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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

Mike had gone to the motel. He’d gone to pay the guy back, for me.

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 43

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remainscan be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 43

Dad tried to lecture me about my hair, about taking the car and disappearing, but my eyes skidded away from his face while he talked. He knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on, ha ha.

I took the Oldsmobile and prowled the neighboring towns every night, wandering the mall, drinking coffee, dangling on the swings in the park.

A letter from Bobby appeared. It was the first one since I had thrown the others in the trash, gone forever, buried in the landfill near the lake. Nothing was forbidden now, and I sat at my desk and slid my finger under the flap.

I’m disintegrating. Without your eyes on me, I’m fragments, flying apart. Alice, Alice, Alice. A – L – I – C – E. Even your name flies apart, phonemes, letters, lines, nothing, nothing, nothing.

If you remember me, I will have existed.

Remember me.

I flinched, looking over my shoulder, toward my bedroom window. It seemed he was in the room with me, I could almost hear him breathing, under and around my own breath. He was me and I was him. I felt it. We were the same person. On his office floor at Laban Junior High we’d melted one into the other, my hand to his thigh to my hip to his belly, our lips caressing our continuous skin, his voice in my mouth, my soul in his.

That was a long time ago. The cast was dull and heavy on my leg and I thunked it against the floor, forcing my mind back to the parking lot in Las Vegas. Bobby’s hand tightening on my arm, pulling me back, my foot giving way. The sound of gristle. I let the cast pound the floor again, feeling the jolt in my teeth.

I mashed the letter in my fist, then tore at it, pulling it to pieces.

Fuck him.

A skinny boy in glasses who stood as high as my nipples, mid-twenties, a student, reverently peeled away my clothes in his basement apartment. I told him my name was Mary, and as we lay in his foldout couch, he whispered it over and over, kissing the skin that covered my skull.

A college football player whose thighs were as big around as my waist, whose touch was surprisingly soft, matching his voice and big, sad eyes, came just seconds after pushing into me.

Jane tried to talk to me at school, but when she opened her mouth, all I heard was the rippling of x-ray film.

A square-headed accountant ducked under my skirt in a snow-covered park. A military officer bent himself in half in the passenger seat of his Porsche to bite at my naked calf. A rocker boy with stringy hair and tobacco-stained teeth fucked me in his mother’s bed. A fat businessman licked around the top of my cast. An assistant principal in an empty classroom, a ski instructor, a cowboy, a salesman, tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor.

In Algebra class, let x equal the man or boy I would meet, whose hands would close around my waist, whose tongue, whose toes, whose cock.

Once, a Bishop, in the bed he shared with his wife.

I was trying to break through to something, I wanted to be touched, but I couldn’t find it, I couldn’t feel what I craved.

One night, a man invited me to his motel room, lights from passing cars moving outside the curtains. He reminded me of Bobby, the way he held his mouth, but he was small and stringy. He closed the door behind us and lifted my chin with one finger.

“Why do you do this to yourself?”

His thumb flicked across my lips, smearing lipstick onto my cheek.

“You’re a pretty girl. Why wear all this stuff? Go wash your face.”

Another one, I thought, another guy playing Daddy, the men around here loved that. Telling me how to reform my character while fucking me in the bushes. I limped into the bathroom, propped my cane against the counter and scrubbed away the makeup, staring for a minute at my naked face in the mirror, then came back into the room, drying off one-handed with a white motel towel. I tossed the towel on a chair and started lifting my shirt.

“What are you doing?”

I stopped and sat on the edge of the bed, awaiting instructions. He crossed the room and stood over me.

“Whore,” he said, and backhanded me hard across the face.

I tasted blood. I was bleeding onto the motel blanket. I started to sit up, and he bashed a fist into my ear, then started unbuckling his belt. I heard the belt shush through the loops, the buckle jingling as he wrapped it around his hand. He cranked up for another swing, and I lifted a hand too late to stop the blow. It slammed me to the floor, cold and then hot where the belt stung my face, and something was cracking, light was breaking through, I was getting to my knees when he hit again and again, the buckle digging into my skin, cracking across my ribs, my mouth open and I was gulping at the air, my head singing, but the sound, that liquid sound of x-ray film, was gone. He was working hard, I could hear breath ragging out of him and I saw his feet in shining black shoes with thick soles – missionary shoes. He started to step over my feet to get a new angle and I kicked my walking cast up, tripping him. He fell and was scrambling to get back up but I was stronger than him, I was bigger and faster, my muscles not completely gone to flab yet. I sat up fast and reached my cane and hit him once across the face. I heard him thump onto the floor again.

