Morrissey took Mickey to a steakhouse in Toledo before they made the drive back to Terre Haute.
"Thanks Cully," Mickey said. "I haven't had a steak like this in I don't know how long."
"Hey, thanks for coming over here to help me set this guy straight," Morrisey replied.
"Hell, I didn't do anything but stand around and watch," Mickey said.
"Yeh, but I felt a lot better knowing I had back up. For all we knew he could have been sitting around with a couple of his buddies, and he might have turned the cards on me. Do you think I roughed him up too much?"
"Hell no!" Mickey answered. After that shit he pulled on Penny? She had to leave Toledo to get away from the creep. Besides, there's over 200 hundred bones in the human body, and you only broke two of his. He got off easy. I think you got through to him though. So, what are you thinking about this Kieriakas woman, Cully?"
"I'm still working it out in my head. But let me ask you this, Mick. How would you like to take the wife and kids for a little vacation down to Florida? It would be on me. We could get in some fishing, like we've talked about doing."
"You want my help, Cully? Yeh, I'll come down. I got a little vacation time coming."
"I wouldn't put you in harm's way, Mick. You've got a family. But, I may need another set of eyes, or something like that," Cully said.
"Just say the word, Cully," Mickey said, as they got up to leave.
I need to think it out a little. And I need to head back to Tuscaloosa in the morning and check on the girls. Why don't I give you a call in a couple of days, and we'll see."
LONG DISTANCE CALL
Morrissey got back to his apartment a little before dawn and fell wearily across his bed. He woke up a few hours later and called the airport to book a flight. Then he made another call.
"Hello," she said.
"Evelyn? It's Cully."
"Cully! I'm so glad you called, I was worried about you."
"Oh, fuck you," Morrissey said. "You sent one of your thugs out to nail Melody. You want to explain that one to me?"
"Cully, believe me I would never hurt Melody. I love her," Evelyn answered.
"That's not the story I got from Guadamole while I was beating the shit out of him."
"I swear to you, Cully, that was some kind of misunderstanding."
"To say it was a misunderstanding is an under-statement, Evelyn. You put me on the job to find Melody. Then you go send out some jerk to try to kill her."
"Cully, darling. You're over-reacting. Guadamole was just going to make sure she came back to me."
"Oh, cut the 'darling' crap. He had her pinned to the floor in a motel room with a cocked gun to her head. You must love her a lot to make her fear for her life, Evelyn."
"What can I say, the guy has no suave. I'm sorry it ever happened."
"Well, it did happen, Evelyn. And I'm beginning to lose my own 'suave', as you put it. I've got Melody."
"Cully, please bring her to me," Evelyn said.
"We'll have to talk about that. You sent out one of your stooges and put him at cross-purposes with me. The price just went up for having to deal with such shit."
"Name it, Cully. Just tell me how much," Evelyn replied.
"I'll call you in a couple of days. The next idiot you put in my path will die in a very gruesome way. And you will never see Melody again, you got that?"
"You have my word, Cully. Where is she?"
"Do you really think I am that stupid, Evelyn?" Morrissey shouted as he hung up the phone.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Penny and Melody took a drive out into the countryside and pulled off onto a dirt road that led down to a river.
"Ok," Penny said, handing Melody a box of bullets. "Load your gun."
They both sat there loading their .38s.
"I feel like some kind of outlaw," Melody chuckled.
"We are," Penny replied. "We are mean hombres, Melody. Desperados. Come on, let's go." They walked down to the water's edge.
"Ok, Melody, Penny said. "See that guy over there?"
"What guy?" Melody asked as she looked off to where Penny was pointing.
"That beer can lying by the base of the tree."
"Oh, that guy," Melody giggled.
"Yeh. That guy. He's a real asshole, Melody. He treats women like dirt. He's like some kind of serial-rapist. We need to put him out of business. Permanently."
Melody giggled again.
"It's not funny, Melody. He raped your sister!"
"I don't have a sister," Melody said.
"Well, pretend. Now, bring your gun up slowly. Use both hands. Cup your gun hand with your other hand. Take the safety off. Now, look right down the barrel of your gun. Make sure you've got it nice and straight. Have you got a good bead on him?"
