"Oh, come on, Tracey, don't be such a baby."
"I'm not," said Tracey. "I just don't see what's so great about flashing every single car that passes by."
Brooklyn rolled her eyes. "You always gotta be such a button-up. Can't you just have fun? Oh look, here comes another car!"
Tracey turned and looked out her friend's bedroom window to the street below; a set of headlights were rapidly approaching. There was a heavy rhythmic beat that grew more and more noticeable until objects in the room were rattling. Tracey figured the car was probably full of gangsters.
"Come on, do it with me—Hurry!" said Brooklyn, positioning herself in front of the second floor window. Tracey stepped to the side as Brooklyn tucked her shirt and bra beneath her chin, screaming "Woooo!" at the crescent moon and the speeding car. Tracey shook her head and sighed. The car never slowed down.
"Uh, you didn't even do it!" said Brooklyn.
Tracey smirked. "Nope."
"I swear, Tracey, you can be so—uh! I mean, gah, what are you so afraid of? It ain't like nobody's here. You're not gonna get in trouble."
"I just don't feel comfortable doing it, okay? Don't you remember, I'm too much of a button-up."
"Just do it with me one time, okay? Just once. The next car that passes by."
"I don't think so."
"Come on, just once. I mean, it's not like they can see us anyway."
Tracey laughed. "Of course they can see us! It's like—" Tracey turned to Brooklyn's clock; 1:13 glowed green. "It's one o'clock in the morning and we're up here with the light on and stuff while it's like totally dark out there. There's like no possible way that they couldn't see us!"
"Yeah, but only if they're looking," said Brooklyn, "which I highly doubt. So come on, just do it with me one time and I promise I won't bug you anymore about it."
Tracey sighed. "Alright. But just once."
Thirty-seven seconds later a new car came into view, this one going much, much slower than the one before. Tracey watched the car drift into the other lane and then swerve back across the double yellow line.
"They must be drunk," said Tracey.
Brooklyn didn't seem to hear. She stood up straight and fluffed her hair. "Get ready. They're almost here."
Tracey slipped her fingers beneath her shirt, and just as the car was directly in front of Brooklyn's house, Tracey lifted her shirt and bra and arched her back, revealing herself to the slow-moving vehicle and its passengers. She could see Brooklyn jumping up and down beside her. The car outside had swerved again.
"You think they saw us?" asked Brooklyn, watching the lone taillight float down the road until it disappeared around a curve.
"I don't know," said Tracey, still giggling. "They probably saw you at least. I bet you could see those things a mile away. The whole time you were jumping they were like buh-boing, buh-boing."
Brooklyn covered her breasts and said, "Hey! Don't make fun of them. They can hear you, ya know." And then she looked to the side and muttered, "You're just jealous anyway."
"Ha! Why would I be jealous of those humongous things? I don't want two big watermelons on my chest!"
"Well, at least I have something on my chest!"
"Oh, ha, ha," said Tracey sarcastically. "At least I don't have to worry about tripping over mine by the time I'm forty!"
Brooklyn turned her head to the side and squinted her eyes. "Huh?"
"I said at least I won't be tripping over mine by the time I'm forty."
"I . . . I don't get it."
"Gosh, Brooklyn, do I have to explain everything to you? It was supposed to be a joke, okay? Like at least mine won't be sagging when I get older like yours will. That's why you'll be tripping over them."
"Oh!" said Brooklyn. She smiled and shook her head. "Sorry, it's the blonde coming out in me."
Tracey rolled her eyes. "Obviously. Oh, look, here comes another car!"
Both girls leaned forward to peer down the street. Headlights were spilling from around the curve, lighting the driveways and mailboxes of Brooklyn's neighbors one by one. Tracey watched the car drive slowly closer. The car was straddling the double yellow line.
"Wait a sec," said Tracey. "Isn't that the same car?"
"I think it is," said Tracey. "They have to be drunk or somethin'. Look at how they keep swervin'."
The brakes of the car squealed in pain.
"Oh my God!" said Tracey.
The car was turning into Brooklyn's driveway.
"Maybe they're just turning around," said Brooklyn.
Tracey looked at Brooklyn; Brooklyn looked at Tracey.
The car hadn't stopped; it was crawling up the driveway.
