Chapter 5: Deguello pt 2

I awoke screaming as if someone had just yanked my heart from my ribcage. If that wasn’t the truest feeling I had ever felt in my whole stinking life, then I sure as hell hoped God struck me down.

Maggie was dead. Her throat had been slit by a fever-dream image of her husband. Maggie had cast a spell, her way of keeping us together forever. She sold her soul to an unnamed demon, and by doing some grunt work, I was given her soul. Every time I open that gold locket, Maggie appears before me.

Yet, for months, I have not opened that locket. I have been punishing myself in various ways. Reckless behavior. Trying so hard to end up in jail. Bar fights, scamming old ladies, outright holdups of gas stations. And yesterday, I pickpocket a guy in the train station. His wallet only had pictures of his kids and sixty bucks.  I purposely allowed him to notice I had lifted it from his back pocket.

I was hauled in, booked again.

When I awoke, the cell was empty save for me. Artie was gone. I guessed they either let him go, or he posted bail. He was an odd one.

The cell door opened. A guard escorted Police Chief Ragdale inside the cell. Ragdale had just been appointed the position after the mysterious murder of Hemlock, the former Police Chief.

He stood in front of me, rubbed his bald head with a hand. “What’s wrong with you?” Ragdale said. “Shouldn’t you be out trying to shoot werewolves with silver bullets or somethin’?”

I shrugged. “I’m all out of silver bullets,” I told him.

Ragdale tried to smile. What a frightening sight that was. A mixture of painful gas and a nervous twitch. “Look, chambers. I don’t care about that mumbo-jumbo shit you did for Hemlock. If I need you…and I know I will one day…I’ll let you know. Getting’ yourself arrested for attention—–”

“You think that huh, Dr. Dimwit?”

“Still zingin’ ’em, I see. Get this asshole outta here!” Ragdale ordered the guard to grab me. “If I see you back in lock up again, Chambers, the charges stick! No matter how serious.”

And can you believe it? I was thrown out of county jail.

I was standing out in front of the county jailhouse when I noticed Artie entering a strip joint. Or trying to enter, I should say. Two bouncers pushed him back out the door. They pointed fingers at him and cursed at him. Artie, happy as hell, tried to explain himself. But those gorillas were not having it. The larger one with the square head took hold of Artie by his shirt lapel. He had Artie up in the air, way up, and his feet dangling at the gorilla’s oblong chest.

What could I do? I couldn’t let them kick a hole in this guy’s head. Not that I am any kind of fighter. Just maybe, I could prevent a horrible murder.

“Hey!” I screamed, running over to Artie and his new playmates. “Excuse me! Is that you, Mr. Conrad?”

The other gorilla stepped forward, ready to beat me senseless. I stopped short of him, threw my hands up. He growled and showed me his two oversized fists. Good grief! I thought. They were like two center blocks.

“Do you know this asshole?”  One of the gorillas asked.

“And you don’t?” I gave out a laugh and shook my head.  

“All I know is this jerk touched one of my girls and burned her during a lap dance. The skin fell off of her arm, I could see the bone.” He snorted.

“So who the fuck is he?” The gorilla that was holding Artie in the air asked.

“Oh. He’s a reporter for channel six. Eye in the sky. He’s doing a report on strip clubs….how the patrons are abused by the staff. I’m his producer.” I looked around and saw a man in a baseball cap with a digital video camera. “He’s our cameraman.” I pointed across the street.

The gorilla put Artie down gently.

“Hey…uh…Mr. Conrad…we are sorry,” One of the gorillas said.

Artie smiled at him. “No. I’m not Mr. Conrad.”

“What?” The gorilla spit in Artie’s face.

The other bouncer reached for me, I backed away, giggling. “Artie show him how you touched that dancer. Was she sexy, Artie?”

“Oh yes,” Artie said. “I just wanted to touch her cheek but her arm got in the way—”

When Artie touched the bouncer’s face, his skin sizzled under Artie’s hand. The skin fell from the man’s cheek like a soapy sponge in a sink. The man fell to his knees, screaming, calling out God, Jesus, and Mother Mary.

“Run Artie!” I yelled, took off down the street corner. I looked back, saw Artie wasn’t behind me.

The idiot got caught, I thought. I stopped running outside a grocery store parking lot. I was doubled over, trying to catch my breath, when I heard a voice behind me.

“You’re fast,” It was Artie. Leaning against a newspaper box.

“I guess you snapped your fingers and you arrived here?” I said in between huffing and puffing.

Artie smiled and nodded. His smile disappeared. “How did you know?”

“Artie…why didn’t you tell me you were a demon?”

“I didn’t think it was important.”  He said cheerfully.

“Come on,” I sneered at him, started to walk away. “And stop fucking smiling!”

Next Tuesday, Chapter 5: Deguello pt 3


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