PART 14

AWAKE

 

In the downslope of evening dusk, which leaves a cut of blood on the horizon like a knife wound, she starts awake from the nauseous scene in her mind and the clangor of the nightmare weapon. The floor that her contused cheekbone lies on is scented with kitchen rag mildew and dried piss. Her heart still limps to right itself, but she’s awake now lying on a warm floor in a pool of her saliva and coagulated blood. Fully awake and here, where ever here is, with it’s sheer, colorless curtains stained from being used as napkins swaying with a tender, curious breeze slithering in from outside, shapeless dark and grainy figures as furniture that her eyes aren’t ready to discern in their widespread shock of regaining sight so suddenly.

I have a sickness, a man’s voice says with sediment in the throat and whining in the tone, the fortune teller said that I’d marry somebody named Lisa or Elizabeth, but she was wrong, she was fucking wrong and it was supposed to be Miranda, and Miranda got married.

The detective remains unmoved, quiet; breathes in as silently as she can, deep as she can without being overt in an attempt to steady the pulse that’s hammering in her left ear.

There’s no light on, but she can see the broad-shouldered figure in a trucker hat leaning over his knees, face buried in his hands as he bitterly weeps. There’s another figure sitting on the couch and when the moon, full and white, becomes the only light inside the small trailer, she recognizes him. I’m a good Christian man, the words repeat, and repeat, and repeat, ricocheting inside of her mind. It’s that old man, but who’s the one sobbing?

Boy, the daddy says, you better know where to put her body. She’s a cop. None of that fruity ritual shit from the bible like that other whore.

I know, I know daddy, the other one says, I know just where…

Can’t be stupid like Miranda, boy! The old man speaks rigidly, strictly yet underneath that, fearfully, spitting the muddy pool of his grizzly wintergreen dip into the carapace of an empty coca-cola can with a loathsome squirting sound.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You can let me go, the detective says, you can untie me, you still have time.

She’s lyin’, don’t listen to ‘er, daddy says to his son. He slaps his kneecap hard as he can to let out his frustrations, stamps his foot to let it out, too, as if it had traveled down the shin and got stuck in the tendons. She’s a DAMN liar! You let her go and she’ll run ‘n tell all her little piggy friends who you is and what you done! She’ll throw that ass of yours in a cage and they’ll strap you straight into an electric chair!

There was a distant howling outside and the detective shifted from the bruised bone of her hip onto her back and stared outside at the impending dark. She suddenly felt calm.

You still have a chance, I’m not lying, the detective says.

The man sitting down ejects himself so quickly out of the creaky folding chair he’d been pathetically nesting in and sobbing that it flies back, teeters and scrapes its heels before it collapses stiffly onto its side like a bloated deer on the shoulder of a highway. He throws the obstacles between he and the detective out of the way with a growl as he rushes to her, repeating the phrase, shut up shut up shut up through gnashed teeth, stomping toward her theatrically like a child.

You’re a damn liar! He shouts a mere inch from her tight-lipped face when he harshly genuflects beside her. She can smell his filthy hair and coors light, conceals a gag and scoffs, shuts her eyes. The drizzle of his rage-spit from shouting freckles her eyelids.

You’re right, I am. You’re all outta chances, the detective says, opening her eyes. And the man stares down with his mouth dumbly agape searching for the human quality of her formerly big brown eyes in the dark, but he finds nothing gawking back but a preternatural yellow and though the trailer was the stuffiest, most humid nook shoved into the back of the mouth of these woods he felt a chill like fingers hiking up his spine when he gazed into them, when the wolf fur began to sprout and the unexpected strength ripped through the plastic ties they’d bound her with.

It all happened very fast.

 

To be concluded tomorrow…

PART 13

She asks in that rehearsed tranquility; that silver voice, that comely voice in control of the drumming song of the hummingbird heart, because she’s the immovable rock. She can still be the hero.

What’re they gunna do to him?

And with the wet-blanket heat and the soft strangle of anxiety that makes the swollen edge of her nose trickle with an oval of sweat and imperceptibly tame tears tumbling down one-by-one from her smoke-burnt eyes that she can blame on the crushing stench that’s becoming insistently more putrid; she is that immovable rock. She is that silver voice in the simmering, nervous night.

They already hurt him, so now they eat him so no one can find him, the little girl says, But no hands and feet, that’s bad luck, you don’t eat that.

Can you untie me?

Mmmm, no, the little girl says in that childish way kids do with moony, large eyes, and she moves back to sit on her haunches and rocks back and forth for an absent comfort; she’s jumpy, but she’d untie her with the right coercing, or at least try to. The night is starless and peerless to all other dark nights and the little ones sunken-eyed stare bleeds out into the rest of it, making her look like a tiny, swaying skull.