"Turn off the light," said Tracey, jerking the curtains closed.
Brooklyn turned off the bedroom light and both girls peeked out through the side of the curtain. The car had now come to a complete stop outside the house. The headlights vanished and Tracey watched the driver's door open and then the passenger's; two slams echoed through the night. There was a tiny orange glow in the mouth of the driver that would fade and then grow brighter. Tracey watched the man take one last long drag of his cigarette before flicking it into the yard. The orange glow cartwheeled across and sky and landed in the grass.
"Couldn't that like, catch my yard on fire?"
Tracey ignored the question. "Please tell me you locked the front door."
"I . . . I think so."
Tracey turned and looked at Brooklyn. "You think?"
"I'm pretty sure I did."
Tracey peeked out the window. The men were walking towards the house.
"Hurry!" said Tracey, grabbing Brooklyn's wrist and sprinting for the door. Not expecting the sudden motion, Brooklyn stumbled; she slipped and fell on a teenage magazine. Tracey didn't stop; she kept on running, out the bedroom and down the hall. She took the stairs two steps at a time.
Diiiing-donnng went the doorbell; and Tracey panicked. She could already envision the two men opening the door and finding her, chasing her, grabbing her, throwing her to the ground and hurting her, raping her, killing her. She leaped the last four steps and her bare feet slapped against the floor, sending a shockwave of pain shooting up her ankles and her calves. Tracey grimaced but never stopped moving.
The front door was miles away. Tracey hurried to it as fast as she could.
She stopped. The doorknob was turning. She was too late.
Tracey told herself to turn around and run away, but her legs weren't listening; none of her limbs were functioning.
The door didn't budge. Brooklyn had obviously locked the deadbolt instead of the doorknob. Tracey sighed in relief.
A sudden voice spoke from behind her. "Did I—"
Tracey wheeled around and put her finger to her lips with a fierce expression on her face, silencing Brooklyn as she trotted down the stairs.
"Turn off the light," said Tracey silently, forming the words carefully with her mouth.
Brooklyn did as she was told. Darkness devoured the living room.
Somebody was beating on the door. A man laughed and said, "We knows ya'll in thur. Turnin' off da lights ain't gun do no good." His voice was deep and slurred.
Squinting, Tracey slowly made her way toward Brooklyn. Tracey held her fist to the side of her face with her pinky and thumb outstretched. "I'm calling the cops," she whispered.
Brooklyn grabbed Tracey's arm and pulled her back. "No!" she whispered. "You can't!"
"But we have to!"
Brooklyn's face was crumpled in concern. "But what about my parents?"
A loud knock, knock, knock made both girls jump. "Come own," said the voice again. "Open da damn door!"
Brooklyn looked at the door and then spoke into Tracey's ear. "This is like the first time my parents have ever let me have somebody over while they've been out of town. If you call the cops and my parents find out what we were doing upstairs then they'll never ever trust me by myself again!"
Tracey jerked her arm out of Brooklyn's grip. "That doesn't matter!"
"But what if they—" Tracey realized her voice was too loud. She decreased the volume and started over. "But what if they get in here? What do you think they'd do to us?"
"They won't get in. We'll just be quiet and wait for them to leave."
"And if they don't?"
Tracey sighed and looked back at the door. It appeared so ominous in the dark.
Again the doorknob rattled. "Comb own, gurls, open da door! We's jus' wanna play!"
"Yeah!" said a different voice. "We likes whut we seen up in yo're winder."
"All we's a wantin' to do is take us a closer look, dat's all."
Tracey turned and approached the voices.
"What are you doing?!" whispered Brooklyn.
Tracey spoke loud enough for the men outside to hear. "That wasn't meant as an invitation. Now we've already called the cops, so you two best get in your car and leave, before they get here!"
"Y-yeah!" said Brooklyn, raising her voice. "And I'm about go wake my daddy! He's got guns! Lots of guns!"
"But dey ain't no car in yo're driveway!" said the deep, slurred voice.
"Th-th-that's b-because— it's in the shop! Yeah. He's getting it worked on! But he's here! And I'm gonna go wake him up if ya'll don't leave!"
