Your Teeth are Crooked, My Dear, and You Don’t Want That

All that could be heard was the dull clacking of teeth as Johnny sucked away during the simmering silence. Clack-clack-clack. Red and blue lights flashed through the blinds and seemed to highlight the unconscious woman taped to the armchair. Her head covered in a helmet of gray tape to keep her tight in place.
A man’s voice through a scratchy megaphone called his name from down on the street. He ignored it. Clack-clack-clack.
–Fucking hell Johnny, spit it out.
He did. The tooth hit the wooden table with a sharp sound. White and triangular, like a fat icicle covered in spit. He gave a blank look and then defiantly reached into the stoneware salad bowl, fished out a molar with a nerve end still attached, tubular and sticky and red with a dark line inside it. Almost black, almost translucent. He stuck it in his mouth and started sucking again with a smirk.

–I don’t know why. Aha, ha! I guess I do. I just love the way she brushed them. I don’t even know her name.
–So we still don’t know her name?
–No, saw her in the bathroom across the street. Kept the blinds open, I always thought she wanted, wanted someone to see her there.
–Oh you just up and glanced at her huh? You trying to tell me you have 50/50 vision and I don’t? Saw her from across the alley? You trying to say you didn’t…
–Yeah I used binoculars, why do you have to be like that?
–Be like that? Be like what, Johnny.
–You’re the one asking me, you’re the one who wants me to tell my story. Everyone out there on the street, they’re all shitting marbles for me! They want to know my life story. You, you don’t mean jack.
–Oh they want you, Johnny; they want to see you smoke.
–Us smoke. Us. If you hadn’t called the cops, this wouldn’t be happening.
–What the hell was I supposed to do, seeing her taped up like that on the chair?
–Anyway, I saw her in the bathroom, and she would lean in, bend her head over the faucet and brush like a kid, you know, like she couldn’t do or think about anything else while she brushed.
–Like a kid, huh? I bet you liked that.
–Her mouth would froth and it would dribble down and she’d make this face like a cat that resigned itself to getting a bath.
–Why not skip the foreplay, Johnny?
–She’d do this in her camisole, you know, after washing off her makeup. I love that, love the way…
–Johnny! Cut it. You promised me we wouldn’t do this again.
–Well, I get this idea, while I’m looking out across the alley, that no one really goes there, you know, no one goes there at all when it’s dark.
–Is that why you kept taking Skip for a walk at night?
–Yeah, how’d you notice?
–He’s seemed tired during the day lately, and never had to piss when I took him out in the morning.
–So I would walk him in the alley, and look up at the buildings, and never noticed any lights on except down at the end, streetside, and it always looked well covered.
–Are you trying to tell me you went in through her bathroom window?
–Yeah, through the window, up the fire escape.
–Fuck Johnny, no wonder we’re pigeonholed in here. That metal BANGS when you step on it. You should have consulted me at least.
Clack-clack-clack.
–We’re trapped because you panicked, not because I wasn’t careful. It doesn’t matter now, anyway, I got by the window, jacked it with the screwdriver I filed nice and sharp and climbed in. Flashlight in my mouth, felt like I could be on television.
–Stick our head out the window, and you’ll get your wish along with a sniper bullet.
–I squeaked down her hall and opened the bedroom door. What a pit, she had used laundry all over the floor smelling like sweat. She had this bag of Christmas cookies on the bedstand, in a Ziploc, just like mom used to do for us. I really, I really hope she brushed after she ate them.
–I guess she didn’t bring a lot of guys home.
–I got this idea then, that I had to take her back, take her home to our place. Make sure they weren’t crooked.
–You’re incredibly stupid, Johnny.
–So I needed to keep her quiet, I grabbed some of her clothes off the floor and shoved the screwdriver at her neck and when she woke up and screamed I shoved it in, shoved in deep down her throat. The vomit bubbled up, up around the socks, ahaha! Stomach acid is horrible for teeth, did you know?
–You’re sick.
–Hit her with the butt end of the screwdriver before taping her up. Hit her hard, think I gave her a concussion. She didn’t say anything while I dragged her down the escape, dropped her in the alley. Her eyes were open and she just kept moving her head in circular motions, like she was doing something, like a grey taped worm, hahaha!
–Hold on Johnny, she’s waking up.

 The pounding in her head almost had a rhythm as her eyes creaked open. She felt a tremendous pain in her gums. Instinctively, her tongue went to probe them.
“Oh goss, oh goss, my teese! My teese! Where are my teese!”
“Listen, we really want to know, what’s your name?”
“Uuu goss, uuu Jusus.”
“Relax, relax! It’ll be OK, don’t worry. Really, don’t worry. Johnny says he can fix it.”
A lone man stood in front of her silhouetted in red and blue police lights, leaking in behind the closed blinds, a bloody screwdriver in his hand.
“The important thing, important thing is that you had all 32. I was worried you wouldn’t.”
Clack-clack-clack.
“Oh goss, less me go, please, please.”
“Listen, just make it better, Johnny. I’m not spending my thirties in jail with only you and some tattooed freak. I’m leaving now.”
“Wuu, wuu sare you tlassing too?”
“No one, sweetheart, no one at all. He’s gone now.” Johnny walked over to the sink and pulled out a clean metal vise grip and a small metal hammer.
“Plea, nuu, plea–”
“Shhh, hush now. You see, your teeth were crooked, they were crooked. White and beautiful, but crooked. This will make them better.”
The man shoved the vise into her mouth and screwed it open until it wouldn’t go anymore.
“Uuun, whus uoo doiis uu mee?!”
“I said be quiet!” For an instant his face changed, angry and mean, then collapsed into white smiles. “Just be quiet, sweetheart. This is finicky work.”
He spit out her molar from his mouth, now sucked clean, and positioned it in front of her open gums. The hammer slipped out of his pocket and he pulled back, back, back behind his shoulder.
“The important thing, dear, is that you had all 32.”

Deep inside the synaptic flashes of Johnny’s prefrontal cortex a memory played on loop, separate from the hammering and splashing and the blows and screams inside the apartment and separate from his begs for her to stop swallowing, it’ll make you sick, it’ll make you sick dear and separate from the parade of pounding boots crashing up the stairs–separate, the memory played; first, yellowy darkness. “You think it’s fun to spit, boy, think it’s fucking fun to spit? You like to use your mouth boy, like to use that fucking mouth, huh?” Pain and knuckles and other things in an adolescent mouth and then suddenly white heat. Light, shinning down. A dental office and mother, pushing her hips against the smiling man in white with her cool hand on Johnny’s forehead as she bends over right in front of the man, and gives him a sultry look, right in front and he’s bald. He’s bald. “It’ll be alright dear.” Needles, needles and the light made so sharp Johnny could see the reds of his eyelids and if he closed them tight enough he could see the red puddles in his gums and he could hear the man in white’s gentle crooning. You don’t want them to be crooked, dear. You don’t want that.

By M.D. Joyce

http://mdjoyce.blogspot.com/

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Holiday of Horrors: Christmas Nightmares

Christmas Plays Itself: The Island of Misfit Toys

Criselda’s leather mind was twisted. Twisting spasming back and forth cracked leather tongued by snow demons. Life was becoming exceedingly rare. It was December 24th at 4 pm. The sun was dying slowly – she could see it heave outside her dirty windows. She had just left that room again, the room of 1000 fantasies where she performed for a forum of depraved women who paid her money. Threw it at her and she was supposed to display gratitude. They had liked her last show – a nice big bonus – $100 and mystical drugs to burrow deep into her veins. Christmas was almost here and she had gotten them nothing – no gifts, no cards. Her show gave them numerous pleasures, made them feel whole again – not broken and jaded.

“But they are jaded. Jaded and disgusting. I perform for their pleasures and they feel me up, touch my sweaty albino skin and fondle and taste and smell my long ebony hair. I’m finished. The stink.”

