Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The following short story is another venture into a different genre for this Blogger. This is the third and final installment of three previous chapters published the past two Tuesdays. You will want to read, if you haven't already, the first installment of 10/17/06, and the second installment of 10/24, before continuing.
.... With Halloween fast approaching, I give you this tale of trick-or-treating gone horribly wrong.
Joan was shaking. She began taking long deep breaths to suppress the pent up anxiety. "Damn!" she exclaimed. She had been barreling through the town limits at eighty miles an hour. Slowing down to a more manageable forty, she tried to concentrate on the song that was playing on the car radio.
....She was haunted by the past. No matter how hard she tried to suppress them, the memories of Halloween in 1985 continued to percolate from her subconscious mind. She had been reliving them ever since she had torn the September page from the calendar. There was something else, some other memory lurking beneath those that had resurfaced, but she couldn't quite raise it from the murky depths.
October 31, 1985
Grandy was too heavy. They couldn't lift his body high enough to remove the swing chains from his neck. The body, clad in a gorilla suit was lifeless. The poor guy had hung himself, no doubt guilt laden with what had happened at the Johnson house.
....They could hear voices shouting amid the wailing sirens of the police, ambulances and fire engines. It wouldn't be long before someone began scouring the area looking for the perpetrators and any evidence that might have been left behind.
...."We can't help Grandy," said Andy breaking the morbid pall of silence. "We have to get our asses out of here - now!"
...."Wait a minute!" Joan exclaimed. "Shouldn't we go over there and tell them what happened?"
...."Are you crazy?" Andy turned and faced her. "Chief Gibbs is over there. He's running the show. He'll lock us up and throw away the keys! Remember that picture? Remember? He swore he'd get the bastards. We signed our name on the damned pictures!"
...."That's right," added Sandy. "I'm all for getting the hell as far away from this place as fast as we can run."
....With that, the group dispersed into the night. Candy and Randy watched as they separated, each taking a different route out of the park. Too stunned to protest, Candy allowed him to lead her away from the park.
Joan jerked the steering wheel to the right and swerved onto the parking lot of a convenience store. Throwing the shift into park, she hopped out of the car and began to pace back and forth. Counting on her fingers as she silently recited the names of The Eerie Eight, she muttered "Brandy! Where was Brandy?"
....She replayed the scenes after the fire and after they'd found Grandy's body. Try as she might, she could not place Brandy there. In fact, she couldn't remember seeing her at all that night. Maybe she hadn't shown up that night. Or maybe she had just kept on running when the shots and explosions occurred.
....As an after thought, she began to count and recite their names once more. She was there the following Halloween when they'd met for the last time. They'd all shaken hands and had agreed to never meet again - all six of the surviving members. That was the last time she'd ever seen any of them. True to the end, each of them disguised, they'd maintained their vow of secrecy. It was an assumption based on faith only, she thought. Perhaps some of them had revealed their faces and real names to each other for all she knew.
....One thing she was sure of, was that none of them had revealed themselves to her. Likewise, she had never made her face or identity known to any of them. Suddenly she was overcome with anxiety. She was struggling to breathe. That deep dark secret she'd been trying to resurrect exploded behind her eyes. Then everything went dark and she collapsed onto the pavement.
....Randy led her to his car and suggested that they should take a ride just to get away from that park and all the activity that would soon be happening there. They had only driven about two miles when Candy suddenly broke down. Ridden with guilt and scared, the events of the evening had caught up to her.
....He pulled over into a secluded area and placed his arm around her neck to console her. She cried for several minutes until he placed a finger under her chin. She looked up into his eyes as his face moved nearer to hers. Their lips touched briefly.
...."That's the second time you kissed me. Why?" she whispered.
...."Because ... I wanted to. Because ... I want to kiss you ... again."
....He raised the cowl of his Captain America costume and smiled. Then he reached over to remove the mask that covered her eyes and she did not resist. Beneath the bough of a large elm tree they made love.
Joan awoke to the rustle of a gentle breeze through the tree tops. She crawled to her car and pulled herself to her feet. She felt calm, calmer than she had felt in years. Back behind the wheel, she sighed. The memories of their intimacy soothed her. It was almost as if had just happened only minutes ago.
....Just as quickly as the calm had settled over her, despair began to enter her thoughts. They had been together only that one time, that one night. It was the following February that her worst fears were realized. She was pregnant. While her parents had supported her, the relationship became strained over the years. They'd never forgiven her for the decision she had made.
....She had left town for a year to stay with an aunt. No one, other than her parents and her aunt had ever known or suspected that she'd been carrying a baby. She never held the baby. In fact, she'd never even seen it. The adoption had been prearranged. While she lay in the hospital bed recovering, her daughter was taken away to a new life with new parents who would love her as if she were their very own.
....She felt the tears starting to well up in the corner of her eyes as she remembered that final meeting in 1986. That night was the final piece of memory that she had been suppressing for all of those twenty years since. She had been waiting for another chance to see Randy. She had a lot to tell him. She was certain that he would have comforted her and eased her guilt about the baby.
....Joan knew, as she replayed that fateful meeting, that that night had been the defining moment, the source of all the guilt and mental problems she'd been harboring ever since.
....Randy, however had been cold and had shown no interest in her problems. When told of the baby and its subsequent adoption, he simply said, "Oh, really?" He might as well have hit her with a hammer. After they had agreed to never meet again, he'd turned and disappeared with the others into the night. He'd never even said "Goodbye."
Joan started her car and frowned with hell-bent determination. She was going to face whatever awaited her in that park. She was not going to suffer through another October ever again! She floored the gas pedal and sped off to her destiny.
...."God help that bastard Randy if he's there!" she swore.
....The gloved fingers had been tapping on the steering wheel of the hidden vehicle from the moment Candy had fainted onto the pavement. "It's about time! Now, let's get this party started!"
As she approached the monument she saw a lone figure leaning against it. She slowed her pace as the man turned to acknowledge her arrival.
...."Candy?" he inquired. It was ironic, that even without costumes they were in affect disguised.
....She was momentarily stunned and stopped. It had to be Randy, only Randy had ever seen her face. Yet, he looked entirely different than what she had expected. Sure, twenty years had passed, but he'd changed so much!
....He reached out to hug her but she pushed away. "You, you bastard! You dare touch me after what you did to me! You showed no sympathy that last night! Then you just walked away like I was so much ... trash!"
...."What are you talking about?" he implored of her. "I wasn't here that last night!"
...."What?" she screeched. "What do you mean you weren't here?"
...."I'm telling you, I wasn't here. I couldn't make it. Something came up..." he said matter-of- factly.
...."Randy, you're a God damned liar! What kind of fool do you take me for?"
...."It's true," he said spreading his palms, "I was out of state. My mother passed away the morning of October 31, 1986."
....Joan stood her ground and shouted at him, "You stood right here and you showed no interest in our baby!"
...."Baby? What baby?" Randy asked in stunned confusion.
....There was a sudden echo of approaching foot steps. The two of them tried to gather their composure as someone appeared out of the shadows. Randy, still looking dazed saw Joan wiping tears from her eyes.
"I'm afraid he's telling you the truth, Candy," the man said. "I know, because you were having that talk with me. Randy never showed up. Until now, he never knew about your little bundle of joy."
...."What ... Who ... are you?" Candy asked in shock.
...."I was so disappointed he never made it. He messed up my plans."
....Randy stepped forth, "Would somebody tell me what in the hell is going on?"
....The man raised a gloved hand and slowly peeled the glove off and then methodically began to roll up his shirt sleeve. In the dim light they could see the scars of an emaciated limb. He then strode closer to them and as his face emerged from the shadows they both let out a gasp. Half of his face was scarred like his arm.
...."It was I who arranged to have those calling cards placed your mail slots. I was prepared to wait until Halloween night if I had to. What the hell, a party's a party, no matter what night you throw it."
...."What are you talking about?" Randy protested. Who are you?"
...."You don't recognize an old friend? Think ... Ninja Warrior!"
...."What? Jim Dandy? Impossible!" said Candy.
....Randy added, "He died in that fire! I saw the roof collapse with the two of them inside the house. No one could have survived that. Not Mrs. Johnson .. not Jim Dandy..."
...."You underestimate a Ninja, my friends. After I found the old lady, already dead - I ran into the basement and then crawled out of a cellar window. I was gone long before the sirens started."
...."Why didn't you come look for us?" asked Candy. "We could've helped you!"
...."Oh, I looked for you. When I found out that the lot of you had abandoned me, I sure was pissed! I was in a lot of pain. My whole right side - head to toe was burnt badly.
....Then I saw Brandy. She didn't see or hear me coming from behind her. I don't know if she even felt that big rock that I used to bash in her skull."
...."You ... you killed her? But ... but why?" sobbed Candy.
...."Like I said, I was pissed. I was in pain and I reacted in a blind rage." He looked at the two before him before continuing, "I would have killed everyone of you that night ... if I had found you!"
....Randy stammered, "But ... we thought you were ... dead!"
...."Maybe so," Jim Dandy snarled, "But it doesn't really matter now, does it? All I wanted that night was ... to get even! Unfortunately, I was only able to get two of you. If I hadn't been burnt so bad, maybe I would have gotten more of you."
...."Two of us?" Candy whispered nervously.
...."Ah, yes. I stumbled across that fat-ass Grandy sitting on a swing. Can you believe it, the lard ass sitting there eating a fuckin' candy bar? With all that was happening ... all he could think of was stuffing his jowls with candy!
....I just kept wrapping those chains around his miserable neck until his feet were off the ground. I watched him squirming until he stopped moving!"
...."But, Jim Dandy," Randy said, "But you did such a heroic thing ... rushing into that burning house!"
....He folded his arms across his chest and looked Randy in the eyes, "You would have done the same thing ... if it had been your mother in there!"
....Tears were welling up in her eyes as Candy spoke, "God! I'm so sorry. But how could we have known? Remember, none of us knew who everyone was. We knew nothing about each other."
...."Oh really?" he said. "I think you two knew each other a little bit better than you let on. Mr. Captain America there didn't knock you up by correspondence, now did he?"
....In an attempt to change the subject Randy asked, "Then how is that you knew where to find Candy and me?"
...."Inside information, my friend. My old man had the addresses of everyone in town in his office. It wasn't hard to get access to his files."
...."You're father ... Chief Gibbs?" inquired a shocked Randy.
...."Well, I don't claim him. The philandering son of a bitch got my mother pregnant. He threatened her to keep the father's identity secret. He did, I must admit, take responsibilty for his mistake. Every week, there was an envelope of money delivered in the night to my mother. I was fifteen years old before she ever told me who my father was.
....It's ironic, isn't it? He didn't want his reputation ruined. I got the biggest kick out of it the night we put up that picture all over town. Served the bastard right!"
....Randy raised his hands and asked, "Gibbs ... your father must have investigated the deaths. He never found a ... suspect?"
...."Oh yeah, he was pretty smart, I gotta give him that. He took his job very serious. When he found me ... I had passed out near the swing set ... he "knew" I had something to do with the fire. He assumed correctly that I also had something to do with the two bodies."
....Candy was stunned, "You mean ... that he covered up everything?"
...."He covered up having a son, didn't he? You don't think that he was going to let that fact come out? His reputation was far more important than solving a case of arson and two murders.
....It was easy enough for him to pass off Grandy as a suicide. He had no trouble convincing everyone that Brandy must have tripped and hit her head on a large rock while fleeing the scene."
....Randy opined, "Of course, the rest of us weren't about to come forward."
...."No matter, kids. He eventually found out who everyone was. I'll let you two in on a little secret. He was watching you two that night. He saw you doing the dirty deed out there in the woods. Remember? You took off your masks, and ... ahem ... everything else."
....Candy gasped and regaining her composure asked, "Then why did you show up a year later pretending to be Randy?"
...."Well, I couldn't very well show up as Jim Dandy, now could I? I'll never forget the look on your face when I acted indifferent to the news about your baby. It was priceless."
....Candy wanted in the worse way to hurt him, but remained silent. Randy was obviously fuming, his fists clenching and unclenching.
....Almost laughing Jim Dandy pointed to Candy, "I must say, Candy. You sure have one great body - especially when you're naked!"
...."What!" she exclaimed.
....She was mortified as he related to her the details of his visitation to her bedroom window. "Yes, I saw everything through that little crack when you opened that window ... just enough, thank you."
...."You perverted bastard!" she shouted at him.
...."Be nice, Candy," he said shaking a finger in her direction. "That wasn't the first show you've put on either. Remember that night at the monument, dear Wonder Woman?"
...."You're one sick person," Randy said.
