[Chapter Three: Air, Land, Sea]
I walked barefoot down the beach and up the trail through the foliage to the main road that led to the guest house with my room. The Dublin couple was lurking out on their deck, drinks in hand and bare feet up on the rail. True to form, "I Shot the Sheriff" was just winding down.
"There she is," the girl chimed. I seemed to remember her name was Coleen. "Hi, neighbour!"
"Hey there," her other half said. I had no idea what his name was.
"Hello," I said.
"Hey, will you join us for a drink?" he said.
She stood up at the suggestion. "Oh, please do! He gets very boring without company."
"I do not."
"I really should get some sleep," I said. The rum shots were starting to hit me harder than I would have liked.
"Well, tomorrow night then," he said with a downturned voice. "Anyhow," he added, getting up. "We need more beer."
"I'll come with you!" Coleen was one of those terminally perky Irish girls and she flung herself into a bear hug to follow.
He came down the little stairs up to the entryways and made a big show of bowing and ushering me to the stairs with a gentlemanly sweep of his arm. "If you please," he said.
Charmed, I forgot myself a little, dropped a short curtsey to play along, almost as if I were back on the Estate again, and mounted the stairs. The moment I accepted the invitation of his chivalrous, sweeping, arm movement and stepped on the first stair he fell in behind me.
Karl had taught it to me those many years ago. A professional initiates a "rear naked choke hold" by flattening the hand of the dominant hand into a chopping shape and, from behind the subject, sliding the outer edge of the thumb from the side of the neck, across the trachea and to the other side of the neck until the entire forearm is on the opposite side of the neck and the bicep on the near side. The crook of the elbow ends up under the target's chin. The non-dominant arm serves as an anchor, and pushes the back of the head from behind further into the choke. The hold doesn't block air, rather it blocks off the carotid arteries and deprives the brain of oxygen. Consciousness is snuffed away in as little as ten seconds.
It was blindingly quick, practiced, and professional. For some reason, the moment I felt the pressure of his arm on either side of my neck I remembered his name was Sean.
I bucked wildly, panic pumping blood and adrenaline into my system as fast as it could, but likely not fast enough.
Choking attack from the rear. What is the counter? My mind raced for answers. Stomp the top of the foot, break the toe. But I couldn't. I had been standing one step above Sean, and all he had to do was lean back in order to make it impossible for me to drop any weight onto my legs and into my foot to crush his toes or the sensitive tops of his feet.
Two quick steps down the stairs and Coleen was on the stair above me, on top of me, holding my wrists, and pressing her body into mine from the front. I could feel her physique. She was disconcertingly strong. She had embraced us in a perverse, threesome-hug that kept me from kicking or flailing about.
"No, no, sweetie. Shhhhh. Take it easy," she said, leaning close. The Irish accent, so perfect before, was gone. She could have been an English professor at Cambridge to hear her then. "Good friends we have, oh good friends we've lost..." she sang "...along the way." My vision began to tunnel. That is when panic shifted to terror.
I fought it with every muscle I had. At one point I thought I might have broken my wrist struggling, but Coleen was strong and hugged us both close. Then she began to sway her hips. It was intimate. Obscene.
It took me a moment before I understood. She was singing along to the Bob Marley song. "'Ere, little darling', don't shed no tears." Her body against mine. Her arms around me and Sean both. My muscle tone was slacking. My bladder let go. Then her cheek warm and soft against mine. The back of her hand brushed across my face softly, tenderly. Her breath hot and urgent in my ear. "No woman, no cry." Voices and music tinny, as if they were being squeezed through a narrow frequency filter. Tighter, tighter, tighter.
Everything's gonna be all right.
Everything's gonna be all right.
(Excerpt from: "Nape of the Earth" Book II in the Flight Risk Series) (Forthcoming)