Joint Effort

Crystal slammed her netbook shut and flung it on the bed. ‘Now he’s defriended me on Facebook!’ she whined into her mobile.

‘Chill, babe.’ Rachael advised, ‘He’s just, like, being a guy. What are you gonna do?’ Rach sounded distracted, because she was – she was working a double shift as Santa’s Little Helper and wasn’t supposed to tuck a Blutooth earpiece under her jaunty striped cap. ‘Now hop up on Santa’s lap… no, don’t cry! I know he’s a bit stinky but he’s not scary…’

Crystal paced her room, kicking discarded outfits around until laundry flew,  like snowflakes would had it been Christmas in the Northern hemisphere. Since she lived in Brissie, the scanties clung stickily to humid surfaces.

‘Sorry, Crys. Locked and loaded. You’re far too fabulous to waste the summer holidays worrying about why some jerk is being a jerk. It’s Dave’s party tonight, focus on that. Oh fuck, that whining kiddy just hurled. There’s chunks all over freaking Rudolph. Gotta scoot.’

Crystal’s phone followed the netbook onto the doona, but her bestie had given her an idea…


15 Responses

  1. She double checked that she’d locked the bedroom door, then lifted the mattress off the bed base. ‘Sick.’ she muttered as she hauled out the wooden crate. The stenciled lettering on the khaki side of the crate said Kalashnikov. After unwrapping the oilcloth and checking supplies, she came up short on stun grenades

  2. And that’s when she realized life wasn’t worth living.

  3. Her phone rang – the jaunty melody of Public Enemys’ ‘911 is a joke’ let her know it was Dave. She dived over her cache to answer.
    ‘Crys, babe wass up?’ Dave was a slick New York pimp trapped in an acne-ridden white boy’s body, somewhere behind Dave’s man boobs.
    ‘Hey, Dave.’ Crys wasn’t a bad actress but she couldn’t put much enthusiasm into it. The only reason Dave was even part way in their click was the astronomical size of his father’s coal fortune.
    ‘So, you’ll neva guess which peep will be hangin’ tonight.’

  4. ‘What-EVer’, Crystal whined, in her best Paris Hilton impersonation. Dave snickered into the phone.
    ‘Crys, babe, you da bomb!’
    ‘Bomb I may be, Dave, but the only hanging is my phone hanging up. CFN!’
    Her mobile was tossed unceremoniously onto the unmade bed. She had to get out of the house. Maybe she should hit the shops for something clean to wear to Dave’s party. There sure as hell wasn’t anything clean here. Especially not her mother, who was collapsed on the sofa with a needle hanging from her arm under the still taut tourniquet.

    “Aw Mum! Not again!” Why couldn’t she bake cupcakes like other mothers? And now Crystal had to choose: Hours at the A&E with the judgemental hospital staff? Or Dave’s party, where she might just find a man to take her mind off this afternoon’s breakup? Tough choice. But Dave had sounded excited about his mystery guest, and maybe this time it wouldn’t be some pimply stamp collector.
    ‘Stuff it’, she thought, as she rang an ambulance for her mother and left the door unlocked behind her.

  5. Retail therapy! That’s what I need she decided. I’ll head over to the shopping centre, find something fab to wear, and maybe grab a coffe with Rach if she’s due for a break.

    With the afternoon hours planned thus, Crystal jumped in the Bug (she really loved her bright yeallow beetle but God it was a tip!), and headed toward the nearest shining example of corporate greed.

    What the Fuck??!!? Her attention was caught by a commotion a few doors from her house. As she peered up the street, trying to establish what the fuss was about, she heard a shrill cry then the unmistakable sound of a gunshot, and the noise of sneakered feet rushing her way. Lock the doors or get back in the house? The question rushed through her mind a fraction too late.

    “Drive Bitch!” The command came from a balaclava’d man. trying to push his way into the passenger seat, currently piled high with discarded clothing and food remnants.

    • Hands shaking, Crystal fumbled with the gear stick. ‘You must be a friend of my Mum’s.’ She tried to keep her tone light and the quavering to a minimum. ‘I think you’ll find her in the lounge room.’

      ‘Fuck your Mum.’ he snarled.

      ‘See, I knew you knew her. Comatose woman, two doors down. Want a lift?’ When he jammed the gun barrel against her temple, Crystal’s flesh was scorched – it was still hot from the earlier shot. The stink of cordite, the pain and fear shot her fuller of adrenaline than her mum was of smack. She could see everything in HD slow-mo, but the panicked pounding of her heart beat thundered in her ears like rolling surf.

      ‘I said, drive!’

  6. Shit! What sort of a Christmas Eve is this? First I was dumped by that a’hole, then Rach can’t even spend 10 minutes for a chat, I’m out of stun grenades, Mum’s out for the count, and now I can’t even go shopping for a cheer me up Fuck Me outfit for tonight’s party! “It’s not fair! I’ve been good!”


