I hadn’t made any arrangements for the following day, and as I took the short walk from my front door to Stuart and Karen’s house, the apprehension that swept over me was almost suffocating, as was the fear that violently churned in the pit of my stomach.
Sleep had, surprisingly, greeted me fairly quickly the night before; my mind had not yet fully digested what had happened. But as I neared the destination, inching my way forward, my head became awash with the frightening details of the encounters I'd had over the last couple of years.
The photo sessions with Ropeman, the sexual contact Stu had subjected me to; I began to wonder if it was all part and parcel of normal adult life. But mostly, I was scared of them. Afraid that if I didn't show up, one of them would say something to my parents about what had taken place. And truth be told, I was terrified. Stu frightened me more than anyone I'd ever met.
Karen opened the door and gave me a warm smile. It wasn’t the sickly smile of Ropeman, nor was it the twisted grin I’d seen on Stu’s face the previous day, but I still felt an almost irrepressible urge to smack the smile clean off her face. She was evil; not nearly as intimidating as Stu, but evil just the same.
I walked past her and strutted into the lounge, my blond spikes erupting from my skull in all their glory. “Alright Stu.” he looked up from his paper, his bright blue eyes seemed to sparkle, and for the first time I noticed just how scarred his face actually was.
Karen came up behind me, I felt her hand on my shoulder, and “Don't I get a kiss then"?
I didn’t know where to look, much less what to say. I’m not sure if it was visible, but my whole body felt as though it was physically shaking. I tried to make a joke of it and simply kissed her on the cheek, quickly rubbing my lips with the back of my hand and pretending to be sick, mimicking the actions of a four or five year old child.
After sitting on the sofa, I asked Stuart if it was okay to turn on the CB, which was on a small table between where I was sitting and his armchair. “Leave it off for the minute,” he replied, “maybe we’ll put it on after a cuppa.”
Before I could do or say anything else he told me to stand in front of him, telling me I was wearing my studded belt all wrong. I did as was asked, and he began rubbing my crutch.