Sammy stared out of the grimy window of the laundromat at the outline of the woman shuffling across main street,and thought to himself, “Oh, God. Oh, no. Please don’t let it be her.” He felt fear knife through his gut, like in the years before New Mexico. The woman had moved diagonally into his line of vision from the left of the laundry, and was walking north, away from him.
The bundled up woman appeared shabby, just like Sammy remembered, and was hunched over against the cold wind that was pushing a front through Deming. It was a dry, frigid blast from Canada, dusting the gritty desert town with sand it didn’t need. She was wrapped up in a coat and scarf that looked too familiar. Her peculiar gait was what had caught Sammy’s eye to begin with when he had casually glanced out at the street, and as he studied the diminutive figure the fear began to mutate into panic as if he was back in Sandusky. It had been over five years since he had felt so scared. It had to be her. No other person he knew could appear so evil just by the way they walked. He hadn’t seen her face, but the image of her knit brows, stink-eye glare, and the grimace that pulled her long nose over her mouth popped into his head like a horror flick. She had finally tracked him down to the sanctuary town lost in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, a place Sammy had hoped she would never find. The first place he had ever felt safe in fifty-one years, since his sixth birthday.
As he stared out the window, his mind slipped back into the past, laundry forgotten, and memories of terror bullwhipped his emerging confidence.
Sammy’s full name was Samuel E. Shirley. His sister, Reba, had called him Sammy as a play on his names. Kids at school cruelly teased him constantly by making fun of his feminine surname. Sammy Shirley is a girly they would chant over and over as he navigated the battlefield school had become to him. As he aged into puberty, the insanity of his life at home combined with almost constant bullying at school had propelled him into the comfort of too many snack chips, and gooey candy bars, and by the time he was in the sixth grade, he was profoundly obese, and his schoolmates had graduated to chanting, Sammy Shirley is a big, fat girly.
Reba was a monster. The kind of psychotic character frequently used in a novel to keep you from putting it down, or in a movie to make your butthole slam shut in fear. Their parents had been taken from them in a head-on car wreck, when a drunk driver slid eastbound instead of westbound across three lanes of icy freeway during a winter storm, leaving eighteen year old Reba a profitable small business, executor of their estate, and the legal guardian of Sammy. They would have celebrated his sixth birthday the following week if only they had been driving two seconds faster. Having the responsibility of Sammy thrust upon her, caused her to hate her little brother like an infected boil. Her resentment over losing her preconceived ideas of sorority parties, and handsome, rich young men delicately removing her panties every Friday night, had twisted her soul into a ball of venomous snakes that attacked her from within, constantly sinking their fangs into her heart, and filling it with a vile, toxic cocktail of poisons that left her thrashing in agony. From that time forward, Reba had made sure that Sammy’s life was a walk with Lucifer, blaming him for her stolen fantasies, and he entered adulthood as a socially inept, morbidly obese, highly insecure young man terrified of the world around him. His sole redeeming value was that he was very intelligent, and he had been able to find refuge in the literary world layered over with heaping bags of saturated fat and sugar. The books and junk food soothed the injuries both physical, and mental that Reba, and the bullies, inflicted upon him everyday.
Reba would start each day by screaming blame at him for all of the misery he had caused her over the years, and she had created a variety of weapons to ensure that he suffered daily for his sins. Through her abuse, she had been able to control Sammy like a stringed puppet. As a little boy, he would hide behind furniture as it became time for her to come home from work. She would enter the house like an invasion, high on anticipation. She would cruise through the house like a starving barracuda, looking for him while grabbing for belts, rulers, or her large, wooden spoons. She was good at cornering him someplace he couldn’t escape, such as the front hall closet, and then would commence to releasing her rage by whipping him like a medieval sheriff, while screaming the foulest of humiliations in his face. After awhile, Reba’s evil soul had become desperately dependent upon abusing Sammy for her physical gratification. She was sick, like the worst kind of junkie. Heroin probably wasn’t as addictive.
