novel #1.3

Cadillac 3
Chapter 3 (To read this novel from the beginning, click here)
As Pap snaps back Bruce’s pinkie, it occurs to me that if the man is gonna be so scaredy about security then he should also inspect our phones for bugs and our persons for wires. He has never done this, however, probably because his paranoia is married with his penchant for self-important superiority. He doesn’t believe we’re intelligent or resourceful enough to sneak anything by him in any sophisticated manner, and in his mind he knows we’re too frightened to go the police or any other agency that might help us with the difficult work. He is smart enough not to let me bring a purse inside. I argued this briefly, saying I had certain necessities in that purse (lighters, mace, toiletries, etc.). Once a month, I made a point of telling him I needed to use the restroom and “borrow” a tampon from Chelsea. I did this mostly to irritate Pap. He finally got pissy about it and, on what he said was Chelsea’s advice, bought me a Diva Cup. Now I hold my tongue.
             Bruce scrunches his face and flexes the muscles around his eyes and in his neck as he works against the pain. He makes a muted, animalistic sound nonetheless that’s reminiscent of a raccoon yowling. Pap lets go, and Bruce’s pinkie is angled obtusely, grotesquely away from his other fingers. Then it falls obliquely back in line, the color bright against his tan. Any sane person would wrap his hand in ice quick as can be, but Pap won’t allow it. The swelling is part of the punishment, an instance in which Pap’s behavior veers away from the judicious and lands on sadism. I think that’s where his heart is, really. I think that if he didn’t love his girls and Champagne and money and golf carts and club memberships so much, he’d wallow very happily in a world of hands-on pugilism, rape, and thieving. As it is, he dabbles in these areas mostly at arm’s length, allowing himself only an occasional moment of gratification, as he has here, grinning broadly, staring down at the finger that has already doubled in circumference.
              For half a minute we are all quiet, studying Bruce’s broken digit. The silence is awkward because Bruce, if he ever decided he’d had enough abuse, or more realistically if he ever became so frightened and angry that he lashed out, could be a quite formidable threat to Pap. The two men are similar in height and build with Bruce being an inch taller and some ten pounds heavier. Unquestionably, he is less intelligent than Pap. Probably, he is not as quick in the fast twitch muscle department. Perhaps he does not know as much about fighting in close quarters. Nevertheless, if I were Pap, the prospect of backlash would give me pause. Does Pap gain confidence from my presence? Does he think that I would assist him because he employs me? Honestly, I’m not sure if I would or wouldn’t. I sympathize with Bruce and usually fancy that I am in this line of work more because I’m good at it and enjoy it and not because I need the money. The money, however, is quite a perk and if the moment ever comes, the thought of future paychecks might just sway me.
             Finally, Pap shakes his head, looks sourly at Bruce and says, “Pendejo. Use that enormous head of yours. You’re no good to me without your hands.”
              Bruce nods back and forth in a rhythmic manner of agreement that translates down through his whole body. It is a motion employed more to handle the sensations in his finger than to affirm his understanding.
              Pap goes to the refrigerator and comes back with a Negra Modelo. He does not offer one to me or to Bruce and we do not expect him to. I have often considered that if I wanted to kill Pap, one of the best methods would be to spike his cervezas with some poison or other. How I would pop the caps to access the liquid, I’m not exactly sure. I suspect that Pap is careful enough that if the fizz and hiss are not perfectly consistent upon removing the cap then he would drain out the contents. I am not sure of this. It is conceivable that carefully prying off the cap, dropping in a tear of cyanide, and replacing the cap just so would do the trick.
             After taking a swig, Pap says, “Tell me what you know about Prince Rupert.”
             He doesn’t mean the city in Canada. He means the bull over in the western half of Palm Beach County. It’s a great big Chianina bull. It is rumored to weigh two tons, and on Monday that rumor will be put to the test by the good people at Hanson Dairy and the Guiness Book of World Records.
              “He’s a damn big animal,” I say.
              “He’s as white as my hand is red,” says Bruce. This is the kind of nonsensical thing that occasionally spouts from his lips when he’s trying to show how thoughtful he is—in this case to show how much of a team player he can be even as he suffers. I sympathize but can’t help rolling my eyes.
              “He is extremely white,” says Pap.
              “He’s going to break that record.” I feel I can say this with a deal of confidence. I have seen the bull. I have seen his size. He’s bigger than a damn Cadillac. Must be heavier, too. A truly stupendous animal.
              Pap spreads his hands, palms up. “Yes, if he is weighed, he will get the record. But you see, I cannot have him get the record.”
              “We could kill him,” Bruce says.
              “They would still weigh him. They would still honor him—or it’s very likely they would. And Hanson must have twenty pounds of that bull’s semen already in a bank. So it will not help me to have the bull dead. Let me add that it would be a nightmare to steal him. Where would we put him? How would we get him? Would we pasture or slaughter him? It’s difficult logistically. No, I want him to be weighed. I want him to be tested, and I want him to be disgraced.”
(To read BIGGER THAN A CADILLAC from the beginning, click here
– Candice Cousins
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