Test Drive

“Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.”
― Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

Warning: This is a horror story. Content may disturb.

Contains attitudes of misogyny, graphic violence and depictions of physical abuse of extremely expensive cars.

 

Test Drive

by Paul Mannering

                She started with the high-end cars, walking in a lethal pair of Italian stiletto heeled boots as she prowled around the Ferraris and Lamborghinis. The sheer silk of her stockings crossed the no-man’s land between thigh-high boots and micro-mini in matching black leather. Matt watched her walk the floor with thoughts of a casual and pornographic nature.

Arnold Hustein, who sold Fords new and used for nearly 50 years, had always told Matt that selling cars was like catching fish. The bait was out there on the floor, the shiny, new, Italian penis-replacements. The cars that looked like HR Geiger had been jerking off over a Jacques Cousteau documentary and then turned that lust into every man’s obsession. The trick to fishing and to selling cars was to let the fish get itself well and truly hooked. Never rush out to talk to a customer as soon as they set foot on the lot or in the showroom. Let them explore first.

The woman was fun to watch, her legs were toned and when Matt let his eyes crawl higher than her ass, he was pleased to note that she wore a tight white silk blouse. In the chill air-conditioned environment of Ascoe’s Luxury Cars her breasts jutted out, peaking in a way that made Matt’s throat dry with lust.

She hadn’t looked at him yet. She also hadn’t touched a car, or one of the glossy magazines that passed as brochures these days. Usually it was the men who came in to drool over the cars. Matt would go out and walk the floor with them, talking up the horsepower, doing the full sales pitch even though the guy had a despairing look on his face like his dreams were leaking out the leg of his shorts in a streak of diarrhoea.

It warmed Matt’s heart to screw these miserable slobs. They had their wives, kids, houses in the suburbs, and secure jobs. Ask them on any other day and they would say they were happy, their lives were great, until you showed them what a truly awesome life would cost. Owning an elite car, that was what a fucking awesome life was about. Matt didn’t own one of these pussy-magnets of course, he drove a six year old Toyota Prius. But he was the pusher, the gate-keeper and the guy who sold Italian exotics to the rich and powerful. The peasants could steam up the showroom windows all they wanted; their impotent envy filled his heart with a warm burn, like acid reflux.

Matt watched the woman, the long blonde hair, the fuck-me boots, the perfectly contoured face, like a child’s under those large, opaque designer sunglasses. He walked out of the office, his “Let’s be good buddies!” smile cranking up his face like a circus tent rising from a crumpled pile of stained canvas. The greatest show on earth was about to begin.

“I thought that the Lamborghini Aventador was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Then, you walked into my showroom,” he smiled warmly at his obvious compliment. The buyers expected it. The cheesy feel-good compliments from a car salesman. They liked being the fish, they liked to be played, stroked, fed a few good lines and finally landed, exhausted and completely out of their depth. They only sure thing was that their new best friend, who had just sold them a car for what a decent house could cost, was the only person they truly trusted in the world.

The woman didn’t look up. In silence she continued her slow circumnavigation of the black Lamborghini, her stiletto heels clicking on the marble tile floor.

“The 2012 Aventador, it’s more than a car. It’s a work of art,” Matt kept his hands up, palms open in a welcoming gesture as he talked. “Comes in a range of colours, has a V12 engine, and don’t let the fighter-jet cockpit put you off, this is a car for the modern woman.”

“I would like a test drive,” her accent was European, East-European. Like the whores on the internet that Matt liked to watch getting fucked by young studs. She looked like a woman who might appear in such videos. She was probably shopping for her billionaire boyfriend, it happened more than you might think. A blonde bimbette would come tottering in on her six inch high heels with a pampered rat in a pink handbag. Breathlessly she would explain how it was Bobby’s birthday and she wanted to surprise him with another car. Better a shaved snatch and a handful of Viagra, Matt always thought. But he would help the dumb bitch find the car in her favourite colour. Of course Bobby or Dmitri was the one paying for it, even though these dumb sluts always thought that spending their old man’s money was somehow them giving him a gift.

