He didn't want to admit it. Maybe she was right. What was that adage his mother always used to say? "When it rains it pours", wasn't that it? God, at least the old crow had been good for one thing: the ability to pop out a witty line when things looked their most bleak. "It's always darkest before the dawn." Well, thought Samuel Easley from the front seat of his Buick, maybe that's where I get my optimistic outlook on things.
With a grunt, he wiped the windshield for the fiftieth time, again cursing the lousy weather that had descended upon Philadelphia this summer. Damn, this weather was horrible. I'll be lucky if I don't wrap this thing around a tree. At this Samuel gave a wry grin, reaching into his breast pocket for his third Lucky Strike of the ride. Man, about five months ago totaling my car would have been a good thing. It would have ended the pain, the frustration he had felt for too long.
Now, there was a chance for things to get better. If all this works out like Gabrielle said.... he dismissed this alien, optimistic thought from his mind like swatting a fly. I gotta see things with my own two eyes before I'll believe them. At least the Boulevard was empty at this time of night, so the trip wasn't as bad as it could be.
"Imagine this rain with heavy traffic on all sides of you.; you might be hurt very badly. Sammy, please slow down!" That same annoying, paranoid voice of his mother rebounded through his head like it always did. Samuel snatched the car's lighter from the socket, jabbing it onto the edge of the cigarette, igniting it with a hiss. If only I could burn away that voice as easily as this. That thought caused him to giggle as he neared the Three Oaks Motor Lodge.
Had it always been this way? Of course it had, chum. Once the rain starts falling it never lets up. Even as a kid, everything was a threat, an obstacle in his way. Instead of helping her child overcome his fears, Mrs. Easley had fostered them. "You can never be too cautious, Sammy" The boy grew to avoid problems instead of dealing with them. "Remember to always look before you leap." Confidence cannot grow if it's not seeded correctly. In this regard, the garden was flooded before the soil could take form and produce fruit.
It was from this garden that Edna had raised her lovely neurotic, self-loathing little man. Unto the cruel world the little man was then inserted, but not entirely alone. Of course not - the apron strings were wrapped around his neck. "We'll always be here for you, Sammy. Just look over your shoulder when you need us." Not if I need you, he had always ruminated . No, that would have been too dangerous. All the things that might have provided joy, like sports and the like, they were bad. Why, they were just filled with hidden pitfalls waiting to swallow the unwary. Instead of leading the life others had, young Samuel had helped out Mr. Rosenwald at his hardware store. "It'll build character. The world needs more responsible, upstanding people. Not a bunch of hooligans wasting time."
Since college had never really been an option, Samuel had chosen the only route out of the nest. If he hadn't found that Army recruiter, he might have been Mr. Rosenwald's 'assistant' his whole goddamn life. Dad had been thrilled: "Maybe the Army will make a man out of him. Lord knows I can't." My, his father had always been so supportive. It was with a grin that he had boarded a bus bound for South Carolina, bypassing Edna and Charles Easley with a callousness gained from years of deprivation. Now, Samuel was away from Norristown for the first time in his life. The world was now open to him at last. It seemed only a matter of time until Hitler dragged the United States into the European conflict. It was against the Huns that he would prove his worth. He would now swim through the deluge to the dry shores that awaited him. Filled with hope, Samuel Easley prepared to walk into the sunshine.
It turned out to be a sunshower instead.
It was late 1941 and the madman did indeed drag the country into the burgeoning Second World War. Everywhere, men geared up to do battle with the fiend. They boarded ships for Europe and the Pacific theaters to meet their destiny. Samuel met his destiny in South Carolina, thousands of miles from his expected rendezvous. A bum ankle, twisted during Basic, left him unfit for combat and an even more sour man by the time of his medical discharge. He stepped from the bus back onto Main Street as the storm clouds grew darker.
