Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Devil’s Pancakes
By: Robert J. Day
Copyright 2011, Robert J. Day
And He (Jesus) asked him (the man), "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many. -Mark 5:9
Somehow our devils are never quite what we expect when we meet them face to face.
The Devil is a gentleman.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
Paul Scranton walked into an International House of Pancakes. Where is not important, it was a small town in the middle of nowhere, like so many towns he’d been to. Been through. Paul was a drifter, had been for some time, for almost as long as he could remember he had been going. Going, going, but never arriving at a destination, never stopping, never staying. He was dirty, he was tired, and he was very hungry. He planned to spend his last five dollars on whatever sort of meal he could afford before walking to the freeway onramp and sticking out his thumb, destination unknown.
The restaurant was unusually crowded, even for a Sunday morning. A line of people stood inside the door and out into the parking lot, waiting to be seated. The other patrons all seemed to belong to the same church whose services had just concluded. They did their best to ignore Paul, who looked like he’d slept in a dumpster because he had in fact slept in a dumpster, and talked about what a great sermon the pastor had delivered on the subject of “Christian Charity.“ It was almost an hour before Paul finally scored a booth. He sat down and eagerly scanned the menu, looking for the cheapest things that would be the most filling. It could be a day or even two before he ate again.
“Pardon me” said a deep, pleasant voice, “I couldn’t help noticing that you’ve got this booth all to yourself.”
The voice, Paul saw when he looked up from his menu, belonged to an older man about sixty-five or so, with a perfect pompadour of white hair, dentures that were just a touch too large, and dressed in a suit that while obviously expensive and tailored, had seen better days.
“I don’t mean to intrude” the man went on, “but if you’d be so kind as to share your booth with me, I’d be happy to pay the bill when our meal is concluded. Would that be satisfactory?”
“Uh, yeah alright, sit down then.” Never turn down a free meal. All of a sudden Paul’s bowl of oatmeal with a side of toast was now an enormous stack of banana pancakes with whipped cream and a side order of sausage links and bacon.
“Excellent! I can tell you’re a man who knows a deal when he hears one Mr. um…”
“Scranton, Paul Scranton. Nice to meet you sir.”
“Sir even. My, my, how polite you are. It’s a pleasure to meet you as well young sir. My name is Legion. Mr. Legion. Let me ask you something Mr. Scranton…”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“What is it you want most in the world?”
“Ha! Banana pancakes indeed! And you shall have them for here comes our waitress now. But I don’t mean for breakfast Mr. Scranton. No, no, I mean what do you want most in Life? Fame, Fortune? Women? Or men, I don’t judge? Power perhaps?”
Well, thought Paul, breakfast keeps getting more interesting all the time. “Sure, all those things I guess. I mean, doesn’t everybody?”
The waitress arrived and they ordered. The old man surprised Paul by ordering T-bone steak and eggs.
“Oh and please have the chef prepare it as rare as he can stand would you? Thank you my dear.”
“So,” Mr. Legion continued after the waitress had gone, “where were we?”
“Fame, Fortune, and Women?”
“Ah yes, of course. What would you say, Mr. Scranton, if I told you that I have the power to make all of your dreams a reality?”
“I’d say you were crazy and that I’d be happy if you just had the power to make our food get here faster.”
“Of course you would, rightfully so for you don’t yet know just who it is you’re talking to. Let’s say I did make our breakfast arrive at the table in a more timely manner, would that impress you sufficiently enough for you to then take me seriously?”
“Sure I guess, but how are you going to do that there must be a shitload, uh, I mean there must be lots of orders in front of ours.”
“My dear boy, I’ve already done it. You see? Here comes our food now.”
“Already? That’s impossible we just now ordered! That’s gotta be for someone else, another table…”
“Sorry about the wait!” If the waitress was aware that what she was doing was against all the laws of science and nature she gave no indication. “More coffee?” She placed the food in front of them and was gone with a smile.
“What the hell is going here?” Paul was more than a little confused. “Is this some kind of hidden camera show? Are you putting me on?”
“I can assure you my dear boy that I most certainly am not, as you say, putting you on. I was merely making sure I had your undivided attention. I have a proposition for you but first let us enjoy our meal shall we? Such a fine repast it would be a pity to let it get cold.”
Dumbstruck, Paul began to eat, even though his appetite had faded drastically. Who the fuck was this creepy old guy and how did he do that trick with the food? The banana pancakes were delicious, and went a long way towards restoring Paul’s appetite but he made sure to keep his eyes on his own plate. The sounds of the old man’s oversized dentures working on the bloody rare steak was slightly disturbing.
