This story is the second part of a trilogy; you should read "Gary's Mom" first.
All characters are 18 years or older.
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"My old lady's such a bitch," Billy complained as soon as he came out of the house.
"Don't slam the door," his mother's voice followed us down the driveway as we jumped on our boards and peeled onto the street. "Wear your helmet," barely reached us through the window as we picked up speed crossing in front of Billy's house. He was looking at me with a crooked grin beneath his wind-swept mop of hair, pretending to ignore his mother who was pounding on the big living room window.
I smiled and waved to his mother, then cupped my hand to my ear to indicate that we couldn't hear what she was saying, hoping it would help Billy get in less shit when he got home, unlikely as that was. I knew Billy's mother thought I was a bad influence. That's why I usually texted Billy to let him know I was there and waited for him to come out.
Billy's old lady wasn't all bitch. Nobody as good looking as she was could be all bad. Sure, she was uppity and almost always snarky but she had great legs and her tits, though small and low slung, protruded nicely from her chest, especially when she wore the light sweaters she favored.
Of course, Billy couldn't see it. "Are you fucking kidding? She's just a fucking bitch. I wouldn't touch her with a ten foot pole. If I was forced to put my cock into her, I'd cut it off," he once responded to my comment that his mom had a hot body. "No way. It's your Mom that's fuckable," he had replied.
I don't care what Billy said, I'd fuck his mother in a hot minute but I knew she detested me. Actually, that was going too far. If it wasn't for my presumed influence on Billy you'd think she didn't know I existed. Yeah, Billy and I had gotten into trouble but she was way off the mark blaming it on me. It was Billy who got us started with the graffiti, it was him that talked me into stealing that car, and he was the one that broke into the corner store: all I did was stand watch. If his mother knew about the car and the store, she'd piss herself.
"You're going to get shit when you get home for not wearing a helmet," I taunted Billy when I finally caught up to him at the corner.
"Fuck her," Billy spat.
"I pretended we couldn't hear so maybe you won't catch it so bad."
"Yah, right. Did you smile at her?"
"That's great," Billy said. "She'll be really pissed now."
"Because she'll think you were flipping her off."
Billy laughed, looked past me down the street, and swore. Dismayed by the vehemence of his statement I was slow to follow Billy's gaze.
"Fucking bitch," he cried. His mother's car turned out of the driveway and starting coming our way. "Come on."
Billy ran around the corner and ducked into the Garner's yard.
"Hurry," he yelled.
I caught up to him and we hid behind a shed just before his mother's car raced by. We watched until she slowed at the next corner, then turned right and sped away. Quickly, we ran back the way we had come and crossed the street. At the next block, we jumped on our boards and took off. Billy was shrieking with laughter.
"Stupid bitch," he cackled.
In the skuzzy part of town, we went into the place Billy had been telling me about. It was a real creepy dump with all sorts of voodoo shit hanging all over the place and books about witches and that kind of crap strewn around. Billy palmed a bell on the counter and we waited, he eagerly and me with apprehension, hanging near the door. An ugly, fat old black woman with raggy-looking dreads pushed through the strings of beads hanging in the doorway.
"You got 'em?" Billy asked. "You said they'd be ready today."
"You got the hundred?" the apparition demanded in a throaty, smoke-ravaged voice.
"Yeah, sure," Billy dug in his pocket, uncharacteristically respectful in his demeanor.
Billy put five twenties on the counter. "You got 'em?" he repeated.
The old woman ignored him but took the bills and walked back through the doorway, leaving us to look at the clicking, swinging strings of beads. Billy shrugged and smiled. I waved the hand that wasn't holding my board in a 'what the fuck?' motion. Billy started to say something but footsteps scraped over the floor on the other side of the beads so he lowered his hand, palm down to silence me.
"Here," the old woman dropped a shoebox on the counter. "And remember, you didn't get 'em here."
Billy tucked the box under his arm, picked up his board and walked out the door. Outside, I asked him what he'd bought for a hundred bucks.
"I'll show you in the park." Billy hopped on his board and took off down the sidewalk. Turning his head slightly, he yelled, "You owe me fifty bucks."
"What?" I yelled at his rapidly receding back, but he didn't answer. I jumped on my board and worked feverishly to catch up which was hard even with him carrying the box. Billy had always been better on the board than me.