“Sure thing, please, step into my office, there’s just some insurance paper work to complete,” Matt indicated his office, a small space with glass on two sides, a desk and walls decked with Italian supercar posters and merchandise.

She sat down, crossed her legs and refused the offer of coffee, tea, water or juice. Instead she lit a long, black cigarette. Matt placed his Formula One, branded ashtray within easy reach and typed up the details from the international driver’s license she handed him.

“Miss Kostova?” he said.

“Please, call me Helene,” she exhaled a nasal jet of white exhaust towards her feet and regarded him with eyes hidden behind the dark glasses.

“Helene,” he replied, smiling as if she had just reached out and stroked his package through his suit pants.

The formalities were over quickly, Matt believed in striking while the iron was hot. With the other two members of the Ascoe sales team out at lunch, he could close this sale and be planning how he would spend his commission by the time they got back. Shepherding Helene out to the car, Matt gave a nod to Keiko, the office manager. She acted as the dealership’s receptionist and administrator. She could watch the store while the sales team were out. It wasn’t like people were lining up to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury supercar, not in this economy.

Matt eased the Aventador out onto the lot. The car was unlike anything else in the inventory, driving it was like having sex with some hot young college girl. Slipping out of the low-slung cockpit he indicated for Miss Kostova, sorry, Helene, to take the driver’s seat. He walked around, got in the passenger side and talked her through the features of the interior. “You’ll notice as the gull wing doors close, the sound insulation is incredible. You have to keep an eye on the revs to know that the engine is running at all.”

The air around them clenched as the doors lowered and closed, sealing them in. Matt could smell the lingering stink of her cigarette and the sweeter musk of her perfume. He put on his seatbelt, she didn’t bother. Matt never told customers what to do or how to drive. They needed to feel like they already owned the car.

Helene drove off the lot smoothly, pulling into traffic with barely a glance. They accelerated through the first two blocks, flashing through an orange light before getting on to the freeway. She picked up speed, the purr of the engine bringing a smile to Matt’s face. Being in a car like this gave him wood, an unbreakable hardness and lust that could only be satiated with a balls-to-the-wall fuck. Matt hoped that Helene would feel the same way and they could scratch each other’s itch after signing the sales papers.

“There’s a race track ten miles up the freeway. If you want to really open it up.” This was a common place for luxury car salesmen to take their clients. They would lead these panting guys to the track and let them feel like a race-car driver, or James Bond or any other sweaty, giggling childish fantasy they could imagine.

One time Matt had overheard a twenty -year old software tycoon over the pit-crew headset making brmmmm, brmmmmm noises as he took a brand new Ferrari down the front straight of the oval course at over a hundred miles an hour.

Helene ignored his suggestion of taking the exit and carried on down the freeway, holding the car just below the speed limit. The engine purred like a leopard that could smell fresh antelope just over the horizon.

Matt kept smiling, nothing fazed him. The kind of person who could realistically lay down the cash for a car like this, had a particular arrogance, something that Matt admired and emulated whenever possible. Usually this meant treating any one beneath him with the same contempt as his clients treated him. He hated every last mother humping one of them, the obese rich old men trying to squeeze into a Lambo cockpit, and their vapid child-like blonde trophy girlfriends, the cocky young college dropouts who had sold their homemade software to some corporation for a billion dollars. Matt dealt with them all and loathed each and every one.

The woman at the wheel took the interstate exit, okay so she wanted to take the car out on the open road. It would need a full detailing after that, the desert dust would have to be gently washed away and the car, much like a thoroughbred champion racehorse, would need to be professionally groomed after a run.

Matt settled back, it was a nice day for a drive, and the hot chick next to him was a nice change from the usual overweight assholes he took for test drives.

“You certainly know your quality cars,” he said as a conversation starter.

“It is better if you don’t talk,” she replied. Matt kept his smile fixed in place, internally he seethed. Fuck you bitch… Yes, when he got her naked and begging for it – he would hurt her. Maybe slap her around a bit. Maybe bite that smooth white skin.

