Barry Hoffman's HUNGRY EYES

Chapter Eight

To those he worked with at Duvall's Sunoco, Robert Chattaway was a free spirit. It was Friday. Payday, and all eyes were on him as he drove the Ford Taurus into the bay for an oil change. At four-thirty every Friday afternoon, Chattaway scheduled an oil change. He raised the Taurus on the lift, put a pan on the floor to catch the oil, and loosened the bolt that would send the oil cascading. As he did so he stood directly under the flow, and let out a whoop as it poured over his head, onto his uniform and all over his body.

The others cheered; two mechanics, and a gas jockey who'd come out to witness the weekly ritual. Two months before it had occurred accidentally for the first time; Chattaway's eyes glued to a teenager at the self-serve pump, her breasts all but out of her halter top as she bent to pick up the gas cap that had fallen to the ground.

Now it was his way of ushering in the weekend. He wouldn't be working until noon Sunday. Two days to party down.

After finishing the oil job Chattaway collected his pay check from Guy Duvall. Initially, Duvall had viewed with disapproval the young mans' Friday antics. He had even confronted him with an ultimatum to cease and desist or find a new job. But it was an idle threat. For all his playfulness, Chattaway was a natural around cars, and astute customers refused to leave their car until assured that no one other than the gangly young man would touch their vehicle. Duvall knew the kid could find another job within an hour at greater pay, so he'd swallowed his pride.

For his part, Robert -- "Don't call me Bobby, I'm not a kid anymore" -- made sure to clean up the area of the spill before clocking out. Looking at the paltry stub, he knew he could demand a higher salary, but it wasn't in his nature to be greedy. The tips he made more than compensated for his relatively meager wages, and they weren't taxed. Regardless of how much he earned, by the end of the week he spent all his disposable income, after making sure all his bills were paid.

Chattaway's mother had opened a savings account for him in grade school, but after depleting it upon graduation, it had sat dormant. He had no insurance of any sort. With no family to support, he had only himself to care for. A fatalist, he'd long ago decided if he got sick or seriously injured the State would have to bail him out.

He walked the three blocks to his apartment on Oregon Avenue, his greasy hair tied back in a pony tail. Those who didn't know him mistook him for a gawky teenager, though in point of fact he was twenty-nine. For no reason he could pinpoint, he'd stopped aging at sixteen. He'd never had to shave, and had long ago given up trying to grow a mustache. His face was baby smooth, with the exception of the few zits that erupted here and there, much as they had when he was a teen. Hence, his decision, when he turned eighteen, that all would address him by his given name Robert or feel his wrath.

At six-foot-four and 155-pounds those complimenting would refer to him as willowy; to most he was a stringbean. His colleagues -- for he had no friends -- at work knew better than to tease him, however. While his body appeared that of one of those nerds muscle bound beach brutes kicked sand on in commercials, his hand and arm strength were a match for those who worked out daily at gyms.

He'd won $100 when he'd first been hired a year earlier, beating each of the mechanics arm wrestling. He'd broken Luis Palmero's wrist, to Duvall's displeasure, and volunteered to do double duty without extra pay while it healed to avoid being fired right on the spot.

He had only two vices: camera and women -- young women. He'd built his own darkroom adjacent to the bathroom, and owned an assortment of cameras. The only magazine he subscribed to was Popular Photography, and when he saw the latest innovation in 35-mm technology, he could never pass on it. With no steady girl, nor other obligations, the tips he brought in usually made their purchase well within his means.

His wardrobe was fashionable, though not extensive. A television was his main entertainment except when he went clubbing. The rest of the furnishings in the one-room efficiency were second hand.

Showering with Lava to rid himself of the oil that clung to his body, he planned his evening. A new teen club had opened up near the Granite Run Mall, a twenty-minute drive since the completion of the Blue Route which made the surrounding suburbs more accessible to city-dwellers. Pennsylvania's twenty one-year old drinking age made these clubs popular hangouts, and when it was his wish he seldom returned alone. Admiring himself in the mirror, as he dressed, he knew that while his peers might tease him behind his back, he was a good looking boy; one teenage girls would fight to possess.

GYRATIONS was your typical teen dance club. Large, loud and impersonal. He arrived at ten, the din of the music audible from the parking lot assaulting him as he paid the five dollar cover. With his predilection for young girls, he felt blessed with his youthful appearance. He received no more than a cursory glance when he entered and no suspicious glances from those serving soft drinks. To those in the dimly lit club he was just another teen out for some pussy, which suited him just fine.

