Dear Reader, I submit this story for publication, not that I expect a single person to believe it’s true in any aspect, but because I must write it down to sort out the events that it relates, if only for my own sanity. It is for my own therapy that I write, not for your enjoyment. Comment on it as you see fit – it is of no concern to me. –Darios. 10/12/84
The beating that had taken place, not four feet way from me as I sat secured in place by the ancient ankle stocks, stunned me. My attempt at halting the abuse had been unsuccessful as the young woman being flogged, having been given a choice, had asked for the beating to continue. Was her guilt so great that she felt it necessary to be continually beaten for it? Having never killed anyone, I had no idea the weight of that guilt, but I imagined it was a heavy load to bear. But was her constant state of nudity and the beatings the right way to go about making amends?
And what of the little references to ‘her time’ and her need to be ‘settled’? What the hell was that all about? I assumed her ‘time’ referred to her monthly cycle, yes, I even heard someone mention that the first night. Did she kill when she was having her period? That thought brought a smirk to my face for some reason, maybe because it just seemed so ludicrous! I’d had girlfriends who were a royal pain in the ass while on their cycle, but this… this would really take the cake. But I was getting the feeling that when Lucy felt the urge to kill she used the beatings to settle herself down. What must that feeling be like? I couldn’t imagine, but for her to know when those urges were surfacing told me it was something tangible that she was acutely aware of.
It took me several minutes to speak. “Are you okay, Lucy?”
“Yes, thank you sir.”
A million questions flew through my mind, but asking them was an entirely different thing. I was hesitant to open my mouth, to inquire into the purpose of what I had just witnessed. The beautiful woman bound next to me was like an abstract mosaic. Little pieces of this picture seemed to be made up of parts from two different sources.
Just now, her voice had been so calm, so sweet. Yet, not fifteen minutes ago, she had threatened to kill Officer Rousseau. My god, was the woman schizophrenic, or suffering from multiple personalities? It might be one explanation for what I’d been witnessing, a logical one anyways.
“It’s a lot nicer out here, isn’t it Darios?” The question jerked me out of the whirlpool of my thoughts, taking me by surprise with its content. “I mean, those cells can get so hot during the day, and a breeze can be felt out here every so often.”
Are we having a normal conversation after what I’d just seen her go through? I looked up at her and replied, “Yes, I think I just felt a breeze, or was it one of those big bugs just flapping its wings as it flew by.”
Somehow this comment caught her just right and she began to giggle. “Yes, sometimes several will fly by at one time and cause quite a wind!” We laughed together.
“Please forgive us for what you just saw, sir. I’m sure it was a surprise for you, it’s just… it’s just that I needed… oh, Darios… it’s hard to explain it to an outsider.”
I sensed sadness in her voice, maybe even frustration, and several minutes of silence passed before Lucy said, “I get so restless that I need the floggings to settle me down. Believe it or not, if the restlessness is not contained I could break this wooden frame quite easily. And that is the last thing I want to happen, believe me, I don’t want to be free ever again.”
“You’re kidding me,” I said, not really hearing the last part of her statement as I tugged at the heavy wood of the cross beam that covered my ankles. “These beams may be old, but they’re heavy and solid.”
I saw Lucy’s fingers moving and then pointing. “See that stump over there?”
I looked to see the remains of what looked like a vertical pillory, broken off about a foot above the ground.
“They let me go too long before settling me and I broke that frame. I don’t remember doing it, or killing poor Clive, but I did. It was horrible, and I begged them to kill me. But they didn’t. They won’t kill me, Darios, no matter how much I deserve it. And I do deserve it, have no doubt.”
“Why do you kill, though?” I asked, hoping I was not overstepping again. “Is it really a mental problem like the sheriff told me?”
“Is that what he said?” Lucy laughed. “A mental problem? If only it was that simple! I’m cursed. Just as my mother was cursed and her mother before her. There’s a curse on the Avakian name that will never be lifted. But the curse ends with me because I will never bear a child, I refuse to subject my offspring to this hell.”
I pondered her admission for a moment, wondering what she meant by a curse. Surely no one believes that curses have any real power! Curse or no, the need to know what happened to Jeremy was now overwhelming and I couldn’t help but to broach the subject.
“I have to ask you something Lucy, and I’m really sorry to have to ask it, but, did you kill my friend?”
“Your friend?” Lucy strained to look down at me but was unable to see me due to my position near her feet. “Darios! Please… who is this friend? Why would you think I killed him?”
“His name is Jeremy, and he called me a week ago and said he’d been arrested in this town. He needed help. I never heard anything from him again, so I came down here to look for him.”
“Oh no! Oh no! He was your friend? I’m so sorry!” Lucy began to cry, her sobs echoing across the Commons. Several people began to run our way from different directions.
“What is it? What’s wrong, Lucy?” a woman with long black hair tied into a pony tail asked as she held Lucy’s head and smoothed her hair. “She’s burning up, get more water Jack.” She held out her hand until the man from the leather goods store handed her a fresh bottle from the cooler. The woman cupped her hand and allowed the water to cascade over it and onto Lucy’s head, then dribbled some into her mouth.
“I killed his friend. It was that kid from the other night, the tainted one.”