They rode in silence, once the city limits flashed past, she opened up the throttle and the car took off like a rocket. Matt pressed back in his seat, the terror of being close to death in such a beautiful machine was balanced with the thrill of travelling at high speed. The digital readout flicked over 100 mph, the Aventador had so much more to give and Helene kept on feeding the beast. Matt tore his eyes away from the blurred scenery and looked at her again. Her tongue peeked out from between her perfect white teeth. The tip stroking over her top lip as a smile spread across her mouth. The miles flew by and the car accelerated to the point where a single mistake and they would be hosing them both out of the wreckage.

Matt felt at peace, the adrenaline soothed him, bringing him into sharp focus and he found himself grinning as they tore down the black top.

Helene dropped the car a gear, making the revs spike and the engine growl, she slowed as smoothly as she accelerated and at 50 mph spun the car into a 90 degree turn, a sharp left into an unmarked and unpaved road.

“Hey now!” Matt shouted as the suspension bounced over a rut. “This is not an off road vehicle.”

“It is better if you do not talk,” Helene said again.

“Fuck that. You do not take a Lamborghini off the highway. This is a car for paved roads only sweetheart.”

“I am not your fucking sweetheart,” she said, her face snapping in his direction for an instant.

“I’m going to have to ask you to pull over. The test drive is over.”

“You haven’t made the sale yet,” she said, her eyes on the dusty trail they now rolled along.

“If the car is damaged, you will have to pay for the repairs. Even then, it’s soiled goods. Pull over now!”

“It is better if you don’t talk,” Helene said for the third time. Matt stared at her open mouthed. Oh yeah, he was going to force this bitch to buy the car and then he was going to fuck her up the ass.

The trail ended in a flat expanse of desert, the occasional brush and stone littered the otherwise bare ground. Something glinted in the sunlight on the horizon. A dull grey mirage, that Helene drove towards, accelerating again on the hard pan until a plume of fine dust rose up behind them like a sprint boat’s spray.

Matt kept his mouth shut and stared at the structure they were driving towards. Walls of corrugated roofing iron and a row of expensive cars, parked out front.

Some kind of exotic-car hijacking operation? He wondered. Well they were insured for that, but why was he still in the car? There was no chance of ransom. No wife or rich family to cash in on his life insurance.

“The fuck is this?” he said.

This time Helene did not tell him to be quiet, she lashed out and punched him so hard his head snapped against the leather cushioning of the interior. By the time he had recovered enough to see clearly, they were slowing down. A metal gate was hurriedly pulled open by two rough looking soldier types with AK47 rifles slung over their shoulders.

Helene drove through the gap, emerging into a small, stadium like pen about 100 feet across with the corrugated iron walls and rolls of barbed wire stretched out into a fence that encircled the central open area. Behind the wire and climbing the scrap metal walls, were two rows of empty bleachers, forming a basic grandstand. Standing in the middle of the open area were 11 men and women in shirts and ties and business wear. They all looked surprised, and Matt realised that some of the faces were familiar to him.

Helene stopped the car, “Get out,” she said and swept the blonde wig off her head with one hand, revealing natural black hair that was cut short in a ragged pixie style.

Matt stayed where he was. “Listen lady, this is intentional damage of property at best and kidnapping and grand theft auto at worst.” Matt’s door opened and one of the soldier types reached in and unclipped his seatbelt. Without a word and ignoring Matt’s shouts of protest, he was dragged out of the car and dumped on the ground. Helene reversed the Aventador and it vanished through the hole in the wall. The solider walked away and the gate closed behind him.

“What the fuck is going on here!?” Matt yelled as he climbed to his feet. His demand echoed off the scrap metal walls and the group nearby shuffled together, watching him with the eyes of sheep.

“Matt, Matt Kensington?” A soft guy wearing spectacles, with dark stains spreading under the armpits of his pressed blue cotton business shirt came forward, hand extended like a man reaching out to pet a tiger on a dare.

“Yeah?” Matt squinted in the glare. The chubby guy looked like someone that Matt should recognise, but he was sure they had never met.

