"How was your day at school?" a woman asked her son as they held hands in the elementary school parking lot.
"I got a perfect score on my spelling test!" replied the jubilant little boy. He skipped along as they made their way to a small, grey sedan. "And I played tag with Tyler at recess today!"
The mother smiled, holding her son's book bag as he buckled his seatbelt - the first rule of safety, as his mother often said- then shutting the car door. They backed out of the parking spot, cautious, and made their way down Chestnut street and onto Birch. A white van with a faded Red Cross logo etched along the side tailed them, slowly; pulling to the curb as the boy hopped from the car and met his tired father on the doorstep with a chipper "hi, Daddy!" and a hug.
Once the man behind the wheel of the beat-up van felt it safe, he exited the vehicle and made his way to the doorstep, straightening his cap and adjusting his glasses.
The mother opened the door, prompted by the man's eager knocking, and smiled kindly at the stranger.
"Hello, Ma'am," the man held out a flier that depicted next weekend's blood drive. "I was just in the neighborhood, and I was wondering if you or anyone you might know would be interested in participating?"
He gave the lady a few seconds to scan the advertisement before speaking once more. "Pardon me," he shook his head and straightened his cap,"but it seems I have forgotten my manners. My name is Clark, pleasure to meet you."
The lady accepted his handshake, a bit surprised at his firm grip. "Thank you for the offer, Clark. I was wondering when the next blood drive was, actually, so I am very eager to participate," she sat down her flier on the stand just inside the door.
The man beamed. "Wonderful! It warms my heart to see such generous people. Here are your medical forms to bring along." Just as he handed her the forms, he started coughing immensely. Not entirely from natural causes, of course, but forced subtly enough as to gain sympathy from his target.
"Clark, why don't you come in for a glass of water. I can fill out those forms for you, too," she held open the door as he accepted her offer and followed her into the kitchen.
They sat at the island together, Clark drinking his water and
observing the lady as she filled out the medical forms.
"Here you go," she handed him the finished papers as he gulped the rest of the water. "All set!"
"Thank you very much, Samantha," he peered down at the papers to
place a name with her face. "I look forward to seeing you
As he stood and made his way to the foyer, a little boy, about eight years old as Clark presumed, chased his soccer ball down the stairs. Clark bent down to retrieve the ball, tossing it back to the little boy.
"Here you go, Champ," Clark smiled as the little boy's cheeks darkened.
Samantha laughed. "That's my son, Brenden. He can never seem to keep that ball under control. I don't mean to rush, though, but we have to leave for his soccer practice." she attempted to herd her the boy in the direction of the door, but he was too busy showing off to Clark.
Clark smiled as they all finally made it out the door. "Well, he
sure is some athlete. You've got a real soccer star here," he
bent down to the boy and placed a hand on his shoulder, pulling a
coin from his pocket. "I expect to see you in the World Cup some
day soon, young man. Here's a good luck charm that my father gave
to me when I used to play sports. It really works."
Clark winked at Samantha, straightening his collar and watching as Brenden turned the coin over and over in his hands, fascinated by his new treasure.
"I look forward to seeing you on Saturday," Clark waved to Samantha and Brenden as he made his way over to the van. Pulling away, he grinned. There was this feeling, one that could not be put into words, that lurked deep inside him, assuring that Clark was targeting the right family.
She sat in the grey leather chair in the back of the van,
twirling her auburn hair in anticipation. The lock of hair came
to rest right above her left shoulder, drawing attention to the
henna of a monarch butterfly on her neck. In the background, she
could hear the laughter of children as they ran and played on the
jungle gym. She jumped, slightly, as the man with thinning hair
and thick glasses entered the back of the van.
"Sorry to startle you, Jessica," he chuckled, sitting down beside her. He pulled on a pair of latex gloves and pulled out a tray of tubes and butterfly needles.
"It's fine, I'm just really nervous. Needles kinda freak me out, ya know?" Jessica grinned shyly, and Clark nodded as he wiped her arm with an antiseptic wipe before sticking the needle in.
He saw her wince as the needle entered her vein, but she relaxed as soon as the blood began flowing through the tube and into the bag. Reaching behind his chair, Clark grabbed a role of silver duct tape and quickly strapped down her arms and legs to reduce the amount of struggle.
"Wh-what are you doing?" Clark could tell Jessica was becoming faint, as he was drawing more blood than what typically would be taken.
As he inserted a second needle in her right arm, she began to squirm in fear. Clark whispered soothing words into her ear, placing his hand over her mouth.
"Hush, hush, darling. The quicker I drain your blood, the quicker you pass out."
He labeled her bags with purple tape and the date before hopping from the van and securing the latch on the door, letting her finish donating blood in peace.
Clark walked into the tattoo shop, shaking out his umbrella from the torrential downpour happening outside. He hung his peatcoat on the rack before picking up his supply bag and heading back to his station. He pulled from his bag ink powder, his pen, and a bottle of solution to dissolve the powder.
He called back his first customer, Andrew, a tall and muscular man grieving the loss of his daughter, and proceeded to ask what how he could help.
