Night Business | By: Nick Roberts | | Category: Short Story - Horror Bookmark and Share

Night Business

             Rick furiously slams his fist down on the hotel clerk’s desk and yells at the little oriental man behind the desk because it’s two in the morning and he can’t get a room.

            “Would you calm down sir? There are plenty of hotels in this city,” the clerk says a little frightened.  Rick just stares at him with a ‘do you think I’m an idiot’ look.

            “I know that. My problem is that my company will only pay for three different hotel franchises for me to stay at on out of town business trips and this is the third one I’ve been to tonight,” Rick calmly explains.

            “I’m so sorry sir, I don’t know what else to do,” the clerk apologetically says.

            “I know what to do,” Rick starts, “pay for my room out of my own damn pocket, thanks to you.”  He turns around and storms across the luxurious lobby and exits the building.

            Outside the air is freezing.  Rick looks across the street at a bank’s digital sign that displays the temperature and time and sees that it’s ten after two AM and 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  He buttons up his long black coat over his new suit and rubs his arms in an attempt to warm up.

            I hate cold weather and I hate New York, Rick thinks as he looks around the dirty sidewalks and even dirtier people of the night.  He walks to the edge of the road and flags down a taxi.  The taxi squeals on the breaks, sliding a little on an ice patch and almost passes right by him.  Rick pulls on the door and for a second the frost makes it stick shut, but it pops open and he climbs in the back.

            “Where to, Sir?” the cabby asks Rick.  Rick sees the cabby’s license and taxi permit displayed on the dashboard.  He also sees the cabby’s name is Sayid, which makes him a little nervous.  Before he can answer someone knocks on Rick’s window.  He turns and sees that it’s a young woman warmly wrapped up in an expensive fur coat and matching hat.

            “I will go if you want, Sir,” Sayid offers.  Rick ignores him and pushes open the door for her.  She eagerly climbs in, obviously quite cold herself.

            “Burr!” she says as she too tries to warm herself up by rubbing her hands quickly across her arms.  “Thank you so much for letting me tag along. I hate the cold,” she admits.

            “Oh it’s no problem. My name’s Rick.”

            “Betty James,” she says as she sticks out a gloved hand to shake.  Rick takes her furry hand with his black leather gloved hand and they shake on it.

            “Nice to meet you,” he says.

            “Where to?” the short and stout balding cabby asks, looking at Rick through the rearview mirror.

            “Um, why don’t you ask the lady first, I’m in no hurry.”

            “OK….Lady, where to?” Sayid asks impatiently, obviously tired of sitting on the shoulder of the road.

            “I’m going to The Ritz,” she says.

            “Hey how bout that?  I was looking for somewhere to stay for the weekend, myself.  I’ve never stayed at The Ritz though.  That sounds like a good place to set up camp,” Rick tells her.

            “Two going to The Ritz,” Sayid says, and then under his breath “about fucking time.”

            The two passengers casually talk over the next few miles and it’s obvious that they dig each other.  Betty, she tells Rick, is involved with an advertising firm in Baltimore and is here in town on business.  Rick tells her he’s here on business too and they both discuss how much of a bitch it is to get a good room on short notice.

            “That’s why I always have a reservation,” Betty laughs.

            “Well, normally I do to because I used to have to pay my way, but since my promotion I got a business account for all of my out of town expenses, and I figured since my company has clients involved with three major hotel chains and all of their subsidiaries that I wouldn’t have to have reservations, you know?” Rick says.

            “No, I’m not sure I get it.”

            “OK, basically if I don’t want to spend my own money, I have a choice between three hotels and all of those hotels subsidiaries and all of them were booked up tonight, so –’’

            “You have to spend your own money,” she finishes.

            “Right,” he confirms.

            The cabby pulls over and parks the cab in front of The Ritz.  They split the fare and exit the cab. 

            About an hour later, Rick and Betty are sitting very closely to each other at the bar, drinking and having a good time.