For an hour he scoured the crowd, dancing only occasionally when a girl brazen enough asked him. Not wanting to attract attention, a few spins on the dance floor allowed him to blend in. The non-stop music, records which on weekends were hosted by a local deejay, discouraged conversation.

He was looking for a certain type, but a good many of the young girls appealed to him. Even those he'd bet had had sex exuded an aura of innocence. It was one thing to get laid, another to be on your own, fend for yourself, and come up against a hostile work world. A good many were virgins of the mind, if not the body.

He searched for someone who'd come in alone. As much as some girls might want to be picked up, those who arrived in groups invariably left together. While no bigot, he ignored the black chicks. He couldn't see bringing one to his lily white neighborhood. Didn't make sense to arouse suspicions.

Then he saw her at the door. Alone. Self-confident, she pretended to scour the room for friends who weren't there, or didn't exist. No more than fourteen, he'd have to find out how she got there; if she had a ride home or expected to meet someone to provide the necessary transportation. She was average height, with long brown hair and bangs she was forever moving from her eyes. Tight jeans molded her body; a skin-tight body top accentuated small breasts. Too young to compete with those more endowed, she wasn't the least bit self-conscious about showing off what she possessed.

Robert watched for perhaps twenty-minutes, as she danced with several boys, none for more than one dance. Twice she shook her head no, probably, he thought, at an offer of a soda.

Robert had learned not to make his move too soon. Girls like this one never committed to the first guy they danced with, no matter how good-looking. She wanted to get the lay of the land, have a good time. If she met the right guy, so be it, but she wasn't about to accept sloppy seconds.

She bought a drink for herself, catching her breath. When the drink was almost empty, Robert made his way over, and asked her to dance. As the song wore down, and another took its place, he thanked her and moved on.

As he danced with another girl, he saw his mark giving him the once over. He noted her indecision and smiled to himself. This mating ritual had rules and the quickest way to score, oddly enough, was to break those rules. He hadn't allowed her to turn him down for a second dance or a drink. He'd suddenly piqued her interest. A new song, and he asked her to dance again. Her self-confidence was restored, but would she dare say no if he made his move now? Often the answer was yes. At one club Robert had been rebuffed by four girls before he connected. Tonight, though, luck was with him. He asked her if she wanted a drink, and she shook her head yes.

He led her to a spot where he wouldn't have to yell to be heard. A bit of smalltalk. Her name was Nicole -- Nikki to her friends. He found out she went to school in the area. She said she was sixteen, a sophomore, but he doubted it. He asked if she'd driven to the club. There was a moment of hesitation; sixteen-year olds could drive in Pennsylvania, and saying no might confirm she was younger than she'd said. She finally told him her girlfriend and her date had dropped her off and gone to a movie. They liked to be someplace where they could talk, she said with a wink.

"Are they going to pick you up?" he asked.

"Only if I can't get a ride," she said, a smile telling him she hoped it wouldn't be necessary.

He knew he'd won her over when she added she wasn't going home; she told her parents she was spending the night with her girlfriend.

At eleven-thirty, he asked her if she wanted to go for a drive. They were both swathed in sweat from dancing, and he could tell she was a bit giddy, even though the drinks were non-alcoholic.

She acted surprised when he actually started the car. She assumed, he was certain, he'd asked her to the car to make out. She sat close to him, an arm around his waist, what there was of her left breast pressing against his side.

"Where we going?" she asked. "Gloria's expecting me back at one."

He ignored the last. "I thought we'd try my place." He'd told her earlier he'd dropped out of high school, found a job and a place of his own. Now, he felt her pull back a bit. He was enjoying this. She wanted to make out with him, not necessarily make it with him. Agreeing to go to his place was tantamount to giving the green light. He tried to put her at ease.

"I like you Nikki. Like you a lot." He put up a hand to stop her from interrupting. "I'm just not cut out to make out in cars. Hell, this is the first time I've been to one of these clubs." He paused a moment, as if in thought.

"Tell you what. You can call your friend as soon as we get to my place. Tell her exactly where you are, and that I'll drive you to her house by one. Or, I can drive you back to the club now. It's your call."

Robert had used the same line on any number of girls. Two times girls had asked to return to the club. He'd brought them back. He wasn't about to force a girl against her will. There would be no yelling or struggling in his car. It was far too risky, and there far too many fish in the sea for him to act foolhardy. Now he slowed the car, awaiting Nikki's decision.

