About three years ago I completely humiliated an ex roommate and have felt pretty terrible about it ever since.
It was getting toward the end of the month and like every month I would remind my roommate Danielle that we would need to get the rent in on time to avoid the $50 late fee. She dismissed it like she always did and told me not to worry she would have it, but something wasn't quite right this time. I mean, we had been friends for years but lately she was becoming combative and avoiding me whenever she had the chance. I couldn't even get a "hello" out of her as I passed by her door on the way to class.
I contributed majority of that to the fact that we weren't nearly as close as when we first moved in together. I was attending nursing school and she managed a local grocery store, a job she got while in high school and was eventually promoted. We used to talk about everything from men, to life and careers, she was there for me when I found out my ex was cheating on me two weeks after he proposed. We would talk about our insecurities and I learned that she was extremely self-conscious about her appearance. It seemed ridiculous to me because she was beautiful, but hearing her describe herself it was evident she didn't see what the rest of the world did. She was so awkward when she received any male attention and I used to tease her about it but I could see that her body image bothered her.
It was getting close to the rent deadline and I reminded her again as she stormed by on her way to work, "I'll have your fucking rent Ashley", she screamed at me as she slammed the door behind her. I'd never seen her like that before and I wasn't sure what was bothering her but at the time I was more concerned about keeping a roof over my head. I couldn't cover her share if she defaulted and I really didn't want to have to beg my parents yet again for another hand out.
It was the day of the deadline and now I was getting worried. I was stuck in classes all day but in between breaks I would call, text, leave messages on Facebook, but didn't get a response. I had never been so angry as it was perfectly clear she was avoiding me.
By the end of the day I was out of my mind with frustration and raced home in a rage bent on finding my roommate and taking the rent money by force if it came to that, but when I arrived all of her stuff and half of the furniture was gone. Sitting on the floor of my near-empty apartment I cried as I made the shameful call to my parents, who were not exactly in the best financial situation either. The whole time I couldn't take my mind off that inconsiderate bitch and how badly I wanted revenge.
A month or so later my friend Aster moved in and I was finally getting back on my feet. Our schedules were similar so we would often go meet up together with a couple of our other friends and have a little impromptu girls-only roundtable and discuss the day over some dinner and wine.
Cara, who worked with my ex-roommate, brought up the incident and told me that she confronted Danielle about it at work but that she brushed it off and ignored her, even threatened to fire her if she brought it up again. This started an avalanche of bad roommate stories from the group and we laughed and drank into the late evening. Maria, a gregarious redhead and our de facto leader spoke up.
"You know we should do something about this, for Ashley, she needs justice", we all laughed.
"Yeah, let's go beat that bitch up", Aster slurred to even more laughter.
"No, it's done and over, I just want to forget all about her and move on", I protested but I could see the mob wasn't having any of it.
"Oh hey, I have a great idea" Cara giggled and leaned over to whisper her plan to Maria. Maria burst out with laughter knocking over her wine glass.
"Holy shit", she exclaimed, "We have to do this!" We looked puzzled as Maria motioned for everyone to lean in close so she could explain in great detail Cara's stroke of genius. The table erupted in laughter and my face was beet red as I hid behind my hands in embarrassment. Amidst the laughter and wine it seemed like the perfect plan.
I was giddy with excitement as I received a text from Maria the next morning telling me preparations were underway. However, I kept getting this nagging feeling that the punishment was a little harsh but at the same time I also considered how she left me high and dry and how my parents had to take money out of their retirement account to help me out and it just made me so angry that the opportunity to get even was too good to pass up.
I got the call the next day.
"You ready?" It was Maria whispering in her best undercover operative voice.
"What, right now?" I stammered, my heart racing.
"Yes, Cara says she's located the target at work and that we should move out now." I laughed at Maria's enthusiasm. "Aster is coming in the van to pick you up, be ready!" I couldn't believe my ears we were actually putting this silly plan into action. The "target's" location was the grocery store that she managed for the last six or so years. Cara worked in the pharmacy department and was keeping us updated on Danielle's whereabouts.