I got to my feet, standing over him, my head singing, my hands shaking. I lifted the cane again, and he made a small sound, a sighing moan. I stared down at the man, my cane lifted. I could kill him if I wanted to.

I brought the cane slowly down to the floor, grabbed my coat and headed for the door.

“Fuck you,” he said, the words bubbling out of his mouth.

I walked out into the cold.

I pulled over partway home and put the car in Park. I sat with my hands on the steering wheel and breathed out and in. I was shaking, deep in my chest. I felt every place he’d hit me dull and throbbing. I would be sore in the weeks ahead, like I’d had an especially punishing dance class, and I remembered how I loved that feeling, the ticking of my muscles with lactic acid, the heavy stiffness that said I’d worked hard, I felt the impact of fist and belt and floor on my body like gifts, and I started to cry. I was Alice again. I had slipped back inside myself, put on this body like a suit, years to live yet, and every day waking up unable to dance, every day waking up and getting dressed and doing what had to be done, and I cried my heart out on the side of the old highway.

Dad was up when I got home, leaning in the open door of the refrigerator. He turned when he heard me come in.

“Want a snack?”

Dad’s voice in the dark kitchen set me off again. I clattered into a chair. The fridge door shut and we were in the dark. I didn’t want to be this weak, but I couldn’t stop crying.


Dad turned on the overhead light and the Tupperware in his hand thunked to the floor and rolled across the tile. He knelt down in front of me.

“What happened?”

I opened my mouth and it was full of spit and snot. Dad’s eyes were moving all over me while he held my shoulders.

“Honey,” he said, “Who did this?”

I shook my head.

“I don’t, I don’t,” I closed my mouth and took a breath, then opened it again. “I’m sorry.”


Dad held my hands and slowly the story came out of me. When I told him where the motel was, I heard a squeak on the kitchen floor behind me. I turned to see MaryEllen in her nightgown. She stared at me while footsteps pounded down the hall behind her. We listened as the front door opened and slammed shut.

“Mike,” she said.

I heard Dad’s keys jingle. He told MaryEllen to call the police; he was taking me to the hospital.

“No, no.” I felt panic tighten my throat. “Please. I’m okay. I’m tough.”

“Shh,” he said again. “I’ll be with you.”

In the car, Dad cranked up the heater, and I felt him easing around corners so he wouldn’t jar me.

“Have you been beat up before?”

Dad looked over at me. “Once or twice. Looks like you got it pretty bad.”

“You should see the other guy,” I said.

Dad smiled, just a little.

He stayed with me, just like he said. It was a while before I realized they all thought I’d been raped. I shut that one down quick, when they were trying to get my feet up in the stirrups. The police had found Mike at the motel, jumpy and worked up, spoiling for a fight, but the guy was long gone. The lights at the hospital were too bright, and the cops and orderlies and doctors too big and loud. Mike had gone to the motel. He’d gone to pay the guy back, for me. I closed my eyes and held onto Dad’s hand until they finally let me go.

MaryEllen was asleep on the couch in the thin hour before dawn when we got home. Dad helped me down the hall and into bed, undressing me slowly. I felt like a toddler. He slipped a nightgown over my head, and laid me back against the pillow, then stood in the doorway for a few seconds, the light from the hallway spilling in around him before pulling my door shut.

I slept through the morning and into the next day, waking up just long enough to eat dinner and crawl back into bed.

That night, I had a dream. Someone tapped at my bedroom window, and I sat up, thinking I should feel sore but I didn’t. It was Bobby. He climbed in through the window and sat down on the bed next to me, looking at me with those gray Bobby eyes, and the moonlight from the window turned one eye clear, just like that day at Laban Junior High, when I saw him down the hall, surrounded by kids, the day he looked at me over all their heads and saw me, the day I fell in love with him.

He didn’t say anything but leaned over to kiss me, and I felt my nipples crank hard under my nightgown.

I didn’t say no. It was only a dream, and when he ran one hand up my nightgown and over my hip, my ribs, I let him slip it off over my head, so he could see me naked in the moonlight.

I felt his breath warm on my skin. He kissed every bruise, every scrape. He moved down and kissed my toes sticking out of the cast. My cast was gone and he kissed my foot, the warmth of his lips moving in and through my foot, ankle, leg.

We made love in my dream, more quiet and tender than we ever did in real life.

When I woke up, I could still smell him on my sheets, and I buried my face in them, in his smell. I breathed him in and cried.


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle. 

Read more stories by Caitlin Myer


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