On a bitterly cold morning, Travis lay half awake, listening to the crying wind as it streamed through the small cracks in the circular bay window above his head. Countless attempts to seal the tiny crevices where the stained glass joined the wooden panes with fresh layers of white silicone only seemed to worsen the
situation. The decayed old particles cracked and flaked, leaving minuscule
passageways for the outside world to gain entrance in the two-story sanctuary.
The frozen incubus had a devilish mind of its own and toyed with the house as if
it was nothing but a Rubik’s Cube. It twisted about the Victorian hovel with deft
nimble paws, pressing its repulsive body down the chimney flute, through the holes
in the attic dug by the field mice that sought refuge, and through the clefts in the
basement that had slowly succumbed to by the elements of nature. This old
house had survived the five decades of relentless barrages of snow and rain and
would probably survive a hundred years more with a little time and money spent
The attic, directly above the bedroom, was dark but not completely barren of life.
The tangerine light of the full moon sifted through the rotting ventilation eaves in
the end walls revealing cobweb-festooned rafters under a 45-degree peaked roof.
Moist silk aqueducts linked together throughout the entire attic allowing swift
passage for the carnivorous arachnids that patrolled the area like German Gestapo guards outside Block 11 in Auschwitz.
The direct center of the room offered just enough headroom for someone to
stand erect, though closer to the walls, it was necessary to crawl on both hands
and knees over the wood and through the bundles of insulation, neatly
tucked inside the floor support beams like a newborn in the intensive care
nursery. Years ago, he had crawled into the attic and laid the insulation by himself,
paying close attention to detail and making sure that each bundle
was spaced correctly between the horizontal beams. Doing this kept the house
warmer in the winter and much cooler in the summer months reducing the
electric bill by at least twenty percent.
Though the attic was a tomb, a cold desolate plot that gave temporaryrefuge to the insidious vermin and other blood drinking creatures of the
night, it really didn’t bother him much. Seldom was the room disturbed by
the presence of a human, though it housed the most valued possession that
he owned. Only the ravenous spiders dared roam these forlorn corridors ofempty boxes and antiquated relics that were neatly packed away, out of sight
and of course, out of mind. An orange hue funneled its warm rays through the series of rotted ventilation eaves leaving the far wall, adjoining the attic door in a
soft illumination. Sitting directly in its inviting wake, wedged tightly
between two empty U-Haul boxes stood a large white porcelain urn. Inside the white hourglass rested the cremated remains of two people. The crude shrine drank deep the few hours of light that trickled through the open eaves, holding onto every drop of warmth that it could.
The sticky orb traps meticulously spun by hundreds of hungry arachnidsprotected the urn from curious insects that unknowingly trespassed their
temple. These fanged vampires were the sentinels of the attic, the guardians
of ashen humans. They stood vigil over something that was no longer there,
honoring ways that had long ago ceased to exist except as a distant memory.
Deep inside the attic, these vermin slept sound, for they lived in a dream world
where heroes walked tall during the wee sleeping hours of the night, and
chivalry and justice were synonymous with honor. If one of these vampires
could have donned the brass helmet of Don Quixote or drank deep from the
ancient cup of Erasmus or scaled the walls of Sodom and Gomorrah and crushed
the dregs of society, they would have. With one flail of the almighty fang, the
spider would have slashed through the iron gates of hell and forced his steel
incisors through the engorged throat of his enemy drinking his victim completely dry.
Travis would have given his life to have saved his wife and son from having to go
yet another day hungry, without food and without any love. And to take a bullet
from some ritual drive by shooting to save the spinal cord of some
innocent teenager from living the life of a paraplegic in a cold wheel chair.
That and more he would have given without hesitation to end the pain. In the frozen alcoves deep inside an undisturbed turquoise reservoir of a child’s imagination, a hero lived the life of a God, though in the real world they withered away locked in chains inside some dusty old pirate’s chest.
