Lance

 

It was a desolate place. One of many. Uninspiring, unkempt. A woman, long grey hair clinging desperately to the back of her sweat soaked Miami Dolphins T-shirt, passed him without so much as a glance. Why bother? He was one of a thousand. She’d seen his type before, a man without purpose waiting for the grey dog to whisk him away. And besides...It was hot out. Shuffling her massive frame to the store for smokes was difficult enough in these unbearable mid summer temperatures. She crossed his path without incident - the whole affair took less than 10 seconds.

 

Lance was struggling in the heat too. He shuffled uncomfortably, checked his watch, looked despondently at the crumpled packet of smokes he'd pulled from his pocket. Two left, he'd have to be careful. It wasn’t the first time he'd had to ration his remaining darts. It wouldn’t be the last. He pulled one out, inspected it, put it in his mouth and let it dangle lazily while he fumbled for a lighter.

 

 

'Snick.... snick.... snick’, he got it on the third attempt. The flame stood straight up. Not even a breath of wind to shoo away the warm air that clawed at his breath and turned his lips bone dry. The end glowed, he took a long deep drag, let the smoke settle in his lungs then slowly expelled. The familiar rush of nicotine hit him immediately, he stared at the patch of straggly, dry grass fighting its way through the broken pavement. Someone should pull that out. Throw gas on it. Destroy it. How dare nature try and establish itself here. This was no place for her. It was no place for anything. No place nowhere, population nobody.

 

Where the hell was this bus?

 

THE BUS

 

Geoffrey looked at his fathers watch. The one he wore for 6 years, up his ass, in order to keep it safe from the grubby little hands of his Vietnamese gaolers. He was Right on schedule. He smiled to himself, he took pride in his work. Toil was the second most important thing in his life. The first was his daughter, though he saw less and less of her these days. She’d moved cross-country with her mother, it might as well have been the other side of the world.

 

Next exit 2 miles, his exit. He looked into the rear view mirror, studied his passengers. An eclectic assortment of human excrement. The fat guy in the front seat was snoring, his fat mouth wide open. He resembled a pale toad lounging on a leather trim lilly pad. Most everyone else was staring out the window watching the passing countryside with little to no interest. Waiting, cigarettes and lighters in clammy hand, ready to jump off at the next stop and suck down some fresh air. It was all too easy to remain despondent during long trips. The scene was forever changing. a stand of trees was interesting purely because it was there, something to look at, but of course, as it passed from view it was immediately forgotten.

 

Geoffrey took the exit with practiced ease. A long, sweeping, right-hander. He eased his charge to a halt at the stop sign, looked left, right then left again. Nothing coming. He crept forward, engaged second and was off.

 

ALL ABOARD

 

The Greyhound bus hove into view, shimmering in the sunlight. To Lance it was salvation. He sucked down the last of his smoke, threw it to the pavement and killed it with a swift kick. He scratched an itch, flicked at a hovering gnat, bent down and picked up his swag.

 

The bus came to a stop, air brakes hissing angrily, all eyes on him. All hoping he wouldn’t choose them to sit next to. He looked rough and personal space was at a premium. They'd give it up but they didn’t have to be happy about it.

 

The door swung open and Geoffrey swung down.

 

'Howdy'

 

Lance disliked him immediately. He looked like the type who'd give up his lunch without a fight then run off to tell the teacher.

 

'Alright.'

 

'You're off to Mauriceberg?" - It said it right there on the ticket

 

'Yeah, It's right there on the ticket'

 

'Anything to stow?'

 

'No'

 

Geoffrey motioned for him to board. 'After you.'

 

Lance climbed the steps. The eyes which had been fixed on him as the bus pulled up now looked anywhere but. Typical. Lance took a seat next to the toad, stuffed his bag between his legs and stared straight ahead. The toad let out a low, rumbling fart, snorted and shuffled in his seat. He didn’t wake up. Lance looked at him. The bus pulled out.

 

THE RIDE

 

The events which had led to Lance being stuck next to the sweaty toad were almost as unpleasant as the sickly sweet stench that emanated from him. Things had gone downhill quickly. One minute he'd been sipping beers on the porch with a stranger he'd met at a motorcycle rally the day before. Next minute, awfulness beyond all belief. Lance didn’t ride anymore, he couldn’t afford a bike. But he loved them. The smell of them, the sound, the feeling of the tarmac under his toes. It had been a few years since he'd felt that freedom. The joint had accounted for that. He'd done his time and this was the best he could do for now.

 

Alan had approached him as he waited in line at the beer tent. Conversation came easy. It usually did at these events. Why would you be there if you didn’t have at least some level of knowledge and experience? They talked long into the night. Two individuals in a marriage of convenience, both searching for some form of human contact. Everything had been going well, until Lance woke up on the floor... He knew straight away what had happened. He'd taken his fair share of illicit substance in his time. He'd been in prison showers. He recognised the bitter, metallic taste in his mouth. He hadn’t accepted it straight away, but it had happened. It isn’t the sort of realisiation anyone wants to wake up to, should ever have to wake up to. But there it was, a dull throb in his anus, the taste of chemicals in his mouth. He'd been bushwhacked. Rage settled in like early morning drizzle. Where the fuck was Alan.... That disgusting pig beast had raped him. Lance wasn’t letting this slide, not again. He stood up slowly. His head hurt, his ass stung, his pride wept. There was only one thing left to do.

 

THE BIG PAYBACK

 

Alan lay asleep in the back room of his trailer. He slept the contented post coital sleep one is bound to achieve after a long night of non-consensual buggery. His tiny slug hung limp, well used and certainly unaware of the ball of rage and retribution storming down the hallway towards him.

 

Lance kicked the door open and before Alan knew what was happening lance was upon him. 'You sick motherfucker!'. Lance had now lost all control, who could blame him...

 

He lunged and brought his tattooed fist down onto the bridge of Alan’s nose with a force that shattered the cartilage and brought forth the sickening realisation for Alan that his good time rape caper had backfired. It was a morning of realisation for both men - only one would live to brood upon it that afternoon.

 

THE ESCAPE

 

Lance didn’t mess around. He beat Alan to death with his fists and anything that came to hand at the time. A lamp, a die cast model airplane, his boot. But mainly his fists. The room was completely destroyed. Alan never stood a chance. Never had a chance to fight back. He died without dignity at the hands of his enraged rape victim. It was the only form of justice Lance knew. A methodical beating meted out without a shred of remorse. There was blood everywhere, Alan’s slug remained asleep through the entire sickening spectacle. Never again would it experience the wonders of the flesh.

 

Lance gathered his things and left quickly, without so much as a glance back. He wasn’t sorry for what he'd done, he didn’t even feel sorry for himself. Alan wouldn’t be discovered for days, he'd already got away with it. It was an unnaturally reassuring feeling. Lance hobbled to the bus station, purchased a ticket under a fake name and settled in for the wait. Now, here he was. Sat on a crowded bus with a group of people who had no idea of the sickening events of the last 24 hours. No idea there was an unremorseful killer in their midst. No idea at all.

 

Lance took one last look at the toad. He'd shifted his bulk slightly to allow his enormous head to rest on the vibrating window. His chin jiggled uncontrollably. It was a hideous sight. Lance stared straight ahead, closed his eyes and drifted into an uncomfortable sleep.