Monday, June 23, 2014

Too Bad So Sad

I drowned myself, that's how I ended my last run on Earth.  The water grabbed at my sweater and jeans with persistent hands and slid its soft fingertips along my flesh.  I held my breath for as long as I could before taking in a swallow that turned into a cold and wet choking gasp, and then another.  Then I stared at the swirling scenery as my body floated lazily through the currents to the bottom of the lake, I'd weighted my feet with a fifty pound bag of rock salt.  I didn't want to stay there forever, just long enough.  The rock salt would dissolve and separate from the tightly woven cloth bag within a day or so, and I'd begin to drift along the bottom.  That's what I wanted, to drift.

I imagined I'd be looking up at boats and the sun and then the moon and stars slanting through the surface, with water weeds and soft green mud lightly caressing my back and arms and legs as I floated with the tide.  Unfortunately, I was found right away.  A team of divers went in less than an hour after I sank, they'd been alerted by a man and his daughter on the beach.  I'd missed them rowing out, they were still unpacking their car.

"Daddy, where's the lady in the boat?  The lady's gone"  She was a beautiful kid, she stood in the foamy surf with her hand above her forehead and soft brown eyes squinting like she'd seen her daddy do when looking out over the water, though the sun was behind her.  And she ruined my plans, but how can I be mad at a little girl with sunburned shoulders and cheeks and curly hair?

So instead of sliding deeper into this living wet belly, I wound up at the city morgue.  After a cursory search of my person revealed an "If you are reading this, you've found me" waterproof laminated suicide note, foul play was ruled out.  And of course there was the witness statement of the little girl who had seen one lady in a boat, and then one empty boat.  Maybe you're wondering why I wanted to die.  An important distinction needs to be made here, I never wanted to die.  I just didn't want to live.

When we don't want to go to work, we can take a day off.  We can quit a job and look for a new one, we can sleep on a friends couch until we get our shit together.  When life feels like work, we can't take a day off.  I wish I could say that I had a grand reason for wanting to quit, but I don't.  I just got tired.

When we're children, we try to stay awake as late as possible because we imagine that there's some action we're going to miss if we drift off.  I stopped wanting to stay awake.

Enough about that.  My body was cremated, which was fine and beautiful.  I watched the flames wipe me away and listened to the sputtering and crackling and then drifted out of the crematorium feeling 150lbs lighter.  I had a simple ceremony, some old friends from jobs I'd forgotten about came.  Three of my cousins and several aunts, uncles, and friends cried, my sister gave a lovely eulogy.  I hung near the back.  Half of my ashes are scattered in a park I frequented as a child, macabre playground sand.  The other half were divided into small urn pendants and distributed to my nearest and dearest.  Even more macabre.

I have a chance to go back.  Even though I'd be starting fresh, I don't think I'm up to it.  I think I'll float along the bottom of the lake for a while and watch the sun and moon and stars slanting through the water.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Eres

I've been a rutter for 17 years.  I've given away 26 babies with only one deformity between them, a girl with two extra toes.  Extra toes are a class D deformity, not serious, but that little girl will never be selected for a high class breeding program and she did hurt my numbers.  Because she was half of a set of twins, an uncontracted extra, I was able to unload her for half price on a lovely woman with flipper legs and her dwarf husband.  I was chosen for this honor almost from birth, three generations with zero deformities in my line.  I only rut with similarly classed males and only for people with plenty of money.  I produce designer babies to compliment the arms of the rich.

There was no need for rutters on Earth, the environment there was perfect for healthy human babies.  Earthlings have a new home now, Eres, and the environment here is only partially perfect.  The Eres issue wasn't discovered until we'd been here for several years and the first crop of infants came to fruition.  While a live human being thrives here on Eres, unborn babies are subject to attack by an atmospheric anomaly that causes any latent genes for deformities to dominate.  What fantastic crops of freaks arose in those first years.

Because so few people were able to escape Earth before the end, every life was precious.  We were starting over, a clean slate.  Violence and class derision had ended Earth so there was no place for those things in our new home.  The babies were kept, and scientists worked on discovering what it was that had caused all of the mutations.  What they learned was probably what we deserved, after ruining one planet.

