Samantha pirouetted onto the rain-slick sidewalk, and I clumsily followed, still adjusting to the dull weight of false limb, the way it sometimes swung drunkenly if I made a sudden move. Now it slapped my hip through sweater and corduroy as I landed next to the dumpster. I hated her a little sometimes in those days, and watching her flounce across the alleyway and leap over a puddle of slush I burned with acidic envy. It made me want to push her down. Instead, I shouldered past her on the right and the warmth of her responding smile made a worthy attempt at melting the wall of ice. “You really fucked that royal.” I spat, catching up.
“I always get out before the fucking, that’s the whole point, right?” She was toying, dancing backward down the block. “Like you don’t love when I play it to the wire, gives you a chance to show off.”
“You were having a party up there. A couple more seconds and you would have had the chance to gut the guy yourself.”
“What makes you think I wouldn’t?” She backed up against the car door holding out a hand to catch the keys she expected me to throw. Her smile wasn’t as vicious as she would have liked it to be, half hidden under layers of dark hair and under her coat, the glitter of diamonds in the streetlight. This one had bought her jewelry, I’d sat in the car next to her as she’d threaded each earlobe with the smooth, dangling sapphires that were now caught up in her hair. I pulled the keys out of my pocket and faked a throw in her direction before palming them, popping open the driver’s side door.
“I know you would. You also suck at it. That mark would have been flopping around like a fish till I had to pop him anyway. At least when I do it, it’s clean.”
“Brains all over the wall like a Van Gogh, yeah, clean.” She clicked her tongue, opening the passenger side. “Where’s the trust? You just don’t love me like you used to. Is it- oh! Could it be that the student has become the master? It’s okay that you’re getting old, Alex.”
“Thirty is not old! …for anything.” I glared.
She jumped into the car, concluding; “It’s not seventeen.” Seventeen. That ended the conversation for both of us.
2. Journal page 3
I have these dreams, where I have giant, elongated arms, shaped like scythes, and I chase him down and chop him down to a torso, first an arm, then the other arm, then his legs, at the middle of the thigh. And he’s laying on the ground and still, his head turned away from me. But not dead, I know he’s not dead, you know how in dreams you just know those things? But he won’t look. And I’ve got these big useless scythe arms so I can’t do a damn thing but watch him bleed out. It’s not that I don’t care. It just doesn’t bother me so much as it should. This is how we all end up.
3. Jimmy’s story
“One of those buildings in D.C. with the scooped out rooftops, you know our boy Al, he likes his bird’s eye view when he’s lining up a shot. And it’s one of those jobs where she’s on the inside, lubricating the situation, if you understand me, and you gotta understand this guy has spent months just watching her cocktease. So when little miss pigtails hits the rooftop and she’s all, take me, it’s fucking feat that he puts up any resistance.”
“Hold on, why should he?”
“You know how little girls get about their first time, you can’t shake em after that, and her dad’s not exactly a forgiving type of guy. Why do you think he keeps her locked up inside all the time? Nobody doesn’t know that girl’s a red light item.”
“She sure as hell knows it.”
“So let me tell the story already.”
“So she’s all hands and lips and tits, because she knows how to get a guy’s motor going and this girl in particular is a master, and he’s protesting like a little bitch, but a guy can only hide his interest for so long, and as soon as she finds it, game over. He gives in, and she has her own little rodeo, right there in the dark.”
4. Ambassador Clarke
Samantha sat back in the monstrous chair and disappeared in the corner of the darkened room, then would rock forward, brunette curls catching cigar smoke up in their tendrils.
“Well, he’s making it that much more difficult for the rest of us to do our jobs…”
Each time she perched on the edge of the cushion she’d pull a face or make a rude gesture, flirting in the Russian’s direction, expressing her general distaste at being trapped in the meeting, I’d imagine.
“Nonsense, we’ve worked around men like him in years past.”
Her feet swung a solid six inches above the ground, dwarfed by the chair she chose, finding herself at home in a place in which she was only allowed to be by grace of her professed parentage.
“If the American people want an idealist for a leader, I say let them have it…hasn’t got a bit of bearing on our positions.”
“If he continues to encourage them to meddle, though…”
Her father was the man who’d taken the meeting in hand nudging his way into a position of leadership in that easy, entitled way that Americans have, only rather more stiffly. He was angling the conversation off the dull regular topic of what a ticking time-bomb his country had become to all of us. Someone green and ambitious always seemed to bring it up.
