Chapter 7

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The sun had begun to fade behind the oak trees, and shades hovered above the cabin. It was another night we're spending with the man. I started wondering whether Alisha really had a plan. It didn't matter to me that the man hadn't eaten in a day, but him pissing himself made me nauseous. "Hold still," Alisha said, clasping the man's hands behind his back. "Do I have to do it all myself?" That's something my father would ask me all the time. Do I have to do it all myself meant I hadn't a clue what I was doing and to go inside and help Mom bake something. That was Dad's punishment, cooking with Mom, but I didn't mind it. And he couldn't stand that. Alisha turned on the radio, and New Found Glory's One More Round blasted through the speakers. I got hyped and wanted to kick someone's ass, anyone's ass.  The words of the song resonated well with me before the fear of getting caught set in. I kept fluctuating between righteous vengeance and downright criminal behavior, which this was, I couldn't tell. "Give me a hand," Alisha said. 

"I'm trying, but this goddamn tape keeps slipping."  I wrapped it tighter around his face. It wasn't like I was used to taping a man's mouth shut -- let alone for a day. The man tried to scream, so Alisha followed through on her threat to tape his mouth shut. Only she had me tape his mouth. I figured she wanted me to get my hands dirty, so now, I'm forever part of whatever was going to happen to the man. And whatever was going to happen had to be done without a trace of us being present. We had to cover our tracks. I traced back through those old Forensic File shows, but who was I kidding? I wasn't that smart. I barely passed high school. And now, I'm trying to be a forensic scientist and career criminal at the same time. I didn't have a chance to have training on the job. I  was thrown into this life of crime. 

"It's not the tape; it's you. Stop shaking," Sarah said. "Calm down and think. Or don't think. You know what, let me do the thinking."

"I'm glad you guys find this easy." I'd felt Alisha Keagan and Sarah killed before. But they hadn't. Had they? This had to be the first time Alisha killed someone. I mean, sure, Alisha was no angel, but murder? Not even Alisha could murder someone. "Get it over with."

Alisha slapped the man's face. "This is for raping me, and this is for taking me against my will." I was still having trouble understanding why and how Alisha left with this man. She's not the type to go anywhere with a man she wasn't into. I glanced at Sarah and shrugged.

Sarah slapped his other cheek as blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. "And this is for keeping me here for a year!" Sarah's voice raised a pitch, and her jaw tightened. "A whole year."

"It was supposed to happen like this," the man said.

"I think I'd shut up if I were you," I said. "Less talking. You're only going to make them upset."

Alisha shushed me with her finger. "No, I want to hear what he has to say. Why did you do this to us?"

"I've been lonely and desperate. Desperate to touch a woman's skin. That's how all of this started. It wasn't supposed to go this far. I used to go to Carl's to meet women. I guess I scared them all away. And then, one day, I decided to take a woman. Sure, it was hard at first, but after the initial shock, I felt a euphoric high -- a high that only left me wanting more and more. I started not caring whether it was right or wrong. In fact, the line had become so blurred that nothing mattered anymore."

Sarah threw back her head and cackled. "And that's your excuse? You took us because you're lonely? Aren't we all lonely?" 

"You wanted the truth, and that's the truth," the man said. "I'm not saying it's a good excuse. But it's an excuse the man shrugged the tape of his mouth. "I couldn't take the bone-crushing loneliness."  The man looked down and away. 

I'd almost begun to feel sorry for the bastard. I knew all about loneliness and sadness and fucking rejection. But this was on a whole other level. Taking women against their will and raping them wasn't my idea of getting a good loyal woman. I couldn't believe how calmly he told us about his struggle with women. It was like a mother disappointed their child picked the wrong clothes to wear for a school yearbook picture. It wasn't void of sorrow. It was apathy dressed with self-pity. Something my father knows all too well. 

"Have you killed before?" Sarah asked. "I mean, surely you've killed someone before. You look the type."

"See what I mean," the man said, glancing at me. 

I blew out my lips. "No. I don't understand any of this," I said. "You can't just go around killing women, taking them hostage, and think you're going to get away with it."

"I knew I'd get caught. I just didn't think it'd happen like this." The man gave a half-smile. "I had no idea I'd be killed by two women and a shy guy who thinks it's been worth it as long as he gets to hang out with cute women."

"Excuse me?" I said. "You don't know anything about me."

"It's obvious," the man said. "You know I'm right. The only reason you're here is that you want to screw the redhead."

Part of me wanted to punch the man in his mouth. Who was he to tell me what I wanted in life and who I wanted to sleep with? And how was he so right?

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