Luckily, the next few months had passed rather quickly. He had met Janet at a Labor Day party a few weeks after coming home. "She's such a nice girl. Hold on to that one, honey." It seemed a ray of hope, one of the few bright spots amidst the tempest. The wedding. A good job with the city of Philadelphia's department of zoning, "It's a fine place to start. Think of the potential!" Yeah, being a toady for the Zoning Commissioner, who was just another one of the mayor's stooges.
The next ten years then slipped by like a mudslide, with Samuel falling deeper into the flood. The good job grew slowly into a trap, a disaster of a marriage combined with a dead-end job with little hope of advancement. Frustration with his "career" led to constant bickering in the Easely household. An inability to impregnate Janet drove the wedge even further between them. Her sad crying each night did nothing for his now surly disposition; if anything, it heightened his resentment towards the storm. The soap opera played itself out for another year, culminating in her leaving him about three weeks after his latest failure at a promotion.
He chuckled at the thought of her tear stained note he had discovered on the kitchen table. "I'll be with my mother until we can work things out. You've got problems you've got to deal with; problems I can't seem to help with. If you would only let me in, Sammy...." Hell, let her in? Why let her in when what he needed was to get out - out from under everything that always held him down? I'd rather drown here than wait for a life preserver made out of stone. Samuel hadn't given his bride much thought since he had tossed her heartfelt note into the trash.
"Everything happens for a reason, Sammy" Maybe that explained things. He had run into her during one of his habitual late nights at the office struggling to get ahead. Samuel had noticed the slim blonde one night as he passed her in the hall. He had never seen her before, knowing all the sows he worked with far too well. She usually gave him a shy smile as they had passed, the kind teenage girls are famous for the world over. It had been enough, though. The girl had intrigued him, the way she moved seemed like a fresh breeze in a sea laden with a foul stench. It took him another two nights to gather the stones to talk to her. After all, he was a married man. People might talk. Miraculously he had put aside these convictions and made his way into Administration to meet the new girl.
Her name was Gabrielle. She had just finished high school and had taken this job, a night Filing Clerk, when it had been offered to her by her uncle, Mr. Neilsen. Carl Neilsen, the same man who was Samuel's boss. The same prick who had held him under the waves of mediocrity for as long as Samuel could remember. How could such a beauty come from a bunch of skunks like the Neilsens? It was a puzzle Samuel couldn't even begin to solve; instead, he cast it aside. You know what they say about picking your family...
A mischievous grin spread across his face as he continued to think about Mr. Neilsen's sweet little niece. Two nights after their meeting, they met at Manny's for coffee. It turned out they had a lot in common. She liked his raw sense of humor, and she agreed that the Phillies wouldn't see the light of day until the next decade. They were both stuck in lousy jobs (although he tried to be careful - after all, this was the boss' niece, for God's sake). That whole night, they had laughed about all the fools in their office. God, here was a woman, well really a girl, who could appreciate all those things he did. Samuel knew in his heart he loved Janet, but he had never felt completely satisfied. She just couldn't understand his bitterness, his seething anger towards a world that rejected him. Janet heard him, but she didn't listen to him. "It'll get better, Sammy. Patience is a virtue." It had just been his mother all over again.
Gabrielle did more than just listen. They met when they could, slipping out for long coffee breaks and more. She saw through the defenses he threw up. The reasons that life had conspired against him, why it wasn't his fault that everything had gone wrong. She was like a surgeon with a silken blade, cutting away a cancer deep within him, one grown from self-doubt, a defeatist attitude and a helping of Catholic guilt. It was time the doctor cured the patient. "If you want change, Sam, you'll have to do it yourself. Nobody's going to give you anything. Take what you want." Here was someone who did more than give him a motto to inspire confidence. She gave him something to be confident about.
