Nine Lives

Nine Lives

by James Classi

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In James Classi's first collection of short fiction you will encounter ghosts, madmen and things that go bump in the night. Be sure to lock your doors and turn the lights way up, and oh yeah, don't forget to check under your bed. You just never know what might be lurking there.See more details below


In James Classi's first collection of short fiction you will encounter ghosts, madmen and things that go bump in the night. Be sure to lock your doors and turn the lights way up, and oh yeah, don't forget to check under your bed. You just never know what might be lurking there.

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Nine Lives

By James Classi


Copyright © 2011 James Classi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4567-2244-9

Chapter One

A Tiny Division of Hell

Raymond Wolf aimed his gun at the woman in the coffin set six-feet deep in a crude hole resembling a giant mouth locked in a scream. The woman, Debbie Lazo, was wearing nothing but her bra and panties, her wrists and ankles both cuffed.

"Please, Ray, don't do this. Please! I made a mistake. I'm sorry."

"Shut up, bitch. The time for 'I'm sorry' is long past."

"Raymond, please, you don't have to ..."

Wolf pointed the gun at Debbie's forehead. She stopped talking instantly, her eyes spilling tears.

"Just shut up." He turned the gun away so he could look into those eyes, blue eyes he could lose himself in once upon a time. Long black hair spilled around her face on the coffin's floor; her tears, black snail marks of mascara, ran down the sides of her cheeks. Damn, she still looked beautiful.

"Now, darling, I know you are, or at least were, a very smart person, am I right? A's in high school and college. So you probably figured out that you're in a coffin ... in a hole ... in the ground, and, yes, I'm going to bury you alive."

Debbie started to sob, her body shaking and heaving.

"Please, Ray, you can't do this. My wrists hurt. The handcuffs are too tight."

He moved the muzzle of the gun back up to her head.

"The handcuffs are too tight? That's what you're worried about? Maybe you're not as smart as we all thought you were."

"Raymond, please."

"Do not speak until I say you can! Do I look like I'm joking?"

Wolf teased Debbie's lips with the tip of the gun, rubbing back and forth. She tasted steel and a hint of gunpowder.

"Do you hear me? Do you understand what's going to happen to you? Nod your head if you do."

Debbie closed her eyes, still dripping black-streaked tears, and nodded her head. Wolf smiled, his perfect teeth unnaturally white.

"Did you really think you could kill my child without telling me? How could you have done that to me?" he exploded.

"Raymond, let me explain. Please, Ray."

"One more word and it ends right here, right now!"

He moved the gun to her temple. Debbie stopped talking, but the tears continued to leak out.

Raymond Wolf was working himself into a rage, his voice growing louder, trembling as he spoke.

"You didn't even tell me you were pregnant."

Debbie, now sobbing, shook her head back and forth.

"You sneak off to abort our child and you don't tell me? You dump me and throw me away like some, I don't know, like some piece of garbage? And then you start dating some rich accountant? Did I miss anything? Do I have all my facts right? Is that everything?"

Wolf looked into her eyes again.

"You can speak now. Just a yes or a no will be sufficient."

"Raymond, you don't understand. I was under a lot of pressure ... My parents—"

He cut her off.

"I said answer yes or no!"

All Debbie could manage was, "No. No. No. No. No."

He evened his tone to a near whisper. "Oh, so I see, you're a liar also."

"Please. My wrists hurt," Debbie pleaded.

"Shut up about your wrists. That's the least of your problems."

Debbie tried to adjust her body that was now slick with sweat. She poked her hands out from the left side just above the small of her back so she wasn't lying directly on the handcuffs that were digging into her wrists.

"Now, look," Wolf said, "what's done is done. Am I right? We can't change the past, can we?" His voice was in an almost cheery mood now.

"I wish I could. I wish I could," Debbie said

"You sound like that stupid kids book about the train. 'I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.' Well, you know what? Maybe after what I've done to you, you can keep that exact train of thought," Wolf smiled. "No pun intended. I think I can. I think I can escape. I think I can."

Wolf threw back his head and laughed. He ran his filthy hands through his dark blond hair and said, "Boy, are we going to have a lot of fun tonight!"

"You don't have to do this, Ray," Debbie said between sobs.

"Oh, but I do. And it's going to make me feel a hell of a lot better. I have to do this for me and for my child. The one you murdered!"

Wolf bent down close to Debbie, his hand to the side of the coffin. When he brought the hand closer to her, she could see that it was full of earth. He held it over her face and slowly let the dirt filter through his fingers. Debbie shut her eyes and pulled her mouth into a tight line while shaking her head back and forth. Most of the dirt trailed off to the sides of her head, her hair, and the corners of her eyes, which she worked to blink away. Some of it stuck to the streaks of tears on her face and sweat on her forehead.

"Ray, you must be crazy. Please let me go! Stop this! It's crazy!" Debbie yelled, hysterical now.

"I think I can," Ray said. "I think I can. I think I can."

Raymond Wolf was now openly laughing.

