“PLEDGE TIME MOTHER FUCKERS!”
Whoops, cheers and spilled drinks. A KAPPA SO party was well underway. The KSO chapter house was located just a short walk from the campus of FILTON UNIVERSITY. Like most nights at the CHAPTER HOUSE things were heating up.
Chapter leader, BUDDY OWEN was pledging some new recruits. Most of them were sons of bankers, property developers, and politicians. They all had that in common – powerful parents. Famous names in the city like the financial giants BECKINGRIDGE and the WEIRS of WEIR HOTEL were just some of the elite who had pledged KAPPA SO. There were of course the OWEN family who had set up the fraternity in the first place as a means of connection between the Shady City and the Great States where they came from. A former pledge described the gruelling and sometimes ridiculous rituals. The brothers were anarchic, using their powerful names to get away with all kinds of debauchery. It was a system of too much power and too little responsibility that suited men like BUDDY well. If you were a brother you would never fail an exam at the university. The principal was also a brother. Job interviews, money and satisfying every whim. None of it would be a problem for the boys of KSO because they protected one another. The former member I spoke to wouldn’t give any details and he was visibly nervous when he mentioned it but pledging KSO was never easy. When it fell into the hands of BUDDY it became downright horrific. The fifth generation of Owen to be Chapter Leader from its original founder no one could argue Buddy’s place in the chain of command. It was this kind of establishment that TABITHA sought to challenge. She wasn’t exactly the person to advocate for what was right but it did shed light on a bigger problem. Those in power had become so comfortable in their place over the generations it left little room for the average person.
KSO brothers didn’t care. They had always gotten along without consequences. Why should they worry then?
In some kind of sadistic homage to that principle Buddy had some of his pledges at heel. A group of boys, probably encouraged by their parents to endure the torture of pledging, now found themselves under the control of one of the most horrific people I have ever had the misfortune of meeting.
What began as games we all played as students – drinking games, quizzes – quickly became sinister. Then violence was introduced. The boys were forced to beat on one another, cut one another. They were humiliated. There was never anything fatal, they were all potential brothers after all. It they managed to endure the torture an easy life with every possible advantage was theirs to have and they would have the eternal support of their fraternity.
“Listen up bitches! Useless pieces of shit that ya’ll are, do you still think you got what it takes to pledge Kappa So?”
“Yes master,” the pledges replied in synchrony.
Buddy was dressed in a summer dress. Holding two black sex toys in his hands.
On his right stood COOPER. He was Buddy’s right hand man in Chapter House. He too was from the Great States. On his left, wearing a crash helmet from an earlier drunken game and a bra was Chad.
Chad leapt forward. “Yeah!” he cried out. “We’re gonna tickle your balls!” He waved his arms at his genitals. “Then you’re going to suck our balls!”
Buddy’s cocaine fuelled gaze narrowed on his brother. “What the fuck?” He turned to Cooper. “What is it with him and the faggy shit?”
Buddy turned back to his pledges. “We are going under cover at a feminist rally. Some hippy skank dyke is trying to get us shut down. So y’all are going put on your mamma’s best Sunday Dress and beat the ever loving shit out her with these,” he waved the dildos. “Cock smack the shit out the lotta them. Do you hear me?!” His voice becoming like that of a boxing announcer.
The pledges cheered.
“Bud?” cried a female voice over the top of them. A cheerleader named Cheryl waved a phone at him. “Phone call.”
Buddy rolled his eyes and sniffed. “I’m busy. Tell them to fuck off.”
“It’s The Cappy,” she said. The title of respect given to Buddy’s father caused a wave of hush to wash over the room.
“Take care of those bitches,” he instructed his brothers who closed in on the pledges.
“Yeah?” He answered, tucking one of the sex toys under his arm.
“Please hold for Mr Owen,” his father’s secretary announced.
Buddy pursed his lips. “Yeah, whatever,” he replied.
The soft voice was replaced quickly by the harsher tones of his father. CHARLES ‘CHICK’ OWEN was head of the Owen family. He was better known as the Captain or Cappy to his friends.
“I need you at the Court House early tomorrow,” said Chick without waiting for introductions.
“Yeah?” was Buddy’s challenging reply. Chick ignored it. There wouldn’t be too many allowances. “Be here at nine,” he ordered.
Buddy looked at the time on his wrist but he hadn’t worn a watch for years. Old habits died hard he supposed.
“Judge Doyle wishes to discuss the future of your internship.”
“Cool,” Buddy replied. The bell of the Chapter House rang.
“Bernard?” This time the Cappy addressed him sternly. “I’m not going to be disappointed, am I?”
‘Probably,’ thought Buddy. ‘Nothing pleases you anyway, you old fucker.’ But he thought better of voicing that opinion. He just needed to take another line of powder.
“No, sir,” he replied in his most innocent-sounding voice.
One of the brothers looked over and laughed as one of the pledges were being carried away. It seemed they were not good enough for KSO. The doorbell rang again. It was opened to a group of prostitutes, or maybe they were girls from the university. It was difficult to tell. They all dressed like whores as far as Buddy was concerned. Either way, it would provide the nights entertainment and an extra incentive for the pledges still standing.
