Authors: Charles Arnold
The Lisa Series
by Charles Arnold
A Pink Flamingo Ebook Publication
Copyright © 2013, All rights reserved
Lisa, Her Initiation
By the time Lisa was seven and her sister, Jean, was twelve, they were orphans. Jean was sent to live in upstate New York on a farm their grandparents owned. Lisa stayed on Long Island with an elderly aunt and uncle. When she was fourteen, she was raped by her older cousin who died a month later in a car accident. At the age of fifteen Lisa gave birth to a son whom she named Richard. She and the child were then sent to the grandparent’s farm where they stayed for the next thirteen years. When I met her, she was twenty-eight and Richie was thirteen. I fell in love with her immediately. Within two months we were married. She and her son moved into my apartment on Long Island, and for a year we were very happy. This story begins early in February, the year after our marriage, and ends thirty days later. Although I will tell it, this is Lisa’s story.
Our apartment complex includes a clubhouse with a gym. I had finished working out, taken a shower, and was crossing the lobby of the club when someone yelled, “Hey, Billy!”
It was a big guy they called Frank. He had been providing the local teenagers with alcohol and generally making a nuisance of himself. He’d recently started a fight at a club dance and sent three younger men to the hospital. Several women had issued complaints about his suggestive remarks and obscene language. It was clear that residents tried to avoid him. He had never spoken to me before, so I was surprised he knew my name.
Coming over to me, he clapped a huge hand on my shoulder. His dark eyes quickly glanced around the room and, seeing no one, he led me to a corner by a coffee table. He pulled up two chairs and motioned for me to sit. When we were both seated, he leaned over the table and asked in a low, guarded voice, “You got a kid named Richie?”
“Yes,” I said, “I mean he’s my wife’s son. His name is Richie.”
“I seen your wife around here, you know, lots of times.” He shook his head. “She’s a good looking woman but she looks like a kid herself.”
“She was only fifteen when...”
Frank interrupted, “Well, this boy of hers is in some trouble.” He looked around the room again and leaned closer, “Serious trouble, but I can help.”
“What kind of trouble?” I knew Richie wasn’t very bright, but he was a good kid, really a nice boy; quiet, shy, polite never wanting things, never complaining. I liked him. His mother was devoted to him. They were very close, more like brother and sister than mother and son.
“Big trouble,” Frank repeated, “but I can’t tell you here. I think you and the kid’s mother...what’s her name?”
“Yeah, you and the mother better come to my place. Say in an hour. She home? The kid’s mother.”
“Yes, but what....”
“You just bring her over, Billy. It’s apartment J-14. You know, the ‘J’ section behind the pool. Number 14. I’m Frank Racene.”
“Well,” I started to protest, “can’t you just tell me?”
“No, I can’t. See you there in an hour,” he said. “Don’t say nothing to the kid.” He rose to leave. I watched him move across the room. He was surprisingly quick and light on his feet for a man his size.
Lisa wanted to rush over to his place as soon as I told her about our conversation, but we waited until the hour was almost up. Frank greeted us warmly and ushered us into a living room cluttered with worn and soiled furniture. There were stains on the walls and carpet. Stuffing was visible through a tear in the couch. The place smelled of fried onions and stale cigarette smoke.
We sat on the couch while Frank eased himself into a chair opposite us. I hadn’t noticed before, but he was very pale, his face and hands smooth. He waited for a moment staring at us. Lisa had thrown a nylon jacket over a plaid cotton shirt. She wore jeans and sneakers. I watched as his eyes appraised her. I got the impression he was seeing her naked.
“Richie is your boy?” he asked, nodding at Lisa.
“Yes, please, what...”