A close friendship blossomed in mere days. The anger that had grown within Samuel was nurtured by her "tough love," as future generations would come to call it. The man he knew he was inside - the one who was told to control himself, to be polite and respectful - had had enough. Gabrielle had given him lots of advice about her Uncle Carl: what kind of qualities he sought in his employees, what he liked to see in them. He had taken her advice, changing his style of dress, his attitude (as best he could), and the amount of effort he put into a shitty job. To his chagrin, it seemed to work. Just the other day, Neilsen had commented on the quality of a particular project Samuel had completed. Jeez, it really was working, just like Gabrielle had said it would.
He knew she had been seducing him. His mother would have screamed that he was robbing the cradle. The new Samuel Easely didn't feel a bit of guilt about it. His respect for her friendship was tempered with pure, raw lust for the nubile teenager. He valued her as a friend but the urge to have her outweighed anything else he felt. He knew she felt the same way and confirmed it by asking him to meet her at a motel after work. Her soft voice over the telephone, asking him if they could talk. In a flash, he was on his way out.
Samuel pulled into the nearly flooded parking lot in front of the Three Oaks Motor Lodge. With a growl, he stepped out of the car into the downpour, turning his gaze towards room number 26. He broke into his out-of-shape jog (the one Janet had often giggled about) and made his way to the room where Gabrielle waited for him. It had taken him by surprise when she had called. Meet her at that fleabag motel? What if somebody saw him... enough of that. It was time to live.
He knocked and waited patiently like Mrs. Easely had always taught him. "Good things come to those who wait." Well, he waited and nobody answered the door. Maybe it's a prank; maybe she's been yanking my chain the whole time. Little wench probably isn't even...
The door slid open with a creak, the light from within spilling out onto the deluge. "Are you going to stand out there all night, Sam? It's much warmer in here, you know..."
Samuel scurried inside, shutting the door quickly behind him. In typical old Samuel Easely style, he complained, throwing his raincoat onto one of the room's cheap chairs. "What a crappy night! God, couldn't we have just met at Manny's? I mean, if my brakes are all messed up because of the rain, I'll get killed on the way home."
He brushed the rain out of his thinning hair and raised his head, finding her in front of the bureau mirror. Gabrielle gracefully brushed her shoulder length blonde hair, each stroke a seemingly flawless motion. He stood in a daze, mesmerized by her as she carefully continued. Then, without a sound, she rose from the chair. Samuel gasped as he took in her form, the lust seething within him.
Gabrielle stood before him in a rose colored silk chemise, a look of innocent playfulness upon her face. "I bought it for you Sam. I was hoping tonight could be...special."
Gotta think of something to say, gotta be witty, gotta be...
As he fumbled for the right words, his angel crossed the room, throwing open her arms to him. Samuel shivered in her embrace, not as much from the rain as from fear. This was something that was not done. A married man being in a hotel room with a teenage girl. Ashamed for being there, he immediately looked down only to have his chin raised by her soft hand. Gabrielle looked into the eyes of confusion, the eyes of a man helplessly lost. "It's too late to go back. You've gone this far. Don't you want to be the man you know is inside you?"
Stuttering, he found it impossible to find any sort of words.
"All you need is to believe in yourself. To bring out that man, a man who takes charge of a situation instead of the situation taking charge of him." She grinned, the scent of her perfume intoxicating his senses as he now stared into her eyes. "Is there something you want, Sam? Hmmmm?" The playful grin returned, bringing a slight laugh out of the man before her.
"Well?" Samuel quickly nodded as her hand now caressed his five o'clock shadow, her nails rubbing softly against his stubble. "I want to..."
Gabrielle smiled, putting a finger to his lips, whispering, "Show me." For a moment, the only sound remained the crash of rain beating against the motel room's window, stacked beneath Samuel Easley's haggard breathing. With a deep breath, he drew Gabrielle to him, his lips descending upon her breasts. In that moment, he gave into the flood, diving headlong into a whirlpool that would take him away forever.
