My original story started with my heroine/protagonist Nelda Pike, but I was told it dragged.
SO, I switched the 'dragging' opening with the introduction of the "PLOT PERSON" for lack of a better phrase. lol
It was beyond Laura Kaplan's comprehension how her entire life could totally evaporate in a matter of minutes.
Only months before, she had been experiencing the carefree life of an average teenager. She had believed that the cap and gown she wore the night of her high school graduation signified the beginning of a new and wonderful stage in her life. In retrospect, she could plainly see that the night she had looked forward to, had worked so hard for, had merely been the beginning of the end.
Her mother, Lauren Kaplan, had loudly cheered for her only daughter as Laura ascended the stage to receive her diploma. Her mother’s fiancé, Paul Bristol - along with his ever present son, Adam, had combined to give the illusion of normalcy.
Paul, with the stature of a bull, played the perfect foil to her mother's petite frame and sweet nature. The son, a six-foot tall combination of strength and attitude, was a formidable presence and never far from his father's side.
After presenting Laura with a beautiful watch to commemorate the occasion, Paul had thrown his romantic side into high gear and convinced Lauren that it was the perfect evening to end their six-month engagement.
What had started as a graduation celebration had escalated into a festive wedding ceremony. Overwhelmed by the turn of events, Laura and her mother found themselves separated - Laura shoved to the edge of the action by the exuberant Paul.
The ink had not yet dried on the marriage certificate before the festivities ended.
Paul immediately positioned himself as 'man of the house', and his earlier, easy-going personality was replaced by a lightening fast anger neither she nor her mother had known existed.
Within a week of the nuptials, her mother had taken to her bed, constantly exhausted, pale and lifeless. Laura assumed the daily, household routines and tried, unsuccessfully, to convince her mother to visit their family doctor.
“Vitamins, mom.” Laura pleaded. “Maybe that's all you need. Maybe the doc will give you a shot of something, or find out why you're so tired, but you need to go.”
“Your mom's fine,” Paul said. “You need to take that diploma of yours and get a job. I'll take care of your mom.”
Paul's son, Adam, was an immediate addition to the household and Laura experienced a constant feeling of impending doom in his presence. Going from discretely glancing at her, prior to the wedding, he now stared at her in such an emboldened fashion, that Laura’s skin crawled when he was nearby.
Events escalated rapidly the evening Paul ordered Adam to take Laura out for the evening - supposedly to allow he and her mother some "private time”.
“Between the two of you,” Paul bellowed. “We never have a moment to ourselves. Now get the hell outta here and don't come back without calling first.”
Adam insisted they go for a ride in his car, but Laura instinctively felt ill at ease with the arrangement.
“You do whatever you want,” Laura said. “I'm going to Lynn's.” She walked away, leaving him to watch as she turned toward her friend's house. Adam caught up with her and grabbed her arm.
“I'll let you chose how we get where we're going, but I'm choosing where we go.”
Taking her arm, he propelled her in the direction of town where the local lowlife sprang from one bar only to stagger toward another.
The sidewalk, especially on a Friday night, grew increasingly crowded as the atmosphere and the neighborhood deteriorated.
Entering an area of Louisville that Laura did not enter happily, colorfully adorned hookers boldly approached passersby or stood beside cars double parked in the street. Laura tried not to stare as they leaned in the open windows, then climbed into the cars after a mutual agreement was reached.
“Friends of yours?” she asked belligerently, trying to tug her arm free that he still held within his grasp.
"Hey honey." A flashy, barely dressed, redhead purred as they tried to pass. "What would you pay for some of this?" she asked, stepping forward and sliding her body against Adam's side.
"About two bucks, bitch." he answered, and shoved her toward the street.
Enraged, she spat in his direction, pointed a long fuchsia painted fingernail at Laura and snarled, "That’s what you get for two bucks, prick!" Neither woman was prepared for the sight of the switchblade that suddenly appeared in Adam's hand, and Laura watched in horror as it quickly cut a strip of scarlet in the woman's forearm.
Whether Laura was the one who screamed or not, the brazen woman was suddenly holding her arm and bending forward from her waist. A string of curse words and profanity spilled from her mouth, instantly drawing a crowd of onlookers. Instead of coming to her aid, several drunks moved closer and began chanting "Cut her again! Cut her again!"
Two barely sober males made timid attempts to step forward and subdue Adam, but quickly stepped back as he sliced again. This time, a stream of blood, mixed with foundation and blush, slid down the hooker's pale cheek.
Laura turned and ran back in the direction that would take her toward her home, leaving Adam to be arrested or, hopefully, beaten into submission by someone – anyone, in the crowd. The sound of an approaching siren in the distance did little to calm her rapidly lunging heart.
Rounding the last corner in her flight to safety, Laura was shocked to hear loud music coming from her home. Total strangers were laughing as they walked across her porch and entered the open front door without knocking.
Shoving aside those who were in her way, Laura rushed into the living room, looking for her mother. She immediately saw her, sitting on the edge of the camel backed sofa, a black rubber tube wrapped around her upper arm. Paul knelt before her, inserting a needle into her vein and depressing the plunger on a syringe when Laura screamed.
"Mom!" She raced to the sofa and shoved Paul backward onto the carpet. "What are you doing?” Laura demanded as she fumbled to remove the tubing. “Who are these people?"
"Honey," Lauren slurred. "I'm so sorry. I don’t know what... Where's Paul? Is he gone? Tell me he’s gone.”
"I'm here, sweetheart," Paul assured her, then turned toward his stepdaughter. "Now get your ass into your room before I knock that look off your face, you little shit."
Laura quickly scanned the small living room, hoping to see someone she could ask for help. Two men were holding her mother’s good silver spoons over flames from Bic lighters, using needles to suck the liquid contents into syringes. Others were tightly wrapping rubber strips or shoelaces around their arms, then using their fingers to flick their veins, producing a suitable injection site.