The Succubus (1)

I found her first. Coming down the mountain bend this morning, the horrific image postured in front of my windshield, and all my senses numbed. I jammed the emergency brake and sat sideways, the truck idling, staring at the vision in front of me. I had enough sense left to back up and pull the 4x4 off to the side of the road. There wasn’t much room to work with. I stepped down, leaving my door ajar behind me, forgotten, as I made the 9–1–1 call. While waiting for the police to arrive, I walked up close to her, drawn to the girl. I’ve seen all the tv forensics shows warning against contaminating the scene of a crime, but not a single knowing thought passed through my mind in those moments.

The old oak tree at Dead Man’s Curve, surrounded by a deep pool of crimson blood at its enormous trunk, not yet soaked into the surrounding soil and reflecting against the new day in a sheen, stretched its tainted limbs into the sky. Naked, her blood engulfed only her toes at the base of the oak without a drop anywhere else on her pristine clean body. Those feet, bound together with deep slashes at her Achilles heels, hung on by bone alone. She smelled rusty. The young woman’s arms, contorted and tied behind the tree at an unnatural angle, dislocating them out of their shoulder sockets, pushed her bare breasts forward toward me. The tree held her up facing the road.

As white as the morning mist surrounding her, she appeared a monstrosity, yet almost glittering. She looked frozen in time, her face dawning a stretched, black, mesh scarf tied around the tree to keep her head upright. It matched her long midnight hair. Her sagging lower lip revealed her gums, riddled with piercing, thin, wire stitches over sockets holding no teeth. Her once blue eyes, only half-opened, looked cloudy as my face grew near, appraising her condition, half-mesmerized, half-terrified. The woody, cliff setting held nothing but grass and leaves. Nobody knows how she got there.

The paperwork and the interviews at the police station were grueling. The station was a buzz from the discovery. Cops moved with quick steps and the phones never stopped ringing. I could feel the electricity in the air in an otherwise sterile, block building with gray walls. I felt the psychology of the hunt on full alert, like a silent siren, as I sat in a hard, plastic chair that was too small for my 6’3” frame. I was in there all day. They watched me close, scribbling down notes as I answered their questions. I should have stayed in the truck, they said. The detectives are good at the hunt, but I have nothing to hide. The smell of coffee has sunk into my clothes and I reek of it as I drive back home in darkness. Now, the road that leads back to my house has cleared of police cars, a fire engine, an ambulance for the coroner, and one news van.

It troubles me that this happened only a few miles from where I live with my wife. I worry that the cops won’t find who did it. I wonder how it happened, too. Why was she tied up like that? What animal could do such a brutal thing? I drive with the stereo off, thankful for the silence. I can’t even look at that tree as I pass it.

I make it home to Maple. Her parents, true Vermonters, have a sense of humor. The glow of her golden skin and blonde hair warm me up like a fire when our eyes meet. They’re as brown and soft as a doe’s. She stands in the kitchen next to the table with the red and white checkered table cloth ready for supper. I get queasy at the sight of it and the smell of meat grizzle makes me nauseous. How do I tell her about this awful thing? Maple rushes to me like she hasn’t seen me in weeks.

“Honey, your safe. There is a murderer on the loose. I couldn’t reach you. Why are you so late? Come here; hug me and tell me we’re safe.” The sound of Maple’s affectionate voice reverberates through my lips as we kiss. I caress my calloused hands all over her soft shoulders, pulling her breasts in tight. They remind me of this morning. I thank God she already knows, but I brace for the aftershock of my words.

“I found her.” I stay as steady as possible, harder than I lead on. Maple fires her questions at me.

“What? You? When? How?” Her doe eyes vibrate as she waits in haste; I answer as simply as I can.

“On my way to work. She was in front of me after I took Dead Man’s Curve. The sight almost hypnotized me. I stopped short of driving straight into the tree myself.” Maple lets loose of our embrace, so our bodies attach only below our hips. She looks at me funny.

“What tree?”

What does she mean? What did the police tell the news station? The news van was there this morning with all the satellite dishes on top. Why was that detail left out? I dodge the question.

“Nothing; I almost went off the road. I really don’t want to think about it anymore, if that’s alright with you?” Maple releases me and walks from the wood shed entryway, adjoined to the back of the kitchen, as I take off my mud boots.

“Sure, baby, maybe we can talk later. Go clean up while I finish supper.” She turns toward the stove. She must feel left out. I can see the slight disappointment on her face. I walk into the kitchen and swish aside her wispy bangs with one finger as she turns her head, my frame towering behind her.

“I don’t really have an appetite tonight.” I kiss her forehead. She turns and pulls me in.

“You’ve had a hell of a day. Come here.”

That’s exactly what I need to hear. Maple wraps her arms around me like she’s never letting go and rubs her nails up and down my back, slow and soft. It gives me goosebumps every time. I love it. It even tickles a bit. Maple puts the food away while I go upstairs to shower. I just can’t stop thinking about that woman, or her pose. She was left for all the world to see, perfectly stiff.