“We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it, won’t we? My God, man, we don’t assassinate presidents lightly in this country, not like we used to, anyway,” he said. I knew he meant to make a legacy of his position, as we all did to some degree. The older boy, Jeff, also illegitimate, faced execution for treason, and so in the wake of that disaster, the old chap had settled on making his little girl his heir.
“What about a scandal?”
“Never more than once a decade. Besides, that Lewinsky plot you thought up in the loo was hardly as effective as you’d hoped, sex scandals don’t work anymore.”
She was a distraction at best, good fodder for the conglomeration’s petty rumor mill. Doubtful anything would come of it in the end.
I’m still trying to figure out how we got here. Why she’s banging on my apartment door at 5am, why she knows where my apartment even is, why I answered the door, why I let her in.
“’s having one of his big all day summits at the house, he was all too happy to send me on an errand if it’d get me out of the house. He must like you, last time he sent me anywhere with just a car it was to a shrink.” She’s a pedo-wet-dream, offering a thick case file in my direction, perching on the back of the couch in oversized overhauls and pigtails, a tiny orange tee flashing what would have been a scandalous amount of midriff. She set all the rules in this game before I even knew we were playing, didn’t she? “So I was thinking, all work and no play makes Alexi a very dull boy. I’m gonna go take Ransom out on some of the riding trails, you could-” she slapped her hip and smirked. “tag along.”
“-What exactly is it you think we’re doing here?”
She blinked. “Nothing- I just-”
“You just thought things had changed, right? That’s just…typical, actually. Disappointingly typical.”
“You don’t know shit about what I thought, and excuse me for trying to get you a life for once. You obviously don’t appreciate the effort.” She shifted like clouds passing over the sun, bringing a icy breeze with her.
“I’m perfectly happy with my life just the way it is.”
“Yeah, fuck your life and fuck you too.”
“Close the door on your way out.” The door slammed behind her. Was it my fault I remembered picking a ten year old girl, half naked, out of the puddle of blood she’d slipped in? I still remembered sticky dark and wet on her feet, up her legs, her first blood, like the blood of womanhood, like maidenhead blood. And I still want to know, how’d we get from there to here?
We were smoking thin brown filterless cigarettes, huddled in a basement underneath a bar where no one spoke the language we were speaking, some place buried in the heart of Chicago. On the clock, so to speak, and I knew we should be talking shop, but these sorts of meetings always devolved into this. “She was maybe, twelve? Thirteen? They say the old man expected her to screw it up, that’s the only reason they contract the first one overseas- it’s easier to clean up a big mess over there. I wonder if maybe he just didn’t want to know a thing about it. A man raises a child and then sends her out into this stinking world knowing what it truly is; I think surely he must have hated it a little.”
The professional on my left shifted and flicked ash toward the center of the group of men. “Didn’t stop him, did it? He knew there’s only one kind of work a twelve-year-old girl is fit for in the company.”
“That was the job anyway,” I picked up again, “they sent that kid Aleksandr along, the one who she was banging on for awhile last year. Cháynik, you know, completely green, and the svóloch’ lets it get out of hand.”
“Wait, hold up, hold up, how out of hand did it get?” The thug on my right asked.
“I’m not saying the mark accomplished his goal, I’m not saying that he didn’t, either.”
“Ne goní purgú,” the professional protested.
“It’s the truth, I swear to you.”
“I heard she cried” said the thug.
“I heard she didn’t.”
7. Journal page 9
The other dream seems like it might have happened. I wonder if it couldn’t be a memory, but the doctor says it’s more likely that it’s wishful thinking. He’s probably right. If I could remember anything from when I was little, I doubt it would be gorgeous or anything. Jeffery’s there though, and we’re in the woods, not like a park but the honest to god woods, so many trees that you can’t see the end of them on one side, and we’re running deeper and deeper in. I can smell dirt and feel the branches whipping my arms.
He invents a game, running closer and closer to the bank of the brook running between us, waiting till his boots slip once in the damp soil along the edges before he darts away. The brook wanders halfway through the woods, coming up from a ground spring in the very center and ending at a lake. I can feel my much smaller boots lose traction on the ground when I mimic him, scrambling back up the bank and then daring to weave back again. It always drops off when I hear my name barked and the next thing I see is him tumbling toward the lake, falling through the air.
