I hope you enjoyed the first installment of The Drape Man I posted yeserday. Here’s the second …
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I leave my room and go to the kitchen. A bottle of white Zinfandel, half-empty, sits on a shelf in the refrigerator. I pour myself a glassful, then return to my computer. I stare at the screen and take a sip of wine, I make a face. The Zinfandel is neither sweet nor tart, just bitter. Yuck. I take another sip. I figure the wine will settle me down, it may help me decide what to do. Three or four minutes pass while I watch people come and go from the room, kids with nicknames like Pretty Pussy, Hung Ten and Pocket Rocket. One guy, Dad-4-daughter, says he’s fifty. He seeks a girl, eighteen, for role-play sex, very perverted.
My computer pings again, it’s a message from Jacob. “What do you think?”
I write, “About what?”
“Doing a threesome with Evita?”
I work my jaw from side to side. I take a sip of wine. Then I write, “I don’t know, what do you think?”
“It sounds sort of freaky, but she’s hot. How often do you get a chance to lay a chick like her?”
I nod to myself. Then I write, “What does she expect you and me to do with each other? I don’t suck dick or stuff like that.”
Thirty seconds pass, then Jacob writes, “I think we should meet her; it’ll be fun.”
I draw a breath, then I let it out slow. I take another gulp of wine, I drain the entire glass. Then I write, “Okay, let’s do it.” I give Jacob my name and address. I tell him to come over at nine o’clock, I give him explicit directions.
When Jacob asks for my phone number, I realize my cell phone is in my backpack and my backpack is in my locker at school. Three months ago, my dad cancelled our land-line phone service. He told my mom, “We each have cell phones. Why pay for something nobody uses?”
I explain the phone situation to Jacob. He says, “No problem, Justin. I’ll see you tonight.”
I send Evita a private message, I say, “Jacob’s coming to my place at nine, does that work for you?”
Evita writes, “Nine’s perfect. This’ll be wild.”
My pulse pounds inside my head. I write, “Evita . . .?”
“Me and Jacob aren’t gay. You know that, right?”
Evita writes, “Of course, silly. Relax and give me your address.”
My house sits on five acres in a community where many people ride horses. A stable’s in back of our home, but we don’t own horses and the building is empty, it’s in disrepair. Gates sag from their hinges, the roof misses shingles and some windows are busted out. As a kid I’d play in the stable, till one day I stepped on a nail, one protruding from a fallen board. It punctured my foot and I had to get a tetanus shot and, after that, my mom declared the stable off-limits.
My dad said the acreage was a good investment, it’s why he bought the place. He said, “I don’t know a horse’s teeth from his asshole, but I know a good land deal when I see it.” Our nearest neighbor is a half-mile away on County Road 23-A.
The time’s eight-thirty and I stand in my front yard, watching stars appear. I smoke a cigarette and my hand shakes when I raise the filter to my lips and think of Evita. Earlier, I printed her profile photo and I stuck it to the bulletin board in my room. Of course the picture’s black and white, it’s grainy, but still it’s very hot and I can’t believe my good luck. I’ve never had intercourse with a girl, okay, but I’m pretty sure I’ll know what to do when the time comes. I placed condoms and lubricant and a hand towel on my nightstand and I lit a scented candle on my dresser. I took a long shower and soaped my dick real careful so it wouldn’t stink. I swiped my underarms with deodorant, then I dabbed cologne on my neck. I wear my best gold chain and I’ve put gel in my hair and arranged it just right. I took my time choosing my clothes — a polo shirt and my coolest jeans and my new athletic shoes.
Just as I finish my cigarette, a panel truck turns off the county road, it travels down our long gravel driveway. The truck’s headlights cast two cones of yellow light as it approaches. I don’t recognize the vehicle and I figure the driver must be lost — it happens all the time in our neighborhood. I remain where I’m standing till the truck comes to a halt, then I walk to the driver’s door with my hands in my pockets. A magnetic sign on the truck’s side panel says, “De Soto Drapes and Blinds”, it offers a phone number.