By the time they had both finished their meals, Paul was feeling better about the whole situation. He must have just misjudged the time and their food just arrived rather promptly that was all. His imagination was just playing tricks on him, maybe it was the hunger, he had been a little lightheaded.
“So Paul,” said the old man, “are you ready to hear my proposition?”
Paul had been propositioned before, more than once actually, during his life on the road. It sort of came with the territory when you hitchhiked. There was always some old pervert, or some deeply closeted homosexual…
“If it’s all the same to you I’m gonna have to pass. I don’t swing that way.”
“Neither do I son, neither do I. It’s not that kind of proposition.”
“Okay then, I’m listening. But if you come off with any of that perv shit I’m outta here!”
“Fair enough. As I said my proposition is not sexual in nature. I want to give you every thing your heart desires, make all of your wildest dreams come true, and in return I ask for only one little thing.”
“And what’s that? No wait, let me guess, my immortal soul right?”
“You’re insane. Who the hell do you think you are?”
“Oh, I think you know. I think you know all too well, you just refuse to believe.”
Paul looked at the man, and he saw him clearly for the first time. His oversized dentures were stained pink from blood of the raw flesh he’d just eaten, there were tiny little chunks of meat caught in-between the teeth. His fingernails were long, curled, and yellow. So thick they were more like the claws of animal. His suit, Paul now realized, looked ragged but was in fact just singed, around the edges, as if the man had recently escaped from a burning building. The hair in his nose, his ears, and on his knuckles was curly and black, and much too long.
But the worst part was his eyes. They burned with an unholy light that made Paul want to find a safe place to hide, and perhaps cry himself to sleep. Eyes that contained not the slightest trace of anything resembling decency or mercy or kindness or compassion. He could only stand to look at them for a moment, and he was instantly nauseous, his cursed free banana pancakes felt like a ball of hot lead in his guts.
Twenty minutes later, a new spring in his step, Paul walked out of the International House of Pancakes and into his brand new life. He’d never felt better. The old man had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and when it had come time to sign on the dotted line Paul had barely hesitated.
The Mercedes was parked just where it was supposed to be, unlocked with the keys in the ignition. The tank full of gas and the trunk full of cash, just like he’d been promised. Paul knew that when he died there would quite literally be Hell to pay, but until that day came he had a Hell of a lot of living left to do.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Time passes. Slowly for the most part. The stark reality of what might have been, what almost was, drags you down deep into the depth of dark despair and depression. Like a ship that sank into the deepest part of the ocean and settled it’s broken remains at the bottom of the abyss where no light can penetrate the complete and utter blackness and no sound can break the eternal silence.
There is no joy, but strangely enough there is also not much pain. Mostly there is just nothingness. An icy cold void that can not be filled. You are filled with nothing. You are nothing.
Oscar can’t help you, though he doesn’t stop trying. Neither can Blake, or your parents, all whom he’d enlisted in his quest to restore your humanity. You’d remained impassive and unresponsive and he’d eventually returned to work and just left you alone. For now.
You go through the motions of living like the well-programmed automaton that you’ve become; eating, sleeping, bathing, these are just mindless tasks you perform on a semi-regular basis because you can’t find a good reason not to.
Can’t find a reason, or maybe it’s the balls you can’t find. The balls to just eat a bullet, take a dirt nap, or enjoy a nice relaxing bloodbath instead. You don’t deserve to die but you’re too dead inside to live. You’ve lost all interest in drugs, alcohol, sex, even food has no comfort to offer you.
Time passes. Slowly for the most part, but you take no notice. Your soul, or what’s left of it, may be turned off but your body remains functional. Your wounds, your physical, bodily injuries, heal.
Wal-Mart girl, the baby… You could have been a family… Should have been… A good family, a happy and loving family.
You spend your days and a good part of your nights staring at Oscar’s big screen, always the twenty-four hour news stations. Seeking some sort of solace in the world’s misery.
Misery loves company, as the saying goes, and the talking heads, the well-groomed harbingers of doom and gloom on the cable news channels are the perfect companions for someone in your state of mind.
You’ve often wondered how newscasters can be so emotionally detached from human suffering that they can deliver a half hours worth of the latest terrorist attack, of various rapes, robberies, and homicides, in a crisp monotone and then effortless switch to meaningless banter about the weather or a story about squirrel who can water ski.
Even when the subject at hand was genuinely humorous, which it usually wasn’t, their laughter was as phony as the single shake of the head or the “that’s too bad” that was supposed to convey a sense of concerned empathy.
“-was pronounced dead at the scene. At this time the police have no suspects. Alice Jibberson was eighty-one. This is the eleventh reported rape/murder of an elderly woman so far this year.”