It continued like this for nearly four months. At work, they kept up a professional ruse, playing up the co-worker appearance as best they could. Most people didn't seem to notice a thing. At best, Samuel might greet Gabrielle by the watercooler and exchange pleasantries, as most employees would. Considering that Gabrielle worked evenings, the office was generally empty anyway. They met at least once a week, sometimes twice if her schedule allowed it. After work, she would leave by bus as she generally did and get off at Samson Street six blocks from work. There, he would pick her up and head for a variety of different motels, now generally arranged by Samuel. It was 1952 after all; a teenage girl renting hotel rooms for the night was certain to raise too many questions. Within the walls of dingy motels, they made love like frenzied animals for hours on end.
A man of that era might have been shocked that his teenage mistress was not a virgin. All the better for the lecherous Samuel, who used her to fulfill his darkest, most suppressed fantasies. No act seemed too vile for her, as she willingly allowed him to plunder her flesh and sate his animalistic lust. Observers in the Nineties might have described their secret rendezvous as BDSM sessions, filled with horrible acts of sadism. It never seemed enough for him, however. Samuel remained avaricious, taking from the young girl as much as he could.
Behind the walls of the Oriole Motel, the Caprice Motor Lodge and other firetraps, the lovers would later talk for hours, often about Samuel's ambitions for the future. As the weeks passed, it seemed Neilsen had finally noticed Samuel's effort, even stopping by his desk to comment on one of his projects. The thought of it brought a huge grin to Samuel's face, the smile of someone who finally feels that recognition is right around the corner. Not only was Gabrielle good for pleasure, but for information about her uncle. With her advice, Samuel had begun to dress differently, carry himself differently and all together be a peon to be noticed. Suddenly, it wasn't so bad to be a kissass, he had thought with a chuckle.
Another ride to the Caprice, another rainy night. But this time, Samuel drove with renewed vigor, seeing at last a sliver of light through the blackness. Gabrielle had heard that a new position would soon be opening in her uncle's department: Assistant to the Zoning Commish. Although he had doubts, Gabrielle seemed convinced he could get it. She had quickly told him on the phone, "Don't worry, Uncle Carl is really starting to like you, Sam. He has said so, a couple of times at least. Think about it: the reward for all your hard work in this ratshit job. A chance to leapfrog over all the jerks in the office and get the job you deserve." If it was true...nah, couldn't be. Well, might as well ask her about afterwards, he thought with a lewd chuckle. He strolled through the parking lot as he did so many times, trying his best to look casual. Opening the door, she sat at the mirror, just as she did all those months ago.
This time, he strode right into the room, sitting across from her on the bed. Samuel leaned back, gesturing for him to join her on the bed. He laid back and closed his eyes, awaiting the pleasure his young mistress had brought so many times. He waited a moment or two then quickly rose to look at her, finding her still brushing her hair. "Well?" he asked impatiently, wondering what was wrong with her. Gabrielle smiled softly, then laid the hairbrush down and moved to the bed. God, I even love the way she walks, he thought. Beautiful, perfect in every way. The teenager sat beside Samuel on the bed, his hand moving to her hair, stroking it gently just the way she loved. "Well?" Nothing. Not a word. Just that smile. Samuel asked again, now not caring for her silence.
Just like Janet. Do they all end up this way sooner or later? he pondered.
"I think it's time we talked, Sam."
With a grunt, he rolled over, turning to face the wall. For the first time, there grew the dreaded Uncomfortable Silence, which Samuel finally sliced open with a growl. "Listen, I'm not in the mood for this, all right? If you want games, I can think of some games to play." The beginnings of a migraine had begun the way they always did: a dull throbbing in the forehead and then stabbing southward into his eyes. He closed his eyes and listened for an answer.
"I know you can think of games, Sam. You're quite imaginative when you put your mind to it. In fact, these past few months you've learned quite a bit. You've really come out of your shell and developed into something. But now I think it's time you thanked me."
This brought another grunt from her lover. "Thank you?" He turned over and looked up at Gabrielle, that same placid smile on her face. God, what's her problem?