“Shhh, Lusineh, don’t speak of it,” another woman said quietly as she moved to block my view of Lucy’s head. “That boy is not dead. We were able to save him.”
“What? You were?”
“Excuse me,” I called out. “Is my friend okay or not? Where is he?”
The man from the leather shop stepped over and looked down at me. He shook his head and sort of laughed, nodding back towards Lucy he said, “Don’t listen to her when she gets like this. Your friend went too close to the swamp and a big ol’ gator got to him. We were able to find him and get him to the hospital in time.”
“Where, what hospital?”
“Officer Rousseau can answer your questions, I’m sure. That is not our affair.” The man returned his focus to Lucy and the others that were helping her. I noticed the care with which they treated the naked woman. While none of them hesitated to touch her bare flesh, it seemed that they did so with such gentleness. In my mind, their attention to the murderess was at odds with the crimes she admitted to have committed against them. Other than the beating the cop had given her earlier, the naked woman seemed to be treated with such loving affection, even while bound naked in a medieval pillory.
Lucy’s stocks were opened and the three women held her tightly while helping her turn around so that she was facing the correct way. Jack and another man stood by the stocks and lowered the heavy beams to once again capture her limbs between them. The black haired woman snapped the locks shut and placed the key atop the cross beam of the pillory.
“Do you need to be calmed further, Lucy?” Jack asked as his hand went to the flogger hanging from its hook.
“No sir, thank you for offering though. The young ones will be along shortly and I’ll be fine until then.”
The group of villagers hovered close to Lucy’s head, leaning in to talk to her quietly while caressing her hair and shoulders. I watched as the black haired woman’s hand absently roamed further down her torso, caressing Lucy’s bare back. It wasn’t overtly sexual but I felt my cock harden at the sight of the loving touch. The discussion ended and the group moved off, heading back to whence they came.
I sat in silence and watched Lucy, standing bent over now, her hands and head sticking out of the front of the pillory in the manner that they were meant to.
The redness had lessened from her earlier flogging and to be honest it was difficult to tear my gaze from her captured body. In this position her breasts hung freely below her bent over torso. They were certainly lovely breasts with large nipples that protruded out stiffly as if the attention of the villagers had been stimulating after all. But as a part of the overall package, Lucy was stunningly beautiful, made more so by the thin sheen of perspiration that glistened on her well toned muscles.
“I can’t expect you to ever forgive me, Darios. I’m so, so, sorry.” Lucy said, her head now able to turn enough to look back at me.
I blushed as she surely saw me ogling her. “For what?” I asked. “You heard them, it was an alligator, not you.”
“There’s no alligators in this part of the swamp,” Lucy spit, venom in her voice.
Lucy stood with her head down for several minutes and then looked over at me. “I remember something now, he’s tall and has longer hair than you, right? Sort of dark, and a thin mustache?”
“Yeah, that’s sounds like him.” I sat up a little straighter but then had to support my weight with my hands because sitting on that hard little block of wood was beginning to make my ass really, really, sore. “What do you remember?”
“I only remember seeing him, sort of in a haze, like what you might call tunnel vision. I remember attacking him, Darios. I think I remember it, yes, but then… something was wrong and I felt funny. It wasn’t right. I don’t remember killing him, but then I never do.”
“He’s probably in the hospital, just like they said.”
“I hope so,” Lucy said as her head hung down from the hole it was captured in.
I sat, and she stood, in silence for a couple of hours, each submerged in our own thoughts. Officer Rousseau came to check on us as promised and brought some food. He picked up on Lucy’s sullen mood but was unable to get her to tell him what the problem was. He fed her slowly, and then gave us both more water before heading out into the town.
The temperature was certainly cooler than in the cellblock, but Lucy and I were both experiencing our own doses of hell as a trade off. I’m not sure if the little block I was sitting on was meant to be so torturous, but it felt like I was sitting on pins and needles. Maybe because I couldn’t stand to circulate the blood, I don’t know, but the pain was becoming intolerable. The thought of being locked in the pillory had not really been at the forefront of my thoughts (with a gorgeous naked woman bound right next to me) but it was now. I was beginning to think that sweating away half my body fat in the cell might not be so bad after all.
Meanwhile, I could see Lucy begin to rock back and forth slowly putting her weight on her legs alternately and then together. The stock was low enough that it forced her to be either in a crouch or standing bent over with her legs straight and her shapely ass high in the air.
I heard some noise coming from the trees near the road leading into town and a few minutes later a couple dozen kids came around the corner. They left the road and headed across the grass, straight for us. They were all carrying schoolbooks and wore backpacks that seemed to be loaded as well.
“Okay, that’s close enough guys,” one of the young men said, as he pointed off towards the general store. All of the younger children broke off and headed off towards the area of the general store and the houses beyond, a few looked back at Lucy and me with interest.
The remainder of the students approached us, putting their books and packs down a few feet away. The kids looked to be of various ages, some possibly seniors in high school, while at least two seemed to be older, maybe in college.
“So how’s our favorite whore today?” the boy who appeared to be the oldest asked as his hand roamed Lucy’s bare sweaty back. His attentions didn’t stop there, though, as his hand roamed down to her ass and roughly massaged her flesh, cupping her ass and kneading it.
