Errata Literary Magazine

Bucks County Writers Workshop

Fit to be Tied
by Jeanne Denault

Barry would go ballistic if he knew she came into the office after he yelled at her to stay the fuck away from the plant. She was better off when she was his assistant and he was married to Peggy. Barry used to be a lot of fun. Took her on all his business trips. Great sex. Now she's the one married to him and all he does is worry about money and yell. Says it's the down-turn in business keeps him on edge. Tells her this morning he's got a fool-proof plan to get out of the red. He's bought a whole new computer system to bring the plant up to date. Won't say how much it cost or where he got the money.

She offers to go back to work to help out, but Barry just gets pissed off and says no wife of his is going to work-she's not to worry her pretty little head about the business. Asshole! Doesn't he know how she hates being told shit like that? She didn't work her ass off getting a M.B.A. to spend her days shopping at Victoria's Secret so he "has someone exciting to come home to."

She can't figure out why he got so flapped when she said she was going into the office this morning while he was out playing golf. Even took away her keys so she couldn't get inside the plant. Good thing he doesn't know she has another set. She stares at the room full of electronic equipment waiting to be hooked up by some computer expert Barry hired. He almost bit her head off, when she said she could do a better job for nothing. Well, she'll show him she didn't turn into a mindless bit of fluff just because he married her. He'll change his tune when he sees how much she helps.

She looks for the computer specifications. Not in the files where they should be. No invoices either. Maybe the temp he has working for him now put them in the fire-proof safe Barry's so proud of. Another new purchase. He wouldn't tell her the combination, but it takes her less than two minutes to figure it out. He always uses some variation of his mother's birth date. The invoices are there. She gets them out to correlate them with the boxes of equipment. She shifts heavy boxes and walks back and forth. Weird. None of the numbers match. She checks the safe. Maybe she didn't get everything. No more invoices, but there's an insurance policy. She almost drops it when she sees the amounts listed. Nearly four million dollars! Holy Shit! If she includes all the new equipment and everything in the shop it might come to a million-a million and a half tops. What the hell's going on? Why would everything be so vastly over-valued.

She shrieks as a man wearing a bright red ski mask appears in the doorway. He looks shocked to see her. A person behind him asks, "What the hell's that noise?" Another man appears wearing a royal blue mask. He shoves past the first man, grabs her and claps his hand over her mouth. "Shut the fuck up, lady." He sounds irritated. "I thought no one was supposed to be here. Gimme the duct tape. Damn bitch is strong." His hand is rough and scratches her mouth as she flails her head back and forth.

"No-no-no-no-don't cover my mouth!" She knows she's shrieking as loud as she can, but all she hears over her thudding heart is a garbled, frantic, high-pitched squeal. She bites the hand. It's yanked back. She gulps in a deep breath-a scream forms. Before she can make a sound, the hand jams her chin up. She hears a ripping sound. She claws at the hand that holds her mouth closed. "No tape-no tape-no tape-I won't be able to breathe." Her words are stifled by the coarse hand. They can't tell what she's saying. Hands wrap the tape around her head, sealing her mouth closed. She scratches the men and kicks out as they struggle to bind her arms and hands against her sides. Nothing she does stops them.

Cursing, they tape her legs together. "Damn whacko. She bit the hell outa' me."

"Hold her still! We're not here to hurt you, Lady. You just gotta be quiet. If you stop fighting, you'll be okay."

She hears them, but can't stop kicking out and banging her head on the floor. How can she tell them she can't stand being tied up if she can't speak?

"Grab her legs. We'll have to stash her in the closet. If I'd known we were going to run into this crazy woman, I would have asked for more money." The man sounds disgusted. He's breathing hard. She feels herself being lifted. Frantic, she twists. She's shoved inside the supply closet. The door slams in her face. She bangs her head on it over and over. She can't breathe. Bang, bang! Her heart pounds. Bang, bang! It fills her chest pressing all the air out of her lungs. Bang! White spots form in front of her eyes. Bang! The spots get bigger and bigger until all she sees is brilliant white. The banging stops.

Ignoring the sounds from the closet, the men work quickly. They change the wires connecting two of the original work stations to the large printer with wire that looks like it's wrapped in silver foil, then move odd looking wrapping paper on top of these wires and drape a jacket made out of some shiny synthetic fabric on the back of a chair so one sleeve touches the paper and the other touches the edge of a box on the floor. The furniture and boxes in the room and out into the hall are shifted so each piece rests against the next. They replace the twenty-amp circuit breaker that controls the outlets to the computers with a fifty-amp one so it won't trip and interrupt the flow of electricity at a crucial time. One man disconnects the smoke alarms and the other one uses a small gas torch to burn through the main phone wire. They double check to make sure there are no sprinklers.

Neither man speaks. They've done this many times before. The man in the red ski mask turns on the two computers connected to the silver wire then looks at his watch. "Three minutes till it goes up. Help me drag the woman out to the alley. We aren't getting paid enough to kill anyone."

"He said to make it look like an accident. How's he going to explain some broad taped up out in the alley?"

"So we got lucky. The safe's open. It'll look like attempted robbery. Throw that stack of papers on the floor in front of the safe so it burns like they fell out of the safe. The fire's still going to look like an accident. That's all Barry cares about. He wants the insurance so he can set his new wife up in a big house."

He opens the door to the closet. The stench of feces fills the room. The woman sags forward. The man instinctively grabs her to keep her from falling then jumps back and drops her, shuddering with revulsion. She twists and lands facing up. Her face is waxen where it's not covered by shiny gray duct tape and streaks of coagulating blood. Her half open eyes are already growing dull. He doesn't need to feel her carotid to confirm she's dead.

Bucks County Writers Workshop