Chapter 5: Deguello pt 3

We had only gotten four blocks from the jail when we saw this tall man dressed in black smiling at us. His misshapen head was completely bald, with no hair on his face at all. Not even eyebrows. He had a long, malevolent smile on his face. The lips were thin, drawn up around those horrible black teeth to show purple gums. His body was thin, and the black dress shirt looked like it was sewn on, just as the black jeans with the cuffs tucked into his black rattlesnake boots.

We stopped at the grocery store entrance. I took my eyes off the man in black just long enough to see the fear in Artie’s eyes. Artie’s lips were trembling, but his fists were clenched tight by his sides.

“You know him?” I asked.

Artie fumbled his words in a low whisper. “Deguello,” He said, swallowing hard. “Deguello.”

“We should run? Right? Right?!” I turned back to the man in black. He was no longer a man at all, but a large black Rottweiler with flaming red eyes. A long growl came from its slack-jawed mouth, where its large fangs protruded.

We ran inside the grocery store. I threw a couple of shopping carts ta the hell hound. It only used them as leverage to gain more ground, in one leap, up and over. Several shoppers saw this large black dog growling and barking. They ran the other way. A woman grabbed her little girl and ran out the other exit on the other side of the store. Artie and I were headed in that direction. The dog stopped us dead in our tracks. That damned thing was fast. We ran toward the checkouts. Again, the dog was at every turn, even hopping up on the bagging facility. The teenage cashier had the guts to pull out the microphone hanging from her register and pound the dog on the right side of its head. It fell from the register and rolled, whimpering.

Just for a stunned moment, lying on the tiled floor of the grocery store, the dog had changed back into the man in black. When it recovered its senses, the oversized Rottweiler had returned.

Artie was way ahead of me. He was fast too, only he was cheating, and maybe not on purpose. His body kept appearing and reappearing in thirty-second intervals. We were down a few aisles when the dog had cut us off at the back aisle near the meat department.  Artie seemed to not care, he kept running. I saw where he was going. An emergency exit door to the left. I was prepared to bite, kick, and use my fists, if possible. I didn’t think for a minute I would live through the fight.

Just as we were at the end of the health aisle, the Rottweiler was set to attack, a large butcher knife came straight down, piercing the top of the dog’s skull, the tip of the blade showing through its open mouth. A long stream of yellow gook sprayed everywhere, covering packets of chicken parts, and a display of stuffing mix. I looked up and saw this big, heavy-set man in a white coat and cap standing over the flailing Rottweiler. The dog was screaming, yelping, flopping around until it had changed back to the man in black.

He stood, facing the butcher. The butcher made like a track and field runner in his twenties and was in his meat cooler in ten seconds flat.

The man in black, Deguello, had pulled that butcher knife slowly, painfully, out of the top of his head. His tiny red eyes were searching for us. Artie and I were long gone, having pushed open that emergency exit, the alarms sounding off.

Artie was down the street, not even looking back. I called out for him a dozen times before he stopped. I had to catch my breath, so I walked to him. He was standing out in front of the bank, leaning against the brick wall.

I caught up to him, sat on a curb. “Spill it, Artie,” I demanded.

“I don’t know what you—”

“You escaped the pits of hell, didn’t you?”

“No….no I didn’t,” Artie shook his head. “I don’t know how I ended up here. That house I was in? Well, two days ago I was standing in a room looking at a child in its crib. Of course, I looked slightly different. I hadn’t yet taken this shape completely.

“I took some clothing from the closet, found these,” Artie smiled again, pointing at the tick-rimmed glasses that sat on the end of his nose. “After I had my run-in with those men at the bar, which one of them lured me in, I was ready to go back where I came from. I needed to go back. Before anyone noticed. So I went back to the house, the doors opened for me. There was the child with its mother. She screamed and called the police. That’s when I met you next.”

“Yeah,” I said, thinking. “Lucky me. What’s a Deguello, Artie?”

“A hunter. Tracker of those that escape hell without permission.  He takes the heads of the escapees for proof the task is completed. Honestly, I don’t know how I arrived here.”

“Come on, maybe I know someone who could help.”

Next Tuesday, Chapter 5: Deguello pt 4

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