I scowled into my rearview mirror at the guy behind me next to the Suburban, threw my arm over the passenger seat of my new-to-me Sentra, and looked over my shoulder. My foot hovered over the accelerator. The shrinks had given me the labels of depression, anxiety, PTSD, survivor’s guilt… sex addict… it just depended on which one you talked to. None of them, however, had tagged me as homicidal. Boy, somebody had sure missed something.
5 months earlier-
“Come on, Janie, hurry it up! Ash will be here any minute!” Terrell parked his vintage Trans-Am and turned off the radio along with the engine. He carefully scooped up his perfect girlfriend’s miraculously intact cake from its perch on the front seat and hurried into the Dairy Royale without waiting for me.
What a douche. I swear, football stars. All that creatine must go to their heads. I once again turned myself into a pretzel in his miniscule backseat to pull my favorite red cowboy boots back on, still singing the song he’d turned off. Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads. I wish I’d destroyed that damn cake when I had the chance.
It was Princess Ashley’s favorite for some unknown reason, strawberry swirl rainbow chip from the bakery 45 minutes away, with the photo of her as Fair Queen last summer. Terrell loved that photo of her. Terrell loved her. Or so he claimed when he wasn’t busy screwing other girls.
“I’m coming, I’m coming. Sheesh!” I grumbled to myself and squirmed out of the back seat with a somewhat squashed tissue-froufed gift bag and one drive-thru drink cup of incriminating evidence. Why did I always get stuck with clean-up duty? I considered leaving the cup for Terrell to deal with, or briefly, dropping it into the gift bag as an added surprise for Ashley. But no, that would be rude even for me, and I liked my arrangement with Terrell the way it was.
So I threw the cup in the trash and went inside, ready to play nice girl next door again. On the plus side, food was on the house ‘cuz Ashley’s parents owned the Dairy Royale, and Shelly the manager overlooked Terrell’s completely redundant cake. As usual, no one paid attention to me arriving with the birthday-girl’s boyfriend. They all knew we were neighbors out in the sticks and I was always bumming rides. No big.
“OMG, they are nauseating together!” my best friend Bev exclaimed awhile later as we escaped into the momentarily-empty ladies room to touch up our makeup and chat. Off-key strains of Happy Birthday filtered in through the door from Ashley’s throng of adoring fans. Gag me.
Bev and I had escaped to park ourselves in front of the large island of sinks and mirrors at the center of the newly remodeled bathroom. Faux-marble stalls lined the perimeter and one of those air freshener thingies on the wall spritzed tropical scent at us every few minutes.
“No kidding, right?” I rolled my eyes. “Do you ever wonder if Ash would be half as popular if her parents didn’t own half the town?” She snorted at me.
“Are you forgetting that she’s also sweet, beautiful, and kind to animals?” she asked.
“Don’t forget dumb as a post,” I muttered.
“And that’s the only reason you and Terrell have gotten away with messing around behind her back for so long. You keep it up and it’s gonna come back to bite you.”
“I’m not trying to steal him away or anything, Bev. I’m just borrowing him once in a while,” I mock-pouted. She laughed and shook her head at me.
“Can’t you ‘borrow’ someone else?”
“I’ve tried,” I whined pathetically at her, only half joking. “But you know how boys talk. I’ve got a couple of guys on tap when I’m out of town, but Terrell’s the only one I know around here who can keep his mouth shut. Besides, you know what they say about black guys right?” She huffed and rolled her eyes. “Well, it’s true.” I pointed my eyeliner at her in the mirror.
“God, I can’t wait till we graduate and can get out of this podunk town,” I complained. 17 years had been long enough.
The door to the corner handicapped stall caught my attention in the mirror as it swung slowly open behind us. Surprising, because we’d checked under all the stalls when we came in and hadn’t seen any feet. I was sure no one else was in here. Bev and I paused, both of us staring at the mirror, waiting for someone to come out. Oh, crap. Whoever it was had heard our whole conversation. When no one appeared after several seconds we both turned and ducked to look under the row of stalls again. Still nothing. We turned back to exchange a look in the mirror that said, WTF?
