It was hot…damned hot! Big Tiny had gone back to their room, a lean-to attached to the side of Bronson and Shayna’s mobile home, for a siesta. He was sprawled out on their sleeping bags on the floor and she could hear him snoring all the way out in the kitchen. Since she was unable to sleep during the day…once she was up, she was up…she had stationed herself beside an open window, not that it did a helluva lot of good.
The house was quiet. Shayna was at the breakfast bar polishing her nails, Bronson was reading comic books in the living room, and the only sound besides Big Tiny’s snoring was the slow, rhythmic scrape…scrape…scrape of Bear sharpening his knife, an Arkansas toothpick of prodigious size. She didn’t like Bear…or his girlfriend, Judy, the psycho. Judy was out somewhere in her fancy car, spending the wads of money her Daddy wired her from Texas every few weeks, no doubt happy to keep his delinquent daughter as far from home…and out of the clutches of the local law…as possible. Judy boasted that she was out on bail, awaiting trial on a murder rap in some little podunk Texas town, a claim she did not doubt, given Judy’s hair-trigger temper and lack of impulse control.
When Shayna got up to turn on the swamp cooler, she peeled herself off the vinyl kitchen chair and went to the lean-to. She was bored…she needed something to do. After a few minutes she found the cleaning kit, went back to the kitchen and took the .9mm Astra out of her boot. She removed the clip, ejected the round that was in the chamber, then opened the cleaning kit and took out the pieces of the rod and began to screw them together.
Slowly, methodically, she cleaned the weapon, smoothing on the gun oil and polishing it with slow strokes as her mind wandered. Bear seemed intent on his task, and she reflected on how such an attractive man could be such a first-rate flaming asshole. You tended to grow up equating physical beauty with goodness, but this guy was the poster boy for bad news…even among his own kind.
The bikers she knew…and she knew quite a few…tended to have a rather rigid code where their women were concerned. Depending on the club you rode with, that code could be as flexible as the “citizen” society or it could be so strict that a man did not even speak to another man’s ol’ lady without permission. But, whether club member or not, the rule among bikers was that if you had a problem with a brother's ol’ lady, you took it up with the brother and you let him sort the ol’ lady out. Even loners like Bear understood and abided by this rule…it saved a lot of misunderstandings, disagreements, and broken noses...not to mention broken bones, stab wounds and bullet holes. Bear, however, for some reason believed himself to be exempt from the rule. She shook her head as she wiped the weapon down, nearly ready to reassemble it.
Bear didn’t like her tattoo. What was it with guys like him, anyway? What fucking business was it of his? Discreetly tattooed on her lower right butt cheek was the legend “1%”. That was it. Nothing more…and none of Bear’s business. She had discovered his antipathy one night at work, one of the few nights Big Tiny wasn’t sitting at the bar sipping orange juice while she danced. Judy was working as a cocktail waitress in the same place…she blew Daddy’s money a lot faster than Daddy wired it…so most nights both Tiny and Bear would spend the evenings hanging out while the girls were on shift. Bear, however, drank beer…and a great deal more than he could handle with equanimity, it often appeared. And he kept to himself.
As a dancer in the place, it was part of her job to smile at and be nice to the customers, chat with them, encourage them to buy more drinks and tip both the waitresses and the dancers. She couldn’t fathom Bear's hostility to her when she would walk by the bar stool he had taken as his own and smile at him in greeting. He returned her smile with glares of pure hatred, puzzling her.
And then one night Big Tiny dropped her at the front door of the club, and shouting over the panhead’s valve clatter, told her he’d be in a bit later, he had some errands to run. She nodded, smiled, kissed his wind-chilled cheek, and headed inside. She stripped to a G-string in this club, and teased and kidded with the customers from the stage, stopping by to chat with them later, after she had cooled down and changed into her costume for her next set. Walking past the eternally scowling Bear, she found herself stopped by his sudden dismount from the barstool, blocking her path. She stopped. He frowned. She smiled. He glowered. She tried to step around him. He blocked her path again.
“OK,” she said, stepping back a pace. “What’s the deal?”
“Ah don’t like yore tattoo,” he drawled, gesturing toward her right butt cheek.
