Hartford

         Woody sank deeper into sleep.  His body was sore from a day’s work.  His brain began running.  It knew the path and followed it.  He was in a room, somewhere he’d been before.  The people around him were his friends.  They were drinking and laughing.  There was a woman.  She lay on a bed, naked.  She was drunk.  He didn’t remember how she got there.  Dolph was there, with a hand on Woody’s shoulder.  His mouth moved but what came out was too slow for him to understand.  He was pushing Woody towards the bed.  The woman was telling him to climb on.  His body wouldn’t follow his brain.  He lurched toward the bed.  He was naked.  He was on the bed his friends cheered him on.  He tried.  He failed.  She laughed at him.  His friends laughed.  It rang in his ears.  He could feel a rage coming up from the pit of his gut.  He swung.  He hit the woman.  Again and again.  He climbed out of bed grabbed his clothes and ran.  The door to the room fell away from him.  He couldn’t reach the knob.  It was just out of reach.  He tried to put his hand on it.  He finally escaped through it but the laughter followed, mocking.  He was in the hall, running trying to dress.  The hall telescoped out and the exit sign was yards away.  Again, he was chasing the wall.  He’d never reach it.  The carpet mired his feet.  He was sinking.  Soon he’d be up to his waist.  The harder he tried to get out, the deeper he got.  The harder he ran, the farther the exit sign pulled away.  He could make out only one sound, “You killed her.”  It got louder and his attempt to push the latch bar became more difficult.  He struggled and he finally reached the door.  He pushed.  The door wouldn’t open.  He strained until the door swung open.  He was back in the room, naked.  He began running again.  He fought his way to the exit door one more time.  This time the door opened outdoors.  He tripped over something.  The woman’s body, it was in the parking lot.  He struggled to his feet and ran toward the highway.

         He jogged alongside the traffic.  He stayed on the apron until he was far enough away from the motel.  He stuck out his thumb.  A car pulled over.  It was Dolph.  Woody climbed into the front seat.  Dolph accelerated away.  “You’ve got business to finish.”  He pointed his thumb to the back seat.  Woody looked into the back.  The woman was there.  Her face bloodied and bruised mouthing “Come on, you can try again.”  He faced front and tried the door.  It wouldn’t open.  He pulled on the door lock.  Dolph was slowing,  Woody pushed the door open and jumped.  He hit the pavement and rolled.  He ran.  He crossed the highway.  He dodged traffic in slow motion.  He ran toward the direction he thought would take him home.  The woman was hiding in the shadows.  Her battered face waitng for him as he turned a corner.  He couldn’t outrun his acts.

         Woody screamed.

         He woke in a cold sweat.  His heart wanted out of his chest.  He was twined in his sheets.  For ten years his past had only emerged a few times before.  Drink deadened his brain and let him sleep through the night.  What happened that night nibbled on the edge of his conscious mind.  He’d worked hard to stuff the memories into a box that was closed and locked.  As he lay there that night came back.  He tried, for once, to remember what had happened.  Dolph came up with the idea.  Find some half-loaded broad and get her into a motel room.  Gang bang was too strong for what would happen.  She’d want to go and was hip to what would go down.  The found her in a bar on the Chamberlain Highway.  No use in staying too close to home.  The gang might be recognized.  She was half in the bag and a few drinks that Dolph paid for convinced her that it would be fun.  She looked good, maybe ten years and a lot of drinks ago.  Dolph talked to her and was whispering in her ear.  Thirty minutes later they were in their cars and driving to the Seaview Motel on the Berlin Turnpike.  Dolph and the woman registered and went into a room on the second level at the end.  Privacy was guarnteed. Mickey, Jimmy, Ed and Woody followed them up.  Dolph went first followed by Mickey, Jimmy and Ed.  When Woody’s turn came he wasn’t able to do anything.  The guys egged him on, but nothing happened.  The encouragement turned into taunts about his manhood.  When she saw him naked, the woman laughed and joined in on the derision.  Woody lost it.  The alcohol and the anger that was brewing in his gut exploded.  He straddled her and punched her again and again.  He grabbed his clothes and dressed as quickly as he could and ran out of the room and down the hall.  He was out in the parking lot and behind the wheel of his car.  He drove home and stayed out of the bars until he thought they’d forgotten.  He heard from Ed that Dolph sent them out of the room and took care of it.  He sure did.