“Ok, weird,” I said. “It’s the haunted bathroom stall, dun, dun, dun,” I intoned.
“No kidding, right? Bizarro.” We both laughed and turned back to the mirror.
“Ok, what is your trick with eyeliner? I can never get mine…” I was staring intently at her eyes when they suddenly rounded like an anime character’s in the mirror. My eyes followed hers to a man now leaning in the doorway to the handicapped stall. He was grinning creepily at us and buttoning his jeans with one hand. He must have been either standing on the toilet seat or sitting with his feet up. I did not want to know what he’d been doing in there.
“Ew!” Bev dropped her expensive kabuki brush into the sink, but managing to hold onto her even more expensive powder blush.
“Dude, Are you drunk? You’re in the women’s bathroom.” Just looking at him, I pegged him for a logger. We had plenty of those around here, some of whom you could expect to be drunk any given night after work. He wore typical logger gear: double-front Carharts, striped hickory shirt, suspenders, and ugly-as-sin, slip-on Romeos. He was leaning against the stall doorjamb and held something casually behind the faux marble wall that I would have bet was a six-pack of Busch tallboys with at least five missing.
His smile changed to a glower and his eyes glittered with menace as he finished buttoning his pants and pulled his other arm out from the stall. The glint of silver, I was expecting, but not shape of the small Stihl chainsaw. So much for tallboys.
Bev screamed and I froze. “Buddy, what are you doing,” I asked warily. He grinned again, raised it up over his head and ripped the cord. The roar of the chainsaw echoed around the tiled room.
“Run!” I yelled at Bev. We ran toward the door but realized we wouldn’t get there with enough time to open the inward-swinging door. We ran around the island of sinks with him clomping after us in those ugly ass Romeos. We were on the opposite side of the island when he swung the roaring chainsaw into the mirrors between us with a deafening crash. Glass showered us as we cringed against the door, covering our heads. When I looked up again, he was climbing over the island countertop toward us. I grabbed the blush, still open and forgotten in Bev’s hand, and hurled the whole thing at his grinning face. It hit with a puff of Petal Pink Shimmer that blossomed into a sparkly pink cloud around his head. The chainsaw sputtered out as he lost his grip on the trigger, waving a hand in front of his face and coughing.
“Go! Go!” I yanked the door open, shoved Bev out and ran while he was distracted.
Bev and I ran screaming down the hall back into the restaurant and toward the nearby exit. We shoved past Shelly, the irate manager, who was hurrying to find out what the roaring and crashing noises were coming from her new bathroom.
“No! Run!” I yelled back at her, but she didn’t stop, straight-arming her way through the bathroom door just as the guy with the chainsaw started it back up again. Her brief scream was cut off abruptly and the sound of the chainsaw changed to a horribly lower, labored pitch for a few moments before returning to its former high wail.
The people in the busy restaurant were mostly staring in shock. Some of them were standing and gaping uncomprehendingly at the roaring noise of a chainsaw inside the Dairy Royale, but they were not yet moving. The exit was right in front of us, but the line from the counter blocked it with kids waiting to order on someone else’s tab. Why was there only one exit in this place?
“Move! Move! Get out!” I tried to push my way through the crowd with Bev at my heels. They saw the guy coming down the hall after us and panicked, pushing and shoving, jamming people into the doorway. I realized we were trapped and not knowing what else to do, ran around the corner and into the restaurant, losing track of Bev.
The people stuck in the doorway were sitting ducks when chainsaw guy got to them. He quickly swung his weapon through the crowd at chest height, opening up a bloody line across the screaming mass of people and effectively stuffing the doorway with moaning, writhing bodies.
Not even pausing, the guy roared and swung the chainsaw around the corner after me, shredding the 8-foot plastic ice cream bar that had stood there as long as I could remember. Mr. Dip’s smile shot a three foot arc of sparks that illuminated chainsaw guy’s sparkly face and shirtfront.
Snuffy, a fat redneck nicknamed for the perpetual wad of Copenhagen in his lower lip, stood and pulled a handgun from his extended waistband and aimed it right over my shoulder. I dove out of the way under a booth as the gun went off, missing widely as Snuff was jolted by the panicking mob. Plaster rained down over the dining room.