“I’m very well, thank you young master,” Lucy responded.
“Who are you kids?” I asked. “You shouldn’t be over here, should you?”
The girl that appeared to be the youngest of the bunch kicked me in the side, surprising the shit out of me, and embarrassing me by making me grunt. “Shut up outsider. We’re all of age, so mind your own business.”
“It’s okay, Darios, as she says, they are all of age and are allowed to help settle me,” Lucy said.
I looked up to see Veronica move to Lucy’s head and cup her chin, lifting it slightly to give her a passionate kiss on her lips. “How are you, whore? Been having fun today?”
“Yes mistress!” Lucy said enthusiastically. “Have you met Mr. Donelli? He’s been excellent company for me today.”
Veronica grabbed Lucy’s hair and twisted her head to the side so she looked up into the young woman’s face. “Don’t get too friendly with the outsider, slut,” she hissed, and then let her head fall free.
“No mistress,” Lucy said. She looked around at the youngsters surrounding her and then back at Veronica. “Who will you choose to settle me today, Mistress? I’m ready. Can it be Gabriel? He strikes quite hard and I feel I need that today.”
“It is my right to choose, Lusineh Avakian,” Veronica said with authority, “and I choose Paulette.” The young woman turned and unhooked a long thick cane from the front of the pillory that Lucy was held captive in. From my position behind her I had not seen the cane hanging there and was surprised when Veronica handed it to a sliver of a girl, standing off to the side, blushing.
“Roni!” Lucy gasped. “Paulie is the weakest of you all and has never been chosen! She will not settle me today, mistress!”
I looked at the faces of the young people around us and saw a little bit of fear in a few of them. Two of the younger looking teens even took a step or two backward.
“Sophie, Gerard, do not retreat. Never retreat!” Veronica reprimanded the two. “You must learn to control her if you wish to survive. Paulette, you are choosen, you will settle the slut today or we will all pay the price. Step forward and begin.”
The young woman stepped up and then moved to Lucy’s side. She lifted the cane and brought it down against the flesh on Lucy’s upper thigh, causing a sort of dull thud to be heard.
“Oh God, Roni! She will not do it today, mistress!” Lucy moaned, struggling now against the pillory beams, shaking the entire structure. “I feel it rising! Please, I’m begging you… before it’s too late!”
“Silence, whore!” Veronica shouted, causing everyone to take a step back. I would’ve stepped back too, had I been able to.
Veronica stepped next to Paulette and put her arm around the young lady’s shoulder. She leaned in and very quietly and calmly said, “You love your parents, don’t you?”
“Yes, Roni, of course.”
“And how about your little sister, Marie? Do you love her?”
“Y… yes, you know I do.”
“And how about our little pet, here. Would you like me to kill her today?” I saw the girl’s hand go to her belt where it rested on the heel of a knife handle. A sheath, maybe eight inches long, hung from her belt. “Would you be the one responsible for finally ending her life? For failing to settle her and allowing her to break free, to kill your loved ones? ”
Paulette turned to look at Veronica, her eyes wide, “No! No of course not! I would never want to hurt Lusineh.”
“Then strike her hard!” Veronica said a little louder. “She’s begging you for it because she loves you as well, and does not want the murderer inside of her to take over. Settle her down!”
Veronica stood back as the cane whooshed the short distance to the back of Lucy’s captured leg.
Smack! The sound of the strike filled the afternoon air, followed quickly by a grunt from the bound woman.
Smack! Another hard strike against the tanned flesh.
“Thank you, Paulie!” Lucy cried out, her voice strained as she tried desperately to not appear to be in pain.
The caning continued, Veronica and the others offering the girl encouragements while verbally abusing the bound woman. After what seemed an eternity Lucy began screaming out that it was sufficient.
“Don’t stop yet,” Veronica advised, “Here, let me show you a few places to strike that will be quite painful. This will help make sure she is settled.” She pointed to a spot on the inside of Lucy’s knee and watched as Paulette delivered several hard blows to the flesh there. Lucy bucked and cried out, but the process was repeated on the back of the other knee, too.
“And here,” Veronica pointed to a spot near Lucy’s underarm, and then guided Paulette into a position that she could lift the cane at an odd angle and deliver a couple of blows. Each strike elicited a response from the woman held helpless in the pillory.
“Okay, now offer the usual comfort. You have done this before.” Veronica took the cane from the girl and then stepped back to allow Paulette to go to Lucy’s head and smooth her hair and stroke her cheek.
“Are you okay, whore?” Paulette asked, her voice trembling slightly, the emotions of what she had just done still affecting her.
Lucy lifted her head and kissed Paulette’s fingers as they touched her lips. “Yes, young Mistress, thank you. And thank you for attending to my needs, you did a fine job.”
At this praise, Paulette beamed brightly and kissed Lucy on the cheek, a huge smile on her lips.
The other young people stepped forward to touch Lucy’s face and head. The boy, Gerard, looked at the others and then slid his hand around so that it went under Lucy to her hanging breast. I saw his fingers toy with her nipple and then heard him yelp as Verionica struck his arm with the cane.