She would assault him until exhausted, then leave him almost comatose while she retreated to her bedroom to consummate her passion most likely by ramming a huge, burning replica of Beelzebub’s phallus deep inside her poisoned body.
She was twelve years older than Sammy, and he had been a late in life mistake of a pregnancy, a secret Reba had learned while eavesdropping on their parents. Sammy should have never been born, a fact Reba ground into his soul every day. Ruined her life with his unwanted presence. Called him an abomination. Sammy had looked up the definition of abomination in Webster’s Dictionary when he got older, and had figured out who the abomination really was, and fantasized about escape. Fear kept the fantasy from being converted into a reality, and the years passed as they advanced into middle age.
By the age of fifty-two, Sammy had managed to hide two thousand dollars of minimum wage earnings from Reba, from his night job of manning the security gate at the hospital emergency room checking ID’s. Reba refused to let him be a total dependent, often stating she should be charging him rent even though she had become almost wealthy running their parent’s business. She sequestered most of his earnings, leaving him just enough money for junk food, thrift store clothes, and an old vehicle, but he saved his nickels and dimes, and occasional dollars, planning an undated future escape. He owned a seventeen year old pickup truck in good condition that could tote his five hundred and forty-seven pound body to work, and finally one day figured he had enough money to flee Reba’s house of horrors, and left Ohio, westbound after his night shift ended on a glorious spring morning that felt like an omen for a rebirth. Without a known destination, he had worked his way southwest hoping to find a town at least a thousand miles away, where it never got bitter cold, and was unknown to anyone from Sandusky. His journey ended in Deming, a town that fit his idea of a sanctuary perfectly. Reba had often threatened him with serious punishment if he ever left. Track him down like a bounty hunter. Probably wouldn’t make it any further than Columbus anyway.
After five years in Deming, Sammy had lost over three hundred pounds, and after shedding his extra layers, he found a fairly good looking man hiding underneath all of that fat. He still had a full measure of brown hair , his teeth were in good condition, his brown eyes needed no eyewear, and all of his appendages still worked. He had found, and kept a job with the school district, made some real friends, and had started dating, which culminated finally in a serious romance with a lady from El Paso who had escaped a train wreck of a marriage in Dallas, and had fallen in love with Sammy’s tragic, and gentle spirit. He had found true happiness in life, and as he stared out at his retreating sister, he resolved that there was no way he was letting Reba take it from him. No damn way!
“Hey, Sam! You okay over there?” Donna, the weathered, aging blonde attendant was staring at him. He went by Sam in Deming, but still thought of himself as Sammy. Hadn’t broken the habit. Not yet.
Sammy spun around, pulled out of his memories by her voice, and replied, “Yeah. Yeah, sure Donna. Just got caught up in some memories. Thought I saw someone I used to know.”
Donna smiled, and said, “Well, it must have been some real good memories. An old girlfriend maybe? Anyway, it took me three heys to get your attention.”
“If only you knew, Donna,” he said to himself. Anything but good, and for damn sure not an old girlfriend. He didn’t even think of Reba as a girl. Evil monsters are gender neutral.
“Well, your machines are finished. Just wanted you to know.”
“Thanks, Donna.” Sammy smiled back at her. “I need to wrap it up here. Got stuff to do.”
He quickly moved his clothes to a couple dryers, and shoved some quarters into them. He suddenly realized that he needed to keep track of Reba. Find out where she was staying.
“Hey, Donna. Do you mind if I run a quick errand I forgot about while my clothes dry?”
“No problem, sweetie. I’ll stick ‘em in your basket if they get done before you get back,” she replied.
“Your a doll,” he complimented.
Sammy threw on his coat and hat as he scurried across the street, and wove his way through the desert willows, ocotillo, and barrel cactuses that had been planted along the boulevard. Reba was almost out of sight, and he stepped his pace up to a trot. He got just close enough to keep her in view, and prayed to God he was bundled up enough to disguise himself if she pulled a sudden turn around. At least he was way thinner than she would remember. He trailed her to a motel near the freeway, and watched her disappear through the entrance. He wondered what she was driving. At least he knew where she was staying, a valuable piece of information to have. Probably getting aroused thinking about the torturing she would be dishing out soon, and the ensuing rapture. Sammy wondered what she had been using for pleasure during his five year absence.
