RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE READERS
Brushes dipped with meaning glided across my pores, stripping presumption while constructing her face; my face. Some called my womanhood artificial, but what did such descriptions matter when they were grafted with a soul?
I opened my eyes and straightened my blouse, skirt, and the bangs over my brow. For once the mirror spoke truth and presented a woman to be feared. The wolf had awoken from her slumber, and Chiyoko was reborn.
The sound of glass shattering greeted me as I entered the urban wasteland. What was once a warehouse by the waterfront had been weathered into rubble, leaving it ripe for a kind of scum to make it their home.
In other words, it was perfect for the Hellbound Dolls.
Yumiko was the first to notice, and placed down the empty bottle. “Hey, boss. We were starting to think you wouldn’t make it.”
Akane propped herself on the bat that was wrapped in rags to save herself from harm, while Ginny sat curled up on an old sofa, eating rice balls as she scrolled the contents of her phone. They both stood and joined a line, obedient as they were undisciplined.
“What took you so long?” Ginny grinned and clasped her arm around mine.
“A girl,” I sneered, and took the bat from Akane’s grip. It had a good weight.
“Another one?” Akane giggled. “I wish guys would confess to me at the same rate girls do to you, Chiyoko. I would be in Heaven!”
I turned away and took a few swings. The force tugging on my arms held a pleasant surge.
“They’re not confessing to me,” I told her. “They’re confessing to a boy that doesn’t exist. When they’re rejected they cry over a phantom. It’s pathetic.”
Ginny picked up the bottle and pulled it back. “That’s cold, Chiyoko, even for you.”
Her arm launched into full swing, sending the bottle hurtling in my direction. Time slowed as adrenaline ran through my chest, down my arms and into my fingertips. I turned, pivoted, and put all of my force into the instrument as the layer of rags struck to bottle, and propelled it back to the graffiti-strewn wall.
The sound of glass was like wind chimes in a tornado. It screamed as fury poured into its path to destruction. What anger had pulsed through my body had exploded through action, and I was, for the moment, sated.
“Fuck, I need a smoke.”
If you could count on the Hellbound Dolls for anything it was cigarettes. Three hands offered up sticks, and three hands returned with a light when I claimed one. The swirl in my chest massaged my lungs, and I could breathe.
The hollow ding of a pipe striking dirt snapped what ease lingered. Following were a dozen figures shuffling their feet, circling like vultures with hunger in their eyes. Their leader looked to me, turned up his nose, and cracked his knuckles.
“Yo, Chiyoko,” he scoffed. “You and your band of merry faggots messed up our boy last night. Got any last requests?”
I considered the bat in my grip while the Hellbound Dolls formed a line. They were loyal, but I didn’t need their protection. I pulled the rags from the bat, brought the tarnished steel to light, and stepped between Yumiko and Ginny.
“You know it’s that kind of talk that had us put a beat down on him,” I mused. “He could have saved himself by saying sorry, but I know you boys like to do things the hard way.”
He stood solid as I approached; the bad boy with the yankee pompadour and sleeveless denim vest. He didn’t so much as flinch when I ran my finger around the patch on his heart, decorated with the first English words he thought sounded tough.
“‘Black Soul Angels’,” I read aloud. “Are you trying to compensate for a tiny cock?”
“Fuck you, bastard!”
I sidestepped his lunge and struck him in the kidney with the handle of the bat, then moved onto the next goon. You might ask, what were we thinking; a gang of four taking on a band of twelve? You might ask that if you didn’t know the Hellbound Dolls.
“Not a bastard,” I huffed, and swung for a kneecap. “I’m the Queen Bitch, and this is my court!”
There was no calculation behind it; we were beasts protecting our territory. As a gang that was our only purpose. The Dolls didn’t need discipline so long as there was fury, and it drove us to lash out with limbs flying in every direction.
It might have been minutes, or maybe hours, but soon the battle had its fill of blood and the Angels fled, carrying fallen members on their backs. It was a beating they wouldn’t forget.
My breath slowed and wrangled my heart. The bat dropped from my hand to the concrete. Our clothes were stained with the blood of our enemies; in victory we had time again for vanity.
I turned to the Dolls, exhausted, and so were they. “Is everyone alright?”
Ginny massaged her knuckles, Yumiko slid to the floor and Akane flopped onto the wreck of a sofa. They nodded one after the other and retreated into themselves, tending their wounds away from the pack.
Something swelled in my chest; I lit a cigarette, and I smiled. “Nice work, girls. I think this deserves a celebration.”
“Beer and karaoke?” Akane asked, as though there were other ways to have a party.
To be continued…