Bedtime Stories . One Man's World . The Mispronouncer . Downloads . Support
HUGEPOP!!!Bedtime StoriesOne Man's WorldThe Mispronouncer

Revenge Adjacent Part I

 Part I


               It had been a nice afternoon at the park, but then, as Etna folded her blanket and stowed it in the trunk of her car, a red-faced man in a suit sprinted past, clambered into a truck parked three spots down from Etna, and roared away. “Wow,” Etna said to herself. “Somebody’s in a hurry.” She climbed into her driver’s seat, turned the key in the ignition, and cranked the air conditioning, adjusting the vents to the perfect angles for her current posture. She was about to shift into reverse when a violent rapping on her window made her cry out.

               “Please!” shouted a wild-haired woman in her early 30s. Her eyes were wild too, and red, and watery. “I need your car!” Before Etna could respond, the woman had tried the door handle, found it unlocked, and was now pulling at Etna’s shoulder. “You have to let me use your car! He’s getting away!”

               “Who is?” asked Etna, trying to shrug off the woman’s grasping fingers. “That man who ran by here?”

               “Yes!” said the woman. “He’s getting away!”

               “Well, but, no,” said Etna. She tried to push the woman back so she could pull the door closed, but the woman wasn’t having it. “Use your own car,” said Etna.

               “There’s no time for this,” said the woman, her tone abruptly changing. She reached across Etna’s body, grabbed her by the opposite shoulder, and dragged her out of the car with surprising ease. Etna tried to hold onto the steering wheel, but the woman broke her grip with a swift little chop to her wrist, then gave Etna a shove that sent her sprawling into the adjacent empty parking space. The woman slid into the driver's seat of Etna’s car and slammed the door. Etna scrambled to her feet and shouted “Help!” as she watched her car back out and take off, swerving through the parking lot with reckless disregard for the safety of anyone or anything.

               Etna looked around to see if anyone had responded to her cry for help, not that their assistance would do any good now. A shirtless man wearing shorts low enough on his hips to reveal the top third of his garish green boxer shorts stood next to a garbage can under a nearby tree.

               “Did you see that?” asked Etna

               “Yeah,” said the man. He scratched his hairy chest. “She wants revenge.”

               “Who does?” asked Etna.

               “That lady who you loaned your car to,” said the man. “Her name’s Delilah.”

               “I didn’t loan her my car,” said Etna. “She took it! Didn’t you see?”

               “I saw everything,” said the man. “I thought you seemed mostly willing, but maybe just a little hesitant at the end, but by then it was too late to back out of the agreement.”

               “There was no agreement,” said Etna.

               “I thought it was implied,” said the man.

               “It wasn’t,” said Etna. “And I’m going to get my car back from her.”

               “When she’s done using it?” asked the man.

               “No,” said Etna. “As soon as I can.”

               “But what if she hasn’t gotten revenge on that guy yet?” asked the man.

               “I don’t care,” said Etna. “That’s her problem.”

               “That guy cheated her husband on a business deal,” said the man. “And then her husband committed suicide. So she’s been trying to get revenge on him for a while and now it’s all coming to a head.”

               “How do you know all this anyway?” asked Etna.

               “I heard them arguing,” said the man. “Over there.” He turned and pointed across the park to a dilapidated picnic shelter. “Then Delilah pulled a knife and pinned the guy against a barbecue and she was about to cut his throat when he threw this weird red dust in her eyes and she dropped the knife and screamed and he ran away and then she ran after him and he got in his truck and drove off and then you gave her your car and she drove off after him.”

               “I did not give that woman my car,” said Etna, clenching her fists. “But I will take it back.”

               “You should let her settle her business with that guy first,” said the man. “Let her do what she needs to do.”

               “What she needs to do is of no interest to me,” said Etna.

               “Don’t you think her getting vengeance on someone for making her husband commit suicide is more interesting than you regretting lending her your car?” asked the man.

               “I don’t care what’s more interesting,” said Etna. “I care about getting my car back.”

               “Well, how are you gonna do it?” asked the man.

               “I have ways,” said Etna, clenching her fists and hoping she’d think of some, or one.

               “You’re just gonna call the cops and report it stolen,” said the man. “Aren’t you?”

               Etna beheld the man, his unshirtedness, his faulty powers of observation, his sockless feet no doubt coating the interiors of his expensive sneakers in viscous foot sweat, his wallet a rectangular lump in the front pocket of his shorts, its weight pulling that region of waistband down further than the rest. Etna thought about what the Multioak police would do about her stolen car. If the woman who had stolen it was going to kill that red-faced man, then the car she stole in the process was going to be way down the list of the authority’s concerns. It would be a footnote to the larger story. Etna knew that the cops would react more or less how this man was reacting and how everyone else would react. They would be swept up in the drama of the violent revenge plot, and indifferent to the plight of the normal woman whose car got commandeered by the vengeance-seeker somewhere in the swirling middle of the madness. If there was to be any hope of the injustice perpetrated against Etna becoming and remaining important, she was going to have to be a more prominent figure in the events surrounding Delilah’s revenge as they transpired from this moment on.

               “I’m not going to call the cops,” said Etna. “I’m going to handle this myself.”

               “How?” asked the man.

               “Do you have a car I can borrow?” asked Etna.