“Do you wish to be excused from this service?”
Gerard rubbed his arm and shook his head. “No, I wanna serve like everyone else.”
“Then don’t let me catch you doing that again. You know there can be no sexual contact until you’re twenty-one. You can wait another two years, can’t you?”
“Yes, but… but Gabriel…”
“What Gabriel did was not sexual in nature, you must learn the difference.”
I thought back to when the group had first arrived and the way in which Gabriel had touched Lucy’s back and then gripped her ass. No, that had not been sexual, it had been to show dominance.
“Besides,” Veronica continued, “You know Gab’s birthday is this week. He’s as good as twenty-one already.”
The youngsters picked up their packs and books and left Lucy and me to continue serving our time in the stocks. The sun was behind the trees now, and the air was getting cooler. We passed the time talking and laughing. Lucy had a wonderful sense of humor and was quite knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics. She questioned me in depth about Wisconsin and my life on campus in Minnesota and seemed to be genuinely interested in my life and my coursework in Forestry. She found it interesting that I was studying to become a Forest Service botanist when I graduated, and said she shared my love of the outdoors.
Later that evening, while back in my cell eating another delicious meal prepared by the woman, Mrs. Devereux, Officer Rousseau stopped by and told me that he had just returned from the city. While he had been there he had checked in on Jeremy on my behalf. He handed me a piece of paper, a photocopy actually, that showed that one Jeremy Jenkins had been released from the hospital at 8:33am that morning.
“I learned from one of the cops at the hospital that your friend asked for directions to Highway 55, north. It appears that he’s heading home. That’s good news right?”
“Yes, sir. Thank you for checking.” That was good news, and a great relief to me to know Jeremy was really okay after all, and heading home.
He turned to leave, but I called out, “Mr. Rousseau! What about me? When can I leave?”
“I put in a call from town and hope to hear back by tomorrow. These things take time, son. We can all see you’re not a danger, and tomorrow you’ll have a lot more freedom to move around. I’ll set you up with some work to do to pass the time.”
“Okay, well, thanks I guess.” I finished my supper and left the tray near the cutout in the bars. I looked down the hallway towards the cell that Lucy usually occupied and saw that the door was open. Lucy did not come back to the jail that night.
The following morning I was awake at dawn, having slept more soundly than previous nights. Whether it was due to the fatigue I had felt after being released from the pillory or from not having to worry that a murderer was only a few cells away, I didn’t know. But I knew I very much wanted to spend time with Lucy again, and while not wishing to spend more time in the stocks, if that’s where she was I wanted to be there, too. I would gladly sit on that little block of hell to spend the day with her.
“Officer Rouseau!” I called out. “May I use the restroom please?”
Some sounds came from the office end of the hallway and then I heard the keys jingling together as one was turned in the lock. The door opened and the black-haired woman that ran to Lucy’s aid the previous day entered the cell area.
“Mornin’, Mr. Donelli,” the woman said as she stopped in front of my cell, keys in her hand. “Henri had business to attend to today and asked that I watch over you. Will you give me trouble?”
Trouble? Like what? Escape? And go where? I noticed Officer Rousseau’s gun belt around the woman’s waist, the black handle of the revolver visible.
“No, I won’t give you any trouble. I just need to go to the bathroom right now, and then you can bring me right back here.”
Her hand went to the lock and seconds later she was holding the door open for me.
“Actually, if ya don’t mind, I was a-hopin’ to bring you to the house for breakfast and then to help Lucy at my neighbor’s house.”
“Help Lucy?” That got my attention.
“Here you go; I’ll be in the office. Meet me there when you’ve finished.” The woman held her hand out like an usher, directing me into the small restroom.
It seemed I was being given a rather longer leash today for some reason. The thought occurred to me to make a break for it, but to be honest; the thought of seeing Lucy again was way more desirable than my own freedom. Besides, this whole license thing was going to be cleared up legally, why make things worse for myself by becoming a fugitive? That would be sort of stupid.
A few minutes later I was following the woman across the Commons towards some houses on the far side. The pillories were unoccupied, and I sort of hoped they would remain that way.
“Oh, I’m Martine Rousseau, by the way.”
I reached out to shake the hand she offered me. “Darios Donelli,” I replied.
“Yeah, I know,” she said, a grin on her face.
I blushed. “Hey, is it my imagination or is everyone around here French?”
“Well, not everyone, but most are of French descent.” The woman altered her course to walk across the grass towards a two-story brick house. “Do you know your history, Mr. Donelli?”
“It’s not my strong suit,” I admitted.
Martine held the door open and allowed me to enter her home. It was very pleasant inside and rather cooler that outside. “The French explored this region of the country long before anyone else settled here. This here town is one of the oldest colonial towns in the country. It was one of the original outposts left from Robert La Salle’s expedition in 1682.”
“Really?” Now that was an interesting factoid.
“Yes,” she ushered me to the table and I sat down. “There’s been a French presence here ever since.”
“Wow,” I replied. 1682? Really? Like most Americans, I knew little of the history of my own country, but I knew the pilgrims settled in Massachusetts around 1620, and of course the Revolution began around 1775. What happened between those events was a mystery to me, but apparently the French were poking around down here.
