By Chris Wilson
“Well Harry; do you think I’m dead ?. Kiss me, feel my chest, and then decide”
Harry leant forward hesitantly. Aged sixteen, kissing and touching girls, apart from Harriet, wasn’t his thing. Girls meant trouble. They often teased him, and laughed at him because of his shyness . He was scared and panicky when they came too close to him, but this was Harriet, his one true friend throughout his childhood. Harry and Harriet trusted each other. They were the same age, they knew all about each other, and such was her sexual proclivity and frequent availability; they always had a good time.
He kissed her, and slipped his hand underneath her blouse. There wasn’t much to feel as she was a tomboy, and virtually flat-chested, but it was his Harriet. It was her skin, her aroma, and her strong pulsing heartbeat beneath her ribcage. She was real, she had come back to him, and nothing else mattered.
So what if she had been sent away for treatment. So what if his dad had told him she was a rotten apple and, that for everyone’s sake, it was good she hadn’t made it. She was here, she was alive, and from the rebellious gleam in her eye she was still kicking. One kiss couldn’t hurt him, one unclasped bra wouldn’t kill him, even if she wanted a bit more besides.
“That’s right Harry; you know what’s good for you. Were true mates aren’t we? Two hands, two cuts, a drop of blood, and a life- long pact of friendship. You remember, don’t you? Here in the old barn sitting on the haystacks; and the blade you borrowed from your father? Come on Harry, let’s go the whole way!”
He closed his eyes, and dropped down on the bed of straw beside her. He remembered the blood pact of friendship between them. The knife was sharp, so sharp. A cruel gleam had been in her eyes, and the scar was still visible on his hand. Never go back into the barn, that’s what his dad had told him, when he had found the pair of them naked, but this was his Harriet. She was special, she could be trusted, so slipping of his clothes, he moved closer, and undressed her, then allowed himself to be cradled in her arms.
“Good Boy Harry, come to Momma. Hold me, kiss me, caress me, and probe me, and then lay between my thighs”
She was no Momma that he had ever encountered, but she was a fantastic lover and had a voracious appetite. He was her humble servant; a supplicant at her high altar, so, not wanting to keep his sovereign waiting, he gratefully slipped inside.
Apart from Harriet, Harry didn’t get people. He was human, like everyone else around him, although the next door neighbour seemed to be peculiar, but he always seemed to be out of synch with everyone around him.
“God loves a tryer, but not one who never gets there!”That’s what his father told him, and the family doctor.
“A text book case of Social Anxiety Disorder.” The doctor had answered, but no-one had ever spoken to him about what he was thinking or feeling, and no-one bothered to investigate what else might be going on. Let sleeping dogs lie, that was the perceived wisdom in the community, don’t stir the pot unless you have to, and what was a father to do with such a dumb arsed dimwit plowboy. That was fine, for others in the farms who were normal decent folk as his father termed them, but Harry had to talk, work, and mix with them, and he never knew how such things were done.
Only one person understood Harry, and that was Harriet. Harriet Jenkinson, only daughter of Ma and Pa Jenkinson of Clovertree Farm. A Tom Boy Hell Raiser if there was ever one, according to the local gossips. A heart breaker, a heartless tramp, and no good hussy with a, vicious temper said others, and an arrogant little madam, but as far as Harry was concerned she was just Harriet.
She was always there for him, and she was almost like a replacement mother, as his own had died during childbirth, and through her he found a degree of confidence that he had never known before. She was tough, and she had a roving eye. With a flick of her hips, and a wicked smile, she had all the guys panting after her, as well as some of the ladies, yet apart from Harry nobody was allowed near her. Through her words, actions and overall demeanour, she held everyone in the neighbourhood in the palms of her hand. That included Harry, but that didn’t bother him. He was happy to be her consort, and serve her; he was content to be controlled, and to do her bidding; so that made life so much harder when she was finally taken away.