Head shake. “That’s too bad…”
Big goofy grin. “And now here’s Debra Fitzpatrick at the annual potato festival!” Plastic grin widens horrifically. “By golly Debra that looks like one heck of a good time!”
Three more children are found dead, then a fourth is found still alive, but dies in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. A little girl, seven years old the television informs you.
She asked for her mommy and for the family dog, Bruno, shortly before she died. The tv didn’t tell that, Blake did. He comes over few days to score smoke and bitch about how there are still no solid leads in the case. You don’t even pretend to give a shit anymore. He’s lost a lot of weight, his face is sunken and haunted looking.
Tonight he smells like he’s forgotten to bathe since the last time he was here, you can smell his anxiety and the pungent aroma of fear. Fear that he’s missed something that could have saved little Sarah Ferguson, or Daniel McNamara or any of the others from being killed and then discarded like so much litter.
He’s smoking pot like it’s the only thing keeping him alive. Like a junior high kid whose only just discovered the joys of cannabis, without regard to any kind of moderation. You want to tell him that all that toking can’t be helping him to catch the bad guy, but you can’t the summon the necessary energy and doubt he would heed your advice.
“What the fuck!?” he screams loudly. He’s sitting on the couch next to you. The case file is spread out all over the living room and on the coffee table in front of you are the crime scene photos of the vacant lots where the bodies were found. “What the FUCK!??” he screams again, red-faced and sweating. Angrily he runs out the front door. You hear a car door slam and then he peels out of the driveway, tires barking.
He’s left the case file, forced to temporarily abandon it before it drove him completely over the edge. Some of the photos were taken before the bodies were removed. You try to ignore them but even in your current state of quasi-catatonia the bloody faces and battered, naked bodies are too much.
You slowly start to gather them into a pile. Then you notice something that brings you back to earth with a bone jarring crash. In every picture, amidst the garbage and refuse you’d expect is a candy wrapper. A lollipop wrapper to be precise.
You know you should wait until Blake comes back and tell him your suspicions, but you want to make absolutely sure first. After all, it could just be a coincidence and you don’t want to give him false hopes, not now, when he’s clearly desperate.
For the first time in many weeks, you venture outside the house. The sunlight seems unnaturally bright as you walk the three blocks to the nearest bus stop and you wish you ‘d thought to bring your sunglasses.
Because that whole scene in the liquor store that day was so bizarre, the memory is still clear in your mind, even after everything that came later. There’s no doubt that the candy that homeless dude was buying in bulk was the same brand as the wrappers that were in the pictures.
At the time, you’d thought maybe the bum was using the lollipops to quit smoking or kick some other bad habit, but what if he had been poisoning them and using them to feed an addiction that was far more depraved than alcohol or crack cocaine.
Could the always friendly albeit dirty and disheveled derelict who used to hit you up for spare change and cigarettes be in reality a serial murder, a sadistic pedophile? You weren’t sure, but as you stepped on the bus and paid your dollar and a half, you told yourself that you intended to find out.
The first thing you needed to do was locate the guy, and it seemed the most logical place to start your search would be the corner store by your old apartment. The place you’d seen him at so often that when he wasn’t there you would catch yourself wondering where he might be with an almost parental concern.
For nearly two years that guy, Ralphie, had been if not your friend exactly, then something close to it. Almost like a pet. Yeah, your pet vagrant. On several occasions you’d even shared a joint with him behind the store and you had often bought him a forty ouncer of Malt Liquor when you had a little extra cash. He’d always seemed so utterly harmless, scared of his shadow really.
But you knew that the reason a lot of people ended up on the streets was because they were mentally unstable. Hadn’t you often joked that you were just a shopping cart and some mental illness away from homelessness yourself? So yes, it was entirely possible that your friendly neighborhood hobo had been hiding some very dark secrets.
This was the first time you’d been back to your old neighborhood since you’d been evicted from your apartment and you’d moved in with Oscar. It was still the same dreary place it had most likely always been. It’s filthy streets and badly maintained buildings and boarded and barred windows emitted a veritable reek of poverty and despair. You’d always been vaguely aware of this, but having gotten used to the neat and tidy upper middle class neighborhood Oscar lived in, you saw it all with new eyes.
Quicker Liquors was your average, run-of-the-mill corner store. Middle Eastern owned and operated, with a decent selection of beer and hard liquor and a not so discreet rack of dirty magazines and XXX DVD’s behind the counter.
There was no sign of Ralphie, either in front of the store or in the alley in the rear, so you go inside. For old time’s sake you buy a beer. The clerk is not the same on who sold Ralphie the candy that day, but you lived in the neighborhood long enough to know that he’s a cousin of the guy you want to talk to. When you ask, he tells you that it’s his cousin’s day off but if you come back tomorrow he’ll be working. You pay for your beer and leave.