“Darcey Quinn, Euro Style,” the man’s head bobbed up and down as if agreeing with himself.

“Of course,” Matt realised why the faces looked familiar to him. They were all car salesmen and women. There was David Getz, from A1 European Imports, Matilda Jones, the beautiful ebony skinned beauty from Liberty Dealership’s lot over on Belmont…

“This some kind of joke?” Matt asked, brushing the dust from his suit pants.

“I really don’t know. I sure hope so,” Darcey gave a strangled laugh that sounded more like a yelp. “I don’t suppose you have any water on you?”

“No,” Matt walked past Darcey, heading towards the closed gate. “Hey!” he yelled at the blank wall. “I wanna talk to whoever is in charge. Right now!”

Somewhere on the wall a speaker squawked with feedback. “It is better if you don’t talk,” Helene’s voice echoed from the PA system and rolled around the arena.

“Helene? Goddamnit, I want some answers. I want them right now!” Matt stamped his foot, a stupid childish gesture, but he was too angry to care. The PA system remained silent. He walked over to the gate and tugged on it. It seemed bolted from the other side and his beating on it garnered no response.

On the other side of the gate Matt heard a truck engine starting, a Ford pickup, at least 20 years old, and in need of a tune from the way it sounded. The bolts on the gate rattled and he stumbled back as the gate started to swing against him. The pickup, piebald with rust and on bald tires, rolled into the yard. Two soldiers, with their ever-present automatic weapons stood on the deck. The truck stopped next to the group and the two men began heaving stuff out of the back. Matt jogged closer, an axe, crudely formed helmets hammered out of scrap metal, some weirdly shaped lengths of steel, cut with an oxy-acetylene torch by the burn marks, and a tangled scrap of fishing net.

The soldiers and the driver ignored all questions and once the deck had been emptied the truck slowly turned and drove out, the gate opening and closing after them.

“Ladies and gentlemen, my thanks for your patience,” the voice that came over the PA system was male, it sounded rich and oiled. The accent was similar to Helene’s, East European, but more cultured. This, Matt decided, was the guy in charge.

“What the hell is this about?” Matt yelled.

“It is better if you do not talk. Everything will be explained to you,” the voice said.

“Clearly this is some kind of prank. But I can assure you, my lawyers have no sense of humour!” Matilda, an ice-cold bitch with an African Princess attitude stood with her hands on her hips and looked proudly at the PA speaker wired to a post on the wall.

“This is no joke. I can assure you. You are all excellent at what you do. Men and women who survive in a highly competitive world of luxury car sales. You sell the very best to the most meticulous and quality conscious customers. You are here to answer a very simple question.”

The group frowned and looked at each other, waiting for further information.

“Ask yourselves,” the voice purred, clearly enjoying the suspense. “Just what would you do to secure a sale?”

Matilda laughed, the others also chuckled and they relaxed. Okay, so this wasn’t some ransom demand or car theft operation. It must be a joke.

“I’d fuck my own grandmother!” Ernie Munro, Fontaine Cars, the Mercedes Benz specialists, shouted and then grinned at the others. Matt laughed with everyone else.

“I’d watch him fuck his own grandmother!” another guy called out.

“I’d let you fuck me in the ass while watching him fuck his own grandmother!” Darcey shouted, picking up on the theme of the joke, though no one laughed and he flushed with embarrassment.

“We will keep that in mind,” the announcer said. “Today we have a different kind of test in mind for you. In front of you, you will find weapons. Crude weapons, but enough for our purpose. You will also find some measure of protection. A few helmets, gloves, and perhaps a breastplate or two?”

No one moved, the last of the humour drying up like spit on the salt pan.

“You have got to be kidding?” Darcey muttered.

“One of you will make a sale today. The one who wants it enough will be returned to their place of employment, with sufficient cash to purchase the vehicle you arrived in and a substantial cash bonus for your personal inconvenience. The rules are simple. Each of you shall fight in what the Romans called a melee. A group of gladiators will fight to the death with the weapons provided. The last man, or woman standing, wins their freedom and gets the sale.”