We don't breathe oxygen on Eres.  We breathe cyranos, which is very similar to oxygen and works in much the same way in our bodies except that it's a molecule rather than an element.  One of the things that makes up cyranos is hydrop, which is what brings out the dormant disfiguring genes, and which also stabilizes the otherwise highly volatile cyranos.  Lose the hydrop, and the air becomes unbreathable.  The unbreathable horror aside,  without the hydrop stabilizing cyranos the planet could explode from the impact of a single pin dropping.  Keep the hydrop, and accept the disfigurement.

So I'm a rutter.  And a very popular one, despite the unfortunate incident with the twelve toed twin.  That was 16 years ago.  I lead a fairly luxurious life and normally don't keep track of time but I know how long it had been because that 12 toed girl visited me on her 16th birthday.  This is the year by law that parents have to reveal if they have used a rutter.  The child needs to know his or her lineage in order to be aware of their own parenting risks.  Most of them don't come back because they have figured out early on if they were born naturally to their parents.

This girl, Cyrana, wore an "Eres Natural" tshirt and a pair of open toed specially fitted sandals that accommodated her extra toes, which were all painted bright red.  I had heard of the Eres Natural movement, everyone had.  The thought was that the Eres air had brought out humanity's next evolution and that natural selection would decide who moved on, and not money.  I understood.  After all, my industry was genetic superiority and I had been young and passionate once.

When I was a girl I wanted only to meet some boy with less than four eyes but more than one and settle down.  I dreamed of a world where my babies weren't currency, where I could rut whenever I liked with whomever I chose.  Children have the luxury of daydreams, and I made the most of mine and I hoped this child of a flippered woman and a dwarf was making the most of hers.

"So why did you do it?"  she asked, "Why did you sell me to mom and dad?"  The girl absently kicked a small pebble, I had allowed her to meet me in the garden promenade.

I wasn't sure what she was asking, she had called them mom and dad, which exhibited parental affection.  I cast about for an adequate answer, I'd never had a rutting product ask me that question before.  The answer seemed obvious, and at once insufficient and cheap.

"I knew you'd have a good life with them", I guessed more than answered.  The truth was that any freak couple would be thrilled to have a baby with such a small deformity, I'd had a long list of hard luck cases and I'd chosen the first one.  There was no interview process, healthy babies were precious to everyone.  I knew the worst thing that could happen is that this little 12 toed baby would go to parents who were stupid or poor or both, there was never a danger that they would not cherish her.

She looked at me with derision, "Bullshit!  You didn't know an Earthdamn thing about them!  You picked mom and dad because they were freaks and I was a freak, and that was enough."  The pretty dark haired girl's chest heaved up and down.  She looked like the picture of my own mother, with her flashing green eyes and auburn hair.  I thought I might show her that picture, and then thought better of it.  Did I really want another visit?  I was a rutter, not one of the mothers I'd read about from Earth books who had given up their children to a better life.  I sold babies, income was their purpose and that was my life.

If this girl had stayed with me, I'd have given her everything she'd ever dreamed of and taught her to be a rutter.  She wouldn't have fetched anywhere near the price I was able to collect but she would have done for low budget couples.  There was no other life for a designer baby.  People without deformities were so far outnumbered by the ever growing and evolving population of "Eres Naturals" that there was always a market for the designer babies, if only to keep the gene pool somewhat viable and still human on some level.

The girl with my mother's auburn hair and green eyes paced quickly.  "Why didn't you get those toes removed?" I asked, "Or your parents?  They could have had them removed without scarring when you were a baby".

Cyrana looked at me bitterly.  "This is how Eres made me, who am I to complain?  My mom and dad left me how I was when I came to them, it's been a little hard when people notice but I don't mind."  The girl paced more quickly, her arms folded across her chest and fingers drumming on her biceps,  "You know what these extra toes do for me, mother?  They tell me who is good and who is bad.  When someone makes a comment about my extras, or even looks at them, and I can tell.  People see me and they think I'm perfect, viable, human, and then they notice and I feel their hopes dropping and I know they're bad."

