This is part five in an ongoing series. Click here to read previous entries.
I had initiated contact with Harold and then he reciprocated. That’s how communication works. You establish contact in hopes that a dyadic conversation begins. Except in this case there was no conversation. No, just a missed phone call and a cryptic text with an encrypted link to Harold’s unknown location. Just how it should be among friends. Lindon was curled up in the passenger seat, doing his best to not be visible out through the window. “You know, if you’d prefer, you could lie down in the back.”
“Nah, this is fine. I’ve just noticed that sitting for prolonged periods is uncomfortable.”
“Hmm. Be sure to tell Harold this when he examines you.”
“Examines me? Cy, what exactly do you think he’s gonna do?”
“I don’t know. He’s a doctor.”
“They never granted him his degree; he stole the damn thing. Not sure that’s technically legal.”
“Well, I mean, it counts for something. Look, it isn’t like we can go to an actual hospital. They’re likely to mistake you for a dead corpse as opposed to a living one and lock you up in a freezer.”
“Oh no, I’m not going back in the freezer!”
“Then I suggest reclining and relax. Seriously. Breathe.” I was stern with Lindon. I had to be stern. He was tense. I’d say he was a bundle of nerves, but with being undead the chances that his nerves were properly working in some way, anyway, for them to be firing compulsively to the point of extreme agitation were unlikely. Then again, if I ever thought of the chances of me driving in my car the living corpse of my dead best friend to the unknown location of a mutual friend who had gone off grid due to unsavory practices with corpses of the permanently dead variety, well… I think I’d finally admit that I have drinking problem.
The rain began to let up but the sky was still gray and with the sun falling off in the distance, the light drained from the palate leaving behind a washed-out darkness. Like smeared ink on a piece of paper. The road was wide and long. The horizon still no closer. The trip still long. My anxiety still crippling and feeding my depression, over-feeding it, stuffing it beyond capacity. My depression was gluttonous, devouring every other emotion, all of my feelings, draining me of every last drop of energy stored in my body until I was nearly empty. But it knew not to drain me completely. It knew to leave just enough so that I could still exist. So that I could still carry on with the most minimalistic basic resemblance of existence. It knew that if it drained me all the way I would be dead and so would it. Depression is a parasite and it is smart. It is not a cancer that will eat me until I’m emaciated, nothing but bone. It needs me alive so that each ounce of experience is converted to fuel and pumps straight to its gut, gaining enough strength to overpower me, dominate me. Controlling me. And it is exhausting.
My depression manipulated me into destroying a lot of my life. Or so I lead myself to believe. Or maybe that’s what it wanted myself to think. I can never be sure. I question my memories, my thoughts. They’re fuzzy, cast in a filter of distortion and chaos. They’re flipped around, shuffled about. Details are displaced, rearranged, or even missing. Images smeared, faces scrambled, and voices pitch-shifted. Colors either saturated and bleeding, or monochromatic. But there’s still one thing that remains constant. One lone variable for sure definite and unchanged: I am the facilitator of my destruction. In every single memory that flashes in my screaming brain, I am at the center of my ruin and it is clear that it is me committing the acts. A spotlight on the actor, everything just set pieces.
Thinking about this, I have to close my eyes and take a deep breath. There’s a tightness in my chest as panic begins to swell within, attempting to explode from my chest. I’m worried about what is to come. The for real possibility that I will need to kill my friend. I didn’t want to think about it but I had to. Like a lot of other difficulties in my life, I preferred to keep it out of mind and let myself drift away from reality into an alternate mind space crafted with care and insanity, a land of delusion, to reside. I drifted there while the happy façade of my relationship with Lorraine crumbled to expose the dry and brittle wood, rotted out and eaten away by all manner of creatures that enjoy feasting on the sweet and saccharine things in life leaving behind nothing but shit and bitterness.
