Charlotte by Ichabod
Charlotte Pei let herself into her boyfriend’s apartment. They had been dating for almost six months and today was his birthday. She planned to surprise him with dinner when he got home.
She walked into his bedroom and dropped her book bag by the foot of his bed. She had giggled when he gave her the key to his apartment. Yet their relationship had stayed mostly chaste. She appreciated that he never pushed for more than she was ready to give.
She turned and found a Maxim magazine lying on his nightstand by the bed. The cover showed a picture of Lucy Lui in a white bikini. Charlotte frowned. Why did Vu need to have this crap lying around? Why did all boys always seem to need this stuff? She looked at the picture and began comparing herself to the Charlie’s Angel actress. I’m better looking, she thought. She looked at herself in the mirror; slender nose and face, almond brown eyes, wide mouth but slender lips. She looked at her figure: trim and athletic from playing tennis in high school, she wasn’t quite good enough for her college team, but Charlotte picked up racquetball and played at least twice a week. That’s how she met Vu.
She looked back at the picture. The only real difference she saw was that models bared more skin. Charlotte had always been modest. She didn’t feel comfortable baring too much skin. Vu knew that. She wondered how he would feel if he saw her dressed differently. Charlotte looked at herself in the mirror again. She was wearing a red cotton linen blouse and loose-fitting taper-leg blue jeans. She touched her top lip with the tip of her tongue and smiled. She would give him a real birthday surprise.
Charlotte pulled the shirttails of her blouse out of her jeans, unbuttoned the lower two buttons, and tied the shirt at her waist. The effect was pleasing to the eye. The loose-fitting jeans with the shirt tied at the waist accentuated her slim hips. She liked the way she looked. It was more daring but didn’t show any skin. She felt like a teenager again trying on makeup for the first time.
She untied the knot at her waist and unbuttoned another button. When she tied it again the knot rested halfway between her waist and the bottom of her rib cage, exposing any tiny triangle of the abdomen. She felt positively risqué! Charlotte posed in the mirror, stretching and raising her hands above her head. Her belly button peeked out over her waistband. Charlotte decided she like it out and pushed her waistband down to keep it exposed. Not bad she thought. She looked back at the picture and compared.
Charlotte untied the knot again and unbuttoned another button. When she retied it the knot lay just below her bosom. The line of the shirt ran just along her rib cage. Her entire midriff region was exposed. She thought she looked Hot! Thin hips, flat stomach, a cute little belly button that was a slit at the bottom and turned into an outie at the top. Pert breasts, long neck, oval face, long black hair. She knew she could make Vu forget any magazine model.
She was in the process of unbuttoning a top button to expose a little cleavage when she heard the door to the apartment open. She looked at her watch and thought Oh no, I spent too much time goofing off and haven’t made dinner yet! But it was too early for Vu to be home. She looked out the bedroom door and found three tough-looking Vietnamese men saunter in. Charlotte gasped and jumped out of sight. She had left the key in the door! She heard on of the men call out, “Vuky…Little Vuky. Where are you?”
Charlotte could see her reflection in the closet mirror…She now thought she looked ridiculous! Her book bag was in plain sight. There was nowhere for her to run!
“Hey, boss he must be in here.” Charlotte wanted to scream and cover herself but one of the toughs walked in. “Whoa boss, Vuky’s got a girl in here.”
Charlotte bolted past the man standing next to the bedroom door but was stopped by another man with a crooked smile just outside the door. “Hey, look at this mouse. She’s all right. Vuky’s got some taste.”
“Naw boss,” said the man behind the one with the crooked smile, “She’s not Vuky’s type. He likes ‘em clean-cut and librarian type and all that.”
“Still,” said the man with a crooked smile, “she’s my type.” He walked up closer to Charlotte. She said the only thing that she thought would keep him away.
“Stay away. He’ll be home in any minute.”
“That’s all right babe. He can join the party.” The boss said coming closer.
The boss stopped then smiled again, “Think anyone in this neighborhood would care.” That was true. Her parents hated Vu. They hated where he lived, they hated the fact that he was Vietnamese. She was beginning to wonder if they were right.
“Hey boss, let’s just wait for Vu to get back.”
The boss shook his head, “All right. Little miss ‘I’ll Scream’ can go get us some beers while we wait. You don’t mind do you sis?” The boss pushed her against her tummy until she bumped into the man behind her. “Bluto here will help you, won’t Bluto.”
The man that found her grabbed her by her left arm and pulled her out past the boss towards the kitchen. She looked longingly at the open front door as she walked by.
Charlotte went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. She said nothing to the hulk of a man watching her. She pulled four beers out and placed them on the table next to the fridge. “Could you hand me the bottle opener there?” she asked pointing to the dish tray next to the sink behind the man. He turned and reached for the opener that was in plain view. Charlotte picked up a beer bottle and tried to whack him in the head. He caught the movement and blocked the blow with his left arm. She lifted it again to hit him and he sucker-punched her in the gut.