The grocery store itself was relatively old but extremely busy. In a small town like ours it was the unofficial center of commerce and one of its more quaint fixtures were several old children's rides lined along the outside of the store adjacent to the entrance about twenty feet. They were modeled after horses, spaceships, and various other vehicles and you'd insert a quarter and they would wobble and bounce around for a few minutes. Nestled in the middle was a bright red race car that even made real engines noises, perfect for what we had planned.
It was late into the hot afternoon as we quietly pulled into an empty spot and waited for the signal from Cara. Huddled together in the back of the van my stomach was turning in on itself as Maria went over the checklist to ensure everything was in order.
"Ok, looks like we're all set. Now we just wait for Cara. You nervous Ash, you look nervous?"
"Well, actually a little, I mean I'm not sure we should do this, she's worked her a long time", I said timidly.
Aster spoke up, "Oh come on don't be such a baby. Do you remember how down you were after she ran out on you, how you thought she was your friend yet she betrayed you without so much as a phone call?"
"That's right", Maria interrupted. "What if you couldn't cover your rent, huh? What if you got kicked out of your apartment because of that bitch, what then? How often does anyone get a chance for a little payback? Don't get weak on us now Ash."
"You're right, maybe she deserves this", I hesitantly agreed. Maria and Aster both smiled and we sat in silence until we saw Cara emerge from the entrance and hurriedly make her way toward the van. Laughing, she popped her head in from the open front window.
"She's going on break now and should be heading to her car any second, get ready!" My stomach was in knots and I rocked anxiously in my seat, the others did the same. Our heads ducked under the van's windows in unison as we saw Danielle spring briskly from the front double doors and head towards her car. Cara waived excitedly to grab her attention and set our devious plan into motion.
"Hey Danielle, Danielle wait up, you have to see this!"
"What is it Cara I'm kind of in a hurry?" Danielle scoffed as she picked up her pace.
"It's really important it won't take but a second, It's over here, come on." Cara pointed toward the white cargo van.
"Jesus Cara, make it quick." I could almost see the disdain on her face as I heard her heels clop against the concrete toward the van where Maria, Aster, and I laid hidden.
"Ok, what is it? What's so important?" Danielle said impatiently.
"This" Cara smiled as Maria and Aster threw open the Van's heavy doors and suddenly I was face to face with my ex-roommate. Clinching a roll of duct tape tightly in my hands I sat silently and stared intently into her eyes.
"Ashley, what the hell are you doing here? What the fuck is this?" Before Danielle could utter another word Cara shoved her in the back and she came toppling into the van where the four of us quickly pounced on top of her. Her eyes were red with anger as she shouted and struggled with every ounce of her strength. Maria released the hand she had cupped over Danielle's mouth long enough for me to generously slap thick strips of tape across her lips, enough to reduce her screams to a muffled whimper.
"Ok, you guys got her?" Cara asked as she sprang up from the dog pile.
"We got her, let's go" Maria yelled. Cara hopped into the driver's seat and the van lurched forward as we raced toward our destination in front of the old amusement rides. Cara pulled the oversized van into the "NO PARKING" zone snug against the store's west wall. To anyone leaving or entering the store it would appear to be just another innocuous van loading groceries but in reality it was just subterfuge there to conceal the real show behind the van.
On the opposite side of the rides several feet was a wall of solid concrete lined with payphones and ATMs. Huge vertically stacked displays of soft drink cases stickered with oversized "ON SALE" adverts made up most of the east side. With the extra cover the van provided we had a walled-in, haphazardly constructed theatre in which to operate. However, we had to move fast less someone get nostalgic and want to visit the old rides. They would get much more than they bargained for on their walk down memory lane.
The van's big doors swung open and the four of us piled out heaving Danielle like a rolled up carpet as she desperately tried to wriggle her way free. On the other side of the van we could hear the chatter of shoppers coming and going. Danielle screamed out with everything she had but the duct tape and vehicle's noisy engine quickly drowned her out. With a thud we dropped her body onto the red sports car ride and jumped on top of her.