"I'm sorry to hear that it's been difficult for you, but you could avoid all of that by having them removed or at least by not wearing open shoes" I responded coldly.  "I am not in the business of entertaining abuse and self pity, if you had asked me for help removing them  I'd have given you the money"

The girl seemed to snap out of her self pity and into something worse, she became all business.  The pacing stopped and the tapping stopped and the staring started.

I've had 26 babies but I've never raised a child.  I've gotten top dollar for them and had dinner and drinks with my fellow rutters for years.  When someone orders a fair baby I make arrangements with a blond rutter and get to work, someone orders a dark baby I make arrangements with a brown rutter.  That is the extent of the choice that I have when having these children.  I don't worry about their education or political affiliation, rutters are well respected and paid because we help to keep humanity from drifting over the brink of extinction through evolution.  That is our purpose, it's what we're paid handsomely for.  I didn't know what this girl wanted from me.

"There are more of us", she replied just as coldly, giving me momentary pause and an involuntary smile as I recognized my own tone.  "An army, we're going to end this and start a new order on Eres, we don't need our gene pool corrupted"

"End what?" I demanded, though I knew.

"Designer babies", Cyrana spat out, "Ratings for human beings, the idea that people and humanity can't change."

My door chime rang again, this time with the dramatic staccato of someone pressing the button over and over again.  I stood to answer but sat back down with a gasp as Cyrana quickly pressed a knife to one side of my throat and her elbow to the other.  After giving me a glance that told me to be still, she answered the door to a frantic handsome boy with dark hair and a long pale tail.

"I did mine!" he panted excitedly, it was then that I realized he had the look of one of my rivals, Mari.  The same dark curls and red cupid's bow lips, I remembered her having a class D a while back.  "Is this yours?  She looks like you.  What are you waiting for, you want my help?  I'll do it" he said moving towards me, Cyrana shoved him aside.

"She's mine, I'll do it" she said with a resigned sadness.  "Do what?" I asked, but I knew.

I can't say I was upset at my end.  I lived a long life, relatively, and I was adored and well paid.  My imperfect baby murdered her siblings one by one and then came for me.

Was it time for a new Eres?  I don't know, I was just a rutter, not a sociologist or psychologist.  I got an order and tried my best to fill it, babies were currency.  I've never been political or inclined to social movements, I don't know what would drive a bunch of only partially grotesque kids to feel a kinship with freaks, to wash their hands of beauty.  I was fired by humanity, my child with her red painted toenails, all 12 of them, pulled the trigger.

Good luck, Eres Naturals.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Savage 8

Adam sat at his parent's ancient yellow formica kitchen table in a fresh pair of underwear.  A perspiring glass of water rested loosely in his left hand while his right absently spun a pill bottle like a top.  The bottle whirred and wobbled and stopped, and Adam spun it again.  The bottle had no printed information other than the dosage and Adam's first name, he got his medicine directly from the center.  Doctor Adler had told him some of it was under experimental testing, it wouldn't be carried by traditional pharmacies.  Whir, wobble, stop.  It was 3 A.M., he had woken up a half hour earlier screaming and cumming.

Adam had a natural distaste for sexual expression, particularly when it was involuntary.  The quiet giant couldn't remember why he had paid Emily's mother for sex.  Adam had spoken to Dr. Adler about it and the two men agreed that it was perhaps a rite of passage he'd wanted to accomplish.  That seemed plausible to the broken Adam who had lost so much of his memory in the accident.  He could, however, remember the act.  He could trace in his sharp mind's eye every stretch mark, the C section scar, and the way she had wheezed after every squeal still made the hair around his ears stand on edge.  Emily's mother was not an unattractive woman, she was very becoming, and exactly Adam's age.  Adam wondered what Mr. and Mrs. Savage would have thought of Crystal, then he realized they must have known her.  Another memory lost.

Adam had been dreaming of the shadow again, the shadow and his childhood.  The boys slept six to a room in the orphanage.  Each room was a team, complete with color coded t-shirts to help staff more easily identify and place their young wards.  The orphans were grouped like this for the duration of their stay.  The staff at the facility felt that forcing the children to participate in these randomly selected microcosms of permanence within the system might foster in them a positive sense of family.  They were right and wrong.  Like any community, not all families engendered feelings of safety.  Adam had been on the red team, but his dream was about a tall thin boy on the Green team.