Travis jostled about in his king-sized sleigh bed, trying to find the perfect fetalposition, strategically placing the pillow between his legs. It would be another
night of insomnia, something that was only too familiar and routine in his 44 years of being alive. He knew that he had a new patient scheduled for 10:00 this morning. Perhaps he would be late, and Travis could catch up on some sleep in the office until he arrived. Who was he kidding? These sick bastards were never late, if anything they were always early and made damn sure that they got every moment that they paid for. More times than not, the patients had to pay his hourly rate out of their own pockets for fear of alerting the insurance carrier that they were sick in the head and the possibility of being ostracized by their employers or even their own co-workers.
Travis usually reduced his rate from $150 per hour to $80 dollarsdepending on whether they filed a claim with their insurance carrier or whether
they chose to pay cash. Sometimes the insurance claims adjuster would dispute
the claim, since the patient had no prior authorization to visit a psychologist that wasn’t part of the government health plan or didn’t fit into the criteria of what his supplemental health policy would accept. In either case, it was a bunch of
bullshit for Travis to either try and recover his fees, go through the
hassle of contacting the patient and requesting he or she stop by his office and
drop off a check. Thinking about it, it was rather ludicrous to think that a
crazy person might remember to pay the bill that his own private insurance company, claiming to be financially sound and sane, momentarily considered an asinine profession and therefore were refusing to pay. So, who is actually crazy, the patient or the insurance company? Travis would have to say it was a little of both; the naive patient for thinking that his insurance company was going to be there when he needed them, and the insurance company for believing their own lies.
The fresh morning air viciously stung his eyes and attacked his ear canals,
enhancing his audibility by ten decibels. Travis could hear the faint muffled scratching upstairs, undoubtedly a few field mice attempting to conserve body heat among hairy strangers. Perhaps they were busy fornicating, playing hide the tail or lubricating the whiskers. Whatever they were doing, he envied them and their lackadaisical behavior.
But, what did these rodents know of life? Did they have mundane jobs? Did
they worry about providing for or protecting their offspring, or for that matter, did
they even know the importance of a family? The proliferation of this
species would indicate that the family took a back seat to the raging
libido of Dear Old Dad. If self-gratification were a paying job, these ground
dwelling cheese varmints would all be politicians.
Perhaps, just perhaps, these vermin had rules that they abided by, the most
important of which was the sanctity of life. It’s possible that Ricky the Rodent
got up every morning, stroked back his horned whiskers as to look more
conservative, picked up his attaché case, and headed off to his private hell hole
inside the pantry. There, snuggled tightly between a bottle of Windex and a
carton of light bulbs, he would tend to the affairs at hand. During his hectic day
filled with scheduled meetings upon meetings to discuss further meetings down the
road, and his fourteen trips to the water fountain to wet his whistle and check out
the new secretary in the plaid miniskirt, he would conceive of new ways to move up
the corporate ladder to impress the Senior Vice President of Operations and fantasize about sleeping with the new intern in the miniskirt. All in all, it was a very
productive and busy day!
What about the rat’s wife? What was her role in society? Did she
stand watch over the children and dream about devouring the little bastards, or
did her fury thighs quiver at the thought of seeing her cheating husband
snared in a mousetrap, head split wide open? What would happen to the family?
Would they be evicted from the broom closet and tossed into the cold basement,
or would some laboratory reject come knocking on the door with cheese in one
paw, and thoughts of torture and acts of perversion in the other?