After checking for crap, we sat on the grass overlooking one of the duck ponds in the park. There was a bench about thirty feet in front of us with a couple of raisins acting like they were still dating and tossing bread crumbs to the turd factories.
"Let me see what you blew a hundred on," I said, trying to grab the shoe box.
Billy pulled it away, keeping his forearm firmly pressed on the top of the box.
"Wait," he said, eyeing the young couple walking along the paved walkway in front of the raisins.
"And I don't owe you any fifty bucks," I asserted.
"We'll see," Billy answered.
"You didn't buy dope, did you?" I asked, looking around, suddenly feeling exposed sitting in a public place. Billy knew how I felt about drugs after what happened to my sister.
Billy laughed. "No, you big chickenshit. I got somethin' better than that."
"What?" I said, trying to grab the box again.
Billy elbowed me away, then cracked the lid an inch. I relaxed and he lifted the lid some more. I ducked my head to peer inside but it was too dark to see.
"Come on, open it!" I demanded.
Billy cackled, then pulled the lid right off.
"Dolls!" I exclaimed. "Dolls? What the fuck?"
"Special dolls," Billy explained.
That wasn't enough for me.
"They're all yours," I said. "I'm not giving you no fifty bucks for no doll."
"We'll see," Billy said.
"No, we won't see," I responded. "They're all yours."
Billy was peering in the box, checking out the dolls. He lifted one out and held it up in front of him against the backdrop of the big pond.
"Hey," I said. "It kinda looks like your old lady."
"Exactly," Billy smiled. The smile turned into a sneer as he flicked his finger at the doll's face. "I hope this thing works. It's worth a hundred just to see."
"You paid a hundred bucks for a shitty doll that looks like your old lady?" I asked, sneering.
"Fifty," Billy said. "This one's yours."
He emptied the box into my lap and tossed the box onto the grass about ten feet away. I picked the doll up and examined it.
"Hey, this one looks like my old lady."
"Yeah, genius" Billy confirmed.
"How did she do that?"
"I gave her some pictures, some hair, and a pair of her panties."
"You stole your old lady's panties?"
"No, yours. The old boot wanted hair but I couldn't get any of your old lady's so I stole a pair of her panties from your laundry."
I started laughing and rolling on the grass.
"You stole my old lady's panties to sniff," I cried, tearing up because I was laughing so hard.
The old raisins turned around to look at us.
Billy slapped at me a few times.
"Shut up," he hissed, but I ignored him and repeated my accusation.
The raisins looked disgusted.
"Sniffing my old lady's panties," I yelled.
"Shut the fuck up," Billy connected with a hard one.
"Hey, fuck off," I cried, sitting up and hauling back with my fist to show I was ready to let him have it.
"This is serious," Billy said.
"Serious? Seriously fucked is what it is," I said. "Paying a hundred bucks for a couple of dolls that look like our old ladies?"
Billy screwed his face up. "I'm going to fill this sucker with pins and make that bitch suffer," he said vehemently.
"What?" I cried.
"These aren't just dolls, they're Voodoo dolls," Billy stated emphatically.
"Yeah, you can do shit to them and the real person suffers." Billy's face broke into an evil smile. "I bet that bitch gets a bruise just from flicking my finger in her face, or she would have if I'd said the lingo before I did it."
Billy suddenly looked concerned.
"Hey, where's the secret words?"
He scrambled over to the box, turned it upside down, peered inside and all around the box and the lid.
"Fuck!" he cried. "Fucking black whore."
I looked at my doll. "You mean these?" I asked, holding the doll up with its back toward Billy so he could see the nonsense scribbled on the piece of paper pinned on its back.
Billy turned his doll over. "Yeah," he said. "That's it. You gotta say that before you do somethin' to it." Billy mumbled some kind of mumbo-jumbo, flicked the doll in the face, and cranked out an evil laugh. "Take that you fucking bitch." He looked at me. "You try it."
I whispered the words on the back of the paper, then flicked the doll's face but missed, hitting it on the side of the head instead. Unlike Billy, I wasn't comfortable with hitting someone, even in jest, and especially my mom. Though I complained about her when Billy, I actually liked my mom. She was kind of cool.
Billy laughed. "Feels good, huh? Fifty bucks," he said, holding his hand out.
I tossed the crudely made doll back to him. "You keep it."
Billy laughed again. "Okay, but it'll be seventy-five by the weekend and a hundred after that if you change your mind."