The driver’s a guy maybe thirty years old. He wears a collared work shirt with a t-shirt underneath. Dragon tattoos snake up his forearms, they climb into his shirt sleeves. His hair is buzzed and his nose is long, it tapers to a point, and he hasn’t shaved lately. His window’s lowered and I say hi.
He nods and says, “Hey, there.” His voice sounds deep and scratchy, like he smokes lots of cigarettes.
I say, “Are you lost or something?”
He shakes his head, then he clears his throat. “I’m here to measure for drapes. Your mom didn’t tell you?”
I say no and I think to myself: Shit. I say, “How long will this take? I’ve got people coming over.”
He opens his door and I take a step backward to get out of his way. He says, “Not long, maybe twenty or thirty minutes.” Then he emerges with a tape measure and a clipboard. He’s a foot taller than me and his shoulders are broad and he’s slim in the waist, athletic-looking. He wears work pants and boots that lace up and I don’t think he’s showered lately because I smell his body odor. I smell something else, too: alcohol, some type of liquor.
He follows me inside the house. He asks to see the living room first and I lead him there. I sit on the sofa and I watch him walk around the perimeter of the room, using his tape measure to determine the size of each window opening. He makes notes on his clipboard after each measurement. He checks the distance between each window and the ceiling. Now and then, while he does these things, he’ll glance at me and it makes me kind of nervous, the way he stares. I check my watch: it’s eight forty-five, I think: Come on, man. Finish and get out of here.
I ask, “Do you always work this late?”
“Depends,” he says, “on how busy I get.” Then he says, “Could you put some water and ice in a glass for me? I’m thirsty.”
I say sure and I get up from the sofa and he follows me into the kitchen. While I plunk cubes into a tumbler he reaches into his pocket, producing a metal flask with a screw cap. He sets the flask on the counter top. I fill the tumbler with tap water and hand it to him and he says thanks. He drains half the glass, then he unscrews the cap on the flask and adds what looks like bourbon to his remaining water and ice. He stirs the mixture with a finger, then he offers me some. “Want a gulp?”
I shake my head and look away. Up close, his eyes have a piercing quality I don’t like.
He takes a swallow from the tumbler, then he smacks his lips and burps. He rubs his belly with his free hand, he says, “Want to show me the master bedroom?”
He gathers his clipboard and measuring tape and he brings these and his beverage into my folks’ bedroom. He puts his drink on my mom’s glass-topped dressing table, next to her perfume bottles and hairbrush and lipstick tubes. He looks around the room, he nods as if the furnishings — the headboard and carpeting and all — meet with his approval. He places his clipboard and tape measure on top of the chest of drawers, then he sits on my parents’ king-sized bed. He runs a palm over the surface of the down comforter and he bounces his butt on the mattress. He looks at me and grins, he says, “Real nice.”
My scalp prickles. I take a deep breath and I tell him, “You shouldn’t sit on my parents’ bed. I think you should get your work done and go.”
He drops his gaze to the carpet but he continues to grin. He sits there for a moment, hands resting on his thighs. Then he lunges at me. He grabs me by the shirtfront and he slaps my cheek, really hard. The sound of the slap bounces off the walls and I fall backward, onto the floor, I bang my head against a chair. A ringing floods my ears and my vision blurs and my face burns where I got hit.
The drape man stands over me, he glares while his chest rises and falls. He points a finger, and when I prop myself on my elbows he says, “I don’t give a crap what you think, Justin.”
How does he know my name?
Walking to the dressing table, he takes a gulp from his drink and the ice cubes tinkle in his glass. He smacks his lips again and he stares at me, holding the tumbler, twirling the ice. I try getting to my feet but I am dazed from the slap and I can’t get my balance. I sink to the floor, onto my butt and elbows. I rub my cheek with the heel of my hand and my voice sounds funny when I say, “What are you doing? What do you want?”
His eyes narrow. “Take off your clothes.”
I’m bewildered. “Why? What for?”
He snickers and shakes his head. “You’re stupid, you know that? Very stupid. Now, are you going to get naked or must I slap you some more?”
An explosion goes off inside my head. This guy plans to rape me.
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Copyright Martin Delacroix 2009