8. Mademoiselle DuPont
…Forgettable? No. Lord, no. You don’t forget someone like that, she was wearing Bulgari, diamonds and sapphires. Very daring for a charity event, but I suppose when you’re as young as she was… You can never tell, seems everyone’s had enough work done these days to put them back into their teens. Just a girl, officer. I had her figured soon enough though. You know the type, either she was very kind, or on the job. You know what I mean by on the job? Well, there are few reasons someone as young and beautiful would fawn on the senator the way she did. I must sound terribly jaded, but you see it all the time. Well, I say, if a girl makes the man happy, she deserves whatever she gets out of it.
9. From the Desk of Dr. Robert Novak
Subject is female, adolescent.
Suffers from several symptoms of post-traumatic stress, of which the most severe is complete memory loss before the approximate age of ten years old.
Regards self as sociopath, while highly receptive to emotion, and reflective of the feelings of those around her. At the very least her self-diagnosis might be borderline personality disorder. She spends a good portion of our sessions referring to herself in the second person. On a good day, she is gentle, and patient, if completely uncooperative with the process. I have concerns about the father, whom she has never referred to by any title other than his first name, “.” I don’t intend to speculate on their relationship, but in certain areas she is exceptionally closed off. She’ll catch herself wandering into a topic and veer off in another direction entirely. I have never met him face to face, she’s dropped off by a car at the beginning of sessions and picked up again the same way, but I did receive a particularly unpleasant phone call when I tried to seek his consent to put her through hypnosis. I can’t help but feel that he may be a major road block on her path to healing. It’s as if for some reason he doesn’t want her to remember. I’ve wandered into speculation anyhow. I’m keeping this note for my records, but I would like you to meet with her, if you don’t have any ethical concerns.
10. Gino’s story
“It was on top of one of those buildings, middle of D.C, the kind with the stairs all the way up to the roof. Well, a guy’s only gonna run with a smoking hot number like that for so long before it’s cherry poppin’ time, right?”
“I heard she cried.”
“Who’s telling the story here? Besides, can anybody really picture that the icy little bitch has functional tear-ducts? Anyway, she comes up those stairs and he just grabs her, shoving her up against that door and planting one on her like who’s-the-boss here, and she belts him across the face.”
“Like that’s some novelty, who hasn’t tried something on that broad and come up with a shiner?”
“Yeah, but he didn’t get discouraged by that, he just kept on and she was all into it, right there on the rooftop, kickin and scratchin, steaming rifle layin next to her head in case anybody should sneak up.”
“Maybe she wasn’t as pure as we thought.”
“Oh, she was, some of em just have an instinct for it. You never have to instruct a mare how to take a stallion, do ya?”
“I heard it was less instinct and more all those private lessons with the older girls.”
“Yeah, in your sweaty dreams.”
11. Journal page 16
Novak was wrong about the dream. It was longer last night, but more real than ever. We’re running through that forest, the one I want so bad, the one I sometimes even smell when I’m awake, and the trees stop, I run right up to the edge of the cliff I didn’t see on other nights, but last night, I hear the rush of water pouring from underneath that ledge and belly flopping against the rocks, and I feel the ground get hard underneath my feet. I look at Jeffery once, and throw myself over the edge, because I’m the one that’s falling, and in all those other dreams, what I’m seeing is that he throws himself after me. I hear my name and he’s diving after me, but I’m the one who fell.
12. Jane Doe
Approx. 10 yrs of age
Admitted 8am EST, with various cuts and abrasions, possible self-inflicted
Patient suffers from extreme xenophobia, only submitted to a physical examination after prolonged persuasion by one of the psych nurses.
Hospital staff had ethical complaints about subjecting patient to a SAFE kit because of her age, though there was significant physical evidence of struggle.
As of 10:04am EST, the patient was put in four-point restraints for the safety of herself and hospital staff. The doctor involved in the incident was not physically harmed.
At 4:25pm EST, patient was moved to the psychiatric wing of the hospital in response to several registered complaints by hospital staff and patients of screaming and other non-specific disturbing noise.
4:30pm EST: Primary care responsibility transferred over to Gwen Stone, PhD.
Patient is not verbally responsive, leaving myself and staff to only guess at the trauma sustained. As she has been thoroughly examined, I can conclude that it is a primarily emotional disturbance. I have scheduled a neurological exam for tomorrow AM.
11pm EST: patient has been prescribed a mild sedative.
Patient went missing between the hours of 2am and 4am EST from a locked room in which she was restrained. All hospital staff assisted in searching the grounds, and at approximately 4:45am EST, the police were called. To my knowledge, the search is ongoing.