She was my girl and I was her man.
The only thing that scared me, was her dad.
It wasn’t the kind of scary, where I feel I’d never live up to a fathers expectations for dating his daughter. This was a different kind of fear.
It was the kind of fear one gets when standing in the presence of something evil.
“Thomas Michael Gardner, you can’t be serious. How can you think of getting married, you’re only seventeen!”
I stood at the bottom of the stairs and leaned against the wall, closing my eyes and steeling myself for the confrontation to come.
Mom was reading her soap opera magazine, and now it was lying on the floor; she dropped it after I made my announcement.
Dad dropped the empty bottle of beer he was holding. “Oh. God! Isn’t it obvious?! He got her pregnant that’s why!”
I snapped to attention, opening my eyes and stared at him. “She’s not pregnant dad!”
“She can’t get pregnant”, a voice in the kitchen called out “Tommy’s got those rubber things that fit over a guys’-”
“Knock it off, Steven!”
Steven I went to the kitchen and stared down my little brother who was sitting at the table. The smart-ass just leaned back in his chair. “You got to remember to close your sock drawer!” he giggled.
“We’re not finished, Thomas! Get back in here!” mom called.
“Later!” I warned, shaking an angry finger at him.
Now mom just looked confused, but dad was still pissed.
“Explain it to me, then. Why do you want to get married at such a young age?” mom begged.
I didn’t know how to explain it.
“Well, he’s the devil and she’s the princess and I’m going to save her,” I smiled… almost in jest.
Vincent stood at the door to the house that day, arms crossed over his chest and just looking at me and kind of smiling with a wicked grin.
“Well?!” I demanded “where is Annie?!”
“You want to see my daughter?” he asked with a smirk on his face.
I was angry as hell, but a sudden headache came upon me, sapping my strength to be more confrontational.
“Please,” I begged.
“Annie and Abby went away for a few days. It’s been chaotic I know. They’re taking some time off from such troubles.” He replied with a hint of fake sadness.
He’s a bastard! He abuses his wife, his kids, and his adopted child, Missy. He tells Missy that she has no father, but was scrapped off a rock instead. His wife has an illness that leaves her weak and in bed most of the time, and won’t even take her to a doctor!
“I think their only trouble is with you,” I told him bluntly.
He just nodded and giggled.
“Did she tell you we’re getting married?!” I demanded, in a loud voice.
He roared with laughter. “What? No she didn’t. For real?!”
“Stop laughing, goddammit! I’m serious!”
Vincent was doubled over in the doorway. “No… sorry… I believe you!”
What a splendid idea! I think she’ll make a lovely bride, don’t you Tommy?” he just kept standing there staring and grinning and I wanted to tear his face off. “You abuse your wife,” I said “you scared little girls! you enjoy it, but I’m taking Annie away from all that, you won’t hurt her anymore!
There was another long moment of him just standing there, grinning and he said “okay” then he laughed hard as he shut the door in my face.
“I think I’d rather talk about it in the morning,” I told her, then I turned my little brother and quietly whispered “you keep your mouth shut from now on!” but the little brat just giggled as he made milk come out of his nose.
“You’re gross!” I spit out then I left the room.
“Hey I can make the mashed potatoes come out my nose too!”
“Don’t come in my room, again!” I shouted back.
I went upstairs to my room and I called my friend
“Jason! Hi, how you doing? Are you having a quiet evening?” I asked the shrieks of a little girl could be heard in the background.
“Can you hear her?? “Jason yelled back.
“Sissy Abbie! Sissy Abbie is dat you?!?” a child’s voice cried out, then there was a cacophony of loud crying.
“I don’t know how much longer I can take this! She won’t stop crying! I can’t take her back to that place but I can’t raise her; I don’t know what got into my head to sleep with another man’s wife and without a condom… stupid of me! I had a promising career as a secretary… Tommy, I’m thinking of putting Missy in a foster home. I’m too young to be a dad,”
Tommy was a little more than frustrated; now his best friend was tied into Vincent Kramer too, and the man was like a virulent curse. Don’t get involved, Tommy earlier warned him, but Jason was too stubborn to listen.