The chanting and crying of the other child is loud, but there’s another shimmer of a noise quivering faintly close by. It rustles in cold-blood fully alive on nights like this and it curls, watches from somewhere. The detective says, stay still, there’s a rattler.

A snake? It won’t bite, it’s a toy, wanna see it?

No, don’t touch it. It’s not a toy.

Trust me, I play with it. It was my toy. I think it just came to life now, i’ll find it.

The little skeleton stands with difficulty, must’ve stood too swiftly, because she crashes into a brief lean onto a tree and breathes before darting out, and vanishes into a curvy palisade of shadows and thick-thighed oaks.

You just had to be the hero, the broken corpse of her father says, shaking his head, tsk tsk, from the ground where he lies.

No! Stop! The girl shouts, the detective can can hear dull thudding against thin skin, stop biting me!

The chanting dies for a moment, long enough for howling to raise itself up between the distance of it, and of her, and she looks back again even if it hurts her head where the shock had once shunned the reality of the wound, which began painfully to throb along with the gallop of her pulse.

A nude man walks down an aisle strewn with miniature bones, could be avian, limping familiarly from the right hip, wearing a paper mask similar to Baby Mikey’s, but his is a bigger dog–a wolf, with a scarlet streamer for a tongue that affords it either more primitive an appearance or sinister–yet it has antlers reaching up. The worshippers swoon to the ground and bury their faces and fingers into the hot earth, smearing their loose hair with it, bowing to him. He raises his hands up to the sky, says something that sounds more like a gurgle, but she can hear the words, lord, hear our prayers.

That’s when the gunshot strikes him in the chest.

TO BE CONTINUED…

PART 11

Before she died

You’re trickin me, it’s a joke, right? Miranda asked, and she’d laughed briefly and sheepishly like a live stage actor pretending to comprehend a scene she’s never been in before. Her mascara and dark eyeliner had crumbled because of the showers outside and had given her light eyes a flaked and hollow look, making her seem lit from within like a jack-o-lantern when she grinned.

No, I ain’t kiddin’, you’re stayin’ here, they’re out there and they’ll get you, Gabe’s mother had told her, igniting another cigarette with the bitter end of the one she’d just finished. You can’t go home tonight, not through there, she’d added, And Gabe and all the boys is too drunk to drive you home.

I can’t stay here, Miranda had said pathetically in a voice with faint tremor, Mikey’s alone, I have to go back. He can’t be alone anymore! What if he wakes up and I’m not there? I timed it this way. He’ll feel so alone if he wakes up without me. He’ll cry. He’ll look for me and I won’t be there.

For an older, stouter woman, Gabe’s mother was as fast as a high school sprinter. She was never wont to shoving young girls she liked into bedrooms and locking the doors behind them, but she had to protect her. She’d pushed Miranda into the mouth of Gabe’s room, watched her get swallowed up into the dark throat of it, and heard her fall back onto the rickety dresser. She’d heard a few neglected bottles that had once lived there on top vaguely teeter, plummet, and bounce off of the thinly carpeted floor and thankfully not bust open. Then she’d heard Miranda rise up and go for the door before she locked it from the outside and started sticking a stained foldable chair underneath the knob just to make sure she couldn’t get out. Miranda was hysterical, begging, sobbing… and then everything went quiet on the other side of the door.

Trust me, Gabe’s mother said in the seam with a sigh of relief, you can’t leave. We’ll do the wedding ritual another time. Mikey will be fine. Please, just stay here. Wait till the suns up.

The sound of it was a wire in the blood; a noise that sent an electric, chemical signal to the leftover reptilian part of the mammal brain.  The howling was a call and the call sounded through the thick bodies of the trees; the sound reached in, and somewhere in the gut it dazzled, mesmerizing, wailing, tumbling through branches, digging up dirt, rustling the leaves.

Miranda? Gabe’s mother had asked.

But when she’d opened the door the window had been opened. And Miranda was gone.

 

to be continued … 

PART 10

DETECTIVE

The light left when daddy died. The world started to get a grain over it; dimmer and dimmer went her waking life, until the doctor said it was all in her mind. Migraine auras, they’d said, without the migraine part sometimes, blind in this eye one day, blind in the other tomorrow. Get some sleep. Get some help.

Sometimes she’d think she saw something out of the corner of her eye, a loitering figure, a hunched posture, or she’d catch the heavy scent of an unbearable perfume, the kind that festers in the throat, the kind you can taste.

Everything was too loud, everything had a strong smell that made her head hurt, and sometimes she never wanted to leave the dark loam of her room. With all the lights out, she could imagine what it would be like to die.

She understood what it meant now: light of my life. Ever since the accident, she was never the same. She can still see his gasping face from when he was dying in her slender arms, and the hot flashes of the bloodied grin and the trembling sound of the death-gurgling up from deep inside of him; they wake her up at night when she’s alone.

