Branded for Menace

Jim Turnbo The Weekly Knob feature Dec 7 · 11 min read

“All because of some stupid bra,” Joshua said, jerking his focus over his shoulder. He couldn’t help but cherish the days when his biggest concern came from trying to fart without pissing his pants. Which had turned into a serious concern at the moment.

“Stop running,” Danny-boy yelled, sucking air between words. “I’m gonna break your face you lil’ punk. Stop runnin’…,” more gasps “… and take your beatin’ like a man Dawkins.”

Joshua sprinted down the three-hundred block of Jackson Blvd. and made the hard right into the alley between Main and Cedar. Why this Danny DeVito-esque clown chased him was a mystery. The two crossed paths one other time a few months ago (indirectly) at a party as a friend pointed him out.

“All of his crew are bad news. I’d stay away if I were you,” he said, and that was the last of it…

… until now.

He pumped his arms faster knowing (more like hoping) his legs would follow, at least a little. His lungs burned each time he took in air. The stench of accumulating trash made him gag and wonder what these downtown businesses threw out that stunk so bad.

From behind, something whizzed past his left ear ricocheting off the brick buildings and sputtered to a stop in a cluster of overflowing trash bags. A snickering laugh followed. If he hadn’t known who made the noise, he’d guess a troll from the sewers came up looking for some random human to disembowel.

Ahead, cars, trucks, and bicycles moved in both directions on Main Street. For the life of him, he forgot where he was. So much for growing up in this forsaken place, he considered and put his head forward and ran faster.

“Here I come Joshie-boy,” Danny-boy said.

“Leave me alone?” Joshua yelled choking on the rancid air. He forced his tired legs to pick up the pace after hearing Danny-boy’s steps getting louder and closer. His breathing matched his steps. Joshua couldn’t figure out how that little fat fuck kept up with him.

Just let me get around the corner, he thought.

“You’re not gonna get away from me douche-bag,” Danny-boy yelled.

Was he laughing?

How is he laughing?

I can’t breathe.

Joshua shook his head amid a full sprint and chuckled at how the stereotypical little Italian sounded straight out of a mob movie. Accent and all.

A block away.

He drove his legs; swung his arms and pressed harder trying to draw from whatever nonexistent athleticism he hadn’t used since his days running track in high school.

Four-hundred meters was his specialty. No one could catch him in his prime. Joshua Dawkins collected state titles with promises of college scholarships, but like everything in his adult life, he let entitlement squander it all away.

Amazing what an ego can do for ya, he mused.

Across the street, a car moved from a parking space on the opposite side of Main and pulled into oncoming traffic. Tires squealed, horns honked, and everyone involved exchanged a few choice words. The corner of a brick building was now a half a block ahead. The heavy breathing behind got louder; his steps getting closer. Joshua peered over his shoulder flabbergasted at how the little roly-poly fat fuck of an oompa-loompa extra from Willy Wonka kept pace — no more than fifteen feet behind.

In theory, Joshua should’ve left the guy in a wake of embarrassment as he bent over gasping for air fighting off a coronary. Except the kid who ran a four-hundred in 78 seconds had fallen away (along with the promised scholarships), decades ago. Now he couldn’t outrun the equivalent of a meatball with legs.

Thirty feet away.

Joshua approached the corner realizing it was Jaco’s Pizzeria waiting on the front-side of the buildkng. On any other given day, the sidewalks would’ve been a ghost town. Except, this was 5 PM on a Friday. Everyone and their brother wanted a pie and stood in line for the best pie in town. (The line stretched half the block.)

Before he let his brain and body communicate, Joshua Dawkins turned the corner with his head still cranked back at Danny-boy. Four strides after rounding the corner, he plowed into a young woman standing to the left of a large, hulking man nothing short of an NFL linebacker. The previously happy couple were next to get inside Jaco’s. Except now they were angered at the sudden interruption.

Joshua’s right shoulder plunged into the center of the woman’s chest. She let out a loud ooomph and stumbled back into the person behind her. He spun falling onto his backside. In all of this he couldn’t help but admire the sun and fluffy clouds floating above the buildings

“Hey!” the linebacker yelled. “What’s your problem dumbass?” he continued lunging towards Joshua. His lady friend sat on her duff in dismay as she looked up in shock.