He knew how much pleasure Reba had felt while abusing him. He had heard her many times thrashing around her bedroom carrying on like a lioness in heat afterwards. Often, he would lie on the floor after a brutal beating, and listen to her moaning, and howling, her voice rising like summer heat until she shrieked like a banshee, over and over, praying her ecstasy would overpower her heart, and kill her.
The most hardened souls of humanity would have recoiled from the depravity of her gratification, which sounded to Sammy like the entire underworld was screaming out their eternal agony. Damn, it was scary! Reba had successfully figured out how to convert evil into the pleasure of orgasm, a truly deadly power. Everyone needed to figure out how to orgasm, and Reba had sold her soul to Satan in order to obtain it. She became more hideous with every climax. Her perversion was obvious in her green eyes when you looked at their burning intensity, and the permanent sneer that shaped her lips, and the way her nostrils quivered with hatred of all things living, and the slight tremor of her entire head. Her left eye spiraled like a striped pinwheel when she was peaking. Made her really look crazy.
By the time he was in his teens, Sammy had become taller than Reba by six inches. Reba was an inch over five feet, small even for a woman, but her diabolical force made her appear huge to Sammy. She had effectively dominated him through years of abuse, and he feared her more than anything the movies could produce. Reba was smart enough to realize that she could no longer abuse Sammy physically, so she ratcheted up the emotional abuse into mental pain that was the equivalent to being skinned alive. She would corner him, and scream sexual tirades in his face, coating it with her rancid breath, while detailing how worthless he was as a grotesque, fat, sexless male, in possession of useless genitals that she considered slashing off his corpulent groin some night when he was sleeping, and stuff them into his pork face like an old west Comanche Indian, and all while feverishly rubbing the fabric covering her damp, greasy crotch until she screamed in rapture, her features indescribable as she bared her teeth, spraying saliva all over Sammy as he sat pinned by fear in front of her, his brain recording images that would remain with him until death. It was these images that were racing through his mind as he followed her down the street.
After five years in Deming, his driver’s license had come up for renewal, and he had been forced to change his license to New Mexico, and now here she was, in town, a few months later. He had been so careful to stay off as many public records as possible, but he hadn’t been able to avoid the license change. He had obsessively reasoned with himself that she surely must have given up looking for him by now, while at the same time living with the underlying dread that she would never give up until she found him, and killed him. She was the devil to him, and he feared her presence more than any underbelly creature.
He hurried back to the laundry to grab his clothes, and truck. As he rushed through the entrance, Donna was staring at him with concern.
“You alright, Sam?” She was worried. “Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Sammy tried to act cool. “No worries, Donna. I’m just running behind. Thanks for putting my clothes in the basket.”
“No problem, my dear,” she replied with a smile. “Take care of yourself.” She had known Sammy since he first showed up in Deming, and had pegged him for another damaged soul hiding out in the desert. The town was full of these desert stowaways, including herself. She and Sammy were buddies.
“You betcha,” Sammy called out over his shoulder as he rushed out to his truck. He threw his clothes into the cab, and threw a little crumbling asphalt around as he left the parking lot.
He sped out to the bungalow he rented for cash from an old man, Carl, who loved to garden. The bungalow was a small mother-in-law cottage with two bedrooms on the same lot, but back in the corner. Sammy had his own driveway. Carl always planted flowers everywhere. The property was down one of the county roads outside of town next to a pecan orchard. Since his rent included utilities, there had been no record of where he lived until the new driver’s license, and now Reba must know herself. He had to kill her. He was even afraid to sleep in his own house now as he was certain she would find some way to silently worm her way inside in the middle of the night, and consummate her promises of castration, and death. His imagination was deservedly vivid.
