Frank glanced at the envelope he’d brought home from his meeting with Charlie, then back to me. “Here,” he said, handing me the cash from inside the envelope but not the photograph of our mark. “You can keep that.”
I didn’t take the money. “But not do the hit?”
I did my best not to get defensive. “Why?”
He looked me over with a slight smile. “You’re too little.”
Now I took the money, and threw it in his face. He grabbed me by the throat and yanked me from my chair, shoving me down to the floor. He held my wrists against the carpet. The cash framed my head and I grinned up at him, sweetly asking, “Too little for what, Frank?”
“Is it that hard?”
“Tell you what, if you can get free, I’ll let you do it.”
I set my jaw, not even bothering to try. There was no way I could get my arms free with Frank holding me down. Not unless I tricked him, which would defeat the purpose of the lesson. I decided to do it anyway. “Kiss me.”
I licked my lips. He played tough, but I knew I’d win. “Why not?”
“Because you will bite me, and then I’ll have to garrote two people.”
With the threat of strangulation I really wanted him to kiss me. I squirmed beneath him. “You’ll be right beside me while I do it. What’s the worst that could happen?”
He released my wrists. “You could get hurt, baby. Garroting is very physical work.”
“You wouldn’t let me get hurt,” I said. Frank sat back on his heels, my legs extended between his. He reached to the table and brought down the envelope, pulling out the photograph for me to look at. It was tough to say for sure just from a headshot, but his square skull and complete lack of neck screamed beefcake. “How can you strangle someone with no neck?”
“Carefully.” He got up, leaving me on the floor to writhe with desire.
“Come back!” I whined. I pulled off my clothes in anticipation of his return, tossing them in his general direction.
Frank shook his head disparagingly, then went fishing through his duffel bag. He came back with a coil of wire and his wool scarf. I sat up to show him that he had my full attention. “This is a garrote.” He held it up by the wooden handles and stretched the wire out a bit, turning it around at different angles as if there were more to it than met the eye. He looked like one of the ladies in evening dresses displaying kitchenware on The Price is Right, but I kept that comment to myself. “Hold out your arm.”
I did as I was told. He wrapped the garrote around my forearm and gave it a squeeze. I winced and pulled back, which only made it tighter. I grit my teeth. “Ow!”
“Garrotes hurt, so we’ll be practicing with the scarf instead.” He unwrapped the wire, leaving a bright red line all the way around my arm. The garrote looked like it just might’ve been long enough to get around our mark’s shoulderhead. Frank tossed it on the bed and pulled me to my feet. He handed me one end of his wool scarf and turned away from me with the other end in his hand, passing it to me around his neck.
I moved closer to him, carefully wrapping the ends around my hands. I would’ve said that I didn’t want to hurt him, but after he’d maimed my poor arm I wasn’t feeling especially gentle. “Ready?”
He laughed. “Try me.”
I gave it a tug. He casually reached over and pinched me where he’d garroted my arm. “Ow! Cheating.”
I pulled again. This time he’d already gotten his hand between his neck and the fabric and yanked it away from me so fast I lost my footing. Then I got an idea. “Ready?”
“Quit playing around and choke me.”
I used the scarf for leverage and jumped up on his back, nearly pulling him off his feet. He steadied himself while I kept tugging, my legs wrapped around his hips. His hands were between the cloth and his neck so I wasn’t really choking him, but his voice was a little strained as he said, “Interesting technique.”
“Was that better?”
“Yes, it was better.” He bent forward, flipping me over his back and onto the bed. “A little warning next time.”
“You said you were ready!”
“Not for you to put your full weight into it. You just ate a whole pizza.”
“I did not!”
Frank smiled and knelt on the bed beside me. “At any rate, you’re going about it the wrong way.” He took the scarf from me and wrapped it gently around my neck, then crossed his hands before taking the ends again. He pulled until it constricted. “Like so.”
Somehow I found myself a bit distracted from the lesson, lying vulnerable to a man who not only could give professional tips on strangling people, but actually enjoyed strangling people. “Go ahead. Show me how it’s done.”
He blushed, though I didn’t think he understood the extent of my interest in our new game. My eyes grew heavy as he straddled me, leaning his body over mine with his hands on either side of my head. He gripped the scarf and slid his hands across the sheets, watching my face intensely as the scarf tightened. I began to pant, instinctively trying harder for oxygen as my airway was restricted further by the scarf. Then it was cut off. I smiled at him, my heart racing even though I felt completely safe. Blood pounded in my temples. I was painfully hard.
Frank released the scarf and I gasped, but instead of letting me breathe he kissed me roughly. I kissed him back, trying futilely to steal his breath. My lips were tingling and numb. The bed began to spin and suddenly I was hyperventilating, taking great gulps of air while Frank sat on my legs. “Deep breaths, V.”
I nodded, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. I was giddy with dizziness, grinning wildly. “What a way to go.”
“I don’t think it’s quite as pleasurable for real victims.”
“Do it again,” I begged. Frank laughed. I grabbed my discarded pants, which had luckily ended up on the bed with us so I could get to the lube I always carried. “Do it again.” Now I had his full attention. I reached between us, unbuttoning his pants and eagerly slicking his cock. He hiked my legs up over his arms and retrieved the ends of the scarf, pulling it taut as he slid his entire length into me. My mouth opened to moan but there was no sound.
