I walked slowly behind him, anticipating Rae’s father’s arrival any moment. Grog opened the door to what looked like a small bedroom that had been created out of a big closet.
“What is this?” I asked, surprised.
“Ashley’s father’s little hideaway. Perfect, huh?” he asked.
I shook my head. There wasn’t a window. Behind me, the music got louder. Where were Rae’s father and the other policemen?
“Well, let’s get to it. Just pretend we’re in the nurse’s office in school,” Grog said, unbuttoning his shirt quickly and then undoing his pants.
I looked back. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. Silent screams stuck in my throat when my heart began to pound warnings.
“What’s up?” Grog asked, standing there with his pants half down.
I turned without replying and headed back across the office, but when I reached the door, all the other boys were standing there.
“Where are you going, Phoebe?” Ashley asked. “He wasn’t that fast, was he?”
I tried to look past them for Rae and Taylor.
“Where’s Rae? Where’s Taylor?” I demanded.
“Oh, they had another appointment,” Skip said. “They told me to tell you, don’t worry. They’ll be back.”
“What? Be back? What are you talking about? Where are they?” I demanded, and tried to look past them.
“Hey,” I heard Grog call from the little room, “I’m ready!”
“He’s ready,” all the boys chorused.
“What’s the matter, Phoebe?” Ashley asked, stepping closer. “Expecting someone else?”
“Let me outta here,” I said, feeling I was snared in some spider’s web that was partly my own making. I tried to push past them, but they held fast, not making any space for me.
“Don’t tell me we didn’t pay you enough,” Ashley said. “You don’t get this much on the street, plus benefits.”
They were all looking lustfully at me, their eyes burning with pornographic fantasies. I backed up. This was really a trap, and I had walked right into it, arrogantly, confidently, stupidly. There were no policemen; there was no sting operation. What kind of girls would do this to me? The boys stepped forward, moving in a clump.
“Tell you what,” Ashley said. “For another hundred, we’ll all be able to watch. What do you say?”
I spun around. Grog was in the doorway behind me, his pants and shirt off.
“Bastards!” I screamed at them, scooped a small statue off the desk, and held it like a club.
“Put that down,” Ashley ordered.
Panicked now, I swung it and hit Skip Lester, who was moving up on my right. I caught him on the side of his forehead, the small pedestal of the statue cutting deeply and quickly into his skull. Blood spurted instantly, and all the boys washed back like a wave at the sight of it. Skip staggered and fell toward them. I saw my opportunity and ran past them through the office doorway.
I heard them screaming after me, but I didn’t hesitate. I went right to the front door and out, charging down the steps.
“Get her and bring her back here!” Ashley ordered the others from the open doorway.
I ran as fast as I could down the driveway, almost slipping on the slickness from the drizzle, and then I cut across the lawn and into some bushes and trees. I heard the boys’ footsteps clacking behind me on the driveway. I continued to charge forward, bushes catching my dress and tearing it, but I didn’t stop until I was out on the road. I could still hear them shouting after me. I kept running until I reached a street corner and paused to catch my breath and listen.
They had stopped chasing me. I no longer heard them. After a few minutes, I continued walking quickly until there was nothing behind me but the darkness and a bad memory.
The Best of Nothing