            “Another Jack and coke for me,” Rick nearly slurs to the bartender.

            “Jack and coke coming up. Refill that Cosmo, ma’am?” the bartender asks.

            “Why not,” Betty says.

            The two patrons sip their drinks and talk and giggle until the bartender tells them it’s time for him to close up and he’s been serving them past closing time anyway and he could get in trouble.  Rick and Betty tip the guy and it’s obvious neither one of them wants to spend the night alone.  After deciding to raid Rick’s mini-bar, they hit the elevator and spend about ten minutes drunkenly hitting different floor buttons and enjoying the up and down ride.

            “Welcome to Chateau de Rick’s” Rick says quite chivalrously for a drunken man as he swings the heavy door open to reveal a very nice and quite large room.

            “Wow, I hope mine is as nice as yours,” Betty says.

            “That’s what they all say, madam,” he lets slip out before he can think of what he just said.  “Um…please pretend I didn’t say that.”

            Betty doesn’t seem to care; she walks right past Rick to the mini-bar and pops it open to gander at their choices.  She pulls out two tiny bottles of vodka and pours them into two whiskey glasses, handing one to Rick.

            “A toast,” she says, “to an evening well spent, and a beautiful night yet to come.”

            “You said it!” Rick overenthusiastically yells as he quickly gulps down the drink.  For some reason, maybe he had already had too many drinks, but that last one didn’t sit well with his stomach.  Rick coughs and almost vomits, but he stops the liquid in his throat, and mentally calms the rest of his body down.  A few seconds later the room starts spinning and blurring causing Rick to stumble about before his leg hits the corner of the bed and he falls down hard.  He obviously didn’t see Betty remove the pill capsule from her purse, and he certainly didn’t see her twist it open and sprinkle it into his drink.

            Hours later, Rick feels a burning sensation on his left thigh.  “AGHH!” he screams as he frantically wakes up from a nightmarish dream and looks around the room.  He smells something.  Something gross.  Something vulgar.  Something he’s never smelled before but strangely recognizes.  ‘Burnt hair?’ he thinks.  Suddenly he realizes that he’s lying down naked and his arms and legs are restrained.  The pain in his leg is now throbbing.  He looks down at his leg but his vision is still so blurry from the groggy after effects of whatever drug he had.  His vision stops shifting and he now sees a leather gloved hand extinguishing a cigarette butt on the meat of his thigh. Burning flesh was what he was smelling!  He screams once again as the cherry is rubbed out and hot ashes sprinkle down each side of his upper leg.

            Vision still slowly returning, he can see that the gloved hand is connected to a sexy, silky smoothed skin arm.  He recognized that arm from before when he was playfully and flirtatiously caressing it only a few hours earlier at the hotel bar; it was Betty’s.  His vision now fully restored, he can clearly see Betty standing awkwardly at the foot of the bed, staring straight through him.

            Rick doesn’t know what to think of her standing there in that white T-shirt with a long black leather butcher’s apron over top of it.  Those black leather gloves and a black leather surgeon’s mask.  Her shoulder length black hair now gelled and professionally combed back, standing there looking into Rick’s eyes with a cold emotionless stare. 

            “Betty?...wha…what’s going-

            She raises one arm up holding a meat cleaver.

            “AGGHHH!!!! AGHHHHH!!!!!” Rick bellows in shear terror.  “WHAT THE FUCK!!! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! NO!!!” he screams as he forcefully jerks back and forth to try to loosen the ropes that bind all of his limbs.  Betty just stands there with the same blank stare.  Her other arm raises up into Rick’s sight with a small slab of wood, a common kitchen chopping board.  She acts as if she doesn’t even register Rick’s screams, or doesn’t care about anyone hearing. 

            Without hesitation, she slides the wooden board underneath Rick’s buttocks so his genitals rest comfortably on it.


            Rick writhes back and forth crying out in agonizing pain as blood steadily spurts out of the stump between his legs in all different directions as he shakes.  Betty jots out her left hand and grabs the severed parts.  She bends down and unzips some bag lying on the floor out of Rick’s sight; he only hears a zipper open and close as she rises back up into view with a Ziploc baggie that she places her specimens in.  Before resealing the baggie, she walks over to the mini fridge and puts a few ice cubes inside to preserve her trophy.

            Rick was rapidly losing blood, almost to the point of passing out, when he hears a hissing sound.  A second later he feels a burning sensation in his crotch and looks down at the source of the sound and sees that Betty has a hot iron pressed against the wound, cauterizing it to stop the bleeding.  He would scream but there’s no feeling left down there.  Floating around in a state of shock, Rick just stares at Betty as drool ebbs out of the corner of his mouth as he sobs and slowly breathes.

            “Betty…” he says with his eyes rolling in the back of their sockets, “Bet…Betty, wha-what’s happening to me?”

            A sudden slap across the face jolts Rick of it. 

            “Wake up!” Betty screams in a completely different voice then from earlier that night.  She has some kind of European accent, but Rick’s way too out of it to identify which, or even care for that matter.

            Rick looks around the room and eventually focuses on Betty.  He drunkenly yells, “Fuck you, you, you psycho cunt!”

            “A lot of good that will do you,” the woman who calls herself Betty taunts.  Rick thinks it sounds almost like a German accent.  With a mouth full of saliva, he spits it right into her face, some getting in her eyes, but the majority hitting her surgeon’s mask.  She removes it to wipe herself off.  “You really shouldn’t have done that,” she warns as she turns around and walks towards the bathroom to get a towel, slightly closing the door behind her.

            Realizing his opportunity, Rick snaps into action.  He looks at both of his hands and sees how tightly the rope is tied to his wrists, realizing there’s only one way out.  Carefully, he places both sets of fingers over each thumb, and squeezes down with all of his strength, instantly dislocating both thumbs.  He bites his lower lip in excruciating pain to avoid screaming, and as fast as he can, pulls both arms free. 

            Luckily the meat cleaver is still lying near the bed and he reaches down and picks it up out of the black leather satchel on the ground.  Using the chopping board he silently hacks both of the leg ropes and completely frees himself.  He looks down at his black and crusty, charcoaled crotch and nearly vomits, but restrains himself; a thick and pungent stream of yellowish smoke still emitting from the burn.

            The bathroom door swings open as Betty walks out tying her mask back around her head.  Rick immediately rises from his sitting position on the bed and takes two quick steps towards her just as she’s raising her head up to look in his direction.  He lunges with all his mite.  The meat cleaver makes a bone snapping THUNK as it hits her right in the sternum making an impact so hard that it makes her chest cave in and her breasts almost point toward each other.

            Rick lets go of the weapon and it stays pointed up in the air as Betty stumbles around, still baffled at what just happened.  Losing her balance, she falls face first to the floor and Rick hears the cleaver dig a little deeper upon impact.  Not all together there himself, he clumsily fumbles for his clothes that are scattered on the floor, and carefully dresses himself, wincing as he pulls his underwear over his wound.  He exits the room and tries to run as fast as he can, but it looks more like a gallop, out of the hotel. 

As soon as he feels the cold air hit his face outside, he bends over and catches his breath.  A yellow cab drives by and Rick flags it down causing it to come to an abrupt stop and almost lose control on the icy road.  Rick slowly and carefully sits down in the back seat and realizes it’s Sayid, the same driver from earlier.  Sayid asks him if he got lucky and Rick says yes, in a way he did get lucky, and then tells the driver to take him to the nearest hospital.

            “You don’t look sick?” the cabbie says.

            Rick ignores him and stares out the window.  He sees a digital bank sign down the road that reads 7:22 AM and 24 degrees Fahrenheit, and for the first time he is thankful for the freezing air because he really hopes the ice in the Ziploc baggie in his jacket stays frozen.

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