Resting under the hot water, I don’t hear Maple join me. I get hard like I haven’t since my early twenties. Easy, bulging, and rock solid. Maple decides to take my mind off things and she certainly has her ways. Even she seems impressed with all its glory. I can’t resist her. I don’t even want the blowjob she’s already started. I want to be inside her. I want to feel her squeeze me inside her tiny, tight body. As hard as I try to stretch her out every morning and night, she always snaps back. I call her my eternal virgin. Every time feels like the first. Maybe she loves that everything about me is big. I’m a large man. She does love it. I love how much she loves it.

I pick up her body and hold her against the shower wall, pressing my weight against her to keep her in place so all she can do is enjoy my thrusting. As I hold her ass with my huge hands my body starts to overheat. I feel every drop of water and steam fills my lungs. The air is thick. I can feel how hot her perfect little pink is as it surrounds me and heats me further. I’m boiling, bubbling, and then I cum. Now, I feel like a teenager. I couldn’t hold it back. Maple’s writhing and spasms set me off. Usually, I can hold back. It’s taken years to learn that. She’s a multiple. The first one around is always an easy get. For Maple, every move I make after that sets off another series of orgasms. I can’t lie; it feeds my ego every time. Luckily, my cock is still just as hard as before I came, and I get to be a multiple for tonight, too. It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but tonight, we are both grateful.

The sex gets clumsy from the wet shower to the counter top, but the transition to the adjoining bedroom floor, to our favorite chair, to the bed moves smooth and fluid. We both drift off to sleep satisfied and exhausted. I don’t see the darkness of slumber when I close my eyes. I see a greyish, white fog of an unformed figure. I fall into a deep sleep anyway, the best in years.

The ceiling looks frosty when I open my eyes in the morning. The windows are clear, and I can see the crisp, rose sky as my part of the world starts to wake up. I’m getting a late start. Yesterday’s events must be the talk of the entire state already. My only saving grace is that the police haven’t released my name, yet.

Maple is usually up before me. Her soft snore makes me throb. I leave without waking her.

***

“Hey, Tyler. Stay on the ax today and get with your crew. It’s best that you stay busy,” Gary, my boss, barks when I arrive. He must know. His sister, Stacey, is the town dispatcher. “Don’t get careless,” he adds.

The growl of chainsaws and grinding of wood chippers are comforting and familiar. The smell of exhaust mixes with the clean mountain air. The sky is blue and the sun far away, high in the sky, leaves a lingering chill. I can see fall creeping into the trees below us for miles around. The dawning red and yellow leaves look like a still life painting from this distance. It soothes me amid the lumbering chaos.

My crew doesn’t know the part I played in yesterday’s discovery. They’re tough, burly men, but that doesn’t stop them from rattling on like schoolgirl gossips. Andy, the smallest of us all, is the primary newsman while Frank, the most handsome, is our top conspiracy analyst. George, always scruffy and disheveled, only chimes in from time to time, but he’s always that way. I walk up as Andy is talking.

“Dora Birch told Vincent that the police were lugging her away in pieces. She doesn’t know how clean the cuts were, though.” Andy revs his chainsaw and continues. “It couldn’t have been one of these bad boys or there would be nothing left.” He starts to trim off some branches on one of the recently fallen trees. I don’t bother to correct him. We’re all wearing earplugs, but that only cuts out the noise from the machinery. Everyone’s used to them and can carry on a conversation anyway. Andy continues to drone on.

“Dora took her scooter up to the sight when she heard the sirens. That woman can’t keep her damned nose out of anything.” I hope Dora didn’t see me. The police insisted that they escort me to the station as soon as they got to the scene. Then, Andy’s words dashed my hope. “She said that she saw your truck coming down the mountain on her way up, man. What happened? How’d you get by without seeing some shit like that?” Andy probes. I have to say something.

“It was early, man. I must have just missed it,” I say, without inflection. Why am I lying? They’re bound to find out anyway. Maple knows, which means her sister Missy will get filled in. From Missy, it’ll move on to her husband Alan, Vincent’s brother and both my brothers-in-law. By this time tomorrow, my crew will think I have something to hide. But I don’t owe them a damn thing. Sure, we work together, and it’s a small town, so they can’t be blamed for that, but I want to hold off the stampede of questions as long as I can. Each time someone mentions that woman, a flash of her statuesque body shoots through my mind, almost blinding me. It ain’t like it bothered me all that much to begin with, but it’s starting to gnaw on my nerves with all the chatter. I don’t know why it didn’t mess me up yesterday. I’ll tell them I was in shock tomorrow. Another lie. I’ve grown up hunting my entire life. I’ve seen all kinds of blood and guts. I just ain’t never seen a person like that before. It wasn’t a sloppy job, either. It was calculated. Andy just won’t shut up about it.

“You know I’ve heard stories like this before, women have gone missing only to turn up tied to a tree,” Frank chimes in. How does he know that? Maple didn’t know that. George breaks in.

“Dora Birch is full of shit. She wasn’t in pieces. She was strung up. I heard it on the radio this morning.” Now, Frank puts in his two cents.

“Something like that is a display of power by the killer and a message to the finder. He’s confident.” Frank never explains how he can be so sure. That’s what makes him so damn hard to argue with. In his mind, there’s always an angle, always. It’s a little maddening.

