Authors: Sandra Kitt
With praise, thanks, and love to
from whom all blessings flow.
HE DOOR WAS UNLOCKED
She knocked anyway, as was her habit. It didn’t seem the right thing to do, to walk into someone’s house just because they knew you were coming. When there was no immediate answer after the second knock, she called out quietly: “Lillian? It’s me, Dallas.”
Sometimes Lillian just didn’t hear her. Often the TV was on, or Lillian was in another part of the house. Several times she hadn’t been home at all, but she’d never leave the door unlocked if she went out.
“Lillian?” Dallas called out again softly.
In the depths of the house she could hear music. Feeling more confident, Dallas opened the door and stepped inside the mud room just off the kitchen. She never came in through the front door if she could help it, although Lillian frequently showed her out that way.
There was no pot of hot water gently bubbling in a glass kettle on the stove as usual. Lillian always made her hot chocolate, and she’d have tea. But on the kitchen counter was a little plate of biscotti. The kind that was chocolate and crunchy with sliced almonds. Dallas smiled with pleasure because Lillian had introduced her to the hard cookies when she was seven or eight. She had shown Dallas how to dip them in coffee or cocoa to soften them so that they would be easier to eat. But Dallas didn’t mind the hard texture of the baked biscotti. She picked one up and stuck it in her mouth.
She shrugged out of her jacket and draped it over the back of a kitchen chair and dropped her heavy schoolbag on the seat. She bit hard into the cookie, breaking off a piece to chew as she followed the music that was coming from the basement. The laundry room and Lillian’s sewing room were down there, too.
There was a light on, illuminating half of the stairwell. She started carefully down the steps, expecting to find Lillian standing at an ironing board, or cutting out a pattern at the sewing table, or measuring out detergent for a wash. But the room was empty. Dallas finally realized that the music was not the kind Lillian would listen to anyway. It was rock music from a CD.
Dallas bit off another piece of biscotti, her chewing distorting her words.
“Lillian … are you down here?”
She heard a sound. Something moved in the room. Instinctively she sensed she’d wandered into a trap. Warily, her gaze swept around the paneled room. A large, husky body slowly rose up from the sofa in the family room. The motion made her jump. It was Lillian and Vincent’s son.
Nicholas Marco was almost six years older and no longer a teenager. But Dallas didn’t trust him any more now than on her first encounter with him when she was seven years old and he was a strapping thirteen. She was afraid of him. She’d always been afraid of him. It was the way he had of disregarding her, of looking not at her but right through her as if she weren’t human.
Staring at him now, Dallas was speechless. It seemed like she’d spent all of her adolescence avoiding any contact with Nicholas so that there wouldn’t be a moment like this. She was a friend of his mother’s, but that wasn’t going to help her at that moment.
There was a new and different look in his eyes. Dallas could see it come over him as he stared at her. He was wearing a pair of black jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, unbuttoned to reveal his hairy chest and soft fleshy belly. He had a cigarette in his hand. No, not a cigarette. A joint. Dallas could smell the acrid tang in the air even though one of the basement windows was open. Dallas was too afraid even to chew the rest of the cookie she’d bitten off, and she tried to swallow the dry crumbs down her parched throat.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Nicholas asked.
“I … I was just looking for … Mrs. Marco,” she said, trying to keep her voice quiet and flat. Like an animal, she was sure Nicholas could smell her fear. She tried to take one tiny unnoticed step backward toward the staircase.
He stared at her thoughtfully, his narrowed gray eyes looking slowly over her as he took a deep drag, sucked, and held the smoke in his lungs.
“She ain’t here. What do you want with my mother? How come you just walk into my house? Don’t you know no better?” he asked.
Dallas took two more steps toward the stairs. Nicholas took two steps toward her. She stopped. “I … I just had something to give her …”
Dallas nodded even though it wasn’t true. It was an easier answer than anything else she might have said.
Nicholas dragged on the joint again. “I bet you come to steal stuff. I bet you go through things and my mother don’t even know. I keep tellin’ her she can’t trust any of you niggers. Just ’cause you live in the neighborhood doesn’t make you my neighbor.”
Dallas froze at his ugly words. She’d learned to just stay still when anyone started in on her, hoping they’d run out of insults and stop. To fight back made it worse, as she’d found out. She was beginning to feel hot in the low-ceilinged room, sweat making her jeans and blouse damp and sticky against her skin.
She became even more frightened because she understood the drowsy consideration in Nicholas’s eyes. She was not a little kid he could push around or ignore anymore, but a nubile fifteen-year-old. She presented a whole new range of possibilities and an opportunity.
“I’ll go home …”
Quicker than Dallas would have thought him capable, Nicholas reached out and grabbed her wrist and held tightly.
“Not so fast. As long as you’re here …” He tossed the marijuana roach into the cold fireplace and took hold of her other arm when Dallas tried to twist away.
“No. Let me go … I’ll go …” she said in a rush.
His chuckle was soundless, his voice dropping to a thick burr. “You shoulda thought of that before. You’re not suppose to be here, right?”
Dallas could see the interest perking up in his eyes. Boys in school sometimes looked at her this way.