“It was mainly a military presence for many years, but civilians began to come across; traders, business men, ya know, and soon their families.” Martine set a plate down with a small portion of scrambled eggs and two sausage links on it, and I thanked her.
“In 1774 the Avakians immigrated here with a shipload of political dissidents eager to get away from the troubles after the death of King Louis XV. Rumors even linked the death of the King to the Avakians, but that was all just talk because it got around pretty fast that he had died of smallpox.”
Martine sat across from me and looked at me intently as I ate. “Lucy’s grandmother, Elisabeta, was pregnant on that voyage and gave birth to Lucy’s mother, Melonya, soon after the ship landed on the coast.”
I put my fork down and looked at the black-haired woman. She seemed to be pretty intelligent, but what the hell was she talking about? Lucy’s mother could not have been born in 1774. Even my shitty math skills were better than that.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Rousseau, that doesn’t add up. It must have been,” I rolled the numbers around in my head, “like her mother’s great-great-grandmother, or someone like that.”
“We know our history in this here town, Mr. Donelli.” The woman got up and picked up my plate and returned it to the kitchen. “Come with me now, we’ll put you to work.” She walked to the far end of the kitchen and held the screen door open and I followed her out.
A narrow path led through the swamp and we placed our feet carefully to avoid slipping into the muck on either side. I was glad Lucy had told me that there were no alligators in this part of the swamp or I would’ve been freaking out. I heard some talking up ahead and saw the old hag standing near a little wood hut. As we got closer I saw that the hut was bigger than I thought and I guess you could call it a house.
“Hi, Irena!” Martine called out as we rounded the last little bend in the trail.
The hag turned and looked and then smiled. “Martine, how wonderful to see you, dear!”
The old woman held her arms out and waited for my guide to step forward and embrace her. Irena looked around Martine and saw me walk up the slight grade to stand a short distance away.
“Aack! The Northern Boy! What’s he a-doing here?”
“He’s going to help Lucy get this garden box filled up for Emilie.”
“No, I meant in Melonya. He shoulda been turned away, you know that!” the old woman hissed.
Martine leaned closer to Irena and spoke quietly, but I still managed to hear her say, “The others decided to keep him for her.”
“Does she know?”
“Shhh, I think she suspects.”
Just then Lucy came around the corner of the house and I couldn’t help but to notice the smile appear on her face when she saw me. I pretty much forgot what the women were talking about once I saw Lucy. Naked as always, my new nudist friend was caked with mud from the knees down and just plain dirty from the knees up. She raised her hand and waved. The woman still wore the brown leather collar around her neck and matching cuffs around her slender wrists and ankles, the bondage gear somehow adding to her allure.
“Hi, Darios!” she said as the shovel in her hand fell to the ground and she ran the short distance and surprised me with a hug. Without thinking, my arm went around her and held her like I would normally hold a person hugging me, but when my hand felt her bare flesh I pulled it away.
“Lucy!” Irena spat.
Lucy looked over at the old woman and said, “I’m sorry, sister, it’s just that… well, I like Darios. We spent all day together yesterday in the park.”
“You get ona back to work now woman, take the Northern Boy with you and show him what needs to be done.”
“Yes, Mistress, come on Darios, it’s just over here.” Lucy grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the back of the house. When we rounded the corner I saw a large wooden frame set into the ground that Lucy had been working in. Off a little ways in the swamp was a large hill of solid ground that looked to be dug up, and I soon learned that Lucy had been digging earth from the hill and carrying it over to the box, filling it with the fertile soil.
We toiled together for a couple of hours, my cock remaining hard the entire time as I watched Lucy straining with her end of the cloth stretcher we used to transport the soil from the hill to the garden. Her naked flesh glistened with perspiration, her well-toned muscles flexing and straining from the loads. The dirt smeared across her flesh somehow made her seem even more sexy, and I struggled to take my eyes off her as every sinew in her arms, neck, and thighs stood out, her firm full breasts moving slightly from side to side as she lifted, the nipples hard and prominent.
My gaze drifted down across her flat stomach, with just a hint of an athlete’s six-pack on show, to the fuzz of pubic hair, matted by the sweat dripping off it. As we took a break between loads, she arched her back to relieve the strain and wiped the sweat from her brow with the back of her dirty forearm. I knew I had never seen, and probably never would see, a more erotic image in my life.
She looked at me with a wide open, innocent smile, and I know I blushed like a schoolboy caught staring at the teacher, which was pretty much what had happened, and to cover my embarrassment I suggested we take smaller loads, as if that was what I was thinking about. She insisted it wasn’t too heavy for her and when we resumed our work we continued to load the stretcher full to overloaded each time. After awhile I was wishing we could take smaller loads as I became the one who was found to be slacking, not her. I was amazed, really, at her strength and stamina. She was certainly no stranger to manual labor.
Another hour passed before Irena announced a break, and we paused to rest in the shade of the house while sipping on water. Lucy leaned back on her elbows and let her head fall back so that her long curly brown hair touched the grass behind her. Her knees were up, legs spread widely, unconsciously offering me an unrestricted view of her sex. There was not an iota of modesty about the woman and I knew at that moment I was in the presence of a true nudist. Being naked was so normal for Lucy that the thought of covering herself in any way did not even enter her mind.