There’s a park about six blocks away, with a nice tree-shaded picnic area where you used to drink beer and score the occasional overpriced gram of weed or coke. You head that way. Your beer is in a paper bag and you take a few swigs and smoke a cigarette while you walk.
You feel like someone is watching you, and when the same blue Honda drives past a third time you’re sure of it. You turn a corner towards the park, walking a little faster now, and aren’t a bit surprised when a moment later the Honda comes around the corner behind you. Entering the park, you grab a seat at your favorite picnic table, and wait.
You had returned to your old neighborhood looking for a homeless man who may or may not have been poisoning lollipops and giving them to children so he could violate their corpses. Taking all that into account, it’s easy to see why you might momentarily forget a little thing like the outlaw biker gang that wants to end your existence.
But when the man parks the car and starts walking towards you, you find yourself welcoming the confrontation. He’s a young guy, about your age, and a patch on his leather vest identifies him as a “prospect” which means he isn’t yet officially a member of the gang, just a wannabe.
It’s been a couple months since you moved away, and this poor bastard had most likely been assigned the exciting task of staking out your old neighborhood on the off chance that you might someday return. No doubt his orders were simply to follow you home and then report your location, but now that you had actually shown up this ass clown had decided to scare you, maybe rough you up some.
You look for a telltale bulge in his clothes that would tell you that this fuckhead is carrying a gun, and when you don’t see one you relax a little. He could have a piece tucked into the waistband of his jeans behind his back, but you don’t think so. You know from personal experience that that’s a less than ideal location for weapon concealment.
He’s tall and skinny, with a curly mop of reddish brown hair. The smirk on his face and look in his eye say you are supposed to be afraid of him. Not too long ago you would have been, but you aren’t now. Not even a little.
“I can’t believe you had the nerve to show your ugly face around here again,” he says walking up to the picnic table, “big fuckin mistake asshole. Now I’m gonna make you -OOMPH!”
As soon as he got close enough, you smashed your mostly full beer bottle on the side of his head. He never sees it coming and it puts him on his ass, which is right where you want him to be. You reach into the dripping wet paper bag and remove a particularly nasty looking shard of glass.
After kicking him in the ribs a couple time, loving the sharp cracking sounds, like someone snapping dry tree branches over their knee, you put the piece of glass against his throat, pulling his head back with your other hand.
“Listen very closely Douchebag, I have no intention of repeating myself, you get me?”
He nods quickly.
“I am sick and fucking tired of this horseshit. If you boys want to keep playing these games then we’re gonna play by my rules. Rule number one is I kill anybody who fucks with me. That is all. Go back and tell the real bikers what I’ve said. Think you can handle that?”
He nods again. Now that he knows you aren’t going to just gut him like a fish or give him the old Puerto Rican smile, most of the fear has left his eyes. You are not okay with that. If you let him go now he’ll come after you again, and there’s a good chance that he’ll neglect to relay your message.
One good stomp of your steel-toed work boot puts his lights out. You go to work on his face with the piece of broken beer bottle, then relieve him of his belongings. Driving away in the pristine, nearly new Honda, you wonder what a dirty scumbag like that was doing with such a nice clean car.
Twenty minutes later, as you douse the interior with two quarts of oil you found in the trunk and then light it up, you almost feel a twinge of regret for torching such a fine automobile. Almost.
Justin Norwood woke up lying in the grass in a puddle of beer that might have once been frosty cold and delicious but was now piss warm and stagnant. Never in his life had he experienced such severe pain. Every breath was agony, a fresh Hell that would have made him cry out if he wasn’t afraid that doing so would hurt even worse than breathing.
That crazy son of a bitch had really done a number on him, even his drunk ass stepfather had never beat him this badly, he thought as he slowly made himself sit up. Justin felt in his pockets for his car keys while simultaneously looking over at the parking area. When he became aware that both were empty he began to cry softly.
Because his motorcycle was both two conspicuous and uncomfortable for any kind of long-term surveillance work, he had had to borrow a car. Years of drug abuse and chronic unemployment had not made him the most popular family member, not by a long shot, and the only one willing to even consider such a request had been his grandmother.
Grandma Helen was seventy-two. Just four months ago she had spent the last of her retirement savings on a brand new Honda Accord. There had been no money left for insurance. Grandma Helen insisted she didn’t need it because she only drove to the grocery store once a week plus church and Bingo on Sundays. She was always careful she said, and it was a brand new car so she didn’t have to worry about it breaking down.