She slowly undulated to the scratchy 45 of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” in the distance. Her room was bare – only a chair and a blanket for the floor- a dark oak floor stained occasionally with her blood. In the corner were her meager luxuries: a half-empty bottle of Maker’s Mark, a glass syringe (so old), and a hot plate to boil water for her doses and to make syrupy thick coffee from the freeze-dried coffee she loved. She relished taking a couple of shots of bourbon which pushed her into a gentle haze then supercharging the buzz with the coffee. Thoughts of her childhood Christmases started to trickle in and tell her what went wrong. A Mitch Miller sing along thump thump splat. Mommy and daddy fighting throwing a Christmas tree to the ground. Christmas trees were burning in the distance. It was always her fault. That’s why they are gone. Criselda smiled. She boiled some water and made the coffee, then took a shot of Maker’s following it quickly with the coffee. After having her bourbon and coffee she decided to cook up another shot of her favorite drug with the left over water. She continued humming carols to herself as she slammed the syringe into her vein. Pulsations touched the walls.

“Fast. Fast.”

“It’s all your fault.”

“I know mommy.”

As these last thoughts flew out of her brain in rapid death sequence like the rantings of a masturbating idiot, she shuddered and climaxed. Slowly she cracked the door of her room open and stepped out into the hall. She was stunning. She had done her hair up all pretty swith Bettie Bangs. She had put on her favorite elf-green corset which clung to her like another dead skin, her red Santa hat placed on her head in a jaunty manner, and black shiny pumps vintage 1935. Her shiny shoes gently click-clacked on the spent linoleum as she made her way. The symphony in her head complimented the ecstasy of her body: green, red, albino and black. Their room was at the end of the hall. She slowly and carefully walked down the hall, stepping over the 8 dead reindeer that lay festering under the green fluorescent light bathed in blood and flesh odor. She fought back a gag reflex and soon regained her composure.

She entered their room yet again, this time carrying an antique Gladstone doctor’s bag that had belonged to her father, a pediatrician. She recalled he would be carrying it when he arrived at her bedside to give her the adrenalin shot for her childhood asthma. The first of many fixes for a wheezing child. She relished the lightening jolt.

They were still in attendance: three women basically shadows – only glowing eyes burned in the dimly lit enclosure. The decaying flesh smell made her gag. She dropped the bag to the floor and the sound of metal on leather gave her a slight thrill. She flipped the latch on the bag and reached inside. When her hand emerged it was holding a plastic Santa mask. The women smiled. Criselda placed the mask over the face of the old hag in the center. The women laughed – Criselda was so funny. The were delighted at the prospect of more entertainment from a member of the lower class. Crisleda next produced a spike and a hammer. Slowly she nailed the mask to the middle woman’s forehead. Nail pierced plastic. Bone cracked – a happy sound – and purple – maroon fluid oozed – slowly at first, then more quickly – then stopping as the heart ceased pumping. Criselda zoomed in close for a look and a taste.

“That is delicious baby. A new dolly. Oh dear my corset is stained now.”

The other two women just watched.  A surgical saw was the next to appear from her bag of magic.  Criselda sawed off the hands, arms, legs, and feet of the old bitch on the left. It was a laborious task once s he hit bone. When she was done she pulled out some fishing line and a needle and sewed the appendages back together making a life-sized marionette.

The babbling bag of bones on the right was decapitated with the same saw. With great care Criselda re-attached the head whose eyes were still moving and tongue still wagging with a spare bedspring she had in her bag.

“A new jack-in-the-box. Dance for me.”

Her victims’ flesh was burning and raw. Chests heaved and fluid drooled.

The 3 women were caught in spasms as life slowly left; their nerves ached -neurons were stretched and broken. Gurgling noises and wooshing flesh noises echoed all around Criselda. The steel floor buckled slightly and the holiday lights outside sputtered and then glowed brighter. Criselda wiped the blood and perspiration from her face. Another Christmas tree exploded and she could hear several of the reindeer carcasses popping from decay.

“Bled white – a good color for all of you – just like me. I am rhythm and I got the beat. A boogie – woogie slaughter. All reet. Compleet.”

As Criselda stepped back and admired her work she heard a faint Ho-ho-ho coming from behind her in the velvet darkness. The floor length mirror displayed a familiar figure with a red suit and white beard – a jolly old elf. Santa approved.

She later phoned in her story to the newspapers and local cable news stations. It was a virtuous choice clothed in despair. She had been re-educated by human nature. The story was buried. Outside people moved quickly through the New York City streets on their way to a peep show. It was 1 am December 25th.

By Peter Marra

Red Lights and Jade Paint

 
“Drop your gear, bend over, and show me what you got.” That’s what he said to her, and then he smiled a crackhouse rot smile of contentment so powerful he got hard in his pants. He’d known her for a long time. Could never be with her — in public — like this — so intimately and so perfectly — but this was fine, for the both of them. He watched the sequined thong slide down her leg to her silky smooth delicate ankle as he reached into his jacket pocket for his little spray bottle of Windex. He squirted it on the Plexiglas and buffed his view of her to a brilliant shine. She looked so good when the glass was sparkling. So hot, bent over, the length of her hair spilling onto the shabby lacquered floor. She had a dragon tattoo on her ass, its tongue curved around her buttocks, gently licking at that place no man was allowed to go.
 
He wanted that dragon, wanted to feel its breath in flame and in ash, but he never would … never could.
 
She turned around and sat down in her suped-up dentist’s chair. He loved that chair so much, her tan skin slick against the white leather and chrome. “There’s no rush, baby,” she said as she put one leg up over each arm of the chair so he could see everything. He liked to look at her, liked to watch her touch herself with those jet-black painted fingernails. Oh, she knew what he wanted. They were in synch since the moment they’d met. She smiled at him again — no words — and then produced a tube of lipstick out of thin air it seemed. She tarted her lips up all fire-engine red and shiny against her wide white teeth. And then she licked them, like he’d often imagined she might lick a lollipop or a lamppost or a tire iron. She moaned a little, winked at him — because she knew that’s exactly what he was thinking — and then she reached down to candy-apple gloss those other lips. The ones mamma said were special. The ones he didn’t deserve — ever — not even on Christmas.
 
‘detta never thought that way about him, though. They’d always had “this thing” between them, the way they could just be with each other in silence. He wanted to taste her, of course, smell her, feel her tight skin against his. He wanted her in a way that made him feel small and ashamed. She was all things. She was everything … She was Odetta Rouge, and he loved being in love with a whore.
 
“Fuck, fucking motherfucker,” he shouted when he realized the razor in his coat pocket was sharper than he thought and he cut his finger just before the blackout screen came down. Before the room went pitch and cold. He ached for her still, but he’d be with her again soon. “Not soon enough, but soon,” he thought as he smeared his blood all over the glass where the image of her had once been. A perfect image, driven from his mind when the buzzer sounded and the little light above the door changed from red to green. He waited — with patience and in silence — one latex-gloved hand on the doorknob — for the latch to click clickety clack open to the dimly lit, red-velvet covered hall of his youth. He’d lost it here somewhere, his youth, tangled up in all the jasmine scented pubic hair and lust. He slipped the razor back in its sheath and made his way to the counter.
 
“Next Tuesday?” the leather-clad clerk behind the counter asked him just before he paid what was due and scheduled his next call in her queue. It was Christmas, and Tuesday was a long way away, he thought. The stainless steel in his pocket was too cold, and next Tuesday was too long for him to wait, perhaps. He never could wait. He’d been good this year. Too good not to admit it, and too good not to take what he wanted.
 
By Cheryl Anne Gardner
 
Joy to the World

He pressed her hard up against the chilled brick building; she felt her arms scratched by the sandpaper surface. He was moving in fast for the kill, pulling at her thick red wool dress, aching to get underneath it. She loved Christmas time and these labored love affairs in cold air. She loved that the colors of the season matched those of dried blood and infected mucus. She loved how deeply he was breathing, trying to keep the icy air out of his lungs because it made the vein on his neck bulge with the effort, and she loved that vein.

They’d met at a party, of course, where it was warm and smelled of cinnamon and pine, dank with apple cider and sweet breads, wafting up through the air. But she also scented desperation, sweat and terror. That was when he crept up and gently placed his big hands on her shoulders.

“I haven’t seen you before,” he whispered into her hair. “Are you a friend of Chris’s or Judy’s?”

“Neither,” she said. “I came with my friend, but I can’t seem to find her. I think she might be occupying one of the coat closets with a Christmas lover.”

“What a wonderful idea,” he complimented. “Why don’t you and I try that?”

