Freedom Lane: WOMANHUNT
Rose looked upstairs, to where her son was busy typing out Helen’s prison fiction to share with the world.
“It’s comin’ out today!” Da’Quarius shouted, running down from his room. It was two weeks after he asked Helen’s permission to publish her prison fiction, and he worked tirelessly typing it all out and editing the huge tome of notebook paper. “It just has to get approval and anyone who wants to read it can buy it and download it!”
“Really?” Helen asked, turning from her TV Guide crossword puzzle. “Is someone actually looking to buy that nonsense?”
“Not yet,” Da’Quarius said. “But umma start a huge Twitter and Facebook campaign!”
“Oh lord,” Rose said.
“Good for you,” Helen said, going back to her crossword puzzle. “Let me know how that goes for you, kid.”
“Can you believe this?!” Lee Fuchs said, nearly knocking his laptop computer off the dining room table. Lee was in his early seventies, had brown dyed hair, and spoke with a lisp.
“I can’t if I’m in the other room,” Harold Fuchs, Lee’s older husband, yelled from in his nasally voice. Harold had a head full of thin, gray hair.
“Helen published a book!” Lee said, carrying his laptop in their living room to show Harold. “Some trashy three hundred and fifty page monstrosity called WOMANHUNT.”
“What?!” Harold said, holding the laptop close to his face. “How did you find out about this?”
“It’s all over the Facebook,” Lee said. “Esmerelda was posting about it today.”
“Where is that girl?!” Harold snapped. “Get her down here this instant!”
“She’s back at the orphanage,” Lee replied. “We don’t have her this week. I’m keeping tabs on her with her Facebook password.”
“Good job,” Harold said. “I can’t believe that Helen published a book! Especially after… Never mind.”
“After what?” Lee asked.
“Nothing,” Harold replied. “But we have to put an end to this.”
“You sold a hundred copies in your first week as a published author!” Da’Quarius said, coming to the kitchen table for breakfast on Saturday morning.
“Your friends are so sweet to buy a copy,” Rose said, setting down a plate of eggs and bacon in front of Da’Quarius. “Tell them we say thank you.”
“They ain’t my friends,” Da’Quarius said. “I read some of da reviews. People are lovin’ WOMANHUNT. It has four and a half stars!”
“Wow!” Helen said. “There was a gold mine in that attic all these years. What do you get, a few cents every time you sell a copy?”
“A few bucks,” Da’Quarius said “This is awesome!” Da’Quarius finished his breakfast and ran out of the kitchen. “I’ll catch you biddies later. I gotta hook up wit some friends before I go to Paulie’s.”
Rose waited for Da’Quarius to be out of the front door. “This is that trashy novel where the woman is hunted by a bunch of other women for sport, right?” she asked.
“That’s the one,” Helen said.
“The entire premise of that book is disgusting,” Rose said. “I can’t believe people are buying it.”
“It sold in prison,” Helen said with a shrug. “Passing those notebooks around kept me in cigarettes and bitches.”
Rose looked out the kitchen window into the backyard, knowing this endeavor would not end well.
“So I read the book,” Lee said, coming back into the living room from their study.
“And?” Harold asked.
“It’s disgusting,” Lee replied. “Really disgusting. It’s all really crazy lesbian sex and incredibly brutal violence all around this generic human hunting story. Don’t even get me started on the ending!”
“Human hunting?” Harold asked, raising a gray eyebrow.
“Yeah,” Lee replied. “The protagonist gets hunted and tracked by a group of crazy women.”
“So what do you think?” Harold asked. “Can we complain loudly enough to get it pulled from the site?”
“We can try,” Lee said with a shrug.
“Lee,” Harold said. “Get me on the internet!”
“Rose!” Da’Quarius said, running downstairs from his bedroom. “Where’s Helen?”
“Helen is napping,” Rose replied. “So please stop yelling.”
“Oh,” Da’Quarius said. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” Rose said. “What’s so important?”
“I been emailin’ wit some peeps from channel 7,” Da’Quarius said. “They heard ’bout Helen’s local success, and dey wanna interview her!”
“What success?” Rose asked. “You only sold a hundred copies I thought.”
“No,” Da’Quarius said, his smile widening. “Da sales are goin’ through da roof! Everyone loves it!”
“Listen,” Rose said, sitting down and patting the seat next to her. Da’Quarius obliged by sitting next to her. “I don’t know if this is really the right thing to do. Helen wrote that book decades ago, and I just don’t know if she’ll be in the mood to be interviewed on TV. Esepcially because of WOMANHUNT.”