The boy had always been quiet, Adam remembered.  Quiet and a little dumb.  Each team was responsible for keeping their room clean and laundering their sheets once a week.  The orphanage operated on a tight budget and schedule, messes that required deviance from both the cleaning rotation and budget resulted in punishments for the entire team.  This was another staff idea meant to inspire some mimicry of the loyalty, pride, and discipline one might find in a family setting.  Again, they were right and wrong.  In the dream, the quiet, dumb, and tall boy had suffered from what the staff and nurses would call a nocturnal emission.  A wet dream.  This gangly orphan had woken up in the night and realized immediately what had happened.  Adam could sense the panic welling up in the boy as he gently awakened the Green team de facto leader.  The leader of the Green team, Adam remembered, was a cruel and wiry prick with muscles developed beyond his years.  He was a system kid, this strong boy, he lived with one or the other of his parents or relatives part time and the orphanage during court ordered removals from his "home" the rest.

In Adam's dream, these boys in green shirts and shorts moved as though they were underwater, their deliberate motions left rippling currents.  The team leader woke up the other boys in a whispering wave, and together they pushed the stained sheet deep into the tall boy's throat and took turns punching him.  Adam could feel the boy's shame wriggling like worms in his ears, he could feel their fingernails pressing half moons into the boys wrists as they held him.  And then the shadow came, more terrible than mean boys could hope to be.

The shadow made short work of the Green team.  The dark thing smiled a quiet smile and rippled with waves of energy as his smokey black fingers poked out the eyes of that wiry part-time orphan and and his long wispy arms choked and strangled and clawed his way through the rest.  Adam felt the tall, dumb, boy's thoughts, a jumble of animal emotions.  Fear, horror, glee.  He could not feel the other boy's thoughts but it was not hard to guess, Adam wondered if their screams and thuds and crunches would never end.

And then Adam had woken up, soiled and proud and sorry.  He had changed his underwear and headed into the kitchen.  And after a while, he had called Dr. Adler's home phone number.

"Have you taken your medication, Adam?"

Adam spun the bottle, whir wobble stop.  "The medicine makes me feel cloudy, I can't picture Emily", Adam lied.  Emily was the one thing he could always picture, he remembered nearly every detail of her sweet and clean little life better than his own.  Adam remembered Emily better than he remembered other things that should have been simultaneous happenings, the girl was a lighthouse forever calling his thoughts.  Adam was a creature of habit and patterns, so it startled him somewhat when Dr. Adler ignored his maneuvering.

"Adam, there's been an issue with the approval of some of the medications you're on, I need you to take what you have left on the prescribed schedule and I'll see if I can't clear it up, and I'd like you to come in as soon as possible for an assessment"  The doctor seemed a little interrupted and rushed, as though Adam hadn't woken him up at all.

"OK, I can be there tomorrow after my rounds", Adam replied tersely, he wasn't used to being ignored by the good doctor.

"I'd prefer you came in as soon as possible, you can come in now if you like."  The doctor's voice sounded like the movements Adam's dream, he could feel waves moving from them, important ripples and currents traveling away from each syllable.

Adam realized he wasn't going to get any sleep.  He slid into a bright blue jumpsuit and made his way through the late night chill to the center.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Savage 7

There wasn't much left of Ethan Frame when a would be mourner inadvertently stepped into his grave.  The boy had been laid to rest in a tightly sealed plastic sheet under three feet of earth and rock near Woodlawn Cemetary.  The funeral the mourner had been attending was for an unrelated corpse who had enjoyed a more traditional burial dressing.  This unlucky woman was a cousin of the deceased being buried nearby.  She was stepping between a pair of trees on her way to the grave site in a pair of Christian Louboutins when her foot punched through the layer of sod above Ethan.  His bag was punctured and the suction caused the poor shrieking woman to become stuck.  Of course she couldn't see what gripped her foot under the loose mud, and struggling only seemed to lodge her foot more firmly in the murky hole.  Shrieking didn't seem to help either, but that didn't stop the terrified woman.