"Aster, give me the cuffs" Maria whispered. Smirking, Aster slapped down a set of metal handcuffs into Maria's hands. Maria forcefully grabbed Danielle's wrist and slapped the cuffs around them and dragged her arm under the left-front tire axle and clasped the other end back on the same wrist. Danielle pulled hard against the cuffs as she screamed in rage. Her fight against the four of us intensified ten-fold as she realized we were going to bind her helplessly against the hood of the sport's car. Aster cuffed Danielle's ankles to either side of the back tires while I held her down the best I could. Her face was purple with frustration and her voice began to strain from constant screaming.
As Cara closed the cuffs around Danielle's left arm we all doubled over with exhaustion and giggled sheepishly as we watched my old roommate hopelessly struggle with what little energy she could still muster. She was splayed against the hood of the car like a starfish stranded on the beach.
"Whew, ok Ashley you ready?" Maria gasped as she handed me a large pair of scissors. Suddenly, Danielle's vigor was renewed and she began to fight so hard against her restraints I thought she might rip the old ride right out of the concrete. The other girls quickly leapt up and held her in place.
"Go ahead Ashley, we got her", whispered Aster. Danielle breathed heavily as I laid the scissors against the collar of her work blouse, beads of sweat bubbled around her slim neckline. With an awkward smile I gazed into her eyes as I began to cut down the seams of her shirt shredding the thin fabric in two. Enraged, she cursed behind the duct tape as I yanked the tattered rags of her blouse right off her body exposing her white bra.
We giggled uncontrollably and Danielle gasped as if she had just been doused in ice water. She fell silent and I could see in her eyes she was overcome with embarrassment.
"Awww, do you want this back?", Maria teased as she paraded the shirt's shredded remains. She was enjoying this way too much and I think somewhere in her past Maria must have had a Danielle of her own and was now relishing this outlet for revenge.
"Hurry up, we don't have much time", Cara urged as she pulled off Danielle's shoes and socks and tossed them to the side. Aster coiled off Danielle's belt as I slid the scissors into her waist band. She struggled and fought as a tear escaped her eye and with hearty strides I recklessly cut down the seams of her black pants. The garment separated into pieces at the cuffs, and much the same way I did her blouse, I yanked the rags right off her body to reveal a tiny pair of blue panties.
The full balance of her situation hit her at once and Danielle began to cry. She was handcuffed on top of an old amusement ride in broad daylight in nothing but her underwear in front of the grocery store she managed! How could she live down the humiliation when her coworkers find her like this?
We quietly reveled in our handy work but Cara was quick to snap us back on track, "Ok, Maria load this handful of quarters into the machine and I'll go round everyone up. As soon as you see us coming hit the start button, then everyone hop in the van, and we'll peel out."
As soon as Danielle heard this she thrashed wildly against her restraints and screamed with everything she had behind her gag, begging not to be exposed this way to people she had to interact with every day. Her eyes, desperate and regretful, seemed to call out to me as some sort of final appeal but I felt as if things were now out of my hands and I slowly sank back into the gang's bustle and laughter.
Maria stood defiantly, hovering over Danielle's helpless body she leered with a crooked smile and then motioned us over with a commanding voice.
"Wait!" Confused, we stopped in our tracks and stared at each other then back at Maria. She stood silently for several seconds, her face flustered and red. "If we're going to humiliate this bitch we need to go all the way."
Danielle was a broken mess of sweat and tears, incoherently shrieking between her sobs. The three of us were taken aback by Maria's statement. I looked at the others then spoke up.
"I think this is far enough Maria. Seriously, if you strip her naked she could get arrested, we could ruin her life. This isn't right, please, can we just go." Maria's breathed heavily and looked over her shoulder toward Cara.
"Do it." Cara grinned enthusiastically as I looked on in bewilderment. Maria turned toward Aster whose face was beaming with excitement and already nodding with approval.
As Maria moved closer with the scissors Danielle tore against her restraints as a last futile attempt to save herself from this nightmare. Maria smiled and placed the scissors into Danielle's bra straps and snipped them in two, then one more vertically between her cups. She glanced back to find the three of us huddled together anxious and uneasy. Above the clang and clatter of the Van's engine and the chatter of the busy store I heard Danielle whimper softly, "Please don't, please don't do this to me." I looked at Aster and Cara and their faces had grown somber having realized, just as I had, that the joke had been taken too far. This was painfully evident to everyone but Maria who was on fire and overjoyed as she triumphantly ripped the bra right off Danielle's chest. Her full pale breasts bounced out and laid fully exposed.
