Into the Darkness
Story number two by Kathy Jackson
Heavy, bracing fog surrounds us as we make our way down the beach. Though we walk close to the shoreline, no waves rush up to great us, nor do the seagulls cry out for food. Or maybe, I frown, they call out in warning to the soul I usher down to their doom. Do the seagulls see me for who I am? This job torments my spirit for even though I have no doubts the people I lead deserve whatever happens to them beyond the black curtain, I cannot reconcile being an accomplice to their demise.
My life is so different since the boating accident where I lost my best friends. We used to have lunch together and bitch about how mundane, boring even, our lives were. Oh to be that bored again. Amanda used to toss her red curls and announce that what we needed was an exciting adventure where anything could happen. We needed, in her words, to “shake our lives up some”. If I could go back to my boring life, I would in a heartbeat. Why do we spend so much time wishing for the opposite of what we now have? Wanting excitement then, wanting boring now.
Instead I am here on this beach again. It has been a week since the last person walked this walk with me. In the beginning, I would set foot on this beach about every two to three weeks. Now it happens weekly and I find I dread the idea that it may become daily at some point. Has crime gone up this dramatically over the years or am I so good at my job that the forces that be decided to increase my participation? Is taking more people down the beach considered a job promotion? If so, I don’t want it.
“Jesus Christ!” My companion swears as she takes off her flats again to shake the sand out.
I have told her twice to go barefoot but she insists on wearing the sandals. She seems to be under the delusion that she is meeting some rich benefactor and wants to make a good first impression. It is not my job to correct their misconceptions. We stop so she can lean on me while she vigorously slaps the shoe against her thigh. It is the first time someone has touched me in quite a while, I pull away as she slides her foot back in. She frowns at my abruptness.
“You sure don’t say much.” She straightens up, squinting forward through the fog. I say nothing but wave for her to keep walking.
“How much longer?” I hear the note of impatience in her voice and want to tell her I ask the darkness that each time I come here. How much longer will this be required of me? But no answer comes to me just as none comes to her.
She is a beautiful woman from what I can tell. Tall with long legs, long blond hair, and she had all the right curves in all the right places. She must, I frown bitterly, be used to everyone bailing her out whenever trouble came to call. No one would bail her out now, no one at all.
“I’m so grateful to be out of that dingy prison,” she murmurs quietly “it was hard being around so many women when I’m used to men.” She runs a hand down her thighs as if to suggest her horniness.
“I hated all those women in jail crying and wanting to see their little brats. What did having kids ever do for me other than give me a better set of these.” She lifts her breasts up with both hands and gives them a little squeeze. I motion for her to keep walking.
“I had the twins for that bastard because that is what a good wife is supposed to do. How does that ingrate thank me for my sacrifice? He fucks his secretary…his SECRETARY.” She snorts viciously.
“Just who did he think he was married to? Did he honestly think I would sit back and do nothing? No one makes a laughing stock of me and gets away with it.”
I ignore her, concentrating instead on the darkness up ahead. I can’t really see it but I don’t need to for the electricity in the air increases with each step we take. It is there in the fog and it is hungry.
“I may have married him for his money but I kept myself in tip top shape for him. I can’t tell you how many times I had that thing of his in my mouth – that thing he stuck in that plain-Jane secretary. But I got even with him, didn’t I?” Her laugh grates on my nerves
“He deserved what he got. Now this man who paid to get me released, I bet he knows how to treat a woman of my caliber.” She straightens her skirt before putting hands inside her blouse to pump up her breasts. She must, I almost laughed, think a little cleavage will make a difference.
“I hope he doesn’t want children though because I don’t want to go through that again. It is so hard to feel beautiful with those disgusting little things inside me.” She smiled.
“They are good for sweet revenge though, aren’t they? Why you should have seen George crumble when he saw the twins floating in the bathtub. He tried so hard to revive them but they had been floating for hours so there was never any hope of that. His face was priceless.” As she doubled over in laughter, I felt my insides grow cold.
“Go up ahead, he is waiting for you” I point as if I can see someone standing there. She jumps at the sound of my voice then squints to see what I’m pointing to.
“Do I look alright? I want to be perfect when he sees me.” She whispered fluffing her hair. I wait patiently for I must see her go into the darkness for my job to be completed. She takes out a little vial of perfume to squirt her neck and breasts. She grasps onto my shoulder as she pulls her skirt up to squirt a little between her legs.
“Have to smell fresh as a daisy.” She winked conspiratorially. I don’t smile. She quickly applies red lipstick, dabs it with a tissue and tosses it on the ground. I watch as she saunters the last ten feet, she hesitates at the entrance to the darkness. Maybe she felt a bit of intuition that the place was not going to be pleasant, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do if the person refuses to enter. Suddenly she smiles widely as if recognizing someone and steps across the threshold. I hear a giggle that is cut off quickly with a scream so primal it makes my blood turn to ice.
I shudder as I snatch up her tissue and head back to my car. The darkness may take the human garbage but the rest was left to me. I’m sure I saw a garbage can in the parking lot and can’t help but wonder if it was placed there for just this occasion – funny how I had never noticed it on previous trips. Even though the darkness has left the beach, the heavy fog hangs around me as a shroud.