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Tell Them Katy Did

http://bookworld.editme.com/comethisway I noted that there are few lesbian posts so decided I'd share this story. It's from my anthology, Come This Way (Regal Crest Books)

Tell Them Katy Did by Victor J. Banis

"You're being followed."
"Huh?" I said, not very brightly. She had spoken in a whisper, but the effect was the same as if she had shouted. The voice, practically in my ear, made me jump. I hadn't heard anybody even approaching me, would have sworn I was entirely alone on the street. A woman, walking by yourself late at night, you needed to be careful. I had thought I was. Where the hell had she come from?
I looked sideways. A stranger, cute, young, white-blonde hair. In the moonlight, her eyes, staring hard into mine, looked fashioned of silver.
"What did you say?" I was still having trouble getting a handle on this. What was going on here?
"Not so loud," she said, still whispering, "I said, you're being followed. No, don't look. If they know you're on to them, they'll take after you."
"They who? And who the hell are you?"
"They're gangbangers, five of them. They've been tailing you since you left the Midnight Oil."
Her smile was mirthless. "Why do you think?"
"Well, yeah, but, Jesus, that's four, five blocks. If that's what they wanted to do…"
A car went by. I saw as it passed that it was a cop car. The guy on the passenger side glanced over at us, said something to the driver. I thought about flagging them down, but by the time I'd had that idea, they were gone, disappearing down the street. Another car went by in the opposite direction, a woman, driving alone, staring steadfastly straight ahead.
"That's why," she said. "It's too public here. They're waiting for you to turn down one of the side streets, where they can do it without witnesses."
"This is crazy," I said. "I live down Adams Street. It's like a tomb there, no street lights, everybody'll be in bed by this time. You mean as soon as I turn down there, try to go home, they'll come after me? What am I supposed to do? Shouldn't we start running now, or something? Try to get away from them before I get to my street?"
"Worst thing you could do," she said. "It's like a mountain lion, someone starts to run, it gets the cat excited, he goes after them. That's what they like, these guys, they want to know that you're scared, it turns them on."
I was scared, and getting more so by the minute. Two women, five guys, probably hopped up on something. "What, then?" I asked, my voice going up in pitch, even though we were still whispering.
"Then…this," she said, and gave me a sudden shove. We were at a corner, one of those dark side streets she had mentioned, and before I knew it, we were around it. "Now we run," she said, grabbing my arm to emphasize her words.
We did. I thought I heard a shout behind me, and I wondered if we could really outrun them. I jog, not as regularly as I should—not as regularly as I now wished I did—but it was almost two A. M., and I'd had half a dozen beers at The Midnight Oil. I hadn't planned on any track practice.
"Here," she said, grabbing my arm, and pulling me through a tall, open gate, and behind stone walls, thick and ivy covered.
We were in a cemetery, the old Saint Agnes cemetery, no longer used since they'd built the new one at the edge of town. She tugged, me, breathing a little too hard, behind a big stone angel on an oversized pedestal, the kind of monument no one put up today. I was glad someone had, whenever. I dropped to my knees in damp grass.
Just in time, too. I heard footsteps running past beyond the wall, deep, male voices exchanging barely discernable remarks: "…a car down there, maybe she…where'd she…fuckin' bitch…"
"They'll come back," I said, starting to get up, "They'll look for us. We need to get out of here."
"No," she said, her hand on my leg. "No, they'll give it up, now that you're gone. I know these guys. By now, they're a block or more away. They'll just keep going. It's what they do."
"You know these guys?" I was kind of torn, wanting to run, the primitive animal instinct, and trusting her. She'd rescued me, hadn't she, when I hadn't even known I was in danger, hadn't known I needed rescuing?
And, there was that hand on my leg. For a long moment we looked at one another, kneeling in the wet grass behind a cemetery angel. Her eyes locked on mine, a half smile curving her pretty lips. She was beautiful. I hadn't had time before really to register that. The Midnight Oil. She knew where I had been, then, and there was only one reason a single woman would go to The Midnight Oil—and it wasn't to pick up a man.