It was the barn fire at the Jackson’s chicken farm. First degree Arson and malicious mischief, that’s what the Feds called it; or cold bloodied viciousness and spite, according to all those who said they knew her. They were wrong all wrong though. She had caused the fire with a tin of gasoline, she had barred the doors so that the chickens were roasted, and she had caused over $7,000 worth of damage; but then, according to Harriet, she had good reason.
Old man Jackson had been rude to her. He accused her of being a dirty slut, and of messing with his boy Tommy. Nobody, in Harriet’s eyes, said that to her, especially as she wasn’t interested in Tommy, so his Pa had to be taught a lesson. Harriet was a very good teacher, she made sure that people learned their lessons, so that they never had to learn them again.
She should have shown some kind of remorse though, and empathy towards the Jacksons as, before being driven away, she had stood by their side.
That was just one of several things that puzzled Harry. She openly mocked the Jacksons as they watched their life’s work burning. She laughed as they stood crying, and overstepping the bounds of common decency, she whipped open her blouse before Tommy, in a way that brought him to his knees.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet!”She contemptuously crowed to the neighbours, as they all gathered to witness her departure. ”You’re all mighty smug and clever, but I’ll be back, don’t you worry, even if I’ve got to die son’s I can do so. Think you plowboys, Henny Pennys and chicken pluckers have seen the last of me? I’ll be back to get you, and then ya’ll go down to hell”
They didn’t even incarcerate her, not in a prison anyway, and since her departure, he had no-one else to speak to. A secure hospital for the criminally insane, that’s where they put her, on his father’s evidence, and on his recommendation.
He was the one that found the gasoline can. He was the one who he had seen Harriet lighting the fire that caused the damage, and he was the one who had convinced the authorities that she was a danger to the community, and criminally insane.
Yet he lied.
He had been in the fields with Harry, when the barn burnt down, and he hadn’t seen Harriet with the petrol can, or with a box of matches. He lied to protect Harry from Harriet, and he lied to get her away from his family and the local community.
Harry was sick of his father’s lecturing, and always being right about everything, and he was tired of his father’s perpetual need for control. Such thoughts were of no use, they never achieved anything, and he watched his father triumphantly smiling, as the Fed’s van began to pull away. His father was from the old school, a devout Christian, yet a tough no nonsense farmer and a tough disciplinarian, and, arms akimbo, he seemed to view Harriet’s sealed fate with pride.
One day, thought Harry, as the van disappeared into the shimmering distance, his father would fall from grace. He would pay for his lies, his arrogance, and his holier-than-though home grown piety; and Harry hoped that he would be a front row witness when his father suffered such a fall.
That day was a long way off, for Harriet, as his father termed it, was history. She’d been presented with a one way ticket to the hell and the loony bin, as the locals termed it. Only one ticket was needed, they joked amongst themselves over a beer or a coffee; a one way ticket with no need, or any chance, of a return.
They were wrong though, despite reports of her suicide by jumping of the pathology buildings.
They had to be wrong, as how else could Harriet have called him over when he had been tidying up the farmyard, how could she have been sitting and smiling on the hay bales, and how was he now lying, exhausted, yet sexually sated, by her side.
Getting onto the roof of the Pathology block had been easy for Harriet. She had conned her way through life, and manipulated everybody throughout her childhood, yet the authorities had no right to arrest her,as the Jacksons and Harry’s father had it coming to them. She shouldn’t have been held in a hospital. She was sane, lucid and logical, and she had answered every question that the doctors put to her. Maybe she was callous and cold towards others, as one quack told her, and she certainly was manipulative, but such traits meant control and power. She revelled in such power, as she did with her with her promiscuity, or near promiscuity, when it suited her, and if circumstances prompted her to do so, she was a very good liar.
A sociopath, that’s how the panel of experts had finally described her; a malicious, self centred, exploitative, and manipulative Sociopath. A classic example, one of the panel members had told her, and one who would have to be monitored, and locked away, for a very long time.