Our would-be savior was buffeted on all sides by people running and screaming around him as chainsaw guy advanced, grinning manically and swinging the chainsaw back and forth through anyone and everything he could reach, blocking the kitchen. Blood and guts spattered nearby tables and Snuff shot several more times, hitting the soft serve maker and exploding the waffle cone display before he finally got a shot close. Unfortunately, it pinged off the whirling chainsaw blade and through the head of a really annoying know-it-all from my chem class, spraying gray matter on a flock of cheerleaders running past. When she said she wanted to share her brain with those less fortunate, I don’t think that was what she meant.
People desperate to escape threw chairs through plate glass windows, showering me with glass in my hiding spot and trapping me under the booth as they scrambled over my table to safety. Across the room, I saw a dumpy, middle-aged worker lose her mind completely and get stuck trying to dive headset-first through the drive-thru window.
The roar of the chainsaw was so close now as I cowered under that booth, trying to make myself invisible in the corner. Snuffy’s legs backed toward me as he fired his last shot and tried to run. My booth shook as he scrambled onto one seat and tried to go over the table and out the window. His high-pitched scream above me as the chainsaw found him made me clap my hands over my ears against the painful sound.
The whole booth jolted around me and a waterfall of hot blood cascaded over the table edge onto my shoulder a second before his heavy body fell onto the seat right next to my head, his dying eyes finding mine for his last moments. The table vibrated and shook above me as the chainsaw cut into it. That’s it, it’s all over, I thought. This redneck’s dead fish eyes are the last thing I’m going to see. No, I corrected, his chew spit dribbling onto my leg is the last thing.
Suddenly I heard sirens. They chainsaw stopped. Psycho hopped up onto the other booth seat and out the window into the night. A golf ball-sized wad of chew rolled out of Snuffy’s mouth and landed with a splat on my red cowboy boot. I rolled over and puked my guts out.
Later, I sat in the parking lot with a blanket wrapped around me, staring in confusion at a cup of hot coffee that had found its way into my hand. I don’t drink coffee.
I’d been checked out by the EMTs and my dad was there to take me home, looking angry and lost a few feet away as I gave my statement to the police. He would handle this like anything else since Mom ran off with the local male stripper, with silence and a fifth of his old friend Jack.
TV crews from the big city showed up, but the reporters were all held behind a line of yellow police tape, able only to impotently yell questions and shove a microphone at anyone who passed close enough. At some point, the police chief gave a statement.
Some of the people made it out ok through windows, a few through the kitchen. Terrell and Ashley had ironically hidden in the bathroom. In all the running and people jumping into cars and scattering, the psycho with the chainsaw had disappeared. Poof, like smoke. As if I’d only imagined him. But I didn’t imagine Bev lying amongst the black plastic-wrapped bodies in the parking lot.
Months later, things were starting to get – well, back to normal wasn’t right. Some days I didn’t think things would ever be normal again. I’d been through a ream of therapists and they had all sorts of names for it. Whatever. I should have been the one, not Bev, not all those people standing in the doorway just waiting for ice cream. Terrell’s condom clothed dick now functioned as escapism.
The funerals were over, thank God. Time to get back to the business of living, that’s what people said. So, I went through the motions of finishing out the school year. Graduation was just one more memorial service.
The school helped me line up a summer internship at the bank and I was saving my money to get out of this hell-hole of a town. One day near the end of June, I squashed myself into a corner of the bank’s drive-up window to count change because the ancient coin machine had died, again. My co-worker Theresa came up beside me.
“Janie, you’ve got a visitor,” she smiled at me. She was a kindly, middle-aged lady who’d taken me under her wing, reminding me to eat lunch and take breaks. I looked over to see Pretty Princess Barbie Ashley, standing at the counter, grinning at me as if we were best friends. She waived a book over her head.
“Janie, Janie! Our senior annuals finally arrived!” she said, loud enough for the whole bank to hear. Ms. Mitchell, the bitchy assistant manager just glared at me from her desk and tapped her watch to let me know she was timing my break. Ashley made it a habit to come by the bank a couple times a week to chat.