“I prefer the snow.”

That led them outside the townhouses, twisting through backyards until she found the perfect aisle of temptation, and the brick wall. They were far away now from the warmth of the fire and the gleaming sparkle of the tree, yet still she could smell the cinnamon, the cakes and eggnog; it was pumping through that vein. And when she clasped her pointed canines onto it, she tasted the holiday season coursing through her mouth, rolling over her tongue. There were the flavors of every Christmas this man had ever had in that bite: the fruitcakes, the chocolate Santas, the candy canes, the assorted cookies, the presents opened, the kind words of friends, the love of family, the enduring prime rib feasts, and the spent relationships. She drank his memories through that vein, drank until the last drop.

Letting him go, his body sliding down into a dead slump, and she noticed the arterial spray from his vein had left a fine mist of red blood cascading over the crystalline snow. She had managed to only spill a little of him on her dress, but no one would ever notice, since the stain matched the fabric perfectly. There had been time taken and lives lost in an attempt to find the perfect red to hide blood shed, but she succeeded and her dress was none worse the wear. She blew her Christmas romance a kiss, as she stepped over his quickly cooling form. No one would find his body until the morning, any passersby would think he was a drunk stumbled out from a party, which he kind of was only a lot more dead. She was off to find her next holiday meal in the comfort of the lights that spelled out Peace on Earth. Merry Christmas, she smiled to herself, hearing the trumpet blasts of Joy to the World echo through the streets from a nearby gathering. Joy to the World, indeed, she laughed, and vanished into the heavy powder flakes.

By Emily Smith-Miller

Red Christmas

“So she won’t let you do Christmas – at all?”

“No.”

“Not even cards?”

“Nope.”

“Presents?”

“No way.”

“Huh.”  This obviously bothered him.  I tried not to let it bother me too.

“You’ve got to have some presents – seriously, none?”

I shook my head, fat white snowflakes mixing with the dandruff on the back of my neck.  At least they cooled the pus-pearls of acne as they melted.  Streetlights cast an orange glow over the path and meant we missed the worst of the dogturds underfoot.  The ones on top of the snowfall, anyway.  The ones beneath it were long frozen solid and as such were nothing to worry about.  Not till the thaw, anyway.

“Man, that’s seriously shit.  I gotta have a word with her.  That’s child abuse.  Deprivation.  People should serve time for shit like this.”

I shrugged, half hoping he got the worst of his outrage out of his system before we got back to mine, half hoping he didn’t.

“But… why, man?  What possible reason could she have?  Did an in-store Santa slip her the finger when she was little?  Did she get coal in her stocking?”

I didn’t want to answer, it could only make it worse.  Or could it?  Tom liked me.  Maybe he was it, a Best Friend.  Maybe he’d understand.  Maybe.  I looked at him, taking in his feathered black fringe and scowling face.  Scowling on my behalf.  I opened my mouth and out it came.

“She thinks Santa’s real.”

“So?  She’s a bit old for that, isn’t she, but still, so what?  Doesn’t that make Christmas even better?”

I held up a hangnailed finger, indicating I wasn’t quite finished.

“She thinks… she thinks it’s no coincidence that the word Santa can be rearranged into Satan.  She thinks the reindeer are vampires and are trying to get in.  She thinks the red in his suit is to hide the blood from the children he maims every year – and that the gifts are just an excuse so people will let him in.”

Tom’s eyes boggled and I could see the red lines, like razored cuts through the whites, that showed when we’d been anywhere smoky.  Like Ivan’s room, above the record store.  A no-go area, according to my mum; a home from home for me.

“Vampire reindeer?  I suppose that has a creepy kind of logic – no offense, but your mum’s really weird.  Like, Tim Burton weird, but without the cool Hollywood contacts.”

I shrugged again.  How could I defend her when he was right?  She even had the same kind of finger-in-socket hair.

“I s’pose they do only come out at night.  And they have odd names.  And they’re ageless.  Yeah, I can see where she’s coming from with that.  Okaaaay.  But Santa as Satan?  Nuh-huh.  No way.  We’d have heard about those kids.  Wouldn’t we?”

I couldn’t tell what he wanted to believe, so I raised my eyebrows, noncommittal.

We rounded a corner, passed a graffiti’d grey wall, and that was it: we were home.  The poorer the area, the brighter the decorations, the keener the need for a wonderful time.  My mum’s place was a black hole of Humbug amongst the pzazz of our estate.  She salted the path regardless of the weather, her hatred of slugs and snails meaning the path was clear of both them and snow no matter what mistakes the weather lady made.  Candles flickered in the window.  We’d run out of electric again.

“It’s more like Hallowe’en than Christmas here.”

I smiled at him, his tone had been positive, not nasty.  This might just work.

The place stank of garlic.  Tom wrinkled his nose at me as I shut the door, the key turning easily in the lock.  I could have mentioned to him that his room smelled of damp trainers and dogfood, but the etiquette of friendship forbade it.  My very soul ached for a friend.  I did NOT want to fuck this up.

Something was dripping in the kitchen.  We headed toward the source of the smell.  I was so thrilled Tom was here, so glad of company, finally, that I forgot to warn him.  I forgot to say.  Not that it mattered, in the end.

“Did I tell you I got a tree out of her this year?”

His mouth made an ‘o’ like the blow-up doll Curly had smuggled into school last year.  “That’s progress, mate – well done you!  What’d you say to her?”

I opened the kitchen door, ushering him into the darkness as I fumbled for my lighter, sparking it between shivering fingers as I muttered:  “Well, it wasn’t so much what I said as what I did…”

I touched the flame to the nightlight on the table, just as Tom’s eyes grew accustomed to the darkness and he filled his lungs with Italian air, panic and disbelief.

“WHAT THE FUCK?!”

What the fuck indeed?  I thought the tree had turned out quite nicely, but apparently not.

My mother was a small woman, all skin and sinew – though I’ll admit she had great guts, too.  They looked quite good, looping in fat pink tubes instead of tinsel round the damp red walls.  I’d had to use a few nails every time the intestine threatened to sag too low – I’d found to my annoyance that just one would make it tear, and I’d wanted to make the place just right for my new found friend.  He was very pale, wheezing at my side.  Asthma was making him her bitch.  I’d picked the inhaler from his pocket on the beanbags at Ivan’s before.  His eyes had bugged out so far they looked as if they might burst out of his face any minute now.  If they did, they did – plenty more room for baubles on the tree.

I’d nailed her to the mantelpiece, ready for Santa, crucifixion-style.  There was just enough flesh on her bones to keep them together, but I’d pared it back along the uppermost stretches of bone to give an impression of snow to the casual observer.  White strips sloped up to her lolling head, the sockets dark and staring.  Flesh and skin draped in swathes round her feet, tied together with twine and the filleted skin from her shins.  Her knees bowed out to the sides, her legs secured in a diamond shape against the wall.  Those big long nails had been expensive – but when I looked at her, I knew it was worth it.

Her shins were all red, but her thighs glistened white on top, the bones again serving as snow.  Quite well done, I thought.  Especially the ribs.  I’d splayed them out like straightened fingers, hooking an eyeball from one on each side.  They were so slippery, but beautiful, and again totally worth it.  I’d never noticed how blue her eyes were till I’d clawed them from her still twitching sockets.  Tom’s were green, and starting to roll back, the red tracery still vivid against the whites.  Very festive.

I nearly slipped on the red-puddled floor.  Tom was slowly sagging against the wall.  All I could hear was the drip-drip-drip from what was left of her chest cavity, his throat must have totally closed.  Oh well, on to the piece de resistance!

It had required the last of the hairspray and the use of her hairbrush for something other than spanking my bottom.  But I’d left her scalp intact for a purpose – and it looked fantastic!  A flick of the lighter and boof! up it went.  A flaming star atop my terrible tree.

I turned back to my friend, crouched beside him to lift his head, giving him a better view.  He had much better skin than I did.  It would look great on my wall.

Then – disaster.  I’d forgotten about that knife.  The cheese knife with the manky wooden handle I could never quite get clean, and the forked swoop of prong at the end.  The one that I’d chucked over my shoulder so carelessly when I was looking for the bread knife to saw the sternum of what had been my mother.  That one.