He held up a hand. “Look, it would be faster if I showed you.” He rose and crossed over to a VCR, which he switched on along with the television. The picture on the screen appeared fuzzy and jumped around. It was a view of a kitchen much like our own, but, except for a card table, it was empty. Only the table and part of the sink were visible. Into the camera’s view walked Richie. There was no sound. Richie counted out several bills, they appeared to be twenties. He placed them on the table. Someone, out of camera range, held up to the lens for a close view, two clear plastic sandwich bags, which seemed to contain what looked like sugar. The hands holding the bag were gloved. They put the plastic bags down beside the money. Richie quickly picked them up, stuffed them in his jacket pocket and, turning to leave, came sharply into focus. There was no mistaking him. “You know that’s high-grade heroin you got there, right?” a muffled voice off camera asked.
“Yeah, I know,” Richie answered.
“Well, be careful,” the voice said.
“I will.” The camera followed Richie to the door, which he opened and closed behind him. Frank switched off the VCR.
Before either of us could speak, he said, “What you just seen is a transaction. Drugs for money. In this case the worst drug of all, heroin. If the cops get that tape,” he stared hard at Lisa, “your kid goes to reform school. I mean for a heroin deal like this, he goes up for a very long time. Some of them kids in reform school are old for their age. They just love it when a nice looking kid comes for a long visit. Know what I mean?”
“But Richie isn’t...Richie couldn’t...” Lisa began.
“Even in reform school,” Frank continued, “a nice kid’s ass belongs to anyone he can’t beat up. Get the picture?”
“It can’t be Richie!” Lisa cried. “He doesn’t even know what drugs are.”
“Must of been his twin then,” Frank said. “Richie got a twin?” he laughed. Lisa’s eyes began to fill with tears. “Maybe it ain’t as bad as it could be,” Frank said. “I happen to know your boy don’t do drugs. He was buying for a friend. He only got one friend, right? That teenage jerk who works in Bruno’s as a dishwasher.”
“Oh, thank God,” Lisa fumbled in her purse for a handkerchief.
“I go to Bruno’s a lot so I know this kid. His name’s Carl.”
“Yes,” Lisa said, “Richie’s had him up to the apartment.”
“Well, the little bastard’s got a record so he talked your kid into picking up the stuff for him.”
“So everything’s Okay?” I asked. Lisa was smiling and dabbing at her eyes.
“Hell no,” Frank said. “You saw the tape. This kid of yours was dealing heavy drugs. Cops get the tape, your boy gets three years, maybe more. Simple as that.”
“But...” Lisa began.
Frank held up his hand. “I know what you’re going to say. The cops don’t have to get the tape. Right?”
“Yes,” she said, “you don’t have to give it to them.”
“True,” Frank smiled, “but then I would be an accessory. I’d be withholding evidence. I used to be a cop. Twenty-five years on the force in Detroit. I know how these things work.”
“How much?” I asked.
“How much you got?” Frank turned to me still grinning. It was clear that he enjoyed this.
“Maybe we could scrape together a thousand,” I said.
Frank paused to light a cigarette. “To tell you the truth, a thousand bucks ain’t going to buy much happiness for old Frankie here.”
Lisa turned to me. “Billy, we could sell the car. It must be worth five-hundred.”
“No,” Frank said, “what I want would cost a whole lot more than fifteen-hundred.”
“But what do you want?” Lisa looked at him earnestly. “Maybe we could....”
“Happiness,” Frank cut her off. “Ain’t that what everybody wants?”
Frank shook his head. “Trouble is, Miss, I got simple tastes. I’m just a dumb ex-cop with simple tastes. Know what I mean?” He paused and turned to me. “Billy, it’s all a matter of understanding what’s important. Boats, cars, vacation in Vegas...none of that interests me.” He sat back and stared at us for a minute, then put both hands on his knees. “Jesus! You don’t get it, do you?”
“No we don’t,” Lisa said, “what exactly is it you want for the tape?”
“Like I said, happiness.” He stared at her until she lowered her eyes.
“Look, Goddamn it...” I began.