When her leg was finally pulled out by fellow mourners, Ethan's broken body came with it.  This trim little boy had weighed barely 70lbs in life, and in death most of that had melted away.  The bottom of his plastic bag, in a tipped position, was heavier than the top.  The end revealing Ethan's frozen grimace under clear plastic was what came up with the woman's foot.  Her 900$ heel had lodged between his sharp little ribs and the toe of her foot had hooked his chin.

If it hadn't been for a small water main break the boy might have lain there forever.  A corroded pipe nearby was slowly turning the water around Ethan Frame into thin muck, covered over by a roof of tightly woven grass and sod.

Daniel Munoz had been tailing the coroner like an excited puppy all morning.   He had headed down to the chilly basement morgue the second the news had broken at the station that a young boy's badly decomposed body was coming in.

"Jesus Christ Munoz, you're starting to creep me out and I don't say that lightly", joked Dr. Santos.  Santos was called Santa by everyone at the station due to his corpulence and white fluffy beard.  Santa was one of the only people at the station that Munoz could stand, though it would have been very difficult to dislike the friendly and intelligent coroner.  Munoz had asked the fat doctor once how he managed to remain singularly calm and good natured in such a horrific job.  Santa had laughed, "They're in no hurry by the time I get them!  So, I take my time.  I take my time, and they take my time, and nobody is in a rush.  No lives to save, it's too late."   This was very true.  Many of the people who wound up in the care of Dr. Santa were indigents or missing persons.  Though he had plenty of expertise, it was rarely required.

"I have a feeling about this kid, Santa, I've been itching for something big", Munoz suddenly switched to a whisper, forever fearful some other eager detective would try to steal his work.  There was nobody more eager than Munoz.  "Are you going to be able to tell if there's something wrong with his skin if he doesn't have any skin left?"

Santa laughed, "Ah laypeople, why do I put up with this shit", Santa put leaned his dimpled hands on a dead hooker, "Munoz, even when it doesn't look like there's anything left, there's something left.  As long as I have some tissue to work with, I can figure out nearly anything I need to.  Now from what I understand, the kid was bagged up good and tight, so you just might get lucky.  This kid might look good enough to take you to prom."

"Real nice, pervert.  From what I understand the kid is barely ten if he's a day."

Santa stopped him, "Don't tell me anything about this kid, I don't want your guesses about serial killers and circle brands and scabs coloring my assessment.  When I find something, you'll be the first to know, OK?  Deal?"

Munoz knew better than to press Santa.  He also knew there wouldn't be anything to find at the body site.  Years in a semi public place with a high amount of foot traffic was unlikely to have left behind some pivotal clue, all of the pertinent evidence would be in that body bag.  Daniel Munoz was enthusiastic about his job, maybe too enthusiastic, but he was not a busybody.  He smiled thinking of how many detectives and officers were likely swarming the scene at that moment taking pictures and marking the placement of leaves and twigs, collecting samples of dirt and grass.

Munoz was eating scrambled eggs with cheese at the diner across from the station and going over his notes from the murdered whore case when Santa sent him a photo text.  The skin was mottled and degraded but there it was, a circle of scar tissue that had never had a chance to begin healing.  "Looks like you got your serial killer", read the attached text.  Daniel Munoz finished his eggs, tipped his lovely waiter 20$, and headed back to the station with a devil's grin and darting eyes.

There wasn't much for Munoz to see in the morgue, he was an expert in human behavior, not biological behavior.  Santa was the biological and anatomical detective here.  There wasn't much for the small handsome detective to do aside from waiting.  Still, Munoz wanted to be there.  He spread his files out on his desk.  Munoz didn't know much about anatomy but he knew he was looking at an impossible killer. 