    At the gunman’s startled exclamation, Crystal realised that the last had been spoken aloud. ” Err sorry she muttered, then resentfully, “I’m just having a really shitty day!”

    “Tell me afuckinbout it” was the growled response.

    “Really? Well, it st…..”

    ” No! Not fuckin really! You dumb bitch! Do you really think I wanna sit here listening to you fuckin whine for the next coupla hours? Just drive,…….. and then maybe later we’ll test out your claim that you’re good”.

    Surprised, and totally oblivious to the contempt in his voice, Crystal turned to survey this guy sitting next to her with a gun pointed at her. The balaclava obscured most of his face, but his eyes she noted, were raking her slim body. “My God, he fancies me!” she thought, a strange mix of excitement and fear pulsing through her as she started to drive. “He’s totally checking me out. Wait ‘ll I tell Rach.” Reflexively, she reached for her phone in the centre console.

    “What the Fuck do you think you’re doing bitch? No phones!” With that, her precious lifeline went out the window, and in her rear vision mirror Crystal could see it shattered on the road.

    That was IT! Break up with me on Christmas Eve, carjack me, call me bitch, but wahtever you fuckin do, DO NOT take my mobile phone away from me! Suddenly enraged Crys lashed out. The carjacker was twisted in his seat to watch for signs of pursuit. Her small hand bunched into a fist, Crystal struck, to the left and down. “Couldn’t have done that better if I’d actually aimed” she thought smugly, as he roared in pain. Her satisfaction turned to panic however, when he grabbed a fistful of her long blonde hair. “Maybe I should have waited ’til we were stopped, and I could have got away” she realised belatedly.

  7. “You don’t fucking do that to me! I’m the fucking one carjacking you!” he roared, clutching his nads with one hand while the other clenched convulsively in her hair. Crystal kept driving, waiting for retaliation. When no limb with a fist attached swung her way, she smirked, her eyes glittering with satisfaction.
    Dumb ass, she thought, pining for her phone with quick, longing looks in rearview mirror. Rach was just gonna die when she heard this. But not anytime fucking soon!
    “Give me your phone,” she demanded, high on scoring the upper hand. She yanked her head to the side, dislodging his fingers along with a painful clump of her scalp and shrieked.
    “Ow, you fucker!”
    “Just shut up and drive you stupid-” he snarled but Crystal didn’t hear the rest of it. It just then sank in that her phone was ko’d. Her hands gripped the steering wheel and she ground her teeth, her rage hitting detonation limits, her smarting scalp goading her on.
    This time Crystal slammed the brakes on, the high sqeal of rubber on asphalt piercing the quiet suburban street like an alien stun tactic. White acrid smoke, not unlike that of a crack whore’s pipe billowed in the air as the car fishtailed to a stop.
    Crystal, her hand laid flat as her little sister’s chest, side-swiped CJ’ers neck and he sat, his balaclavered head back on the rest, his throat convulsing as he tried to inhale through his damaged wind pipe.
    “Give me your GODDAMNED phone!” she snarled through gritted teeth. When he didn’t answer, Crystal punched him in the throat again, watching through a red haze as he fell sideways, his eyes glazed as his body jerked and then went still.
    She checked after a minute and sure enough the wanker was dead. She shrugged. Fucker deserved it after killing her phone. An eye for an eye.
    She felt around his phone, coming up trumps in his pocket. It rang before she could dial Rach’s number.
    “What?” she answered, opening the door and going round the other side.
    “Who the fuck is this?” said a rough male voice.
    Crystal had had enough. “You rang me, dipshit. If you don’t know then fuck off!” she yelled, yanking open the passenger side as she hung up. CJ’ers body fell out and she closed the door again, wading around the other side. She started up and drove off, dialling Rach as she sped through a roundabout, the car lifting on two wheels, not thinking about GPS at all…