Justin had begged her for hours and spent many more hours pulling weeds and planting flowers so he’d be able to borrow it. Now it was gone. He might not have cared so much if he hadn’t just move in with grandma Helen after he was kicked out of his apartment when the gang partied there one night. Now he was going to have to like to the only family that still gave a shit about him. Hopefully, the old bag would believe the car was stolen while he was volunteering at the homeless shelter, otherwise he might have to become one of the shelter’s newest residents.
Walking slowly, Justin made his way over to the bathrooms in the middle of the park. His forehead was covered in crusted blood and he dabbed at it gently with a handful of wet paper towels. When he checked his reflection in the mirror above the sink, he started to cry again. Carved across his forehead in angry capital letters was the single word “PUSSY.” Justin was no pussy, but he no longer felt like such a badass either.
After your little carbecue you’d taken the bus home. You were hoping that Detective Blake would be there but he had apparently returned while you were out and then left again. He’d taken the case file and your stash of grass from under the couch with him. He’d had the decency to leave your bong on the coffee table fully loaded, so you take a couple hits before trying his cell phone.
As you’d expected he didn’t answer, so you leave a message telling him call you, “right fucking now!” He needed to know about the lollipops, and also about your little run-in at the park, in case the shit hit the fan. You rather hoped it would. With this in mind you help yourself to a Glock 9mm from Oscar’s well-stocked gun cabinet. Whatever was going to happen, you’d be ready for it. Your days of running and hiding were over.
Oscar came home about an hour later and perhaps because the television was turned off and you had shaved and weren’t wearing pajamas, he immediately knew something was up.
“Feeling better kid?” he asked.
“I guess I am” you answer, and it’s true. You do feel better. Not great maybe, but better than you have in a long time. “I think I just needed a little action to pull me out of the funk I was in.”
“Well,” Oscar says, “it’s good to have you back. I’m almost afraid to ask but what kind of action are we talking about here?”
You tell him about the day’s events, leaving out your suspicions about Blake’s child killer for now. You want to make sure there’s really something there first, and see what Blake thinks. By the time you reach the part where you set the car ablaze, Oscar’s eyes are shining with excitement.
“Goddamnit boy! This changes the game a bit! From now on you better make real sure to watch your ass, and mine too. Those bastards don’t like it when you shit on their colors the way you did today, prospect or no prospect. You better get you some heat and keep it with you until this shit is over and done with.”
You pull out the Glock and hold it up.
“Good, don’t let that get any further than arm’s reach away from you. You gonna tell that reefer-toking detective about this?”
“Yeah,” you say, “I think I probably should. I’d ask him for help but he’s got more than enough on his plate right now.”
“What do you mean ask him for help?” Oscar asks. “You got something you’re planning to do now that you’ve gone and once again stirred up the hornet’s nest?”
“How does complete and total destruction of their entire organization sound?”
“Fancy. And fun…”
“Arson, kidnapping, assault, and maybe even some justifiable homicide.”
If Oscar had looked excited before he was practically jumping for joy now.
“YES! Jesus Christ kid, I was hoping you would pull yourself out of that hole you were in and get your balls back but I never dreamed you would go so completely over to the Dark Side. Let’s have some fun!”
“Look kid, I’m glad you made it back to the land of the living and all, but are you sure you wanna do all that?” Blake has finally returned your call. He sounds optimistic, if not overly excited, at the possibility of the first real lead in his case. Less so at your plans for the next couple days. “Technically I should just go ahead and bust your ass right now. Bring you in for even thinking you could get away with kind of stupid shit. But seeing as how you put me onto this Ralphie character I got more important things to do than once again pulling your skinny ass outta the fire.”
“Yeah,” you say, “plus if you lock me up you’ll have to find somewhere else to score free weed.”
“True. And I really hate having to pay for my smoke. Just be careful for Christ’s sake. You can call me if it’s a life and death kinda deal but for the most part you two characters are on your own. How’s the little guy doing anyway?”
“He’s so excited he’s like a little kid on Christmas morning, how the fuck do you think he’s doing? Right now he’s picking up some supplies from your SWAT buddy you introduced him to.”
“Well,” says Blake, “at least I know you’ll be carrying a full of basket of goodies on this little picnic the two of you have planned. I’m almost sorry I gotta miss it to go look for some bum. Don’t have too much fun without me amigo.”
“Happy hunting Detective.”
“Same to you kid.”
After you hang up you go over your plan for the day, looking for any holes you may have overlooked. There’s a lot of risk involved, but just the same you are looking forward to wreaking havoc on the sons of bitches who tortured you and anyone who gets in your way.