The progression of a serial killer, particularly one with such a distinct sexual bent, is much like the progression of any hobby or passion.  The initial work is sloppy, full of mistakes and impulses.  A child pulling the wings from a fly.  This work becomes more refined as time goes on.  Practice makes perfect.  Daniel had three bodies now, but it appeared as though the progression was moving backwards.  This serial killer was, unlearning?  The first case, the boy that had been found years ago, was perfect.  No novice killer there.  Daniel Munoz recognized and respected craft, however morbid.  A pragmatic approach helped to keep the mind clear enough to work on cases that would jar a person of more fragile sensibilities. 

The second in the timeline would be Ethan Frame.  The child had been murdered and disposed of in a frenzy, but he had been dispatched with surgical precision compared to the most recent victim.  The whore had been brutalized.  The only thing all three of them had in common was the killer's need to mark them with that perfect circle, that tidy little round edge, almost as though it had been stenciled onto their skin.  Well, maybe only the boys' skin.  The whore's circle had been a mess. 

Could this be a pair of killers?  An experienced serial killer with a novice partner striking out on his own?  No, the whore's murder was too raw.  A novice trying to impress his tutor wouldn't have left that ragged scene behind.  None of the killings had been promoted as serial killings and none of the details had been made public, a copycat wasn't possible.  It had to be the same killer, but why was the killer forgetting how he liked to kill?  That was the only explanation that fit, though it didn't fit perfectly.  Serial killers and rapists didn't forget what they liked, they developed a repertoire over time that was as complex a signature as DNA. 


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Birthday Party!

Jarod Baker and his older brothers Aaron and Seth were technically orphans.  They had been living with their Grandma Baker and their Uncle Bill for as long as any of them could remember.  The boy's parents had died in the only fatal train accident to occur in Indiana for over 65 years.  The mystery dinner theater train the young couple had booked to celebrate their third anniversary had the misfortune of gliding over a broken sensor.  If the engineer had done his job, he would have recognized that the track wasn't making contact with the network.  If the sensor had worked, the engineer would not have had to do his job.  When the thirty car coal and auto parts line hit the antique mystery rail car and engine from behind, the entire passenger car was lifted first onto the engineer car of the oncoming train, and then both the antique engine and passenger car of the mystery dinner train tumbled down a steep embankment and into a shallow river.  The thirty car train was unable to stop for another quarter mile.

When Grandma Baker, Uncle Bill, and Bill's wife Mary had identified her son's body at the morgue there was some confusion, he had been the "murder victim" on the mystery train.  The sweet and loving young father looked as though he was sleeping peacefully but for a large kitchen knife sticking out of his chest and watery redness fanning out over his white dress shirt.  Naturally, Grandma Baker thought he'd been stabbed.

"You couldn't even take the fucking knife out of his chest?  What kind of hospital is this?"  Uncle Bill had been pulled from a party for the macabre task of helping to identify his young brother.

"Well, sir, it's not a hospital.  This is a morgue.  I do apologize though, we didn't expect you so soon"  Replied the white coated attendant, Grandma Baker gasped as he snapped the knife from the pins holding it to the shirt.  "We haven't done the autopsy, but we believe he passed on due to internal hemorrhaging.  I'm very sorry for your loss" 

The family lived comfortably with the help of a large settlement from Grant Mystery Train Tours and the Elkline Express.

Maybe it was because they had plenty of money, and maybe it was because the boys were orphans, Grandma Baker had a tendency to plan extravagant birthday parties for her young charges.  She had booked Slappy the Clown for Jarod's 9th birthday party three months in advance.  Slappy was a full service party clown.  His well reviewed performances featured balloon sculpture, a stand up routine, and a real live miniature pony called Starbright.  Slappy would begin each show riding in on the pony and flinging glitter onto the children while calliope music and sirens blared.  After a little haywire capering through the yard, the pony would stop abruptly, flinging the clown into a forward roll across the lawn just in time for a cacophony of loud farting noises and slide whistles.  Kids couldn't get enough of it.

Most adults loved the show too, it was a high energy performance with a little something for everyone.  Slappy was talented in the art of weaving threads of mature comedy through his program in ways that adults could appreciate and that children wouldn't notice.