Silence followed. Tracey put her ear to the door. She thought she could hear the two men talking, but she couldn't make out what they were saying. Eventually one of the voices spoke up: "Well's alright den. Guess we bes' be goin'. Sorry for disturbin' ya'll yoon ladies."
Tracey kept her ear pressed against the door. She could hear the men stomping their boots; then there was silence for several seconds before an engine wheezed to life, making Tracey jump.
"They're leaving!" cried Brooklyn. "I told you they would! I told you, I told you, I told you!"
Tracey glanced at Brooklyn before stepping over to the window; she pulled aside the curtain to see if Brooklyn was correct. Tracey gasped and her eyes grew wide. Something white was flying toward her!
Tracey jerked backwards just as the window shattered. Her feet collided and she fell to the floor. Shards of glass sprinkled all around her. A man was standing in the window, a white cast iron chair in his hand that had come from Brooklyn's front porch.
Brooklyn was moaning, "Oh God oh God oh God!"
Tracey cried out to her: "Brooklyn, run! Call 911!"
Brooklyn looked down at Tracey, and though in the darkness Brooklyn's face was only a shadow, Tracey could see it perfectly. At that moment they were twins.
As Brooklyn turned around and ran, Tracey glanced at the window to see the man climbing inside. Panicking, Tracey scrambled to her feet— But after just two steps she howled in pain and collapsed. A piece of glass had stabbed her foot.
The man ignored her in his pursuit of Brooklyn. Tracey could hear bits of glass crunching beneath his boots.
Squinting, Tracey examined her foot. She located the piece of glass and yanked it out, wincing. The searing pain slowly gave way to a dull throb. Gingerly, Tracey tried to stand, only to be knocked back down from behind. The other man was now inside and he had a fistful of Tracey's hair. He began dragging her across the floor as Tracey screamed and kicked and clawed at the man's hand. The man soon let go as he bent down and grabbed Tracey's armpits, jerking her up onto her feet and throwing her to the couch.
"Hay'd chu git dat other bitch?" he shouted.
"Right hur," said the large-silhouetted figure, suddenly appearing from the kitchen. It was carrying Brooklyn with one arm as she thrashed about.
After Brooklyn had joined Tracey on the couch, the two men cursed and fumbled along the walls as they searched for a light switch. Tracey asked Brooklyn if she'd managed to get to the phone in time. Brooklyn whimpered something in response that Tracey took to mean as "No."
Soon the men had found the switch, and light burst into the room. Tracey used her hand as a shield until her eyes grew accustomed to the brightness.
"Oooo, dey look even gooder up close!"
The two men looked like brothers. Both were tall and meaty with big swollen beer-bellies that threatened to burst. The man with the thick Western mustache was wearing faded blue-jeans with numerous oil spots to go along with a solid gray t-shirt. The other man, the one with the stubbled beard, was wearing camouflage pants and a tattered black t-shirt with a large number 3; a John Deere cap sat atop his head.
One man licked his lips. The other blew a kiss.
Tracey felt like gagging.
"Yeah we jus' couldn't believes what we was seein' when's we looked up dur and seen you twos flashin' yo're leetle teeties," said the man with the mustache.
"Thought's I was a daydreamin' or sumptin'."
"'Bout came dis here close ta swervin' awfda road!"
The two men looked at each other and laughed. The one in the John Deere cap said, "N' whut's so damn funny's me n' 'im was jus' a-talking 'bout how lawn it'd been since we gots us any pussy. And den deer you was, like two lil' angels— A gift from Gawd!"
"Dat right dur's whut you call one of 'dem coweencidences!"
Their laughter sounded like rolling barrels, mixed in with an occasional couch or hiccup.
Tracey glanced sideways at Brooklyn, whose bottom lip was trembling.
"Aww, whut's you so skeered lookin' for, purdy thang? I ain't gunna hurt ya." The mustached man bent down in front of Brooklyn and began rubbing his hand roughly up and down her leg. He chuckled and said, "Well, own second thawt, I's might be a leetle bit bigger n' used to."
Before standing up, the man thrust his hand all the way up Brooklyn's thigh and into her cheerleader shorts. Brooklyn gasped, sending both men into another round of laughter.
"So how ol' ya'll gurls be?" said John Deere, lighting a cigarette. "Fawdeen? Fiddeen?"
