Barking Mad

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October 1971

Suggested listening:

Album—Cheap Thrills, Big Brother and the Holding Company

The house is dank and shabby with a low-slung porch that groans under the overhanging shake roof. Preacher brakes hard and swerves the back tire of his BMW in the dirt of the long driveway before walking it back against a rotted wood fence.

You sure? he asks me.

Yeah, I tell him from the backseat of the bike.

These guys aren’t like the acidheads you hang with, he adds.

I wrap my arms around his waist, slide my hands up his tight belly and say, You aren’t like the acidheads I hang with and we’re doing alright. I cock my head and look over his shoulder.

He turns in the curved seat and nuzzles my neck under my long hair. We do okay, he says and tries to kiss me.I nip his lip.

He smiles and tells me, Come on then. I’ll keep the guys in line.

I climb off the Beemer, stamp my heels back down into my over-the-knee black suede boots, and take off my short leather jacket.

He climbs off the bike, hangs his goggles over the handlebars and walks back to me at the tail. He presses against me and I wince when his hipbones grind against mine.

You need some meat on you, girl, he says.

You should talk. You’re all gristle, I tease.

He silences me with a kiss then slaps me hard on the butt and heads toward the house.

I walk behind him and retie the leather strap of my headband. A gunshot rings out from behind the house followed by loud cussing and the sounds of a fight. I pause and Preacher turns and looks at me, shaking his head. Just messing around. Nobody gets hurt bad … not that kind of party, or I wouldn’t have brought you.

I stand rooted to the spot and reach behind me to tighten the strap that runs under my breasts and holds the suede halter in place. Preacher walks back to me and pulls the leather belt on my mini-skirt a notch tighter around my hips.

You sure? he asks again.

Yeah. Let’s go. I tell him and smile.

But I’m not sure at all. It’s been almost three years since I was gang raped with my best friend. I think I should be over it; think I should be braver than I am; think I should be safe with Preacher; think a biker party in the woods should be fun.

A man bigger than I can imagine is standing next to the front door. His tattooed shoulders look wider than the door and his head crests the top. Preacher reaches for the door and a thick, greasy arm blocks the opening.

She legal? the guy asks.

Yeah, legal, Preacher answers and takes the guy’s wrist in his hand and pulls it off the doorframe. She’s my problem, Slammer.

Nice little problem, Preacher.

I tug my short skirt down, which only makes it slide lower on my hips. Slammer puckers a kiss at me and I follow Preacher inside.

The smell hits me first, then the heat, then the noise. So many unwashed bodies crammed in the low-ceilinged room makes me nearly wretch.

Preacher pulls me under his protecting arm and says quietly, They know me here, but still … don’t stray too far. Women are open game. Got it, Kool Aid?

Got it. I answer, wishing I’d taken at least a couple of reds to steady my nerves. But Preacher isn’t big into drugs—just a few joints, nothing more.

Skanky guys in dirty leathers and jeans nod or give Preacher the high sign as we wade through the room. Preacher keeps a tight grip around my waist. His hand feels warm against my skin. I don’t see many women, but the ones I do see are slutty and crass. One has her hand down a guy’s pants beating fast strokes while the guy keeps on talking to a shirtless dirt-bag sitting next to him.

We make it to the kitchen and Preacher pops the tops off two bottles of beer. I want his hand back around my waist and so take the beer quickly and snuggle close.

You sure you wanna stay? he asks.

I down the beer and nod. How bad can they be? They’re your people, I say in a hushed voice.

He pulls me full against him and I feel a hard shaft though his jeans, which means I’ve pleased him … though pleasing Preacher isn’t too difficult.

Fucking Becker! A voice booms from behind us. And a sweet honeycomb, the voice coos. A big, meaty hand grabs my ass.

Hands off, Dutch, Preacher warns. The biker drops his hand and takes a step back.

And here I thought you’d brought us a nice young piece to play with.

The guy’s taller than Preacher by at least a head and wearing Hells Angels’ colors on his sleeveless denim vest. His arms bulge with muscles and are covered with tattoos of naked women and skulls and daggers.