"You look like a God damned hobo."  Slappy hadn't heard Uncle Bill's first outburst, or had ignored it so professionally that nobody could have suspected otherwise.  The fierce whisper didn't go entirely unnoticed, however, it had brought a few nervous titters from nearby kids.  Slappy was engaged in pulling multi colored ribbon from his closed hand, offering a little girl in the front row a handkerchief bouquet that turned into a rainbow of flapping bird wings the moment her little hand closed around the stems.

It was harder to miss Uncle Bill's next offering, he shouted it over the cheering crowd.  "A God damn hobo!  You gave that kid some birds?  Some fucking birds?  I'm gonna call the health inspector!  Someone call the fucking health inspector!"  Uncle Bill laughed hoarsely.

Slappy made a nearly imperceptible clicking sound and the well trained Starbright stuck a long pink and blue tongue out in Uncle Bill's direction.  Everyone but Uncle Bill laughed.

"Oh that's how it's gonna be, you have your horse fight your battles", Uncle Bill stood up now and staggered a few steps forward, raising his fists menacingly.  "C'mere my little pony, I got something for you"

Uncle Bill was a slight man but he had been the state wrestling champ in his weight class his sophomore, junior, and senior year.  His own two sons lived in Ontario with his ex wife but that didn't stop Uncle Bill from drunkenly trying to pass his athletic knowledge to his nephews in lieu of his absentee progeny.  Jarod and his older brothers had endured plenty of Uncle Bill's spontaneous center of gravity lessons.  While his nephews were no worse for the wear, these thin bookish boys had long outgrown the pleasure of being knocked to the ground.

Some of the more aware parents ushered their complaining children inside as Grandma Baker struggled to her feet.  "Bill honey, let the kids watch their program"

"Fuck you too mom, I know you talk to Mary and my boys, so don't start your shit with me, this fucking clown is going to the big show tonight!"

The more Uncle Bill spoke, the less slurred his words became.  Jarod, Aaron, and Seth recognized the sobering sense of purpose in their uncle.  They had all learned that his drunken rants should not be taken lightly.

"And this fucking clown", Uncle Bill spat the word clown out with a sneer, "This fucking clown and his little horse, I bet you bang that horse, tell the truth, you bang that fucking horse!"  All of the children but for his nephews and a few stragglers by the cake table had been ushered inside the house.  Slappy stood in stunned and expressionless silence, the rainbow clown watched the impending arrival of Uncle Bill with a balloon in one hand and a top hat in the other.

The boys looked at their uncle imploringly but not one of them dared attempt to impede his progress through the empty folding lawn chairs.  The wiry man made his way through the rows of chairs as though he was wading through three feet of water, knocking them aside with his wrists and muscled forearms and raising his knees high.

Nobody could have predicted what the clown said next.  "What was your wife's name?  Mary?"  Slappy whispered loudly enough only for the few nearby to hear, "I fucked a Mary once while her kids waited in the car, she said high school steroids ruined her husband's dick, she said mine was like a long hard velvet rope after his limp noodle"

Uncle Bill grunted and lunged the last few feet, Slappy deftly stepped aside and the small muscled drunk sprawled across the trick table, sending balloons and ribbons flying.  Grandma Baker and her orphaned grandsons gasped. 

"Fucking clown trick, clown tricks" muttered Uncle Bill as he got to his feet, he bounced from one heel to the other with his elbows turned towards his ribs and his hands spread out.  The boys recognized this as the knock em' down stance, it was often the only warning they got before being bumped to the ground or into a wall or cupboard by their playful drunk uncle.

Slappy kicked Uncle Bill in the nuts with an over sized shoe, the end of which crumpled on impact.  Uncle Bill howled in agony as he hit the ground, sending a white rabbit skittering from a box beneath the table.  The sad drunk followed up his howl with a keening wail as he lay there gripping his testicles and sobbing, the boys turned away embarrassed.  Grandma Baker headed inside to send the few remaining guests home.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Savage 6

"Like a baby stillborn, like a beast with his horn, I have torn everyone who reached out for me"

Adam hummed as he stocked the Coke machine in Glendale Elementary.  He was feeling much better, or much worse.  Dr. Adler had driven him out to the building that had housed Emily's toothpaste ad.

