The Bloody Isthmus

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An unexpected source of vigilantism on a dirty isthmus.

Submitted: July 08, 2017

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Submitted: July 08, 2017

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He awoke confused. Anthony was swinging slightly from side to side. His head was pounding out a painful tattoo on the inside of his skull. Realization struck him square in the groin. Anthony opened his mouth to scream. Unfortunately he was hanging upside down and rather than a blood curdling shriek, Anthony vomited into his own nose and dreads. The freak in the latex mask stood five feet from the naked swinging bag of shit. He raised the long yellow cattle prod and sent twenty two hundred volts through his ball sack again. Anthony vomited the last of his banana pancakes and shook violently.

They say bad news travels fast, it also hits front porches around six am Monday through Friday. Father Duncan Dullahan stooped to gather the latest off his front porch. He looked off into the gray wet fog that kept out the morning light and knew the overnight evils. “Five More Dead Cops Found in the Salt Marsh off Brooks Island” read the headline under the Chronicle’s banner. A Zippo lighter made a thud sound as first it landed on top of the spread out paper and then a soft pack of Red Apple Lights 100’s followed. The small parsonage kitchen soon filled with cheap cigarette smoke and the aroma of coffee. The Father sat in his small vinyl dining chair staring into the ceiling and going over the upcoming mass in his mind. His phone rang.

The once talkative young man was finally out of anything to say. He only stared cow eyed up into the silent freak’s face. The man in the latex mask walked slowly around the suspended young man like he had all the time in the world all the while saying nothing. For a moment Anthony’s fear had left him and he started to think about where he was. The walls were made of stone or crude blocks. It was cool too, but not cold. There were no windows. Underground, maybe? Candle light flickering. The tang of salt….maybe. About ten feet away there seemed to be a long green canvas hanging behind the freak. Besides the latex mask he was also dressed in a long black cloak. The freak in the latex mask flew to the back of the room and removed the green canvas. There in front of him were six of his neighborhood crew, nude, covered in a white powder, hanging on meat hooks and holding their own severed heads. The freak scooped quicklime from a five gallon bucket and threw it on the corpses to stop the putrefaction.

Neptune’s Table was busy on most nights. Located on the bottom floor of the old S.H. Kress & Co. building, it was in the very heart of Richmond. And so it was a fitting place for an emergency Star Chamber to meet. Some of the most prominent members of the small community quietly made their way past the dining room and through the massive seafood kitchen to the rear elevator and onto the second floor. The grand windows that looked out over the bay cast a burnt orange light over the large private room as the sun set atop Sausalito. Soon the members took their seats, the curtains were drawn, the coffee was served and the meeting commenced. Two hours later this body of leaders came to a decision. During that time strong words had been thrown around. Words like Murder, Vigilantism and Hitman. Some pointed out that this very meeting was a violation of the law. The fact was their city had been overrun by some bad people. People that had no problem killing civilians or cops with impunity. By the evening’s end there were empty coffee cups and uneasy hearts. But also members that were steadfast and committed to their community. They came to an agreement on a course of action. A judge, Rex-all pharmacist and a Priest would draft the letters of inquiry and meet with a chosen “Engineer”.

Anthony’s tormentor crouched down in front of him. His latex mask getting closer to his own face slowly. He was finding it harder to breath. His air coming and going in a short staccato rhythm. He was a fish out of water. The freak placed a dull gray index finger on the young man’s forehead. Anthony’s breathing became chuffs of agonizing respiration and his sweat reeked. It was the smell of fear. The freak gave the shit bag a gentle push on the forehead with the cold metal prosthetic finger. Anthony closed his eyes at the last second and almost past out with fear. The conical digit left a small dot of blood in his crease-less brow. When he did open his eyes, Anthony wished he hadn’t.

Three quiet weeks went by since the members had convened their Star Chamber when each one got an untraceable email from an unknown source. The members were in a panic. There were fingers pointed and accusations made. The email was one sentence followed by an attachment. 
It read:
“How does one corrupt body dispose of six corrupt bodies?”