....Jim Dandy suddenly pulled produced a gun and aimed it at Randy. "It's like this, friends, you're the only two left. So, after I waste you, Randy, there'll be just sweet Candy and me."
...."What are you saying, man? You're gonna shoot me in cold blood?" Randy moved toward the man but stopped when he heard the gun being cocked.
...."Candy, after I wax Captain America here, I'm going to have some well deserved fun with that body of yours. I've been waiting a long to get into your pants. My revenge will be complete then!"
...."Please, Jim Dandy," she pleaded. "You've got to get some help. The killing has to stop."
....He ignored her and added, "You're the only ones who are in need of help. It's like this, Candy, while I'm screwing you, I'm going to have my hands around your neck. And when you are about to climax, I'll start squeezing and squeezing." He chuckled and said, "What a way to go, huh?"
...."Goodbye, Randy." Without warning he pulled the trigger, striking Randy in the chest. He watched in morbid fascination as Randy's body slumped to the ground at Candy's feet.
...."Randy!" Candy screamed.
The gloved hand cocked the pistol that had been aimed at the three on the other side of the bushes. The figure stepped out of hiding snapping a branch afoot.
....Still holding the gun, Jim Dandy whirled around, "Who's there? That you, daddy dearest?"
....The figure responded by firing the gun. Struck in the forehead, Jim Dandy was dead before his body hit the ground.
...."You're no son of mine!" Gibbs walked past the body and stood before Candy who'd knelt by the fallen body of Randy.
...."Sheriff Gibbs," she sobbed. "You've got to help Randy. He's still alive."
...."Alive?" Gibbs said coldly. "I thought that bastard of mine was a better shot than that." Having said that, he raised his gun and shot the fallen man in the head.
....Paralyzed with fear, Candy beseeched the man, "Why ... why did you kill him? You ... you're supposed to be the law!"
...."Not anymore, little girlie. I lost the next election after your gang's little joke with that picture. I was ruined. I had to leave town like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs," he growled at her.
....Candy looked up him and queried, "We deserve to die because of a practical joke?"
....He roared, "Do I look like I'm laughing?"
....Inexplicably he pulled back the hammer of the gun and pointed it at her. "I vowed to get even with you punks. But, I had to work out a plan first." He paused and gestured at Jim Dandy's body, "Then I found out that this useless fruit of my loins had gone stark raving mad. He was killing your little club off with his own agenda. So, I let him do all the dirty work."
....Candy's tears were flowing profusely, "But ... why did it have to come to all this ... killing?"
...."Reputation, my dear, reputation." He didn't flinch as he pulled the trigger. Candy cried out in pain as the bullet lodged in her shoulder.
....As she was writhing in pain he raised the gun at her chest. "I have to keep my hands clean. The deaths here today will be reported as a case of attempted rape. You managed to grab the gun and shoot one of the attackers after you'd been shot once in the shoulder. Then the other one shot you," he gloated. "Then I came along and took out the other one. It's going be one neat open and shut case."
....He cocked the gun, "Now Candy, or should I call you Joan? Take off your clothes!"
...."No! I won't. You'll have to kill me!" she exclaimed defiantly.
The gloved hand clutching a revolver pushed the branches away and came into Candy's view. She tensed, trying not to alert Biggs.
...."Drop the gun, asshole!" The female voice came from behind him somewhere.
....He spun around, his own pistol ready to fire at the unexpected arrival. "Whoever you are, come out where I can see you. I've worked too hard ... come too far for there to be any witnesses."
....Three shots suddenly rang out, splitting the silence.
The figure moved out of the shadows, revealing the personage of a young woman. She stopped before the body of Biggs and fired two more shots into his lifeless form.
....Candy, struggling to her feet was emotionless as the woman approached her, still holding the gun.
...."Well," said the young woman, "It looks like it's just me and you now!"
....Trembling Candy was too weak to answer. She didn't know how long she could resist.
....She took hold of an outstretched hand and tried to steady herself. She looked into the young face and said, "Yes. Just me and you. It's finally all over."
The young woman dropped the pistol beside Biggs and surveyed the carnage around them. "So much death. But it was all ... necessary."
....She placed her arm around Joan's waist and began to lead her away from the scene.
"Let's go home ... mother."
Curmudgeon responsible for this post: Hale McKay at 12:30 AM