This week has been a busy one for me. After having spent the weekend covering the annual Cigarfest Mega-Herf in the Poconos, I was a little overwhelmed when it came time to play internet catch up. I had to push this weeks Fiction Friday challenge, from Write Anything, off much later in the week than I prefer.

When I did finally sit down to write, I stared at the prompt wondering where to go with it. The first thought to go through my mind was a fun-loving story of a father and his young daughter. That simply wasn’t my style so I pondered on.

I wound up settling on a plot that put a wicked smile on my face, then I ran with it. I tried something a little different this time around and opted to go for less detail in regards to character building and focused on detailing one particular scene. I’m eager to hear your thoughts, so please, go right ahead and start reading.

Fiction Friday #154 – Princess

“A man aspiring to be a pro bowler loses to his young daughter.”

“Dad, it’s your turn” Kat’s voice was so sweet and innocent. What else could it be, after all, she was the perfect little eleven year old daughter. She stood next to the ball return with a ridiculous pair of rental shoes. One hand on her hip, the other playing with her golden, shoulder length, hair.

“I’m sorry hun, daddy’s mind was just wandering a bit. I’ll take my turn just after I put your score down on the card. A spare right?”

“It was a strike and you know it!” A proud smile spread across her face as she quickly shuffled across the polished floor and seated herself on the bench.

Albie rose slowly from his seat to fetch his ball. Concentrating was difficult but he knew Kat had a passion for the game, much like himself. Or did. things changed earlier in the day and he was no longer excited about the game of skill and precision. Even though he didn’t enjoy the game itself, he enjoyed being with his little princess. Seeing her just on the weekends was tough but he wasn’t about to waste a perfectly good Saturday afternoon over something that was of no danger to him.

“C’mon dad, take your shot.” Kat called to him from her seat on the wooden bench. His mind wandered yet again. It was of no danger to him but the sight was gruesome. He didn’t talk to Marvin since he was rushed to the hospital but he had a feeling the two wouldn’t become professional bowlers together. Certainly not after that stupid stunt a few hours ago.

“Dad, its simple, throw the ball. If you get anything less than a spare, I win.” Her voice was becoming shrill. So innocent on the eyes yet she had the patience of her mother.

“Sorry hun, I told you I had a rough day. Let me whoop you real quick then we can go get some ice cream. Sound good?”

“Whoop me? HA!”

Albie smiled over his shoulder, shook his thoughts free and concentrated. He took took short strides before extending his arm and releasing the ball. The was a gentle thud as it made contact with the wood and began its long journey towards the pins. Before long there was a thunderous clap as ball met pins. When the last pin dropped, he was left staring at his nemesis. A seven-ten split. Seeing those two pins left standing made his heart race. Not because he couldn’t make the shot but because Marvin couldn’t make the shot. This very same shot cost his best friend his bowling career.

“Its like their staring right at cha'” Kat giggled as she pointed out her fathers rather predicament. He shot her a sly smile before retrieving his ball and trying to pick up the spare.

In his usual rhythm, Albie took two short short strides before releasing the ball. The gentle thud of the ball turned into a roar as he was hurled into his own memories.

“Pay up Marvin. I want to see every penny of that twenty-five thousand you owe us” Jess Kittenger’s voice was calm and steady. The man had no reason to yell, Marvin was already terrified. Yelling would get him nowhere.

“You hustled me, its not fair!” Marvin’s voice was a notch higher than usual due to a sudden case of extreme panic. He let himself get caught up in the game. He knew it was a hustle but he was so sure he could beat him. “I’ve only got the five-thousand I came in with and the extra ten I won from you. You’re going to have to let me slide. Better yet, lets play again, double or nothing”. not only was his voice high pitched, It was desperate.

“That isn’t going to happen. I’m not greedy, I know a sure thing when I see one. Now pay up” his voice was so cool, like he had said that very thing a hundred times before. Maybe he had.