Her scrawny bird arm emphasized how skinny she’d gotten since the attack, but unlike me, she’d just bought a whole new size 0 designer wardrobe. I was sure I looked like her poor scarecrow cousin in my thrift store business outfit as she fake smooched my cheeks.
“Hi Ash,” I forced a smile. Her dad, “Big” Earl Dixon, owned the bank and I had to stay on his good side. Which meant being nice to Ashley. The staff didn’t call him the Earl of Dickdom for nothing.
Everyone hated his guts, especially Ms. Bitchell who was always worse when he was around. Usually Big Earl left the day-to-day running of the bank to the manager, but she was out at a conference that day so he was ‘filling in’. Also known as making our lives hell.
“That’s really nice of you, but I didn’t buy an annual,” I told her. Too many memories of friends who weren’t here anymore. They were late because of all the changes that had had to be made. The school should have just cancelled them.
“I know, I was on the committee. But,” she lowered her voice to a whisper that somehow still carried, “I knew that was just because you couldn’t afford it, so I bought you one!”
“Well, gosh Ashley, thank you,” I replied. She didn’t seem to catch the thinly veiled sarcasm in my voice. She pushed the book toward me, back cover up. Some loser brainiac at school thought Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads was appropriate for our class song. The same song that had been playing on the radio right before the massacre. Dark humor is apparently a coping mechanism.
“Hey, did you get a call from that TV producer who wants to do a special on the Chainsaw Killer?” Ashley asked. I grimaced at the name the TV stations had given him after the attack. Totally lame, IMO. There were reward and wanted posters up all around the country with his grainy picture from a security camera next to the artist’s sketch from my description. His face in the bathroom mirror was still burned into my memory.
“He said it would be very high-brow,” she continued. “I gave him your numbers. Maybe it’ll help them catch the guy.” She seemed optimistic, but really, none of it helped. He was just so average. None of the logging companies recognized him and in the rural northwest, everyone and their brother owned a chainsaw. Some people thought he must have spent some time here, had something against the town, but no one knew him.
“No. Actually, I don’t have a cell anymore.” Someone kept giving my number to every TV station and newspaper in the country. “And my dad hangs up on those people.”
“O.M.G! That must be terrible! How do you live without a cell phone? You poor thing!” she exclaimed so loudly that everyone in the bank looked our way. She dug around in her purse, not noticing the attention she’d brought us, and pulled out a business card.
“Here, you should call him,” she put the card on top of the year book and pushed them both toward me. “We can do the show together, it’ll be fun!” Her eyes glittered maniacally and I wondered, not for the first time, if Ashley was really all there anymore.
“No. Thank you, but that would really not be fun for me,” I replied.
“Oh.” She pouted. “Well, keep the card and think about it, ok?” I nodded and she beamed as if I’d just told her yes. I’d think about it all right, that very evening while I lit the card on fire and used it as kindling to burn the yearbook.
“Oooh, look at the time,” she looked at her cell. “I’ve got to get going or I’ll be late for my massage.” As if on cue, her father stepped out of the manager’s office.
“Ashley, I’d like to speak to you for a moment,” Big Earl boomed across the bank. No one in that family knew how to be quiet.
“But Daddy, I…”
“No buts, Ashley. Get in here.”
“O-kay,” she glanced longingly at her brand-new gold Lexus, visible through the front window because she’d parked in the handicapped stall. She trudged into the office, leaving the door ajar.
I went back to my menial task at the drive-up counter and tried to seem like I wasn’t listening to Big Earl interrogate Ashley about why she hadn’t been wearing the diamond encrusted Rolex her parents had given her for graduation. I shook my head and looked out the window. It goes with everything! I recalled Ashley gushing.
The drive-thru was at the back of the building, facing a forested hillside and with a view of the dumpster at the back of the parking lot. A big rig had been parked there all morning. Probably a long haul trucker catching some sleep. I watched as a man in a plaid shirt, suspenders, and Romeos hopped out of the cab and into the parking lot. He glanced over at me and our eyes locked for a moment before he walked out onto the sidewalk toward town. He whistled, with his hands in his pockets, his sandy-brown hair blowing in the early summer breeze.