I’d never experienced such pain before.  He got me right on the chin-rest, as we’d called after school.  Talk about ripping me a new arsehole – now I had another two!  I kicked him over, throwing myself backward, yanking the bastard knife out as I did.  My fingers fumbled at my fly for ages till I finally managed to yank them down.  The room was darker despite mum’s flaring hair and stank of burnt hair and sweet meat.  Better than the bloody garlic.  I couldn’t get up from the floor again, and my jeans stuck at my ankles: I just didn’t have the strength to toe my boots off.  The cloth was sodden with blood, and it warmed me where I lay.  Tom was still.  Not even a quiver.

Something gave within me, and I laughed.  A new scent filled the room as stars sparkled near my eyes.  Another item off the wish-list: finally, a Yule Log.

By Gill Hoffs

The Night

walk with me soft on dark
green grass the bright green blades
stick in between the pads of
our fur-covered hands and feet just beyond the row of trees
the village sleeps we’re not afraid not
you not me running with me softly swiftly snarling
deep down in our throats a tiger’s purr a
woman’s scream blood smears my face my lips and sweat
shines on our flanks and we so beautiful
we find the child leap through the window climb in
his bed rip out his throat before he screams I always
save you the best pieces
lie with me soft on dark green grass kiss my lips
kiss the monster goodbye

By Holly Day

Short bio: Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream. Her book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies, and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.

‘Til Death Do Us Part

Hugo sat watching the late night re-runs. His eyes were glazed and the stark light from the television made his flesh look anemic as he slumped in the lounge-chair. He looked at the clock on the wall and rubbed his tired eyes, 2.30 am. Hugo stifled a yawn and looked at his wife who was propped up with cushions in the centre of the couch. Her eyes rolled in the back of her head and an audible snore came from her inflamed nostrils perched above the duct-tape covering her mouth.

Hugo looked back at the 20/20 program with renewed interest as a story came on about a local surgeon who had successfully separated conjoined twins. The gory footage of the operation showed the surgeon meticulously separating the cranial flesh, bone and then the blood vessels and other viscera surrounding the two exposed brains. Mary-Beth murmured as Hugo turned the volume up. He glanced back over at her and noticed the blood had now coagulated at the end of her bloody limbs where he had crudely cauterised the wounds.

The story continued as the journalist interviewed the surgeon after the operation in his opulent downtown office. Hugo was sure he had seen the surgeon before somewhere. He realized that the medical insurance company he had worked with for the last two decades probably had the good doctor on their books. Hell, he’d probably even sold the surgeon some expensive public liability insurance. That must be it, Hugo concluded and looked back at Mary-Beth again. He had tried to dress her in her own clothes but had settled for an old bathrobe that kept her warm enough. He had cut the sleeves off to stop the blood soaking into the material where her arms had once joined her shoulders. He envied the skill of the surgeon but was happy he had effectively removed Mary-Beth’s limbs without losing her during the operation.

 ***

Hugo had been spending a lot of time recently in the large basement of their ample house. He had taken annual leave and had used the three-month vacation to set a few things straight in his otherwise mediocre existence. He had been awake four nights straight and was finally ready for sleep now that the operation had succeeded and he knew he would never lose Mary-Beth again.

He stood and stretched his tired body, making his way to the bathroom to piss and brush his teeth. He looked in the mirror and saw a stranger looking back at him. Short but messy black hair. White, pasty complexion; black rings circling his staring eyes beneath expensive glasses. He looked gaunt and far from the tanned, healthy, young executive, he had been a month ago. He took the spectacles and placed them on the edge of the sink as he brushed his teeth.

Hugo, now dressed for bed, went back to the lounge to kiss Mary-Beth good night. He didn’t notice the petrified look of fear in her eyes or the shivering of her body as it passed through the final stages of shock. He kissed her gently on her clammy brow and whispered, “Love you Mary-Beth, beautiful wife. I love you forever.” With that he turned and made his way down the hall to the bedroom, failing to notice that his once beautiful wife had toppled sideways, before landing on the plush rug in front of the couch, head first.

*** 

Hugo stayed awake for a while, waiting for sleep to take him away to a dark place. He thought about Mary-Beth and couldn’t help feeling a deep anger and resentment at the way she had deceived him. He had found out that she was planning to leave him through a mutual friend that worked at the office. A night out with the guys from work led to drunken conversations and then one of them had told him directly that Mary-Beth was ‘fucking one of the other reps from the competing Medical Insurance Group across town.’ He dismissed it as rumor at first. After all, they had only been married six months and that kind of thing only happened to other people after years of marriage. However, he had been wrong. As soon as he could, he checked her phone while she was out and found the revelatory text messages from STEVE.

He confronted Mary-Beth and she bluntly told him that she wanted to move out of their new house and that she was going to seek an annulment, failing that, a divorce. He hadn’t handled the news well, maniacally reciting their wedding vows as she hurriedly packed her bags. She ignored him as he continued to plead with her, asking her “why?” The final straw had been when she had dragged her suitcase down the steps to the front door, turned and told him that she had never loved him. That she had been banging STEVE since their engagement party and that STEVE was twice the man Hugo would ever be.

Mary-Beth was his wife, no-one else’s and he would be damned if he was going to let her get away from him so easily. Hugo decided that she would not leave him, ever.

*** 

Sleep hit Hugo hard. The blackness came but with it marched the nightmares. He dreamed of Mary-Beth. Flashes of her beautiful smile, slow motion visions of her curvaceous body twisting seductively, and then torrents of blood flooded his thoughts. He saw Mary-Beth bound to the workbench in the basement, the fluorescent light above illuminating her naked body, bound with ratchet tie-downs. He could see the rise and fall of her breast slow, with the effect of the strong sedative he had given her. Hugo started to sweat profusely in his sleep as the dream replayed what he did next to Mary-Beth. He remembered the intoxicated numbness he felt as he fired the Black ‘n’ Decker electric handsaw to life. He held the vibrating saw with one hand and took a giant swig of the expensive cognac he held in the other. He remembered putting the bottle down slowly as if trying to delay what would come next and then, it was as if he fell into a dream, a very bad dream, as he began to remove Mary-Beth’s thin limbs one by one.  Dark blood gushed from the fresh wounds, covering Hugo and the workshop, in a visceral spray of warm fluid and flesh.

He briefly worried about electrocution but recalled plugging the saw into a transformer before he began. He also recalled the tension in Mary-Beth’s body as the angry saw bit into her soft flesh. He watched her smooth skin turn from mocha to chalk as her body slipped into shock. As he put the saw down, Hugo felt the first wave of nausea hit him and he threw up violently on the floor as he picked up the glowing iron resting on the shelf above the workbench. He forced himself to push it hard on the bloodied stump of her shoulder, where once her arm had been. He threw-up again as her flesh sizzled and popped as the crude but effective method cauterised Mary-Beth’s horrible wounds. One by one, he completed the process and with a final application of antiseptic cream and bandages, Hugo finished the task and woke from his nightmare.

He sat up in bed trembling as he tried to convince himself the whole thing had been an elaborate nightmare. No matter how hard he tried to convince himself, he knew it wasn’t a bad dream. He got out of bed and made his way into the lounge, finding Mary-Beth facedown in the shag-pile rug. He quickly, but gently, picked her up and took her back to the bedroom, laying her carefully on her side of the bed, before climbing in behind her and falling into a deep sleep. This time, he dreamed a different dream than before.

 ***

Days passed and Hugo knew he had to do something. Mary-Beth was no longer drinking the pureed food that he had been giving her through a tube. She felt cold and he began to panic. “I won’t lose you again my love,” he repeated to her as he lay by her side on the bed and stroked her delicate features. “I won’t ever lose you again.”

The seed of an idea began to germinate in his mind as he paced the basement that night. The basement was as clean as the day they moved in. He had spent the better part of a week cleaning it from top to bottom. A ten-litre pail of disinfectant and another of bleach were used to mop down every surface. He had carefully wrapped Mary-Beth’s limbs in newspaper before binding them with masking tape. The next day he spent the morning sweeping fall leaves into a pile in the middle of the backyard.

