Wiley Wilkerson sits in the middle of the floor of The Red Room. He runs his fingers over the fresh scar which crosses the width of his face. From left temple to right ear lobe, the scar seeps blood down his face onto his neck. “Why did I come here tonight? Old Man Parsons told me to stay away, but I just had to come see for myself.”
To his right, a low groan slips from the lips of one of the bouncers. Wiley stands to his feet. Gripping the wooden bat, he walks over to the bouncer. The bouncer sees Wiley coming toward him and begins to crab walk backwards away from him.
“Where do you think you’re going?” No answer. Instead, the bouncer tries to find another gear and flee. Wiley continues his ‘pursuit’ of the broken man. He lowers the bat to the floor, it makes a bump, bump, bump as it bounces off the tiles. There is nowhere for the bouncer to flee to. Finally, he leans back against the wall and watches Wiley draw closer.
“I didn’t know she was your niece, man. Please have mercy.” Wiley smiles at the bouncer, his white teeth flashing in the neon lights. The bouncer shivers.
“Oh, I see. If you had known she was my niece, you wouldn’t have raped her, right? Am I understanding that correctly?” No answer, rather the bouncer sobs. Racking sobs cause the man’s shoulders to shake, Wiley waits for him to compose himself.
Wiley pulls the bat up to his shoulder and assumes a good batting stance. “Well, I suppose those words were meant to provide me some sort of comfort, but unfortunately for you, it sounds like you were okay raping other people’s kids.”
The bat collides with the bouncer’s head with a sickening thud. Wiley swings the bat until the man’s brain matter lies on the floor.
“It wasn’t always this way.”
Two weeks ago:
“What, Gina? I’m outside hanging laundry on the clothesline,” her mother shouts. Gina walks to the back door of the 28×70 mobile home and leans out. Her mother, Tia, is clipping bedding onto the line. “Can I go out tonight with Jonathon? He asked me to go to The Red Room.”
Tia pauses and pushes her graying hair out of her eyes. Sweat trickles down her hawkish nose, and she puts a hand on her hip.
“How many times must we talk about this, Gina? All sorts of unsavory characters hang out at that juke joint. No, you can’t go. You tell Jonathon, I said to quit asking.”
Gina slams the door shut. “What am I going to do with her? She is only 16, she knows nothing of the real world.” Tia wipes her face and continues to hang the laundry on the clothesline.
Finishing the laundry, Tia walks in. Gina lies on the couch watching some daytime drama on the television. Propped up on the pillows, Gina scowls at her mother.
“You never let me do anything fun. Jonathon is the cutest boy in my school, do you have any idea what it would do for me to date him?”
“Puppies are cute, and they won’t break your heart. Get a job and go buy you a dog.”
Gina crosses her arms, her full lips pressed into a pout. “You think you’re funny. I hate you.”
“I love you to, Gina. I’m going to grab a shower and catch a nap before my shift at the diner. Try to keep the noise down.”
After a quick shower, Tia lies down on the couch. It doesn’t take long before her exhaustion compels her to sleep. Soon, she is snoring. Gina watches her mother from the hallway, her overnight bag slung over her thin shoulders.
“That’s right, mom. Catch you a nap. I’m going to make the most of my chance with Jonathon.”.
Silently, Gina slips from the trailer and walks down the winding, gravel road toward town.