Oscar comes home bearing gifts. A full set of body armor for you, including a helmet with a built-in gas mask. The best he could do for himself was a child sized bullet proof vest. Tear gas canisters, flash bangs, fragmentation and incendiary grenades, a single-shot bean bag shotgun, of couple of anti-personnel claymore mines, and a fuckton of ammo. You were ready for World War III and/or the zombie apocalypse.
“Uh, dude… you do know we’re not planning on actually killing anybody right? Not unless it’s us or them and we have no choice?”
Oscar smiles. “Yeah, but the guy made me such a sweet deal on all this shit I just couldn’t resist buying it. He damn near had me talked into buying an RPG launcher but it was just too fuckin heavy to mess with. Maybe I’m a sick bastard but I really hope I get a chance to use most of this stuff. Especially those mines, and the bean bag gun, how fucking cool is that thing?”
“Man, I’m glad you’re on my side because sometimes you really scare the shit outta me you know that?”
“Love you too. Now gear up and get your ass in the van.”
Oscar’s excitement is contagious, you put on the body armor and you can’t help feeling like a badass. Nevermind that you have zero fucking training, you’re a fucking commando, a Navy Seal or something really kickass like that.
You stand in front of the full-length hallway mirror posing while Oscar gets ready. The two of you load the gear in the back of the van and cover it with several layers of moving blankets and a large roll of bubble wrap. Oscar makes you take off the body armor and stow it with the rest of the stuff.
“How’s it gonna look if we get pulled over? We’re supposed to be two guys from moving company and you got all that shit on. Put it up for now.” Somehow he’s gotten his hands on a magnet decal from a popular local moving company and he puts it on the van door.
Feeling slightly chastised you do as ordered. “Yes mother…” You’re about to climb into the passenger seat when a car pulls into the driveway, effectively blocking your exit route. It’s your mother. Oh shit, speak of the devil. You quickly sink down in your seat. “Tell her I’m not here!” you tell Oscar.
“Too late, she already spotted you man. Anyway she’s your mom why wouldn’t you want to see her?”
“Wait, how do you know she’s my mom? Aw fuck dude, you did this didn’t you? How else would she know where to find me. You are such an unbelievable asshole Oscar!”
“Right back atcha kid. Hey, I thought you should see her one more time. There’s a chance we won’t make it back from this you know, and I didn’t think you would listen to reason so I called her myself.”
“Why?” You can’t believe what you’re hearing.
“Cause it’s the right thing to do I guess, I dunno.” Oscar shrugs.
“What did you tell her?”
“I told her you missed your mommy and were too much of a pussy to admit it. Now get out there, she’s waiting.”
She’s gotten out of her car and was standing in the driveway looking uncertain.
“Just go!” You go. “Hey ma. How have you been?”
“How have I been? I don’t hear from you for months and months and that’s all you can say to me is how have I been?” She pulls back her hand as if to belt you one but then pulls you to her and hugs you fiercely instead. After a moment you return her embrace.
Oscar was right, you do miss your mommy. You’ve never gotten along but you love the woman.
“I’m sorry mom. I was dealing with some stuff. I’m better now. No more drugs. Well, no more hard drugs anyway. Just some weed.”
She gives you the once over. “You look good. You’ve gained some weight and you’re not quite as pale. Oh honey, I was so worried. I was afraid I’d never see you again, after that last time, in the hospital…” She’s crying now.
“Shh mom, it’s okay, it’s fine. You were right about what you said. But that’s all over now, I finally got my shit together. Which reminds me…” You point to the van, “I gotta go. I’m real sorry mom but how about I come over to the house tonight after work?”
“Oh honey, that would be nice, I’ll make your favorite spaghetti. You bring that nice Oscar with you too.”
“Oh don’t worry, Oscar’ll be there.” You give her another hug. “I love you mom.”
“Love you too son, I’ll see you tonight okay?”
You watch her get in the car and she waves to you before driving away. A tear rolls unnoticed down your cheek. You get in the van.
“Ready momma’s boy?” asks Oscar.
“Shut the fuck up and drive midget!” To your surprise, he does just that.
Donald Trevarius, AKA Big Tree, was the president of the Whiskey Marauders motorcycle club. When their shop and clubhouse had been raided, he’d been among those arrested. Because the District Attorney was pushing for an indictment against the club as a whole and because he was it’s president and amongst the various charges against them was one for attempted murder, the judge had denied him bail.
Thanks to the club’s lawyer, nearly everyone else had been bailed out months ago, including Bodie, his V.P. and the guy whose unwanted facial had started the whole chain of events. But Big Tree was still residing in the county lockup’s general population and he was not a happy camper.
