1. Craven [Part 1]

    It looked like a crime scene. I’ve never actually seen a crime scene, except on television, but it looked like that. I was shocked my key still worked in the door. It didn’t look that way from the outside. The weird bushes had started blooming their weird pink flowers and birds were singing and shit, outside, like nothing at all was amiss. Inside, like a crime scene.

    “The fuck happened?”

    Cora’s glassy gaze shifted to follow my movement, so I knew she wasn’t dead. Tiff was sprawled on the couch and I couldn’t be sure she’d fog up a mirror, though the damp drool running down her cheek seemed a good enough sign she’d make it. “We —”

    “No, stop. Don’t get up. The fuck happened to your face?” Cora had remnants of a river of blood crusting up the side of her face. She ran a limp palm along each side and brought it forward, fighting to force her eyes to focus.

    “I sink I shit the fable,” she garbled.

    “Did I tell you not to get up? The corner’s your friend. Just lean back. You’re gonna be alright.” I sat down on the floor in front of her, ready to stop her from moving if need be.

    “Jew feed any fink?”

    “Cora. You don’t need to be trying to say words right now.” I grabbed the nearest pen and paper in arm’s reach. Some receipt for something. Hope it wasn’t important. “Who was here?” She gripped the pen with her fist rather than between her fingers, the way a small child does, and wrote, the way a small child does, moving her whole hand rather than the fingers. 18B.

    “Y’all were hanging out with the guys from 18B?” She nodded. “Here?” She nodded again. I looked around, tried to take a quick picture to go over in my mind later, but honestly, like I said, the place looked like a crime scene. It was hard to tell what damage had been caused by frolical accident and what, if anything, resulted from something more sinister. I had nothing to go on. I stood up and walked to the kitchen, stepping over a few stray bottles, a hair dryer, and the remains of what appeared to have once been a lamp.

    As the coffee cut through the thick shut-in air, I returned to Cora with a damp paper towel and began scrubbing her face with it. She let me. “Jesus, Cora, I told you not to hang out with them. Fuck.” She dropped her head, and at that point I’d just about had it. I grabbed her chin and forced her to look into my eyes, even if she wasn’t really, couldn’t really, well — you know. “Did they give you anything?”

    She could register expression well enough to indicate confusion. “Fuck, Cora. Concentrate. Did. They. Give. You. Anything.” Still confused. I give up. I squeezed her chin, brought my own nose within a quarter-inch of hers. “They owe me 750 bucks, Cora. That’s what I’m asking. Fuck.” I let go of her face and stood up. I mean, I brought her a blanket and shit. I figured she’d just sleep it off.

    I s’pose I feel bad in retrospect, but really, at that moment, all I was thinking was how I was still out 750 bucks and the fucks who owed it to me’d gone a round or two with my girlfriend.

    Continue to Part 2

    © 2013 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller