This story appears in the Comet Press Anthology The Death Panel: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness
“…it’s your first indication that the book doesn’t flinch in the gore department. Brandon Ford tells the tale of two trailer park denizens, one of whom has a taste — both physically and sexually — for dead girls. Its gruesomeness is one-upped — or three-upped, or whatever…” –Bookgasm
BRANDON FORD’s published works include Open Wounds, The Final Girl, Pay Phone, The Facility, Decayed Etchings, and Coffee at Midnight. He has also contributed to more than a dozen genre anthologies. He currently resides in Philadelphia.
Brandon’s story “Modern Celebrity” will appear in the upcoming Comet Press anthology Stiff Things: The Splatterporn Anthology.
That was a scream. That was definitely a scream.
Nora dropped the dish into the soapy water and peeled away the rubber gloves cutting off the blood circulation from her elbow down to the tips of her fingers. A few short paces from the kitchen sink and she was in the living room, where Lander lay passed out in his recliner, some post game wrap-up on the TV in front of him. Nora switched it off and listened with intent, her sharp ear picking up nothing but the sound of Lander snoring.
“Shut up, you fat piece-uh crap!” she scolded in a loud, raspy whisper, giving his bald head a hard backhand. He, in turn, gave no response whatsoever. Just kept right on snoring.
Nora groaned, rolled her eyes, and pushed open the screen door. She stepped out of the trailer and into the summer night. All around her, a multitude of crickets performed a moonlit serenade. Breath held, she inched away from the shoebox she called home. Flip-flops on her feet, she felt the long stems of wet, unmowed grass with every step. Felt the mosquitoes already feasting on her exposed thighs. Under the light of the moon, she tiptoed around neighboring mobile homes, hoping and praying she’d hear that scream again.
When she felt something soft and wet poke her from behind, she gasped, covered her mouth, and spun around. Startled, but relieved at the same time, she found an old German shepherd who’d chosen to spend the last weeks of summer begging for table scraps all over this quaint little trailer park. She’d given him something here and there, so he knew she was friendly. But now wasn’t the time and so she shooed him off. He scurried away, both anxious and hurt.
For a long time, she stalked about, like a predator waiting for just the right time to strike.
Where could it have come from?
How desperately she wanted to know. That shrill, frantic bellow hypnotized her, possessed her, rang inside her over and over again and all she wanted was to hear it one more time. Just once, so she could follow the sound. Track the source. Maybe even see … something.
But all she heard were the voices echoing from multiple TV sets. Voices chattering on and on all around her. And the occasional electrified snap of a buzzing bug zapper.
It was useless. She wasn’t going to hear it again. Defeated, she padded home, head hanging low. Falling into a torn and rusted folding chair, she lit a cigarette, and stared up at the twinkling stars.
Hot damn, this one sure was cute! Sure was …
Arnie couldn’t believe his eyes. Couldn’t believe his luck. He was on his way back from the bar, feeling good and buzzed after more than a few beers, and there she was. Just standing there in the middle of the road. Not a car in sight.
As he slowed down and the lights of his pickup lit her face, he damn near collapsed with relief. When she leaned into the passenger side window and he saw her fresh little freckled face, he knew how young she was. Not a day over fifteen. On that he’d bet the farm.
For a mile or two, he listened to her sob story. It was all so terribly clich?d, really. Parents didn’t understand her. Wouldn’t let her have a life. Wouldn’t let her have any friends. Wouldn’t let her do anything. She couldn’t take living under their roof another night, not with all the rules they insisted she abide by. Naw, she wouldn’t take it any longer. She had dreams—big dreams—and was on her way out west to make ’em come true.
When Arnie asked why she hadn’t bothered to pack a bag or at least have enough sense to dress in a few layers, she didn’t know what the hell to say. Didn’t have a damn clue. And so she just flashed him this big, stupid, wide-eyed smile, shrugged her shoulders, and turned to face the passing wilderness.
Falling deep into thought, Arnie dreamed of all the things he’d do to that pretty pink flesh of hers. So soft and smooth … He was gonna have himself a fuck of a lotta fun tonight. Yessir.
He reached for the six-pack lying on the floor by her feet, plucked one of the longneck bottles from the flimsy cardboard case, and twisted the cap off with his teeth. After chugging half the twelve ounces, he caught her eyeing him funny.
“Don’t you know how dangerous it is to drink and drive?” she said and shifted uneasily in her seat.
That was enough to give him one pause.
If Arnie was a game-player, he might’ve appeased her. If he was a patient man, he might’ve tossed the bottle out the window, apologized, and told her there was no need to worry. He would’ve done all he could to put her at ease, tell her all she wanted to hear, and simply laugh on the inside as he bided his time.
But Arnie wasn’t into games. He wasn’t a patient man. And he wasn’t fond of driving under the speed limit. So, when he jammed on the brakes, that pretty little piece shot out of her seat like a rocket, hit the windshield face-first, and put one hell of a crater in the thick sheet of smooth glass.
Not to worry. He’d drive on into work tomorrow, tell the boys at the garage that he stopped for a deer in the road and forgot his toolbox was in the front seat. The boss would probably cut him a sweet deal on a new windshield. He just had to make sure he cleaned all the blood off.
But later for that. Now was the time to have some fun.
What the windshield did to her face was a shame, really. She was nowhere near as cute as she was when she first climbed aboard the pickup. Features all flat and dented. Like someone grabbed a frying pan and just took to wailing on her. And man, was she bloody.
Later, when he was carrying her out of the truck and over to the trailer, he felt his pants tighten. Cowboy at heart, he had to stop himself from letting loose with a few joyous hoots and maybe a heel-click or two.
Inside the trailer, he dropped her onto the kitchen table—the kind that doubled as a bed, can you believe it?—and went on over to lock the door. He’d just had all the blinds shut tight when she came to life with one hell of a shriek that stabbed into his eardrum like an ice pick. Thanks to all that beer, his bladder was full and weak and he quite literally pissed himself where he stood. He couldn’t believe it. He hadn’t pissed himself since pre-school. But there was no time to have a good laugh about it. He had to act fast.
And so he reached for the hammer lying beside the busted microwave he’d been meaning to fix for the past three weeks.
The round end met her skull, crashed in deep, and that was all she wrote.
He was a little disappointed she wouldn’t be alive for this. A little disappointed, too, that he hadn’t thought to use the hook end. But what the hell. He couldn’t complain. He really couldn’t. Her face was all fucked up, sure. She had no pulse, fine. And there was a hammer sticking out of her skull, okay. But she still had tits and a cunt.
Yeah, he’d be okay. She’d still be a bit of fun. But he couldn’t help wondering if anyone had heard that scream. Well, besides the few stray dogs that roamed the trailer park incessantly.
“Party time, cupcake,” he sang through an animated grin.
He unlaced his boots, kicked them aside, and, with roving eyes, once again made sure the blinds were shut tight. As he peeled away his paint-stained, piss-soaked jeans, he felt the warmth of his own fluids against his skin and contemplated a shower—a ritual he hadn’t performed for several days—before he made good use of Little Miss Sunshine over there. Hands on hips, teeth chewing his bottom lip, he silently considered, then finally decided fuck it. Why the hell do I need to impress her?
And so he peeled away the yellowed and skid-marked briefs, tossed them atop a glowing lampshade, and scooted on over to her.
Exhaling the smoke, Nora flicked aside the butt of her fourth cigarette, uncrossed her legs, and let out a sigh. She hadn’t heard a thing—well, nothing out of the ordinary, at least. It was business as usual amid these solemn and lonely grounds and so she stood, picked the bunching fabric from her buttcrack, and stepped back inside the trailer just as a nearby bug zapper claimed the life of another mosquito.
When the screen door slammed, Lander came to life again, bursting into consciousness with a start big enough to knock the empty beer cans from his lap. Eyes wide, he looked from left to right before focusing on Nora.
“Where’d ya go?” he said and yawned.
“Nowhere.” Nora padded down the short, slim hall to their poor excuse for a bedroom, lifting the camisole covered in sweat over her shoulders before falling atop the mattress. Her bare breasts were still full and high, even without the aid of a bra. She allowed herself a moment to admire them, knowing she was doing just fine for 36.
Thumbs slid beneath the waistband of her cotton shorts and they slid down her smooth legs. It was too hot to sleep any other way but bare-assed. Lander, the loathsome sack of meat, wouldn’t spring for a new air conditioner, or even get the old one fixed. And it was impossible to sleep with the windows open without being woken several times during the night by the couple in the trailer next to theirs. They screwed like bunnies and were very, very vocal, too.
Already, Nora was beginning to sweat.