For a long time, her hand was motionless, but it began to move, then, ever so slowly, sliding up my leg, her touch hardly more substantial than the late night breeze that blew over us. Her smile widened. I relaxed, sat back down, smiled a little nervously back at her. I'd never done anything like this, never even fantasized anything remotely like it: a stranger, in a cemetery, at two in the morning, having just escaped from a pack of gangbangers with rape—at least—on their minds?
That, in any case, had left the adrenaline pumping. I was breathing hard, not from the escape alone. She leaned forward, cupping my chin in one hand, and kissed me, lightly. A hand on my shoulder guided me back, lowered me gently into the grass. This was crazy, it was wild—and undeniably hot.
She tugged my blouse open. I didn't wear a bra. My breasts were not large, but they were round and firm. I had been told by more than one woman that they were delicious to behold.
She thought so, obviously. Her mouth left mine, moved down, licked a nipple and took it into her mouth. I know some women say that doesn't turn them on. It does me. Not with a man, but invariably, when a woman does it. The nipple hardened. She gave her head a toss and that long, blonde hair spilled over me, brushed across the other breast, electrifying me. I might have said something, I'm not sure. I was too focused on her, on what she was doing. She was some kind of fantasy cross between butch and femme, cheerleader pretty, beauty queen feminine, and alpha-male-aggressive in a way you wouldn't have imagined, seeing her. I lifted up slightly when she pulled at my jeans, deft fingers managing the zipper with uncanny ease, the silken hair brushing now across my belly.
I was already wet. She sighed, low and throaty, when she discovered that.
"Pretty," she said. "Pretty pretty."
"This is so crazy," I said, sitting up, adjusting my clothes. "I don't even know your name."
"Katy," she said. "Katy did."
"Katy did?"
She laughed, not much more than the rustle of the breeze in the tree nearby. "Just a nickname, something people called me."
She stood up. I did the same, brushing grass and leaves from my jeans, and looked toward the street beyond the cemetery gate. "Will it be safe now, do you think?" I asked.
"Yes," she said.
We walked together to the gate, paused on the sidewalk. The street was dark, empty, utterly silent. Wherever our would-be assailants had gone, they hadn't hung around here.
"Which way are you going?" I asked.
"The opposite." She moved as if to leave.
"Where will I find you?" I asked, and blushed at my own audacity. I was not as a rule the one to take charge in a relationship. Mostly, I hung back, let the other set the pace, but something about her…she was unlike anyone I'd ever met before. What had just happened was unlike anything that had ever happened to me before. "If, well, you know." I stammered, feeling like a silly schoolgirl, "I'd like to see you again. Something a little less exciting…oh, I don't mean that, exactly, I mean…"
She laughed again. "I know what you mean," she said. "Do you know In Your Face?"
"I know where it is," I said. "I've only been in town a few months. Do you hang out there?"
"Tell them Katy sent you," she said. "Tell them Katy did." She looked up and down the street, and smiled at me. "Better not hang around here."
I looked too. There was no one to be seen. She'd said they were gone—but you never knew.
When I looked back, she had vanished, as quickly, as noiselessly, as she had appeared in the first place.
Where had she gone? There hadn't been time for her to reach the street corner and disappear around it. I looked in the direction of the cemetery. A short cut, maybe, to…to wherever she was going.
I gave a little involuntary shiver. She was right, though, best not hang around here. It was late, really late now. This time of night, the predators were out. That other gang wouldn't be the only ones. I gave my jeans a tug and started toward home, hurrying, glancing around from time to time, in case anybody else had gotten the scent.
There are two lesbian bars in our city. The Midnight Oil was discreet, set off to itself in a quasi-industrial zone, no neighbors to complain, to see you going in and out and cluck disapprovingly, maybe tell someone at work.