The laughter that rippled across the group had a nervous twang to it. The group all looked at each other with varying expressions of disbelief.

“This is getting ridiculous,” Matilda took a step forward. The grim soldiers appeared on the bench seats, climbing up from somewhere below, they arranged themselves at equal positions around the stands.

“The last person to arm themselves will be shot. You have 10 seconds…” the voice over the PA said calmly. “Starting now.”

Some kind of survival instinct kicked in for Matt. He would play along, obey the demands and get out alive. Then, oh yeah, then he would sue every last sonnovabitch here. Someone was going to fund his early retirement with a settlement that would beggar them for generations. He snatched up a piece of heavy sheet metal, four feet long, cut and hammered into a rough sword shape. One end had been turned into a handle, with a rag bound around it as padding. He gripped it and stepped back from the pile. The other salesmen looked at him in surprise, and then they all moved together. A free-for-all ensued, weapons were snatched up and a few enterprising grabbers took up the helmets and other bits of armour as well. Only Matilda stood apart, regarding the scramble with scorn.

“Time’s up,” the voice announced. Everyone clattered with their new possessions, looking around to see if anyone was now unarmed. All eyes fell on Matilda. The nearest guard standing on the higher row of bench seats raised his AK47 and fired a short burst. The people on the ground scattered, most of them screaming. Matilda jerked and fell backwards; red holes had punched through her chest and face, smashing bone and defiance into a pulpy mess of blood and mush.

“The fuck!?” Ernie, the grandmother-fucker, screamed.

“You may begin,” the PA announced. No one moved. Most of them were staring in mute shock at Matilda’s crumpled form. One guy dropped the nail spiked baseball bat he carried and lifted a sports jacket from the dirt and gently laid it over Matilda’s face.

“In ten seconds we will shoot anyone who has not joined the melee,” the voice announced.

Everyone froze, waiting for the joke, waiting for the laugh track, waiting for the balloons and the ticker tape to come raining down. Waiting of Matilda to stand up, laugh and give them a hard time about the looks on their faces. After six seconds Matt felt a freezing sense of dread climb up his spine, dragging his balls up with it. At eight seconds Darcey let out a scream and swung the sledgehammer he had been holding with both hands. It caught a pudgy looking Asian guy in a pink shirt, no tie, in the midriff. Pink shirt doubled up, the air exploding out of his mouth in a spittle laden OOF!

Matt yelled in shock and surprise and seeing a flash in the corner of his eye, he swung the sword blindly. It crashed against a similar blade and the ringing sensation numbed his arm. Some black guy that Matt didn’t recognise attacked again. His metal sword hammering down on Matt’s blade like he was beating out a fire. The black guy’s eyes and teeth were shining white. His eyes bulged and his lips had peeled back, even his gums had gone grey.

Matt had never fenced, or studied Kendo or any of that Samurai shit like they showed on the History Channel. He knocked the blade aside and hit back with his own. The sweat in his hands soaking into the cloth wrapped handle and giving him a better grip. All around him the sounds of pitched battle had erupted. No gun-fire rang out so Matt fought for his life. The black man fell back under Matt’s assault. Matt was screaming abuse, calling the guy every name under the sun. Shrieking hate and terror in a meaningless torrent of abuse. The guy stumbled, tripping on a fallen combatant who was writhing and moaning while trying to stem the flow of blood gushing from their torn belly.

As the black man went down, Matt swung the heavy blade down on his head. It was like splitting wood for the fire during Christmas vacations on his grandparent’s farm in Oregon when he was a kid. The blade struck about eye-level. The black guy trembled and lay still.

Matt grunted and tugged on the weapon, his breath came in ragged gasps and he could feel his pulse pounding in his ears. It roared like he had stuck his entire head inside a shell and instead of the ocean he could hear a tsunami crashing down on him.

Someone collided with Matt and sent him sprawling, he rolled through dust thick with congealing blood, and scrambled to his hands and feet, a primal snarl escaping his lips.

