Welcome to "A Scarry Night" Flash Fiction Challenge posed by Patti Abbott. Recently, Patti overheard a conversation between a man and a woman. The woman said, "I really don't mind the scars." This became the inspiration behind this Flash Fiction Challenge -- to use that particular line in a story of 800 words or less.
He noticed the attractive twenty-something cashier the moment he walked into the store. She had long, curly brown hair and wore a red sweater that fit just perfectly. He pretended to look at the DVDs; but when their eyes met briefly, she blushed.
Another cashier relieved the pretty one.
She walked towards him. “Can I help you?”
"I’m trying to decide between Taken and Ransom."
"If you're into a kidnapping drama, I’d recommend Fargo, or possibly Raising Arizona -- an earlier work by the Coen brothers with a lot of laughs.”
“Thanks for the suggestions, uh, Karen,” he said, nodding towards her name tag. “I’ll keep them in mind. My name’s Kevin, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Kevin.”
He smiled. “I know it’s a bit forward, but are you getting a break any time soon? Maybe we can have a bite to eat at the food court?”
“I’m about to take a lunch break, and I guess I wouldn’t mind the company.”
Karen told the store manager she was taking her lunch break.
They chose pizza and Cokes. Kevin treated.
They chatted, mainly about movies and music. He caught Karen staring at the scars on his muscled forearm.
He rubbed his arm. “This happened when I was little. I yanked on the cord of a steam vaporizer in my room, and the scalding water fell on my arm and chest.”
“I’m so sorry. It must have been devastating. How frightening.”
“I spent a few weeks in the burn unit, and I don’t remember most of it. I really don’t mind the scars. I’m lucky I survived.”
Karen glanced at her watch. “I’ve got to get back. Thanks for the pizza and the company.”
“I’d like to walk you back — I gotta hit the men’s room first. Can you wait?”
As he headed towards the restrooms, Karen dumped the garbage and returned the tray.
Two females grabbed her. One held her arms back as the other took a straight edge to Karen’s face. She screamed and instinctively held her face as it spurted blood. The assailants took off in different directions.
People were yelling, “Call 911!” Some were crying, running away with their children in tow.
First aid responders tended to her quickly. One cop issued an APB over his radio with a description of the suspects. Another cop was passing out paper and pens to the witnesses, asking them to write their names, phone numbers, and a brief description of the attackers. They were instructed not to compare notes with anyone, and would eventually meet with detectives to give formal statements.
Upon his return, Kevin witnessed the commotion. He scanned the crowd, searching for Karen. He waded through the onlookers, panicking when he didn’t see Karen. He made it near the table where they sat, but crime scene tape was already up.
He saw the victim with curly brown hair, wearing a red sweater, lying on the ground, covered in blood.
“What happened here?" Kevin said to a stunned gawker.
“She was attacked by two females with a straight razor. I overheard the cops say this has gang-initiation written all over it -- they said something about the victim wearing red. They're asking anyone with information to write down their name, contact number, and a description of the suspects."
Kevin took a pen and a sheet of paper. He started scribbling.
He walked toward the vestibule near the pay phones. He placed a call on his cell.
When Primo answered, Kevin blasted him. “What the hell happened? You told me to bring her to the food court. I did. This beautiful girl is now disfigured — if she doesn’t bleed to death first!”
“I really don't mind the scars. She earned them when she broke up with me. Look, the deed’s done. You held up your end of the bargain. You can have your sister back. She’ll be dumped on the south side entrance of the mall, unharmed.”
She’d better be, he thought.
“Get the hell out of there, Peter,” he said. “I hope you didn’t use your real name.”
“Give me some credit. My sister better not have one scratch on her.”
“Not to worry. She’s fine.”
Before leaving, Peter slipped a folded paper to a cop. “Can you pass this along to the detectives? It may be useful to them.”
It contained the full name, description, address, and cell phone number of the man who kidnapped his sister and set up Karen’s assault.