Page 29 - Vol. VII #8
P. 29

The dogs were still going crazy, but the doorbell had In the relative quiet we heard another sound, one I stopped. realized had been there the whole time. “What’s that
 Raymond had me by the front of my flannel, his
bleeding hand clenched into a fist. He shook me back The sound came from the utility room where Ray- and forth as he half-dragged me towards the back mond kept the breeding pups and his stash.
of the house. “You keep your fucking hands off the
phone, little girl. You hear me? Don’t you get cute and
try to call the pigs on me.”
The whites of his eyes had a pearly yellow film, spi- dery and bloodshot. Crude blue and red-inked prison tattoos snaked up and down his muscled arms and circled his neck. A skeleton wearing a cowboy hat and a Confederate flag t-shirt stared at me before Ray- mond pushed his face up to mine. He shook me one more time. “Stay here,” he growled, then let me go.
Was Raymond’s three-year-old daughter trapped inside? Had she been there the whole time?
I heard his boots clomping down the hallway.
We ran to the room.
“Jenny. Honey. Open the door,” I called.
“Iwanted to crawl inside and come
out in my own upstairs hallway.”
“Jenny!” Tammy stuck her face near the keyhole. “Aunty Tammy is coming!”
Tammy stuttered. “Jenny. It’s Jenny!”
Then we heard the little Doberman pinscher puppies barking. And Jenny’s cries turned into shrieks.
She didn’t stop wailing. Over the dogs barking, she couldn’t hear me. I shook the door handle. It was locked but the door was cheap.
 Out the kitchen window, I saw a flicker of movement down the alley, behind the Tastee-Freez. I heard sounds from everywhere: sirens, Raymond and Di- nah screaming at each other in the other room. And yet, what I was staring at was the open jar of peanut butter on the counter. I felt ravenous and wanted to eat the whole jar.
I crawled halfway through and saw the puppies free from their cage. Jenny’s face was pink and shiny, cov- ered in saliva. I reached for Jenny’s tiny red overalls, pulled her through the door, handed her to Tammy. She buried her face in her stepsister’s neck.
Tammy, Lainey, and I stood in the kitchen, not know- ing which way to go.
“Get out! Go!” Tammy said, heading towards the back door with Jenny curled in her arms.
“Oh god!” hissed Tammy under her breath. Her freck- les stood out in waxy relief from her pale face. She clutched my arm in panic.
Lainey and I crept down the long dark hall toward the living room.
“I think Jackson and them are out in the alley,” I whis-
pered to reassure her. “Maybe they already called 911.”
I hoped that Beto and Jackson would do something
even better, call a fire truck or an ambulance, because
they always came when you called. I hoped they would Across the hall was the linen closet with two wooden get help, and not try some heroic rescue mission.
The door was papery thin and it started to come apart with a few quick kicks from our vinyl gym shoes. It shredded into long, splintered pieces.
“Raymond’s in the living room with Mama!” Lainey half-whispered, half-moaned. Even as she said this, we heard shouting and pounding on the front door. We had to get Jenny away from the dogs, out of the apartment.
Raymond was shouting at whoever pounded at the front door.
Then I heard shots from his rifle. “Hail Mary, full of grace, please help us,” I prayed. I knew Jackson and Beto were crazy enough to try to help.
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