He rushed inside, dumped his laundry on the bed, grabbed his Glock 17TB with the suppressor, and a box of shells. He had purchased the gun cold from a buddy at work. No big deal on the border. He had a six inch lock blade, a baseball bat, and a folding tree trimming saw as well. He jumped back into his truck, and shot back towards town. Reba had described to him in graphic detail how she would saw off his balls with a rusted, dull knife before slitting his throat from ear to ear if he ever ran, and she found him, and he believed her.
His plan was simply to get to her first. Kill her, and be done with it. Kill or be killed. This had been his contingency plan all along. He just needed to be able to alibi himself since the detectives would surely link their names together. Shirley wasn’t a common name, and the police could now easily find him with his license. He had desperately wanted to remain anonymous, but how can you live without a driver’s license? Not very well. Plus, his work required him to drive while on the job.
His best friend, Little Sam, was the only person in Deming that knew about his sister. His girlfriend didn’t even know. There were three other Sams where Sammy worked. Sammy was called Big Sam, and Little Sam was a small Latino man, and had become like a brother to Sammy. The only person Sammy called family.
Sammy, and Little Sam had developed alibis several years back which was simply to tell any inquiring police that they had been together at the time of Reba’s murder. Depending on when it happened, maybe they would have been out in the desert hunting, or maybe working on a car together. Whatever maybe fit the timing the best.
His hands trembled as he dialed up Little Sam. Man, he was scared. No texts, no voicemails, no record.
“Please, God, please. Have him answer his phone,” Sammy prayed.
They usually talked on the phone every day at least once, so nothing out of place over a phone call or two.
The first ring ended, then the second ring. The third ring went by.Sammy was breaking the speed limit, fueled by adrenaline. He was sweating in spite of the cool weather. His stomach was knotted up like a stuck hairball in a cat’s gut. The fourth ring passed by, and the fifth ring started. Sammy felt like throwing up.
“Hey, bro. Buenos dias,” Little Sam answered cheerily. He loved Sammy like the big brother he had never had, and was always glad to hear from him. “How you doin’ amigo?”
“Not doin’ good at all,” Sammy shouted. “She found me!”
Little Sam’s end was silent for a couple seconds then said, ”You mean Reba?”
“That’s exactly what I mean. Reba.” Sammy sounded like he was choking on a hot chili pepper.
“Okay, man, stay cool,” Little Sam replied. “You goin’ into action?”
“Hell yes I’m going into action,” Sammy yelled. “It’s her or me. You know what she’ll do to me. She’s at the motel north of the laundromat. I saw her out the window, and followed her there!”
“You sure it’s her, hermano?” Little Sam asked. “Did you see her face?”
“Didn’t have to. I recognized her coat, and scarf she always wears, and no one else I’ve ever seen walks like her. She walks like a hunchbacked crab with a gimpy leg.” Sammy stated. “It’s her for sure. She’s out huntin’ for me. It was the new license.”
Little Sam said nothing in reply for a long while.
“You still there, dude?” Sammy quizzed.
“Yeah, I’m still here bro,” Little Sam worriedly replied. “You sure you need to do this? What if she came here to make amends? People can change, you know. Hell, man, my uncle was a drunk bastard for years, and during his rehab, and AA, he did some kind of step thing, and went around several states doin’ this step thing for everyone he could think of that he had hurt while drunk. It took months. Some kind of twelve steps I think. Maybe like an Indian apology dance or somethin’.”
There was silence at the other end, and finally Sammy replied, “Reba doesn’t drink.”
Little Sam said worriedly, “Okay, bro. You know what your doin’.”
“Thanks, dude,” Sammy replied gratefully. “I’ll be careful, and Sam?”
“Reba’s not here to do any twelve step Indian dance. Take care, brother.”
“You too, bro.” Little Sam felt his blood run cold. Sammy had told him everything about Reba.
Sammy hung up, and headed for the motel. He had traded the truck he left Ohio in on a different truck with a shady dealer in Las Cruces that hadn’t looked too closely at Sammy’s ID, and didn’t say one word about the slightly altered name on the paperwork he filed with Motor Vehicle which allowed Sammy to renew his tags every year by mail, and kept his real name hidden from Reba, which allowed him some sense of safety, and allowed him to stake her out without fear of her spotting him by his vehicle. Wasn’t life grand?