What did they know, the fools? Her opinions were right, as was her behaviour. So many around her in life behaved like dumb beasts of burden. Such beasts had to be worked, controlled, and, when it was time slaughtered. Life had shown her that all to clearly, and the way she worked the hospital staff to her advantage, proved her point to the full. Yet it was all too easy. Staff were so stupid, so malleable, and so gullible. She was bored, she needed more of a challenge, so, very quietly, and very deliberately, she decided it was time for a change.
Now she was in a sex starved community, which seemed purpose built for her, but there was still one task to be done. She was special, she knew better than everybody else. Why not free herself from the turgid boredom of the hospital, and the even smaller minds that walked, and, at times, stalked, its cold grey characterless corridors. That meant freeing her spirit from her body, that lump bone, blood, fat and tissue that had shackled her for years, but that was on no concern to her. She could see who she wanted to if she was a spirit, , she knew exactly how to do that from the many books that she had secretly kept around her. She knew how to slip in and out of a body, or to take on a physical shape or appearance. That was going to be particularly useful, especially when reigniting a special relationship, before finally enacting her revenge.
A porter, bribed with empty promises. A lab coat, a false name badge, an in-house concert party and master key; that’s all it took to get to where she wanted. Just that, and a theatrical scream–just in case anyone was listening–as she plummeted towards the ground. It was all over very quickly. A dull thud, and a splatter of bone, brain, and tissue; and she laughed as, free of her body and perched high up on a tree branch, she observed the staff cluster around her splattered remains.
“Scrambled brain anyone? She murmured wryly.” I’m afraid you can’t have a cooked breakfast until the canteen opens in the morning, but I can do you some fresh bone, blood, and tissue on the side!”
She was free. Free from her body, free from all the regulations which, for the last year had imprisoned her, and free to enact the final part of her revenge.
“I told you, I’d be back.” She whispered, as she soared away from the hospital buildings. ”You’ll all suffer for what you did to me. Think you’re all safe, tucked away in your farms do you. I’ll show you whose boss, and who lays down the rules. I’ll be there soon my little country knuckleheads, and then my time will come”
Propping herself up on one arm, Harriet smiled grimly as she looked down at Harry. Everything was going smoothly, but she still had to complete her plan. Nobody knew they were there; and the ladder going up to the upper stories of the barn was prepared. Harry, sleeping soundly, after her skilful manipulation of his body, was lying there like a cantaloupe melon, all plump and juicy, and ripening in the sun.
She liked Harry, but she never loved him. She’d never loved anyone or anything, and death, even her own death, had been no more than a distraction, yet even as a child growing up in the Indiana wheat fields, she knew the two of them were forever intertwined. They were different from the other kids; as they didn’t fit in with the local community. Whenever she could she dragged him of too many a deserted wheat barn, where no-one bothered them. They were safe there; nobody came looking, and nobody came a-visiting or a prying, except for the occasional farm cat that came in to shelter from the rain.
She nudged Harry in his side. Poor old Harry she thought to herself indolently, such a misfit, and such a loner. Few people would miss him, and, apart from one person, one very important person, nobody would mourn for him once he had died.
“Wake up sleepy head; I’ve got a treat for you!”
Harry woke up, opened one eye, and looked at Harriet. She was fully dressed and standing before him. Her hands on her hips, and, legs slightly parted; there was a wicked sparkle in her eye. He knew that look, and that sparkle. Harriet was up to mischief. That meant trouble for somebody, but life had been so dull since her departure that, as ever, he was happy to follow her lead.
He grunted, rose to his feet and got dressed quickly, only to see her rapidly climbing up a ladder that soared high into the upper levels of the barn. Towards the top of the ladder she stopped, grinned, and looked down towards him. One hand and one foot on the rungs of the ladder, while the other hand and foot swung freely in the air. As he watched her a gust of wind swept in through the open barn doors, and her light summer skirt rose over her thighs.
“ Whoops! Pardon me. Well, I never was much of a lady? Go on Harry, try and catch me. Oh come on, what’s keeping you, you never used to be this shy!”
Shyness wasn’t the issue. He was scared of heights. It was one of the biggest barns in the neighbourhood, the ladder was old, and seemed to go on forever, and as he looked up toward the still swinging, and now singing Harriet, his stomach knotted itself into a ball.