As soon as night fell, he poured an accelerant on the leaves and stoked the pile with various pieces of timber and flammable rubbish he had found around the house. He placed the wrapped limbs carefully in the centre of the pyre and struck a match. The flames rose high into the air and he was sure he could hear Mary-Beth’s screams as the fire crackled and burned ferociously.   

Hugo headed back inside and took Mary-Beth down from her perch in front of the window overlooking the back lawn. A faint smell emanated from her and he realized she had relieved herself. He cleaned her up in the bathtub, careful not to let her slip under the murky water. He towelled her dry and slipped the wedding ring on a gold chain over her bowed head, he had made sure he salvaged it from her hand before he got rid of her useless limbs in the fire. He sprayed her with some deodorant, failing to suppress his disgust as he noticed she was still leaking from various wounds and her skin had the color and sheen of an avocado. He wrapped her in a clean towel, knowing what he had to do now.

Hugo put her back to bed and went downstairs to the garage. He backed the shiny-black BMW out of the garage and headed downtown. It had been easy enough to find out the surgeon’s work address, all Hugo had to do was have a quick look online and he had all the contact details he needed to track him down. He spent the following week driving back and forth, spending hours monitoring the surgeon’s movements outside the plush downtown office where he worked while not in surgery.

 ***

Philip Binder Snr, MD was on the homestretch of a successful career in Paediatric neurosurgery and was looking forward to a very comfortable retirement. The last successful operation he’d performed on the Chinese conjoined twins had been the crowning glory of a forty-year run as the principal Neuro-Surgeon at the Portvale Municipal Hospital. He had won various accolades and awards for his pioneering work in the field and was considered by many to be the best. 

Hugo had done his research, spending days in the library reading the various publications written by and concerning the surgeon. Hundreds of different medical news archives provided the background of the man via Google and the Internet. The most important part of Hugo’s research was the 20/20 story that he’d recorded, when it replayed a few days after the initial broadcast. He’d sit there at night trying to battle his insomnia by watching the feature story repeatedly. Hugo knew exactly what he needed to do so nobody would ever take Mary-Beth away from him again and the good doctor would be the one to help him achieve his goal.

Hugo tried not to notice the slightly rancid perfume as he wrapped Mary-Beth in a blanket and placed her in the boot of the BMW. He swallowed and took a breath of the afternoon air as he opened the garage doors and let sunlight flood in. He tried not to think too much about the damp dark stain on his shirt-sleeve, where he had cradled Mary-Beth before wrapping her, as he gingerly brushed some residual flesh from his arm. He went to the rear of the garage and took down the Mossberg shotgun from the gun rack mounted above the workbench. It had been a wedding gift from Mary-Beth’s father along with big plans to go hunting in the fall. Hugo had never used it before and lamented the fact that he would never be going hunting with his father-in-law now. He packed the two boxes of shells that came with the gift into an overnight bag and wrapped another blanket around the Shotgun, before placing them both in the boot next to Mary-Beth. “I love you my darling,” Hugo said, as he gently closed the boot.

 ***

Hugo waited in the car with the window down as the end of the day approached. The heat from the afternoon sun made the interior of the car rank with the smell of purification but Hugo remained focussed on the mission ahead. He watched the surgeon’s staff leave the small but exclusive office on the town-belt, only a short walk away from the Municipal Hospital. As the last staff member left, Hugo backed the car up to the side exit of the office block and turned the engine off.

He cradled Mary-Beth in one arm and with the other, levelled the shotgun at the doorway as Binder opened the door to leave work. The look of shock on the surgeon’s face propelled Hugo forward, bundling the older man back into his office and locking the door behind him. Hugo placed Mary-Beth upright in a chair in the Surgeon’s waiting room and the blanket fell away, taking with it most of the decomposed flesh from her face. “I want you to meet Mary-Beth, doc,” said Hugo with a too-large smile.

 ***

Hugo lay naked on the floor of the office and motioned with the shotgun for the surgeon to approach with his surgical tool kit. Mary-Beth lay beside Hugo naked also. Binder Snr’s hands trembled as he removed various instruments: scalpel, sutures, forceps, and needles, laying them on a cloth next to Mary-Beth’s decomposing corpse. Hugo smiled up from the floor where he lay. “You know what to do Doctor – local anaesthetic first, right?” The surgeon shook his head, still reeling in shock at what was happening in his office. He considered running but looked in Hugo’s crazed eyes and knew the man was completely insane. He knew if he did not do exactly what the thin man said, he would be very dead.

His fingers shook with fear as the muzzle of the shotgun jabbed his mid-section, encouraging him to administer the anaesthetic with a syringe into various junctures along Hugo’s right side, from the ribs down to the hip.

“Where you goin’ doc?” slurred Hugo, as Binder Snr. rose to his feet slowly.

“I need to get some antiseptic wipes,” said the surgeon as he made his way to his desk and removed the sterile wipes from a glass wall cabinet behind his leather chair. He looked over his shoulder briefly and saw Hugo grinning at him from the office floor, holding the shotgun at arm’s length, pointing directly at the surgeon’s head. As he turned back to the bizarre prospect in front of him, the surgeon pressed the small record button on the remote sitting on the edge of his desk. He knew the office security camera would be whirring into life and would at least capture what was happening, even though he felt that he might not get to see the footage or enjoy his coming retirement.

 ***

The Senior Investigating Officer leaned over and puked into the waste-paper bin next to his desk. The other officers looked away in disgust as the security camera footage replayed the grim surgery. “I just kept doing what he told me to do,” explained the surgeon, choking back tears. The monitor buzzed with the low-res footage as the bizarre scene showed the surgeon, hunched over the bodies of Hugo and Mary-Beth.

The sound was barely audible apart from an occasional scream from Hugo, as the Surgeon cut and clamped, sutured and stitched. The officers watched as the surgeon rose quickly from the floor, scrabbling out of camera range to reveal the torso of Mary-Beth joined just above Hugo’s hip with a blackened wound laced with tight stitches. Hugo’s head rolled back and forth and a blood curdling scream emanated from the computer monitor, flashes of white exploded from the barrel of the shotgun as he fired wildly around the small office, writhing on the floor. The officers continued to watch the footage in silence, as Hugo appeared to lose consciousness. Nothing stirred onscreen and then the sweat-soaked back of the surgeon appeared and bent down over Hugo and Mary-Beth’s prone forms.

“I’m administering adrenaline and more painkillers at this point,” explained Binder Snr MD, wiping sweat from his forehead with a bloodied handkerchief.

The footage kept playing, the surgeon clearly recoiling from the now-conscious Hugo who had the shotgun levelled at the surgeon’s bald head.

“I should’ve taken that damn rifle off him when I had the chance,” sobbed the surgeon. One of the officers patted him on the shoulder and reassured him that he ‘did all he could’ve done.’ Binder Snr MD looked far from reassured, as the camera footage continued.

Hugo tried to get to his feet and fell sideways with the dead weight of Mary-Beth’s attached torso. His face opened with obvious pain a high-pitched scream exploded from the monitor speakers. He dropped the shotgun on the floor, a flash erupting from the muzzle as it discharged involuntarily. The surgeon quickly darted out of camera range once again.

“This time I ran. I ran out of there as fast as I could and called you guys straight away.”

“You did the right thing sir,” said the grim-faced Senior Investigating Officer.

The younger officers watched open-mouthed as the monitor now showed Hugo holding himself up on the edge of the surgeon’s desk, his arm wrapped around Mary-Beth’s naked torso, blood leaking profusely down his thigh from the now-gaping wound which had split open. Hugo seemed to be talking to his grim appendage, kissing the decomposed face, wiping the rancid flesh from its lips. He was also visibly paler, as he started to slip in the dark pool of blood at his feet.

He let go of Mary-Beth to steady himself and the wound visibly split, her limp body tearing away in a spray of blood as the stitches burst where they joined the bodies. As Hugo tried to regain his footing, Mary-Beth’s body seemed to twitch and then the limb-less corpse reared up. Hugo’s face twisted with terror as he tried to recoil from the swinging corpse attached to his thin frame. Mary-Beth appeared to launch herself at Hugo, the skeletal face animated visibly in rage, black rotting hole of a mouth stretched wide, teeth snapping at his neck.

Hugo collapsed on the floor in the middle of the black pool of blood, the thrashing corpse on top of him, their separate bodies barely discernable now, both covered in slick gore.

Two of the younger officers tried to choke back vomit as they continued to stare numbly at the screen. An arm flailed underneath the heaving mass of flesh and blood, then a thin shiny sliver of steel appeared from under the desk, clasped in Hugo’s clenched fist. The surgeon’s scalpel slashed into the back of his wife’s corpse, hacking and cutting at the mutilated wound that half-joined the two together. As the bodies separated with each slicing cut and Hugo pushed the dismembered corpse away from his own eviscerated body, the camera faltered and started to judder as the recording ended.

“What the fuck just happened?” asked the Senior Officer, a shocked look on his face that offered no hope of any understanding. The surgeon sat in his chair, his sweaty bald head clasped between his bloodied hands. Some of the other officers excused themselves and left the office, while the remaining few shuffled uncomfortably and looked at each other for an answer. The coroner, who had been watching proceedings impassively from the doorway, took two steps forwards and dropped the autopsy report on the Senior Officer’s cluttered desk.

“Two deaths, one by homicide, one by misadventure. The female’s time of death, at least one to two weeks before the male’s. Male neck wounds unexplained, although clearly bite marks correspond with the female dental records and the footage you have just witnessed.”

“How the hell am I gonna write this one up?” asked the Senior Officer to no-one in particular, shaking his head, hypnotised by the folder on the desk in front of him. He picked up the coroner’s report and looked at the folder blankly. He placed it back on his desk amidst the surrounding clutter of forms, case files and reference books, then placed his hand on top of it as if he was about to swear on the good book. The coroner leaned across the desk, picking up one of the rubber stamps heaped in a basket next to the ‘in-and-out’ trays overflowing with paper. He rolled the stamp in the red inkpad next to the phone and bought the stamp down hard on the cover of the report.

‘CASE CLOSED,’ declared the imprint, now emblazoned diagonally across the cardboard folder.  The Officer picked up the folder, waving his remaining colleagues from the room before heading to the filing cabinet. He opened the bottom drawer and filed the report at the back of the other copious files marked ‘Case Closed.’ Slowly shaking his head, he repeated, “Case closed,” as he took the half empty bottle of scotch from another drawer, unscrewed the cap and drank half of its contents in a single mouthful, not giving a fuck if anyone saw him do it.

By William Cook

http://3cagency.blogspot.com/

Harpy

She wore the damask face of an obelisk, albeit a pretty one. Her sharp features were accentuated by high cheekbones, crimson lips, and eyes so blue they almost looked purple. Her long hair was brunt sienna not quite brown, not quite red, yet both. It wasn’t auburn, it was a shade past it.  

She had a tall, lithe form and she stood against the counter of the gas station’s store with a Snickers clasped in her hand as if it were her only prayer. Her lips were pressed tightly together with an air of determination. He had the distinct feeling that she was not a woman to be crossed, yet he could not stop staring at her. He had never seen someone quite that beautiful before.  

She paid for her slight purchase and then walked out the door with an unknown purport. He didn’t want her to leave without getting a chance to say hello. He ran after her. “Wait, miss, did it hurt falling from heaven?” he blurted, his face reddening, as she laughed at him. 

“Wow.” 

“I’m sorry, that was pretty cheesy, wasn’t it?” 

“Just a bit,” she agreed.  

“Would you like to go out for a cup of coffee?”  

“I’d love to, but I can’t. My son has algebra homework that I have to help him with. It was nice meeting you. Maybe I’ll see you again.” 

“Maybe,” he frowned, watching her go. He felt like an idiot. Of course someone as beautiful as her would be married. With a kid? He had never been good with kids. Still, there was something about her that would make him try if given the chance. He doubted that he’d be that lucky. 

Women like that generally had no interest in men like him. Why should they? They were beautiful, and he was spectacularly average. Sure, he was cute, but that was what one wanted to be when they were six. He was well into his thirties. He had always wished he had been a pretty boy, then women like her would give him the time of day. 

It was a chance that she just used the boy as a cover to get away from him. It was her polite way of blowing him off, maybe. 

He snorted. He wouldn’t be surprised if it were. He made his way to his truck, nearly dropping his keys as she tapped him on the shoulder.  

“Hey!” 

“Hey?! Sorry, you scared me.” 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she laughed. “Not my intention. I just thought I’d give you my number, you’re kind of cute. My name is Janice by the way — my husband and I got divorced a year ago, pretty messy break-up, I haven’t really been looking . . .” She cut herself off. “Sorry, I’m blithering on like an idiot.” 

“Blither on all you want, I like watching your lips move,” he grinned. 

“Oh, hush you!” she laughed, playfully punching him on the arm. “If you would like to come over later, you should give me a call. I’d love to see you again . . .?” 

“Timothy.” 

“I’d love to see you again, Tim.” With that, she blew him a kiss, and drove off into her car.  

He blinked. This had to be some sort of cruel dream. He was never this lucky! Yet when he pinched himself, he found that he was awake. He grinned, he was glad that his truck had decided to kick out right there and he had gotten gas here. To be honest he rarely bought gas as this station despite it’s close locale to his home — it was generally twenty cents more expensive than the cheapest one and he was frugal. Okay, he was cheap, but money didn’t grow on trees. He did spend his hard earned cash on things that mattered, but he would rather not spend his entire live’s savings on gas if he didn’t have to.  

He flipped the keys in the ignition and drove off. He liked the way her lips had formed to say ‘Tim’. She hadn’t insisted upon calling him Timothy like his mother always did or his previous girlfriend Tamara had. He liked that.  

She was sure she was the feisty type, too, there was likely more scarlet than brown in those veins of hers.  

When he got home, he pulled the keys out of the ignition, walking to the door with an extra bounce in his step. He wrenched the mail out of the mailbox, and opened the door, letting his St. Bernard Ro out. Ro came back moments later, whining to be let in just as he was throwing dinner into the microwave. “Okay, buddy, hold on, old boy,” he muttered, opening the door. “I met a girl today, Ro, I think she could be good for us.” Ro wagged his tail. “She’s really pretty.” Ro wagged his tail and barked. “I’m not lying, she is.” Ro licked his face. He laughed. “Settle down, boy.” 

Later that night when he was watching t.v. he sat on the couch with Ro laying across his lap. He pulled out his cell and called Janice.  

Janice was elated to her from him and she gave him the directions to her house. It was all a little sudden, but he didn’t mind. He could use a distraction from his every day life. After Tamara had left him his life had been painted in varying shades of charcoal. He could use a bit of ivory to lessen out the black.  

Janice was pacing nervously when he got there. He saw her circling the floor, pacing like a dog. He wondered if there were something wrong. He knocked on the door, and saw her face light up like a Christmas tree. Maybe she was just as anxious as he was. He didn’t think that women as pretty as her got their nerves twisted in knots but evidently they did. 

“It’s so nice to see you again, Tim. My son Gabe is sleeping.” 

“Short for Gabriel?”  

“No, just Gabe,” she smiled. “I’m not particularly religious,” she explained. “I’ve never been to a church since my mother used to drag me there as a child.” 

“I see,” he said with a solemn nod. “I’m a heathen, I’ve never been.” 

She laughed. “You seem like a nice guy to me,” she winked. “Would you like something to drink?” 

“Do you have any coffee?” 

“Sure,” she smiled. “I’ll be right back, why don’t you sit down on the couch, and make yourself at home.” 

He hated when people said that. It wasn’t like anyone could. It was awkward being at someone’s house for the first time. 

He waited for what seemed ages, he wondered if Janice hadn’t fallen in the coffee pot.  

“Sorry about that,” she laughed, walking in. “Coffee maker had a mind of it’s own there, I thought it was breaking down on me.”

“Sorry you had to go through all that trouble on account of me.” 

“It was no trouble, at all,” she smiled.  

He hardly remembered falling asleep, but suddenly woke himself with a jarring nod. He blinked, looking around him. The lights were all turned out, Janice was nowhere to be found. This just struck him as very odd. He stood up from his spot on the couch, only to be thrown back down again. 

“Don’t resist, just let my mouth go where it wants to,” Janice crooned.  

He was more than happy to oblige.  