I look around at the other crews. It could have been any of them. They’re strong, flannel-covered lumberjacks. Hell, the unfortunate thing couldn’t have weighed more than a buck-twenty. We could all lift that with one arm. But the chums around here might be brawlers on a drunken Friday night, but sickos like that, I can’t see it. It’s easy to understand why this is the talk of the town. The most unusual thing to happen here was the sapless spring three years ago. The sugar trees down the ridge, all of them, didn’t produce, even though the weather was ripe for it. Frank won’t let the topic go, either.

“You know, I even heard that something like this happened over in Granby across the border last year. The Mounties kept it real quiet,” he insists. George rolls his eyes.

“That’s bullshit.” George waves his gloved hand in a dismissive fashion. “We all would’ve heard about it. That’s just a skip into Quebec.” George is right.

“No bullshit,” Frank fights back. “It was deep in the forest.” I am sick of the conversation.

“Look. Can we just get back to work here?” I ask with too much aggression. The boys stare, stunned.

“Well, we didn’t know you wore your twisted panties to work today, Tyler. But you’re right. We’re running behind. Let’s go, boys,” Andy replies.

We get caught up with our work and the rest of the day goes by as usual. I drive down from one ridge to get to that two-lane road leading up to my place on another mountain. The drive is a boring hour down one mountain and up another. As I come up to where I discovered the body, the tree is marked out with yellow police tape and little red flags are stuck in the ground from yesterday’s investigation. I pull over but don’t get out of the truck. I can see the blood has stained the ground in a deep, black circle around the tree. The color makes the day turn to night.

Why here? That’s my only question for the evening. Why on a mountain curve on the way to town when there is literally an uninhabited forest right across the way? Obviously, someone wanted to send a message, but to whom? This woman ain’t local. There haven’t been any missing person reports. Hell, we get a search party together if one of the neighbor’s dogs gets loose. No. That poor woman ain’t from around these parts.

I pull off from the side of the road and spin gravel beneath my tires. This is the cops’ job and I’m certainly not one of them. I met a few in the clink back in my younger years that weren’t bad, but I’ve been walking the straight and narrow for a good long while now. It’s time to get back to Maple. I walk in the door and Maple is on the phone. She breaks up her conversation.

“Tyler’s home. He’ll be there tomorrow …yes …yes … I’ll be sure to tell him.” Maple turns toward me while I take off my mud boots and small bits of splintered wood fall to the floor.

“Come here, you big bear. I’ve missed you. I’ve been thinking about you all day.” She gives me that look.

“About what?” I pretend not to know.

“What do you mean, about what? About last night. I’ve been wet all day,” she encourages. Usually, that would make me fall straight to my knees for a taste, but I can’t get the other woman out of my mind. Not exactly hot material. But Maple takes my disinterest personally.

“Don’t you want more of me, or did you get your fill already?” she says in a coy voice moving towards me. I lie, again.

“It’s not you, baby. I’m just sore.” Maple takes it well.

“I guess that’s what we get for fucking like teenagers last night. Maybe I’ll give you a massage later.” I couldn’t care less.

“That would be great,” I say automatically as I walk by her to hang up my coat. We eat supper in silence. Maple eyes me every now and again with a curious look. She wants details from yesterday’s encounter. I can tell. But there’s something else, too. When you’ve been married for as long as we have, you start to read things like that. Maple can’t stand the silence any longer.

“Honey, that was the Sheriff’s Office on the phone. They’d like you to come down for more questioning,” she says as delicately as possible. That gets my attention.

“What? Why?” I demand. She’s taken off guard.

“I don’t know. They didn’t go into detail. They want to see you tomorrow. I already called your boss and explained. You know Stacy hears everything first being the dispatcher, so I took the liberty. I hope you don’t mind.” I do mind.

“I don’t know what more they could want from me. I told them everything.” I drop my silverware onto my plate with too much carelessness and the scraping sound echoes back at me. Maple gets practical.

“Maybe we should get a lawyer, just in case. You don’t want them to insinuate anything.” Her doe eyes defy her shrewdness.

“But I have nothing to hide,” I insist. And I don’t. But, that’s not good enough for her.

“That’s exactly why you need a lawyer. We can float a few credit card bills for a retainer fee.” The suggestion pisses me off even though I know she has my best interest at heart.

“I don’t want to spend money on something I don’t need.” I behave like a grumpy child and excuse myself for it. She reaches across the table, places her hand on mine, and hits me with more practicality.

“I love you, honey, but it’s the police. You know they can’t be trusted, especially with a case like this. You were there — first. You know they’re going to try to tie this on you in a neat little bow for the public. Everyone’s scared half to death.” She may be right.

“But if I get a lawyer, won’t that seem suspicious?” We interlock fingers.

“That would be smart, and I have to put my foot down on this. You won’t even get a public defender unless you’re charged. Henry won’t let that happen,” Maple insists. Of course, she would suggest Henry. We all went to high school together and, after law school, he came back to town to practice as a defense attorney. I cave.

“Fine. I’ll call Henry.”

Return to JennWhittaker.com