“I have to go …” she uttered sharply, pulling herself free and running up the stairs.
She hoped that Nicholas would let her get her things and leave. She could hear his laughter behind her. In the kitchen she grabbed her jacket and canvas schoolbag. Dallas struggled with the strap of her bag and accidently toppled over a chair to the floor. She bent to pick it up but Nicholas had followed her and grabbed her from behind.
“Noooo …” she gasped in panic.
“Come on … don’t fight me,” he hissed, his strong arms locking around her. “You want it. You know you want it …”
“Let me go. Please let me go …” Dallas pleaded, twisting in his clasp. She felt his hot breath against her ear. He smelled of smoke and beer and sweat. He pressed his body against her back, and she felt something hard and stiff at her buttocks. Her recognition of his male sexual part churned her panic up even more. In the middle of her chest her heart was now beating too fast.
His hand was crudely trying to explore her body. He grabbed a breast and squeezed. “You got big tits.”
When his other hand tried to push between her legs Dallas began to fight in earnest.
” Dallas began to cry, her voice quickly rising to form a scream. He covered her mouth and her words were cut off.
! I know you’ve done this before. All you black chicks are really hot for it,” he breathed heavily into her ear.
Nicholas was slowly forcing her back to the stairwell and down to the basement. Dallas dropped her jacket, using her hands to grab a hold of the table edge, the counter, the door, as Nicholas dragged her ruthlessly, his hold across her mouth restricting her breathing. She tried beating his arms, kicking wildly with her feet, swinging her bag to hit him. Nicholas cursed through his teeth, becoming angry at her resistance. He ripped the bag from her grasp and tossed it aside, the contents sliding across the kitchen floor.
“Cut it out, you bitch!”
Together they stumbled back down the stairs to the basement. Dallas felt the fight going out of her. She couldn’t get a breath. She clawed his hand, scratching and digging, her screams shut off behind her covered mouth. The joint had made him impervious to the pain.
Suddenly Nicholas spun Dallas around and pushed her hard. She fell heavily and landed on her back on the sofa. Nicholas came down hard on top of her, momentarily knocking the rest of the air out of her lungs and causing tears of shocked surprise to stream from her eyes.
“Please,” Dallas gasped. “I … I’ll go. I … won’t come back anymore.”
Nicholas heaved and bucked his pelvis against her and Dallas again felt the presence of his hard penis between his legs. He was oblivious to everything but his own need. He tried kissing her, his tongue wet and aggressive like some sort of reptile. His hand yanked her hair, pulling it loose from the ponytail, to hold her head still. His other hand pulled up her blouse, freeing it from her jeans and causing the fabric to rip against the button closing. Then Nicholas began rubbing her groin area, squeezing her private parts as he tried to force his hand between her legs.
“I … I won’t tell.” Dallas began again pushing his chest, twisting her body to roll away. She heard her own voice trail into a whimper of helplessness. “Please don’t …”
Nicholas bucked his body upward, pulling the zipper on his jeans. “You’re fuckin’ straight you’re not going to tell anyone. My mother ain’t coming home until late tonight.” He laughed, trying to get his jeans down and hold her still at the same time. “I bet no one even knows where you are.”
Nicholas dug beneath her blouse, grabbed her bra, and yanked it up, spilling her breasts out. Dallas tried to cover her bare chest, tried to keep her legs clamped together. She tossed her head wildly to prevent him from kissing her. The pressure of Nicholas’s knee was painful and bruising as he forced her legs apart. He held her jaw and clamped his mouth over hers. Dallas tried to bite his tongue. Nicholas cried out and retaliated by backhanding her across her cheek. She lay momentarily stunned.
A door closed loudly somewhere above them.
“Anybody here? Lillian?”
Whoever had arrived started down the stairs to the basement.
Dallas whimpered and moaned.
“Who’s down here? Nick?
What the hell are you doing?
Dallas heard the surprise in the new voice. A man. Someone standing behind Nicholas whom she couldn’t see.
“Get the fuck outta here and mind your business. I’m busy …”
“Help me, help me!” Dallas twisted her head and cried hysterically. “Make him stop,
“For Christ’s sake, Nick. Let her go, man.”
“Stay out of this. We just had a little fight, that’s all.
Get outta here, will you!
Dallas got a hand free and grabbed a handful of Nicholas’s hair, pulling sharply. Nicholas bellowed.
“Let her go, Nick. Can’t you see she doesn’t want to? You’re hurting her.” The man clamped his hand on Nicholas’s shoulder. “Come on, knock it off.”
Nicholas ignored him.
knock it off!
Suddenly Dallas felt the weight of Nicholas Marco being pulled off her, and she could breathe freely again. She heard him grunt as he landed with a loud thump on the floor. He cursed violently. Dallas was too dazed to move. She drew in gulps of air. A scuffle was going on between Nicholas and the other man right next to her.
“Get outta here, you bastard!”
“Leave her alone.”
Slowly Dallas tried to sit up, the relief of being able to move making her cry even harder. She gathered the disheveled pieces of her clothing around her with shaking hands. The two young men were now engaged in an escalating fight as Nicholas tried to overcome the intruder.