I turned my thoughts away from reality and tuned out my mind, projecting it along some other wavelength to another station far away from here. My brain bounced signals back and forth from mental satellites and external stimuli to pick up new and weird broadcasts to fill my head with strange thoughts and stories. Tales of fallen empires and sanctuaries of destitution. Loveless parents slaughtering their kin not because of demonic possession but for more mundane inane reasons such as the endless screams of the offspring who can’t help but shit themselves. The perils of carbon emissions, polluting our air, diluting the oxygen with dirty chemicals, poisoning our breaths, filling our lungs and choking us slowly. How it burns us from the inside out and the singular solution is to abandon the championed mechanical marvels of the twentieth century but the corporations that dictate those services would never allow that. Not because of the money to be lost, that’s chump change in their pockets they can spare to lose. No, it’s because of the land. Countries. The nations that they have manipulated and the people that they have exploited for market share and profit. All their investments in warfare and sham economies. Industry is the new imperialism. This isn’t a profound thought, just well-regarded and accepted fact, but no one really talks about it. No one acknowledges it. They willfully ignore it or bury it away from their view, deep in the ground, out of their minds. Like I do right now with the situation I find myself in. The one sitting right beside me, riding shotgun to what is either destiny, doom, or both. And before I knew it, without realizing it because I wasn’t paying attention as my mind was elsewhere, my phone made a sound. We had reached our destination.
Stepping out of the car, I took stock of the surroundings. Rolling hills, an army of forestry, the husks of fallen trees forming crude cradles wherein other debris of the land now rests. A cracking gray sky hung overhead with clouds slung low enough to touch. They were swollen with rain, ready to burst. The house was tall and looming, resting grimly atop a hill. It was dark, painted in smoke. Its appearance that of desolation and fleeting mortality, resembling that a grand mortuary. I felt my soul shake. Well, whatever I guess I could consider my soul. I’m quite sure that there is a vacancy in that space and should there be something there, it be nothing more than lead. I took a breath and swallowed, choking a bit. “So… looks like a fixer-upper. Perhaps we should have brought a house-warming gift. A cheese platter. A nice throw blanket. An exorcist.”
There was dirt – now mud – path that lead to the front steps. We followed it and as we drew closer, we could see the true horror of the home previously obscured by the dour conditions of the day. Rot and fungus had festered about the property. Piles of leaves composting, emitting a noxious odor that no doubt was emanating from some other source buried beneath the fetid foliage. Examining the exterior of the house, we could see the literal cracks in the façade. The wood split and fractured. Some pieces barely clinging to the house itself, resting in such a way that it looked as though they were floating. Standing before the door, I was struck with the sudden realization that I would be crossing the point of no return. There was much uncertainty past this point, waiting on the other side of that door. All control would be wrested away from not only myself but from Lindon. We would need to rest our faith in the hands of a friend we had not heard from in years. A man who retreated from normal society because he refused to kowtow to the pressures that he be civilized in their fashion. A man who rejected any notion that one need to be proper in order to establish that they were superior. My mind went as blank as the sky, from which daylight drained and revealed the coming darkness of night. We are now in the twilight hour and I felt weightless.
“So, what, do we knock? Just walk in?”
I shake the knob but it is locked. “No, I doubt that Harold would leave this place unlocked, no matter how hidden it may be and no matter how much he would love to lure some poor bastard in. Oh, hey. Intercom.” I push the button to ring but there is no sound. Next, I push the button to speak but it does not click. With those options exhausted, I rap the door thrice successively and wait a moment. Once that time has passed, I rap thrice again, this time with more force, signaling slight impatience. A moment passes and still no answer. I push the ringer again, this time leaning into it, as though the extra pressure will somehow cause this to work harder, if it is working at all. “Come the fuck on, Harold. We drive all the way out here and the bastard can’t even bother to have a properly working intercom system.”
“What about calling him?”
“I could, I suppose. I mean, it’s just some sort of answering service, so I don’t know if he’ll get the call right away. Shit. No bars.”
“Friends, you’ll find this place to be both a virtual and literal dead zone.”
A disembodied voice. Harold’s. But it sounds crystal clear, therefor it could not be coming from a shitty intercom speaker. No, this was coming all around us, like the voice of god filling up our ears. “Harold? Hey buddy! We’re here! You gonna let us in?”
“I’m sorry for the delay in my response, I was working on an experiment. Anyway, I’m not speaking through the intercom – it’s busted, so I can’t hear you. I have a fallback system but it’s one-way so let me buzz you in. When you hear the click at the door, open it and come on in. Ready? Go.”
We heard no clicks and the door remained locked.
“Son of a bitch! Okay, hold on. I’ll come up. Lousy automated home system. Life saver my —” The transmission ended, Harold’s voice cut off by a cluster of static clicks. Leaning closely to the door, we could hear the muted clomping of footfalls, growing louder and louder, closer and closer. Then we heard the click and roll of tumblers and locks, then the squeak from the turning of the knob and the squeal of hinges as the door creaked back from the frame. At first all we saw was darkness. Then a pale figure emerged, and it was Harold. He wore a black sweater paired with gray slacks. This outfit more befitting a priest on a casual Saturday, his presence was equal parts friendly and sinister. “Welcome friends. How I’ve waited for you. Please, step inside. I have cookies.”