Darcey had dropped the hammer and now wielded a spiked baseball bat, one of the rough helmets on his head. Blood splatter across his glasses had blinded him and his next swing at Matt went wide. Matt scuttled sideways, snatching up a short, wide-bladed machete and a metal dustbin lid.

Another fighting pair passed between them, a blonde woman, wielding a shiv as long as her arm stabbed at a terrified looking white guy with empty hands who babbled, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” as he retreated from her.

Circling around Darcey, Matt struck out at him, and got a hard smack on the arm for his trouble.

“You fuckers! You fuckers!” Darcey squealed, lashing out with his baseball bat. Matt darted away, looking for easier prey.

The fight lasted less than a minute and then seven people lay dead or dying on the sand. The living wounded screamed and moaned in pain, clutching broken limbs, or babbling in hysterics as they cradled their own guts. A silver haired older guy with no apparent injury, but drenched in blood, was on his knees, Matt thought he was praying, but he seemed to be saying something about laundry. “Always put the sheets away with the fold to the front. You stupid bitch. Always put the sheets away with the fold to the front…”

The five current victors eyed each other with a shocked wariness. Darcey, Ernie and the blonde with the shiv stood well apart at one end of the massacre.

Matt glanced to his left, he didn’t know the woman’s name but she had a high cheek-boned Latino face and the same stunned look in her eyes as the rest of them. She held an axe, the head of it was crusted with blood and congealed dirt. Matt stared, fascinated that her blood stained hands were steady and she was breathing easily.

“Mister Morrison,” the PA announced, “If you are not injured. Rise and join the battle. Failure to engage will result in your disqualification from the competition.”

The fighters on their feet looked around until their gaze settled on the grey haired man on his knees. “ …With the fold to the front…You stupid bitch…”

Matt started counting under his breath, bringing his own hysteria under control, breathing it down and letting adrenaline sharpen his senses. He’d reached nine when a short burst of gun-fire sounded from the bleachers. The sheet folder toppled over on his face, the back of his head busted open like a blood filled piñata.

“Five of you still live, only one can leave alive with the sale and the cash bonus. The melee begins again in five seconds,” The announcer fell silent.

Matt raised his hand and wiped the sweat and blood from his eyes. His throat burned with thirst, the dust choked him and he could hear himself wheezing. He felt something else too, like being high on cocaine. A sense of complete engagement with every cell in his body. Darcey and the other two had a quick exchange of words, they seemed to come to an agreement and the three of them began to advance towards Matt and the Latino woman.

“Assholes,” she growled. “We have to fight them, or we both die.”

“What’s your name?” Matt asked.

“Juliette,” she replied.

Matt nodded, “I’m Matt. Go left Juliette,” he said. Sidestepping right he put himself on Ernie’s flank. Ernie’s face was as pale as milk, he moved like he was asleep and the hands that held the sheet-metal sword shook violently.

“I’m going to kill you Ernie. I am actually going to kill you. You have about five seconds left to live,” Matt said with a calmness he did not feel.

“They made me do it… I didn’t want to but they made me…” Ernie croaked, his voice hoarse with shock and cracking with hysteria.

“Doesn’t matter Ernie. Doesn’t matter a damn. You are still going to die. Right here. Right now. I am going to hurt you so bad you are going to die screaming. Matt didn’t dare look towards Juliette when she shrieked and he heard the sounds of weapons crashing together. Ernie started crying, his eyes filled with fat tears and Matt covered the remaining distance between them in three quick strides. “Mommy…” Ernie said and Matt hit him in the neck with the machete. The blade came free and it took two more hacks to kill Ernie. The first hit cut through something vital so he couldn’t scream, he just gurgled and looked terrified.

Matt ran towards Juliette, she was on the ground, her clothes torn as she rolled around with Darcey. In any other situation this would be the hottest thing Matt could imagine. The blonde woman was hobbling around them, now bleeding heavily from a gash in her leg.

“Kill the bitch! Fucking kill her!” Blondie screamed. She waved her shiv and stabbed at the air anytime they came near her.