Tracey ignored his question. "Ya'll are gonna go to jail for this, you know. Whatever it is you're planning on doing, you're gonna go to jail. You won't get away with it."
The man opened his mouth to say something but Tracey cut him off.
"But I promise you, if you guys leave right now, we won't say anything about it. Swear to God. We'll lie about the window and say we broke it."
"My puh-puh-parents are gonna be here any s-second!" said Brooklyn. "My dad's got guns!"
"Yeah!" said Tracey. "So if you two got any sense left in those country-fried brains of yours, you'll get the hell out of here while you still can!"
Neither man seemed threatened. John Deere's cigarette bobbed up and down. "I dunno whut ya'lls wurried 'bout. Ya'll gunna have fun too! I promise!"
"Yeah!" said the other man, grinning as he stroked his mustache. "We's gunna makes ya feel real good!"
More laughter. Tracey looked and saw tears running down Brooklyn's cheeks.
"So which'un ya wanna do first?" asked John Deere.
"I like Miss Big Tittues hur. I ain't been widda blond since Carla. 'Member her?"
The man took a puff of his cigarette. "Fat bitch near Bill's ol' place?"
"Yeah, dat's da one. Bitch gave me da fuckin' crotch crickets." He scratched his crotch and smiled at Brooklyn. "I's still gots um a lil' bit."
John Deere knelt in front of Tracey, the cigarette dangling from his mouth. "Well den I guess dat means you n' me git ta play den, huh?" He stretched out his arm.
"Don't touch me!" screeched Tracey, sinking back into the cushion.
The man scissor-gripped his cigarette and held it aside. Tracey could smell the alcohol on the man's breath as he leaned in closer and puffed out his lips. Tracey kicked him in the face and the man "oomphed" and stumbled backwards.
"O shit, man, ya okay?" The mustached man helped his friend get up on his feet. John Deere wiped his nose and then studied the blood that came off on his hand. He looked at Tracey, an evil glint in his eye. Smirking, he strode toward the couch. Tracey tried to stand up but the man pushed her back down. He grabbed a fistful of her hair and held the cigarette threateningly above her face. Tracey tried to wiggle free but the man was too strong. The orange glow descended.
Tracey's moan turned into a scream as the cigarette burned into her forehead. When he finally let go, Tracey's hands immediately went to the burn. She rocked back and forth with her head in her lap, grimacing.
"Dat's whut ya git, ya stoopid bitch! We was jus' gunna git us a quick fuck 'n leave, but now I thinks we'll stick around hur a lil' bit lawngur!"
Mr. Mustache sighed. "Dat's good 'cuz I gots sum shit I's been wantin' ta try anyways. 'Member dat shit I's tellin' ya 'bout da utter day? Where doze guys was a gangbangin' dat bitch and den when 'ey was done, dey all lined up 'round 'er 'n started a pissin' all over 'er? I's gotta go like a sumbitch anyways. How 'bout I gives 'um a yeller batch right hur on da couch?" He reached for his zipper.
"Whut da hell? I ain't wantin' ta be fuckin' no bitch ya dun wizzed own!"
The man sighed. "I's jus' jokin' anyway . . ."
The burning sensation in Tracey's forehead wasn't going away. She looked up at the men and very politely asked, "Can I please go get some ice for my head?" Already she could envision herself grabbing a knife from the kitchen; she'd hide it until the most opportune time.
"How 'bouts I put muh nutsack on it!" laughed Mr. Mustache.
Tracey glared at him. She heard her mouth say the uncharacteristic words: "Fuck you."
The man then reached into his back pocket and Tracey thought: Oh my God he's about to pull out a knife and stab me! The object the man pulled out was shiny. Tracey's fear intensified.
When she saw it was only a can of tobacco, she closed her eyes and sighed.
"Ya wanna do 'um at da same time or one own one?" said the man, as he scooped out a slab of tobacco and stuck it in between his bottom lip and gum.
"Go 'head take dat 'un upsturs. I wants sum alawn time wit dis 'un."
"Come own den, Big Teeties." The mustached man reached out and grabbed Brooklyn's arm. She was sobbing uncontrollably, her shoulders shaking, her chest convulsing. Tracey tried to feel indifferent— it had been Brooklyn's idea to flash the passing cars, Brooklyn's plea not to call the cops— but Tracey couldn't help but feel sorry for Brooklyn. None of this was her fault.
