The Sleeping Giant
Dorothy held on as tight as she could, hugging as if for dear life. Cap was a tad shorter than her so his face pressed against her breast. Dorothy cared very little that people were watching while Smiley didn’t seem all that interested in being noticed. Turning away, he pretended to check over the twelve gauge.
“Alright you two, knock it off would ya.”
Dorothy slowly pulled away a watery gaze, though her hands rested on his shoulders.
“Cap, I thought… I’m sorry.”
Cap gave her a concerned smile.
“Sometimes saying full sentences can help you in life, and sometimes saying nothing at all can be just as beneficial.” He said, giving her an innocent smile.
With how soft he spoke, and how much he smiled now, It was clear to her that something was off about him. He had gone from cool to adorable, filling her with conflicting emotions. On rare occasions, Dorothy wondered what having a little brother would be like, however, she most definitely didn’t want Cap to answer that question for her. But at least he was speaking now. Just one of many more steps before he was back to normal, she told herself.
“The kid sounds like a damn fairy.”
Dorothy slowly turned her wide gaze around to see who said it and to her surprise, Jack was there at the range too. He smirked over his shoulder in her direction, looking as healthy as ever. Seeing the intensity in the girl’s eyes, Jack said;
“I’m not scared of you little girl. So turn those crazy eyes somewhere else.”
She was gonna put him down for good this time, reaching for her pistol she stopped when Smiley stepped in between her, and Jack.
“Easy kid, let me show you something,” Smiley said as he walked up to Jack. With just a small whisper a fight broke out between the two men. Jack was twice if not three times Smiley’s size so when Jack’s fist struck Smiley’s jaw his head snapped to the side. Though he didn’t go down.
“Ya like that?! I don’t care what fucken family you’re from!” Jack spat.
Smiley’s reply came with a flurry of strikes to Jack’s chest. Dorothy noticed Smiley wore something shiny on his knuckles. She was pretty sure he wasn’t wearing rings a few moments ago. He knocked the wind out of Jack and finished with an elbow to the jaw. Jack toppled over to the ground, instinctively putting his hands up though he was very much in a daze. Smiley waited patiently to see what Jack did next, that is either go for a gun or get back up for round two. Surprisingly after struggling to his feet, he scooped up his belongings and left the range. Dorothy blinked a few times finally realizing he wasn’t Jack when the man walked past them to his car. In fact, he was a large full grown adult who had far more muscle than Smiley. With that being said, Dorothy couldn’t help but be flooded with emotions. Getting goosebumps from Smiley’s handling of the problem but also trembling at the sudden phenomenon of the strange man having the face of a dead teenager. For a few moments saw the boy she’d killed as plain as day, and she was pissed that the prick was still alive, even though she knows for a fact she snuffed him out yesterday. The haunting phenomenon was almost too much for her. She barely even noticed Cap pick something up off the ground but she was frozen with fear. After all, ghosts were supposed to come out at night when you were alone, but here it was in the afternoon in the middle of a wide-open shooting range.
“I would like to try the shotgun again.”
Cap’s innocently joyful tone pulled her from her own thoughts, her crippling fear momentarily fading away. Surprisingly she became more frustrated when she realized this fear could get her killed. Even worse, get Cap killed. Anger pooled in her fist shaking with frustration, refusing to let the thought of some damn ghost leave her for the sake of fighting her demons head on even if it felt like she was losing.
“You sure you don’t wanna try a pistol? It’s less likely to dislocate your shoulder,” Smiley asked.
“Don’t worry about him,” Dorothy said with a bit of irritation. She realized her words came out in a way she didn’t quite intend. She took a deep breath, glancing around a little as she exhaled. “Sorry… and thank you.” She gave him a smirk, instead of the usual girly smile. Cap seemed to ignore the both of them, no longer wanting to wait. He stepped over to the table where the shotgun rested. He plucked a shell from the table and examined it and the gun closely. “He beat up two teens bigger than both of us and the next day he did it again, though I was with him for that one.”
“Yeah, I might’ve heard something about that. How’d a little girl, and an ankle-biter pull that off? What’d you pay ’em off or something?” He chuckled.
“He gets into a lot of trouble,” She said, letting years of built-up exhaustion pass through her lips with a sigh.
“Oh really, him?” He mused while starting his hundredth cigarette of the day, Dorothy thought. “Sounds like me back in the day. Then again, I had someone watching out for me. If he’s anything like me, ya might wanna keep him on a tight leash.”
“Capo does what he wants, and I make sure it happens,” She said as a matter of fact.
“Hm,” Blowing smoke from the corner of his mouth, he asked. “So uh… you two dating or something?” Dorothy’s mouth gaped ever so slightly, caught off guard by the question. “I ask because it’s never a good idea to mix relationships and work. More importantly, it’s okay to play pretend but pretending to be a Capo can get you hurt or worse. Just a little friendly advice.”
She stood there staring into the man’s gaze, feeling his words desperately hacking away at her resolve but with a loud bang, her attention snapped towards Cap who had loaded the shotgun, and fired down range.
“This thing is amazing!” Cap said.
