Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? Do you like what you see?
“You’re trustworthy, aren’t you Arnold?”
The room he sat in, dim and stale, seemed like the setting of a mafia movie. Sixteen and terrified, Arnold sat in a small, wooden chair under the only light in the room, fiddling with his hands, as an older male, Alfonso, hovered over him. Alfonso didn’t look like he belonged here, in this dingy room. Dressed to the nines in a dark, pinstripe suit, black hair slicked back, Al was probably one of the most intimidating men the boy had ever met. He knew not to cross him, so in response, he nodded, too scared to speak.
The beast could grow inside of you, in spite of me.
That wicked grin formed upon Al’s features, grey eyes boring into Arnold for a moment, before the hand that wielded his sleek black gun, bringing it to his chin. “Good,” He said, watching as Arnold’s breath shuttered, “I’m very happy that you know I could easily blow your brains out on this cold floor and just leave your body for the wild animals. No one out there really cares about you, which is why it’s great to have you on my team. I trust you, so I wanted to show you something.” His gun fell to his side again, Arnold’s muscles finally able to relax, eyebrows arched in curiosity. “Show me...something?” He asked, clearing his throat. Al nodded, bringing a cigarette between his lips, before tossing Arnold the box.
“Oh, sir,” He said, shaking his head, “I’m not old enough.” Al scoffed, making a face at the other. “Please,” He said, waiting for Arnold to stand and follow him, “I know you smoke in the van. Do you really think I’m going to turn you in to the police?” Al snorted, guiding the teenager down a long, dark hallway with multiple doors and no windows, even more dim lighting to be seen. Head ducked, Arnold nodded and followed after him.
“I have another job for you,” Al said, stopping in front of a door close to the end, “it’s different from what you’re used to, but pays more. Are you in?” Blue eyes widened at the rusted copper doorknob Al had his fingers wrapped around, chest tightening with an anxiety he’d never felt before. Should he agree? Would it be bad for him if he didn’t? He cleared his throat, taking a deep breath. More money. He needed more money.
“Yes,” Arnold responded, composing himself, “I’m in. I’m all in.” Al, seemingly reluctant, gazed at him for a moment, expressionless… this scared him, mortified Arnold, mostly because he felt as though he knew that Al was capable of terrible terrible things. Finally, however, the older man’s lips curled up into a grin once more. “Very well,” He said, turning the knob, “step inside.”
The room looked so dark. So eerie.
He braced himself, stepping forward into the doorway, met immediately with the smell of death. At first, he couldn’t see a thing, not until Al flipped a switch and shed orange light on the horrors inside the room. A few old, riggity beds were lined up along the wall, four at least. Upon three of them were the lifeless corpses of young women, the youngest looking at least 13. He choked at the sight of their faces, skin drained of color, lips purple, eyes wide to the ceiling. One had bruises on her neck, another a slit throat, the youngest one a bullet hole between her eyes.
“These are all accidents,” Al said casually, stepping around to lift the hand of the first girl as Arnold looked on, eyes wide with horror, “one tried to escape. One wasn’t pleasing to a client. The little bitch bit one and he shot her.” Al shrugged, Arnold blinking back to reality when the older man turned to him, his words causing an unfamiliar anger to boil in his chest. “So what do you want me to do with them?” He asked through gritted teeth, trying not to show his emotions. Al could read him though.
“Arnie, my boy,” He said, moving over to place his hands on the boy’s shoulders, gripping him tightly, “these women were disposable. Just like all of my women. I’ll simply replace them with others that I find. You don’t have to feel anything for them. They are at peace from this terrible world.” He couldn’t believe the man’s words, straight from a monster's mouth… but he knew reacting now would just get him on the fourth bed. He was only sixteen. He wasn’t ready to die. “So what do you want me to do with them?” He asked again, words firmer, eyes watering over slightly. His nostrils were flaring, anger consuming him.
“I want you to dispose of them.” Al continued, nodding to the girls on the bed, “got a little deal with the mortician down out of the city. He lets me use the furnace in exchange for a generous amount of money. A generous amount you’ll be seeing after you drop them off to be incinerated.” Arnold’s lip trembled slightly, eyes moving from Al’s evil f***ing face to the women on the bed, then back. A generous amount of money. For what? Disposing of these women? Whose families were probably in shambles looking for them, begging for them to come home, and now he was just going to erase them? Like they never existed?
He thought about the Ajuwa’s.
The family that had so graciously took him in. How he’d be putting them in severe danger if he refused. He couldn’t do that to them. Blinking back tears, he nodded his head and cleared his throat, extending his hand to Al, who took it immediately. “You got yourself a deal,” He said, taking a deep breath, “I’ll run them to the mortician. Drop them off. That’s it, right?” Al nodded, giving Arnold a grin that he thought maggots would crawl out of. “That’s it.” He repeated, letting go of the younger boy’s hand.
Their faces, like ghouls, trauma from their deaths painted in their expressions. I’ll be erasing them. Like they never existed.
I'll be the bad guy now, though I ain't too proud.