Wanting to avoid being caught ogling her again, I decided on conversation. “That woman, Martine, told me your mother was born in 1774. That can’t be right?”
Lucy looked over at me and searched my eyes for something before saying, “Yes, she was correct.”
“It’s the curse, Darios.” She lay back on the grassy hill; hands cupped under her head, elbows back, and looked up into the sky through the canopy of leaves overhead. “Not only is my family line condemned to be murderers, but our lives are to be long. A hundred and fifty years is not out of the question, maybe longer. Imagine the torment if I were to be imprisoned for life?”
I lay back next to her and looked up through the same opening in the swamp ash at the blue sky beyond. A hundred and fifty years? No friggin’ way. This was impossible to believe.
“This may shock you, but I’m ninety years old right now. Irena was born three days before me. It’s why I call her sister, as she’s my oldest and dearest friend. My mother was one hundred and twenty years old when I was born.”
I rolled onto my side and looked at her. She was simply looking up into the sky, no facial expression to indicate that she was telling me anything other than the truth.
“I… I don’t understand, Lucy. This seems so impossible!” I gasped.
“Yes, I know, for an outsider it’s impossible to fathom. But, you see, I’ve lived here all of my life, with these people, my extended family. I’ve seen them all grow up from infants.” She closed her eyes for a moment and I watched her, soaking up the pure beauty of her dirty face. Then barely a whisper, she added, “I’ve killed them, too, my own friends, my own keepers. The only family I will ever have, I’ve murdered them.”
Lucy reached over and held my arm, pulling my hand onto her chest.
“Feel my heavy heart beat, Darios, as I remember those I have killed. The curse tortures me with these memories, and I pray that my friends will kill me.” She held my wrist securely and moved it down so that my hand covered her breast, the firmness of it pressed against my palm.
“But you see, I have been with them since they were infants, and to kill me would be like killing their own family, too. They know the curse that is upon me, and they understand the monthly insanity that drives me to murder. They learn from an early age to help contain my deadly urges.”
“The settlings?” I asked, the feel of her breast so wonderful beneath my hand, her nipple responding to my hot touch.
Lucy looked over at me. “Yes, the settlings. Only through harsh punishment can I be calmed. Only when the pain is great and the humiliation of their words stinging my ears can I resist becoming the unearthly demon that destroys without conscience.”
“You two!” Irena called out as she rounded the corner of the house. “Back to work so we can get that soil in the box today.” As she approached, she spat out, “Remove your hand, young man! No one may touch Lusineh in such a manner before her nadir day!”
I jerked my hand away and sat up. “I’m sorry, I…”
“Back to work, now!” the old woman hissed, removing the flogger from her belt. “Lusineh, you know better.”
“I apologize, Irena. Please flog me if I have displeased you.”
“I would enjoy that, my friend, but time is short and you have another two feet of soil to carry over.”
We returned to our labors, but I continued asking about her past, not really knowing if what I was hearing was fact or fiction. But just to hear Lucy speak was soothing, and it kept my mind from the pain I was feeling in my back and shoulders from the labor.
It seemed that the curse had been placed on Lucy’s ancestors by Gypsies in the year 1630 in their native country of Moldavia. The country underwent radical changes under the rule of Micheal the Brave that changed the face of the Moldavian society. Count Avakian and his wife, the Countess Ileana Avakian, were besieged by the Gypsies who had placed the curse upon them, forcing them to abandon their estate and escape to the Schwarzwald, the Black Forest, in Germany. Hunted like animals for a hundred years, the family made their way to France where, over time, they managed to work their way into the French aristocracy. It was during these years that Lucy’s grandmother, Elisebeta, was born.
But the curse continued to haunt her ancestors and each month new murders were reported, and suspicions began to surround the family. Then in May of 1774, King Louis XV was found dead, and, most likely due to political maneuvering, all indications pointed to the Avakians. In the dead of night, the family escaped the continent aboard a Great Ship destined for the new world.
I listened to Lucy’s story and could not imagine that it was in any way true, but the way in which she related it to me seemed to indicate that at least she believed it to be so. There was no hesitation in her delivery, no tone or inflection that gave away her lies. And why would a person go to the trouble of fabricating such an elaborate fantasy? Unless she truly was unstable or a pathological liar.
As we spread out and chopped into pieces the remaining dirt clots, Irena came down the little hill and stood upon the frame, watching as we chopped at the rich soil.
“That be good enough,” she announced.
Martine Rousseau stood next to the old woman, her hand beckoning me out of the garden box. I dusted myself off and followed her back down the trail to her house where I was given a towel and shown to the shower. Where Lucy was taken I don’t know.
I truly looked forward to returning to my cell, if only to sort through the tales I had been told throughout the day. Separating fact from fiction might be a good place to start, but to me, the entire revelation seemed to be fiction. How was I to believe such a tale as the one my beautiful friend related to me?