The TV switched off and the recliner gave several loud and rusted squeals as Lander shifted, then pulled himself up—all 400 pounds of him. He grunted, groaned, and farted as he staggered toward the bedroom.
Nora quickly rolled over onto her side and folded her arms to cover her breasts. Closed eyes facing the window, she cringed at the sound of Lander’s heavy footfalls and his boisterous mouth-breathing.
“Don’t try giving me that shit,” he said, standing before the bed. “I know you ain’t ’sleep yet.”
She exhaled. “Lander, I’m tired.”
“Whatchu tired from? You ain’t got no damn job.”
“And your fat ass is on disability, so don’t act like you’ve been working the damn coal mines all day.”
He laughed. Belched. He’d always told her how much it turned him on when she was feisty like that. He loved it when she took him down a peg with one of her many quick comebacks. She knew she should’ve just kept her damn mouth shut, but being passive never was part of her character.
It sounded like he was getting undressed. At the sound of his unbuckled belt, Nora died just a little more inside.
When he planted his fat, probably naked ass on the end of the mattress, Nora felt her body rise at least two feet. Grimy hands felt her all over. He even pushed her arms away to give her breasts a good squeeze.
“Lander, I told you I’m tired.”
“Oh, come on now.”
“Come on nothing. I wanna sleep.” There was heat behind her words and her eyes pinched at her mistake.
He moved in closer and his stiffness prodded the small of her back. “Come on, baby. You’re drivin’ me crazy.”
“You have to give me one good reason why I should.”
“Because I’ll chew your sack off if you don’t.”
Again, he poked her with his erect manhood. “Promise?”
Nora opened her eyes. Through the Venetian blinds, she saw a crescent moon surrounded by gray clouds in the blackness of the night sky. It was a challenge, but she forced herself to think before she spoke. Lips parted, she took in a breath, and in her sweetest, calmest voice, she said, “Not tonight, honey. Please? I’m real tired.”
And just like that, the little bit of pressure against her back disappeared and the mattress shifted as Lander rolled over and settled on his back.
Nora closed her eyes and for the first time in days, she smiled.
Chugging a cold beer, Arnie lay sweaty and spent. Beside him, torn and bloody, lay the still remains of … whatever the hell her name was. With a belch and a scratch, he stood, tossed the empty bottle into the garbage, and pulled for his soiled briefs. Their foul stench immediately repelled him and he tossed them into the garbage, too.
“I hope you know I need my hammer back,” he said.
With a swift, open-legged leap, he landed atop the padded seating, feet on either side of her. He wiggled both arms and bounced against the springs, like a boxer preparing for a heavyweight championship. Right foot firmly planted between her breasts, he reached down with both hands, fastened a tight grip around the hammer’s smooth wooden handle, and pulled with all his strengths. Eyes closed, jaw tensed, he grunted and strained. This was harder than he thought it would be.
Pausing to regain his composure, he took in a few deep breaths, wiped the sweat from his brow, and tried again. Muscles so tensed and tight it hurt, he put all of himself in that second attempt, sweat pouring down his chest and over his mountain of gut in buckets.
With a sharp pop, not unlike that of a champagne cork, the hammer came free in his hands. In triumph, he laughed and admired his stained and bloody trophy. So proud and relieved, but only for an instant, for when he lowered his gaze, he found a fountain of red spilling from the open wound.
It was a fright big enough to make him cry out. He leapt backward onto the linoleum and tossed aside the treasured tool he simply couldn’t part with. Heart pounding, he turned to face every angle, unsure of what exactly he was looking for.
A plug of some kind would be just perfect. He tore through cabinets, shuffled through drawers, sliding along the flowing river of blood every step of the way. There was nothing—nothing he could use to stop this and already he’d reached the edge of sanity. Just when he was certain he’d be swimming in it, he tore an empty beer bottle from the overflowing garbage can and shoved the mouth end into the volcanic eruption. In an instant the bottle filled, but the fountain stopped.
When it was all over and Arnie was certain he could breathe easily, he belly-laughed. How could he not? It was the craziest thing he’d ever seen in his whole damn life.
And now here he stood, his body, his floor, his kitchen quite literally covered in blood. The trailer looked like a fucking slaughterhouse. It was gonna be a bitch to clean this. He sighed.
“Damn, woman,” he spat, giving her left tit a slap. “You’s more trouble than you’s worth.”
He turned on his heels, preparing to spend the rest of the night scrubbing and mopping this shithole until it sparkled.