A Brief History of Harold West
Harold attended an obscure college for his undergrad work, where he was first introduced to necrology, the study of death. It was then that he wanted to understand all there was to life that one can learn from death. Trust that this was not a major one could formally declare, but nonetheless, Harold was determined to be an expert no matter who protested. Upon graduation, he enrolled in a doctoral program at the same university Lindon was attending. Their paths crossed several times but Lindon was terrified by how unsocial Harold was becoming. His mind was twisted, succumbing to some sort of madness and his vision blindly singular: discovering a method for correcting death. For some time, Lindon actually thought Harold had dropped out but soon learned the truth, which was far more troubling: Harold had merely gone underground, committing the theft of cadavers from the morgues of the university hospital and when security presence increased, he resorted to grave robbing and when that proved futile, the odd and random hobo would suffice. It was a tale of torment and genius with a trail of corpses and fluids leading the way to where all sanity must be abandoned. And Lindon wasn’t lying about him stealing his degree: he had apparently broken into the administration offices one night and found the exact degree they would have issued him had it not been for all of his corpse wrangling. For a number of years that felt like a lifetime to some, and not long enough to others, all contact from Harold West ceased and all of his close friends that remained had considered him either dead, imprisoned, or worse, holding some form of political office. Now we know all of those possibilities were false and that he was living a quiet life. In the woods. In a dilapidated home. And it smelled like death eternal.
We stood quietly in the foyer, which we found to be quite well-lit. In fact, the entire interior of the house was quite pleasant, a virtual three-sixty from the presentation on the outside. I felt the need to remark on this. “You know, Harold, I’m quite surprised. You have such a lovely home here that one could never tell from the outside alone. I mean, this looks rather quaint, almost plain in a familial comfort kind of way.”
“Why thank you, Cy. It’s all by design, really. It makes me look like an eccentric, which I am, but it also tells anyone who happens upon this place to turn away.”
“The smell of rot certainly helps, too. How did you achieve that?”
“With corpses. Of course, they’re not as lovely as Lindon here. They were beyond repair, far from saving. Past the point of no return. Not much I could do with them beyond letting their organic matter breakdown and return to the earth.”
Lindon choked back a cough before chiming in, “So you’re making compost from human remains?”
“I suppose you could say that, yes. I prefer to think of it as decoration that is more practical than lawn gnomes and pink flamingos. Ah, look. I’m boring you and wasting time. You’re here because of the current condition Lindon finds himself in: a state of eternal arrested decay. And while he is alive in the basic sense that he walks and talks and probably even eats, it is all mimicry. Imitation of life. He smells and his flesh is shredded. Wounds that do not bleed or ooze, they also do not heal. And… Are those staples in his face?”
“We had… no other options.”
“I think I need no longer ramble on any further. If we do not act quickly, Lindon is likely to unspool where he stands and explode into the very fibers that are loosely knit together to form the fabric of his existence. He’s a time bomb loaded with innards and assorted viscera. Time to defuse him. Follow me.” With a click of his heels, Harold turned about and walked further into his house and we were implored to follow him. Lindon and I exchanged surprised glances before he uttered “When do we get cookies?”
“Those will come later, should the procedure prove successful.”
“Procedure?” I asked as we made our way down a wide corridor, where upon the walls hung paintings of bizarre surgical practices. Several contained horrid accounts of medical torture; bloodletting, singing, the draining of humors and excising of tumors. Boils and bile were as frequent as pained expressions on the ghastly faces of the patients-cum-victims. I was beginning to regret turning to Harold but desperation is a powerful toxin and once it has infected you, it is nearly lethal and there’s no antidote. “What’s this procedure?”
“You’ll see. Now, as we descend into the basement lab, do watch your step. They’re short and steep. There wasn’t much in this house that I could change. I wish there was another way but the elevator is out of service.”
“There’s an elevator?” We reached the end of the corridor which was just a blank wall with wood paneling. With a wave of his hand, Harold proved this wall to be false as it slid away to reveal entry to the basement. Harold stepped into the darkness and vanished. We stood still in awe and fear. “Wait! There is a light! But it can only be turned on downstairs! Another project for another time!” In the blink of an eye, there was light and the darkness fled. Carefully, as Harold instructed, we approached the steps, taking each one slowly, cautiously, until we reached the bottom. In stark contrast to the upstairs but in total unity with the exterior, Harold’s basement lab was a nightmare to the most fastidious of scientist but a vision of beauty to those afflicted with madness. Frayed cables coiled in loose piles, leading back and forth from various machines. An assortment of beakers and vials sat on a long metal table with stacks of loose documents. Books rested on any and nearly every open space. Jars full of some sorts of liquids, various surgical instruments, and stained gurneys were among the other objects I could spy with my little eye, along with the presence of lack of sanitation, but I felt that might actually go without saying. “Quite the lab.”
“You caught me on an off-day. I didn’t have a chance to clean this up after my last experiment. I’m sorry that there might not be enough room in here at the moment. I’m remodeling the basement. I’m building what would be a proper operating room but I didn’t want to get rid of the observation room, so that meant sizing down this space, which is the lab. If I’m able to cut through a wall, I might be able to widen this room so it won’t be as crowded but I’ve not had the time. Anway, I’m rambling again. Lindon. I want you to come over by me.” Harold raised his right arm to indicate where he wanted Lindon to come. His hand, incidentally, was pointing in the direction of a very large human-sized tube. It was metal and quite rusted. There were latches on the side, similar to those found on briefcases. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to have been luggage of some sort in a previous life. Harold stepped over to it, undid the latches and opened the tube, exposing the inside, which was bare save for a rectangular pad. “Lindon… do me a favor and lay back on the pad. Once you’re inside, you’ll find some handles on either side of you. Just grab hold of those.”
“What is it you plan to do to me, Harold?”
“I wouldn’t concern yourself with details, Lindon. They just get in the way. Now, I’m going to give you a shot. It is really going to hurt and you’re going to wish you were dead but it won’t kill you so don’t worry. Just relax.”
Harold went to the table with all the beakers and papers. He grabbed a small rectangular case. It was half the width of a briefcase but just as long. It was black leather. He opened it up to reveal an oversized silver syringe. Harold procured another box. This one contained needles and he took one out and fixed it on to the syringe. “Now Cy, behind you is a small fridge. Please open it and grab be a small tube of glowing green liquid labeled ‘Butter.'” I followed his instruction and opened the fridge. As I could see, the fridge was full of nothing but small tubes of glowing green liquid, all labeled “butter.” Figuring there was no wrong way to go, I grabbed one at random and handed it over to Harold. “Thanks, buddy.” Harold pulled back the plunger and loaded the tube into a slot in the syringe, much like one loads a shotgun. He pushed back the plunger and some of the liquid squirted out to the floor. There was hiss, like the sizzle of a steak on a frying pan. “Sounds corrosive.”
“Oh, highly. But not to dead tissue. Lindon; you’re going to feel a pinch followed by waves of incredible hot pain, like a sunburn from the inside out. Are you ready?”
“Even if I said no, would that stop you?”
“Not a chance.”
“Then do as you must.” Up to this moment, Lindon had been what one could say was emotionally comatose. He didn’t let much beyond passing moments of anxiety flash across his face and his body language was as dead as him. But now, that all changed. Determination took over and he gave me a look of confidence. He was more-ready than he might have let on, but I knew he was still afraid. Either way, he knew what needed to be done even if what that was had not been fully explained to us. Harold placed one hand atop Lindon’s chest and with the other, he held the syringe and gently pierced Lindon’s chest, aiming right for the heart. He pushed the plunger steadily and the liquid was drained from the tube and injected into Lindon, into his heart which would then pump it into his bloodstream one would presume if Lindon were actually alive but honestly, I have no idea how this actually works and I’m just trying to roll with it. Once the tube of the liquid was emptied, Harold removed the needle from Lindon’s chest and stepped back. He tossed the syringe aside onto the table and slammed the lid of the tube shut. “Good luck, buddy.” He latched the lid and then walked over to one of the many mechanical boxes stacked on a crate. He flipped a couple of switches and turned a few dials. There was a droning hum that grew louder, the crackle of electricity and light spilling out of the tube. It was practically glowing. From inside, Lindon was screaming the most tortured cries I had ever heard and this includes the hours I spent crying in my sleep after Lorraine broke up with me. “So, Harold. What does this do?”
“The tube? Oh, I don’t know. I found it in a dumpster behind a warehouse and thought it looked cool.”