It was not possible to believe a word, yet impossible to deny that I did believe her. Was my heart guiding my brain now? Somewhere in the back of my head there was a little voice telling me that I could not be feeling this way about the woman after knowing her for only four days. But that little voice was barely heard over the thumping of my heart when I thought of Lucy. That heart beat was heavy, just as the beat I felt when Lucy held my hand upon her heart, for in these few short days I had come to feel her pain, her desperation, her love.
Lucy was no killer. I had never met such a warm and caring human being. Thoughts of my friend filled my head as I drifted off to sleep that night, and were the first thoughts to enter my mind when I awoke the following day.
The next morning I lay on my cot, thinking about some things that had been said the previous day. Some questions were answered while others were created. First, the reason for the verbal abuse Lucy endured while being flogged and caned seemed to be that the humiliation helped to settle her down. Odd, but apparently necessary.
Secondly, if this whole wild tale was to be believed, the loving care Lucy received from the villagers was due to her being present throughout their entire lives. Each person in the village had grown up with Lucy, each knowing that to turn her in to the authorities would condemn her to a long life in prison. And it seemed that they were trained to settle her from an early age.
My questions revolved around things said by Irena and Martine. First, Martine said I was being kept for Lucy. Kept? For what purpose? As a mate? That didn’t figure because she avowed to never have children lest the curse be continued. Kept as company? She had an entire village, albeit a small one, to keep her company. Maybe being an outsider had something to do with it. It was possible that she was just plain bored with their company! There was no denying the interest she displayed while listening to me ramble on about Wisconsin, of all places.
Second, I was scolded for touching Lucy with what may have been construed as a sexual touch and told she could not be touched like that until her nadir day. I thought about that word for a while; nadir. If I remembered correctly, nadir was like the opposite of zenith or apex. So if something, like a wave for instance, had its high point, it also had its low point. What was Lucy’s low point? When was Lucy’s low point?
A broad smile crossed my face. Would I be permitted to touch Lucy in a sexual manner on her nadir day? The smile would not leave my lips as I thought of that prospect. Oh God! To hold Lucy close to me, to caress her and bring comfort to her for even a short time… to kiss her… to make love to her…
The keys jingling in the lock brought me out of my sexual fantasies and I quickly sat up on the cot. Officer Rousseau walked up to the bars and we exchanged greetings as he opened the door and led me out.
On the way to the latrine he informed me that verification had been made with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as to my identity and that paperwork was being mailed to allow me to apply for an absentee license. I smiled and thanked the man, knowing full well I would not have left the village now if he had handed me my car keys and told me to go. Besides falling head over heels in love with the town murderess, the mystery surrounding Miss Lusineh Avakian had a grip on me that I could not shake.
To leave now was simply out of the question.
When I emerged from the restroom, Henri led me out the back door where he pointed off towards the commons. I saw Lucy and Irena there, sitting in the shade.
“Go ona up there and join the work crew, son,” he said.
Oh boy, more back breaking sod busting? The sight of Lucy standing up and looking my way added a spring to my step as I walked across the moist ground towards the Commons.
As I approached, Irena stood and led us towards the far side of the little park and down a dirt road into the swamp. I noticed the flogger hanging from a loop in her belt and wondered if the woman went anywhere without it.
Small cottages dotted the forest on either side of the road wherever the land rose in elevation high enough to support a structure. At one such cottage we turned in and waited while Irena walked inside, unannounced. When she reappeared a young woman, maybe in her thirties, was by her side, a baby in her arms. She handed the baby to Irena and stepped down to embrace Lucy.
“Thank you so much for helping me with this, Lucy. Marc won’t be back from Pearl Harbor for another week and a half and my supply is almost gone.” She looked over Lucy’s shoulder at me, suspicion obvious in her face. She turned and quickly retrieved her baby from the hag.
“Oh, Jacqueline, this is Mr. Donelli, he’s been a-staying over with Henri until a little legal issue is cleared up,” Irena said as she ushered me closer.
The woman took a step backward and Irena chuckled. “Don’t be worried Jackie, Darios is a-learnin’ our ways rather quickly, isn’t he Lucy?”
“Yes, sister,” Lucy said quickly while hooking a hand through my arm and snuggling up to me a little.
Jackie held the door open and Irena led us back to a small kitchen where plates had been set out with an assortment of breakfast foods on them. Lucy and I sat and ate while Irena played with the baby and Jackie stood by the counter and watched us. I noticed that her hand was only inches away from her knife set and assumed that she could not trust an outsider like as me with such ease, especially with her baby nearby. Who could blame her really?
Once breakfast was finished, we were led out the back door to a dilapidated old shed. Lucy helped Jackie pull a long canoe with short outriggers out onto the grass and then down the slight incline to the water’s edge. Irena stepped into the canoe and told us to pull her out into the swamp.
As Lucy and I pulled the canoe along with us, walking knee deep in the swamp, Irena explained that the DuPray’s property ran some half a mile straight back from their house and that a large grove of dead hardwood provided them, and most of their neighbors, with much needed fire wood. We would spend the day toting the wood back to the house so that it could be later chopped into firewood.
We found the grove and set about pulling dried pieces of wood down from where they had fallen amongst the other limbs, preventing them from reaching the wet surface below. The work was hard, and the day hot as always. I noticed Lucy’s muscle tone again and marveled at how she seemed to transform with exertion.