"I think so," Melody said, squinting with one eye and cocking her head. Now say real quietly, 'Eat lead, mother fucker' and take him out nice and easy."
"Eat lead, you sister fucker," Melody muttered as she pulled the trigger. The shot sent up a spray of water out in the middle of the river. "Well damn!" Melody said. "I missed."
"Yeh. You missed. And if the beer can had a gun you'd be dead right now. Look, when you pulled the trigger, you yanked on it. Your whole arm moved. You've got to lock that arm in one place. From your shoulder all the way down to your arm, its one piece of steel that doesn't move. And when you pull the trigger, just give it a nice slow steady squeeze. Try it again."
The next shot hit the dirt a few feet in front of the can.
"Much better," Penny said. Try it again. Melody took aim.
"Take this, you fucking can!" The can went flying. "I killed him! I killed him!"
"Maybe not," Penny said. "You might have just winged him. Move in nice and slow until you can see where he went." Penny sat down in the tall grass watching Melody stalking the serial rapist beer can. She stopped and took aim. She missed and looked back at Penny.
"Don't look at me," Penny said. "Keep shooting. He's going for his gun!" Melody fired off two more rounds. The second one sent the can flying out into the water.
"Keep shooting Melody! He's getting away." Melody ran down to the water's edge, as the can began drifting away.
"You fucking can!" Melody shouted, pulling the trigger again.
"I'm out of bullets!" Penny walked over to Melody and took her gun.
"Here take mine," she said handing Melody her gun. "Now shoot the son of a bitch, he's trying to swim away."
Melody took aim again at the bobbing can. She sighted down the barrel carefully and pulled off three fast rounds. The can disappeared.
"I got him Penny! I killed the son of a bitch!" Penny applauded as Melody turned to her, pretending to blow smoke off the barrel of her gun.
Penny sat down again and re-loaded the empty .38 as she watched Melody looking around for something else to kill. After giving her the opportunity to fire off a couple dozen rounds at whatever she could find, they got in the car and drove back into town.
"What do you think, Penny? Did I do ok?" Melody asked.
"Hell, you just blew away half a town back there. You're one mean bitch!" Melody laughed.
"Yeh. I am. I'm one mean bitch." She leaned over and kissed Penny on the cheek.
"Thanks, Penny." Penny glanced at her and smiled.
"Let's go get drunk and see what these 'Bama boys are all about."
"Oh yeh! Wham, Bam, thank you ma'am, Bama Boys!" Melody laughed. Penny drove on into town, glancing over at Melody now and then. She pulled into a pawn shop.
"Let's see if we can trade these 38s in for more fire power," Penny said. The girls walked in and laid their .38s on the counter. A balding man approached from the other side.
"What can I do for you, ladies?"
"We want to trade these out for a couple of 9mms, and a couple of boxes of clips."
The man looked down at the guns. He picked one up and sniffed at it.
"You didn't just kill somebody with this, did you?"
"Naw, we jus' been out pilferin' groundhogs," Penny said with a southern drawl.
"So now you're just wanting a couple of 9mms so you can kill more groundhogs faster, is that it?"
"Exactly!" Penny said placing both hands on the counter and leaning toward the man. "Do you want to do business or not?"
"Yeh sure," the man said. "It will cost you though. You can't just swap out a .38 for a 9mm."
"I wasn't born yesterday," Penny scoffed. "What have you got? We're in a hurry."
"Yeh, Melody chimed in. "We got miles to go, and promises to keep." Penny shot Melody a glance that meant shut up. They walked out a few minutes later with two 9mms and a dozen loaded clips. They jumped back into the torpedo.
"What the hell was that?" Penny said, as she fired it up.
"What was what?" Melody said.
"Miles of promises...whatever," Penny replied.
"I don't know. I read it in a poetry book. I thought it sounded cool." Penny looked over at her.
"Guys in pawn shops don't give a shit about poetry Melody." She pulled back out onto the highway. "Let's hit the strip," she said.
"Shall we?" Melody replied.