Lindon continued to scream, as though he was repeatedly stubbing his toe on a rusty knife. “Um, okay, but what about the liquid?”
“What?” I expressed with such shock, such utter ludicrous shock that there was now possibility that Harold himself was some sort of fraud. A placebo? What fuckery was this?
“Cy… I read about what happened to Lindon. And when you called, I had this feeling that… well, part of me knew that you would be coming with Lindon. Call it psychic intuition, call it cosmic whatever. The point is that Lindon is not meant to be alive in this state and if I were to have given him the real serum, he wouldn’t be existing in a state worthy of the man he was.”
“What do you mean?”
Harold let out a little laugh and smirked. He placed his hands behind his back and then turned his head. “Charleston? Are you in the observation room?”
There was silence. Well, normal silence aside from Lindon’s continued wails. Then light footfalls filled the air and there was a slight moaning. From out of a doorway appeared a man in a disheveled suit, caked in dirt and grime. He walked with a stunted gait. His shoulders were slumped. The man’s face was rather pallid. What flesh was exposed was cracked, wrinkled, and scarred. His eyes sunken. Hair stark white. Nose practically nonexistent. He resembled that of Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera, though one with a better dental plan. “Charleston. I want you to meet an old friend. Cy, this is Charleston. He’s one of my many resurrections. Say hello, Charleston.”
“Heh… heh… Hell… Hell-oh, siiigh… I am… Char… char… ells tunh.” He spoke with halted speech, like if he was hard of breathing and someone had cut off a bit of his tongue. “Hair… Hair roll, are we… still on foe… ten us?”
“Hmm… not today. I believe it is a tad wet outside and I’d prefer to just relax by the fire with a stiff drink.”
“Ahhh. I will… take rest… in the… den.”
“Sounds good. Goodbye, Charleston.” Charleston, the living dead man shuffled past us towards the stairs. He took hold of the railing and one slow step at a time made his way to the top. When he was out of sight, Harold stood next to me and said “See… that’s the real serum. In his true living life, Charleston was normal, like you or I but he was more… socially adjusted. Now, he’s essentially lobotomized.”
“And he plays tennis.”
“Most of my experiments result in specimen who assist me with my physical activities. Tennis, judo, fencing. How long ago did I put Lindon in the tube?”
“Uh, maybe five minutes?”
“Hmm… okay, he has another five to go. Anyway, Cy… giving Lindon the real serum would render him to be the same as Charleston or any of my other servants. All the placebo does is mimic the effects of the serum without any of the benefits. However, Lindon will believe it to have worked and I hope that you don’t spoil it for him. Know that you have to provide him closure so that he may exit this plane and finally seek eternal rest. Do you know how to do that?”
“I think I might.” I carefully pondered this request, seeking deeper thought amid the horrible anguished cries that were released from Lindon within a tube of pointless torture. Though, wasn’t his current existence pointless torture? A prolonged suffering? Looking to the tube, I knew that the experience for Lindon was temporary and I felt something seep into my brain. Some sort of ethereal vapor had formed a phantom sheath coating it and then melted away, soaking into the brain and I felt a calm like I hadn’t felt in a while. Not since before Lindon’s death, not since before Lorraine dumping me. A sensation alien to me since before my life’s gleeful devastations. “Is this almost over?”
“Wait for the ding.” At first, I thought Harold was joking but before I could say anything I heard a sharp ding like from a kitchen timer. “He’s done! Hopefully all his kernels popped.” All I could do was turn my head at him and squint my eyes in a look of furious disdain.
“You’re truly mad, you know?”
“Quite. Now, Cy. Before I open this up, I trust that you will not speak a word of the truth to Lindon?”
“I promise you.”
“Good. See to it that he is comfortable and that his rest comes softly, swiftly, and with all the peace of a monastery. Lindon, my boy, how do you feel?” Harold popped the latches as he spoke his inquiry and then threw back the lid, letting it fall open rather quick on the hinges, smacking against the rest of the container. Lindon’s face was contorted, twisted into an expression that best reflected his experience. An expression one could only describe as “it looks as though he had received oral sex while probed with road flare.” I didn’t envy Lindon and I’m sure he wishes he could un-live the last ten minutes of his non-life.
I extended a hand for Lindon to take hold of and I pulled him out of the tube. Harold was quick to assist, helping to prop Lindon up safely and securely on his feet, ensuring that his equilibrium righted itself for maximum stability. “So… what was it like?”