"Come on, Deb, say it with me. I think I can escape. I think I can. I think I can."

Controlling the panic in her voice, Debbie said, "Ray, please let me go. I'm sure we can work this out. I promise we can work this out." She attempted a smile at him.

"We can work this out?" said Ray. "It's already worked out." He snatched up some more dirt and threw it across her naked stomach like he was seeding a lawn.

"Everything is already worked out. You killed my child, so I'm going to leave you here to think about what you've done. I'm going to lock up this coffin and bury you alive. Simple."

Debbie started to scream.

"Help! Help me! Somebody please help! He's gone crazy!"

Ray, through a broad smile, joined in.

"Help, help us, somebody! Ha! Ha! Ha! No one is going to hear you. Do you have any idea where we are?"

Debbie looked behind Raymond, past the walls of earth that were to become her grave. She could make out the tops of trees on both sides and in front of her, and, beyond that, the gray sky that was a perfect backdrop to a graveyard. In the sky, way above, an airplane flew over. The buzz of its jets sounded small and out of reach.

I wonder if they can see me, she thought. I wonder if they can see what's going to happen to me.

"You're a mile deep in the woods," Ray said, breaking into her thoughts. "No one knows you're here. No one knows I'm here. As a matter of fact, I'm home sick in bed right now. No one is going to check on me. The next time anybody sees me will be at roll call on Monday morning." He was smiling again. "So scream all you want. There is no one around for miles."

The sky clicked another notch darker and Ray started to rub his hands together.

"Ray, don't do this. Please. Stop it. Stop it," Debbie pleaded again.

He is really going to do it. The son of a bitch is going to bury me alive!

"Let's get started, Debbie honey," he said in a cute voice. "I want you to look a bit to your left. Just turn your pretty little head over there for a second." Wolf pointed and Debbie's eyes followed. They came to rest on the coffin's lid.

Wolf grinned. "You see that lid? That's Plexiglas. I made it myself. It's a full inch thick, so don't get any ideas."

Wolf could tell by the look in Debbie's eyes that she didn't know what the fuck he was talking about. He made things clearer.

"You see, once I close the lid, once I seal you in this coffin, your coffin, I'm going to latch it shut." He stopped talking for a second and smiled down at her, letting that sink in.

"Now, the reason for the Plexiglas," he continued, "is that, once you are all locked in tight, snug as a bug in a rug in your little, confining death bed, I can stand above and watch. I can watch you squirm and writhe. I'll be able to see you scream, cry and beg me not to keep dumping dirt over you. I'm going to keep the area with the best view of your face for last. It's really going to be something to see."

Wolf continued to smile down at her again and then started to laugh.

"You're crazy!" Debbie said, yelling now. "Someone help! Help me! Please help me!" Debbie sobbed. She felt a strong hand tighten around her throat and begin to squeeze.

"Shut up, you stupid whore," Wolf said through clenched teeth, "before I pop your head right off your neck." He squeezed her throat a little tighter. Debbie started coughing and Wolf's grip loosened some. Debbie stopped making any sounds, although tears continued to flow as she looked up at Raymond, into his eyes, eyes that were full of hate and at the same time were dead, a deep blackness from which there was no return.

"I want you to look at that clear coffin lid. Do you see the center?" He took his hand completely off her throat.

Debbie strained her neck to see the area he was talking about. Her eyes fixed on an area in the exact center of the coffin lid. There seemed to be a circle three inches around cut through the middle of the Plexiglas lid.

"Do you see the spot I'm talking about?"

Debbie, puzzled, looked back at Wolf and weakly nodded her head.

"When I close the lid and lock you in, that small hole should be right about where that nice, flat, tan stomach of yours is."

Debbie paused. "Ray, why is there a hole in the lid?" she said, trying to sound brave. Trying to be strong.

Raymond Wolf smiled a smile Debbie did not like at all. He did not tell her to shut up or that she couldn't talk. He just smiled. And that turned into a smirk before fading all together back into his face.

"Well, sweet cakes, I have some good news, and I have some bad news."

The sound of his voice made her want to vomit.

Wolf leaned over and kissed Debbie's forehead gently. He tasted dirt and sweat on his lips.

Debbie spit in his face.

Wolf pulled his face back from hers and with the back of his hand brushed the spittle away. He looked into Debbie's eyes for a few lingering seconds and said, "We had something once, something special." He put his hand on the side of Debbie's face and caressed it.

"Yes, Raymond, we did have something special," she said. "We still could. Please let me go and I'll make it up to you. I promise."

He stared at her, still palming the side of her face, almost wanting to believe her. His eyes filled with tears.

"We had something, Debbie. We really did have something for a while there."

"Yes, yes, we did, and we can again," she said, almost beginning to feel a twinge of hope.

"We had something and then you threw me away like a bag of garbage on Monday night. We did have something and you killed me. We had something and you killed my child."

Debbie's small tendrils of hope vanished like sawdust on a windy day.


Wolf stopped stroking her and slapped her hard across the face, leaving a red handprint amongst the dirt and tears.