  8. Rachel was about to lose her temper. She hadn’t had a smoke for 3 hours, Santa had goosed her at every given opportunity, and she was sweltering in her elf suit. “All I need is an enraged parent screaming at me”, she muttered to herself “and I swear, I’m quitting”.
    A small hand tugged at her skirt.
    “I want a present”
    Rachel plastered her smile back on. It was more of a grimace, but she looked down at the child behind her.
    “I want a present”, the whiny, snotty child repeated.
    “Well, sweetie, just wait in line with the other children, and Santa will see you as soon as he can”
    “I want a present”.
    Shit, was this kid retarded or something?
    “No, dear, you have to wait your turn like everyone else.”
    The snot factory looked at her, then calmly reached out to the display and picked up one of the artfully wrapped presents. He turned and began to walk away.
    Rachel gawped in amazement. The freaking nerve of the child! She reached over his head and plucked the present from his hands, and calmly replaced it.
    “What the fuck are you doing?”
    A huge, hairy woman, dressed in what Rachel could have sworn was a sweaty curtain, loomed over her in rage.
    “….”, Rachel didn’t get a word out before the barrage began.
    “You fucking bitch! How dare you assault my child and take his Santa present! Well bitch? Give my boy back his fucking present and apologise. Now!”
    Rachel gawped again. She could see where the snot factory got his appalling audacity from.
    “I’m sorry, madam, but there is a queue, and if your son wants a gift from Santa he will have to wait his turn.”
    “He got his fucking Santa present, bitch, and you assaulted him and stole it off him! We all saw you! I should punch your fucking lights out!”
    Rachel’s mouth set into a thin line. This was just too much. She turned to Santa and mouthed “call security!”. As she turned back, her face was met by the woman’s meaty fist.
    “That’ll teach you, you fucking bitch”.
    The woman snatched a couple of presents from the pile and turned to walk away.
    Rachel, lying on her back two metres away, saw red.
    She erupted to her feet with a silent, dangerous fury, flying forward until her head collided with the woman’s kidneys. They stumbled forward, and she may have recovered her balance, but Rachel had hooked her pixie heel around the woman’s cankle, causing her to topple forward, crushing the stolen presents beneath her flailing bingo arms. Before she could recover, Rachel had thrown herself on the wide expanse of fatty back, and thrown her arm in a choke hold around the woman’s neck. With her other hand tangled through greasy locks of hair, holding the woman’s head back, Rachel turned towards a stunned Santa.
    “Don’t bother calling security. I’ve got this one,” she grinned.
    Suddenly her phone rang.
    “Hey Rach, it’s Crys. You due for a break yet?”
    “Break? Yeah, I’m about to break someone’s neck!”
    “Funny you should say that,” laughed Crystal.

  9. Rachel frogmarched the Mother of Frankenstein down the ‘staff only’ corridors.

    ‘Gargh chhlck hargh’

    ‘That better be Klingon for I’m truly, deeply sorry you broke your favourite nail, the one with the sparkly snowflake decal,’ Rachel replied, ‘Or else the world of pain you’re in right now will only be the transit lounge to Hell, bitch.’ She adjusted her grip on M of F’s lardy twisted arm to incorporate a more excruciating pressure point.

    Wanna pressie! Now! Gimme a lollie! I’m hungry.’ Snot boy’s pudgy legs were pumping furiously to keep up, but he managed to whinge the whole way.

    Security Steve had captured all the action on a couple of cams, and was already cutting the highlights into a clip for U-tube. ‘Babe.’ he greeted Rachel when she broke through the door, leading with M of F’s purple face. ‘I was gonna ask you out for New Year’s, but now I’ve seen your moves I’m shit scared.’

    Rachel looked up from zip-tying a bruised, meaty wrist to a chair arm. ‘You’ll be safe by the 31st, mate. PMT’ll be well and truly over.’

    Steve chuckled over his mixing deck.

    ‘Oh, and Steve? Do us a fave?’

    ‘Anything, doll face.’

    ‘Just hold off calling this one in for twenty minutes or so? I’ve got to catch up withe a friend before the crap starts flying.’

  10. Crystal leaned back in the wicker monstrosity Bean There had the nerve to call a chair. At least the coffee here was good. She closed her eyes and tipped her head back.
    “Wake Up Jeff!”
    “Oh, Lord, Rach, ditch the corn. The brats are eating your brain!” Crystal opened her eyes.
    “What the hell? Your nail, Rach, your nail!”
    Rachel pulled up a chair and slouched morosely into its depths. “I think it’s buried in someone’s backfat. I’d be burying the bitch if Bodyworks hadn’t been able to fit me in for maintenance before Dave’s jig tonight. But you, Crys, look naked. Where IS your phone?”
    Crystal held up a small bag from a nearby retailer. “Some freak trashed my baby. They said there were no more in stock, but I made them see reason.”
    Rachel laughed. “Don’t dis the Crys!”
    “Damn straight. This has been a hell day, Rach. My car stinks, I have nothing to wear, and mum survived”.

  11. “This is why I’m your best friend, babe. Numero uno, you’re not gonna need wheels – my cuz Juan can swing by and pick you up, you can come with us in the Hummer. Numero duo – I’ve got your Mum a date to the Narcotics Anonymous NY bash. She’ll be able to score some primo gear there, those recovering addicts have the best contacts – she’ll be blue before 2010. Or, fallback, she might find a new “uncle” for you and get busy in another suburb. Numero tre… Hello, we’re surrounded by shops.”
    “I’m with you as far as duo, Rach, but I’m skint. Mum found my stash and spent all my holiday money on barbs and Viagra.”
    Rachel shuddered. “TMI. Still not an issue. Santa slipped me a sackful of–”
    Crystal interrupted her with a strangled “Eeeuw!”
    “… deep discount vouchers. C’mon, bring that caramello mocha triple latte frappe with you and let’s go shopping!”