“It was… YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!!! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-WAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!”
Harold and I exchanged confused glances and then we both just shook it off like it was nothing, deciding it was best to ignore that. “Well, it sounds like you’re all normal. I think I can assuredly release you into Cy’s care.” Lindon didn’t speak any words then, just more short, loud yelps.
“Is this normal? Do your other…specimen experience these types of vocal spurts after the treatment?”
“To be honest, no, because I never put them in the tube. I think that might have knocked something loose in Lindon’s fragile mind. But Cy, do keep an eye on him?”
“Sure thing. Thank you, Harold.” I offered my hand in a show of gratitude. Harold looked at it and smirked. He grabbed it and then yanked me towards him, wrapping me up in a big ol’ hug. “Oh, okay. Yeah. This… this is fine.”
“One day, you’ll wake up and the air will be sweeter, food will taste better, the sun will shine and you will feel as well rested as though you slept for a thousand lifetimes. Never lose hope.” Harold released me from his grasp and I slinked back to my previous position, standing next to Lindon serving as a crutch. “You gentlemen take care now. I’d see you to the door but I have some work to take care down here. Don’t be strangers.”
“Never, Harold. We’re friends. Come on, Lindon. Let’s go home.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” We made our way up the stairs, one steady step at a time, careful so that Lindon did not falter, did not hesitate lest he slip and fall backwards, tumbling down the stairs to a certain demise that I did not intend for to take place here. After reaching the top, I gazed back down to the lab, catching Harold’s eyes. He stood pat, hands behind back, and nodded before stepping out of my line of sight into the shadows. Heading back towards the entrance of the house, we were greeted by another of Harold’s living dead servants. This one was dressed in a polo and tennis shorts, holding a racquet. He casually waved it in front of his face, brandishing it like a child showing off a shiny new toy, except his facial expression was dull and muted. So, it was more like a child showing off a new toy after having come out of a serious root canal operation. “Ten…ess???”
“Uh, no thank you. Too wet. I think Harold could use some help down in the lab. He’s cleaning things up.”
“Too wet, yes inDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHH!!!!!!”
Sensing that Lindon was still in a bad condition, I hurried us along to the door, to the outside, down the path, and back to the car. The quicker we moved, the more Lindon limbered up and his stride returned to normal, at least the baseline he was at prior to the treatment. Seeing this, I wanted to test if his speech was also returning to normal. “How do you feel? Think you can walk on your own?”
“I think I CAAAAAAAAAAAAN!! AHHHHHHH! Yeah, I’m okay.”
“Hey, that was shorter and softer. I think you’re improving.”
“I sure don’t feel it. I still feel like I did before he stabbed me with the need and shot me full of that… that acid.” Lindon made it to the car and opened the passenger door and slid into the seat. I stood by the driver’s side, waiting a moment, letting his words settle in me.
“He said it would take a while and results may vary. Lindon… I’m going to take you… uh…” I felt an odd pinching in my neck and a tingling in my chest and I thought at first that maybe I had been pricked by that needle full of false serum. Then I realized it was my phone. I had placed it in my jacket pocket and it was vibrating. I pulled it out and saw that it was Penny. I hesitated as to whether or not to answer it but I didn’t want to blow her off, especially now. I figured I’ll answer but feign ignorance regarding anything that involves Lindon’s still presumed to be missing body. “Hey, Penny. How’s it going? Any news?”
“Hello, Cy.” I didn’t recognize this voice. It had considerably more bass than Penny’s.
“Penny. Have you been drinking and yelling at planets again?”
“Ha-ha. Funny you should say something like that, but there’ll be time later to reveal my true self. Do you know who this is, Cy?” Their voice ran with a smooth, cheerful baritone, like a deranged radio DJ who got off to torturing small animals. No doubt it was the man who killed Lindon.
“I have an idea.”
“Good good. Listen; you obviously know where I am and who I have in my presence. I think it would be best for you to come meet me, face to face. There’s unfinished business.”
“What is it about types of people like yourself with this ‘unfinished business’ stuff? How is it you can never complete a job? Did you drop out of murder school?”
“Cy, your jokes suck and my patience is running thin. Best you hurry up. I’ll be waiting.” He ended the call and I lowered my hand from my head. My heart sank. My calm was drained and replaced with a mad burning anger. A hot rage that made me thirsty for retribution. “Cy… what’s up? Where are we going?”
“Home, Lindon. We’re going home.”