The detective carries herself as if this burden is nothing to her. She is tall and rigid as a classical statue, saving the opportunity to pretend to be lax only for when she’s questioning suspects, with her dusky skin blemished by nothing but worry. The mother was standing outside already as she approached the weathered, molded trailer, that like a wilting flower stooped lopsided as if somebody had kicked the back of its knees and it never fully stood back up again.

Can I help you? The mother asks, she can spot a cop a mile away.

Yes, I’m looking for Gabriel, is he home? I just need to ask him a few questions about the disappearance of Miranda Delano, the detective asks. Her hands in her pockets, relaxed as she advances in her weighty boots that crack the spines of fallen sticks from the scrawly angel oak. She ignores the amorphous shimmering that’s begun in her peripheral; it’s just a migraine, like the doctors said, hormones.

He doesn’t live here anymore, ran off last night, mother says, and she stubbornly crosses her arms in the universal posture of a shut door, clearing her throat with a rattling noise as she loosens sediment there, spitting into the dog-piss grass. She’s stout and tubby and bejeweled, her eyes lined dark with black eyeshadow.

It ain’t that boy! A voice exclaims, and from what she instantly measures it’s come from behind her. The detective turns around to face the limping approach of a feeble-looking, toothless white-haired man. His cane has the image of an open-mouthed wolf on it, and he continues.

It’s them satanists, he says, age making his tone tremulous.

Satanists? So you’re saying you saw what happened? The detective asks.

No, but I heard it. And I’m a good christian man and know a satanist when I seen one, he says, stopping in front of her and leaning on his cane. It sinks in faintly and he glares at her with one bulbous eye, the pores of his nose covered in blackheads. She can smell his sweat.

What did you hear? When?

I heard a buncha howling dogs the same night that girl went missing, and I heard her screamin’ too.

Is it possible you were asleep?

He laughs, no ma’am, he says, I never sleep. You should know. By the look of you, you ain’t ever sleepin either.

What makes you think satanist just by howling?

It’s the loup garou, he says, and behind her the mother clicks her tongue in irritation. They all satanists because they been cursed by god.

What’s a loup garou? The detective asks, where do they live?

A man or a woman who takes the form of a wolf when the moons right, ya’ll call it werewolf, I call it fairytale bullshit, mother says. Ain’t no truth to it.

And where are these fairytale creatures living?

Both of them pointed her into the right direction, told her to go about a mile in, and told her to never come back at night. She wouldn’t listen; she’d be back once the sun sank down, but for now she went to see what she could find in the day.

All there was deeper in: a deer bloated stiff, shredded apart, it’s intestines alive with ants, patches of its fur strewn across the woodland floor and far away behind a thick valley of oaks, a dog staring back at her.

to be continued … 

PART 6

AFTERNOON

 

A gilded choir of wind chimes continually blaze here at the rear of the carnival, and the stomach warming scent of meat-smoke breathes out from underneath an old tight lipped outdoor cooker.

White-hot sunlight bawled through a cloudless sky, aiming itself down, elbowing through a jagged volley of shards made of broken mirrors. The fragments clung onto the sunlight greedily and dazzled any straying eye with a tiara of sparks that stuck behind the eyelids until blinking blotted them out. The broken pieces protrude up out of weedy soil as a superstitious decor, castled by a motley family of other strange ornaments meant to ward off bad spirits or amuse onlookers. The shut-eyed grin of a potbellied gnome crossing its arms sagely stationed with an array of varicolored plastic butterflies with goofy painted eyes wired onto sun-bleached spokes. A poised, rusty stone cat with no pupils sat quietly, uncannily.

They line the blueglass gemstone path to the moldy 1952 Royal Spartanette with its missile shape and toon windows, as if this sector of the show were a rotting aquarium exhibit, drained of its murky, amniotic waters.

He’d rubbed his nervous hands together sitting straight and leaning in. He was inside of the heavily incensed trailer trying not to sneeze on dragons blood and patchouli, and when he’d sparsely roved his calloused palms over his thighs to give his hands something else to do the roughness of his fingers made a catching sound on the fabric of his soiled jeans.

There were three tarot cards on the kitchen table, which was covered by a resurrected halloween material painted with character cats grinning with their fangs, flying on broomsticks in witch hats, sewn with silver tinkling bells that made a cacophony anytime one of them dared to move.

Who’s Lisa? The fortune teller asked, her eyes moony like those twitchy felines, twinkling in the palpitations of the red votives on the dirty sink.

Lisa? I don’t know any Lisa, he’d said.

Are you sure? Her eyes narrowed, shining like those broken mirrors outside.

Yeah, pretty sure, he’d confirmed with a wry laugh through his nose.

What about Elizabeth? It’s a variant of Lisa, she’d asked.

Uhh, from like third grade, he’d said. He was an easy mark.

That’s her. Did you like her? She asked, passing her hand over the trio of cards as if they spoke suddenly and must be shushed.

I guess so, he’d said.

When you find Lisa and marry her, come back, she’d said, I do henna tattoos for weddings, brings good luck to the bride. That’ll be sixty-five dollars.

She’d outstretched her weathered hand.

 

 

to be continued … 

Part 5

The brightening world blanched before their narrow squints, and their brows clenched with unmendable, burdened lines that worried with curiosity underneath the prying sun. Off the Mississippi came an unbidden advance of that familiar, slithery breath of humid afternoon and it dragged with it the fetor of last nights piss stains blackening and emanating in the heat against ruined walls they’d passed with sidelong scowls. Where along the battered back-buildings revelers had prowled late like strange characters out of place, and out of sync with time, confetti was beaten down by slimy, light rain.

The empty buildings were now behind them, disjointed, leaning like tombs that had dug their heels into graveyard dirt. The old walls blemished with laborious graffiti of jazz funerals; dusky, puffed cheeks blowing into burnished gold making sad music, weeping women in lace blotting the corners of their invisible eyes. The pinching sound of shoes weighing down on sharp rocks had come to a stop, yet still seemed to echo in the silence shared between them with what they all peered down upon.

It’s the palms of her hands and her feet, but no body, the cop said. Lots of punctures, maybe bites, scratches, bruising, likely defensive.

Sounds familiar. Like its been in a story before, the female detective said. She’d kept her arms crossed as she’d approached the paled, shredded fragments bloating alone in their decaying nest. The pieces looked like clearance halloween props; inhuman objects, in some grotesque joke of being human.

The Bible, the cop said, it’s been in the Bible.

Never read it. What’s it say? She asked.

Jezebel was tossed out of a window, and when they’d gone to find her body and bury it they only found the palms of her hands and her feet. Wild dogs ate the rest of her, the cop said, looks like dogs ate this one, too.

Marks are too precise for dogs. How do we know this is her? Stunned by the interjection of the male detective who had heretofore been silent as he’d followed, the cop and the woman pause to stare back at him.

Tattoo she got at her wedding last night, the cop said.

Wedding? Both detectives asked in an unconnected harmony.

 

to be continued…

part 4

12 hours ago

 

He’d raised the toy up to eye level and inspected its cylindrical shape and strange writing and holographic paper stuck around the circle of its body with one eye squinted. He’d turned around the noisy confetti in the kaleidoscope and peered through himself first to test it out, and then took it down to the toddlers eye level and pulled him close lovingly the way a brother or father would.

He’d piped out an elongated Mickey mouse, wooooow! for effect, and his tickling beard wowed with him. He’d patted baby Mikey on his bony shoulder.

Isn’t that cute, Miranda had said, perching her soap-chapped knuckles onto the hew of her hips, he likes you, Gabe.

The sound of keys and the sound of the keys’ metallic intercourse with the door had arrived, and the doorknob was thrust, flopping, in need of repair too long ago. Gabriel was agile and out of Miranda’s window before mom could’ve sworn she’d heard something. Bye bye dada, baby Mikey had said.

Miranda, is dinner ready? Mom creaked in her slurred voice with that bubonic black hair rheumy with the wet of work.

And yet Gabriel dared back through the dirty Disney sheet-curtains thumb tacked over the bedroom window and implored of Miranda a farewell kiss before he’d gone back out into the dusk with a groan.

Miranda had whisper shouted, Seeya later, as he’d run into the firmament of cricketing trees where he was embraced by an intruding dark.

 

to be continued …

PART 3

 

TRAILER PARK

To a child all things rise. Mother rises in the morning when the sun rises. The moon rises and mom and baby go to sleep. Miranda would rise to feed him. The dead girls name was Miranda and she never rose today, and baby Mikey wondered why his sister never trickled in with the sun as she usually did with it thrilling through her saltwater hair like a bright comb.

He faintly recalls a damp kiss on his temple between alphabet dreams, but she never rose with him. He was so hungry now he’d cried and made duck noises and horse noises he’d learned from the toy in his broken bed next to Miranda’s empty one.

Real mother staggered in belated expecting that Miranda had fed baby Mikey.

Where the fuck is Miranda? Mom squawked too loud in her talon-voice, and baby Mikey flinched.

Baby Mikey made a cat noise and then said, bye bye dada, because he’d also dimly recalled his toy making an opaline of harmonious colors and grinning like a kitten kneading fat and seeing Miranda’s friend with a beard; all men with beards are dada, but he’s too young to explain.

to be continued …