“I told ya Jess, I aint got it. If you won;t play again you’ll have to let me slide for a time. I’ll make good on the bet, I promise.”

“You see, I can’t do that. You came into my alley and got caught betting with money you don;t have. Not only that, but you bring your friend here to watch you mop the floor with me. He came here to see a show, then I suppose he is going to see a show” Just as the last words left his lips, two men firmly grasped Marvin by his arms and began forcing him into the back of the alley.

“I’ve got no beef with you, but you are going to watch this. After all, you did come for a show.” His hand grasped Albie’s bicep as he slowly followed the three men, one of which was begging and pleading.

Back beyond the rental shoes and disinfectant sprays, they reached a work area that was brightly lit with florescent lights. As smooth as Albie’s stride, the two men bound Marvin’s right hand into a pipe vise. The thick chain biting hard into the man’s wrist. There were more screams and pleading but they were all a blur as Jess Kittenger got down to business.

“You’ve got fifteen-thousand cash, plus your car. That rusty piece of shit Honda is worth two at best. That leaves with a difference of eight-thousand. You’ve got nothing to give me worth that much so I’m going to take what I feel is worth that much” The man was smooth, so smooth, in the way he talked. Maybe he hadn’t run into this scenario a hundred times before, maybe it was closer to a thousand. his voice was care free and so matter-of-fact when he spoke. It was frightening.

Marvin was blubbering something, but he knew it was too late. A hand grasped the back of Albie’s head and collected a fist-full of hair. “Boss says you are to watch this. Just making sure you don;t miss the show” The brute enjoyed his job, showing a row of white teeth as he smiled.

The second man held Marvin’s free arm firmly as Jess Kittenger approached. In an instant the dull blades of the tin snips bit into the flesh of Marvin’s middle finger. “So sorry, but you’ll probably need to bowl with your left hand”. The words came out slow as the man concentrated on his work. The blades stopped abruptly as they met bone. It was then that Jess began slowly turning to tool around the man’s mangled finger. The skin parted in a jagged circle as a complete cut was made. Albie felt relief wash over him as the tool was removed and Jess began inspecting his work.

“This part is going to be painful” He stabbed Marvin with the calm and collected words before grasping the man’s finger. His knuckles went white as he squeezed, Marvin screamed in pain. The scream then was mild, it became blood curdling as Jess yanked on the skin exposing raw bone. Blood flowed like a river past the severed skin and cascaded into a crimson pool on the dingy cement floor. “Fascinating but we aren’t finished yet. One more piece of business before you men can be on your way”. So calm, so smooth, like an everyday occurrence, the words passed his lips. Marvin sobbed and tears flowed down his cheeks, almost matching the pace of the blood as they both made their way to the floor.

Again blade met bone. The finger was strong, much stronger than expected. Jess’s knuckles turned white as he squeezed the tool. The bone was gouged but remained attached. using both hands now, Jess squeezed with all his might. Marvin screamed in terror, Jess screamed in pleasure. There was a sudden pop that sounded frighteningly similar to the sound of a bursting light bulb. The fingers fell away as Jess stumbled a step forward as the tin snips snapped completely shut.

Jess stepped back to show off his work. Vomit rose in the back of Albie’s throat. Fighting the reflex he swallowed it back and was rewarded with a sour burn as he gagged and gasped for air. Jess beamed with pride as Marvin’s hand remained bound in the vise. A milky white bone protruded just past the first knuckle. The cut was jagged. Horrendous. Beyond the ragged edge of the milky white bone resided the pink marow. Curiously it looked as if the bone were filled with piped in pastry filling. With nothing to hold the flexor tendon in place, it sprung back into the palm of Marvin’s hand. Under the skin of the man’s palm resided the tangled mess of tendon. The skin stretched taught over the mass. Like a miniature golf ball was placed under the skin.

“You missed! Daddy, I won!” Her words were so sweet and innocent.

“Lets go princess, lets get you that ice cream”. It was the second time that Albie would feel the slow burn of vomit course through his chest.

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