“Janie? Janie what is it?” Theresa asked. She crouched down next to me and I realized I was now kneeling on the floor, peering over the counter at the man walking down the street.
“Th-that’s him,” I stammered, pointing over the counter. “Theresa, that’s him,” I repeated.
She got all wide-eyed. “Are-are you sure?” she whispered. I began to have doubts. There were plenty of men who matched his description, plenty of average men with shaggy, light-brown hair and logger clothes.
“I’m sure,” I heard myself say. We called the police and found out they were all out on a call, but the dispatcher promised they would track the man down as soon as possible. I don’t think she believed me though, that it was Psycho Killer just out for a stroll down the street. I think the police had been called out for every brown haired logger in the county in the past months.
God, why hadn’t I gotten a handgun? I’d thought about it, but I was too young for a concealed weapons permit and my dad was worried I might do something stupid. Besides, it hadn’t worked for Snuffy, and I hadn’t wanted the idiots at school singing “Janie’s Got a Gun” at me all the time. Terrell. Terrell carried a gun now. But I’d given up my cell phone to save money, damn it!
A short while later, I saw the man walk back with a plastic sack from the mini-mart. Maybe it wasn’t the same guy. Maybe he would just leave. Please just leave.
As he climbed into the cab of his truck, there were still no police to be seen. I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding when he pulled the truck around and pointed it toward the exit. But my relief was premature. He opened his door and climbed out again. He left the truck running and reached back in for the Stihl.
“Lock the doors! Call 911!” I yelled in a panic. Theresa and I ran around locking all the bank doors while everyone else was pretty much frozen in a state of shock. Someone frantically called 911 again while a few others got in gear and ran around pulling the window shades. Ashley and her father came running out of the office.
“Young lady!” Big Earl thundered. Ms. Bitchell cowered at her desk. “What do you….” He spotted Psycho out the backdoor window with his chainsaw and just stood there, his jaw flapping like a fish.
As soon as the last door was locked, I dove for a desk phone and quickly dialed the number of my favorite booty call.
“Ter, he’s here!” I shouted when he answered. “He’s here at the bank Ter.”
Ashley stood next to her father, moaning and swaying. “No, no! What is he doing here? He’s not supposed to be here.” Her little clutch purse fell to the marble floor with a heavy thunk.
Ms. Bitchell panicked and ran into the vault, locking herself inside. Big Earl strode over and started pounding on the thick steel door, leaving Ashley to slide to the floor in a designer puddle. He stopped pounding for a second, swearing and searched his pockets. He swore again and resumed pounding on the door. Great, the owner of the bank didn’t even have the vault combination.
With the bank manager gone, the rest of us were locked out of the reinforced steel room. The Earl of Dickdom continued pounding on the door and yelling at Bitchell as Psycho Killer outside ripped his chainsaw to life and went for the locked backdoor.
“We’ve gotta get out of here! We can’t wait for the police!” I pawed through my purse for my keys. Someone tried to pull Big Earl away from the vault door, but he flung them away.
“You are FIRED!” he screamed at the door, spittle coating his chin. “You will never work in this town again. Do you hear me?” He obviously wasn’t going to be any help.
“Come on Ashley! Snap out of it!” I yelled and ran over to where she was moaning and rocking on the floor.
“No, no. Leave me here,” she moaned and tried to shake me off.
“Not a chance, cream puff,” I tugged her up to wrap her little chicken arm around my shoulder. “Let’s go!” I dragged her to the door. “Theresa, is that your Suburban outside?” She nodded grimly and grabbed her keys as the chainsaw started to come through the heavy wooden door.
We ran out the front, but I could see we wouldn’t all fit into Theresa’s SUV, no matter how much we squished. Plus, I couldn’t lift Ash to get her in on top of everyone else. I made a split-second decision and drug her over to my graduation present instead, an little Nissan Sentra, so old it had manual locks and windows. I fumbled with my door key, getting it open only to realize the windows were down.