True to his name, Big Tree stood six feet three inches tall in stocking feet and weighed in at just over three hundred pounds. The County Jail was a rough, violent place for even the most hardened of criminals but fucking with Big Tree would have been suicide and everyone steered clear.
It was the boredom and bad food that was the hardest on Tree, at least until today. He’d been called out of the cell block by a guard who said his lawyer was waiting to speak with him. But when he’d walked into the holding cell used for attorney/inmate meetings instead of his lawyer he found half a dozen guards armed with billy clubs.
He’s tried to back out of the cell and had been shot from behind with a taser. He’s tried to fight back, but was quickly beaten into unconsciousness. He’d come to in the jail’s laundry room. He was gagged, blindfolded, and securely strapped down to a gurney. They had stripped him of his jumpsuit and underwear, and for some reason he was lying facedown. He didn’t know what was going on but by god somebody was going to pay dearly.
Christopher Stephens was serving nine months for probation violation. Unlike Big Tree he was not big and strong and feared by all. Quite the opposite in fact, he was slender and rather short. He was also very, very gay, and not particular about the types of men he enjoyed. His nickname, given to him by some of the jail’s African American contingent that Chris regularly serviced, was “Firecracker.”
Firecracker worked in the laundry, washing clothes yes, but also sucking and fucking. Unlike Big Tree he liked it here just fine. After his cellblock had locked down for the night, he had been right in the middle of giving a hand job to his cellmate Victor, a Mexican who was married and had seven children and was in jail for something to do with guns.
When Victor was first into the cell with Firecracker he’d loudly threatened to kill the “queer motherfucker” if he tried any of that “gay shit.” Now he was gasping and bumping his hips to the motion of Chris’ hand when their cell door suddenly opened.
“Hey Firecracker!” yelled the guard, “There’s some stuff in the laundry room you need to take care of. Now.” Looking at Victor, who was pretending to be asleep, he shook his head in disgust. “Never figured you for flaming faggot Gonzalez.”
Firecracker was expecting a load of blankets or jumpsuits or maybe an officer’s uniform to iron and press, but he liked what he found a lot more. He knew just what to do with it.
“No. Fucking. Way.”
It seems that Detective Blake felt bad about not being able to go with you guys on your little covert mission. So to make up for his absence he arranged a little party for El Presidente, hosted by some of his jailer friends.
Oscar has just informed you of this in his own inimitable way as he drove.
“Way. It all went down late last night. Right about now that poor son of a bitch is wondering how long it will be before he can sit down without wanting to cry. My money’s on three to four days, but you’d know better than I would wouldn’t you?”
It takes a second for you to realize he’s referring to the night you first met. When you were completely out of your mind on magic mushrooms and had woken up on his couch the next afternoon and been led to believe you’d been voluntarily sodomized. Except…
“Holy shit, you were just fucking with me!” you yell, a palatable sense of relief washing over you. “I was so afraid it might be true I just sort of blocked it out. But my browneye wasn’t sore at all the next day! You were only joking! Right? Right?”
Oscar’s face remains momentarily impassive then breaks into a grin of the shit-eating variety.
“If I wanted to bang a dude I’m sure I could do a lot better than you. So does this mean you’re talking to me again?”
“Are you kidding? I’d kiss you except now I know it won’t go anywhere.”
You laugh together.
“Well” you say after the laughter has died down, “It’s serious now, there’s no turning back.”
“Kid, we’ve got enough weapons and explosives to take on a small army, not to mention land us in prison for decades. But some dude gets fucked in the ass and all of a sudden now it’s serious?”
You laugh together some more.
The gang’s new digs aren’t nearly as nice as the old clubhouse. After legal fees there hadn’t been much left in the treasury and almost none coming in. They had been forced to move out of the old place because of money laundering and fraud charges against their repair shop.
The new headquarters was a small store front on the outskirts of town but most of the gang preferred to hang out at Ronnie’s Roadhouse. Blake had learned all this from a few of the many criminal informants on the police payroll and passed the information on to Oscar when he’d called and told him about Big Tree losing his butt cherry.
The old clubhouse is your first stop. Because the investigation is still pending it still technically belongs to the club but their business has been forced to close down. You don’t need any of the weapons for this part of the job, just two five gallon containers of gasoline and your Bic lighter.
Ten minutes after arriving, the van pulls away from the curb leaving a towering inferno in it’s wake. Hungry flames three stories high eagerly devouring everything even remotely combustible. Let the games begin.
The next stop was the new place. You had originally planned the same sort of torch and run for this building as well, but as Oscar pointed out that would have been terribly unimaginative of you.