In Your Face was the other bar, and its name said it all. It was not discreet. It sat at the end of a strip mall. If you went there in the daytime, you might run into one of your co-workers exiting KFC with the lunch run, or a neighbor just heading into The Bon Ton. Anytime, you were likely to be seen. The girls who hung out there didn't care. They were the marchers, the pickets, the headline grabbers. People called them the In-Your-Face crowd, and it fit.
I was still pretty new to the game, wasn't yet that outspoken, not yet that out. I'd heard of In Your Face maybe my second day in town, from a straight acquaintance.
"I wouldn't even walk past that place by myself," she said, rolling her eyes. "Those dykes, you never know. You might disappear and never be heard from again."
I hadn't been there, and maybe never would have gotten around to it, but the memory of Katy, Katy-did, haunted me. I kept seeing her, in the moonlight, her silver hair spilled across my belly and thighs—and feeling her. She'd been great, the best I'd ever had. Not that my experience bank was so vast, but it was hard to imagine anything better than what she had done. I got wet all over again, remembering it.
I waited a week, and finally, could wait no longer. I went a little after ten, late enough that the neighboring stores were closed, not so late as to be conspicuous walking through a mall parking lot.
There was a modest crowd, a trio of butches playing pool, a couple of femmes dancing together to a Melissa Manchester song, a quartet in a booth, talking animatedly.
I went to the bar. The bartender was tough looking, and big, not fat, but big, six foot tall, at least, and built like a football tackle. Her hair was butch-cut and she wore no make up. If she hadn't been big chested, and it had been a different bar, I might have thought she was a man.
She gave me a cautious smile. "What'll you have?" she asked, her voice a whiskey baritone.
I ordered a Rolling Rock and glanced around. One of the pool players gave me the eye, and I got a fleeting impression that I was now the topic of conversation with the group in the booth. New faces always arouse interest, in a lesbian bar, in a small town. Everybody mostly knows everybody local. Nobody knew me.
"You're new in town?" the waitress asked, loading drinks on a tray at the service station next to me.
"A few months," I said.
"What brings you here?"
"Someone suggested I stop by. I was kind of hoping she would be here." I looked around the room again.
"Anybody we might know?" The bartender sat my beer in front of me. The waitress had her drinks on her tray, but she lingered, curious to hear the answer.
"Katy," I said. "Said to say she had sent me. Said to say, Katy did."
To say I created a sensation is to put it mildly. As luck would have it, Melissa's song had finished, and I picked one of those moments when everything seemed to pause. The waitress dropped her tray. It bounced off the wood floor, glasses and ice splashing everywhere. The pool players, the dancers, the booth group, everybody was staring at me, mouths open, expressions astonished.
"You trying to be funny?" the bartender asked.
"No, I…what's wrong?"
"Katy, you say? Katy did?"
I nodded, bewildered. "Yes. Blonde chick, pretty, very pretty. Do you know her?"
"Sorry about the drinks, Beau," the waitress said. "Set 'em up again, I'll pay for this round."
"Forget it," Beau said. "Better clean up that glass and shit, though, before somebody steps in it."
She busied herself remaking the round of drinks, setting them on the bar for the waitress. I thought she was going to just ignore me, but when she had that done, she went to a drawer under the liquor shelves, opened it, and took something out. She came back to where I was sitting, and laid a newspaper on the bar in front of me. The picture on the front page leapt out at me. It was my Katy, I was sure of it. Only…the headline read, "Girl dies from vicious assault."
"Recognize her?" Beau asked.
"Well, I…" It couldn't think what to say. "It looks like her, sure, but, well, it couldn't be, could it? It says here, she died."
"Almost a year ago," she said. "A bunch of punks. Caught her, shortly after she left here, as a matter of fact. Worked her over pretty bad. They say she looked like so much raw meat when they were done."
"I'm sorry. She must have been a friend of yours." My thoughts were whirling. I gave her a rueful look. "Maybe somebody was playing a rotten joke, telling me to use her name."
She looked at me long and hard. "Look," she said, giving me another Rolling Rock. "Why don't you grab that empty booth over there, and I'll join you in a minute. Annie, how about spelling me?"