“Well shit.” I managed to stuff an unresponsive Ashley into the passenger seat. She tried to get out, so I locked her in while the others all packed into the Suburban. I heard a scream and looked back at the bank in time to see blood spatter on the corner window and then Psycho barged through the front door, yelling and shaking the chainsaw over his head like a caveman.
I pulled up the lock on my door and got in, fumbling the keys again when I tried to start the car. My hands were shaking so bad that I dropped them on the floor mat.
I picked up the keys and jammed them into the ignition, looking up to see him running toward my open window, yanking at the starter cord. Ashley squeaked and shrank into her door, grasping for the door handle and moaning. I jammed my feet on the pedals and turned the key as the saw came roaring back to life, straight out of my nightmares.
Don’t stall! Don’t stall! I jammed my foot on the accelerator and leaned away from the maniac at my window. I made myself let out the clutch slowly even as the chainsaw descended toward me and I yanked the wheel to the right as we lurched away from him. We scraped the car next to us with a screech and a shudder but managed to pull away just in time.
We were speeding toward the exit, Ashley moaning and curled into a fetal ball against the door, when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw that the SUV hadn’t moved. Psycho Killer advanced on his new target and raised the saw high over his head once more. He brought it down on Theresa’s driver side door with a terrible screeching noise and sparks as metal met metal. I saw terrified faces inside and slammed on my breaks without thinking.
“What are you doing?” Ashley snapped out of it long enough to scream at me.
“Helping Bev,” I growled, knowing that didn’t make much sense. Bev was dead. I threw my little car in reverse, scowling into my rearview mirror at Psycho next to the Suburban. I threw my arm over the passenger seat and my foot hovered over the accelerator. Ash screamed and clung to the door as I slammed my foot on the gas. I accelerated straight toward them just as Psycho Killer raised his chainsaw above his head and howled to the sky.
I plowed right into him, crashing into the back corner of the SUV with him in the middle. The chainsaw flew from his hands, hitting the roof of the SUV as it sputtered and died before hitting the asphalt on the other side.
I finally took my foot off the gas and turned off the engine. I left him pinned between the vehicles, slumping over the trunk of my car. I felt weirdly focused and calm as I set the parking break, got out and retrieved the tire iron that had been sliding around behind my seat ever since I got the car.
Psycho Killer had his eyes open and was squirming when I got to him, blood dripping from his mouth.
“This is for Bev,” I said and swung the tire iron like a baseball bat at his head as hard as I could. There was a dull whump and blood spattered the SUV’s back passenger window.
I wiped my forehead with the back of my hand and realized I still had the tire iron gripped in my fist. I couldn’t seem to make myself drop it. I met Ash’s wide-eyed stare in the side mirror of my poor little destroyed car.
“You ok?” I asked. “Everyone ok?” I yelled to the occupants of the SUV as Terrell’s Trans Am squealed into the parking lot. He jumped out with his gun drawn, but quickly stuck in his waistband at the small of his back as he took in the scene.
“Jeez, Janie,” he came over to me as reality kicked in and I started shaking. He pried the tire iron from my hand and wrapped his arms around me.
A car door slammed. “Well, well, well. Isn’t that just sweet?” Ashley’s angry voice sounded from behind me. Terrell let go of me like he was burned.
“Ash? Baby, what are you doing here? Are you ok?” he asked. “Whoa, Baby whoa! What are you doing?” I turned to see her pointing a small handgun at us.
“Don’t move. None of you in there move!” she yelled at Theresa and the rest of the bank crew in the SUV. “Put your arms back around her Terrell. That’s how I want to remember you both when I shoot you,” she said, her face livid, but her eyes cold. He slowly put his arms around me again.
“You thought I didn’t know?” she asked. “You two thought you could screw around behind my back all this time and I wouldn’t figure it out? Do you see all this?” she screeched and gestured around us. “My father? All the people dead at the Dairy Royale? It’s all your fault.”
“Ash, sweetheart? What are you saying?” Terrell asked in shock.