When the attachment was opened there was a picture of five young headless black men covered in a white powder. They seemed to be hanging in a cave or dungeon.
Cell phones rang non stop for three hours. Another meeting was agreed on in a hurry. This time they met in the old fallout shelter under the Hotel Carquinez on Harbour Way and Nevin.

He moved fast like a powerful cat. Once again the freak crouched before him but this time with some kind of chrome pliers in his right hand. He grabbed the young man's head from behind with his left hand and shoved the tool into his right nostril with his other. Anthony quaked as if in an epileptic fit. It wasn’t pliers at all. It was was a Swingline hole punch. The freak in the latex mask clamped down with a savage force. Anthony shat himself and then passed out. A special ring was placed through the fresh hole and soldered together permanently.

There was silence from this impromptu and reluctant judicial body until the vault door was closed and secured. Their clandestine meeting started with shouts and accusations. A fight broke out between the commissioner and the owner of the Jiffy Lube. Father Dullahan was suddenly atop a fifty year old pallet of Spam four foot high. He used a tone and volume of voice only a parochial school principal could project. The room fell silent as the Father’s voice echoed down the dead corridors of the empty shelter. The mayor traded a thank you glance for the Father’s high perch and then asked that the room take turns with questions, that way all could hear both questions and answers.
The answers were as follows:
“No. No one was hired.”
“No one was interviewed”.
“Letters of inquiry were never finished to a point of agreement”
“Yes. We all agree there are only five bodies in the photo, contrary to the stated six bodies in the email.”
“No, I don’t think the author is actually asking for advice.”
“No. There hasn’t been a murder in three week. That is true.”
“I guess we’ll just have to deal with the bodies if they do show up.”
“No. It doesn’t seem like a blackmail scam.”
The City Attorney then took a turn on the pallet and said.
“Look folks, I think we’re okay. There is nothing tying us to those bodies other than an mysterious email that could really just be a prank. There has been nothing about our daily routines and behaviors to suggest we had anything to do with this. We are good people. We did nothing wrong. Lets just go home and forget about it. It really doesn’t concern us, does it. We didn’t kill anybody. The room murmured in agreement and adjourned to the blue sky and fairwinds of their righteous street level lives.

One month past. The doorbell chimed "Ave Maria". Father Dullahan smiled from his study down the tiny hall. He could see the courier man through the stained glass in his front door.
“Hey kid” the priest greeted the young man at his door.
“Yeah, what’s up, Padre?” he smiled back.
“Gotta package for ya. Can you sign here?” he said.
Father Dullahan put the package containing the sodium hydroxide between his legs and reached for the couriers clipboard.
“Whatcha making with that stuff, Padre?” the courier asked playfully.
“A traditional Mexican stew.” the priest teased.
“Yeah, I’ll pass on your posole then, Padre.” the courier made a funny grimace and then laughed.
Father Dullahan handed the clipboard back to him and did a double take at the young man’s nose.
“What the heck is that in your nose, Anthony?” he said, making his own grimace.
“It’s an Ouroboros.” Anthony said, touching it with his hand tentatively. It was tender.
“It means Death and Life and the cyclical nature of everything in between. It means a second chance.” he continued.
“Yes. I know what it means, but what is it doing in your nose, Anthony?” The priest asked incredulously.
“I like it.” he shrugged and walked off the porch and back to his truck.

The freak in the latex mask stood in his cool candle lit wine cellar thirty feet below the surface. Thirty feet below those who walked across anointed tiles. Below those who have hope or pray for hope. Thirty feet below those who don’t want to know about monsters but pray for them anyway. The latex mask now hung on a wine rack above his work bench next to his fake prosthetic finger. Father Dullahan opened the small bag of acid and poured it over the last body in the blue fifty five gallon drum and then prayed.

 

 


© Copyright 2017 R.Guy Barringer. All rights reserved.

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