"I want a butterfly on my bicep," the man replied. "Butterflies
were my little Jessie's favorite. We even did her sweet sixteen
in a butterfly garden before she..." he trailed off in an attempt
to stifle his tears, and Clark handed him a tissue.
He poured ink powder and a dark liquid from a bottle labeled in purple tape into his pen and set to work.
"Why don't you use regular ink, like the first guy I went to?" Andrew got comfortable in the chair as the hum of the pen grew.
Clark shrugged, mechanical in his movements as to not smudge the line. "The mixture I use allows the ink to really sink in, and the colors become bolder, allowing the tattoo to become one with you, if you will." Clark chuckled, setting down the pen for one with a different color ink to finish the highlights within the butterfly wings.
"There, all done," Clark wiped the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. At least his daughter will forever be with him, Clark smiled to himself, pleased with his handiwork. He had always been an exceptional artist, and had a full scholarship to Carnegie Mellon; which he declined to pursue a career of philanthropy.
As the day grew tired, clients came and went and soon, Clark was out of energy and ink. Sighing, he flipped the sign on the window and locked up the shop. In his van, Clark crossed to another day on the calendar. Tomorrow was the day of the blood drive, so he drove to the playground and put the van in park. He remembered Samantha saying she would have to be early, before the soccer game, so he planned to camp out overnight. Reclining on the grey leather chair in which he frequently sought comfort and relief from everyday life, he closed his eyes and drifted off to the image of her sweet face.
Jessica's limp body lay against the chair, and Clark began caressing her smooth features. He ran his fingers over her dimples and planted a kiss on her cheek. He watched as her eyelids flew open, every last ounce of her remaining life was out towards trying to resist him. Clark just laughed, because he knew this was a battle he would win. Slicing through the restraints, he freed her body, knowing she had no strength left to flee. He began undoing her sweater.
Once his business was done, Clark tossed her body aside,
ready for the next step. Giddy, he whistled as he drove alongside
the ocean. He pulled up along the dock, where he parked next to a
An older man with greying whiskers and a balding head hopped from the dock, his rubber boots squishing in the mud.
"May I help you?" the man asked, eyeing Clark's bucket.
Clark nodded and set the bucket down. "I just finished a job at the butcher, and I have some chum here if you guys would like to use it as bait. I know some fellows down here appreciate shark fishing."
The man grabbed the bucket off the ground and gave it to a boy who looked about fifteen, maybe sixteen years old. "Take that up on deck," he growled. The man thanked Clark, and they both went their separate ways.
As he drove away, Clark peered into his rear view mirror, smiling at the sight of clothes piled on the chair.
"Samantha," Clark leaned up against the sturdy oak shading his truck. He was dressed in familiar garb, donning the same polo and cap as when he met her. "I'm ready when you are. It may take a bit, depending on the vein."
She smiled, placing her hand on her son's shoulder. "Great, I have a magazine right here. Brenden, stay here with Clark while I run and grab it. I'll only be a few."
Clark nodded, turning to converse with the boy. His blonde hair was slick with perspiration, as he was in between games, and his curious eyes were flitting about.
"Hi there, Champ," Clark hi-fived him, outlining the events to come. He knew the boy was going to be an issue, but if he waited until just the right time, it would be an easy disposal. He saw Samantha down by the parking lot, and that was his clue.
"Look, I still have that coin you gave me!" Brenden was very
proud of that coin, and he placed it in Clark's hand. That
quickly, Clark thrust his hand into the boy's mouth, lodging the
coin into his airway. This really is my lucky coin, he thought as
the boy collapsed.
"What's wrong with him?" Samantha ran over and knelt beside Clark and Brenden.
Clark shook his head, acting more concerned than he was. The cold
sweat on his forehead was enough to be convincing, and his shaky
demeanor from his sudden adrenaline rush made his appear nervous.
"We were playing catch, and he-he dropped the coin. He went to
pick it up, and he fell. I guess he slipped and swallowed the
coin or something. I have a first aid kit in my van, it has a
breath mask for CPR. Let's get him in there." Clark lifted the
boy's limp body and climbed into the van.
Samantha leaned over her son as Clark rummages around behind her.
"Please, Clark, hurry up! I think he's-" she stopped at the sensation of cool metal against the back of her neck.
"Step aside." he shoved Samantha out of the way and with a bang! disposed of the young child. He quickly shoved Samantha into the leather chair, which was an easy feat because she was in shock, and began securing her torso and limbs with duct tape.
Samantha struggled against the restraints, screaming into the tape on her mouth and thrashing about. Some of the tape cut into her skin, trails of blood marking the cuts.
Clark grabbed the tray of needles and didn't bother with the antiseptics. Instead, he just plunged the needles into her skin and attached the tubes to the bags. Within minutes, Samantha was unconscious.
"Beautiful," he whispered, stroking her hair, "you're absolutely beautiful." He took his pocketknife and flipped open the blade, placing it to her forearm. He etched his initials into her skin, deep red cuts against her whitening skin. He smiled, and began loosening the buttons on his polo shirt. Tossing his cap aside, he thought, this is my favorite part of running a blood bank.