Her body was incredibly sensual regardless of what she was doing, but as we walked to the cottage earlier in the day I noticed how soft she appeared, how rounded the curves of her waist, how mellow the tone of her arms and legs. But now… her muscles rippled with the strain of the work and each muscle was pronounced, almost in the way that a body builder would appear after working each muscle group in preparation for a meet. Not that she in any way resembled those Amazons that displayed themselves in that manner, but her body seemed to somehow change as we worked. The three small circular birthmarks on her hip seemed to darken as well. I had to remember to ask her about those later if I got the chance.
We had broken for lunch and then returned to our soggy endeavors, making our fifth trip into the swamp to retrieve yet another load of the precious wood. Irena sat in the canoe and pointed out the good wood and held onto the loads on either side of her, piled atop the outriggers of the small dugout. I had just placed another long piece on top when I saw Lucy tugging at a solid branch that didn’t look to me to have separated from the tree.
As she pulled, I sensed movement to my right, off to the far side of the canoe, and saw that by pulling on that one branch Lucy was causing a small group of tall rotted trees to topple towards us. A quick calculation of the tree heights told me that the two closest trees would most likely hit the canoe, and Irena.
“Lucy!” I shouted. “Stop! Don’t pull that branch!”
I launched myself towards Irena, wrapping my arms around her and pulling her down flat into the bottom of the boat just as the old trees crashed down upon us. The impact crushed the boat, breaking it in half, and pushing me down into the murky water. Pain exploded across my back and I heard Irena cry out in pain.
Seconds later I heard a wail of grief come from Lucy as she realized what had happened.
“Irena!” she screamed. “Irena! Oh God in heaven! No! What have I done!?”
I felt the tree being lifted off of me and realized that Lucy had flung the heavy trunk away as though it was a little branch.
“No, no, no! Sister!” Lucy was beside herself.
I lifted myself off of the old woman and saw that I had effectively shielded her body from harm, but her left wrist had not made it into the safety of the canoe and was most likely broken. Her other hand had immediately gone to her belt, though, and was removing the flogger.
She held it up to me and cried out, “Settle her, Darios!”
“What?” I replied. Looking at the old woman and then up at Lucy.
“Quickly, boy, before her emotions overcome her and she kills us all!”
I took the flogger from the woman’s hand and bent over to grab her under the arms to hoist her further up into the longest end of the damaged canoe. I turned on Lucy and almost shit my pants as she stood with her fists clenched in her hair, pulling, and crying out in agony. Her howl of pain filled the thick air of the swamp, her eyes wide in terror.
From somewhere inside my head I pictured Veronica, holding the young girl, Paulette, close and calmly saying, “Would you be the one responsible for finally ending her life? For failing to settle her and allowing her to break free?” I would not be that person!
I stepped forward and brought the flogger down hard across Lucy’s back, and then again even harder. I remembered the way in which Henri had flogged her that day in the park, and brought the flogger across, striking Lucy hard against her ass.
“You fucking whore!” I bellowed. “Pick up the front of that boat and fucking pull your sister out of here!” The flogger came down and I winced as it struck her breast. I’m not really sure where that tone of voice came from, or those words for that matter, but I shouted it out as if my life depended on it. For all I knew, it did.
“Thank you, Master!” Lucy cried out. “Harder, Master!” She seemed to have snapped out of her rage and had taken a couple of steps towards the canoe. “Oh God, Darios! Please!”
Veronica’s lesson to her young charge flashed through my head, 'She’s begging you for it because she loves you as well, and does not want the murderer inside of her to take over. Settle her down!'
“You filthy slut!” the words came awkwardly from my mouth. “Pull, damn you!” I brought the flogger back and put everything I had into a harsh stroke across her shoulder. She cried out but I let fly with an equally hard stroke across her rib cage.
“Thank you, Master!!” she cried out again as she stooped to grab a hold of the front end of the broken canoe. She stepped forward, pulling the canoe with her, and I moved quickly to a position directly behind her so that I could continue laying blows upon her naked flesh. Each movement of my arm resulted in a corresponding strip of angry red flesh somewhere on Lucy’s body.
“Faster, bitch!” the flogger falling fast and hard across her back. The fear and adrenaline flowing through my system must have kept me from thinking about what I was actually doing, for I never imagined I was capable of abusing a person such as I was.
As we approached the DuPray house I saw Jacqueline come out of the back door.
“Run!” I yelled. “Get your baby and run, Jackie!” I brought the flogger across, the thick leather strands wrapping around Lucy’s reddened torso to land somewhere on her chest.
Jackie fled inside her house and I assume she grabbed the kid and fled out the front door. Moments later three men came running around from the side of the house, shotguns in their hands, as they quickly surveyed the scene. One of the men caught my arm as it was coming down, preventing the next blow from landing.
“It’s okay, friend. You have settled her!” he shouted out as the other two men raced to the canoe to lift Irena out.
I collapsed in pain on the ground beside the canoe, feeling someone crawl beside me. I looked down to see that it was Lucy; her head snuggled against my chest, her arms holding me tightly against her.
“Thank you, Master,” she cooed.
End of part 2
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