Along about five-thirty, darkness was descending upon the town, and Reba suddenly came out of the motel, and scurried towards the fast food joint two blocks northwest, next to I-10. Even demons like cheeseburgers. The desert night in late November was already cold, and the gusty wind made it colder. Reba was bundled up like earlier, and had pulled a knit hat over her head, but Sammy had no problem spotting her. Her peculiar hip twisting shuffle was radically unique. She just walked weird.
Sammy jumped out of his truck he had parked in a strip mall parking lot that was about half full, which he was counting on to obscure his own vehicle. His truck was one of many white vehicles found everywhere. Hell, there were a dozen in this lot. His heart was pounding like a ninety pound jackhammer as he trailed behind her.
“This is it!” he shouted to himself. “Heeere’s Johnny!”
He was tripping on power juice as he watched Reba enter the restaurant. He faded into the nightshade of a building across the street, and forced himself to stand perfectly still. His wait was short. Reba came back outside clutching a bag, and quickly started to trace her way back to the motel.
“Just like her,” Sammy thought. “Too damn mean to enjoy eating around company.” He was fixing to do the world a favor by blowing this devil bitch’s brains out.
Suddenly, she darted east right into an alley that she must have figured would dump her out directly in front of her motel which would save her a couple of cold minutes.
“Holy Mother of God!” Sammy exclaimed to himself. “How lucky can a guy get?” His plan was to dash up to her, blow her head off, and disappear into darkness before anyone could begin to understand what had happened, and the alley was an assassin’s gift from God. Killing the devil.
He had worn running shoes, and with the wind blowing, and the background noise from the street, Reba never heard him enter the alley, walking fast. The alley was dark as a cave, and Sammy in his dark clothing, and black, knit cap that covered his face, was invisible the second he breached the entrance.
He knew he had less than a minute to kill her, and he rushed up behind her, pulling the Glock out of his waistband. He wanted to be right up on her before shooting. No misses. Thirty feet, then twenty feet, and he was aiming at her head. Ten more feet, and it was bye, bye Reba. The sound of the wind had diminished the further they moved into the sheltered corridor, but his ears were filled with the gale force of blood hammering around his brain. He felt like he was in slow motion, like a dream where he was chasing after someone, but never quite able to catch up to them. He was going to finish this chase though. Three...two...one, and…
Three quarters of the waxing, gibbous moon was brilliantly illuminated in the ink black sky, after rising above the desert town in mid-afternoon. The blazing light lanced down into the alley between two buildings just as Reba stepped between them. It lit her up like it was high noon. Suddenly, she sensed the danger behind her, and as she spun around Sammy looked directly into her face. Goodbye, Reba. Say hello to El Diablo.
The Glock was centered on her head, and the silencer was inches from her nose. He was wrapping his finger around the triggers, starting his squeeze that would send Reba straight to hell when he jerked sideways in the nano second he had left before blowing half her head off. Her terrified eyes had opened up like the blue morning glories Carl planted along the chain link fences, and she was probably younger than forty.
The Glock spat out three bullets instantly just centimeters to the left of her head, hitting instead the backside of a cinder block wall, and ending up who knows where. Sammy stumbled in shock, but recovered enough to grab the woman by her coat, and pulled her right up to his chest, and yanked her hat off. She had started screaming like nothing Sammy had ever heard before, but he had to find out for sure that she wasn’t Reba. Maybe the moonlight had distorted her eye color. The screaming woman began sobbing, choking, and spraying spit everywhere. Her bladder had released, and her jeans were soaked with terror stained urine.
Sammy was experiencing his own mega rush of horror as he realized he had almost murdered an innocent person. He flung her backwards in fear after looking her directly in the face, and involuntarily swore profanely. He then grabbed her again for a final inspection. He had to be a hundred and ten percent sure. In spite of all the snot, saliva, and matted hair all over her face, Sammy could see beyond a doubt this wasn’t Reba.
“Thought you were someone else!” he roared.
The paralytic woman could only mumble as her fright drove tears uncontrollably down her face. She had sunk to her knees, and was gagging on the bile she had vomited.