“Dad, dad, oh father dearest. Can I say something?” Buddy tried to break through the torrential lecture he was receiving on the other end of the phone.
Chick Owen growled, “What?”
“It’s gonna be a busy one. An all-nighter, in fact. Paperwork for the office and all that.I really should go.”
Chick didn’t rule as head of the Owen family through being naïve though. He had been KSO himself. Sure, he was the eldest and afforded authority on that account but compared to his brothers JERRY and RONNIE, he commanded respect. He knew his son well enough to be able to cipher through his nonsense.
“Be here at nine tomorrow and not a minute later. You and I are going to talk. If you are not here on time, I will send someone to fetch you proper.”
“Looking forward to it. Just all this damn paperwork first,” Buddy continued his pretence.
“Cuss me again, boy, and work will become the least of your concerns.”
“Yessir.” This time Buddy wondered how satisfying it would be to cock bash the old man.
The Cappy rang off. Buddy turned to his party. The girls were already being fed alcohol at an alarming rate.
Buddy waved the dildos. “Party time baby! Who wants cock smashed?”
A private estate in the north, adjacent to HARVESTER FARM, was where the OWEN Estate in Coldford lay. It had been their first purchase when the family came over from the Great States. Since then they had built golf courses all over the area as well as snatching up other land for use later. DR WINSLOW, who owned Harvester Farm since the old Harvester himself fell ill, was still standing strong against the Owens’ buy-out of the area. He was one of few to do so. It was used as a personal retreat for Chick when he was in the city, which was becoming more and more often. His driver had brought him to the office of the LAW MAKERS.
Charles ‘Chick’ Owen was fair haired and long faced. His once blonde hair was lighter in tone than his dark eyebrows. The warm weather was continuing so he wore a cotton shirt underneath his well-tailored, Luen-made, pin stripe suit. As expected it was not ten past the hour of nine and Buddy was late.
Judge Doyle closed the door on a rabble of voices outside.
“Good morning Chick,” Karyn greeted first.
“I hear there is good news on the KNOCK KNOCK front,” he said. “It’s been a pain in my ass for too long.”
“Tabitha’s trial will be pushed through as quickly as the LAW MAKERS can. We want it done cleanly and we want it done now,” said Karyn to the Cappy.
“It gives my heart some mighty fine relief to hear that,” he grinned. “The sooner the little bitch is put out of her misery the better.”
“We’ve also managed to bring in the PENN TRIPLETS,” added the judge with pride.
“I do not care about those hammer-slamming weirdos. The little bitch is the only one I’m concerned with. Just make sure you have her on heavy lock down,” he added, his Great States accent pronouncing it as shoo-ah.
Karyn informed him, “We’ve already taken steps to put the Knock Knock under seizure.”
The Cappy grinned. “Music to ma ears,” he said.
“There’s just one more thing,” Karyn put to him. “I took Bernard into my service in good grace. I’m almost certain a little girl has died at his hand. I want your assurances that that will never happen again.”
The Cappy leaned forward. “I heard. Some drug dealing scumbag named Kev and his daughter were shot. They were under Ron’s office.”
Chick growled. “I’ll have a word with Bud. I already have Ronnie breathing down ma neck about it.” He looked over the judge’s shoulder. “Speaking of the do-gooding son’a’bitch.”
Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Owen – the Cappy’s younger brother joined them, accompanied by Karyn’s cousin Micky Doyle and her son Cameron. Cameron was a strong, hulk of a young man just a few years Buddy’s junior. Shy, retiring. Chick surmised that couldn’t be helped, having such a dragon of a mother to contend with. Cameron was an intimidating size but it would be hard to find anyone of a gentler spirit.
“Good afternoon, Mr Owen,” Cameron nodded respectfully. Ronnie was taller than Chick but a few years younger. He had the same jutting Owen chin but seemed more pleasant of face.
“No time-wasting with the campaigning then Mick?” teased the Cappy.
“The hot seat is open and it waits for no one,” Micky replied cheerily enough.
The previous mayor, FELTZ, was still missing. The Law Makers were all but certain that Tabitha’s hand was in it but she was refusing to cooperate. Until such times as he could be retrieved from wherever he was, the Hot Seat, which referred to the mayor’s office, had to be taken control of. It was located in a building in the north called City Face, because of the large clock face at the front. If anyone had the bite to hold the hot seat it was Micky Doyle. No stranger to politics, he was as merciless as his cousin when it came to his pursuits but unlike the cold hand of justice, he was more personable. In a lot of ways that was more dangerous in taking control of a city.
“You okay there, Cam?” Micky clapped his cousin’s son on his shoulder. Cameron looked up from his game with a smile.
“You are being ignorant Cameron,” his mother barked.
Cameron’s eyes dropped to his feet, rather than back onto his game. “Sorry mum,” he said simply.
“We were just talking about the hard work you are doing keeping our city clean,” Chick was saying to his brother. Ronnie Owen was a lawyer and had taken over the Child Services Committee when Karyn Doyle became a high court judge.
“I do my best,” Ronnie agreed modestly.