"Shall we? Don't say 'shall we'. Say Fuck, yeh!"
"Fuck, yeh," Melody laughed.
IN THE SKY
Morrissey tilted his seat back as the plane took off and left Terre Haute behind. He closed his eyes and went through scenarios in his mind. It was right about the time the seat belt light came on, that it occurred to him what the next steps needed to be. He would need Mickey, and the girls too. But it could work and be a good situation for everybody. Everybody except Evelyn Kieriakas, of course.
WELCOME HOME PARTY
Melody and Penny had a few drinks along the strip near the campus mostly giggling about the guys who kept giving them the eye. They rated the jocks from one to ten on the tightness of their jeans. Penny encouraged Melody to flirt with one of them and maybe get lucky.
"I'm not ready for it Penny. I wish I was, but right now, I feel so mixed up. I mean I want it sure, but after what I've been through right now I just cringe at the idea of a man touching me."
"I know," Penny empathized. "I've had that feeling too after Walt Thornton fucked with my life. I guess I was lucky when Cully came along."
"Cully's different," Melody said. "He may be the only man I could trust right now, that I feel safe around right now."
"You just have to give it time Melody. Cully and I both want you to put those nightmares behind you."
"You and Cully saved my life, Penny. Bonaventure would have killed me sooner or later."
"I know, Penny said. "What do you say we go back to the motel?"
Back at the motel they laid on the bed facing each other and exchanging confidences. Penny told her about how this guy had been such a plague on her existence and how she had to run away.
"And that's how I met Cully," she said. Melody smiled.
"Cully's got it for you bad."
"You think so?" Penny said.
"Oh yeh!" Melody answered with a giggle.
"I've got it bad for him too," Penny said.
"Well duh!" Melody exclaimed.
"Melody. Tell me more about Evelyn."
"At first I liked her. She made me feel good. She made me feel like I was really going to go places. Then when she got me to Palm Beach she started coming on to me."
"You mean like girl-girl love?" Penny said. Melody nodded, as she adjusted the pillow beneath her head.
"So, what did you do?" Penny asked.
"Well, at first I just sorta accepted it. Let her hold me. Kiss on me."
"But, you weren't into it?" Penny asked.
"No. I mean I've kissed girls before. But it was just playing around. Like practicing for when a boy comes along."
"Oh my god, I did that too! I was sorta worried about it though, because I sorta liked it, but I didn't want to be a lesbian."
"Me either," Melody said. They laid there smiling at each other for a long moment.
"Do you want to kiss me, Penny? You know, pretend I'm Cully?" Penny put her hand to her mouth, blushing and giggling.
"Do you want me to?"
"If you want to," Melody said.
"But you have to pretend you're kissing somebody else too."
"Ok," Melody said.
"Who? Who will you pretend I am?"
"Umm," Melody said. "Maybe one of those guys down at the bar." Penny laughed nervously. "You mean that guy in the number ten jeans?"
"Definitely," Melody answered. They slid closer to each other. Melody wrapped her arms around Penny. Their lips met lightly at first. Their hands caressed each other's face and hair. They didn't hear the key turning in the lock. Or the door swinging open.
"I'm back!" Morrissey said, as he stepped into the room. He looked over to the bed. Penny and Melody sitting bolt upright hugging the blanket to themselves. He broke into laughter. "Well" he said. "When the cat's away, the mice do play, don't they?"
"Its not what you think," Penny blurted.
"Oh really?" Morrissey said, with a smile. "What was I thinking?"
"I don't know," Penny said, buttoning her pajama top.
"I was just thinking these girls look guilty as hell about something or other."
"We were just playing around," Melody said. Morrissey laughed.
"Well, don't let me stop you, I'm going to go take a shower." He looked back at them as he headed into the bathroom. "Yes indeed. The mice do play!"
"Melody," Penny whispered as the bathroom door closed. "Go get in the other bed!"
"Sorry," Melody giggled.
"Oh my god!" Penny said, as she pushed on Melody. "Go on! Get over there!" Melody crawled under the blanket on the other bed, looking over to Penny.