“Don’t sweetheart me, you asshole! This is all your fault! If you could’ve just kept your pants zipped none of this would have happened. I wouldn’t have had to hire him to kill her.” She pointed first at Psycho Killer, now slumped with a definitely lopsided skull over the trunk of my little car, then at me, still very much alive at least for the moment.
“But no, even after that first time, you two still couldn’t keep your clothes on! I had to pawn all my jewelry, my new Rolex! All to get him to come back and finish the job on your little piece of ass, Terrell!” she shook with anger. She seemed more upset about the jewelry than about the death of her own father.
And apparently, I was the only one of Terrell’s girls that she’d found out about. I wondered what she’d do if I told her the truth. I was so focused on Ashley and the gun pointed at me, I barely noticed the sound of gears grinding somewhere nearby. I needed a plan. I needed to get to Terrell’s gun.
“You paid him again when he didn’t finish the job the first time? Isn’t that a big no-no when hiring a contractor?” I asked to cover my movement as I angled my body a little into Terrell’s.
“Shut up!” she screeched at me. “You don’t talk! It’s my turn now.” Ok, maybe taunting the crazy girl wasn’t my best plan.
“I am so done with you Terrell! We’re through! This is the last straw, you riding in to her rescue like a black knight in that piece of shit car! You didn’t even know I was here!” She squared her shoulders and brought her other hand up to steady the gun. “I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place. I’m going to shoot you both myself.”
Any moment now, she was going to pull that trigger. I pretended to cringe into Terrell’s chest, feigning weakness to turn him a little more so she couldn’t see his back. I dropped my head to his shoulder and pretended to cry as I inched my right hand around his waistband.
“Aw, is poor little Janie-bitch scared now?” she mocked in a sing-song voice. Terrell tensed as I curled my hand around the handle of his gun. “Good, you should be you slut!” she screamed, looking completely unhinged. I could now hear police sirens finally getting closer in the distance, and a rumbling noise I didn’t try to place.
I watched in horror as her finger tightened on the trigger. Terrell yanked us both to the ground at the same time that I drew his gun, pointed it at Ashley, and pulled the trigger. Her gun went off and a plate glass window across Main Street shattered behind us. Ashley recoiled with a cute shriek, but all the gun in my hand did was click. Click, click. I tried again. Nothing.
She recovered, smirked, and aimed again. We rolled and a bullet dug into the asphalt where my head had been. A chip of pavement bit into my cheek.
Terrell swore and grabbed for the gun. “Shit, Janie! The safety!” He flicked it off and aimed at his girlfriend, only to recoil as Psycho Killer’s big rig plowed right past us and into Ashley.
“Spawn of the devil!” Ms. Bitchell screamed as she leaned out the driver’s window.
Ashley was knocked clear out into the street and directly into the path of a wailing police car. The officer had no time to even swerve and his car ran her over with a th-thump, th-thump before skidding to a stop.
Many hours later, Terrell and I were finally allowed to leave the police station with a gruff warning not to leave town. The bank employees had all been questioned and allowed to leave hours ago. All except our rescuer, Ms. Bitchell, who was being held on charges of killing the town princess.
“You need a ride home?” Terrell asked. I rubbed the back of my neck wearily and thought of my destroyed little car. I’d only had it two weeks.
I nodded. “Yeah.” He slung an arm around my shoulders and walked me to his car. His parents had brought his Trans-Am over from the bank and were waiting behind it in their mini-van to follow Terrell home. I’d called Dad but he hadn’t answered, probably passed out in his recliner with a bottle nearby.
“So,” he slid his hand down my leg on the way home and gave my knee a squeeze. “We still on for tonight?” He gave me his customary smirk. What a douche. After all we’d been through today…. I blew out a breath. Who was I kidding?
“Sure,” I gave him a smirk of my own. I really had to get out of this town.
*Karen is in the process of querying agents for her debut novel, Sunny from Afaar, a YA sci-fi novel. In the meantime, she’s working on book two and hopefully on publishing a few short stories to gain some sort of writing credentials. Janie’s Got a Car is her first attempt. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from WWU, and lives in the small town of Raymond, WA with her amazingly supportive husband Mike and their beautiful son Gabe.*