“Don’t get me started!” I said. “I was in a hurry.” I had a mini-shovel in my trunk and gardening gloves. What? I’m not a criminal. I had to take what I could find. It’s not like Alisha gave me notice. I dropped everything, even my dick in my hand, which I was jerking off to her picture in our yearbook. What? Don’t look at me like you’re so perfect. Anyway, Dad had a green thumb and was trying to be a gardener. Mom said it was a mid-life crisis. But if Dad knew I had anything to do with Alisha Keagan, he’d cut me off. I don’t mean kill me, but no more college — no more, none of that. Dad said Alisha was a bad influence on our Christian home. Christian home? Mom was a functioning drunk, and Dad spent more time hunting than with his family. Killing innocent animals is Christian? I turned my attention back to Alisha. “Beggars can’t be choosey.”
“It’s not the biggest shovel, but it’ll do.” Alisha cocked her head, biting her bottom lip. “What am I going to do with you?” Alisha had this way of slaying your self-confidence with a cocky wink and a confident smile. I didn’t know how to overcome my low self-esteem, and this wasn’t helping.
“What? Just say it,” I said. I was starting to sound like…like a bitch. Seriously, I needed to calm the fuck down. I needed a joint. It is 4/20. Who was I kidding? I hadn’t smoked in five years. I found Jesus and shit. I mean, stuff. I mean, shit. I can say shit as long as I repent! And boy, do I have a lot of repenting to do. And Alisha? Alisha has a lifetime of repenting to do. I mean, Alisha Keagan could repent for a decade, and it wouldn’t be enough.
I lifted my gaze to glass shards falling near my fingers, brushing my cheek. I slammed my eyes shut. “You could have told me you were going to break the goddamn…I mean, damn… get it over with.” I rolled my eyes.
“No turning back now,” Alisha said with a crooked smile, crawling through the living room window.
“Right…no turning back,” I said. Something kept poking at my empathy both for Alisha and her captor. I mean, doesn’t he have due process? Maybe I shouldn’t give a damn about our judicial system.
Alisha reached back through the window with faint traces of wet blood trailing her arm. “Well?” Alisha said. “Grab my hand, you idiot.”
I took a deep breath and blew out a sharp sigh. I crawled through the window, holding Alisha’s hand. It’s the first time I’d held her hand in a long time. I can’t remember ever holding Alisha Keagan’s hand. Maybe I can cross this shit off my bucket list. I didn’t expect to hold her hand with blood dripping from her arm. But right now, none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered is the chills traveling the length of my spine and a bulge in my jeans, which I pulled my shirt over.
No sooner than we walked in did we hear a scream. My body shook with terror. I stepped in front of Alisha as though I could protect her. Fuck, I couldn’t even protect myself. But I’d die for this woman, at least I think I would. I hoped I would. “There,” I said of the dog cage with a blanket covering it. “The noise is coming from there.” Without my knowledge, I crept toward the cage and pulled the blanket off the cage. There I saw a woman chained with duct tape covering her mouth. Yes, it reminded me of Prey’s movie, where the captor holds a woman hostage in a cage. I couldn’t believe my eyes. How was this possible? How was this happening? I bolted to the kitchen to grab a knife as Alisha stood watch for the man. I shifted drawers and searched through the dishwasher for a knife. I jetted back to the cage to pick the lock.
“Is he here yet?” I said, trying to put bass in my voice. A commanding side of me that pokes through from time to time. “Tell me when he’s here.”
“Of course not. But hurry up,” Alisha said, peeking through the blinds. I popped the lock on the cage and ripped the tape off the woman’s mouth.
“How long have you been here?” I said.
“Where…where am I?” She pulled her hands close to her chest like a startled child.
“Relax,” I said, extending both arms. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“What do you want with me?” She said. “What happened to me?”
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Sarah. My name is Sarah.”
“We’re going to get you out of here, Sarah.” I sawed the rope clasping her feet together. By the smell of it, Sarah hadn’t showered in days, and she had frail bones and appeared to have lost weight because her jeans didn’t fit anymore. “My name is Jason, and this is”– I turned to the general direction of Alisha–“Alisha. How long have you been here?”
“I don’t know.” Sarah rubbed her forehead. “I can’t remember. I was going for my daily jog when I was approached by a man asking me to help him load a new computer into the back of his truck. I was reluctant at first, but he seemed nice enough.”
“And then?” I said, opening and closing my hands.
“Jason, stop interrogating her.”
Sarah rubbed both wrists. “No. It’s okay, really,” Sarah said. “And then, I was out cold. I remember waking up in the back of his truck with my hands clasped behind my back. I tried to scream for help, but the duct tape suffocated the life out of any sound.”
“Guys!” Alisha said.
“What is it?” I said of the lights traveling toward the house.
“He’s here — that’s what. And. He’s not alone,” Alisha said.