She raised an eyebrow. “I don’t see how that is any of your business,” she said and tried to step around him again.
“You git rid of thet thang or I’ll take it off you,” he said, lowering his brows.
She saw red. “Who the fuck do you think you are, coming in here and telling me what to do? It’s none of your fucking business, asshole! You can boss your ol’ lady around all you want, but if you have a problem with me, you can take it up with Big Tiny!” And this time she shoved him in the chest, shortly and sharply with both hands, and when he staggered off balance, she swept past him.
Every night for the past two weeks he had straddled that barstool, making gestures at her while she danced, sometimes saying “Get rid of it, or else” or “I’m gonna take it off’n you.” Mostly she ignored him, but when she did speak, it was to again refer him to her ol’ man. Bear didn’t seem to get the hint. She even spoke to Judy, who she really did not like. “He says you aren’t a one-percenter so you can’t wear the tattoo,” Judy shrugged.
“Somebody else’s ol’ lady is none of Bear’s fucking business,” she reminded Judy, who shrugged again. “Doesn’t he realize that he’s a loner from another state riding in here and basically telling one of the locals what he can and cannot do? Big Tiny’s usually not real keen on taking orders from anybody except the club president…and Bear ain’t even in the club.”
Judy lit a fresh cigarette off the smouldering stub of the third one she had smoked during the conversation and shrugged again. “Look, if he wants his lights punched out, that’s his business, you know?”
She shook her head. “Some great fucking ol’ lady you are…stand by and watch your ol’ man dig himself a grave with his big mouth and you don’t even try to help him.”
Judy narrowed her eyes and squinted through the cloud of smoke issuing from her nostrils. “You think what goes on between you and Big Tiny is none of Bear’s business? Well, what goes between me and Bear is none of yours, so shut the fuck up.”
She started walking away, shaking her head. “Tiny’s gonna fuck him up if he doesn’t stop. If that’s OK with you, it sure as hell is OK with me.”
The pistol was clean, oiled, and reassembled. She slapped the clip into the butt of the grip, chambered a round, and set the safety, then put the weapon on the table in front of her while she disassembled the cleaning rod and repacked the kit. She took her glasses off and put them on the table, rubbing her tired, gritty eyes with the backs of her hands. Stuck in a suffocatingly hot trailer out in dry, desiccated desert is not where she had ever expected to find herself.
A thirteen-inch Arkansas toothpick suddenly quivering point first in the table in front of her wasn’t exactly what she had expected to find, either. She looked up from the still vibrating knife to see Bear standing opposite her at the table. Shayna, whose table now bore the deep impression of the knife point, was getting down from her barstool, nail polish brush still in hand, and advancing upon them, loudly voicing her objections to Bear.
Bear leaned forward and wriggled the knife loose from the table and gripped it in his right hand. “You gonna git that tattoo covered up?” he asked her in a low growl. “Or am I gonna cut it off?”
She projected a coolness she did not feel. Insides quivering with fear, she still managed to keep a calm face. “I told you, Bear, you gotta talk to Big Tiny. Why is it you only bring this up when he’s not around?”
Bear started advancing around the table towards her and she realized she was trapped against the wall, with only the hallway to the bedrooms behind her. There wasn’t enough time to push back the heavy wood and vinyl chair and sprint for the safety of the lean-to and Tiny. In a split second she looked from the freshly sharpened knife to Bear’s determined face and knew that he was not kidding, and he would have a chunk carved from her hide before Tiny could even be awakened…she reached for the gun.
It was her .9mm, she knew its feel in her hand. As her fingers folded themselves around the handgrip her thumb automatically flicked off the safety and in one fluid move, she lifted the piece from the table, swung it in Bear’s direction, and fired a single loud, ear-shattering round. She hadn’t even had time to put her glasses back on.
“Shit!” somebody shouted into the silence that enveloped the room after the discharge. She heard the clatter of Bear’s knife being dropped on the floor, and then there was an immediate explosion of light, colour, darkness, and stars as she felt herself and the heavy chair knocked over backwards. She had been punched in the mouth! A heavy body landed on top of her, but she had instinctively drawn up her legs as she and the chair went over, and the body managed to make contact between one of her heavy boots and some rather sensitive parts of the male anatomy. It was Bear and he was suddenly dead weight.
