Champ went to the refrigerator and pulled out a package wrapped in wax paper with a white string tied around it. He pulled one end of the string and it easily came loose.
“You rotten fuck! Untie me! Let me loose!” Hanker was getting weaker, fading by the moment. Darkness loomed before his eyes, a hazy black that went in and out like a dying light bulb.
Champ cocked an eye at Hanker, paused for a second and then opened a cabinet door that was set into the counter under the sink. He took a frying pan out and set it on the eye of the stove. “What you fail to understand,” he said. “Is that you are fucked right now and you really don’t need to raise your voice to me.”
“Untie me then, bitch! See what happens then,” Hanker said in a weak voice that belied his bravado.
In one quick motion, Champ snatched a knife from the counter and was suddenly standing next to Hanker with the tip of the knife pressing into the flesh of his neck. A trickle of blood streamed from the wound and Hanker felt the heat of Champ’s breath on his skin.
“You better watch your mouth,” he said. “Okay?”
Hanker didn’t breath.
“Okay!” Champ said and put more pressure on the knife.
Hanker nodded his head a little and grunted.
Champ glared at him. “It’s dinner time. And I can’t digest when you talk like that. Potty mouth.” He made his way back over to the stove. He fiddled with the knobs until a flame shot to life underneath the pan. He quickly reached over and grabbed a bottle of canola oil, splashed some into the pan and swirled it around. “I’m hungry.”
Hanker tried his bonds. They were too tight. He pulled at them, yanking weakly, with no leeway, until Champ turned to look at him.
“Talk like that,” he said. “Potty mouth? Those words, those vile words, are manifestations of the spirit. Do you talk like that all the time?”
Hanker watched him. He yanked at the rope and felt a slash of pain sear across his stomach again. He closed his eyes and grit his teeth. His eyes flew open when he felt Champ breathing in his face.
“Do you talk like that all the time?” he said. “Potty mouth, stank mouth, foul!” They were eye to eye now and Hanker saw the craziness of a deranged man, an echo of insanity, a madness that resonated inside his soul and shattered those windows that granted entrance. His eyes spoke to Hanker. He saw life slip away inside of those dark pools. Champ gave him a quick smile and then turned back to the stove.
The pan was hot now; Hanker heard it sizzle when Champ slapped the meat down. The pain was getting to be too much for him and he couldn’t contain the agony. His body shook and his cries were as much from frustration as the terrible, thrumming ache in his stomach.
“You see, the spirit becomes manifest in your soul and then that ain’t tasty,” Champ said. He was standing over the stove, tending to the meat while he talked, glancing at Hanker’s struggles but seeming not to notice. “At all! You know what I’m saying? Shit. Everybody should know that like I know that. Nasty words. Nasty soul. Nasty taste. Not tasty at all.”
Hanker stopped struggling, it was futile, and he told himself to focus, to concentrate, and that maybe, just maybe, there might be a way out of this. A wave a pain hit him then, he nearly passed out, but he held on to consciousness, his furious glare fixed on Champ, his anger keeping him awake.