“You idiot,” Dorothy began. “At least wait for a new target, you destroyed the last one, and it’s my turn.”
“Mr. Smiley, can we get a new target?” Cap asked, turning his innocent smile towards Dorothy.
“Mr. Smiley?” Smiley mused.
“Perhaps something not paper, so the target lasts longer,” Cap said.
“Sure, kid. But it’ll cost yah, wait,” He said, just remembering how much she gave him the first time. “Keep it, because if you pull out another one of those, I might shit myself.”
They remained at the range for a good hour and thirty minutes. Trying out all the guns and putting a noticeable dent in the range’s stockpile of ammunition. Specifically the twelve gauges, and nine millimeters. The metal target they paid for had pretty much been turned to slag so the offer to take it as a souvenir was turned down. The employee recognized the man in the trench coat, and hat, knowing full well the guy was practically broke thanks to his life choices. The same life choices that were also keeping man the kids called Smiley from winding up dead somewhere. But the fact he was able to pay for so much ammunition, and range time was baffling. Clearly, those kids belonged to some wealthy fuck, and Smiley got lucky enough to be their bodyguard. Getting an idea, the man checked his watch, seeing that it was almost quitting time.
“Thanks, Mr. Smiley, that was the most exciting thing in the world. I can’t wait to do it again,” Cap said, as Dorothy helped him out of the car.
“Heh, must have never touched a tit before,” He smirked. “You two head on home. I think you should find a new place to read for a while.”
“Why?” Dorothy asked, noticeably annoyed.
“Just a gut feeling.”
“Riiiight, just be back here tomorrow around seven in the morning. Capo wants to go back to the range.”
“Seven?! Look, I got a date tomorrow morning. I can’t miss that, why don’t you two go hold hands at the lake or something, I got shit I need to do.”
Smiley deflated in defeat, his cigarette almost slipping from his lips when he saw the girl whip out another hundred-dollar bill. Staring off into the distance, Smiley began to ponder what was more important, his date or getting paid. The thought lasted but a moment as he took it, and drove away without another word. Cap waved goodbye while Dorothy’s irritated gaze raced after Smiley in his rearview until he was finally out of sight.
“How are you feeling?” She asked as they made their way back to the bridge.
“I feel amazing, why?”
“I mean… how are you feeling… about…” She stared into his innocent smile, somehow making her change the subject. “Your hair… It’s getting pretty long.”
“Don’t mind it one bit. Sometimes a new hairstyle can keep things interesting.”
“Sure…” They walked in silence for a moment before a thought popped into her head. “Oh! That letter you wrote, to the one giving us the money. You got a reply, wanna see it?! I’m not sure if you heard me tell you this morning.”
“Mm mm,” He shook his head, still smiling without a care in the world. “No thank you. Sometimes the unknown is much more exciting than actually knowing.”
“What the hell?!” She erupted. “Since when has that ever been true?!”
“Since now,” He said as a matter of fact. “Sure it could be a ghost or an alien but what about a talking spider? Could even be a squirrel that moves really fast. So fast we can’t even see! Or maybe it really is a rich grandmother but she’s got some invisibility power,” He mused.
Finally arriving at the bridge, she listened to her friend’s childish ramblings. Every word coming out of his mouth made him feel like an annoying little brother she never had nor wanted, and less like her best friend. Dorothy sat on the rock, staring off into the distance, listening to him talk for about an hour.
“Hey, Cap?… Could you just shut the fuck up?” Just like that, the sounds of nature were back, and all it took was for her to utter words she had never said before, at least not to him. Though she hadn’t even realized what she said until a few moments later. She pressed her hands to her face before running her fingers through her hair with frustration. Not really wanting to believe what she said, Dorothy stayed silent for a while trying to keep down the overwhelming emotion. She finally opened her eyes and looked in his direction. “I’m sorry, Capo I’m…” Her words trailed off, slowly scanning the area only to find him gone. “Cap?” Her thoughts immediately started to twist and turn. Violently weaving through the minutes, and hours leading back to yesterday, and the day before. She hallucinated before with Jack, perhaps all this time she was hallucinating Cap as well. “Cap!” She screamed, racing into the woods once again, towards the area where she thought Cap died. Even if he was alive, the old Cap was gone, whether she found his body dead on the ground or not. Her dress became covered in leaves, and bush stickers, while it ripped here, and there. She finally arrived at the spot out of breath, only to find nothing, just the empty grave. Yelling Cap’s name once again, she raced back to the bridge further ruining her clothing to soon find he still wasn’t there. Her dizzying gaze went straight towards the most out-of-place thing there, and that was the sundial she made. Spacing out, she saw that there were still a few minutes before seven. Her legs felt weak as she looked in the big rock’s direction. Anxiety knocking on the doors of her sanity as she waited to see whether one or two stacks of bills would appear. She waited, and waited, her heavy breathing, and heartbeat growing increasingly loud. Footsteps on the dirt road tore her attention away from the rock and towards two figures standing over her, looking up she saw two familiar faces. Jack and the older man she’d named Angry, were there. Angry still had a fresh hole in the side of his head from where she shot him, and Jack was blue. Clearly she was losing her mind if she was able to see color in what little light there was. Unable to control her breathing Dorothy’s eyes rolled back, and she fainted.
