This story is by Marcy McNally and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Skin in the Game
At twelve noon, on September 13th, two police officers stalked into the executive suites of Triple E Enterprises, Inc., located on the seventy-second floor of Bank of America Corporate Center in downtown Dallas. “We’re here to speak to Evelyn Evans,” one officer stated to the nervous receptionist, flashing his badge and ID. “Official business.” The receptionist reached under her desk, pressed a hidden electronic button, silently signaling Triple E’s owner and CEO of the arrival of unscheduled visitors.
At 12:15 p.m., a svelte, meticulously-dressed woman in her mid-thirties emerged from her private suite. Her softly coiffed, jet-black hair contrasted sharply with the hard, angular planes
of her face. She glanced at her diamond- trimmed Piaget watch, carefully noting the time,
as she icily acknowledged the officers. “I’m Evelyn Evans. Please do come in,” she indicated, with a flick of her hand. Five minutes later, handcuffed and stoic, Evelyn was escorted out of her office by the officials. “Hold my calls,” she snapped at the receptionist. “I’ll be back shortly.”
That was three months ago, Evelyn mused, angrily surveying her barren cell at the Gatesville State Prison, thumbing impatiently through the pages of an outdated issue of Forbes magazine. Slouching against the thin mattress resting on the metal bed frame, she quickly tossed the magazine aside and stared at the drab olive-green walls.
Stark, painful memories assaulted her in an unsettling barrage. Overwhelmed by the menacing visions, Eve felt strangely frightened and alone, her carefully constructed identity trembling, as she recalled people and places from long ago. People and places that she had chosen to dismiss; people who and places that were of no use to her, as she relentlessly clawed her way to success.
“Evelyn Elaine Evans, don’t you ever, ever insult me like that again! After all that I have done for you, all that I have sacrificed, you stupid, ugly little whore,” her mother screamed, striking Evelyn’s face with a painful blow as she staggered toward the half-full bottle of Grey Goose
on the kitchen counter. Cowering, Evelyn ran down the hall to her room, diving under her bed
to escape from her mother’s inebriated fury.
As she muffled her sobs into the well-worn fur of her favorite toy, a teddy bear that she had named Moses, Evelyn heard the crash of shattered dishes. Her mother’s angry voice escalated. “You no good son of a bitch, you two-timing cheat. You god-damn liar. Always defending poor little Evie,” she ranted. The shouting match continued, then abruptly stopped.
As often happened after the fights, her mother tottered to bed, downed some painkillers, and passed out. Shortly afterward, her father’s footsteps padded down the hallway, approaching Eve’s bedroom.
Her father opened the door, quietly turning, and locking the entry. “Where are you hiding little Eve? Upset your mother, again, huh?” He bent down and yanked her thin, bruised body from her impromptu hiding place and slapped her. Body blows continued until Evelyn, whimpering, slumped to the floor. He gathered her in his powerful arms. “Evie, don’t cry, baby. Just do as Daddy says. Everything will be alright,” he soothed, caressing her thighs, his fingers circling slowly upward, “I’ll take care of your mother. Don’t worry. I’ll make you all better. It’s just our little secret, right?” her father whispered, groaning softly. Later that night, when the house grew silent and still; she packed a few well-worn clothes in her backpack, clutched Moses in her tiny arms, and ran away, vowing never to return.
Eve shuddered, shocked that memories of her parents could still be so intense, angry with herself that the pain would surface after so many years. Looking down at the Forbes magazine, she noticed a cover article entitled “Million Dollar Men.” As though dreaming, Eve saw herself attending the prestigious annual Texas Titans banquet. She had been honored for the fifth year in a row as Top Producer for T&C Exploration Corporation. Eve gloated over the fact that Ty Calhoun still hadn’t discovered the thousands of dollars she had embezzled from his Fortune 500 company. For someone as successful and shrewd as Ty, he had proven to be an idiot and easy to manipulate. He’d even fallen head over heels in love with her (or so he said whenever they met at the Omni for a quick jolt of sex.) What a loser! Just like her father. Well, she’d taught them both a few lessons about success. The following year, Eve had launched Triple E Enterprises with the stolen money and had received numerous awards for her multi-million-dollar business.