“You’re right, you can’t take her back to that place. Vincent is evil.”
“Yes he’s a scary dude!” Jason agreed I’m just glad he didn’t kill me he and I think he could have I can’t talk long gotta get back to my kid,” he sighed sadly “are you still going to go through with it if you do send me a wedding invitation.”
“I think I’d like you to be my best man.”
There was silence on the phone for several seconds.
“T… Tommy I’m so honored… you’re getting married!”
Tommy laughed heartily. “Yes, I’m having so much fun planning this thing out Stephen will be the ring bearer, Missy can be the flower girl… don’t do anything on Missy yet, if you need money I can give you 100$. We’ll talk about it more tomorrow we’ll work it out okay?”
“Tommy you’re the best friend… I don’t deserve such a good friend… ok, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
I hung up the phone and went to Steven’s room.
“I’m losing my brother!” he cried into his pillow “you going to marry Annie and forget all about me!”
“Aw, come on! That will never happen I promise!”
“You better mean it,” he sniffed.
“I do… if the first one is a boy, we’ll name him after you.”
I stayed at the window; it was late that night and I was waiting for Annie to show up. I looked toward the west toward our small town’s Main Street the few street lights it had glowed dimly in the night. there was a light breeze that whipped slightly through the awnings of the house.
“I’m here Tommy!”
I heard her voice. I looked out into the darkness and saw her standing far off. There was a pounding at my door.
“Can I come in??” Steven begged
“Not now!” I told him “I’ll talk to you in the morning. Steven go to bed it’s late!”
Steven pounded the door one more time and then stopped. I looked out to see Annie climbing the tree to the house to get in my window “Come on, come in!” I grabbed her arm and pulled her through the window and to the bed.
“Look here, I have something for you!”
I held out the small box with the zirconium ring; it was all I could afford.
“It’s lovely,” she remarked and stared at the band with synthetic diamonds now resting on her finger.
She turned her hand over and over, examining the ring from all angles.
“You like it?” I asked quietly.
“We are man and wife now? Forever and ever?”
“I want that more than anything,” I sighed, thinking of our real wedding day that was to come.
“I love it!” she said again, and spread her arms open wide.
She fell on top of me pinning me to the bed. I jerked and something sharp dug into my neck and it hurt!
Before I could react, I realize that Annie was sucking on my neck!
“Babe are you giving me a hickey? Our classmates are going to make fun of me! You got to let me give you one too… hey, you don’t have to suck so hard Annie!”
She sat up on top of me, weaving from side to side.
“Oh my God you’re bleeding!”
“Just a little while longer Tommy, and you’ll be mine for all eternity! Then she fell back on top of me. I tried to push her away but suddenly she had the strength of ten men; the sharp pain in my neck returned and I couldn’t move!
“You’re hurting me… stop… Annie, please let go…
I found myself growing tired, and I knew that I was the one who was bleeding. Annie was sucking my blood away!
“You’re going to kill me! You have to stop! You have to let go!”
I was terrified but felt very sedated at the same time… why… ?
I knew! I knew it was Vincent! Somehow he was responsible for this!
The sucking sounds were louder and more savage.
Bastard never goes out in the daytime, bastard likes to hang around in that basement of his, bastard is mean and cruel to his twin daughters and his wife’s illegitimate little girl Vincent Kramer was so evil he had used some hypnotic effect and ordered her to kill him; there was no other explanation.
“I’m almost there sweetie!!” Annie mumbled as his skin grew increasingly wet and warm “I am so close!”
“I love you Annie… Vincent you won’t get away with this!”
I sunk back into my bed, struggling to lift my arms. I wanted to embrace her one last time.
Tears were pooling in my eyes and making my vision blurry. “Never get away… I promise you won’t… ”