Debbie sobbed.

"You killed my family, you bitch. And now you're going to pay for it."

He considered her in silence for a moment and then said, "Okay. Let's get started."

Bending over her, close enough so that Debbie could smell his stale breath of tuna and beer, he said, "It's not like in the movies where the hero, or in your case, the heroine, is buried alive and stays neat as you please under the ground for a day. You know, breathing just fine until they decide to punch a hole through the coffin lid and miraculously claw their way up to the surface only to exact revenge on the person who put them there. Nonsense. It doesn't happen like that."

Debbie just stared at this madman who she once might have loved, who she once seriously considered loving forever, until things fell apart. She tried to calm herself, to look for a way out of this mess. She considered every possibility, but she couldn't see one that would work.

Raymond Wolf continued.

"I'm going to bury you under four feet of dirt, and I'm going to cherish every heaping shovelful. Do you have any idea how heavy four feet of dirt is?" He didn't wait for Debbie to answer. "The lid to your coffin might even arch in toward you a bit from the weight, making your little room an even tighter fit. I don't know. Buried alive in a coffin, naked with my arms and legs restrained? I think I would go crazy long before I'd die. But listen, dear, because this is the important part."

He stopped talking for a second and tilted his head downward to the right side of the coffin. Debbie followed his gaze. He stared at a spot just out of her view and smirked to himself. A wave of panic fissured through Debbie's body. There was something else; this crazy son of a bitch was up to something else. He wasn't going to bury me alive. No ... he had something even more vile planned.

"Raymond, please stop this."

Unaware that she was staring at him, he turned his head from the spot on the side of the coffin and looked at Debbie. He was not smiling, but there was something dancing just beneath the surface of his eyes. Something Debbie did not like at all. She started to scream.


His eyes were now blazing with hatred. He put one dirt-encrusted palm over her mouth and pressed down.

"I told you to shut up, you stupid bitch. Just shut up and listen to me. We are in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere. No one can hear you. No one is coming to help you or save you." He pressed his hand down tighter over her mouth, looking into her eyes. Debbie started to struggle, her cuffed arms almost numb. The weight of his hand over her mouth kept her head pinned down in place and controlled her body as well.

"This is going to happen to you. It's really going to happen. In just a few minutes, in fact."

She continued to struggle. With his free hand, Wolf took his thumb and index finger and pinched Debbie's nostrils hard. She couldn't breathe at all. Her brain was like a fire alarm commanding her to fight. The cuffs on her wrists and ankles were impossible, locked forever. Her lungs burned and were threatening to burst.

Wolf pressed his hand over her mouth harder. He squeezed her nostrils like a vice. There was no air. She was going to die. She couldn't sit up. She couldn't kick. Debbie's eyes bulged through tears that were streaming down the side of her face once again. Debbie could hear her heart beating, the sound pounding, filling her head. Her brain was screaming. Her wrists and ankles were slick. It had to be blood.

Wolf removed his hands from Debbie's face. Debbie coughed and heaved. She was sobbing, talking, but not making sense. She sucked in air. Her eyes blinked and fluttered, looking past the smiling face of Raymond Wolf, now framed by the twilight sky. She looked for someone, anyone, to help her.

Debbie felt a chill and couldn't keep from shivering. She closed her eyes and tried to steady her mind, tried to warm herself from within.

"It kinda sucks not being able to breathe," Wolf said. "Imagine that. Not being allowed to breathe anymore, huh, Deb?" he said in a mocking voice.

She just stared at him, her eyes shooting daggers.

"Now, if I buried you alive, you would last maybe a half hour. That's all. Thirty minutes and you would suffocate and be dead, and that's it. I can only imagine what it would be like right before you died. It would be panic beyond belief, grabbing for that last little gasp of air. Well, hell, now you know what that's like." He put a hand over his own mouth, bulging his own eyes, and muffling the words "help me" into his palm. He chuckled softly.

She continued to stare at him, disbelief in her eyes.

Wolf took his hand away. "I think I can, I think I can escape. I think I can. I think I can." He paused. "You'll be under four feet of solid earth. Thirty minutes. Erased from existence." Suddenly he snapped his fingers. "I didn't even mention the poisoning from the increasing levels of carbon dioxide. No, honey bunny, you wouldn't last long at all. But, really, I am not a monster. I couldn't have the woman I once loved, the mother of my dead child, suffocate to death. So ..." Wolf reached over to the side of the coffin and produced a long plastic tube. He held it in front of her and smiled.

Puzzled at first, Debbie studied it from one end to the other. It was about four feet in length, three inches in diameter, and white in color with corkscrew grooves on one end, almost like it was threaded. Wolf held it in front of her like he was presenting her with a fabulous gift. He pointed to the grooved end and then her eyes followed his pointing finger to the three-inch hole in the Plexiglas coffin lid. Wolf shook the plastic pipe in front of her eyes.


Excerpted from Nine Lives by James Classi Copyright © 2011 by James Classi. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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