The mustached man led Brooklyn toward the stairs.
John Deere said, "Hey, man, wait—"
Both men guffawed.
"Oh, I'll git 'er dun, alright! Ain't dat righ', sweet thang?" The mustached man wrapped his large hairy arms around Brooklyn and forced her mouth against his. Brooklyn tried to push herself away. When the kiss finally broke, Brooklyn retched and spit tobacco juice onto the living room floor. Tracey felt her stomach churn.
The men's laughter continued, loud and hard. Tracey looked to the door and then to the men. They were both too busy looking at Brooklyn. Tracey seized her opportunity. She leapt from the couch and sprinted for the door, barely registering the pain in her foot.
Someone yelled behind her: "Hey dat bitch's gettin' way!"
Tracey turned the doorknob and pulled back on it with all her might, nearly jerking her arm out of joint when the door refused to budge. She'd forgotten about the deadbolt. Quickly she tried to unlock it, but her hands were trembling, and her fingertips were too sweaty to grip the deadbolt.
Suddenly two big arms had wrapped around her waist— "Ya ain't goin' nowhere, bitch!"— and Tracey's vision of the door was wiped away as John Deere slung Tracey to the floor. She fell hard on her side and rolled. The man was soon on top of her. He pulled a knife from his back pocket and flipped it open.
"How 'bout I cut another hole ta fuck ya in?" he said, sliding the blade across Tracey's shirt and in-between her breasts. Tracey squirmed beneath him. Her finger touched something cold and solid on the floor. She turned her head and looked—
The broken glass!
The man was leaning closer. Tracey could smell the rotten mixture of cigarettes and alcohol breathing down on her. She wrapped her fingers around the shard of glass and jammed it into the man's right temple. The man howled in agony, clutching at his head as he fell over sideways. Blood was spurting everywhere.
Tracey pushed herself off the floor. She looked back at Brooklyn and the mustached man. Both were wearing the same open-mouthed expression, their gaze see-sawing from Tracey to the bleeding, screaming man on the floor. Tracey turned and darted for the door. This time she managed to unlock the deadbolt. A cool night breeze slammed into her face.
"Whut da fuck ya doin?! Git dat gawddamn bitch!"
The gravel felt as if it was imbedding into the cut in her foot, but Tracey had no choice but to keep running. She could hear the other man breathing heavily behind her. Tracey gritted her teeth and willed herself forward.
There was a light on in the house across the street. Tracey ran into the yard and up the steps on the front porch, screaming "HELP!" as she banged both fists against the door. She expected the mustached man to catch up to her any second and drag her back across the street.
The porch light flashed on and a couple seconds later a man in nothing but boxers opened the door. His hair was ruffled and his eyes were squinted.
"Hurry you've got to call the cops!" blurted Tracey. "There's two guys over at my friend's house and they buh-buh-broke the window and now they've got my friend and and they were going to rape us and please please please you've got to call the cops hurry hurry hurry!"
The man blinked and rubbed his eyes. "What's wrong with your forehead?"
Suddenly Tracey heard a scream from across the street. She turned and saw two shadowy figures lumbering out of Brooklyn's house.
"Oh my God! They've got her! They've got my friend!"
One of the shadowy figures was dragging Brooklyn toward the car. Tracey could see that Brooklyn was struggling to get away. The other man was clutching his head. He staggered into the passenger's side of the car as his friend opened the back door and slung Brooklyn inside.
"Well don't just stand there!" said Tracey to the neighbor. "Do something! Stop them!"
The man opened his mouth but nothing came out. He looked helplessly at Tracey.
The red taillight glowed in the darkness like an evil eye as the car backed out of Brooklyn's driveway. Tracy started down the steps and across the lawn, running as fast as she could. Her bare feet slapped against the pavement. She started picking up pieces of gravel and slinging it at the car as it backed out into the road. The car came to a complete stop for one short second before squealing off up the road.
Tracey squinted her eyes and tried to make out the license plate, but it was too dark to see. She couldn't even tell what color the car was: black or dark green?
The lone taillight floated around the curve and out of sight.