  12. Two shadowy figures hovered in the bushes outside a brightly lit window. Their black balaclavas made them all but invisible as they waited in the deepening darkness.
    “Where’s Pigdog? He should have been here hours ago,” one hissed to the other.
    “Dunno. Said he was going to give the balaclava and the gun a test run this morning”.
    “He’d better hurry, or we’ll have to do this without him”.
    A van pulled up in the circular drive. It’s headlights flashed across the bushes, but failed to illuminate the dark clad felons crouched behind. A group of wait-staff piled out of the van and began to carry crates of champagne up the ornate staircase.
    “Shit, that must cost a bomb. These Oil Barons don’t stint on parties!”
    “Just as long as he has enough left to pay the ransom for his precious boy”.
    “What’s happening? I can’t see”.
    “Fucking shhhh!”, he whispered, clamping a callussed hand over his companion’s mouth.
    Two armed security guards walked past the bushes as they began their circuit of the building. So close, he could have reached out and snatched one of their pistols. So tempting…
    They were gone.
    He loosened his iron grip on his partner. She reefed her head from his hand, grabbed his head, and kneed him in the groin.
    As he crumpled at her feet, she grabbed his throat and said “don’t ever EVER do that again”.
    As she stood, his fingers clamped around her ankle, jerking forward. She tumbled to the ground, landing half on top of him. He flipped her over in one fluid movement, pinning her shoulders to the ground and separating her thighs with his own leg. She struggled and clawed at him, resisting voicelessly until he was spent.
    Morosely, she pulled her black clothing back into place.
    “I am getting so sick of you doing that. Ever heard of foreplay, arsehole?”
    “He’s here!”
    The pair crouched behind the bush as Dave parked in the massive garage to the side of the building and sauntered up the gravel drive. As he passed the bushes, strong arms grabbed his from behind, and a black bag descended over his face. Before he could scream, a heavy weight pounded across the back of his skull.
    As the pair bundled Dave’s unconscious body into the bushes, his keys fell jangling to the grass. They looked at each other, and in unspoken agreement, grabbed the keys and began to drag Dave towards the garage. His body was quickly bundled into the boot of his MG. It was a tight squeeze.
    Seconds later, a car containing a man wearing Dave’s jacket and cap sped up to the security gate. The guard on duty didn’t look twice. His attention was drawn instead to the crack whore in Dave’s passenger seat, and he raised the gate instantly. He knew the boss would want his son’s sluts off the property before the party started.
    The MG buzzed off into the night.
    “We did it Dozer! We fucking well did it!”

  13. “Crys, stop tugging at it. You’re hectic. Sincerely, radically awesome.”

    Crystal left the hem of her new spangly micromini alone and turned her plumped up, beaming smile at Rachel. “Lookin’ pretty fine yourself, lady. You’re the only elf I know who could pull off those leather hot pants. The jingle bells on the zip pull are inspired.”

    “If anyone says ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ at me tonight they’re going down.” Rach warned. “Tangling with the Mother of Frankenstein has left me edgy. I’m gonna take the edge of with a few quick voddies and then burn up the dance floor until the adrenaline’s out of my system.”

    A cadaverous butler, immaculate in his morning suit, opened the imposing rainforest timber doors. “Welcome to the Clampett Residence, ladies.” he intoned. He looked the girls up and down. It was obvious that only deeply ingrained butlerism stopped him from responding to their outfits with a sneer. “Master Dave’s friends, I assume. This way.”

    Out in the grounds, the pool pavilion was going off. Glow stick wearing party people jumped to a pumping dance mix, under black lights and a strobe. Several girls were splashing in the pool, demonstrating how much they – or their Daddies – had paid for their microscopic undergarments. Simmo and Stretch slung another giggler in at the deep end, and exchanged a high-five.

    “Hey Stretch”

    “Hey Crys, Rach. How you doing’?”

    “I’ve had an interesting day, Stretch.” Crystal said “You seen Dave.”

    “Nup. You, Simmo?”

    “Nup. No great loss, though, hey? This joint is fully sick.”

    Crys and Rach exchanged a thoughtful stare as the boys slouched off.

    “That’s odd.”

    “Odder than odd.” Crys agreed. “Dave’s been on the mobile all day, amped to the max about his party. I can’t imagine him missing it.”

    “Same. Wanna sneak inside and hunt around?”

    “May as well. I can’t see any guys worth shedding a sequin over, here.”

    They strolled away from the pool and up onto the Italian marble terrace of the palatial mansion.

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