Frank ignored me. “I’m talking to your wife. I’m going to tell her what makes me happy, then she can tell me if she has it and wants to make a trade for the tape. Okay?” Lisa looked up and nodded. She was beginning to understand. “What will make me happy,” Frank continued, “is a beautiful young woman whose biggest thing in life is giving me pleasure. Get the picture?”
He sat back and waited. Neither of us said anything. Lisa put her hands up to her face and began to cry. Frank ignored her. He looked at me. “You, Billy, you got something I want. You got it in your bed every night.” He jerked his head toward Lisa. “And I got what your little woman needs to keep her kid’s ass from getting reamed. I’m talking a trade.”
“You can’t mean that.” I said.
“I do mean it. I want your pretty little wife. Not forever, only thirty days. If she does real good at keeping me happy that’s the end of it. If she fucks up, I have the right to add extra days.”
“You bastard,” I said.
“I’ve been called worse.” Frank leaned forward. “Now, let’s be sure you know what the deal is. For thirty days starting tomorrow night, she’s mine. Any time I want her. Any way I want her. If she keeps me happy, she’s free to go with the tape after thirty days. If not, I add on some days but no more than ten. That’s the deal.” He sat back in his chair and lit another cigarette.
“Fuck you!” I said and grabbed Lisa’s arm. Throughout his explanation she had kept her head down and her face covered with her hands. She looked up at me, the tears streaking her cheeks. She shook her head.
Frank chuckled, “Trouble with you, Billy, is you ain’t a mother.” He took a drag from his cigarette and blew a thin stream of smoke toward the ceiling. “Look,” he said, leaning forward again, “Think it over. If you decide to take my offer, meet me at Bruno’s, in the bar, at nine tomorrow night.”
Lisa looked at him. She swallowed and struggled to get control of her voice. “How do we know you’ll give us the tape after...after...”
“You don’t. You’ll just have to trust me. If it helps, I can tell you there isn’t a woman in the world can keep me happy for more than a month.”
“You wouldn’t hurt her?” My own voice sounded strange to my ears.
“You mean belt her around, twist her arm?”
“Nah, I don’t believe in that stuff. If she don’t do what she’s told and don’t do it good, she gets extra days, that’s all.” He leaned back. “Like I said, I’ll be at Bruno’s tomorrow night. By the way, just suppose you decide to do what’s best for your boy, is there a place he could go for the next month?”
Lisa glanced at me then turned back to Frank. “My sister’s farm upstate. He likes it there. He has cousins.” Suddenly she shook her head and the tears began again. “But I can’t...I just can’t.” She began to sob. Frank shrugged his shoulders and waited for Lisa to stop.
“I’m...I’m sorry, she said.
“Yeah, well, you gotta learn to control that, you know. It’s a pain in the ass.” Lisa nodded. Frank went on. “I done some checking and here’s what I found out. Lisa and her kid lived on the sister’s farm until a little over a year ago. They’re very tight, you know. All their lives they got no one but each other. That right?”
Lisa nodded, “Yes, until I met Billy. My sister was good to us but...”
“You do much fucking around up there in the sticks?” Frank interrupted.
Lisa blushed. “No, nothing, no one.”
“What you do for excitement all them years.”
“We belonged to the church. Just work and the church.”
“Jesus! What a waste. No boy friends? No little rolling around in the hay?”
Lisa looked down. “No, never. Nothing like that at all.”
“Well, except for the rape that knocked you up and a little action from Billy here, you’re almost a virgin.” Frank smiled. “Pure and sweet and innocent. I bet she don’t even say ‘fuck’, right Billy?”
“Damn you!” I stood up.
“Easy, easy there Billy boy. I could break your neck without getting out of this chair.” Lisa grabbed my hand. Frank looked at us for a moment then stood. “Okay, if there’s no more questions.” He started toward the entrance. We followed. He opened the door. As Lisa was passing through, he put his hand on her arm. “Look, Miss, if you decide to drop in at Bruno’s tomorrow, wear something sexy, you know, heels and a sexy dress.” We started down the walk. “And forget the bra.” he yelled after us.