Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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18. THE JOB

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN - THE JOB

MELANIE

The day had been long, too long if you asked her. She’d been stuck in a car for the whole day with people that hated her and didn’t really respect her.

At the end of the day she just wanted to put her feet into something that was warm, more like Naomi’s handmade fluffy socks, and clean all the grime off of her.

Two of the wives were in the room; Naomi with needles in hand, blurring at the speed of which she was going; Kate pacing the room, up and down, up and down, with a book lodged in her hands.

It was a normal image, one which she’d gotten used to in her time of being a wife.

“Ah, we were starting to get worried about you,” Naomi said pausing from the winter hat that she was knitting, “We did run you a bath but Eva was filthy from gardening so I told her it was alright to just take it in your place.”

 

Melanie just sighed, not wanting to argue with Naomi.

“I don’t think I could stomach a bath anyway,” she sighed, slipping her hiking boots off. Her job was the only one that Victor allowed black jeans, a purple top and a leather jacket.

It was the uniform of all Scouters and even though she was a woman she was good at her job unfortunately.

She sat heavily down on the bed, a sigh drawing itself from her lungs in frustration. “I don’t know how Victor can insist that I do this job, it’s not like I enjoy it.”

“But you’re good at it Mel-Bel and that makes you interesting,” Kate said looking up from her book, Leave of Grass it was, mimicking Victor.

“God I hate the nicknames he has for us,” Melanie groaned, flopping down on the bed, her legs dangling off the edge.

“Kit Kat,” Kate piped up.

“Tsunami Naomi,” Naomi laughed and Melanie had only heard Victor say that once, when she had first been introduced as a wife and Naomi had been forced to sit in the front most pew and watch the new bride and groom kiss.

They had had an argument that night, the priest keeping her down in the chapel while Victor and Naomi argued upstairs. Naomi had come rushing down the stairs one hand covering her right eye and Victor had introduced Melanie into the role of a wife. Melanie didn’t know where Naomi slept that night but the next day the other woman had come to her with a black eye and a begrudging frown on her lips.

She warmed up to her by the end of the week, realising that it wasn’t exactly Melanie’s fault for accepting marriage instead of endless torture and Melanie helped her with covering up the healing black eye.

Kate had come when the two of them were more friends than enemies and she retreated into herself just for the fact that she was the new wife to a monster.

“I’ve never heard him say that to you?” Kate laughed at Naomi once the nickname.

“He’s done it ever since I married him years ago, less so now though,” Naomi said going back to her knitting but appearing to listen to their conversation instead of being sucked into the mayhem of knitting.

Melanie knew it was because Victor had other wives now, and to call Naomi by the nickname he had given her back when they first met would appear distasteful.

“Why does being good at something make me interesting? I already do all of my wifely duties for him,” Melanie complained, looking up at the ceiling in contempt. The change in topic was welcomed because otherwise Naomi would get become upset at what she used to have and would no longer have.

Victor was to blame for it all, but the wives were seen as the objects of that blame.

“Because being a wife isn’t good enough,” Kate sighed abandoning her book completely as she marked her page by folding down the corner.

Naomi didn’t say anything, she knew that the cost of being a wife truly went to those who had took the deal in order to get out of the Warehouse. She had never experienced the Box, or the Fear Treatment, or the Cattle Sheds. But she had experienced the trials and tribulations of her husband having other women on the side.

“I don’t think I can do it anymore,” Melanie sighed into the silence that had erupted. Her job was daunting and terrifying and horrifying.

She couldn’t even look at Eva in the face because the last time she had saw her, it with Gregory, Austin and Harry carrying a limp, drugged and hurt Eva into Melanie’s getaway car. God forbid if Eva ever found out, or if Eva had been conscious enough to even glimpse that the driver had been female at all.

“But you have to,” Naomi pointing out, her fingers slowing over the knitting which had vaguely taken the shape of a hat by now.

“You know what will happen if you don’t,” Kate mentioned, drawing her knees up to her chest.

Melanie couldn’t shake the feeling of Victor on a frightening night; the hands around her throat squeezing tightly; her feet begging for purchase on the floor beneath her; her wispy voice as she said yes to do the job she was told to do. She could never forget his request when she lay crumpled on the floor, allowing her lungs to recover from their bruising, “Come to bed with me Mel-Bel.” His tone had made her forget her own name. She knew that if the word no formed on her lips again then she would be right back to where she was before, and she could not go back to squeezing out the last ounces of air, she could not go back to seeing the darkening edges to her vision. So with a necklace of handprints she did what he asked and she hated him for it.