Sure, business was rough at times, mainly when she couldn’t find top-notch employees.
Her impulsive habit of abruptly hiring and firing was well-known, and her scathing criticism of others often appeared in the news, her cruel words laughed off as jokes. No one knew how carefully she crafted every word of the malicious gossip and deceitful lies. Why should she care? She was a successful, self-made woman. She could do whatever she wanted. She had it all! So what if her colleagues didn’t like the way she treated people? They were just jealous, and petty losers in life, anyway.
She reached for the Forbes magazine again, glancing at an article on sales. Her thoughts flashed
back to her so-called friend, Sarah. During their early twenties, Eve and Sarah had roomed together, renting a cheap beach bungalow in Santa Monica. They squirreled away cash from waitressing, bit parts in low-budget films, and occasionally sold sex and drugs. They were both considered hot party chicks and loved the rush of celebrity bashes and getting high. Even then, Eve had a master plan. Everything she pursued was one more avenue to ensure her success. Nothing would stop her from getting what she wanted.
Eve had met Jude Johnson, a suave entrepreneur, at a cocktail party. She knew that his pharma businesses were scams. Who cared? As one of his leading sales reps, the money was excellent. The perks of a company car and generous expense account put her in the big league. Sarah had gotten involved, too. That’s when the trouble started. Sarah became a threat to Eve. Although untrue, Evelyn accused Sarah of having an affair with Jude, double-crossing her, and cheating Eve out of what was rightfully hers. What a bitch! Eve ended the friendship and spread nasty rumors about Sarah.
Poor Sarah! What a loser! Just like Eve’s mother. She’d read one day in the Los Angeles Times that Sarah Brighton had committed suicide. Too bad, really too bad. They’d had some fun times together way back when. But, hey, Sarah got what she deserved. Who would ever know that Eve had spiked Sarah’s drink that night at Scala’s? Sad, really sad, but necessary.
Dozing, another memory rippled through Evelyn’s mind. She was twelve years old. A group of girls huddled in the corner of the Oakdale Middle School playground. They whispered softly and pointed at a solitary figure slowly approaching them. Evelyn broke away shouting: “Debbie has ringworm! Debbie has ringworm. Don’t go near her or you’ll catch her cooties!” The other girls followed Eve and formed a menacing circle around Debbie. “Debbie has ringworm. Debbie has ringworm,” they laughed and chanted.
Debbie, a chunky girl with white-blond hair and albino skin, cringed, ringing her hands. Tears rolled down her chubby cheeks. The round, red circles that covered her face, arms, and legs, grew brighter as her anxiety increased. The insults became louder. “Girls, lunch session is over,” commanded Miss Brown, their homeroom teacher. With final glares of disgust, Evelyn and the others marched triumphantly back to the classroom. Debbie, eyes downcast, straggled far behind.
Suddenly jolted from her reverie by the clanking of keys turning in the lock of her cell door,
Evelyn jumped up from her bed. A slender woman with platinum hair and pale skin entered her cell. “Good afternoon, Evelyn. My name is Deborah. I’m here to go over a few details for your release,” stated the woman, looking directly at Eve.
“You may find this surprising, but I’ve followed you for many years. I won’t tell you how
I found out about the embezzlements, drugs, sexual escapades, murder, and ruined careers. Yes, Evelyn, you’ve certainly managed to be very successful… in your own way. Now, after all these years, I want you to know how much I admire you and all that you have accomplished,” praised Deborah, sidling next to Eve.
Deborah quickly removed a white handkerchief concealing a small needle from her purse. Eve felt a sudden pinprick of pain as Deborah jabbed the needle into her forearm. Deborah chuckled. “Evelyn’s got ringworm. Evelyn’s got ringworm,” she taunted, slipping the handkerchief back into her bag, exiting the cell.
At twelve noon, a guard found Evelyn, dead, her body covered with bright red rings. A note, pinned to Evelyn’s prison uniform, read: “Redemption. I have saved you from yourself. You are free now. Love, Debbie.”