“I’m sorry lady. You’re not who I thought you were,” Sammy apologized. He was still shouting and shaking with fear himself. “Your okay now. Just go back to your room, and stay there until morning!”
Sammy spun around and left the alley walking as fast as he could. His fear was telling him to run like the wind, but figured he would only draw attention to himself. Surely someone heard her wretched screaming, and the police would most likely be showing up any minute, expecting a rape victim. He needed to be gone from the alley, now. If he could escape without being seen, then there would be no way to trace him. She had never seen his face. He had left no fingerprints, but he still couldn’t stop his guts from twisting, and he needed a toilet since he had practically scared the shit out of himself. No time to stop now, though.
He passed by no one on the way back to his truck, and he made himself casually drive out of the parking lot. He wrestled down his peaking emotions, and headed home. He never did hear sirens. He stumbled through the door, rushed the bathroom, then fell into bed, barely removing his clothes, and crashing like a shot down fighter jet.
He was torn out of a fractured, troubled sleep the next morning by someone pounding on his front door. He came back to consciousness slowly as if drugged. Remnants of tormented dreams were lingering in his head. He sat up in bed suddenly, completely awake, and full of panic.
The sheriffs must have traced him down. They had their ways. He just knew he was going to jail for attempted murder. No one ever pounded on his door on a Saturday morning, or any morning. He thought about pretending he wasn’t home, but figured they would bust in with a search warrant, anyway, so he decided to face the music. Burdened with the need to pee, he went to meet his fate first. No sense in having the cops ruin a good door. That would upset Carl. He’d just have to hold it, and hope they would let him go pee before cuffing him. The pounding was getting louder.
“Hang on,” he shouted. “Hang on! I’m comin’.”
He opened the door with dread. Little Sam was standing on his porch holding a handful of envelopes, grinning.
“Hey, amigo, did I scare you? What’s up hermano?” he chuckled as if he did this every day. “Got your mail. How long’s it been since you checked your box? I guess everything went okay last night since I never heard from you.”
Sammy was dizzy with relief before sputtering, “Days. God Almighty! I thought you were the cops.”
“Did you pop her?” Little Sam asked. “Were we hunting coyotes, or did you break down in the desert?”
“Man, do I have a story to tell you,” Sammy replied. “But first, I really gotta’ take a leak.”
“No problem, bro, I’ll put the coffee on.”
“Yeah, make a whole damn pot,” Sammy yelled over his shoulder. “Have I got one hell of a tale to tell you.”
Two pots later, they finally finished up with Sammy’s story, and Sammy was glancing through his mail.
The return address on a legal sized envelope jumped out at him. It was from a law firm back in Sandusky. He held it up to the light with curiosity.
“Somethin’ special, hermano?” Little Sam inquired.
“Yeah, I think it is,” Sammy muttered. “It’s from an attorney back home.”
“Well, open it up. Let’s see what it says. Maybe it’s good news.”
“Yeah, right,” Sammy replied sarcastically. “Nothing good ever came out of Sandusky, except me leaving.”
Sammy opened the envelope and unfolded the typed, three paged letter. As he scanned it, his face began to show amazement.
Intrigued, Little Sam asked, “What it’s say dude? Read it out loud.”
“Man, I can hardly believe this shit!” Sammy’s mouth had unconsciously dropped open, and his eyes looked like saucers.
“Come on, man! Don’t be stingy. What’s it say?”
“Okay. okay, hang on,” Sammy said. “It says, Dear Mr. Samuel E. Shirley. After several attempts to locate you, your address finally showed up during a recent DMV database search. This letter is to inform you that your sister, Reba Shirley, sadly passed away last year on December 21st. As her sole heir, it is of the utmost importance that you contact our office as soon as possible so that we may proceed with the completion of the settlement of her estate which she left entirely to you minus legal fees, taxes, etc., and exceeds a monetary value of over two million…”
Author Notes: This is a story for mature audiences only. By choosing to read this story you verify that you are 18 or older. Paul Farin 2019