I look at Preacher and sense a power I’ve felt before but never really understood. I know Preacher gave up motorcycle gangs when he left the Pagans on the East Coast. But here he was hanging with Angels as if he were one of their own. I can sense the respect they have for him. But why? I flash back to when I first met him in the college library only a month ago. Even then I knew he was more than just a motorcycle riding ex-vet working off his tuition as a German tutor.

Then it dawns on me: Just below the calm surface there’s a cold, calculating violence that doesn’t need a loud voice, cuss words, or even a gun to wreak havoc. I feel it now and sense the Angels feel it too; respect it. Perhaps all the women who find Preacher irresistible sense it in him as well.

You got enough here to keep you busy, Preacher tells Dutch in a level voice. This one’s solo mio.

Dutch grabs Preacher around the neck and drags him into a head lock, lands a punch to Preacher’s ribs with his free hand that knocks the wind out of me just watching. Preacher doesn’t seem fazed.

Solo, Dude, Dutch says and laughs. I’ll spread the word.

The Angel blows a too sweet kiss at me and leaves.

I really want those reds now. I look around and it hits me—I don’t know anyone but Preacher, and I sure as hell don’t know him as well as I thought I did. To top it off, I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. And the guys crowding in around me make the guys that gang raped me look like monks.

Honor among thieves? I ask hopefully.

At least among bikers, Preacher answers and leads me back into the living room.

* * * * * *

Take it, you’ll like it. Not too much psycho stuff floating around here, but this should set you up.

I don’t ask what it is, just put the rolled hundred dollar bill he offers up my nose and suck up the white powder.

And for desert … he pulls a pipe out of his vest pocket loaded with what is either hash or opium. Either is okay by me.

Preacher had left me in the care of Jackson, a lanky blonde from somewhere in the Deep South, and told him to keep me out of trouble. He’d then walked up to a stacked redhead and slid his hand up her skirt without asking. She’d pushed her hips towards him, grabbed his long hair and kissed him full on the mouth.

I’d stood there feeling like a fool. My boyfriend was finger-fucking a woman right in front of me and twenty other guys. And I was supposed to do what? We’d agreed we weren’t going steady; agreed we weren’t stuck with each other. But I would never think of doing it with another guy right in front of him.

The redhead had pulled Preacher by the hair and backed through an open door off the front room with his hand still up her skirt. He’d kicked the door closed behind them without looking back, leaving me standing next to the window with Jackson and a roomful of grunting, squabbling hogs that smelled worse than they looked.

I stick the pipe in my mouth and inhale deeply as Jackson holds the match over the bowl. Opium … nice … I hand the pipe back to Jackson.

Jackson takes a hit and a thin wisp of pale blue smoke rises from the bowl. It holds its own for a moment against the thick tobacco haze. I watch it mingle, merge, then vanish. I feel a fragile kinship with the opiate cloud—too weak to hold my own for long in the world that swirls around me. Jackson hands the pipe back and I take another hit. The room wavers, calms. I lean against the window, the cool night nuzzling my bare back through the glass.

Preacher comes out of the room followed by the redhead. I look her up and down and realize Preacher’s taste runs to hefty women. Fuck him! Thin and tight is better than stacked and fat!

You got that straight! Jackson says and I realize I’ve been talking out loud. Just like you, Sweet Cakes. He sighs and shakes his head soulfully. Solo. Damn we could have had us some fun, me and you.

Whatever Jackson gave me is starting to buzz. I lean against him, his hand on the small of my back. Don’t make this any harder than it already is, Sweet Cakes, he says and I burst out laughing. Not hard like that … well yeah, guess it is hard like that, he adds and laughs.

Thanks for watching her, Jacks. Preacher slides his hand around my neck, pulls me close and kisses me; Jackson’s hand still resting on my back.

He pulls away and slams both palms into Jackson’s chest. What the fuck did you give her?

Some blow and some dragon, dude. Be cool now.

I’m cool, baby, I say to Preacher and try to kiss him. I feel the bottom of my feet start to float away from the ground and grab hold of Preacher’s vest.

* * * * * *

Take me with you, I beg Preacher.

No.

A few minutes earlier the room had cleared, everyone heading down a long hallway. I could hear whoops and whistles coming from the end of the dark passage. Preacher kisses me and pats my ass and tells me that I’m to stay put.