Joshua heard Danny-boy say something and push the guy back. “I’ll take care of this, friend,” he said smiling at Joshua and towering over him in both height and girth. His smile widened as his beady eyes squinted behind wire-rimmed glasses.

“Got you now Dawkins. I told you I’d get you,” Danny-boy said lifting his prey off the ground as if a stuffed animal.

A grunt escaped as Joshua stood to his feet. “How can you run so fast? You’re nothing but a meatball with legs.”

“Funny man Dawkins.” Danny-boy slapped him across the back of his head. “I’m like an alligator. Don’t you know about alligators douche-bag?”

“A what?”

“An alligator. I run straight lines fast: forty miles an hour those prehistoric fuckers can run. Did you realize that? You should’ve zigzagged like one of those football players. But you dipshit, never did that. Now you’re comin’ with me, so shut up. Mr. Ricco is waiting… and he doesn’t appreciate waiting.”

Joshua laughed as Danny-boy shoved him around the corner.

“What’s so funny?”

Joshua blurted another laugh. “Your boss. I’d change my name if I were him. His last name… it’s the same as the federal law against people in his type of business?”

“Oh, you’re suddenly a smart guy.” Danny-boy pushed his wire-rimmed glasses towards the top of his nose and laughed like something between a hyena and an obese man choking on a chicken bone.

“I don’t understand why you’re messing with me,” Joshua said as Danny-boy shoved him through the alley.

“Ahhh… douche-bag. The concern finally surfaces. Don’t play stupid. Mr. Ricco just wants to ask you a few questions. He’s a fair man, so I wouldn’t get my panties all up in a bind.”

Danny-boy laughed, and smacked the back of Joshua’s head for a third time. Joshua paid no attention to his head jerking forward after the slap. Instead, parts of his body puckered as he clenched his cheeks. The word panties sent his sphincter and heart rate on the same racing wavelength. Oh, shit, Joshua thought as it all came together and searched for an escape.


4 DAYS BEFORE THE SHIT HIT THE FAN

Since the age of fifteen, Joshua had a one-track mind. And what boy didn’t at that age? Roosevelt High had a reputation three counties (in every direction) wide for having a 2:1 girl to a boy student ratio. For any boy looking to better his chances at hooking up with a hot girl, this was the school to get in to. Any boy with the balls to talk to a girl had at least a handful to pick from. (That’s taking into account all the pubeless boys too scared to talk to a pretty girl. We’ve each witnessed those kids who’s testicles retreated like a scared turtle as the thought of talking to a girl traveled through their minds.)

Joshua Dawkins never had a problem talking to girls. He was a jock… well, calling anyone on the track team a jock brought a few choice words in some circles. However, he had no problem with hooking up with B & C level girls. The A’s stuck with the football team. Except he didn’t care. Most of those girls were one neuron above brain dead. And no one wanted to hook up with a corpse — figuratively speaking of course.

“Why are you looking at me in that way?” Kimberly asked with a smile bordering between shy and apprehension.

Joshua shook his head as if rattling the cobwebs free and offered his own smile. “No reason. You just remind me of someone from school, that’s all.”

“One of your old girlfriends?” she asked picking at her food.

“No. From a Victoria’s Secret catalog I used to flog the ole dolphin too after school,” he wanted to say. Instead, he smiled and shook his head. The last thing he wanted was to scare this one off before she found out his little secret.

Too soon and it would be creepy.

“Joshua Dawkins,” Kimberly said looking deep into his eyes. “There’s something about you that intrigues me.”

You don’t know the half of it; he thought. “I guess that’s true about everyone,” he said resting his elbows on the table. The wine in each of their glasses swayed in unison offering a reminder neither had hardly touched their Malbec. He watched her eyes drift towards her plate as he let his eyes fall to her chest.

A woman’s body held so many mysteries to him. Her milky skin had only one visible blemish. A single mole — no bigger than the tip of a felt pen — sat at the top of her cleavage making a single statement: Look at me.

Joshua squirmed holding back his excitement as he anticipated touching what held her chest in place, and created a valley between the two mounds on either side of the mole.

Suddenly feeling uncomfortable she asked, “So, what do you do to occupy your time?”

That’s a dangerous question. He pressed his lips together keeping back the words wanting out.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing. What makes you think there’s something?”

“Because suddenly you look as if someone stepped on your toe.”