"I've done all I can for you. Now let's talk about what I want."
In a rage Samuel leapt from his crouch, bearing a hateful glare directly at his mistress. What was the big idea? "You little bitch! You'll do what I tell you, understand me?" His explosion only widened the grin on the girl's face as she studied him, sending into a fury. He lashed his hand towards the smile, intending to wipe it from her visage.
But as fast his maddened fist flew, it never had a chance versus her dainty hand, which she seemed to raise with very little effort. It lashed out like a vine, entangling his wrist. Then, like a vise, she squeezed his wrist, eliciting a howl of pain from the shocked man. With a twist, she then snapped his wrist with a soft pop before releasing him.
He fell from the bed in shock, not knowing whether to scream or attack the girl. He chose the latter, rising to his feet. Gabrielle sighed then struck him in the forehead with an open-handed slap that threw him back to the floor, where he would stay.
From the floor, he studied her. She sat back down on the bed, watching him now with almost bored disinterest. He blinked quickly, now realizing he was bleeding from his forehead. With a growl he spoke: "You little...you hurt me! You better remember who's in charge here!" He tried to stand but then thought better of it. His heart raced, the pain in his forehead throbbing like he'd never felt before.
Gabrielle raised her right hand, studying it for a second before speaking to him. "Are you through now? If not, we can continue." She waited and smiled when he wisely declined. "For all my efforts, you're still a cowardly child at heart. But all in all, you'll do just fine. I've lived up to my part of the bargain. I've let you rape me, torture me, humiliate me all for your twisted pleasures. Anything to build up that fragile ego of yours and give you some self confidence. Now you're primed for what I need. Oh, I'm sorry, my dear, are you confused?"
Gabrielle gave that same soft laugh he had always associated with love, with satisfaction and most of all trust. It suddenly felt so wrong, when a night before it had comforted him in all his insecurities. "Sammy, still waters run deep."
"Let me explain. It's not that I haven't enjoyed the things you've done to me. In fact, it felt pretty good at times. But what I really desire, what I lust for you can't even imagine with that peabrain of yours, Sammy." She stood and slipped down onto the floor across from him. Terrified, he tried to scramble away. With a whisper, she pulled him back with firm silken hands. "No, really, you'll enjoy my games. In time, you'll beg to play them. You've got real potential. But first, the master must learn how to serve."
Samuel whimpered like a child as she pulled him close to her, resting his head on her bosom. She hushed him now just like his mother used to, even speaking in that same tone his mother had used when trying to get her point across. "You're going to get that job in the zoning office. It shouldn't be any problem now. Lucien needs information about a place on Ogontz. He'd like to get it rezoned as a commercial site, maybe even a church ,who knows? But we can talk about that later. The Archbishop probably doesn't know anything about the place. All the better. Anyway, we've got lots of time for that."
He shivered against her flesh. She now felt ice cold when before she had been so warm, so comforting. He looked up at her, his eyes brimming with tears.
"Everything is gonna to be alright, Sammy. I promise you that. Don't worry about earlier; I forgive you. You're just upset."
He closed his eyes and felt her lips kiss him softly on the forehead. In fact, next she licked his forehead, which caused him to jump. Samuel opened his eyes again to see her licking her lips.
"Oh, while we're at it, we might as well get everything out of the way."
Gabrielle grinned, her face melting to that of a white, misshapen corpse right before his burning eyes. Samuel screamed like a child, never having known terror like this. He struggled to escape from her tight embrace but it was futile. "Hmmmm," the thing purred. "I think you can be a valuable asset to clan Nosferatu. What do you think, Sammy? One more time, for old times' sake?"
He shrieked again as she roared with laughter, her rotten tongue descending for one more succulent kiss. Her wet saliva pulled him back down into the swirling torrent. Samuel Easley drowned that night, the sound of the rain outside the only witness to his demise.
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