TITLE: Forget It!
GENRE: Adult Mystery/Crime
When Althea turned her back and pulled up her shirt, Mary choked off a scream.
I forced myself to not look away. The keloid scars stood bold and angry, red worms tunneling through Althea’s chestnut skin.
Red worms driven by a serrated hunting knife, forming a hakenkreuz. A swastika. A symbol of hatred, inscribed in the small of Althea Dorrell’s back. A taunt the size of a salad plate, carved – hacked, really – into her flesh.
“You can put your shirt down.” Wendy’s voice, calm, soft but commanding. A doctor counseling her patient, except that Althea wasn’t her patient, but an old friend of Mary, and thus, more recently, of Wendy.
Her face still turned toward the paneled wall of the trailer, Althea struggled to lift her shirt further. I couldn’t decide if the limitation lay in her arms, or in her willingness – her ability – to share her pain with us.
Or in Althea feeling like the subject of an interrogation. On the tired couch, alone. Mary and Wendy in wooden chairs around the small dining table, facing her. Me in a third chair, pulled away from the table, so I could see Althea, study her, with nothing between us but the ghosts of the bastards who’d attacked her, nearly killed her two years ago.
Mary whispered, “Let me help.”
Althea looked over her shoulder. Staring at her old friend. She swung around, fixed her eyes on Wendy, then focused on the stranger in the room.