Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Jasmon Drain
Reah was a pretty girl living in the big city. Really, she wasn’t that pretty but just pretty enough to be noticed. She spent much time checking makeup in the mirror, checking her blouse, checking whatever she thought made her look better than other girls.
It didn’t matter where she was, the bus stop or work, it didn’t matter, she was always checking her prettiness. People would stop and say hi, she’d turn her head, eyes rolling a full 360. The only reason she would act different when the men said hi was because they smiled when they did it. Reah believed they were just being nice, complimenting her. Men compliment pretty women, she thought. She never noticed that the minute she turned her head they gave one another hi fives, talking loudly.
She had nice short hair, Anita Baker style, and got it done every week. Lonnie paid for it.
“Lonnie ain’t I pretty?” Is what she would ask plucking at the curls. He would answer yes, of course, although sometimes he wanted to say no.
Lonnie: a working man, a telemarketer sometimes, enough of the time that he could keep her happy and coming back home.
Lonnie would bring pizza, free pizza with mushrooms because his sister worked at the restaurant. Reah loved that.
In the beginning, before she knew she was pretty – when she wore bottle thick glasses – the two would sit in front of the small t.v., greasy mouths and all, licking their fingers. Now, after a set of contact lenses and a few of those compliments, that pizza just didn’t taste the same.
During dinner she would tell Lonnie she had the savor for new clothes, blouses, sexier, showing as much cleavage as she could. Had to match that pretty face. Lonnie had no problems with it – at first that is – he wanted her to look her best.
He even suggested a few items.
He was a war veteran, shrapnel accident victim, inconsistent jobs didn’t hurt much because government checks for his amputated leg paid the rent. A little extra money for Reah wasn’t so bad either, she deserved it after all she’d been through. He’d been gone for two years.
They met before the war, when he was a regular man (as Reah would say), at a church revival. They had a good sex life before the war too, could even be called lovemaking. Lonnie could move any way she wanted him to then. He was her first.
She promised to wait for him – she kinda’ did except for those couple of times with Gerome.
Gerome bought those contact lenses, took her to “Snap-o-bee’s” instead of free pizza, and told her she was pretty. That’s where it started. No, it’s not. Lonnie said she was pretty, but he meant it different. By Jasmon Drain
He meant it pretty like a great person. That used to be enough. Gerome meant pretty like I want to fuck you. Lonnie meant that too, but he didn’t know how to say it like that. He was a simple church boy with one leg now.
Reah had to help him do everything when he got back, use the bathroom, move to the table, did all the work during sex. She would call Gerome after he went to sleep and talk all night about their problems. After about a month of this, she started sneaking out late to his house. Lonnie would be sound asleep, or so she thought.
A couple times, he woke when the door clicked. He figured she deserved a complete man. Her leaving didn’t hurt so bad. When she got home, he’d even hug her, overlooking the smell of Gerome’s cologne along her chest, neck, private areas. Lonnie would try to get her to make love to him right away, just to prove she still belonged to him in some way. She’d refuse.
“I need you to pay me some attention!” Lonnie would yell. Reah would just take a shower and put on her night makeup. Yes, makeup to go to sleep in.
“Ain’t I pretty?” She asked him. Of course a yes, with a frown. Reah would peck him on the cheek, off to sleep.
Gerome even started calling the house when his “real” girlfriend wasn’t with him. Lonnie wasn’t quick enough with that wheelchair to get to the receiver before Reah, but knew there was another man on the line. He just knew. In his mind, the voice matched the cologne.
“You need to pay some attention to me!” Lonnie yelled again. Reah fanned her hand. He heard Gerome on the phone telling her how pretty she was.
A kiss, some dinner, a small amount of sex – if there was such a thing – and Lonnie was off to sleep, one eye open.
Reah, eyeliner and shadow, dabble of lip gloss and fresh curls – sometimes paid for by Gerome – snatched her jacket to go.
“Don’t leave, Reah.” Lonnie begged. “Stay with me tonight?”
Reah turned her head to him, a wink, and fanned that hand.
Reah arrived at Gerome’s before the girlfriend she knew nothing about was home.
Gerome moved quickly, not a lot of time, he thought. He pressed his chest to hers, snatched her Lonnie bought blouse off – ripped it a little – and chewed at her body. She didn’t care what he did, as long as she was pretty.
“I’m pretty now," she replied.
“I’m pretty right?” She asked him. Yup. Her panties were down. He on top of her, rough. A key in the door lock. Gerome’s eyes opened wide, her’s didn’t. Alina and Friend. Gerome lifted, said he didn’t know her. Friend held Reah down in the bed, still naked. A shiny knife cut her pretty face in so many places.
Doctors spent hours on her in surgery. Said she would have permanent scars. Two hundred stitches for too much damage. Would be a while before she could function regularly.
She called home, to Lonnie’s house, but no answer. She called again. No answer. Come on, baby! Pick up! I need you right now! Still no answer. She yelled at the nurse to dial, maybe she had the wrong number, but there was never any answer.
Jasmon Drain, a former law student, is now a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction at an Illinois University. His goal is to "learn about himself, his life, and his people through the study and creation of literature."