“First that punk kid’s car, now their shop, you are dangerously close to becoming a first-rate firebug. Soon, just the sight of someone striking a match will be enough to cause uncontrollable masturbation…”
“Fuck you Oscar. You have a better idea I assume?”
“Well yeah, now that you mention it.”
Oscar’s idea was a lot better, but it required the two of you to stake out the building for the better part of four hours. Finally, just one man remained inside, everyone else had ridden away in groups of two and three, presumably to Ronnie’s to begin the nightly drinking.
As fate would have it, that one remaining guy was none other than Vice President CumFace. You had a clear view of him through the front window. He was sitting behind a desk looking at a computer print out of some kind. If the look on his face was any indication, whatever it was, it wasn’t good news.
“Stay here and watch my back.” Oscar says, “Go ahead and put the suit on if you want.”
You want. Even though it’s as hot as a summertime sidewalk inside all that gear you can’t wait to put it on. Once you’ve suited up you stand behind the van and sweat as you watch Oscar cross the street. He’s taken one of the mines and a roll of duct tape with him and he’s wearing his vest and armed with the bean bag gun. He’s marching right up to the front door like he belongs there. Very quietly he opens the door and slips inside.
Less than a minute later he reappears. CumFace hasn’t moved, he’s still behind the desk looking perplexed, his back to the hallway that leads to the entrance. Oscar places something in the doorway to keep the door from closing all the way as he steps back outside.
You realize what he’s done and can’t stop smiling as you open the rear doors of the van and remove another gas can. The chopper parked by the door would be too nice to burn if only you weren’t such a pyromaniac these days. Anyway he started all this.
Sure, you accidentally ejaculated onto his face from the second story balcony of his favorite bar, but that wasn’t half as humiliating as being tortured until you cried and pissed all over yourself like a newborn, and you’d also apologized profusely and did your best to compensate him for the inconvenience of the unwanted facial.
The flaming motorcycle doesn’t immediately get his attentions so Oscar throws the big, heavy roll of tape at the window. It cracks loudly. CumFace turns towards the window and when he takes in what’s happening he grabs a pistol from one of the desk drawers and comes running outside. When the front door closes behind him it depresses the trigger switch for the Claymore mine Oscar had placed inside the door.
With a deafening boom, thousands of steel pellets are shot out of the mine in an ever-widening arc. If Oscar had placed it facing the opposite direction we would have all been instantly reduced to hamburger. Instead, the blast rips through the building, the shrapnel cutting through both sheetrock and plywood like the proverbial knife through butter.
Bodie is too stunned to use the pistol he’s holding in his right hand, it hangs limply down at his side. Given enough time he might come around and recover enough to fire a round or two but he never gets the chance because Oscar promptly shoots him in the face with beanbag shotgun. The last thing Vice President CumFace hears before the lights go out is the sound of his nose and teeth shattering.
So far so good. You’ve managed to avoid being killed, captured, or arrested up until now but you still have to pull off the third and final act before the curtain closes for the last time. You’d left Bodie lying unconscious outside the door and were on you way across town to Ronnie’s Roadhouse for the final showdown.
If you hurried and managed to stay alive, you could still make your dinner appointment with mom and dad. There was nothing like arson and assault to help you work up an appetite, you can almost taste the spaghetti and garlic bread.
“Whatever happens,” Oscar says, “you gotta promise me that this time you won’t set anything on fire. I’m seriously starting to worry about you kid.”
He makes a jerking off motion with the hand not holding the steering wheel and winks at you. You flip him a bird.
“You really fucked that guy up back there Oscar. You think he’ll be alright?”
“What the fuck do you care, he wants you dead remember? Yeah, he’ll live, he’s gonna be a little uglier is all, probably got a concussion too… Jesus, what a fuckin shot! Can you believe I was actually aiming for his balls? Fuckin thing don’t shoot like no regular gun, that’s for sure. So you gonna tell me what we’re supposed to do when we get there?”
“Well, you won’t let me torch the joint so I guess we’ll just go in with guns a’blazin like ‘shootout at the O.K. Corral.’”
“Here” says Oscar, “torch this joint. That’s bullshit and you know it, we don’t want to actually kill anyone, just maim and cripple. Hey, don’t bogart, pass that shit!”
You pass the joint and give it some thought. “I’m going to kick over their bikes and shoot out a window or three. The first couple guys that come running out, I want you to shoot in the leg. You can snipe them from down the street with a rifle and provide covering fire If necessary while I send a shitload of teargas canisters inside. Then I’ll pop a can of that colored smoke and we’ll go to dinner at my folks place. You like spaghetti?”
“Love it. Wait, run that first part by me one more time?”
TO BE CONTINUED...