The Scribbler is pleased to do a series of guest appearances in conjunction with Creative Edge Publicity of Saskatchewan, Canada.
This week you will meet Rachael Tamayo, all the way from Texas. A bio and excerpt from her latest novel, Carnal Knowledge.
Rachael Tamayo is a former 911 emergency operator and police dispatcher. After twelve years in those dark depths, she’s gained a unique insight into mental illness, human behavior, and the general darkness of humanity that she likes to weave into her books. A formerly exclusive romance author tried her hand at thrillers in her award-winning novel, Crazy Love, and loved it so much that she decided not to turn back. Born and raised in Texas, Rachael lives in the Houston area with her husband of almost fifteen years, and their two small children.
Excerpt from Carnal Knowledge
(Copyright held by the author. Used with permission)
THE RED ROOM
It isn’t long after I pick up my drink from the table that I feel it. Something is wrong. It’s only been one drink; was it extra strong? When did I eat last? My head grows fuzzy and spins, the thumping music in the club sounding far away. I grip the table, struggling to focus as I search the crowd for my friend Lily, but I can’t find her. I can’t focus on faces. I close my eyes, stumbling on my high heels. I wasn’t supposed to be drinking; I figured no one would know as long as I don’t drive.
Where is Lily? Probably off dancing. She was supposed to be watching my drink.
I stumble again, but this time a strong arm catches me. I catch a whiff of cigarettes, beer, and a strong cologne. Must be a man. The thought is vague yet matter-of-fact.
Even as my thinking processes dull and slow, I realize I’m not drunk. This is something else. This is wrong. I’m too fuzzy to be scared, yet I feel my heart pounding. I should be afraid. I didn’t come with a man tonight. I don’t know any men here. No one should be touching me.
Don’t touch me.
I try to make my mouth form the words, but I can’t. The muscles just won’t cooperate. I try to look at him, but my eyes won’t focus. My head is just so heavy.
I make out his shape, vague and dark. “Whoa there, beautiful.” His voice is laughing and strange. I don’t know him, nothing there I recognize.
Is he laughing at me? I don’t care. Suddenly so, so sleepy. I open my mouth to speak again, but only slurred, stuttered speech comes out that makes no sense even to my own ears.
He holds me up, leaning close to my ear. “It’s okay. I’m not going to let you fall, baby.”
The tears blur my vision, but I can still see the red stain on the floor muddled by the water that drips from my eyes. I drag my hand under my nose, looking at the splattered mess around me. Standing, I stare at the sheets—more red. The blankets are ripped, the sheets half off the bed. The bedside lamp is on the floor. My phone screen is shattered.
Not knowing what else to do, I gather the linens from the bed and walk them down the hall, stuffing them into my washing machine before starting the load. I gather the Clorox bleach spray and a wad of paper towels to clean the wood laminate floor.
It takes a while, but now it looks normal again. The blood is gone. Normal except for the bare mat‐ tress and the bleach smell. By this time, I’m almost brave enough to look down. My tears are gone, my vision clear. I’ve been terrified to look, scared that I’m the source of blood, a wound I can’t face or maybe can’t feel somewhere that might have caused this mess.
I look down at my body, naked, spattered. I see no cuts, no anything that would suggest blood loss of this magnitude. My head hurts now, so much that I can't concentrate enough to be afraid, or think on what the last thing I remember is, or how I got here, who I might have brought home with me. The answers to the questions that the police would ask, if I were to go to them, which I won’t.
Blood is drying on my thighs. I didn’t go to bed naked. I don’t even remember going to bed or coming home. But that’s where I woke up, though I didn’t even know I went to sleep, or passed out, or whatever the hell this is. I gingerly touch the back of my head, feeling the growing lump there. My blonde hair feels matted, tangled; it must be the source of the headache.
The blood is mine… I think. The pain I have tells me that at least some of it is probably mine.
I have no idea what happened.
You really don’t know how you feel about some things until they happen to you. You can guess. You can pretend you’d be strong, that you’d stand on the rooftops and shout your indignation as you shake your fist to the skies, but those are only guesses. Hopes. What we think we know about ourselves. They say no one ever really knows anyone. I think it’d be a safe bet to say that we don’t really know ourselves either. You think you do. The “Oh, I’d never do that! Look at how she’s acting. If I were in her shoes….” but you don’t. No one does.
I said the same things to myself when I walked out on my husband, Ricky, months ago. Those thoughts went through my head as I closed the door behind me for what I told myself was the last time. I wouldn’t let myself cry as I said goodbye to him, only feeling the first tears fall when I heard the click behind me, the locking of the door to what used to be our home together. When he didn’t chase me and beg me to stay.
I wept in that moment, wondering how much pain a person could take.
Over the days that followed, it faded into something more akin to numbness as I found an apartment and got a new checking account. As I arranged to find movers to get my things while he was at work, all while thanking God that we had no
Now I find myself in that place once more, though for an altogether different reason. Something has happened to me, something that leaves my body sore and my head feeling as if I have a hang‐ over. These are the moments that tell you who you really are, leaving you exposed to your own darkness.
I found that out about myself. No one ever imagines themselves in this position. You’re not prepared. No amount of self-defense can prepare you for the shock that is the next morning, waking up in a bloody mess, knowing you’ve been sexually assaulted.
I can’t even say it out loud. I won’t. I refuse to do it. It makes it real, and I don’t want it to be real. I want it to be some horrible nightmare that I can wake up from.
But it’s not.