“Cowardy cowardy Custard, can’t catch me,
I can run as fast, as fast can be,
Cowardy cowardy Custard, can’t catch me,
He, He, He He He!”
Harry was scared, but he didn’t like being called a coward, so he began to climb the ladder. Harriet moved higher up the ladder, still smiling and singing. She missed out a couple of rungs in her eagerness to escape him, and as he climbed higher a fine shower of what looked like dust, wheat flour, or, God forbid, fresh sawdust drifted down onto his knuckles and hands.
His pure white terrified knuckles, under which lay his increasingly sweaty hands.
He looked up towards Harriet; she was standing triumphantly on the upper floor of the barn. Then he looked down, a long way down to the floor of the bar, and felt a wave of acidity and vomit rising up from his stomach.
“Don’t look down Harry, keep going and look up towards me. You are nearly there now, just a few more rungs!”
Harriet’s voice drew him ever upwards. He looked up at her for reassurance. She had taken her blouse and skirt, and, during his sleep she had slipped into some sexy lingerie, thus enticing him further. Her hands on her knees, she was leaning forwards, and looking down at him. Harry returned her look with interest, and got back a come-up-and- see- me smile. So that’s my treat, he thought to himself gleefully, only a few more rungs, a kiss and a cuddle and then..
A rung snapped under his foot. As he reached out with his hand to gain purchase another rung fell away in his hand. He was falling; the ladder was crashing down on top of him. The floor of the barn rushed towards him and then…and then was nothing…for as he looked down at his still slightly twitching body, he found himself floating towards Hattie, who, now fully dressed, sat grinning and waving at him from the upper floor of the barn. #
“Look Harry, it’s your father, he’s come to see you!”
His father had come in to see him, but he was too late to do anything, except cradle Harry’s broken body in his arms.
Had he seen the ladder falling, Harry wondered, or heard the dull crump as Harry’s body smashed into the ground? Either way it didn’t matter as Harry was free of his body. No more teasing, no more lectures from his father, and no more frowns and negativity from the neighbours. Life was good, according to those who had lived and worked around him, but, for Harry, death was even better. Death meant freedom, Death meant being with Harriet, and, if recent events were anything to go by, it also meant plenty of good sex on the side. He looked towards Harriet, put an arm around her shoulder, and smiled.
She didn’t even look at him. She was only interested in his father, kneeling below her on the floor of the barn.
She grinned as he began weeping, and laughed as he cradled Harry’s body in his arms. She turned her head toward Harry, and, thumbs up towards his father, as though she were a Roman Empress, she cackled triumphantly, her raucous cruel laughter ripping through the barn.
“We’ve got him, Harry, we‘ve got him. We’ve beaten the sanctimonious bastard, just look at that little shit cry!”
They had got him, but it was his father. His father was crying, and Harry looked at Harriet with a mixture of anger, horror, and shame.
Revenge was one thing, but her laughter, and her deliberate cold hearted cruelty was another. Real men never cry and are never whipped or beaten, and crying is a sign of weakness; his father had often said to him, yet this once proud man was now crying and screaming out for his son. Rocking back and forth he talked to the still warm body, pleading in vain for his son to come back to him. His crying increased until he sobbed uncontrollably. All his love and hope for the future lay before him. He had loved his son, his one and only son, and that son now lay dead in his arms.
Harry scrambled to his feet and tried to pull away from Harriet, but she grabbed him firmly, and pulled him to her side.
“You’re going nowhere, Harry. I cut the rungs that killed you, look at the sawdust on your hands. You’re mine Harry, I own you, you’re all mine!”
She pulled out a piece of folded paper from her pocket, and, grinning wildly, she pressed the paper into his hand.
“This is your treat Harry, you always like little treats, and this one’s been with me for years for years!”
He opened up the paper. It was a first class one way ticket, just a simple one way ticket, but the name on the ticket said Harry, and the destination, very simply, said Hell.