"I won't change my mind."
"We'll see," Billy answered smugly, stuffing the dolls into his jacket.
We grabbed our boards and left the park. I looked back and saw the raisins picking up the box and the lid, both of them shaking their heads as they trundled toward a trash can. We laughed and sped away.
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I kicked out my board when I turned into our driveway. Dad sometimes worked at home and didn't like the noise but it was too early for him to be there. I did it for Mom. She didn't like the racket either. I had learned early that keeping the peace at home made life easier.
My mother was one of those well-educated, pampered, fortyish women who were bored with lots of time on their hands because they had temporarily suspended their careers to have children and found it financially unrewarding and far less fun to return to work. She spent her days exercising and going to spas, having coffee and volunteering for whatever trendy cause was currently popular with her friends. To me, it seemed a vacuous, wasted life.
Like my mother, my father was a professional photographer. When my sister and I came along, Dad had turned from artsy photography to pictures that put more bread on the table. He started doing brochures for government and commercial ventures but then stumbled on doing fashion photo shoots for which it turned out he had a particular flair. Dad built a name for himself and became quite well paid. He was often away for days and sometimes weeks at a time on location.
After my sister and I started school, Mom returned to the artsy photography she and Dad had done but it wasn't long before her interest waned. She even tried getting in on the fashion shoots with Dad but quickly quit. Photographing lots of young models wasn't her cup of tea, whether of men or women, though most of Dad's shoots involved women. I don't think Mom liked that much but she had grown accustomed to the lifestyle it afforded. So Mom lived her life of leisure and left the rest of the family to live their own as long as they didn't intrude upon hers. For my part, I didn't have to get a summer job as long as I indulged "my" interest in photography or art. Ours was a satisfied if somewhat disenchanted household.
"Hi Mom," I said upon seeing her sitting on a stool in the kitchen watching the late afternoon fare on TV while she cut up vegetables for a salad. The sound was turned almost all the way down.
"Not so loud, Jeff," she complained, putting one hand to the side of her head.
"Sorry," I apologized, opening the fridge to get a can of root beer. I popped the tab and Mom winced at the sudden crack.
"Sorry, Mom. Do you have a headache or something?"
"Yes. Isn't that obvious," she replied testily, turning toward me and pulling the hand away from the side of her head.
I looked closely at her head. It was flushed and swollen by her left temple.
"Jeez, did you fall or something?"
"No," Mom shook her head. "I've just got this splitting headache that came out of nowhere."
Mom placed her head back in her hand and I put my arm around her shoulder.
"Do you want me to do the vegetables for you?"
"Would you? That would be nice."
"Sure," I said. "I can make the rest of the dinner too if you want. Why don't you go lie down."
"No. I still have the fish to prepare."
"I can put the fish in the microwave. Dad can rough it for one night."
"Your father will be working late."
Mom's emphasis of the word 'working' hinted that she didn't think there it would be a hardship for my father.
"So, just you and me then. Should I open a bottle of the good stuff?" I tried to lighten Mom's mood and put some distance from the thought of Dad being late again.
"Don't make me laugh," Mom complained. "Sure, why not, but not red. I've already got a headache."
Mom shuffled out of the kitchen. I put the can of root beer down on the counter and went to get the fish out of the fridge. It was already in a rectangular Pyrex container. While sprinkling spices over the top and adding some lemon, I thought about Mom's head. I couldn't help but notice that the swelling was on the same side I had flicked the doll. Holy shit, if that voodoo stuff actually worked, I had to get the doll of Mom away from psycho Billy.
I wished I hadn't gone to that place with him. What if Billy killed his old lady? He really hated her but was he crazy enough to do it? What if the old woman remembered me? What if Billy did it and she saw it on TV and phoned the cops? What if she had cameras in her store?
I crudely chopped the rest of the vegetables up and sliced up little bits of apple and oranges and threw them into the big salad bowl, then shoved the fish into the oven. Thinking about the park, I sprinkled a few raisins into the salad too. I grabbed the phone and called Billy. As soon he answered he started into a tirade.
"Fucking pig-fucking whore," he yelled.
"What did she do now?" I asked.
"Not my old lady," Billy shouted. "That old douche bag that sold me the dolls. I'm getting my money back."
"What's the matter?"