"You've got nice lips," she whispered.
"So do you," Penny whispered back. "Now shut up, and go to sleep!" Melody laid her head down on the pillow and closed her eyes. She made fake snoring sounds.
"Melody, damn it!" Penny whispered loudly.
"Ok, ok," Melody said, turning to face the wall.
THE MORNING AFTER
The girls took turns freshening up in the bathroom and getting dressed. They sheepishly tried to avoid each other, suddenly self-conscious about the night before. They blamed it on the booze - that they were kissing on each other, and that Morrissey walked in and caught them by surprise. Morrissey watched the morning news on tv, pretending not to notice them, but he was inwardly amused at how child-like they both seemed. He went into the bathroom and shaved, looking about at how everything seemed now flavored and adorned by the essence of girl. Pink pajamas, last night's undies, tubes of lipstick, and wads of tissue tinted in the color of their lips. He splashed water on his face and slapped himself a couple of times thinking about how crazy life is. When he stepped out, the girls were sitting at the table by the window smoking cigarettes. He took note of their newly purchased attire. College school girls.
"Well girls, do you need daddy to take you to school now?"
"Can't we play hooky just this once?" Penny said, getting up and walking over to him. He took her hand and pulled her onto the bed.
"I guess maybe just this one time," he said, giving her a kiss. Penny sat up and looked at him.
"Did Mickey have any news about Walt?" she asked.
"Walt who?" Morrissey said.
"Did they catch him?"
"Nope," Morrissey replied.
"Crap," Penny said. "I was hoping his ass was in jail."
"Let's just say, Wally won't be going anywhere any time soon," Morrissey said with a smile.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean frankly, Wally doesn't have a leg to stand on."
"Come on, Cully," Penny said jumping on him. "Tell me." Morrissey laughed, fighting her off.
"Mick and I paid your ol' pal Wally a little visit."
"You went to Toledo?" Penny said. "Did you kill him?"
"Oh, come on Penny. You know what a soft-hearted guy I am. I just has a heart to heart talk with him.. .man to man, you know...and then...I broke both his legs."
"Hot damn!" Penny said, jumping up.
"Un-be-fucking-leivable..." Melody said quietly. Morrissey sat up.
"Wally boy is history, Penny. He knows next time I see him I'll put a bullet through his head."
"Hot damn! Hot damn!" Penny said again, jumping up and down. "Let's party!"
"We don't have time to party right now," he said. "Besides you two have been partying for two days now."
"No we haven't," Penny replied. "I've been teaching Melody self-defense. Haven't I Melody?" Melody nodded.
"Is that right?" Morrissey said, looking over at Melody.
"Yep, I'm a mean bitch now," Melody said. "Ask Penny."
"She is," Penny said. "Melody is now a certified mean bitch." Morrissey laughed and pretended to be pulling his hair out.
"I'm serious," Melody said, standing and reaching into her backpack. "Check this out." She pulled out a black Luger.
"Where in the hell did you get that?" Morrissey said, looking back and forth from Melody to Penny.
"I got one too. We decided we needed more fire power than the .38."
"Is the safety on, Melody?"
"Ok, put it away. Look," Morrissey said. "Where we're headed is going to require more than mean bitches with Lugers. We've got to think very carefully. We have to use our heads. Map this plan out very carefully."
"What plan?" Penny asked.
"The plan to pay Evelyn Kieriakas a little visit."
"Are you shitting me?" Melody said.
"Do I look like I'm shitting you?"
"Cully doesn't shit people," Penny explained. She looked over at Morrissey. "So what's the plan?" Penny asked.
"I'll get to that. First we need to go get some breakfast. Then we'll come back here and pack our bags. Somewhere between here and the Florida state line we are going to figure out how to bring Kierikas down without getting ourselves killed in the process."
THE BITTER TRUTH
Morrissey and the girls sat in a booth at the Chow House. Their plates were filled with assorted breakfast foods from the all-you-can-eat buffet. Morrissey leaned back and watched Melody and Penny sampling each other's breakfast.
"Here try this."
"Ooh, that was yummy! Take a bite of this."