Even worse, she had sulked back to Naomi and screamed at her for ever loving a man so cruel. She did that because she hated herself for saying yes, even though there hadn’t been other options.

“I do,” Melanie whispered and her vision careened backwards to where she could just see a flash of green on the edge of her vision. She knew what it was, a blanket on the bed just past Kate’s, the bed belonging to the newest wife. “You made Eva a blanket?”

Naomi’s eyes went to the green blanket and a brief smile fell on her lips, “I had to, she’s just of a wife as we are now, even though you hate to admit it.”

“You know why I hate it,” Melanie snapped, pulling her head down as soon as the words escaped, she hated snapping at Naomi. “It’ll keep her warm at least,” she grumbled, pulling her arms to cover her midriff.

Melanie knew how cold the Cattle Sheds had truly been and the only reprieve when becoming a wife was that she had a proper bed, something soft, and she was surrounded in warmth instead of begging for it. Even with the fluffy materials that Naomi had provided eventually, back in her day the first night was spent with the thinnest blanket imaginable and some girls had even died from pneumonia before the Fear Treatment could get to them. She had saw the men carrying people out of the sheds, their hands in gloves just to stay away from the decomposing skin.

She also knew that it had took some time for Naomi to accept all of them as wives. Back in the day there had always been a moment where Naomi would insist that Melanie wouldn’t call Victor Husband while she was in the room since she was so in denial about Victor not being hers anymore. But she had warmed up to the idea that they were all in the same plight, but it had took some time to get that far.

A creaking noise was heard then and the bathroom door opened to reveal Eva covered in a towel. “I forgot my clothes, how stupid of me right?” she announced before crossing the room to the chest at the bottom of her bed. She pulled out pyjamas and pulled the bottoms on with the towel still wrapped around her body.

Melanie could see the look that Naomi was throwing her, and she realised that her face was arranged into a scowl. She recalled a conversation between her and the original wife when the elder woman had come in with the bad news of another wife.

Naomi had entered the Wives Quarters with a piece of paper in her hands and the other two wives knew what it was. Victor had done it to Naomi when Melanie was made a wife and he had done it again when Kate was made a wife. It was a drawing of the next woman who would live with them.

Naomi was pale as pale as she always was when another wife was announced. But this one especially so since Victor had told all of them that there would only be three wives in total to by symbolic of the holy trinity.

“Who is it this time?” Melanie had droned, poised crossed legged with the flute positioned in her hands.

“A girl named Eva that’s all he would tell me about her,” Naomi mentioned and Melanie stilled.

Eva Grey, the girl who would haunt Melanie like mouldy cheese. The drawing, drawn explicatively from Victor’s hands because who knew he could draw, was passed around with Kate handling it.

“She looks pretty,” Kate mentioned, passing the drawing to Melanie.

She couldn’t handle it, not the physical representation of this girl. It just wasn’t happening. She could see the sharp angles of the face, the high cheekbones and the triangle of freckles nearly hidden by the dark hair swept across her forehead.

The drawing fell to the ground.

The flute was put down back into the flower pot.

Melanie escaped to the bathroom.

The look Naomi was throwing her told her to let go of the past and embrace Eva as a wife because she wasn’t going anywhere. If it was one thing that they knew for sure it was that once Victor chose a wife, she was there until death. There was no other option.

“Don’t be a prude Eva,” Melanie jokingly choked out, noticing how the way the other woman dressed like she was in an all-girls changing room and they were all preteens and awkward, “We’ve all got the same bits and pieces.”

Eva looked shocked that Melanie had even acknowledge in the first place, probably because it was the first time she had physically addressed her on her own terms.

“Don’t be an exhibitionist,” Eva replied, as though her brain to mouth filter had been impaired just then. As soon as the words were out, her cheeks had coloured and the high cheekbones were highlighted in red that descended all the way down to her neck.

Kate snorted.

Naomi dropped her knitting as her hands covered her mouth in mirth.

Melanie smiled, a smile that looked like a grimace in disguise.

The red gradually receded from the newest wife’s cheeks. 

 

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