It wasn’t until something painful sung against the fabric of his throat, that he blinked. “What the hell was that?” he mumbled. 

Janice didn’t answer, she just bit down harder. 

“What the hell are you, a vampire?” he sneered. 

“Exactly,” she muttered, not removing her fangs from his throat. “Stop being such a pussy, and take the pain like a man,” she growled, kicking him hard in the crotch as he made an attempt to stand. “All men are the same. They think with the wrong head.”  

“You’re crazy.” 

“Am I? You’re the one that was going to let me a perfect stranger put my mouth where I wanted to. You’re messed up,” she informed him, slicing his abdomen open with her nails. 

He howled with pain. 

“Don’t worry, it will all be over soon.” She ripped his still beating heart out of his chest with one labored pull. She let him watch her observe it for a second before biting into it.  

He fell in a bloody heap at her feet.  

“Pathetic,” came a voice behind her. “My victim lasted longer than yours.” 

“Shut up, Gabe, before I rip your heart out, too.”

By Linda Crate

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-M-Crate/129813357119547

Bad To The Bone

Pop. Pop. Pop.

That’s right it’s me, you found me you nasty fucker. Like what you see, don’t ya?  Come, c’mon closer, c’mon, I know you want to. Don’t be shy. Everybody wants a piece of me. But I’ve got to warn you if you think you’re one bad ass, I am twice as bad. I’m bai-yid to the bone.

If you’re looking for a story about some sad fool who finds redemption go read fucking Anne Rice, because you’re not going to find it here. There’s no redemption here.

I know right about know you’re wondering what’s going on, what the fuck did you get yourself into. Well, I’m gonna tell you, but not so fast. You know, baby, the best things come nice and slow, but yeah, not too slow, I hear you.

Right now they all think I’m dead, they think they offed, me, but you know better. There’s no killing me. I kill for the fun of it. You can’t kill someone who kills for the fun of it; all you can do is make them meaner.

I’ve been bad to the bone for a while now, when I was just a little doodad I collected bones, all kinds of bones, cow bones, bird bones, cat bones, dog bones. I lingered in their smooth feel and in the sultry idea that they held some poor soul together. The thought that they were once part of something living made all my joints sing. After the pop I’d hold them in my hands and I’d almost come in my pants- that blistering marrow of life.

You know bones are just the like fools they hold together; they’re strong and they’re weak at the same time. Bones break easy, in a snap. There’s nothing like the sound of the snap, the break and the pop, just like when I’m pulling one out of some suckers shoulder-the pop and the snap.

I wondered if that punk Rueben thought he was going to catch me in here. He was probably the only one who didn’t believe I was dead. That boy didn’t believe anything, which is why he always jumped the gun, but this time he was right.  But if he did come round here, I’d show him I’d pop his shoulder blade out. Snap crackle pop.

“Billy Billy, are you up? I haven’t got fucking time this morning. Get your ass out of bed or I ain’t lending you my car, you got me?”

“Shit!” My mother was at the door. I know what you’re thinking. Well, don’t because I’m still a bad ass. She kept banging. Then the door flung open. I could see the smoke fall out of her mouth like she was John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. No one takes a drag from a cigarette like my mother she looks so freakin’ bad, badder than me. So I got up, pulled my t-shirt down over my briefs. I tried to pull the door closed, but Mom was pushing against it.

I hollered, “Fuck, I’m not dressed yet, I’ll be right down.”

“You fucking better, Billy or you’re toast, and you better go to classes today. I swear this is your last chance.”

Then I could feel the door fall away in my hands. I was walking back to my bed, when I heard her knock again.

So,  I turned around. I was about to kick the damn door and then I heard her say, “I got some breakfast ready for you, hurry.”

It was a good thing she said that or I would have popped her. She was a smart Alice, watching her step like that. I love her and all but there was only so much I’d fucking take. Now, I wouldn’t really pop my mother, but you thought I might, didn’t ya? That’s because you never know what Billy is going to do.

People always talk about bones crunching but bones don’t crunch they snap and pop.

After I heard her steps fall down the stairs I opened my dresser. Hell, I didn’t care, I kept the special bones right in my top drawer. No one would ever believe this, what I had contained in this drawer, this was my prize. I picked up the jawbone and I held it held it near the window next to the dresser. The morning sun was pouring in. I should’ve feel guilt, remorse.  I felt nothing but chills. The sun blazed against the blistering marrow. My dick got hard. It can’t describe what it’s like to hold your kill in your hands, what’s inside your kill, it’s fucking insane.

I had to hurry before she came back up again. I threw a pair of jeans on. I’d shower whenever. I ran down the stairs and saw her  over the stove, cigarette dangling out of her mouth, flip-flops on her feet, house coat around her waist. I had an image of her standing over the stove the window opens and a man’s hands pushes through the glass and strangles the life out of her like she’s in a snuff film. I love the word snuff. She turned around and scooped some eggs onto a plate, cigarette still dangling out of her mouth. We didn’t say a word. We both sat down at the table and scooped the eggs into our mouths. I don’t know how she did it, but I don’t think her cigarette ever left her mouth till she finally put it out in her plate after she devoured every last drop of yellow that was on that dish.

Then she said, “Billy you can’t spend your life sleeping in your room. You can’t keep cutting classes. And for god sakes you need to find some more friends. We could use some extra hands around here.”

She took another drag from her cigarette. I didn’t even see her light the next one. She stood and she threw the dishes in the sink like they were old tires.

“Fuck, mom,” I said, “What about Reuben?”

“Reuben is a freak and when is the last time you saw Reuben? Say where has Reuben been lately?”

So I just said real quiet-like, “I’ve seen him recently, mom.” It was sort of true, like I cared about the damn truth. The truth is what you make it.

But she just cried back, “You are a liar like you’re good for nothing father. I suppose you saw him recently too.”

“Screw you, mom.” She knew I’d never seen my father. I should’ve popped her right then and there. If she wasn’t my mother I would have. At that moment I decided I had to think of more serious shit. I couldn’t keep getting sidetracked with my mom’s bullshit, or my schools bullshit, or with friend bullshit. I didn’t talk much at school anyway I just liked to watch, and wait.

She reached into her housecoat and threw the car keys on the table. “Remember no fucking around, Billy you have this car home right after school, and could you pick me up a carton of Marlboro? Tell Chester to put it on my tab.”

Then she turned around and walked out of the kitchen. The door swung behind her. I stared at the keys in my hand for a moment and thought about Reuben.

I suppose I don’t have to tell you I didn’t go anywhere near that school.

I stepped on the gas. I felt like flooring the son of a bitch, digging up some gravel, screeching like a lunatic. I tore down the road a bit. We were right off a highway. There are patches of woods all over the place near my house.  Soon I pulled over to the side of the road right near that old willow tree, the big one that always looks like it’s about to topple over.

Well, I just sat in the car and watched the sun hit the leaves. I thought about everything, and I thought about nothing. I thought about bones. I thought about school. That school was filled with bones. All kind of bones, old bones, young bones…live bones. Then I thought about Rueben. I ain’t going to tell you what I was thinking just yet. You’ll soon see.

I never did feel like talking. Not to the kids at school. They all thought they were better than me, but the thing, the one thing I was really afraid of was finding out that it was true. Sometimes I’d get confused, you know. I was naïve. I thought everyone was as honest as me, but they weren’t, they were all just lying sacks of bones, bones to play with, bones to keep.

Anyway, just beyond the tree and down aways there was a dirt road, and off to the side there was a large patch of brush between two big fucking oak trees. And between the trees, in the brush, was my latest prize. And the fucker deserved it. Remember, I told you before, he didn’t believe anything. Well let me enlighten you, I made a believer out of him.

I put the car into gear. And I slowly cruised down the road. You could hear the gravel spitting out under the rubber marking each spin of the wheels. Branches brushed against the side of the car as the wood got thicker. The sunlight clicked on and off like a shutter on an old camera. When I neared the first tree, I put the car in park.

I barely closed the door. It was so quiet. I’ve never heard such quiet, not even a god damned cricket.  I stepped through the brush. That’s when I caught the first glimpse of Reuben, his hands tied together. Ruben lying on the ground, well not lying, lying implies voluntary motion; he was fucking chained to the ground. But the first thing I saw that morning were his hands, tied, reaching like they were praying, I guess for some kind of help from somewhere, but Reuben wasn’t going to get help, not the kind of help he wanted.