A sparkling shithole. That made him smile.
He started for the sink, but his left foot went out from under him. Against the linoleum, he landed flat on his back, head smacking the tile as it landed.
And there he slept until the sun came up.
It was just past ten when Nora woke, sticky with both her sweat and Lander’s. His warm and dripping gut was nearly flat against her back, his hot breath in her ear, his poor excuse for an erection between her legs.
Disgusted, she shoved him aside and climbed out of bed and made a mad dash for the bathroom. She took a cold shower that both cleansed and refreshed her.
Dressed in only an oversized t-shirt and flip-flops, she stepped outside and fell into a folding chair. The humidity this morning was just about god-awful. It hurt just to breathe. Hand over eyes squinting through the burning sun, she examined her surroundings. The trailer park stood eerily quiet and calm. Only the faint rumble and roar of a generator somewhere out of view.
A cup of coffee would’ve been nice about then, but she didn’t want to risk waking Lander. Instead, she decided to enjoy the peace and solitude while she could and figured he’d make a fresh pot whenever he decided to peel his fat ass out of bed.
Not far from where she sat, Nora heard what sounded like a slamming door. Then what could’ve been a bag of rocks hitting the dirt. Remembering the scream she’d heard the night before, she stood and flicked the cigarette. Careful not to make a sound, she kicked off her flip-flops and tiptoed around the trailer, never minding the dirt clinging to the damp soles of her bare feet.
She was less than fifty feet from home when she heard the low grumbling of a deep, hoarse male voice. Eyes wide with focus, she poked her head around a corner and saw a very large man dragging something—something wrapped in a blue tarp—from the front door of a nearby trailer. He muttered a few choice words of obscenity and pulled with all his strengths. Grunting, he lifted the bag of goodies into the back of a pickup. As Nora felt her heart race with excitement, she watched him climb inside the driver’s seat and peel away.
With a smirk, she stepped out of hiding and tentatively approached the trailer. There was so much going through her mind as she took each step one at a time, turning over her left shoulder every so often to see if anyone was watching. So many thoughts that all seemed to blend together, creating one distorted mass of imagery. Thoughts of what—or who—could’ve been wrapped in that tarp. Thoughts of the stranger dragging it off and who he may have been. Thoughts of Lander. Thoughts of the new life she’d been hoping for for quite some time.
She didn’t know why, but she tried the door. Locked, of course. If it had been open, she wondered if she would’ve had the nerve to step inside—and what she may have found when she did.
Two steps from the door, she stood on the tips of her toes to peer inside the window, which she noticed had been left open. As a matter of fact, it looked like all of the windows in the trailer had been left open—all covered by rusted screens, too. Peering from left to right, she didn’t find anything out of the ordinary. But the aroma of ammonia and bleach was overwhelming. Beneath that was the resonance of something lemon-scented. Probably some other cleaning product. The smell was so strong it burned her lungs. As though the entire trailer had been hosed down with Clorox. She had to turn away.
An involuntary giggle escaped her and it was because she knew. Arching an eyebrow, she lowered her gaze to the trail of dirt leading to where his pickup was once parked. The trail he’d made only moments prior when he’d dragged that tightly wrapped package from the trailer. Again, her heart raced. She hadn’t felt this way in years. What she needed right now was a cigarette. Turning to skip her way home, she stopped when she felt the moisture beneath her right foot. Her eyes fell on the small pool of red.
“Careful now,” she sang to herself, knowing it must’ve leaked out of the tarp on the way to the truck. “Careful, careful.”
Using her hand, she knelt down to slide a mountain of dirt atop his little slip-up, figuring it was the least she could do. And with that, she headed home.
“You’re only playin’ two chords, ya know,” he said, just before taking another sip from his beer bottle. Two chords—the same two chords she’d been playing since he picked her up—were slowly but surely driving him insane. E-minor and A-major, the easiest of all acoustic guitar chords. He learned that ages ago, when he first picked up the instrument.
Finally, she stopped. Smiled. But didn’t put the instrument down. The head stretched mere centimeters from his own and each time the truck passed over a bump, the pointed end grazed his cheek or poked his ear. That, along with her constant strumming, had almost pushed him over the edge.
He was on his way home from the bar when he saw her hitching. Quite a surprise that he’d come across another so soon. As he watched her climb aboard the cabin, guitar and all, he thought of the last. The last, as she lay wrapped in a tarp, rotting in a cornfield. And how much he enjoyed her cold, dead flesh—definitely more than he thought he would’ve.