Charlotte folded in half around the punch. He had hit her in the pit of the stomach, right above the navel. She went down to her knees. Sucking air.
“Look, man. I don’t want to hurt no girl…”
Just then commotion sounded from the next room. Vu was home! She heard shouting and blows being struck. Charlotte held her middle and struggled to her feet. She was just regaining her breath when her ****** roughly grabbed her by her arm, spun her around, looped his arm through both of her arms, and wrapped his other arm around her neck. She struggled weakly against his grip as he dragged her into the living room.
The living room was a mess. Vu was on the couch with one of the toughs sitting on his back with his arm pulled painfully back. The boss, whose lip was bleeding, slapped Vu over and over saying, “Where… are… my… drugs…Where…is…my…money…”
Charlotte was shocked! But she noticed that the fire went out of Vu’s eye when he saw her there pinned. The boss looked in the direction of Vu’s glance and smiled his crooked smile.
“So you don’t want to talk tough guy?”
“No! Leave her alone…” Vu sputtered, but the man sitting on top of him ended his protest with another painful pull of the arm.
The boss walked over to where Bluto had Charlotte held. “Bluto, maybe we could use this mouse to make our pal Vu more cooperative.”
Bluto didn’t say anything. Charlotte took a breath and screamed.
The Boss frowned, cocked back his arm, and punched Charlotte full force in the pit of her stomach. Charlotte crumpled to the floor with an oof and lay there on her knees sucking wind.
“Bluto, you dropped our lady friend. Please hold her properly so our friend Vu can see what she is going through.”
Bluto silently picked up Charlotte underneath her arms. She tried to stay in a ball but the weight of her own legs began to stretch her out. Bluto converted his hold to a full nelson, interlacing his fingers behind her neck, forcing Charlotte to stare at her own bare midriff. She was barely getting her breath back. Charlotte watched her bare stomach **** in and out trying to feed air to her starving lungs. A red blotch was fading from where the boss had just punched her. She was just barely standing on her tippy toes, the hold stretching her abdomen out. Charlotte’s jeans were riding low on her hips and her navel stretched to a thin slit.
“She’s nice Vu, but Bluto tells me she's not your type. Do you even care if I do this…” The boss ran the palm of his hand over Charlotte’s smooth tummy, stopping to place a finger in her navel. Charlotte felt her breath returning to normal. She readied herself for another scream...
“…or if I do this.” Quick as lightning, the boss closed his fist and buried it deep into the pit of Charlotte’s stomach, just above her navel. Charlotte guffed out her air but was held erect by Bluto. The punch wasn’t as painful but was more annoying because the boss kept his fist in her stomach, slowly pumping it back in and out. It allowed her to catch her breath. She was almost ready for another scream.
“Let her go and I’ll give you what you want right now!”
The boss pulled his fist out of Charlotte’s abdomen. She breathed more easily.
“Finally, Vu my boy. I knew we could find you…”
Charlotte took a deep breath and screamed again, this time yelling rape rape rape at the top of her lungs.
The Boss grimaced and placed his left arm over Charlotte’s chest, holding her firmly against Bluto, “ You stupid…” She didn’t hear the rest. Her world exploded in a cacophony of pain as the boss repeatedly punched her in her stomach.
He punched her once, twice, three times in the pit, then twice in her navel. He then held up two fingers for her to see and then drove them twice deeply into her navel. The boss then made another fist, punched her in the navel, and held it there pulsating it slowly.
Neither he nor Charlotte heard the sirens. Bluto dropped her and she fell forward on to his pulsing fist. “This is sick boss, I’m out of here.” The boss dropped her to the floor. She curled up into a ball holding her battered middle, trying to gasp air. The boss stared down at her as the man sitting on Vu got up. “Come on boss, the cops.”
The boss reached down, rolled Charlotte over on her back. She couldn't fight back. He threw her arms over head, and punched straight down into her navel. Charlotte coughed and tried to fold back up again, but he pushed her back down with his free hand while pulsing his fist into her navel.
The other man had left, Vu got up and knocked the boss off Charlotte. The boss seemed to hear the sirens for the first time. He got up to leave and Vu reached out and tripped him. The boss violently kicked Vu’s hand away and got up to run out the door, where he ran smack into a uniformed police officer. The man that sat on Vu was also in police custody on the landing outside the apartment. Bluto was under arrest downstairs.
The police officer looked at Vu, “LT Ngyuen, we got your panic button call. Are you OK?”
Vu looked down at his girlfriend, “My cover is blown and my girlfriend just got beat up, but otherwise… Book all three of those guys for assault and battery. I’m pretty sure I can make the trafficking charge stick, but I wanted their boss.”
Vu kneeled down to help Charlotte sit up. She was massaging her middle. “You’re a cop?”
“Yeah, Narcotics. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you. Everything else about me is the truth. Well, I don’t work at my uncle's grocery store.”
She smiled, “Happy Birthday.”
He smiled back and helped her back to his room.