"Would you like something to calm you?"  offered Dr. Adler as the two men stared at a fifty foot high advertisement for Oreo cookies. 

"No thanks", responded Adam, unaware that he'd already been dosed.  "I know it was here, I saw it.  They must have changed it.  She was there", his voice trailed off.  The tall man's broad shoulders slouched forward, hands in his pockets, dejected.

"Well, I'm certain you're certain, Adam.  This has been a long day for you, and you're tired."

"I am tired." Adam agreed, nodding his head up and down. 

The two men drove back to the center with the radio playing, "Like a worm on a hook, like a knight from some old fashioned book, I have saved all my ribbons for thee"

Adam had fallen asleep at the center, this was allowed and even encouraged when the Dr. felt he had been working too hard.  He was vaguely aware of Dr. Adler and male nurses checking on him periodically.  Adam's blurry eyes would open to two fingers resting gently on his wrist, checking his pulse.  "Shhhhh, get some rest, Mr. Savage", Adam closed his eyes and fell back into the billowy murk.

When he finally awoke, Adam lay with his eyes closed and his breathing steady for a long while, he felt the shadows in the room grow longer and a chill setting in as the streaks of sun from the windows retreated into the twilight.  This laying still and quiet was a habit he'd developed as a child in the orphanage, a way to spy. 

He could only hear snippets from the next room, Dr. Adler on the phone.  "Minor setback", in a hoarse but forceful whisper came through to Adam's straining ears, and then "three year contract", and finally "Yes, no, he doesn't know, I moved too quickly, this was bound to happen."

Adam had learned so long ago to watch and wait, and wait and watch, this furtiveness was second nature to him.  After the voice in the next room stopped, Adam slowly sat up and yawned loudly to alert the good Doctor to his awakening.  Adam wasn't sure what Dr. Adler had been speaking about in his sharp whisper over the phone, or who he had been talking to.  For all Adam knew, Dr. Adler was speaking of another patient.  It was in Adam's nature to be suspicious, but not paranoid.  He was a listener and a planner and a doer.

"I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch, he said to me you must not ask for so much"  Adam turned off the radio and sang softly on the way home.  "I saw a woman leaning in her darkened door, she cried to me, hey why not ask for more"

And so Adam was methodically filling the coke machine when he heard a man's voice behind him.  "The boy, Ethan Frame,  went to this school, it would have been two years ago..."  Adam was unable to make out the quieter voice of the mousy secretary the man was addressing.  "I just need a record of his teachers and if you can remember anyone who might have had cause to speak to the boy or deal with him in anyway", another long pause for the quiet secretary and then "I'm not at liberty to discuss the specifics as it isn't a single case at this time, we're treating it as a possible serial."

The secretary gasped loudly enough for Adam to hear.  "Well I think I remember him, only because he was in the office quite a bit for absences, The children need a note from a parent or guardian in order to attend class after an absence."

"May I see Ethan's notes?"  Adam paused, suddenly interested, though he could not think why.  Poor thing, poor little boy, poor Ethan.  Somebody hadn't paid attention and poof, away he'd gone.   

Adam turned slightly to view the small dark man leafing through a series of half crumpled sticky notes.  "These notes are all exactly the same, same excuse, same wording, same everything, and if this handwriting is from an adult I'll eat my socks" said the handsome detective, flashing a disarming smile. 

"Let me see those", the secretary puzzled over the yellow slips briefly, "Well I suppose when we get so many it's hard to pay attention to any patterns from one particular child."

"I suppose it must be." replied the detective in a noncommittal fashion. 

The man flipped open a phone and began speaking almost as soon as he'd turned to walk away.  Adam kept his head down and followed along behind the small figure with his cola rack. 

"Second one, I'm telling you it's a pattern, and the hooker", he heard before the man turned around abruptly, "Say, you think I can swindle a Coke?  I'll get you next time"  The man flashed his million dollar smile, sharp dimples forming on either side of his Cheshire cat grin.

"Sure" Adam replied, deftly prying a can from his dispenser with his great calloused paw and passing it to the small dark man.

"Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free" Adam stood and hummed as the man pushed through the front doors into the bright sunlight.