The blow has worn off and the opium is slipping away. I don’t want to lose Preacher, too. What are they doing in there?

Nothing for you to see, Kool Aid.

I pout and drop into an empty chair next to the front door. Preacher kneels in front of me. I said you could come with me if you did what I said and kept out of my way. I didn’t know they were doing anything special tonight or I wouldn’t have brought you. I’m not missing this and you’re staying put. No more discussion! Slammer’s watching you so don’t try anything. He nods at the giant standing in the open doorway.

At least find Jackson before you desert me, I tell him. Slammer nods towards the kitchen.

Fuck all bitches as whores, Preacher curses and walks into the kitchen. A moment later Jackson appears as Preacher throws his arm around a bare-breasted woman with a skirt almost as short as mine. They head down the hallway together.

Jackson already has his pipe out and is rolling an oily nub of opium between his thumb and forefinger. Lost the dragon already, darlin’? he asks and kneels at my feet.

Must be a cheap grade, I tell him.

He puts a hand to his heart as if he’s been wounded. Well, just so happens this dragon has a friend. If he can’t satisfy you, his friend’s sure to. Here, take another hit as an appetizer. I smile and take a hit off the pipe.

I don’t do horse, I say on the exhale. Don’t mainline anything.

Whooo, Whooo, a cunt with scruples! Well then, darlin’, you got nothing to fear, I don’t do horse neither. He pushes up the sleeves of his shirt and turns his arms over. See, clean as a baby’s behind. He leans in close and whispers, Wouldn’t want to ruin my good looks.

I look into his eyes, silently daring him to kiss me. No, No, NO, he backs away. You’re likely to get my ass snuffed, Sweet Cakes. Preacher says solo, and that’s how you’re staying.

Fuck the bastard, I groan.

Probably what he has in mind for later, Jackson says as he reaches in his hip pocket and pulls out a folded piece of waxed paper. But the man said nothing about tripping. He smiles. I reach for the paper. Jackson pulls it out of reach and looks up at Slammer, who’s watching the whole exchange. Just a little piece … as a thank you? He waggles the packet between two fingers in front of Slammer. Slammer turns his back with a snort and Jackson leans in closer, his other hand already up my skirt. His fingers slip under my cotton panties and stroke me before I can protest.

He pulls his hand out from under my skirt, waves it under his nose and sighs, then drops the packet in my lap. Sweet, sweet, sweet, he says and grabs his bulging crotch. Solo. Fuck me running! He turns to leave and adds, Enjoy.

I unfold the paper and lick the small mound of pale yellowish powder from the center, then run my tongue over the entire square of paper, from corner to corner, just in case I’ve missed some. I fall back against the overstuffed chair and try to settle into the opium haze nibbling away at my anger.

* * * * * *

I feel a hand on my leg—open my eyes to find Jackson leaning over me, the back of his hand lazing up and down my thigh between my boots and the edge of my skirt. I smile and close my eyes again; the dragon calming me enough to let him.

When I open my eyes again, I’m alone. The front door is closed and neither Slammer nor Jackson are anywhere in sight. Blaring music, whooping and hollering, dogs growling and barking, comes from down the hall. I wonder how long I’ve been floating. I check my skirt and underwear and find them as I left them. I’m relieved nothing happened while I was out. I look around the empty room and damn Preacher again for not letting me go with him.

Fuck him if he thinks I’m staying put, I say out loud and start to push out of the chair.

Slammer opens the front door and leans into the room. Do as Preacher says and there won’t be no trouble.

Just then several bikes roar into the front yard. Slammer steps back outside and pulls the door closed behind him. I jump out of the chair and make a beeline for the hallway. The door at the end is locked so I slip outside through a side door and around to a set of sliding doors. I quietly slide one open, slip in behind the drawn curtains, and slide it closed behind me.

The absolute darkness surprises me. The curtains are thick and spongy and coated with what feels like rubber. They press me against the glass. I wait, stilling my breathing, though I could cough and no one would hear me over the noise.

