3.1: Danny

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Which brings us back to the liquor store, where at that moment Danny was cornered next to the sizable assortment of boxed wines. The woman Danny had seen flirting with the boy behind the counter was now walking directly towards her. Danny wasn’t sure if what she was seeing was real or perhaps exaggerated by the harsh fluorescent lights, but the woman looked dead. Her eyes were dark and detached, open but unseeing. Her hair had the clumpy, dull look of a child’s doll that has been abandoned by the side of the road.

When the woman’s lips curled into a smile, Danny started to scream. The woman was on her faster than any human being should ever be able to move. She grabbed Danny by the hair and pulled her to the floor. Before she knew what was happening the woman was sitting on her chest with her hand covering her mouth. The hand was dry and ice cold. The woman made the SHHH sound with her mouth and Danny was still trying to scream through the woman’s hand. It wasn’t working.

“You’re afraid of me,” the woman said, looking down at her. Danny, feeling as though she were asked a question, responded, even though every instinct in her body wailed at her not to engage this thing in conversation, but to instead do everything in her power to escape. Danny nodded, yes, she was afraid of her.

“You can see me,” the woman said, interested. Before Danny had a chance to respond, the woman spoke again.

“If you give me something, I’ll let you go and you can leave. But you have to promise not to scream. Do you promise?”

Danny nodded enthusiastically. She would give this thing whatever it wanted to make it leave her alone and never look at her again with those horrible dead eyes.

“You promise? Because if I let go and you scream, I swear to you I’ll rip your fucking face off your skull. Promise?”

Danny nodded slowly. Through it all, she was distantly aware of the fact that she’d peed herself and was now laying on the floor with a warm puddle growing under her ass. The woman removed her hand from Danny’s mouth. She pointed at her and then smiled, shaking her finger, reminding her to be silent. The woman picked Danny’s purse up from the ground next to them. She took out Danny’s wallet and slipped the driver’s license out of the clear plastic window it lived in. She read it and looked at Danny.

“Danielle Maryl Farrell. I hope that’s your married name, because otherwise your parents were assholes,” after a long moment looking at the license, she spoke again. “Is the Maryl after Maryl Streep?”

Danny only stared at the woman, not even really hearing what she was saying. The woman shrugged and dropped Danny’s wallet onto her chest and got to her feet. She slipped Danny’s license into her back pocket and walked back to the counter. Dean was standing there, giggling. She picked up the bag of cigarettes and money that was sitting on the counter.

“Thanks Not Marcus,” she said with a smile as she walked out of the store. Dean waved at her as she left. At the back of the store, Danny fainted, laying in a pool of her own urine, her wallet resting on her chest, light one license.

A few years prior Danny had seen a show on television about this poor old man whose eye socket was growing excess bone. The bone was slowly pushing his eyeball first out of alignment, and ultimately out of his face entirely. It bulged out at an awkward angle and gave him an appearance literally like that of Popeye the Sailor.

The procedure that he underwent to correct this went as follows: They shave his head and put him under anesthesia. A surgeon sliced a straight line from the front of his ear, over the top of his head, down to the front of the other ear. A few muscles and tendons were then detached from his skull. Next the surgeon proceeded to peel the man’s face off of his skull. It was this image that seared into Danny’s mind. The fact that the man’s entire face could so easily be pulled off of his skull in one piece, like a Halloween mask.

The surgeon pulled the man’s eye out of the socket and rested it on his face, which was, at the time, bunched up around his nose. Next the surgeon used an electric grinder to shave the man’s eye socket to a more appropriate size. Once that was done, they put his eye back in place, pulled his face back up where it belonged (again, very much like a rubber mask) and went about reattaching the tendons and muscles. They sewed him up and bandaged his face and pretty soon he was good as new. He had a tiny little scar that ran across his hairline and that was it. Brand new healthy eye socket.

This show disturbed Danny incredibly. She couldn’t wrap her mind around the idea that someone could literally pull your entire face off in one piece so easily. It was one of those images that floated to the surface of her mind when she was laying in bed, unable to sleep. The sight of that man’s living skull, just exposed and being tinkered with like a faulty carburetor, just to be put back in place like it wasn’t any big thing.

Laying there, on the floor of the liquor store, unconscious and soaking in the cooling puddle of her pee, it was the image of her own face being removed from her skull that barraged her unconscious mind. She could see herself not in a pool of urine, but a pool of blood, leaking from her freshly removed face. Her skull, shiny and white, wet with blood, staring up at the dirty ceiling of the liquor store. That woman standing over her, holding her face like a dirty rag, smiling down at her with that awful boney grin.

So when Inez, the young Hispanic woman who was kneeling by her side yelled out “Hey Dean! There’s a dead lady on your floor!” she was understandably startled and upset, coming out of such a horrible vision to the reality of laying on that same liquor store floor. Danny screamed and scrambled to her feet, knocking over a shelf full of red wine in the process. One of the bottles shattered and sent wine and glass in all directions. She was able to get to her feet, and for some reason she was still holding onto the six pack of Zima.

“Hey lady you should lay back down! I think you need to go to the hospital!” Inez said, reaching for her hand. Danny stumbled backwards again, still clutching the drinks. She saw her purse and wallet on the floor and quickly snatched them up and headed towards the door. It never occurred to her that she should pay for the drinks she was carrying out, but luckily for her, Dean was still lost in la-la land and barely noticed that she’d left.

“Have a nice night…” Dean said without looking at her as she walked through the door and into the night.

 

 


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