Cutting Room Floor: Forty One Winks

Hey everybody, Flobo here!

AS you may already know by now, I write for a living. Currently it’s not the only thing I do for a living but one of these days it might. Some of my stories end up being published; some others, not so much. Here is a story I wrote for a Halloween post on my old (defunct) blog. It’s kind of violent/edgy/noirish so proceed with caution.

Forty One Winks

insomnia_sleep

I could hear the screams through the paper-thin walls of my apartment. My neighbors sounded like they were getting it on like the newlyweds that they were. I didn’t mind; there was something novel about living through a happy couple vicariously, especially since I hadn’t had an honest date in months. Still, as the big red LED display of my alarm clock beamed a time a little after four in the morning, I wished they had picked another night to get so close to each other.

I paid for it that morning at work. I came into the office a zombie, fielding customer service calls as I daydreamed about heading home early to have actual dreams. My boss must’ve felt sorry for me, as he let me off early to do just that. Stepping into the long corridor of my apartment building, admiring the twin rows of doors and the carpeted floor that joins them, I slid my key into the last door on the left, and readied myself for bed, forgoing dinner that afternoon. After taking a warm shower and putting on my most comfortable pajamas, I buried myself underneath the layers of sheets and comforters, taking a deep sigh when I reached my destination. I had just gotten into that no-man’s land between sleep and awake when I heard a moan coming from behind my bedroom wall.

“No no, not again,” I heard myself say.

The moan, which sounded female, bellowed again, this time longer than the first. I’ve heard of people who wanted to be intimate all the time, but I hardly found it normal. Even though I at first tried to ignore it, I just couldn’t get comfortable knowing that an air raid siren of pleasure was going to come through the wall again.

Then the moan became a scream.

Shooting up out of bed, I shuffled my feet into a pair of slippers and headed for the door. I was just going to go over there and ask that they tone it down, realizing that I may do nothing but anger the couple. Heading out into the hallway, I tried remembering their names, but my mind was drawing a blank. I knew the fellow was cyclist and that the lady had silver-blonde hair, but beyond that was a void in my mind where my memory had failed. No matter, I thought to myself. Any bet after I talk to them I would be their worst enemy anyway.

I stopped short when I got to their front door and realized it was ajar. This I found odd, beyond the regular general security reasons, it also didn’t much leave room for privacy. I knocked on the door as it swayed under the force of my knuckles.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Yes yes,” the voice of a woman who had obviously been crying has said. “I’m in here.”

Against my better judgment, I slowly opened the door all the way to find my neighbor, silver-blonde hair and all, tied to a chair in the middle of the living room. Her face was bruised, and the piece of cloth that hung around her neck appeared to be a gag.

“Oh my gosh,” I said, with the afternoon sun’s rays coming through her blinds and falling onto my pajamas. “Are you alright?”

“No,” she said. “You have to help me. Please untie me.”

I raced to the chair, kneeled and tried my hardest to untie the large knots that had her pinned.

“What happened?” I said. “Are you hurt?”

“You have to act fast,” she said. “He’s coming back.”

“Who?” I said.

“My husband,” she was breathing heavy now. “He did this.”

“Why would he…”

There was a large thud on the front door. Her husband stood in the doorway, with a small sledgehammer-about the size of his forearm in his right hand. He was a lot bigger than I remember—taller too—and he didn’t look particularly happy. There were long red streaks that ran down his arms. It looked like fingernail scratches.

“What are you doing?” The man said, stepping into the apartment and slamming the door behind him.

“She—she wanted my help,” I managed to say.

“No, I didn’t,” the woman shrieked. “I told him I was OK, but he wouldn’t listen.”

The man took two large steps and now towered over the both of us, causing me to stand and meet him face to face.

“She says she’s okay so you can go,” he said.

“She’s been hurt,” I said. “I’m calling the police.”

There was a brief moment of silence between the man and I as tears began to well up in the woman’s eyes. I shot a glance over to her as she whimpered, and then I felt an enormous pain in my stomach. I glanced down to see the miniature sledgehammer coming from its temporary home in my abdomen. I doubled over in pain and fell to the ground in a heap when I felt the broad side of his weapon collide with my temple.

My vision was hazy now, and I struggled to breathe. The man dropped the sledgehammer some inches away from my head. I didn’t have the energy to grab it, but I watched him untie his wife instead. When she was free, she gave him a kiss on the lips.

“That was fun babe,” she said. “Now it’s my turn to tie you up.”

I let out a wheeze as I felt the trail of blood seep down to my cheek.

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