She pushed at him ineffectively...he was a heavy son-of-a-bitch, but a low moan in her ear told her that she hadn't killed him. She could feel her lip puffing up, and the tinny taste in her mouth told her she was bleeding. Bear started moving and she pushed at him again, struggling to dislodge his bulk when, without warning, his entire weight was abruptly lifted.
“What the fuck is going on here?” Big Tiny said, one massive hand inside the back of Bear’s shirt collar, raising him fully off her body. Tiny looked down at her. “You OK, mama?”
She shook her head “no” and put one hand to her rapidly swelling lip. “He punched me,” she said.
Tiny shifted his hold on Bear so that the smaller man was now backed against a wall, just one of Tiny’s hands holding him there by his neck. “Go in the bathroom and clean up, mama,” he said, his voice uncommonly gentle.
“But he…” she started to protest.
Tiny held up his free hand and nodded in the direction of the bathroom. “Trust me, mama, just go clean up.”
She left the bathroom door open so she could hear what was going on. It seemed like a pretty-one sided conversation to her. She heard Tiny say, very matter-of-factly, “You hit my ol’lady, you stupid, shit-for-brains motherfucker. Now I’m gonna have to kill you.”
She poked her head out of the bathroom door in alarm. Tiny had Bear backed against the wall and lifted six inches into the air by his shirt front, his feet dangling uselessly. Bronson was standing to one side of Tiny with the Astra in his hand and Shayna was standing next to Bronson holding Bear’s pig sticker. It wasn’t looking very good for Bear.
“But I’m not in the mood to do any killing right now,” Tiny said, almost to himself. “I’ll need to finish my nap first.” He paused for effect. “So I’m gonna let you go for right now. But if I see your face around this town after sundown tomorrow night…I don’t care if it’s next month or ten years from now, motherfucker, you are a dead man.” Tiny’s hand released its grip on Bear’s shirtfront and the man collapsed to his knees. “Now get the fuck out of here and don’t let me see you again.”
Bear stumbled out of the mobile home and strode stiffly out to his bike. His rage was a palpable thing, enough to warrant Shayna voicing a fear of retaliation against them for the humiliation that had been perpetrated upon him in their house. Tiny shook his head. “That asshole is a fucking coward. I been waiting two weeks for him to come to me with his beef, like a man, but all he ever did was wait until my ol’ lady was alone and then hassle her. He doesn’t have the guts to come back and bother you guys…he knows I’ll hunt him down and kill him…slowly…and with great pleasure.”
She was in the lean-to, laying back on their pallet of sleeping bags with a cold cloth on her fat lip when she heard the unmistakeable sound of Judy’s Cutlass 442. Her stomach clenched. As soon as Judy knew what went down, she’d be back here like a whirlwind of teeth and claws, and with this fat lip and the shakes from the adrenaline rush, she was in no mood to duke it out with Psycho Bitch. The door to the lean-to was suddenly snatched open and Judy stood on the threshold. But her eyes didn’t hold the expected fire of indignation and vengeance. In fact, the woman looked positively subdued.
“I can’t stay…Bear told me to get my stuff, we’re leaving town tonight,” Judy said.
She sat on the pallet, compress on her lip, and nodded silently.
“Will you do me a favour?”
“Depends on what it is.”
“I’m supposed to work tonight. Would you take my shift and tell Sam I had to leave town suddenly? He’s a nice guy and I hate to see him jammed up without somebody for the tables tonight.”
She nodded her agreement silently, expecting Judy to walk way, but the woman lingered awkwardly. “Look,” Judy finally spit it out. “I’m sorry about what happened here. Bear can be a fucking asshole at times, and I did try to talk to him about it. If it’s any consolation to you, the bullet came so close that he heard it whiz past his ear and he nearly pissed himself. He never thought you had the balls to actually try and shoot him!”
She smiled then, wincing at the stretch it put on her split lip. “Well,” she said, “It’s a good thing for him I didn’t have a chance to put my glasses on then, isn’t it?”
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.