30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 10
“Son? What son? I have no son.”
Sonia can still remember the detective’s words to the policeman and Tony’s expression. His father’s words appeared to hurt the teenage psychopath more than Marty’s stabbing had. An honest cop had learned that his son was one-half a serial-rapist team that for three years had silently wrecked young girls’ lives. They had been so successful because of their ruthless inventiveness. They warned their victims that theirs was a secret society; their number was legion, they had informed each girl. Both were lies; it was only the two of them. They threatened the girl’s siblings or parents with a similar fate or worse if they went to the police. It was a strategy that worked very well. Dutifully, not one of their victims went to the police. What they did do was visibly deflate; once outgoing, bubbly, funny, social, they all sort of receded into the background, each kept a low-profile, overnight they became meek, retiring, timid creatures.
“Work on this one, first,” Detective Ansen had said to the paramedics.
“But, your.., son?” one of them, a round-faced lady that looked 17 said, her pause spoke volumes.
He glared once, then without another word, the two paramedics shifted their attention to Marty. He’d been stabbed in the gut by Tony. It hurt a lot, and Marty was whimpering in pain.
The paramedics had only been playing the political game. Somehow word got out quickly. Tony was the serial rapist. And besides, Marty was likely going to die anyway.
But Anson’s redirection of the medical staff was an act of kindness, and it might have saved Marty’s life if it had come two minutes sooner.
It seemed everyone had a Marty story. His ability was the stuff of fairytales and movies. The number of acts that he managed that made him so famous was six. But people seized the legend and made it their own. They told versions of his saves that happened in their town, rather than one town over. The reinvented, embellished, modified, so in the end, his half dozen heroic acts ended up numbering in the dozens. Folks were hungry for a larger-than-life hero, and they projected that hunger upon Marty.
Marty could sense danger in others. He had some capacity to assign a number to the danger level a person might represent to others or, as in the case of Professor Limbaugh, themselves. Marty sensed the professor was dangerous. Being the respected, soft-spoken kid he was, when Marty barged into the principal’s office and insisted she follow him (NOW!), she temporarily acquiesced to the reversed roles and followed him to the chemistry lab.
Marty grabbed the professor’s valise, threw it open, dumped the contents on the teacher’s desk, a handgun, and a note. Marty had saved a good man’s life.
Then there was that business with the angry goth kid and his stash of guns in his locker the following year. Somehow Marty knew. Who knows how many he saved that time?
There were other stories. Each one grew through the years as it was tweaked and modified to fit the teller’s liking or preferences. Each had begun with a kernel of truth but had grown. People hated (and loved) that Marty had died on his sixth save, but they refused to let his legend die with him. So every month or two, there would be a new ‘hey-did-you-hear’ Marty story pop up.
Sonia remembers the detective then stepping to his not-my-son, Tony, stooping, cuffing the teenager, and whispering things to him. Soon the kid was howling as loudly as Marty had. The only words she could make out were “Chino” and “pedo.” Knowing Tony, he would likely protest the pedophile label, but anyone under eighteen was legally a child. And child abusers didn’t last long in Chino.
Alex, his partner, had disappeared last spring, just after Sonia and Marty had started talking. They both had heard the rumors of a rapist society. They decided to try enticing, the only one they were sure might be a member, Alex Hawk.
Months later, his body was found, bludgeoned beyond recognition, and wedged upside-down in a craggy canyon where local climbers liked to practice.
So Tony went away, Alex got off easy; that was the consensus.
She has had plastic surgery and is showing a surprising amount of cleavage for a real estate agent. She could be openly holding her silver friend, and Alex (now named Michael apparently) wouldn’t have noticed. She had asked to see his house, see if she were the right agent to move it. She insisted that for the walk-through, the house be empty, just the two of them.
Alex may have changed his name, but he was still a predator. Sonia sees that with his first glance at her. He is good; she will give him that much. Tony’s intelligence was off the charts, but he was ‘smart for his age.’ Alex had been cunning; he had a preternatural ability to smell danger.
For months before he disappeared, Tony had volunteered in the homeless shelter. He was there until he found someone who could serve as his double. No one much investigates when a homeless man disappears. But if you’re a suspected half of a rapist-ring, people tend to keep looking for you.
Alex-turned-Michael steps aside, Sonia-now-Felicia enters. He closes the door, when he turns back, she is there, in his space.
“Hey, Alex! Long time no see,” Sonia says as she discharges her sleek, silver taser into his kidneys.
Folks used to say that Alex got off easy. Especially after what happened to Tony in the showers at Chino, but in the end, it was Tony who got off easy.