This one was rather petite. Not as pretty as the last. Plain. Kinda bookish. Glasses. Slightly hooked nose. Thin lips. Small tits. Even still, he invited her inside. It was probably the half-dozen beers he’d had that night that made him so optimistic about this one. Probably the half-dozen beers that, too, killed his patience.
“Where ya from?” he said. Another bump and the guitar head poked him right in the cheekbone. Hurt, too. Another inch and it could’ve taken out his eye.
“Dallas,” she said, eyes straight ahead. She didn’t seem to notice the close call. Didn’t appear to notice all the other times the instrument jabbed him, either.
“Where ya headin’?”
“Nashville. On my way to visit the fam.”
He winced at her use of the phrase “the fam,” noticing the twang in her voice for the first time.
Using only her fingers, she began to strum once more—strum the same damn chords. While Arnie thought of jamming the brakes, sending her through the glass the same way he had the last. But he feared the guitar might break her flight. And he’d just gotten the windshield fixed this morning. He’d have to figure another way.
“Where are you from?” she said.
Her voice was soft and sweet, kind and gentle, her question completely innocent. But even still, it gave him a start. He wasn’t expecting she’d take a personal interest. Who would’ve thought she gave a shit?
“I’m from right here,” he said, flashing her a big ole toothy grin before downing the last gulp of beer in the bottle. Left arm swung through the open window as he tossed the empty into the black night. Watching it spin and sail towards the clouds above, he regretted the motion, realizing only too late that he could’ve used it on her.
A few quick strums of A-major before she spoke again. “How’d you trash your windshield?”
This gave him another start. Leaning towards the six-pack at her feet, he froze mid-reach. “What’s that?”
“The windshield. How’d you break it?”
“I … hit a deer.”
“Is that right?”
“Don’t see many deer out this way.”
“I see plenty.”
“I do. How’d you know about the windshield?” Beer in-hand, he eyed the tiptop job the boys at the garage did just that morning, feeling a twisting knot form in his stomach.
Turning towards him almost flirtatiously, her eyes sparkled. “I’m psychic,” she said.
He twisted the cap off the bottle. Offered a dubious smirk. “Really.”
He didn’t like that. Didn’t like it one bit. As he drank, she gave him an innocent smile while he gave her the side-eye.
And then she let out a high-pitched squeak of a laugh. “I’m just funnin’ ya, teddy bear!” she cried, giving his shoulder a playful nudge. “I saw the invoice.” She motioned toward the folded piece of yellow paper resting on the dashboard with a simple lift of her chin. When the smile faded, she gave him a wink and went back to practicing her chords.
The same two chords.
The same fucking two chords.
And inside, he seethed.
Another bump and another cheek-poke.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake.” Patience lost completely, he floored the brake and the truck came to a jarring stop. The guitar slipped from her lap and just as she turned to face him, he slapped her over the head with the half-full bottle in his right hand. Slapped her hard. Slapped her to just shut her the fuck up already.
The bottle broke and drops of silver and gold rained down upon them both. For an instant, her eyes sprang open wide, then closed as she fell forward. Gripping her by the shoulder, he stopped her before she hit the dash. Lips pursed, eyes focused, he grasped her head in both hands, held on tight, and twisted. One final jolt of tension shot through her body before she went limp completely.
Ready to roll, Arnie allowed himself only a few breaths and a short moment to regain his bearings before he cracked another beer and peeled away.
Another night, another ball game.
Lander sat snoring in front of the television while Nora paced the trailer. She’d spent the day chain-smoking and watching the window while Lander merely lazed about. Several times he’d asked her what she was looking for and “nothing” was not an answer he was willing to accept. So, Nora told him her sister might be paying them a visit. That seemed to suit Lander just fine. He enjoyed leering at Nora’s younger, but equally attractive sister quite a bit and when he learned she was on her way, he smiled, eased back in his seat, and shoved a hand behind the waistband of his pants.
For Nora, the day was long and endless. She couldn’t tear herself away from the window. Couldn’t relax long enough to enjoy the peace when Lander actually left her alone. Couldn’t stop the wheels inside her head from turning.
“Babe?” Lander called, then paused to clear the phlegm from his throat. “Hey, babe?”
Worn and irritable, Nora turned from the window and faced him. “What is it.”
“Grab me another beer?”