“Did I hear you right?” Helen said, descending the stairs. “They want to interview me because of WOMANHUNT?”
“Oh Yeah,” Da’Quarius said.
“I’m in!” Helen said. “Just tell me when and where.”
Rose looked at Helen and Da’Quarius, who were both beaming. “Oh no!”
“Why can’t you make them remove Helen’s book?!” Harold exclaimed, becoming furious.
“I don’t know what to tell you!” Lee said, getting agitated at Harold. “I’ve emailed them a dozen times, and I keep getting the same response. Since the book was listed for ages eighteen plus we can’t do anything about it. They reviewed it with two different people, and they found nothing worth removing it over.”
“Dammit,” Harold said. “Can’t we call our congressman or something?”
“Over this?” Lee said. “You really think a congressman will care? I don’t even know why you’re still going bonkers over this stupid book. I know it’s disgusting, but it’s no Fifty Shades.”
“You don’t understand!” Harold said. “This was my… Helen… Never mind.”
“No!” Lee said. “You keep doing that. What aren’t you telling me.”
“Nothing,” Harold said. “Now go make me some dinner before I whack you across the face with my slipper!”
“Sure,” Lee said, walking towards the kitchen. “Don’t tell me why you’re upset. Just make me heat up some moldy old meatloaf for dinner, you old queen.”
“YOU’RE THE OLD QUEEN!”
“OK,” Da’Quarius said, sitting next to Helen as the news crew set up the camera and the microphones in their home to do the interview. “Just tell ’em ’bout the book and where to find it. We’ll make a few grand off of dis if we lucky!”
“Don’t worry about me,” Helen said. “Just make sure Debbie Downer over there stays out of my shot.”
“I know you’re talking about me,” Rose said from her seat at the dining room table. “I just don’t think putting your name on this book was a good idea.”
“Why?” Helen asked. “Are you jealous of my literary prowess?”
“No,” Rose said. “Do you remember the articles I had published in the gardening magazines?”
“Bah!” Helen said. “Anyone could write about plumping their tomatoes. Call me when you’re titillating their inner loins.”
“How are we doing?” he news anchor, Tonya Heady, said approaching Helen. “You excited to be on TV?”
“Don’t patronize me,” Helen said. “You’re the one who wanted me, remember?”
“Right,” Tonya said, giving Da’Quarius a sideways glance. “We’re all set up, so let’s get started. This will be edited later, so we always film more than what we need, so feel free to make a few mistakes. Now, Helen, you’re seeing a very fast uprise in sales to your book. How does this make you feel?”
“Good,” Helen said, smiling a wrinkly smile into the camera. Tonya waited for her to elaborate.
“I understand your grandson found the book you wrote by hand nearly fifty years ago and decided to transcribe it onto the internet for you,” Tonya said. “He must be very dedicated to this book.”
“Da’Quarius is my adopted son,” Helen corrected. “And yes, He really wanted to see this thing published despite my wife and I telling him no, but I finally said ‘fuck it’ and let him publish the fuckin thing. I let him keep the money too. I can’t fuckin spend it where I’m going.”
Tonya winced at each swear. There was a decent clip they wouldn’t be able to use. “How do you feel about your book reaching over one thousand sales?” she asked.
“One thousand?!” Helen exclaimed. “Holy shit-nuggets!”
Tonya sighed. “I understand there’s an excerpt you wanted to read for us today?” she asked.
“Ah yes,” Helen said, picking up the printout that Da’Quarius had given her. He printed out the words nice and big so that Helen would be able to read without squinting. “Jillian stood in on the thick branch of the tree, watching the group of would-be lesbian huntresses follow her false trail of footsteps. She could almost taste the blood she’d be rewarded with by ripping out their stupid bitch throats with her pearly, white teeth…”
“I don’t understand why you were so worried,” Da’Quarius whispered to Rose. “She’s a natural!”
“I have to confess something,” Rose said. “I did read the book years ago. I just told Helen I didn’t. You read the ending, right?”
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “So what?”
“You’ll see,” Rose said. “It’s coming.”
“…and the hunt was on once more.” Helen finished.
“Thank you,” Tonya said. “Can we talk about the ending of your book for a moment?”
“I’m sure there will be some of your viewers who haven’t read it yet,” Helen replied. “Let’s just keep that between us for now.”
“Maybe we can chat a little about the ending,” Tonya said winking. “Your book tells the tale of a woman being hunted by a group of women, then turning the tables on them and becoming the huntress.”
“Hence the name: WOMANHUNT,” Helen said. “Don’t be so fu…”
“But in the end,” Tonya interrupted, speaking over Helen. “Instead of having a climax where your main character, Jillian Juggs, confronts the remaining hunters, you have them all getting their periods at the exact same time, braiding each other’s hair, and singing pro-feminism songs around a campfire.”