I made sure he was good and secure when I tied him there. Good old Rueben’s chains were attached to a heavy block of wood I spread out on the ground the day before I lured him into the brush. I weighed that wood down with big old cinder blocks. Rueben wasn’t going anywhere. His hands were tied. His legs were tied. Hell, I would’ve tied his dick too, if I thought he could use it to run.

As I approached him I saw the sweat dripping down his neck, files buzzing round his head. But Rueben had bigger problems, because he only had one foot left. I popped his other foot yesterday, popped it, broke it, and then I fucking chopped it off. I was doing Reuben nice and slow. One day at a time. A bone a day keeps the blues away.

I just stood over him grinning for a few minutes. He must have thought I was one sick fucker, and I was, am.  I thought about tearing the tape from his mouth but I knew he was just going to whine like a little bitch after the first rip. Poor Reuben should have listened to me. It’s not like I didn’t warn him, and I didn’t warn everyone, little Rueben was special.

I knelt over him. You could hear the leaves brush away as I drew close to his left ear.

I started out in a whisper, “You didn’t believe me did you, Rueben?  What did I tell you? I told you I didn’t want to be your friend, that I didn’t want any damn friends, but you wouldn’t leave me alone. I told you I had secrets, secrets I couldn’t share with anyone. You thought I was fucking gay? Ha that is such small potatoes compared to this, ain’t it?”

Then I began to yell, “ain’t it!”

I became so excited; I felt my dick get hard again. I ripped the tape from his mouth. He winced  like a son of a bitch and then he screamed. I didn’t care. No one was going to hear him out there.

I said, “shut the fuck up Reuben.” Then I slapped him across the face, like I was a damn jailhouse screw.

His lips sort of clenched together and he cried,” I’m sorry, Billy, I’m sorry. Please just let me go!”

See what I mean by special? Most of them would tell me what a sick bastard I was but not Reuben he freakin’ apologized. Oh I knew what he was doing, I wasn’t a fool, but still it took a certain crazy to apologize in the position he found himself in. I think, Reuben was possibly crazier than yours truly. I knew his bones were going to be good, maybe the best. I brought his foot bone along to show it to him. Seeing is believing. I was going to wave it right in his sorry eyes.

I held his head and I said, “You’re not going anywhere, Rueben, sorry or not. What did I tell you? I told you to stay away from me!”

“I thought I could help you, “he sobbed out,” I just wanted to be your friend.”

“Who the fuck are you the Salvation Army? You’re just an eighteen year old punk. Oh you are going to die nice. You didn’t believe me. No matter what I said you didn’t believe me. You believe me now dontcha, Rueben?”

“Yes, Billy,” he said, and his eyes started to water like a little girl. It was making me crazy. I just wanted to pop every bone in his body right then and there. It was hot. I pulled on his hair and he began to scream. Then I dangled the foot bone before his eyes. I didn’t have a chance to clean it off real good yet. There were still some shreds of skin and blood dripping on the surface. I like to clean them off good, like my mom always says clean is mean.

Then I toyed with him a little. It’s all part of the game.

I said, smiling, “Hey Ruben how’d you like to play some football?”

I thought he was going to scream more, but he just stared at me like he was the saddest puppy in the world. I almost felt sorry for him, but his bones, the anticipation of what was to come drove any pity I was feeling into the farthest reaches of nowhere. It was fucking Miller time! This one was on me!

He cried out while his hands thrashed the chains against the wood,” if you let me go I won’t say a word, I swear, Billy.”

He didn’t understand. He thought I was worried about getting caught like this was some average crime. He didn’t get it. This was a freakin’ religious experience. This was nirvana. This was what we did. This was about the bones.

He began to thrash his hands harder against the plank. The sound of the chains sliding against the wood was making my temperature rise. I thought about Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  I grabbed his hands in mine and pushed them harder against the wood. The sound of the metal was intense. He looked at me with such fear. I knew I had him then. He knew there was no going back.

He just cried “please, please, please!”

I grinned. “That’s what your best friend, Jason said please please please and now I keep his jawbone in the top drawer of my dresser. Yours is going right next to his. I’ll have a nasty pair.  I know everyone thought poor Jason got kidnapped, or ran away from home or just freaking disappeared into the ether, but you know better dontcha, Rueben?  You believe me when I say I have his jaw bone in my dresser draw, don’t ya?”

Finally, he said something normal. He swung his hands like a lunatic and he cried out “Fuck you, fuck you to hell and back you sick son of bitch!”

His red hair blazed under the sun. It was everything I wanted.

I ran my hands through his hair and whispered, “Look around you, Billy the woods are filled with my friends. I pointed toward the tree. You know who’s  buried right next to you beneath that tree, you got it, what’s left of Jason is right over there.”

That was it.  The look in his eyes said it all. He was terrified, more terrified than anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of terror in the eyes, but his was the baddest.  That glorious moment had arrived. It was time to pop his jaw bone.

I grabbed the side of his head, and said, “if you have anything left to say you better say it now, because I’m taking your jawbone home with me today.”

He didn’t mouth a word. I told you he was special, but his hands; they thrashed and clawed against the wood as I placed my fingers in his mouth. I put them in and then I pulled down hard on his lower teeth. The sucker tried to bite me, but I was too quick, I got that splintery piece of wood between his uppers and lowers fast as a bullet. Then it was easy as piss. I just pulled down on that piece of wood hard hard as I could. My feet were grinding against the dirt. My whole body was in motion. Reuben was trying to move. He couldn’t go anywhere. I wondered what my mother would say if she knew. It was going to be awesome! Reuben tired to scream but his mouth was about to break.

Then, out of freakin’ nowhere I heard her, my mother hollering, “Billy Billy!”

She was standing over us. I couldn’t believe it. A cigarette dangled out of her mouth. Fire was in her eyes.

She went on, like a jack hammer. “Fuck you, Billy, just fuck you; you’ve seen Rueben recently? Really? Trying to pull fast one on me? You want some private stash or something? Forget about it .And what are you doing breaking his jawbone? What did I say before? I said we needed extra hands.”

I didn’t know what to say, I thought again about popping her. My hands were still jamming the wood down on Rueben’s jaw. He was squirming like a jellyfish. I could only imagine what was going through his head. Shit, that was enough to drive me insane. You know what got hard again.

She pulled me. She grabbed my hands and she pulled me away. The wood still stuck out of Reuben’s mouth. He peed in his pants

Then she pressed my hands against Rueben’s hands and she cried, “Like I said hands, Billy.”

Mama always gets what she wants. Someday I’ll probably pop her, though for right now, I snapped Billy’s hands back hard. He couldn’t scream, but the look in eyes said it all when the pop came. It was freakin’ brutal. I was bad to the bone. Bad to the bone.

I pulled my knife out and I began to chop his hands from his arms. I did the right one first. I did it fast, I could have ripped it off, it was so limp. My mother watched, puffing away slowly like she was at cocktail party. Rueben, he writhed like he was about to disintegrate. Tomorrow I’d be back for my lucky jawbone.

Still, my mother wouldn’t let up.

“I’ll bet you didn’t even pick up my cigarettes did you? This is going to stop, Billy. Tomorrow you’re going to class and you’re going to get your life in order, you hear me?”

She took a drag from her cigarette. The longest and coolest one I’ve ever seen. Life is crazy ain’t it? Like I told you from the start there’s no redemption here. There are just bones.

By Bruce Memblatt

 Bruce Memblatt is a native New Yorker. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association. His stories have been featured in such publications as Aphelion, Short Story Me!, Bewildering Stories, The Horror Zine,  The Dark Fiction Spotlight, Bending Spoons ,Strange Weird and Wonderful, Static Movement, Danse Macarbe, SNM Horror Magazine,  The Piker Press, Pill Hill Publishing, Eastown Fiction, Short Story Me! 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Necrology Shorts, Suspense Magazine, Gypsy Shadow Publishing,  Black Lantern Publishing, Death Head Grin, The Cynic Online The Feathertale Review, Yellow Mama. and many more as well as in numerous anthology books.