Juliette and Darcey were both snarling and snapping at each other like dogs. Instead of a bone, they were fighting for a chokehold on the other’s throat. Darcey’s glasses were lying in the dust and both combatants looked as if they had been dipped in blood soaked flour.

Without breaking stride Matt smashed the blonde woman’s legs out from under her with a swipe of the machete. The blow almost severed her good leg, sending her shrieking to the ground. Her hands clutching the spurting stump as she her scream rose to a high-pitched, airless whine.

Darcey saw him coming and managed to throw Juliette off. Whining like a beaten dog he scrambled through the dust and grabbed the spiked bat. Dripping chunks of skull and hair still clung to it. He held it out like a sharp tipped sword, or loaded gun. “Back off!” Darcey yelled.

Matt paused, “You okay Juliette?”

She spat blood and dust, “I’m okay,” she said, picking at the torn panels of her silk shirt, trying to restore some modesty.

“I’m going to kill you Darcey,” Matt started his sales pitch, the psychology of the melee was the same as selling cars. Make the person trust you and believe everything you said. Make your reality theirs. Hook the fish and reel them in…

“Fuck you Kensington. You piece of shit!” Darcey spat in the dirt. “You are a fucking asshole, you know that? Everyone says it. A creepy, stalking, sleazy piece of shit. I’ve had women tell me that you talk a lot, but you can’t get it up when it matters. The best part was they were riding my cock when they told me. Laughing at you Kensington. Laughing at you and your sad little dick.”

Matt screamed and charged, the machete swinging. Darcey sidestepped the heavy blade and swung the baseball bat hard. With a hit like that in a game, he would have been able to run to at least third base, and maybe even steal home. Instead the bent nails dug deep into Matt’s skull, shattering bone and plunging deep into his brain. His spasmic jerk pulled the bat from Darcey’s hands. The machete dropped and Matt staggered a few steps. His mouth working soundlessly as his eyes blinked to clear the haze from his vision.

Darcey snatched up the machete and hit Matt across the belly with it. The sharp blade cut through cloth, toned muscle and deep into the man’s core. Matt sank to his knees with a final sigh.

Juliette started sobbing, her two-inch heeled pumps slipped off her feet as she backed away from Darcey.

“This will be quick and this will be easy. Just kneel down and pray,” Darcey said, walking towards her.

She prayed in Spanish, the half-forgotten words bubbling up from deep inside. For the first time since she was a child Juliette heard the rosary spoken in her grandmother’s soft voice, murmured in time to the steady clicking of the prayer beads. She felt the soft touch of the old woman’s hand on her cheek and then something hit her on the back of the neck hard enough to send her into darkness.

Darcey tossed the blood stained machete aside and walked across the dusty arena. The gate opened and a group of goons came in carrying body bags. Working in pairs they lifted the dead into the bags and stacked them up. The woman who called herself Helene came over to Darcey, carrying a briefcase in one hand and a can of beer, so cold it raised gooseflesh on her forearm, in the other.

“He is very pleased. The betting was very strong and the audience say it was the best arena yet,” she said.

“Good,” Darcey replied, taking the beer and draining half of it in one long, desperate swallow.

“Do you want to count it?” she asked offering the briefcase.

“No. I’ve never been disappointed yet.” Darcey finished the beer and let out a long echoing belch. Helene kept her disgust off her face.

Tossing the beer can aside Darcey stripped off his torn and blood-soaked shirt. He was carrying extra weight, but there was muscle there too, and his skin was a collage of scars; old stab wounds, burns, and deep cuts.

“So, where to next year?” Darcey asked, taking the briefcase from Helene.

“We think Canada, or maybe France. He misses Europe and the brutality of Americans is becoming passé.”

“Yeah, we are a fucked up nation,” Darcey agreed. “Where’s my change of clothes?”

“I have them, once you have washed and changed, you should stick around. There will be barbecue after the clean-up.”

“Great, I could eat a horse.” Darcey said falling into step with Helene as they exited the arena.

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