"Sure," the waitress said, coming back from her drink delivery. She lifted the counter and slid behind the bar.
I went to the empty booth as told, pretending I didn't notice all the sideways glances I was getting from the rest of the patrons. Beau got herself a Bud and came to join me, scooting into the booth across from me. The jukebox started up again, Janis this time. The pool players racked their balls. The quartet in the other booth found something of interest to talk about.
"I feel like a shit," I said. "The way everybody reacted, I guess this Katy was someone special."
"She was," Beau said, taking a drink from her bottle and eyeing me steadily. "She was, I guess you would say, our leader. Always took charge, always had the answers, everybody's best friend. Always the first to jump in the pool. Totally fearless. People in here, we thought of her as some kind of goddess, if you can imagine that."
"How did it happen?" I asked.
She shrugged. "She left here, just before closing. They must have been hanging around, waiting for someone to come out alone. Ordinarily she'd have been on her bike, but there was some trouble with it, so she was walking. She only lived about four blocks from here, no one thought anything of it. They caught her just before she got home, six of them."
"Did they catch them? The guys?"
She snorted. "Oh, yeah, they caught them. One of them's in jail, not for the rape, though, or the murder. He used her credit cards. They busted him on that. Six months."
"The others?"
"Dead," she said.
"Executed? That fast?" I didn't know much about the criminal justice system, but I had never heard of things happening in that big a hurry.
She gave her head a shake, took another sip of her beer. "No. Shit no. You know how the judicial joke works. A technicality. Someone questioned them after they'd said they wanted a lawyer. The judge threw everything out, said their rights had been violated. Their rights. And Katy dead. Sucks, doesn't it?"
"Totally. But, you said…they're dead. I don't get it…?"
"The other five, yeah. No thanks to the legal system. Just a bizarre series of accidents."
"Accidents? What kind of accidents?"
"One of them was out deer hunting, got shot by another hunter."
"A friend, you mean?"
She shrugged. "Who knows. Nobody came forward. Would you? Who cares, he was a worthless piece of shit."
"What about the others. Surely they weren't all shot by careless hunters?"
"Oh, no. One of them was the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Happened not far from here, about three blocks, actually, almost the same spot where they caught Katy. He was crossing the street, late at night, that corner's pretty dark, and, pow, just like that. They say he was dead before he hit the sidewalk. Someone must have been going like a bat out of hell."
I sat staring across the booth at her, thinking that surely I wasn't hearing what I was hearing. I couldn't think what to say.
"Then, one of them, he got careless, they think he set his couch on fire smoking crack, things were already pretty hot by the time he woke up, but when he tried to run out of his trailer, the door was stuck, he couldn't get it open. That's what the firemen said, at least." She took another sip, regarding me with no expression. "Burned to a crisp. Better than the electric chair."
"And I guess the others had the same kinds of accidents," I said, when it became apparent she was waiting for me to say something. I didn't think I wanted to hear about the rest of them.
"Pretty much. Bizarre, isn't it? Sometimes justice happens in funny ways."
"And the sixth one, you said he's in jail still."
"Yeah." She nodded. "He gets out in three weeks and two days. And," she turned to look at the clock over the bar, "Forty-four minutes."
It was all too mysterious for me. Who was the woman who had rescued me the week before? Not Katy, certainly—but why had she played that ugly joke on me, telling me to mention Katy's name when I went to the bar? What kind of sicko would do that?
And, had the women from In Your Face really played vigilante. I'd never heard of anything like it. Beau sure hadn't sounded like she was joking, though.
I had another beer, chatted with Beau—casual stuff, small talk, not wanting to hear any more about Katy's killers and the "justice" that had befallen them, certainly not wanting to hear what kind of justice might be in store for number six when he got out of jail in a little over three weeks time. I felt pretty sure he was going to prove accident-prone. Better I knew nothing.
After that, I left, started the walk home. It was after midnight now, the mall quiet, the streets around it mostly deserted. No sounds but my own footsteps.
Until, a voice said, right next to me, practically in my ear, "You're being followed."

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