Corinne draws the short straw


Corinne had to usher the last two out the door. There was always someone staying until the very last minute, someone who just wanted “one more for the road” that would put her well after closing time. At least she was getting these two out with little fuss.

She was working to lock the door when a couple of burly men with loops of rope over their shoulders came to the door. A surge of panic made her attempt to lock it quickly. But it was too late, and they forced their way inside.

“Sorry gentlemen; we’re closed.” She said it in the politest, calmest voice she could muster. Something about these two scared her.

“Oh, I think you’ve got time for us, missy.”

“I really need to be closing up now.” But the bigger one got in her way and ominously forced her back to the bar.

Something told her this was serious. Maybe she could talk her way out of this. If not, maybe she could reach the phone to put out a call.

“I guess I don’t have to close right away,” she told him, gulping inwardly as the other one went to the door, flipped the sign over to “Closed” and then drew the shade. “What’ll you two have?”

The first one grabbed her by the arm and worked her behind the counter. “We’ll start by having a look at the day’s receipts. Your boss is way behind on his payments.”

“Payments? What payments – ow, you’re hurting me.”

“Not going to show me the till; eh, missy?”

Corrine gulped in alarm. Clearly these two had something ominous up their sleeves. She sure as hell didn’t like the sight of all that rope they’d brought in with them.

She went over and opened the till. The one with her gave it a cursory glance. “That’s it?” he growled unhappily. “That ain’t nearly enough.”

“They made a run with the afternoon receipts to the bank before it closed. That’s all there is.”

“I guess he’s not concerned about your welfare then.”

“My welfare?” She gulped again as she fought against the shakes that were trying to set in.

“Your boss. He’s behind in his payments to us… again. We told him we would be showing up to square accounts.”

“Then I guess you’ll have to take it up with him.”

“I intend to, missy. But first we have to remind him just how serious we are.”

“Hey – hey – HEY!”

The other one with his rope came forward as the first grabbed her arms and forced them behind her back. “I’m warning you; I’ll scream.”

“Do you really think that’s wise?”

She gasped for breath at the first one’s words as her heart pounded in her chest. Maybe screaming wasn’t such a good idea after all. A moment later it became academic as the second one tied some sort of cloth over her face while the first worked to secure her arms behind her back.

She grunted as she twisted and turned in place. “Stop struggling,” the first one warned ominously. The other gave her a look as though she might want to follow his instructions.

Corinne’s heart beat fast as her arms were tied securely behind her back with loops of rope that also wrapped around her stomach. More rope was tied just below her knees and again at her ankles. Then she grunted in alarm as the second one fashioned a noose out of the rope he had left.

“No hard feelings, missy,” the first one explained. “It’s just your bad luck you were the one closing tonight.” Then he took the free end of the rope and threw it over a beam in the ceiling.

He grabbed the noose from his partner and looped it around her neck. “We tried to warn your boss, but he just wouldn’t listen. Maybe this will give him the message.” And with that they both calmly pulled on the free end of the rope.

Corinne let out a muffled cry that was cut off as she was hauled up into the air. She dolphin kicked as her feet searched for solid footing that was now 24 inches below. A tear rolled down her cheek as anger and defiance gave way to terror.

She let out muffled rasps for breath as they tied the other end off. She swung back and forth, unable to believe how it could hurt like this. What the hell had her boss done for her to deserve this??

“No hard feelings, missy,” the first one told her again as they two men turned and headed for the door. “You just happened to be in here tonight stuck holding the short straw.”

They weren’t even going to stay behind to admire their handiwork?? They certainly didn’t seem concerned about making sure she succumbed, not that it was all that necessary. She was already starting to fade as the door closed behind them, leaving her all alone and strangling to death at the end of her rope.

(Aug 17 ’18)

(Inspired by an art manip by Corinne)

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