I could only watch silently as Danielle's body fell ghostly white and her breathing became erratic, her eyes frantic and lost. I tried to imagine what terrible thoughts and feelings must be running through her mind. The shame, the degradation, the faces of everyone you've ever worked with as they stare at your naked, spread-eagle body; the aftermath, the laughing, the gossip, the pictures, my god the humiliation would be unbearable.
Maria bunched up Danielle panties into her fist ready to deal the final blow and rob her of the last of her modesty. I couldn't sit idle any longer and let this woman, my old friend, be completely ruined. I leapt forward and grabbed Maria's wrist.
"Maria stop!" Maria was lost in a daze but steadied her hand briefly to let me speak. "Please, just let her keep her panties on. Don't do this to her, she's embarrassed enough."
"Yeah Maria, this has gone far enough, let's get out of here." Aster begged.
I already knew it was too late. Maria stared into my eyes, then into Danielle's, then back to mine. Was she truly conflicted or was she just toying with the last of Danielle's dignity? The group winced as we heard the rip of her panties as Maria yanked them off her sweaty body. Danielle's eyes ballooned open wide and she screamed at the top of her lungs. She tried desperately to close he legs but the cuffs kept her spread wide open, her pubic area was shaved bald and there was no way to conceal her most intimate areas.
We all stood silent for a moment, no one was quite sure what to do. Maria wrangled us up and hastily barked the orders.
"Ok Cara, go get everyone, and make sure you get everybody!" I'll load in the quarters, you guys grab all of her clothes and shoes and get in the van.
"We're going to leave her here stranded naked?" Aster asked.
"Yes of course, now hurry up." Aster piled all of Danielle's belongings and hoisted them into the van while Maria loaded dozens of quarters into the hot rod. This poor naked woman was going to be stuck on this ride until the timer ran out, each horrifying second worst than the last—I shuddered at the thought.
I heard a commotion rumbling toward me and knew that Cara had kept her end of the bargain. Aster hopped into the front seat of the van and I was close behind. Maria waited just outside the door. I peered outside the window to see Danielle strangely quiet. I suppose she wanted to take these last few moments to reflect on what little respect she had earned over her six years working here before it all came crashing down.
Cara bounded around the corner in a huff. "They're coming, let's go!" With that she jumped into the van. Maria quickly hit the button and the race car sprang to life. It dipped and dove, shimmied left and right, shook and rattled. Danielle's breasts bounced and swirled, her buttocks slid back and forth across the sweat-soaked hood. I was overwhelmed with embarrassment for her.
Suddenly, a barrage of the store's employees filed out of the building confused at all of the commotion. The four of us laid hidden in the van and Aster beeped the horn loudly to draw the crowd's attention then slowly began to pull forward as if she was drawing the curtains for the big show. As the van pulled away I heard a loud shriek from the audience.
"Oh my god Danielle you're naked!" one of the cashiers screamed. I peered out of the back window and saw the horrified looks on their faces as they all stood in shock and stared at Danielle's naked body bouncing helplessly on the red race car. I fell backward as the van jerked to a stop.
"Aster what are you doing, get us out of here" Maria commanded.
"Just a second, I want to see the look on her face", Aster laughed. I didn't want to be here for this but at the same time I couldn't look away. Danielle's eyes were as big as saucers as she was forced to look on in mortifying embarrassment as her co-workers surveyed every last inch of her nakedness. She had to watch as they pointed and leered at her vagina, raucously laughing at her jiggling breasts. She was forced to confront the culmination of all of her body self-consciousness all at once as she laid bare in front of everyone.
The crowd was dividing in their reaction, some gasped and cried out for help, others cheered and took pictures with their phones; soon Danielle would be the laughing stock of the whole town. She turned toward me and our eyes meet briefly. Her makeup was running down her face, she was drenched in sweat, every inch of her flesh shook and wobbled along with the amusement ride and yet through all of that I could still see the utter desperation in her expression. To this day it's what I remember the most. Right then I wished all of this had never happened. I wished I had leapt out of that van and saved her, shielded her from further humiliation—but I didn't.