“All heart and no brains this one,” Chick laughed, putting his arm around Ronnie’s broad shoulder. He turned towards the clock, “Speaking of no brains.” He addressed one of the staff. “I’ll call Buddy and tell him to get his ass out here on the double. Pardon ma cussing ma’am,” the Cappy apologised to Karyn.
“We should have a drink to celebrate a job well done,” he said.
Karyn politely declined, “I’d rather not.” Chick looked to Cameron. “He won’t either.”
Cameron’s pocket began to bleep. He smiled as he began to content himself with an online game he had become engrossed in. He and user name REG3 had started to become quite a team but REG3 hadn’t been online lately. Still he played on alone.
Ronnie Owen observed Cameron. He had seen the look of abuse many times before.
The house was cold. Cameron hadn’t wanted to adjust the thermostat after what happened the last time. Things needed shaken up at Coldford General. The doctors there didn’t seem to know what they were doing.
“There’s going to be a pretty heavy scar,” the young attending physician had said. “I could look into skin grafting.”
He was at least ten years Karyn Doyle’s junior. He was barely a day out of Filton Medical School. A real doctor wouldn’t have had to ask. A real doctor would have known she was going to wear her scars with pride. She would show the world what they tried to do to her and they would quiver because still she stands.
She rubbed the scar across her neck. It was like a noose that her skin had burned through. They told her that she could wear a patch over her eye, but she refused. She would never hide, and cowering behind an eye patch was hiding as far as she was concerned. When they looked her in the eyes they would see the damage that had been inflicted. They would see how much they had tried to hurt her and a shiver would crack down their spine because still she stands.
She looked deeper into the mirror. She lifted her chin. They would appear in her courtroom one by one and they would answer for their crimes.
She would deal them her judgement. They would plea to her mercy. They would cry guilty and as her hammer fell they would beg forgiveness because, even after they tried to kill her, STILL SHE STANDS!
The front door slammed. An angry breath escaped her nostrils. The noise of Cameron’s return home was like pots being clattered in her ears.
“Mum?” Cameron called. When he saw her car in the driveway of their large KINGSGATE home he deduced she was home from the hospital. How clever he was.
He sought her out. He kept calling out to her. Why wouldn’t he shut up? She didn’t answer him but still he cried out. “Mum? Mum?”
It was a stupid title. There were so many in the world that went by that same title. It was a stupid title and ridiculously common.
He found her in the bathroom, observing herself.
“I’m glad you’re home,” he said.
She could see him smiling over her shoulder in the reflection. She could smell sweat on him. The icy tone was not new to his mother but given the attacks she had been subjected to he thought she would have been pleased to have her son by her side.
“Are you alright?” He was hesitant to ask. She hadn’t said anything about the hospital or what the doctors had said. Was it his fault? Should he have asked sooner? He had been playing football that afternoon, part of training for KINGSGATE ALBION. Why hadn’t he showered when he came off the pitch? Why did he think it was okay to come home bloodied and muddy, leaving footprints over a clean floor?
Karyn could feel her temples start to ache. She reached up and started to massage them with her forefingers. Cameron saw the warning signs. He should have known better.
“Cameron?” She said, her voice as cold as ice but calm.
Cameron’s head dropped. He averted his gaze to the floor immediately. That’s when he saw it. Flakes of mud had dislodged from his sneakers.
“Sorry mum,” he said softly. “Sorry mum!” He screamed as her temper unleashed. She grabbed him by the ear causing him to double over. She hit him with an astonishing force across his head. As large as he was, he would never hit her back. What kind of person would that make him if he could hit his own mother? He should have been paying more attention. WHACK! WHACK! She hit him again. The pain stung against his cheek.
“Please mum!” He sobbed.
WHACK! WHACK! His shrieks of pain just made her angrier. Her stockings laddered as he dug his nails into her legs.
He was beaten heavily. His nose burst and his face crashed against the tiled floor, the muddy prints marking his cheek. He started to feel a little dizzy. Something was not right but he dared not complain. She threw him back. Her full lips were puckered slightly. She kept hitting him until Cameron’s body fell limp. The blood trickling from his skull mixed with the mud and sweat. His shirt stained.
“Are you alright?” She barked the question, still angry. She hovered over him with her hands behind her back. “Get up.”
He didn’t want her to have to ask him twice. He stood as steady as his legs could hold him. Pain was firing through his skull as the shock of the assault wore off and he could feel the full brunt.
She wiped the tear from his eye. She clutched his face with cold, dry hands and pulled it closer to her. She kissed his forehead.
By the time they had gotten to Coldford General, this time with Cameron as the patient, fluid had gathered around the brain causing swelling. The doctors reduced the swelling as quickly as possible but Cameron would never be the same.
Cameron had been so worried about her. When the driver who collected him from training told her that his mother had been caught in an explosion, he ran to the door to see her without even saying please or thank you. It had been the third attack on her. They tried cutting her throat but still she stands. They cut the brakes of her car and watched it plunge into the lake. She did not drown. Still she stands. They tried to catch her in an explosion and yet still she stands. She was the unkillable JUDGE DOYLE. Justice is immortal.
Up next we have some vital evidence. Children’s games are over. It’s time to start spilling.