"It doesn't fucking work," he cried. "I slapped it around a bit and my old lady didn't react at all. I stuck a pin in the fucking thing and she didn't even flinch. That fucking whore took me for a ride."
"Oh, shit. That sucks."
"Fucking right. I thought the bitch would at least have a bloody nose when I got home but no fucking way. Nothing," he cried in disgust.
"That really sucks," I sympathized but was privately relieved.
"Fucking right. So hey, did yours work? Maybe it's just mine. Did your old lady have a bruise where you hit it?"
"No," I responded, perhaps a little too quickly, hoping Billy couldn't read the lie in my voice. "Nothing. Nada," I added, emphatically.
"That pig-fucking whore," Billy berated the old black woman again.
"Hey, I'll take it off your hands," I said.
"What do you mean?" Billy asked, suddenly wary.
"I mean, I'll get your money back. You know if you go you'll start swearing at the old boot and that will just get her pissed and make her dig in her heels."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Alright, sure. Think you can do it?"
"I can try. Yeah, I think so."
"Okay, but you owe me the money either way."
Yup, a typical "Billy" deal. Real fair, if your name was Billy. I was relieved his doll hadn't worked and convinced myself that Mom's headache was just a coincidence.
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The next day, I got the dolls from Billy. He opened the door and waved me up to his room. I rushed in, hoping to avoid an encounter with his mother. I needn't have worried because she was outside in the backyard.
"Let's go," I said.
"I'm not going, you are," Billy replied.
"Well then just give me the fucking dolls."
"No, I want to try it one last time."
"Why? You said her bullshit didn't work. Just give them to me," I urged.
"One more time," Billy insisted.
He pulled the dolls from under his bed and took them to the window looking over the backyard, casually tossing the one of Mom onto the floor. I winced and bent to pick it up. Billy stared out the window, presumably at his mother. I stepped up beside him and looked down. His mother was bent over one of her rose bushes. I remembered years earlier getting supreme shit from her for breaking a stem off one of them, something Billy had blamed on me.
Billy held the doll over his desk, its feet barely grazing the top.
"Odla bi, Odla ba, On your knees, Ready to please," Billy chanted. "Take that you bitch."
On that note, Billy banged the doll on the back, crashing it face first on the desk, and quickly looked out the window.
"Fucking piece of shit!" he cried.
"What?" I asked.
"She should have fallen on the roses and pricked herself all over. I told you, the fucking thing doesn't work." Billy tossed the doll onto the floor.
"Of course it doesn't. That old whore just made that mumbo jumbo up. I can't believe you fell for it."
"Fuck off. Gary Robinson swore to me it worked. His old lady's into that mysticism crap and she got one to ease her aches and pains, actually massages it herself if you can believe it. Anyway, Gary said he feels it up himself and she treats him real nice now."
"Robinson's a bullshitter," I said.
"Yah, well, he told a good story."
"Yeah, a real live one," I laughed.
"Fuck you," Billy said. "I'm going to give Robinson what for, believe you me."
"Yeah, well don't be too rough on him. You know what happened last time."
I picked up the doll.
"Try it," Billy said.
"Nah, you said it don't work."
"Try it," he insisted.
"Ok. I started to recite the slogan the old woman had written on the doll's back, then stopped and coughed.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing, just got something in my throat is all."
I started again but this time spoke the words exactly as Billy had said them instead of the way they were written. Upon the last word, I smacked the doll hard, knocking it right out of my hand and onto the floor.
"Good one," Billy yelled, jumping over to the window. He turned away, disgusted. "Nothing. Like I said, the fucking thing doesn't work."
"Ok, I'll take them back."
"Yah, get our money."
I pulled fifty bucks out of my pocket and handed it to Billy. "Don't worry, I'll get it."
"Hey, my man," Billy grinned, admiring the bill. "I thought I'd have to pound on you for this."
"Yeah? You and who's army?"
I laughed but we both knew Billy didn't need any help to take me.
Mrs. Hammond was coming in the back door as I left with the dolls. I rushed outside and hurried onto the street but didn't head downtown. Instead, I went home. Billy had messed up the slogan the old woman had written on the back of the dolls. Lazy old con that she was, she hadn't even put different mumbo jumbo on each doll but had used the same simple jingle for both, and a stolen one at that. I was sure it was all nonsense, but Mom's headache the night before left me with a nagging feeling I wanted to put to rest. I picked up my pace and was running flat out when I got home.