Friday, January 14, 2011
Whistles McCoy was up before the Sun every day of the week. Being a logger means long and weary hours. Sleep is seldom seen. Most of us still languish in dream as he makes his way past the gated cemetery .
A crow whooshes past and settles in a bare tree across the way. Whistles tips his hat.
The crow bobs, studying him before cawing once. Whistles hefts his axe to the other shoulder.
Today is different. Today he killed someone.
The mist seems heavier now. Harder to move thru. His footsteps echo loudly in the fog. Tendrils twist around his ankles as if trying to hold him. The thick carpet obscures the blood splashed over his boots. He leaves sticky, unseen half-footprints in his wake.
“Whistles. . . .” a disembodied voice whispers. “Whistle for me, Whistles.”
He spins, clasping the axe in two-hands and peering into the fog.'Impossible!' he thinks.
“You remember the tune, don’t you?” a figure glides into view.
“No! It can’t be. . . I killed - ” Whistles’ knuckles squeeze into white. Sweat beads at his temple.
“Yes, you did.” the mystery guest leans against the fence.
“But you’re. . . .”
Whistles glances around, hoping someone will appear and tell him what's going on.
“I want my money back, Whistles.”
Whistles looks askance at him, “You’re dead.”
“Yes, we've covered that.“
“Then why do you need money?”
The stranger’s eyes blaze. Whistles readies his axe.
“AHA-HA-HA-HA!” the stream laughter shakes the shadow. “You know, I always did like you Whistles. You’re a smart guy. A hard worker. You had such potential.”
With a sudden cry, Whistles rushes and swings! The axe passes right thru the evanescent stranger and ricochets off the fence, cleaving bone, flesh and muscle.Whistles crashes to the ground in agony. His screams and life flow out, disappearing into the empty whiteness around him.
“But your choices, Whistles.” the figure says, axe now in hand. “Tsk tsk. You’re choices have been very disappointing.”
“Here!” Whistles digs into his overalls and tosses over many rolls of bills. “Take it! Just leave me alone! Let me live, please!”
"Oh, I’m not going to kill you Whistles.” The smile can be heard if not seen.
“Thank you! Thank you!” he crawls slowly backwards, pushing off his good leg.
Far-off in the fog, another set of footsteps echoes now. More crows gather in the branches overhead, laughing and flapping their wings. Whistles breath is erratic now.
A very tall personage in a top hat, billowing coat and leaning on a scorpion-in-amber tipped cane materializes out of the mist. He gazes down.
“I’ve wanted to meet you for so long.”
Removing his hat, the figure crouches and grasps Whistles hand in enthusiasm.
“Yes, yes! You’ll make an excellent addition, of that I have no doubt.” he stands to address the shade.
“Perhaps I should apologize, Martin.” the top hat is replaced. "I didn't think you had it in you."
“People surprise you everyday, Mr. B." he hands the axe over, "I got the money right here.”
Mr. B pockets the cash..
“And one soul.” Whistles’ victim points. "That's the deal, right?"
“That was indeed the bargain. You’re free to go, Mr. Reyes.”
Martin Reyes, once only a mere ectoplasmic soul, is himself again. Whole and true. He looks at his hands, feels his face and a delighted grin breaks out. Eyes shining he bows.
“Oh thank you, sir!”
“Tut tut, off with you now.” Mr. B watches him go. “Nice fellow.”
He stoops back to Whistles.
“Now, as for you Mr. McCoy! You and I have to be going as well. It’s short jourmey, don’t worry.”
Whistles complexion is ashen, like the swirling fog. His eyes bulge, showing a lot of white. He licks his lips.
“Who are you?”
Mr. B looks cross.
"You know I was hoping for a bit more out of you, Whistles. You had such potential. How disappointing.”
“Yeah, I’m hearing that a lot lately.”
Mr. B laughs approvingly. The crows shift above in flurries of feathers and rattling branches and soft caws.
“I see what Martin meant about you! Yes, now I’m absolutely sure you’ll fit right in! I’m so glad to have you.”
“Where. . . where are we going?”
Mr. B’s grin is suddenly black and rotting. Whistles can smell feces and necrotic flesh. The mist darkens.
“To a place you've made, Mr. McCoy. A place of wicked horrors and eternal pain. I’ve come to take you there. Give me your hand.”
“Oh, my God!”
“No, I'd thought you figured that out by now.”
Martin Reyes lived into his late nineties. When he died, he was whistling.