“Do you wanna get out of here?” Joshua asked.

After a moment, Kimberly looked around the restaurant. The steakhouse had a reputation for its top-tier steaks with a price that matched. Reservations took at least two months, but none of that mattered. She wanted dessert more. “Yeah,” she said dabbing her napkin at each corner of her mouth. “Let’s go to my place,” she said without a moment’s hesitation.

Joshua sat motionless taken aback by how easy this turned out to be.


The two walked the length of her sidewalk as Joshua followed Kimberly up the front steps. He couldn’t take his eyes off her backside. He traced the underwear lines with his eyes as each side of her dress swayed in hypnotizing movements.

“Don’t mind the mess,” she said peering over her shoulder. “My uncle sends a cleaning lady over on Thursdays, but for some reason she didn’t come this week.”

Kimberly unlocked the door and disarmed the alarm as Joshua walked past. He gazed at the long hall admiring the exotic wood floor and walls drawing in a long breath. Jasmine filled his nostrils.

I like this girl even more.

She strolled passed and grabbed him gently by the top of his shirt and pulled him just enough for him to follow. After two steps she kicked off her right shoe, then her left and spun him around pushing him into the wall. She leaned in taking control and kissed him as if trying to suck off his lips.

They both stripped off their clothes in front of the other and dropped to the floor, and made love — the first time — there in the hall.


Their second and third time began and finished in her bedroom. Joshua lay in the bed spent as Kimberly slept breathing, barely under a snore. He stared at her ceiling as the moonlight peeked through the bedroom window giving off a grayish hue casting shadows off her furniture. The hum of distant traffic soothed him in a way he hadn’t expected.

Then, it started. His mind raced towards what she peeled off in the hall. Since finding that first Victoria Secret catalog at fifteen, Joshua had what the French called a fetiche.

Over the years, his fetiche had grown to the point where he had more than a hundred bras. Exactly one-hundred-and-seven. One-hundred-and-eight lay in the hall calling his name as Kimberly had as they made love.

Joshua pushed the blankets off his body and waited. Kimberly shifted to her side; her back now to him. He paused, swung his left leg over the side of the bed and waited again.

Nothing.

Then he swung his right leg and stood surprising even himself at how little the bed moved. Kimberly, this time in a full snore, didn’t notice. Joshua tip-toed through the bedroom into the hall. His naked body cooled because of the temperature difference between the bedroom and the hall.

In the hall, his heart leapt. Her black lace bra lay on the floor beckoning him. He paused for a moment spying into the bedroom. Kimberly’s gentle snores brought a smile to his face.

He glanced at the bra, then at her, and back towards the bra. It pulled him. So he went to it.

Standing over the bra, Joshua ogled over the fabric admiring how the lace and straps came together, and reached down picking up the bra. The simple act of picking it up from the floor sent tingles and shivers all over his body. He caressed his face with the lace and smiled letting out a moan.

The only part missing was him wearing it. He walked back to the bedroom and peaked around the corner. Kimberly snored facing away from the door. Joshua walked through and stopped in front of the full-length mirror.

His heart raced as he tried to fight off his excitment. The silky lace tickled his skin as he fastened the bra at the back. With his manhood tucked between his legs (it was the only way to keep him from becoming fully excited), he posed turning from one side to the other admiring how he looked in the bra. I would make a sexy woman, he thought and posed looking over his shoulder admiring how the muscles in his back looked between her straps.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement. His heart stopped as his eyes grew to the size of golf balls.

“What. Are. You. Doing, you freak?” Kimberly screamed as she turned on the light on her nightstand.

Joshua turned not knowing what else to do. “I… I… I…,”

“Shut up!” she screamed staring at his pelvic area. “And what is that?” she asked pointing towards the part of his body she couldn’t get enough of an hour ago. “Get out of my house you freak.”

Kimberly climbed out of bed, Joshua admired her naked body one last time and wished he hadn’t botched another potential long-term relationship.

“Please, I can explain. I have no control — ”

She reached down and picked up her phone from the stand. “Get out of here,” she said pushing the numbers hard enough to put her finger through the phone.

“Please,” Joshua pleaded. “Don’t call the police.”

“The police. What are they gonna do you freak?” she said bringing the phone to her ear. “I’m calling my uncle, Ricco.”

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