She crushed her cigarette in an ashtray and made her way over to the fridge. When the door swung open and the coolness inside swathed her, she heard the sound of a roaring engine and of heavy tires crushing dirt. Mouth agape, eyes darting from one side of the room to the other, she listened closely and smiled when she was certain of what she heard.
With an anxious and impatient hand, she reached inside, grasped a sweaty bottle, and slammed the door shut. “Here, last one,” she cried, already out of breath as she dropped the bottle into her husband’s lap and raced for the door.
Stepping out into the humidity of a scorching August night, she tiptoed away from the trailer, still managing to hear Lander mutter something about her being crazier than a shit-house rat, an expression she never quite understood.
The same way she had that morning, she crept her way through the park, pausing every few paces to glimpse over her shoulder or listen with intent. When she saw the truck pull up and park outside the trailer, she took in what would be the last breath she’d allow herself to take until she was certain he was in for the night. Squinting, peeking, hidden from view, she watched until the driver’s side door creaked open and out he stepped. In his arms, cradled and comforted like a little baby, he held a young girl—a young girl most probably would assume was sleeping. But Nora knew better.
Rushing and unbalanced, he unlocked the door and rushed inside. Before Nora had the time to wonder why he’d left the truck open and unattended, he came racing outside and back into the driver’s seat. There was a moment or two of fumbling inside before he resurfaced, carrying a six-pack and an acoustic guitar.
Brow tight, eyes glazed over, Nora watched as he locked the truck and did a little spin on the dirt before heading back inside. Over to the windows would’ve been her first move, if only he hadn’t closed all the blinds. She could hear them rattle where she stood.
A sharp scraping rung loud in her ears and she realized only then that she’d been clawing at the rusted trailer she’d been hiding behind. Flecks of brown were now embedded beneath her fingernails and though she tried, they were impossible to remove.
“Damn,” she huffed, defeated.
She folded both arms, threw her back against the wall, and wished she’d brought her cigarettes.
Arnie couldn’t believe he’d gotten it in past the sixth fret. And he wasn’t finished. No, sir. Putting all of his weight behind the guitar, he opened her legs just a bit wider, and pushed with everything he had in him. He could hear and feel parts of her shifting and tearing inside. Things breaking and crumbling beneath the force of the guitar neck. What a sight it would be if he pushed hard enough and deep enough to pop her head clean off. That would sure as shit be a Kodak moment.
He let out his trademark laugh—the laugh he was known for all his life—and prepared himself for the hardest, meanest thrust of all.
But stopped when he caught sight of her lady bits.
How the hell was he supposed to get his nut now?
She was torn up something awful down there. He’d be slipping and sliding out of that mess all night.
And just like that his joy dissipated. Sure, fun was fun, but what was the point of it all without the main event?
Finger-picking six strings soaked with various fluids, he gave himself a moment’s rest. A minute to decide what would come next—what and how.
And then he remembered something.
A fantasy he’d had for quite a while. Something he’d wanted to do, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity.
He decided that now was the time. Yessir. Now was the time, this was the place, and it was gonna be good. Man, oh man, was it gonna be good.
He clapped both hands with delight, then drummed them against the smooth surface of the guitar and gave the strings a few quick strums. With a skip and a twirl, he trotted on over to the kitchen counter, pulled open the drawer top left, and plucked a butter knife from the clutter of steel. Sauntering back over to her, he whistled a damn fine rendition of Jimmy Crack Corn.
When her head was in the perfect position, he dug the butter knife in. With full force, he pushed it deep, the entrance by the crease of her left eye. A little twist here, a little pull there, and the eye came loose, still dangling by its stem. Scissors handy, he snipped it free and laughed when unfamiliar fluids started to leak. They were good and slimy. Would make one hell of a lube. Yessir.
With pleasure and glee, he tossed the eyeball into the air and caught it, considering removing its mate so he could juggle the slippery orbs. Wouldn’t that be a sight?
But maybe later. Now, there was some business to attend to.
“Yee-haw!” he hollered and tossed the eye over his shoulder. With a clunk, it landed in a glass of water by the sink and floated.
He pulled off his sweaty and malodorous t-shirt and tossed it aside. Rubbed his nipples in anticipation. Both eyes fixed on the gaping, leaking, oozing hole, he unfastened his belt. Reaching inside his pants and—
There came a knock on the door.
