Some of you may remember this story. It was written a while back and is part of the collection of odd love stories Fractured Hearts. I am sharing it today as part of the Bloody Valentine Horror event.
As he washed his blood from her shirt, he muttered, “never answering the want ads again.” It wasn’t that it was the worst job he ever had. But it was far from the greatest.
It started out innocent, until she brought out her “toys.” Those were her words. She had a penchant for pain and lots of money to pay him for taking it. He might not have felt so bad about it if it was just a kinky sex thing, but this was borderline crazy.
The last time, she tied him up, naked as the day he was born. She peeled back the layers of skin on his left foot. The pain was excruciating, but he refused to cry. For the money she payed him, he would damn well take it.
After the left foot she moved to the right foot. It was still healing from the last time. So for this one she started with salt. The shards of pain shot up his leg, stabbed deep into his brain. As if that wasn’t enough, she turned to lemon juice. He blacked out as soon as the first drop touched his big toe.
The off days she allowed him to do the laundry and other light cleaning. She took extra delight as he hobbled around the house on his bandaged feet.
At times, he would remember the job market outside of her home. At least he was getting paid for this. Though, he often wondered how long before she tired of him. She hadn’t mentioned what happened to her last assistant. The possibilities seemed a bit less humane than keeping the status quo.
He had been thinking back to the day she hired him. In late September, Indian summer began to fade, the air turned a bit cooler. She had worn a black satin dress with conservative pumps, gloves and a wide brimmed hat, never took her sunglasses off.
At the time he found it a bit disconcerting. Even now he still had not seen her eyes. A little shifty, sure, but she never missed a payment. She even gave him a great Christmas bonus. Though he did lose his pinky on Christmas Day. Slip of some equipment. It was an accident really.
She had been acting funny over the past week. Before the sessions they would walk the grounds, and stop near the pond in the center of the garden maze. This happened everyday around noon.
They didn’t talk. She wasn’t paying him for conversation. He would roll a joint, a special blend she had flown in. Every day for the past week they sat on a bench beside the pond, smoked the joint and watched the clouds float by.
Every night she found a new torture. Over the entire week she never peeled skin away. First thumbscrews, and then water torture, he missed the days of the peeling skin.
It was Thursday. Their walks hadn’t changed. He rolled the joint, ensured it was the way she liked it. “Frank?” she asked.
He wasn’t sure if he should answer. They spent so much time in silence it felt strange to break the mood. “Yes?” He felt it should have been something more profound but he didn’t have profound in him at that moment.
She lit the joint and inhaled deeply, then passed it back to him. She had taken her glasses off, looked into his eyes as she held the joint out to him. He took it even as his skin pimpled in gooseflesh.
Her eyes were white. The pupils and irises looked bleached. There was a dead quality to the stare coming from those blank, empty eyes. He took a long drag on the joint, holding it in.
“What keeps you here?” She did not turn away. Another long drag of the joint, she held it in, waiting for his answer.
“It’s all I have.” They finished and went back to the house. She did not approach him again over the next two days. They didn’t have their time at the pond.
On the morning of the third day a briefcase lay on the bedside table of his room. Inside he found banded stacks of 100 dollar bills, crisp and new. There was also a folded sheet of paper with a hand drawn map on it.
He knew right away that the map led to the pond in the garden. He dressed and ran down the stairs to the back door. The sun was already rising, the heat of the day rising with it.
He didn’t stop. He was in a dead run to the garden maze. He found her sitting on the bench beside the pond. The knife, that special knife she had cut him so deeply with, lay at her feet. It was covered with the pooling blood that drained from her wrists.
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