe teach them to her some day. Once the better of the two opponents would dominate the other, the weaker warrior would be wobbling semi-conscious as a ominous deep voice would come from nowhere and say “FINISH HIM!” as the red letters depicted in dripping blood would flash across the screen. The better warrior would perform a special move destroying his opponent, committing him to a bloody heap on the ground.

Abby heard, “Finish him!”    

 She grabbed the collar of Dr. Reese’s shirt with both hands. Her father told her when doing a classic head butt to keep her chin tucked and to yank the opponent’s head into the top of yours for more damage. Dad wasn’t there to coach. Abby extended her arms raising her chin and yanked with all her might as the top of her head collided with Dr. Reese’s mouth like Thor’s hammer. Blood sprayed from his mouth as he let out a yelp through loosened and now missing teeth. The collision of teeth to cranium peeled Abby’s scalp back like that first attempt in enjoying a navel orange.  The blood started to stain her hair immediately but that was the least of her concerns. She could tell by the crunch she heard on top of her head that damage was done.

 The meeting of the skulls caused her to drop to her knees in a semiconscious daze. The once smooth doctor was now teetering until his balance gave way and he toppled forward pinning her under him. His eyes showing only the whites on the way down, his head was abruptly changed in direction as it struck the corner of the marble table top mid fall. The gash in his temple dwarfed hers, and the blood ran.    

 Abby struggled to free herself from the weight of her aggressor, she pushed upward trying to get away, yet her hand slipped in the pool of their blood combining on the floor around them. She slipped once again bumping her head on the crimson soaked floor.  “Man that’s a lot of blood”, she thought. “How much can a body hold?” Those were the last words she recalled from that spot.

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Dr. Reese fortunately never had any kids of his own, as he now was never going to father any, or do much of anything actually. The blow to the head on the fall down was enough to make it Goliath’s last stand. No more would he accost another person, no more would he force himself upon another, no more would he breathe.    

He had a history the police explained to the principal and school nurse, of pedophilia as he fit the description of a wanted molester and rapist. “Alleged”, I think is how they said it. His tenure at this school was the longest yet. His actions would often get him into trouble and he would move on, or run, assuming another name in another town. He had so many aliases and titles that the trail of his monikers still had shown no end as of yet as his name and identity were ever changing; Dr. Reese – Biology Teacher was only one of many.

His charisma and charm kept the focus off him and kept the authorities distracted enough for him to maintain his slipperiness allowing his timely exits from one community to the next. He had a taste for young flesh and to what he extent he had actually quenched that hunger is yet to be determined. His story is ongoing but his actions ceased by a courageous young lady. He was wheeled away in a black bag with a long zipper concealing the evil contents.    

 Abby sat at the nurse’s station, her head still reeling from the horror scene she just starred in. Her palm pressed the gauze on her scalp wound exacerbated from Dr. Reese’s incisors and bicuspids. The blood was still trying to find its way to her lowered face.

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     Earlier, nurse Cochran with purse in hand decided to take two Ibuprophen for her nagging back after a long day at work and happened to stop at the water fountain outside the lab door. As she tilted her head back to swallow the pills, she heard a muffled man’s scream come from the lab. She approached the door and found it to be locked. No further scream’s came, but she thought she heard the sounds of commotion. She returned with the key moments later and found the darkening pool expanding around the two collapsed bodies. Checking for pulses with one hand, she called 911 with the other.

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Abby waited for what came next as she was unsure. She just knew “now” was better than “then” and she was comfortable now, except for the pain in her head. She still was unsure of what all went on and why she had to wait there; alone in the solitude of the nurse’s room. 

“Hey Angel face!” a voice called from the doorway.  

  “Daddy!” Abby squealed at recognizing the only voice allowed to call her that. He eyes lit up and then she started sobbing as the emotion of the day caught up with her. She hugged her father not wanting to let go once again feeling safe in his arms.“Daddy, he…”, she started.“Shhhhhh baby girl”, he comforted, you got nothing to worry about now.He peeked under the gauze at her wound then gently tugged up at her torn falling sleeve as if correcting a small fashion infraction.“You gonna be alright Angel Face?” he queried.“Yeah Daddy”, “now I am”, she said.“You are pretty tough for a twelve year old”, he said as he put his arm around her shoulder.She looked up at him and said, “Thanks to you Daddy, thanks to you!”