Dorothy slipped in and out of consciousness, getting a slight glimpse of what appeared to be Cap’s hands struggling to peel an orange for her. He was always bad at peeling properly, and she never could understand why. How could this boy be so intelligent, and be horrible at such a simple task? In a slight panic, she shot up from her pillow only to be immediately blinded by the sunlight. Still, her eyes remained as wide as possible, forcing, demanding them to adjust so that she could finally see… not her friend sitting at her bedside. To be specific, no one was sitting there. With a quick glance around the room, she realized it was the girl’s sick room, and not even Mabel was there. She was alone though she could hear someone talking outside the door. Slipping out of bed, she walked briskly towards it, noticing the door was ajar. Peaking out, she saw Sister Mary, and a few other nuns, speaking with two officers neatly dressed in their dark blue uniforms.
“When we found her, she was tied up in a room with her clothing ripped,” One officer explained.
“They raped her?” One of the nuns asked, gasping into her palm. The nun’s eyes filled with tears, while Sister Mary’s eyes simply squinted. Dorothy knew the woman had a very strong grasp of her emotions, not wavering even slightly to the best news in the world or the rose. She figured if Sister Mary found out the world was going to blow up, she’d be the calmest person in the world. The problem was, she’d probably make all the children in the orphanage study the future death of mankind. On some level, she could understand Cap’s admiration of the woman but for the most part, Dorothy saw her as a stone-cold bitch.
“We don’t know that, Sister,” The officer said, shaking his head.
“We do think we were able to find them but,”
“Every last one of them deserves the death penalty, there’s no but about it,” One of the nuns blurted out, interrupting the officer.
“They’re already dead,” He said.
“Suicide?” Sister Mary asked, calmly.
“N-no… they were… butchered, and spread out evenly across the living room floor. We can’t even identify them due to their lack of skin. We’ve never seen anything like it. We only found her thanks to reports of gunshots, and yelling from the neighbors,” The officer explained, causing one of the nuns to cover her mouth, and leave down the hall.
The door quickly swung open, startling Dorothy. She didn’t make a sound and thanks to her instinct for fighting, her feat remained firmly in place. Her eyes grew wide as tried to make out what she was seeing, or in this case, who.
“Dorothy!” Cap called out with a heart-melting smile, though his eyes were a tad hard to see thanks to his bangs. He was dressed in a nurse’s outfit and hat. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
Dorothy remained silent as fear set in. She wasn’t sure if she was being spoken to by a ghost or someone else and was just hallucinating. If she answered, and Cap wasn’t there, she would surely be placed in an insane asylum.
“Cap,” Sister Mary began. “Shouldn’t you be in boy’s clothing?”
Cap gave Sister Mary a blushing smile, rubbing the back of his head. A heavy weight lifted off Dorothy’s chest, feeling as if she could breathe again. Sister Mary had unintentionally acknowledged that Dorothy wasn’t crazy.
“There weren’t any doctor outfits so I just wore this,” Cap explained.
“Hmm… I don’t like it, and you need a haircut.”
“Sorry, I’ll change,” Intentionally not telling her when he was going to do just that. Cap quickly pointed at Dorothy. “You need to get back in bed so I can feed you this orange,” He presented it in the palm of his right hand as if it was newfound gold. “I accidentally ruined the last one… so I had to go get another.”
He escorted her back to bed before placing himself in the bedside chair. Struggling once again to peel the orange. This time the nuns, and officers were in the room, questioning her. Finally, Cap held up a palm and whispered to Dorothy.
“Can you peel this for me please?”
She reached to take it from him but one of the nuns took his arm.
“Cap, you need to leave. You’re being a…”
The nun tapered off as she noticed Dorothy giving her such a horrifying glare that it could have been the devil in the flesh. Sister Mary glanced at the officers, before speaking.
“I believe we have some questions for you as well, Cap,” She said, giving the other sister a nod that she was free to let go of his arm. When she did, Dorothy’s death glare relaxed as she finally accepted Cap’s orange for her, that he asked her to help peel… for her. “Do you know anything about who might have kidnapped Dorothy?”
“Well of course I do. It was the shop guy from the gun range.”
“Why were you at a gun range?” One of the nuns asked.
“Mm… I feel a tad uncomfortable answering that question,” He said bashfully.
“Why,” Sister Mary began. “Is it because you were doing something you weren’t supposed to?”
“That’s not it,” He protested softly. Lowering his gaze into his lap, he went on to say, “Because the question is just so stupid that… I feel like I might become stupid just for acknowledging it,” He raised his head, with a bit more energy in his voice, mixed with fear. “For example, what if I do acknowledge it, and I forget how to spell… acknowledge?! I don’t want to be as dumb as Dorothy. She doesn’t even know how to peel an orange,” He whispered the last part, even though Dorothy was close enough to hear the slight.
The nun stood there both embarrassed and enraged by the smart remark. Dorothy on the other hand soon burst out into an uncontrollable laugh that brought tears to her eyes.