"Long as I can call Gloria from your place, I don't see the harm." She snuggled up to him again.

When they entered his apartment, she went straight to the phone.

"I don't think so, Nikki." There was a hard edge to his voice.

She turned, her eyes widening at the straight-edged razor in his hand.

He liked this part. Liked it a lot.

"I don't want to hurt you, Nikki," he said without raising his voice, "but I will if I have to. Scream and I'll cut you. Your face will look like railroad tracks, and you'll need a bag over your head before you get another date. Do exactly as I say, and you'll leave without a scratch."

She looked at the knife in his hand, and began to whimper. "I lied. I'm not sixteen. I'm fourteen. Look in my purse."

He ignored her. "Take off your clothes and lay on the bed."

She was sobbing now, paralyzed like a cornered rabbit knowing she was doomed.

He crossed the room and put the knife within an inch of her face.

"Take off your clothes and lay on the bed. Now!" he said, with controlled fury.

Fumbling, she undressed, and did as he said. Once on the bed, he put leather straps from the bedpost to each of her arms, and spread-eagled did the same with her legs.

He went into the bathroom and got his camera, a Nikon F1. She was crying, begging him not to rape her, as he began taking pictures. He spoke to her non-stop to heighten her fear, for the camera to document.

"It's your own fault, Nikki."


"Going off to a stranger's apartment. What did you expect?"


"At the very least, I'm going to screw you."

Snap. Snap.

"I wonder, are you still a virgin?"


"Don't mind someone touching your little titties."


"Maybe don't mind a hand in your pants."


"But have you gone all the way?


"Would you do it for me?"


"Will do beg me to screw you to save your life?"

Snap. Snap.

"How important is your life?"


"Give me a blow job?"


"Would you do that?" Here he pulled down the zipper of his jeans. Her eyes widened even more.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

"If I brought friends in, would you do us all?"


She was shivering now, eyes closed, as if she didn't look, she wouldn't hear.

Snap. Snap.

He bent down and stroked her cheek. She opened her eyes, a new dimension of terror seemed to grip her at his touch.

Snap. Snap.

He told her to close her eyes, and she instantly obeyed. He put a piece of duct tape over her mouth and went into his darkroom. Forty minutes later he came out, a dripping stack of 8 x 10 black and white prints in his hand. Her eyes were still closed and he laughed cruelly at her blind obedience. Told her to open her eyes, so he could show her something.

He showed her the pictures. She looked bewildered as he slowly flipped through the headshots. He had captured her torment with shots of only her face, as if he body didn't exist.

He untied the straps. Told her to get dressed. Said he was taking her to Glorias' just as he had promised.

Once in the car, she screwed up her courage. "You won't get away with this. I'll tell. I know where you live. I'll have the cops on your ass like white on rice . . . "

With one hand on the wheel, he flipped open the knife. "Haven't you learned anything, you dumb bitch. I could have raped and killed you. Still can, and you go mouthing off to me about going to the police. Even if you were to go to the police, don't tell me. I'm a crazy son of a bitch, or haven't you figured that out? Do you think you're out of the woods yet?"

This shut her up.

"Let me tell you something, you little shit. What are you going to tell the police? I didn't rape you. An exam would prove that. And I'll burn the photos and negatives when I get home." A lie, but there was no way she'd know.

"The police come, and I tell them we met at the club. You told me you were sixteen, and I thought we'd have some fun. I found out you were fourteen, and didn't want to get involved with no minor. So I drove you back to your friend's house. You were pissed off. You invested a whole evening with me, and I wouldn't even feel you up. Now, are the police going to have much sympathy for you, dressed like a tramp, or are they going to look at the evidence and see nothing?

"So, go screaming to the police, little girl. They won't believe you. Worse, your name will be mud. Word will get around, you know. What will your parents think? You lied to them. And the boys. Think of the boys whispering behind your back at school. A slut, or worse a cock-teaser. Think about everything I said, and everything I didn't do. Then do what you gotta do."

They drove in silence for a while. Finally, he asked her for directions to Gloria's house, dropped her off and made his way home. He knew she'd wouldn't call the police. Everything he'd told her was true. Actually, he'd done her a service. She wouldn't be driving off with any strangers soon. He might have even saved her life.

At home, he took out the pictures which were still damp. Looking at her tortured expressions, he jerked off.

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