"Ummmmmm...." They seemed oblivious of the fact that he was sitting there studying them, marveling at this thing called woman.
"Melody," he said. Melody looked up as though surprised he was there. "How many girls does Evelyn have?"
"You don't understand Cully. Evelyn isn't some kinda Madam of a fancy brothel. She obtains women, and sells them."
"Why don't they leave? Run away."
"To where? She takes their passports and locks them away. They have no money. No identity. They are trapped."
"How many women do you think she's sold?"
"I have no idea," Melody answered. "Dozens, maybe. When I first came to the states with her, there were four other girls living in her house. But, then one by one they disappeared and no one ever heard from them again. I know of two that showed up dead in the news. One was strangled in a hotel room. Another one was pulled out of the water by some guys in a charter boat that saw her body float by."
"Did you know those girls, Melody?" Penny asked. Melody nodded, her face falling into the sadness of the thought.
"I knew Joy really well. We were close. We shared a bedroom in Evelyn's house."
"Where did Evelyn find Joy?" Morrissey asked.
"Czechoslovakia," Melody answered. "Joy wasn't her real name. That's just what Evelyn decided to call her. Her real name was Anika. She was even younger than I was." A tear rolled slowly down Melody's cheek. She reached for the napkin on her lap. Penny scooted over in the booth and put her arm around her.
"Is your name really Melody?" Morrissey said quietly. Melody buried her face in the napkin and began to sob, shaking her head no. Penny pulled her into her arms.
"Tabine," Melody cried. "My name is Tabine." Penny caressed the back of Melody's head, her own eyes welling up. Morrissey stared over at her, his jaw tightening and grinding.
"Fuck!...FUCK!" he muttered through clenched teeth. Melody took several big faltering breaths, her face buried in Penny's hair. Penny held her tight.
"Tabine...Tabine..." she whispered.
"I'm ok," Tabine said, blowing her nose and wiping her face. She looked over at Morrissey. "I'll be ok." Morrissey reached across the table and took her hand.
"And you, Tabine?" Evelyn sold you to Bonaventure?"
"Not exactly," Tabine said, regaining her composure. "I was a gift. A bribe, you might say. I don't even know how it all went down. She slipped something in my drink that night. Next thing I know, I wake up in Vegas on the floor, with Bonaventure fucking me in the ass while his buddies filmed it."
"You know that stiletto we were practicing with the other night?" Penny said. "That's the blade I stuck in that asshole's back."
"Tabine smiled. "I wish I could have seen that."
"I buried that blade all the way to the hilt," Penny added.
"Did he scream?"
"Oh yeh. Like bloody murder." Tabine laughed.
"Did blood start spurting out like a fountain?"
"Not at first. Not until I yanked the blade out. Then it was like a geyser. Whoosh!" Penny made a grand gesture with her hands up into the air. Tabine clapped her hands together gleefully as though imagining it.
"Oh, Tabine! You've got to try this french toast!" Morrissey leaned back again watching them. Marveling. Two psychopathic college girls sharing their most intimate moments. It would make a good movie.
Morrissey went over to the pay phone at the back of the restaurant as the girls stood outside by the torpedo smoking cigarettes.
"Mickey? It's Cully. You ready for a little vacation?"
"Hell yeh," Mickey said. "What's the plan?"
"I was thinking I'd book you and the family on a Monday morning flight to St. Augustine. Would that work?"
"Sure," Mickey answered. "What's in St. Augustine?"
"Nothing but fun, Mick. Lots of nice beach for the kids to play on. You and me on the deep blue sea reeling in some big ones."
"Now you're talkin'" Mickey said. "And what about Kieriakas?"
"I'm going to take her out, Mick. We'll talk about it when I see you, ok? Look, I'll have the airlines call you with the flight information and plan to pick you all up at the airport in St. Augustine."
"I'm packing my bags already," Mickey replied.
Cully walked out and over to the girls. He had a picture in his mind. A picture of Evelyn Kieriakas. Face down. On the floor. In a pool of blood.
(Coming soon: Chapter Six, the conclusion of Nothing Comes From Nothing.)