Startled, he didn’t know what to do. And so he did nothing, standing there stiff with a hand in his pants, face blank. He considered just waiting it out, but they knocked again, harder and faster. Five times in rapid succession.
“Damnit,” he grumbled, buttoning his pants and throwing the shirt back over his shoulders.
He breathed in and opened the door, but only a very slim crack. His nighttime playmate lay only a few feet behind him.
When his eyes adjusted to the darkness outside, he grinned, liking what he saw.
“Hi there,” she said. “I’m Nora. I live just a few trailers down. So sorry to disturb you, but I was wondering if I could have just a minute or two of your time? I’m having a problem and I think you might be able to help.”
Less than enthused, his features dropped and instantly, his hesitancy became visible.
“This’ll only take a second, I promise,” she said, not giving him the opportunity to say no just yet.
He sighed. “Hang on a sec.” He slammed the door and reached for his keys. Wondered what he was going to do with her. A touch of sadness fell over him and he thought of all the things he could do with her—all the things he was about to do with her—had he not been bothered.
But he’d get to that. What mattered now was hiding her. When he saw the light switch, he chuckled to himself and flicked it. Darkness. She was gone—or at least it appeared as such.
When he opened the door, he once again found this strange woman—Nora, he thought she said her name was—waiting for him oh so patiently. His eyes shot up and down her slender figure, positive she wasn’t wearing a bra beneath that oversized t-shirt.
“Right this way.” She led him through the near-pitch darkness and around a bend, the chirp of crickets all around them and the smell of burning charcoal resonating. The sights, sounds, and smells of summer were everywhere.
They approached a trailer not far from his own. Through the windows, he noticed only a faint flashing light of bluish gray. Probably the TV.
Extending an arm, she pulled open the door and waited for him to enter first. If he was a trusting man, he may have walked on in. But he wasn’t. He didn’t know her and he didn’t know where this door would lead.
He shifted all of his weight onto his right foot and looked her in the eye. “After you.”
She didn’t argue, which was a good sign. She gave him a look that could’ve only been described as sheer apathy, and stepped inside.
Guard up, he followed her and turned to glance over his shoulder as the door swung shut. Inside, he found a quaint living space not unlike his own. The extraordinarily burly gentleman slumped and sleeping in a stained, torn armchair gave him one pause. Arnie halted step. The man, snoring peacefully in front of a baseball game, sat surrounded by empty cans. An eyesore of a human being, he took up most of the limited living space.
Arnie cleared his throat. “Who’s this?” he said, motioning toward their sleeping host.
Blank, Arnie nodded. “Uh-huh …” A punchline would’ve been nice.
“I brought you here tonight because I was hoping you’d work your magic on him.”
He laughed. “’Scuse me?”
“Well, I know what you do. I mean, I’ve seen … I mean, I …” She paused. “Okay, look. Just tell me what you need, all right? If you need knives, I’ve got knives. If you need tools, I think there’s a set collecting dust around here somewhere. If you need money, that may be an issue, but I can make you happy in ways that money can’t, if you know what I mean.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down,” he said, both hands raised. “What the hell are you talkin’ ’bout?” His head was spinning.
She rolled her eyes and suddenly seemed rather exhausted. “I’m guessing you weren’t the brightest in your class, were you,” she said, almost under her breath. “I’m saying I’d like for you to kill my husband.” Then she exhaled. “Please.”
Eyes bulging wide, he looked around nervously. Innocently. “What makes you think I’m the person for something like that?”
“Oh, come on now. Let’s not play games.”
“I’m not the one playin’ games here, honey.”
“I thought I was rather straightforward in my request.”
“Are you nuts? What if this guy wakes up?”
“He won’t wake up for hours. Trust me.”
“Trust you? Right.”
“So? Are you gonna do this or not?”
“I still don’t understand why you chose me.”
Eyebrows raised, she smiled wide and looked around. Like she knew something. “Let’s just say I’ve seen things.”
Hands on hips, she eyed the ceiling, as though she were searching her memory. “Well,” she said, “I’ve seen a certain middle-aged gentleman in a certain local trailer park recently unload something very large. Something wrapped up tight in a blue tarp. Something that left behind a small puddle of deep red. I’ve also seen said gentleman bring home a young woman earlier this evening—a young woman I’m willing to bet is in the very early stages of decomposition as we speak.”
He burned inside, growing hotter with every word she spoke. He didn’t know what to say or do next and judging by the way she studied him, he was growing redder by the second.
