Jailbait

Jailbait by Lesleá Newman

Book: Jailbait by Lesleá Newman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lesleá Newman
before I can stop them. But maybe it would be better if I knew all the gory details. Then at least I wouldn't wonder anymore.
    Frank studies his pinkie and then says softly, almost like he's talking to himself, “Once upon a time there was a little boy named Frankie. And Frankie was a real fifty-pound weakling. All the other kids called him sissy-boy and used him as a punching bag. So one day little Frankie decides he's had it and he's going to toughen up. So he takes the biggest kitchen knife he can find to school, and in the middle of recess, he gathers all the kids who are always torturing him in a big circle and then he sits down right in front of them and cuts the tip of his finger off. And the other kids freak, not because there's blood everywhere, but because”—and here Frank looks rightup at me and there's something in his eyes I've never seen before—“because, Vanessa, the other kids know if Frankie could do that to himself, he could do a whole lot worse to them. The End.”
    Frank drops his hand, opens the door to the house, and goes inside without waiting for me, like he doesn't care if I follow or not. I scurry after him, with Shirley's voice ringing in my ear,
There, Andrea, are you happy now?
I can't believe I ruined a perfectly good afternoon by being so nosy and rude.
    “Frank, I'm sorry,” I say, following him into the kitchen. He's already perched on the counter, fishing for a cigarette.
    “Aren't you going to open your present?” he asks, like he's already forgotten the whole thing.
    “Sure,” I say, anxious to forget it too. I don't think Frank's a liar or anything, but how could he cut his own finger like that? Didn't it hurt? What did the other kids do? And the teachers? And his parents?
    “Go on.” Frank motions toward the box. I shake it up and down, stalling a little, because for some reason, I'm afraid the present is going to be something gross, like the bloody tip of Frank's pinkie, or a frozen horse turd like Donald Caruso once wrapped up in a fancy box and gave to Horseface Hillary.
    I pull the gold ribbon slowly, and then carefully remove the red wrapping paper and open the box. Oh my God, it's a bra. A black bra. A black lace bra. Hiding beneath this red tissue paper like something scared. I pull it out and I'm just about to say “Oh, Frank, it's beautiful,”when I see something else. Black lace underwear. And some kind of flimsy black lace thing to wear on top of it.
    “Put it on,” Frank says in a hoarse voice that sounds like he has a bad cold or just woke up from a nap. I don't know how I feel about this exactly, but I also know that how I feel doesn't matter. And anyway, guys are supposed to like this sort of stuff, and I want to make Frank happy, don't I?
    At least Frank turns his back while I change my clothes. I hear him light a cigarette while I take off Mike's jacket and the strike of the match startles me for a second, it's so spooky and quiet in here. I pick up my new bra and study it for a minute. It's a 38D, which just happens to fit me perfectly. How did Frank know? It's kind of weird but then again, not surprising. For some reason, I have a funny feeling there are lots of things about me that Frank already knows.
    When I finish putting on Frank's present, I just stand there waiting and feeling totally self-conscious. I've never worn lingerie before and I wonder what I look like. I guess I'll never know since there's no mirror in here, which is probably just as well, because as Shirley always says, what you don't know can't hurt you.
    Frank must hear that I'm not fidgeting anymore because he turns around and motions to me. “C'mere, baby,” he says, and I take a step toward him. “Beautiful,” he says quietly, like he's talking more to himself than to me. The cigarette in his mouth moves up and down with the word. “Beautiful,” he says again, like I'm a painting he just finished. “You look like a movie star,you know that, Vanessa?” He smiles and

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