“Have you ever been in a group of women?” Helen asked. “You should know that their periods almost always end up syncing up. My cell block all started the crimson tide on the last Tuesday of every month when I was in Havenville.”
“But isn’t this sexist?” Tonya asked, leaning towards Helen. “A group of women hunters, distracted by their collective period and braiding their hair?”
“Look sweetheart,” Helen said. “I wrote this in prison. That was my audience, and this book did well there. Maybe you should spend some time on the inside. I have a feeling you’d get passed around to more cells than my book did. Your tongue would end up growing hair.”
“What do you think about groups of feminists petitioning to have your book removed?” Tony asked.
“Tell them they can shave my ass if it makes them feel better,” Helen said. “But that’s my book, and I’m not changing it!”
Tonya and Da’Quarius watched on as Helen and Tonya argued back and forth. “I see what you mean,” Da’Quarius said. “I guess that’s it for WOMANHUNT.”
“That’s not the worst of it either,” Rose said. “There’s one more thing that could have went wrong here.”
“Oh yeah?” Da’Quarius asked. “What’s that?”
The front door burst open, and Harold Fuchs stood there. “Helen!” Harold shouted. “You horse-face thief!” Dutchie started barking loudly from the backyard at the sound of the arguing.
“That,” Rose said, rolling her eyes.
“Horse faced?!” Helen exclaimed. “I’d think you were talking about your mother, but I only ever saw her from behind!”
“Real mature,” Harold said. “We had a deal and you know it! I was supposed to publish your work back before any moron with a modem could be a published author!”
“Shut that hole in your mouth or I’ll get a cucumber to shove in it!” Helen snapped. “I wasn’t ready to publish back then!”
“Oh really?” Harold said, stepping into the house. The camera man turned to get Harold in the shot. “You just didn’t want me to get my share, so you had your son do it!”
“Real smart!” Helen retorted. “That plan of mine only took a few decades, you friggin’ stunad!”
“All to make me look like a fool!” Harold said.
“Is it possible that you’re overreacting, honey?” Lee asked.
“Yeah,” Rose said, standing up and moving towards Helen. “Helen may have forgotten that you two planned to publish together. This isn’t the first thing she’s forgotten over the years.”
“That’s not it,” Helen said. “This fruit is jealous of everything I do. My book. Me being on TV. My vagina. All of it!”
“Please tell me you’re getting all this,” Tonya whispered to her cameraman.
“Dats da end of dat, I guess,” Da’Quarius said, sitting on the couch next to Rose. “All dem women and da news bitch got Helen’s book pulled. Most of the people who downloaded it are askin’ for refunds too.”
“At least you and Helen had some fun,” Rose said.
“Fun isn’t the word I’d use,” Helen said from her recliner.
“I thought it was a great book,” Da’Quarius said.
“I know, kid,” Helen replied with a sigh. “I know.”
Jillian looked over the lake as her new sisters sang out behind her. Would they turn on her once more when their blood dried up in four and a half days, or could she convince them that she could be one of them. The moon shone in the sky as the thoughts bounded in her mind.
She had killed Samantha, and nothing could undo that. Hopefully the others would see what a dirty bitch Samantha really was. Besides, Jillian overheard her talking about sleeping with Amy’s husband. Perhaps there was already some discourse between them.
“Care for some company?” Amy said, somehow reading Jillian’s thoughts and sitting next to her by the lake.
“I suppose,” Jillian answered.
“Look,” Amy said, looking away for a moment. “For what it’s worth: I never wanted to do this.”
“What’s done is done,” Jillian said, continuing her stare. “The womanhunt will never really be over. Not inside my soul.”
“That may be true,” Amy said. “But maybe you can be on the other side of it. Join us in Samantha’s place.”
“Really?!” Jillian asked, turning. She sounded much more eager than she had hoped.
“You’ll have to complete a task first,” Amy said.
“What is the task?” Jillian asked.
“It’s my husband,” Amy replied. “I want you to succeed where Samantha failed. I need you to seduce and kill him for me.”
Jillian looked towards the other woman dancing and singing by the fire. These woman hunted her and tried to kill her before her luck turned for the better and their menses all came at the same time, but she still longed to be one of them.
“OK,” Jillian finally said. “I’ll do it.”
“Excellent,” Amy said. “Shall we seal the deal?”
Jillian looked into Amy’s eyes. The two leaned close together, and tongue-kissed in the moonlight, their nipples pressed together.