“Look,” she said, her tone returning to casual, “I don’t care about either of them. I don’t care about them and I don’t care about any of the others, although I’m sure there’s plenty. Just do this for me and we never have to see each other again. I’ll even take care of the body. Deal?”
He blinked. Thought hard. “Why don’t you just do it yourself?”
“Not all of us can muster the nerve to do something like this.”
He didn’t like this. But he really didn’t like leaving her dissatisfied, especially with her knowing what she knew. And what she wanted really wouldn’t take much. The guy looked half-dead already.
“Is he drugged or something?” Arnie asked, eyeing him curiously.
He nodded, as though he understood.
Hours passed, or so it would seem. He stood, silently questioning. Weighing. Contemplating. Gaining his nerve. The two-tined meat fork lying on the kitchen counter was the first thing he saw when he glanced away from them. The points were long and looked razor sharp. Bits of food had hardened along the slim, smooth shaft, as though it had been cooked with recently. Still uncertain, he reached for it with an unsteady left hand and grasped it by the handle. “Cool if I use this?” he asked, holding it up.
“Have at it,” she said, gesturing with both hands.
She stood, turned the television up all the way—presumably to cover the screams of the poor bastard she was so desperate to get rid of—and moved a few paces to the opposite side of the trailer. She stopped outside the bathroom door and watched, both hands joined at her waist.
Arnie took one final look at her, figured what the hell, and then acted.
Clutching the giant fork by the handle, he rushed forth, storming straight ahead and grunted as he gave a powerful thrust. The double spikes impaled the sleeping sloth at the throat and continued straight through, entering the padded back of the recliner, and stopping there.
When Arnie pulled away, it was like it didn’t happen. The guy didn’t move a muscle. Not one. Didn’t flinch, didn’t blink, didn’t stir. Arnie wondered if his death was instantaneous. Wondered if the life of this sweaty, slovenly beast was gone the very second the cold steel penetrated him.
Now feeling the rush of his heart and savoring the adrenaline, Arnie laughed. Gave his own thigh a good, hard slap. At ease, he stood tall, believing it was all over.
But it wasn’t.
Because the poor, nameless bastard started to twitch …
… and jerk …
… and cough …
… and gurgle …
… and blood shot from his mouth by the gallon.
He tried to move, to stand, but he was pinned to the back of his seat by the giant fork jutting out of his throat. Eyes wide and filled with terror, jaw hanging, he kicked both legs wildly and used his hands to clutch his own throat, as though he were choking. And then his entire body shook violently and if Arnie didn’t know better, he would’ve thought he were witnessing a prison death by execution.
The efforts of this man were great and strong enough to free him from his blood-soaked seat. To Arnie’s surprise, this very large, uncontrollable man was up and on his feet, thrashing about, both arms flailing as he suffered through what had to have been an insufferable agony.
Windows shattered. Dishes broke. Pots and pans shot through the air. Everything around them was tossed about. It was chaos. Pure bedlam. Arnie ducked, taking cover by lifting both arms above his head.
And then it all stopped when he fell back into his chair, gave a few more coughs and gurgles, and died.
Arnie panted, hoping that it was really all over. He kept both eyes on the recliner, knowing that if this madness saw a second course, he wanted to be ready for it.
He heard a click. The roar of the television faded. When he turned, Nora was standing before the set. In all the mayhem, he’d forgotten she was there—forgot she was the one who requested this, even.
“Wow,” she said, turning to face all corners of the room—or rather what was left of it.
Arnie said nothing. There was nothing to say. He just needed a moment to collect himself.
It startled him back into the world in which he lived when she got down on her knees before him. When he saw her arched brow and the look in her eyes, he knew exactly what she was doing.
“Hold on a second,” he said, placing his hands on top of hers when she tugged at his belt.
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. It’s just that … See, well … There’s something I just recently learned. Something about myself.”
She didn’t take her eyes off of his. “What.”
He smiled. “I like ’em without a pulse.”
Before he reached down and held her head in both his hands, he saw the exact moment she understood—saw it in her eyes as they bulged wide. And then he twisted.
As he ducked behind neighboring trailers on his way home, Nora’s cold body in both arms, he remembered the empty eye socket that would be waiting for him when he walked through the door. Smiling, he thought of what he’d be doing on this night for the very first time. That smile grew bigger and wider when he realized there’d be something else he’d be doing for the very first time.