Janis Joplin is belting out Piece of my Heart, guys are shouting, Go, Go, Go, Yeah! Dogs are growling and yipping, fists are beating on the walls making the glass doors vibrate in time with the music. I want to duck back out, but am too curious about what’s happening on the other side of the curtain. I edge along feeling for the split between the panels when something slams into me at knee height. Teeth dig into one of my boots and start tugging at me. Hands pull me from behind the curtains.

I kick at the brindle dog that still has my booted leg in his mouth. A man yells something and the dog lets go, but doesn’t stop growling. I look around as I’m being pulled away from the curtains. The room looks to be a converted garage, the concrete floor covered with old scraps of greasy carpet, the walls with cheap wood paneling. Long fluorescent light fixtures hang from the ceiling casting an eerie greenish pall over everything.

Dozens of guys are backed against the walls holding dogs of varying breeds and sizes with studded collars on leather leads. There are women in various stages of undress scattered among them. In the center of the room men are crowded around a pool table with its legs sawn down.

Before I can think of what to do, the overhead lights begin pulsating in time with the music, the room swells and contracts as if it’s breathing, the dogs start singing the words to the song. I realize the yellowish powder Jackson gave me must have been some kind of acid.

I’m slammed against a wall and a bare arm with a writhing dragon pins me tight. A husky voice barks, Preacher, your bitch is here.

The pack of men part in slow motion, look over their shoulders toward me. I duck my head, but a hand yanks my chin up. You wanted to see, well take a look, Honeycomb! My eyes fly open at the sound of Dutch’s voice coming from the other end of the arm.

A pool table flies towards me, the red hair of the woman who’d pulled Preacher into the bedroom vivid against the green felt. She lies naked on the table, her legs hanging over the edge.

She turns her head and looks at me and suddenly I’m next to her. I feel her breath on my cheek, smell the Southern Comfort she’s been drinking, taste her sweat. The next instant I’m up among the rafters watching from the heights as men grab her hands from either side of the table and pull tight.

A biker at the foot of the table scoops dog food from a can and rubs it between her legs. A black dog with an enormous head is loosed from the wall and rushes the table. It licks her exposed cunt where it perches on the thick ledge. The redhead groans and spreads her legs wider. Two men grab her knees and lift them even with the table, keeping them spread wide. Her lips part and a man pours Southern Comfort into her mouth. Another is rubbing her clit hard and fast. He nods at the dog’s handler and shouts, She’s ready!

The owner picks up the mastiff’s front paws and plants them on the rim of the table between the woman’s legs. The men howl, the other dogs bark and strain at their leads, the mastiff hunches its back to mount her and starts humping, faster and faster. The redhead’s hips straining to meet each thrust as I crash back against the wall crying, willing my eyes to close. They remain open.

The mastiff drops back to all fours and a wiry-haired mutt is held squirming in front of the woman’s spread legs. His tiny dick wiggles and squirts a cloudy bit of cum.

I throw up. No one notices.

The owner laughs and reaches between the dog’s legs and starts jerking him off, yelling, Warm her up! He’s got more than one shot in him!

The man at the end of the table renews rubbing her clit and the redhead moans loudly. I begin floating towards her. The thick arm still has me pinned against the wall—but flesh has no power over acid and I fly to her side.

I feel the exhilaration throbbing in her. Know the thrill of being the one everyone is watching—share her disdain for these men. Feel the power she has over them—if only for this moment.

She cries out. The room blinks out of existence.

* * * * * *

I’m on my back in the damp grass, Preacher on his knees straddling me.

I told you to stay put! he screams. Jesus Christ! You’re lucky they didn’t throw you on the damned table!

I twist and try to break his hold on my wrists.

Stop it! No more hysterics! he snaps at me.

I keep struggling as a deep purple cloud descends, obscuring everything except Preacher and me. I try to reason with myself, tell myself I can trust Preacher; that this is all just a bad trip—decide to be good if he’ll just let me go.

I watch as furred legs materialize out of a swirling green-gold mist where his arms should be. Enormous, claw-tipped paws spring from the wolf-like limbs that pin me to the ground. Behind the paws is the muzzle of a great wolfhound, growling and snapping. I try to scream, but have no voice. I try to kick and roll away.

The world goes black when a hammer-like paw slams into my jaw.

###

© 2016 Donna Conrad. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any kind without the written permission of Donna D. Conrad.