He thrust hard, lifting my whole body upward, forcing the scarf to constrict against my neck. It loosened as he reared back, only to choke me again when he plunged in. I couldn’t catch my breath long enough to speak, barely able to groan when he reached deep inside of me, pulling out and hammering home.
Everything felt intensified, my blood pulsing in my ears, my body aching for release. He stared into my eyes, his own eyes bright with fascination. The smile on his face was wider than Mr. Muscle’s neck.
I started to come and Frank tugged the scarf tight, silencing my moans. Darkness began speckling my vision and he gave just enough leeway for me to quickly inhale before pulling so hard on the scarf that his hands shook. Then Frank came, groaning loud enough for the both of us. His grip on the scarf became completely slack as we panted together, my breathing naturally more labored than his. It was several minutes until either of us spoke. “So, can I do the hit?” I asked, my voice hoarse.
Frank blinked a few times, like he couldn’t quite remember what hit I was referring to. “Little Vincent…” He stopped and chuckled to himself. “You can do anything you want.”
I watched our mark lift weights bigger than me, as if he knew we were planning to strangle him and he was working to increase the width of his neck ahead of time. He went to the gym three times a week, which meant we went to the gym three times a week. I could’ve been luxuriating in the sauna, but instead I was working on increasing my upper arm strength by being pinned underneath a weighted bench press bar, trying, and failing, to lift it off my chest again. Frank was on the treadmill, sprinting in place at full speed with his attention focused on his quarry. I imagined that Frank would step in at any moment to spot me, but it was another gym member who came to my rescue.
“Maybe you should start lighter,” he said with a Day-Glo smile. He had muscles on top of muscles. His skin was Oompa Loompa orange. His cock was right in my face.
“Maybe you should mind your own business,” Frank said from behind him. Frank set his hand on the bar and leaned his weight on it, as if trapping me underneath it was the most efficient way to keep me safe from the man’s tangerine clutches.
The guy smiled again and raised his hands defensively as he backed away.
“But Frank, he was gonna give me the keys to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory!”
He lifted the bar off of me one handed. “Should I have any idea what that means?”
I sat up and wiped some sweat from my brow. “No.”
Our mark started flirting with a female Oompa Loompa with brittle bleached hair, and we took it as our cue to leave. Mr. Muscle was quite the ladies’ man, as long as said lady didn’t get herself knocked up. Then he’d choke them half to death in their kitchen and cause them to miscarry his child. That’s why he was getting strangled when it would be so much easier to drop him with an elephant gun. His ex’s father was the protective type, and stinking rich. If everything went according to plan, our mark was getting strangled tomorrow. And I was getting strangled again tonight.
Frank turned a page, lounging quite comfortably on our mark’s sofa with a copy of Candide that looked like it’d been found on the side of the road. I got to stand where I’d be hidden from sight, and I bounced up and down in excitement. “Hold still,” he said without looking up.
He turned another page. Then I heard the front door and I froze, gripping my garrote.
Our mark paused in the hallway, staring at Frank on his sofa. He growled, “What the fuck are you doing?”
Frank held up his book, as if it weren’t obvious. Our mark started to approach him, like a bull ready to charge. I slipped the garrote over his head and pounced on his back. He made a gurgling noise and stepped backwards, gripping first for the wire and then trying to swat me like a mosquito. Frank stood, walking casually toward us as our mark stumbled further away in a panic.
Then the surprise wore off, and Mr. Muscle started getting angry. He grabbed at my arms, which he could’ve probably ripped right out the sockets if I wasn’t dangling off of him with my full weight plus a big dinner. I pulled tighter, holding onto him with my legs around his hips. He gurgled some more and backed into the wall, slamming me against it. I lost my footing and swung precariously off his neck. He nearly tripped on the rug and we stumbled together into a side table. There was a crash of something hitting the ground and I tried pulling myself up his back again but my arms were starting to shake from the strain. He punched my arm hard, once, twice. I didn’t let go, kicking off the wall to project us forward where I wouldn’t be squashed.
Frank slid behind us and put his hands over mine, giving a sharp tug that drew blood and would’ve brought all three of us to the ground if we hadn’t met another wall. I panted, sandwiched between Frank and our mark. He was still fighting it, bumping us repeatedly against the plaster. Frank’s grip didn’t loosen, and our mark finally started to go slack. We waited several minutes, holding onto him together before Frank released my hands. There was no way I’d be able to hold him up on my own. My arms were like Jell-O. I let go of the garrote and our mark fell unimpeded to our feet.
I looked beyond the man’s massive form at the destruction we’d caused in his hallway. The destruction caused to me was invisible under my dark clothes, but I could already feel bruises forming. “I can’t believe you let me do this hit.”
“I told you it was tough,” he said. I leaned back against him and he wrapped his arms around me. “Are you hurt?”
Frank rolled our mark over with his foot. His mouth was hanging open, his tongue sticking out to the side. The garrote was imbedded in his flesh, a fine line of blood coated neatly around it, like his throat had been slashed after he’d already bled out. I frowned at the mess of Mr. Muscle’s neck and sympathetically brought my hand to my own throat, the delicate skin rubbed raw from repeated contact with Frank’s wool scarf. “But we really ought to switch to silk.”