Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Neighborhood Punching Bag. by Robert Ragan

The pipes were clean ready for the dirty. Skinny Cassie, the neighborhood punching bag, threw a tantrum because they couldn't get any clear.

Her boyfriend, Charles, was skin and bones too. His teeth were falling out, and his stringy hair was in desperate need of an oil change.

"That attitude is the reason them gals around the block keep whooping your ass."

It was also the reason he would hit her. No, Charles did it because he was as sorry as they get. He damn sure wouldn't hit another man.

This stuff wasn't burning good in the glass. Cassie raised hell when Charles suggested they run it on tinfoil. Neither of them expected their front door to bust wide open.

The law was screaming for them both to get on the fucking floor. Face down; Cassie had never been in trouble before so she fears her life is over.

Charles was familiar with the judicial system and asked to see a warrant.

He said to Cassie, "You're so quick to run that trap, why are you quiet as a mouse now?"

Both were incarcerated. Charles had been locked up for misdemeanors before. Those guys didn't have a lot of time left, and green clothes camps were laid back.

This trip, he was amongst the penitentiary's seasoned veterans. Scared out of his state boots, Charles was weak and frail but still tried to act hard and failed horribly. That attitude was the reason them boys whooped his ass after lights out.  

Nobody liked Charles, so he was easy prey for the commissary scavengers, even the faggots thought he was sweet. So Charles didn't have to drop the soap...NO, they would let him hold it.

This five-year sentence made Charles a bitch period.

Cassie, with no prior charges, received a shorter sentence with two years of her life stolen because of addiction. Right away the really bad bitches were already calling dibs on any commissary money she might get.

Dykes sensed fresh meat.

Every day was straight out of a scene from a women's penitentiary  B movie, only worse.

Cassie never brought her attitude with her. No, she was a quiet little mouse but was still preyed on by one particular inmate.

Big Momma Z took an interest in Cassie. She told all them other hoes, "Don't lay a finger on this one. I'm gonna make something out of her."

Cassie already had all nude fist fights in soapy shower scenes. But there was no way she could beat Momma Z. Much to her surprise, Cassie didn't have to fight with her. No, the lady didn't mean her any harm. She wanted to help her.

In the hood, Z was a ride or die chick until her boyfriend up and ran out of the trap house right before a drug raid. As a member of the household, Z went down too.

Her first year in, she would have taken advantage of Cassie. Now she wanted to take home a positive feeling when those gates finally opened outside. What better way then to take this fragile bird under her wing. Under Z's guidance, Cassie ate better, gained weight, even lifted weights.

That last year went by in a flash. The girl was bench pressing 250 right before she was released.

The night before she got out, Cassie and Momma Z both sat and got pick and poke prison tattoos. Cassie not only had new muscles, but she also had new hope and a better outlook on life. She didn't need drugs to go through the beginning of this.

Now she could face anything in her right mind.

Free and back in town Cassie wasn't the neighborhood punching bag anymore. She stayed to herself, but those old bullies still ran into Cassie. They used to whoop her ass, but now they see her and say, "Wow, it's nice to see ya girl."

She should have thrown one of 'em into an armbar. But Cassie knew they were scared now, and their fear was enough.

Drug-free and in shape, Cassie, a loyal girlfriend, was waiting to pick up Charles three years later when his sentence was finally over. She laid her eyes on a broken man. Charles told her what happened and begged her never to tell anyone. She didn't want to hurt Charles, but he was the same verbally abusive asshole he had always been.

Now when he goes off, Cassie says, "Don't make me tell everyone what happened to you."

In no time Charles was fiending to get back on that shit. Obviously, he'd calmed down a lot after seeing she had muscles.

Still, Charles gets a little braver each day. But the next time he lays a hand on Cassie, she's going to rip it off and slap him upside his damn head with it.

Robert Ragan, from Lillington, NC writer of short stories and poetry has been published online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, and The Dope Fiend Daily. Alien Buddha Press has published his first short story collection "Mannequin Legs and Other Tales".

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