Warning: story below contains violence and death.
As a little departure from my typical story, I used this week’s prompt to delve into a moment in the life of Finley and Cece, a young ex-con and his baby sister. The image of a severed baby doll (pictured above) suggested some darkness was in order.
“Who was it?” I tried to clear the gravel from my throat to keep from scaring her, but I was too pissed off.
Amber eyes stared up at me, shining with tears and faith and hope. Cece always looked at me that way, like I was her own private superhero.
“Bobby and Allen,” she mumbled around the fat lip they gave her. Punks.
“All right. I’ll take care of it.”
Cece tugged on my hand. She had been holding it the last half-hour while I tried to calm her enough to find out who hurt her. “But what about Finn-finn?”
Jesus. Like I needed that on top of everything else. “Look, kiddo, I can’t do miracles, okay? If they broke her, there isn’t anything I can do. But I’ll try,” I added when her face crumpled.
Finn-finn was the stupid doll she’d been dragging around since she could crawl. She named the damned thing after me, something our brothers never let me live down but was maybe a little cute. Not that I would admit that to anyone.
“Okay.” The kid popped her thumb in her mouth and rubbed her cheek against my flannel sleeve. The scratchy fabric couldn’t feel good but she didn’t seem to care. Her eyelids drooped and she let out a sigh. Her crying fit drained her usual vitality, and she nodded off, assured I would take care of everything.
I tilted her body until her head hit the couch cushion with a gentle plop.
Shifting aside, I slipped a throw pillow under her cheek and then tucked her under the blanket our mom had tossed over the back of the couch. It was still there, even after Mom said she found herself and left us behind. The thing was useful.
Bobby and Allen lived on the other side of town. They had no business skulking around the backwoods near our farm, and sure as hell had no right to come after a little pipsqueak like Cece. They were in high school. What kind of cowards jacked with a kindergartner?
My knuckles cracked as I tensed my hands, trying to shake off my fury. Bad things happened when I lost control. Not that it worried me. Nobody hurt somebody that small without getting theirs, especially if the tiny kid they hurt was my sister.
I left my jacket on the hook by the door. It was cold out, but it restricted my movements and I didn’t want anything getting in the way. Those boys were jocks, stars of the wrestling team and the darlings of all the mothers who thought sports meant a guy had value. If they had any idea, they’d lock their daughters up and throw away the key. Idiots.
Dust coated my work boots as I trotted towards the trees, skirting the broken-down fence railings and rusting metal from the old granary. Wheat hadn’t grown on our farm since before I could work the fields, and I was the oldest boy. Dad said the weather changed. I guess it had since nobody with sense would try farming of any kind in a place like Montana even if the history teacher called it the wheat belt. Crazy.
My paced slowed. I didn’t want to give anyone any warning. They were close. Muffled voices came from behind the trees and Finn-finn’s leg lay in the dirt, leading to an arm, then torso. Her head was gone, but the doll dress was shoved onto one of the few upright fence posts like a dusty-yellow flag flapping in the wind.
Blood pounded in my ears. Air whistled quietly through my clenched jaw. Had to keep control.
“You hear how she screamed when we busted her doll?” Allen laughed. He was leaning against a tree, visible from where I hid behind the old tractor wheel and scraggly bushes. “What a baby. She kept yelling about how Finley would come and save her. As if.”
“Isn’t that her brother though? Maybe he’ll come like she said.” Bobby sounded like he had some sense, but then opened his fat mouth again. “Of course, you can’t believe anything a chick says. Even dinky ones.”
“Probably made it up. Mindy threatened us, too, and nothing. Little brat talks a big game already. Maybe we don’t need to wait for her to get older.”
Damn. Mindy was the girl found in a ditch a few weeks back. Fury clawed at my stomach. Control was no longer an issue. They deserved no mercy.
I slipped out from behind the bushes and slammed my fist into Allen’s mouth, taking him off guard as I knocked him into the dirt.
“What the hell?” Bobby shouted. He lumbered my direction, letterman jacket slowing his swinging arms. I dodged, avoiding the wrestler moves he was trying to use to lay me out. My boot landed on Allen’s face. Blood spurted from his nose, groans and growls emerging from his messed-up mouth as I turned to keep Bobby in sight. Freak was almost on me when I saw my opening.
Nobody was ever ready for what came next. I leaped up, one boot smashing into his stomach, the other swinging into his temple as his body heaved forward. I used the sole of my boot to shove my weight into his shoulder, forcing his head into the ground at high speed.
Despite the noises Allen made, I could tell he wasn’t getting up anytime soon. Bobby sure wasn’t if the angle of his neck was any sign. I leaned down and felt for a pulse. Nothing. Allen shifted as if he was going to crawl away or something. As if I’d let him.
I didn’t say a word, just strode to where I left Allen on the ground and lifted my boot.
“Why?” came the moan. It was hard to tell what he said through the mess of blood and broken teeth, but that was always the question they asked.
I didn’t answer. Freaks like him didn’t deserve one.
After I ended it, I carted both bodies to the same ditch where they left Mindy. Seemed like justice. I pulled their wallets out of their jeans and took all their cash. There was no way I could put that doll back together, but I could buy Cece a new one. Maybe one that had long hair she could brush. Bet she’d like that.
Blond curls peeked out from under the blanket when I got back to the house. She was still asleep. Since I had time, I took a shower and bundled up my clothes, even my favorite work boots, and tossed them in a steel barrel out back. A little gas helped catch it all on fire. If my stint in the pen taught me anything, it was to leave no evidence.
Satisfied I had taken care of everything, I headed back into the house. Better wake Cece up if there would be any chance of the kid going down at bedtime.
“Did you find her?” the sleepy angel asked.
“She had to leave,” I said. “Just like Mom.”
“Okay.” Cece never asked too many questions. Good kid. But she looked sad.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll take you to the store and we’ll get you a special doll.”
“Can I name her Finn-finn, too?”
“Sure thing, kiddo. Come on, let’s go make dinner.”