“You were exceptional today, Marisa.”
Jodi is a phenomenal physical therapist and she means well, but Marisa knows a half-truth when she hears it. She’s told more than her share, and it’s the greater part of her job to say things that have just enough veracity in them, that they could actually be plausible. Jodi builds up people one way, and Marisa? Well-
“Oh, my God, look at all the flowers!” Jodi exclaims with excitement, and she forgets that Marisa cannot maintain her balance without her. She catches Marisa before she falls, which is the first time anyone has ever done that in her life.
“Hey, Babe, I’m glad to see that you are up and about,” comes a smooth voice from behind them. Jodi turns and Marisa almost plummets again. “You like?” asks Roger with a tone so mellifluous that it would go well with either tea or bread. His looks surpass his voice, though despite her absence of makeup and her infirmity, Marisa is his equal in attractiveness.
Almost the entire room is covered in roses, and Roger holds out his arms and says, “Nothing is too special for my special lady.”
Yeah, “special.” Marisa notes that most of the blooms are old, spotted or have black leaves. Also, none of the colors match, so she figures that Roger must have raided every supermarket in the surrounding area…and possibly even some cemeteries. Roger gently tilts her chin, caresses Marisa and looks her over.
“That plastic surgeon did a pretty spectacular job. The scars are really only visible in direct sunlight.”
“I really don’t mind the scars,” Marisa mumbles.
“Well, hopefully another surgery can bring out all the beauty that was there before. Please…listen to your therapist, and work hard to get better. I miss you, and all the girls miss you, too.”
Roger kisses her, but Marisa turns away. He caresses her one last time and leaves.
Despite her envy, Jodi smiles. “Wow, you are really lucky to have a man like that. Have you two been together a long time?”
“Don’t worry about it,” she grunts as she sits on the bed with great difficulty. “Roger and I are not exclusive.”
“Yeah, he’s my pimp.”
No, Marisa doesn’t mind the scars at all. Despite her disheveled state, she still manages to turn heads in this hospital. These wounds are her reminder to work harder in her rehabilitation. They are a maimed mnemonic that someone did this to her, and that would-be killer is someone powerful. He’s possibly too powerful and untouchable for a simple prostitute like Marisa to get revenge.
She has always been able to spot the psychos, and that intuition never let her down. If anything, Roger let her down by offering her up on a platter to that “political advisor,” Clifton Maynard. Marisa is also fairly certain that Roger slipped her something that day, but it’s hard to remember just what happened.
She does remember the face of her attacker, and she has been reminded of it, as Clifton Maynard has been on TV twice since she has been admitted here. He was standing right behind the mayor with that deceivingly boyish grin. Marisa also remembers her disbelief at all that blood. She remembers thinking that it couldn’t possibly be all hers, but it was. Marisa wants to suppress her fear, her screams, and channel that pain into getting better.
“Welcome home, Baby!”
There are no flowers this time, and none of the girls are here to greet her. Roger believes that they are angry at Marisa because they had to work harder to cover the loss of the stable’s top earner, but Marisa knows otherwise. It took two more surgeries and six months of physical therapy to come to this full, twisted circle.
“You can take the next couple of days off, and get comfortable.”
Marisa already has, as it came to her in an anesthetic-fueled dream.
A pimp must know all the weaknesses of a woman, or he’ll go broke. Women can be mercurial, so Roger has always made it a point to stay one step ahead of the girls in his stable. Of course, that goes both ways in that Marisa knows Roger’s deficiencies almost as well as he knows hers.
For instance, he likes to videotape everything.
It’s his Kryptonite. Marisa went without during her hospital stay, just so that her pimp could do with. Roger will OD tonight and it will look like a homicide, of that she is certain. Then, when Roger’s cousin reads about this, she will panic and send the media some copies of that tape of Clifton Maynard nearly killing Marisa.
Clifton will take the fall for Roger’s murder, of that she is almost certain. Either way, when all is said and done, she will kill two birds.
This story was for Patti Abbott's latest flash fiction challenge, and you know that she always comes up with the best ones. She said-
"On Saturday night, we passed a young woman on the street who was talking to her male companion and said, "I really don't mind the scars." A good startup line for a little challenge perhaps. I looked for a picture to go with it but 1) they scarred (make that scared) me too much to post and 2) I felt like the pictures steered the story.
So how about a 800 or so word story that contains that line in it. How about an end date of February 28th? What do you think?
If you don't have a blog to post it on, I'll post it here with mine. Just give me a few days' notice."