categories: Cocktail Hour
[The ongoing saga continues, Ted using his wits (and his mouth). 500 words at a time. These written at the Bar Harbor Inn. Tune in next week for more! To start at the beginning, click here.]
The Weight of Light
The big man had taken the co-pilot’s seat, and he and the unseen pilot shouted back and forth in some fast language that sounded Asian, though the big man had looked more European, maybe Slavic. Behind their backs on the icy steel deck of the chopper, Ted lay in misery, the plastic bands cutting into his wrists. Ellen began to writhe, her eyes very wide, a message there, writhed and wriggled till her face was upon his. “What?” he said in her ear.
She murmured behind the duct tape, pressed her cheek to his mouth.
Oh. With his teeth, he tugged at the edge of the tape, managed to loosen it, but clearly it was not drugstore duct tape, instead something stronger, much stronger, industrial gaffer’s tape likely, the stuff they used in the galley, fifty bucks a roll, black as a winter night. And how it must pull at her skin. She nodded urgently, though, and he continued his tugging. The helicopter’s engine was loud, the rotors beating the air. Ted tugged, Ellen moaned—the tape stuck hard, the pulling must hurt terribly. He licked under the edge of tape he’d lifted, slathered her cheek, trying to soften the adhesive, tugged again to fresh groans, licked, tugged again, very hard to keep a grip with his teeth, tiny increments of progress. The pilots just kept talking, shouting back and forth, big, carefree laughs and snorts. The steel of the helicopter deck vibrated jarringly, icy and getting colder. Ted pulled and licked and bit at the tape till it had come loose to the edge of her lips, and now the licking and tugging and pulling was something like kissing, especially as the tape came far enough for her to start licking, too, increasing moisture, and their tongues touched, no way around it. His heart beat with fear and fury and terrible unfairness. He bit hard on the small flap of tape they had finally freed and pulled at it. She moaned and tears came to her eyes. He tasted blood—the tape was tearing her skin. And still she nodded. He pulled again and their tongues licked and the tape came free another half inch and now he could understand her. “Hurts,” she said.
“Hurts,” he said back.
“I’m sorry,” she said as best she could.
He tugged a little more at the tape and it was more and more like kissing as they worked together to free her lips, and then it was kissing, or seemed to be, a startling deep kiss on the deck of a helicopter, he kept realizing, with everyone back at the new gallery wondering why the new guy hadn’t made it to the afternoon sales conference, his first presentation.
He pulled at the tape once more and kissed her salty, bleeding mouth and she kissed him back.
“They’ll kill us,” she said. “They’ll drop us in the sea.”
“How are your teeth?” he said. And then he writhed and wriggled and got his wrists to where her mouth was as the pilots went silent, oblivious of their cargo, the chopper beating on. She chewed at his binding and chewed a long time—her mouth must be raw, and suddenly he felt the loop loosen. He pulled one hand free, then the other, and flopped himself facing her, delicately removed the rest of the tape. “Who are they?” he said.
“Dangerous,” she said.
Ted daubed her lips, small gestures so as not to get the notice of the big man. He had a tiny, sterling-silver penknife in his pocket, a souvenir from his brother’s wedding, his own initials engraved on it. Easy to cut her bindings with it—just these plastic loops, then to cut his own feet free.
“Put them back on,” she said. “So it looks like.”
She was right. He looped a cut piece of plastic around her feet, one around her wrists, same for his feet, slithered against the bulkhead so his hands wouldn’t be visible.
Shivering, they waited for their flight to get wherever it was going, and time to fight. He watched her a long time, and really, you’d only think she was peaceably asleep, her lips bleeding badly under the bit of soggy tape she’d flapped back over her mouth.