Although he was a psychologist, and a damn good one at that, Travis often wondered where his mind was leading him. One moment he would be sitting in his office listening somewhat attentively to his patient blubbering about something that
happened in his or her life that forever changed them, and the next moment he was
wondering if divorce and empathy were common in the rat world. Was
monogamy an overrated characteristic that only priests and little boys pretended
to practice behind the alter, or did society wean itself from moral issues and
traditions over time? This new suitor that came knocking on the door with a
wedge of cheese in one hand and a flask of Jesus Juice in the other, was he the
savior or just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. These and other mysteries
preoccupied much of Travis’ leisure time and in a perverse sense, made life more
Keeping himself busy late at night pondering over the animal
kingdom was his way of coping with reality. But more than that, it was the escape
route for his subconscious. By derailing his train of thought, he could unload
the infectious cargo that traveled the midnight tracks of his mind. If he could
find sense in a world that existed beyond his own, then by observing nature he
might be able to understand why humans reacted so irrationally; why skin color
or border difference caused mass hatred between seemingly ordinary groups. An
ant colony had more inner meaning and genuine order than that of homo
sapiens. Homicide was nothing but a three-syllable word that wasn’t tolerated
in this purified realm beneath the ground. The perverse need for adolescents
to measure antennas by comparing lengths and girths was something only
prevalent in bipedal males.
The whole of any civilization was far more important than the needs of the
one. If Marxism had roots, if some balding historian from the University of Toronto
could have climbed inside his head during the early developmental stages of his
life, Marxism and the whole theory behind it might have originated with a
pubescent lad, a magnifying glass, and an ant colony. Though possessed at
first with the feverish quest of utter annihilation by burning their tender skulls
as they emerged from their mounds, Marx later grew to understand and
to appreciate these insects. Awed by their ability to overcome, their ability to work
together, and their flagrant disregard for their own well-being, he came to respect
and admire these red colonies. They gave their life without remorse, without
a second thought to insure the survival of their species. Ants were the perfect
soldiers in a perfect utopia. If life were nothing but a chess game, these workers
were expendable pawns whose sole function was to protect the queen.
The theory behind communism probably grew and blossomed as the young
German lad passed the cool summer days playing in the fields. The chimney red
clay roads wound throughout the countryside up and over the green
hills and through the spacious meadows filled with potato farms and struggling
sheep ranchers. Wild blueberry patches and lavender flowers graced the green
pastures with spring time vitality and beauty that only a God could create and only
a woman could appreciate and understand. Each river beckoned with hungry
trout just begging for a fresh worm and a metal hook, almost daring Huck Finn
enthusiasts to skip school and cast their bamboo lines into the mystical glacial
lakes and roaring tributaries that surrounded the island. It was the perfect
moment in life without interference from the outside world, without the threat
of a nuclear war hanging overhead like some ominous black cloud, a life pure of racial hatred and utter contempt for limp politicians and ambivalent governments.
Although bitten numerous times and hospitalized on at least four different
occasions, Karl Marx continued to delve more and more into this unknown world.
Often branded an oddity by all his fellow peers and ridiculed by his own family,
he drifted off into his new world of insects. Here he found solace from the cruel
world, protected in the knowledge that he had millions of new red friends that were
willing to serve and if needed, willing to die to protect Karl. It was the perfect
communistic society thus convincing him that all civilizations, and all structured
government hierarchy were destined to follow nature’s course and embrace the
words and ideology of Marxism.
If Prozac had only been around one hundred years ago and the field ofpsychiatry, a more acceptable form of treatment, the geographic boundaries of the
countries, world figures, famous speeches, wars, and even evil tyrants would not
have come to fruition. Rest assured, had Travis been alive back then, Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Idi Amin would have been doped up on Prozac, tortured, and then dragged outside one night in their underwear and shot in the head. Now, he never said that he was the greatest psychologist in the world or claimed to have all the answers. He just believed that a small percent of the population could never be cured by therapy or by these new wonder drugs.
Many would undoubtedly protest his barbaric treatment of the insane, but really were Hitler, Stalin, Amin, or Donald Trump insane or just evil mother fuckers? How do you measure the level of insanity of one individual or a mob that follows these tyrants? All the medication in the world and coddling probably wouldn’t have deterred any of these rulers from their destiny. Some men are just born evil or stupid. Others learn it along the way.
Some of his colleagues would also argue that ethics governed people and the universe, and if we all adhered to moral principal and abided by the laws sent down from Heaven, humanity would survive for the millennium to come. Travis didn’t slightly disagree with their opinions. He thought it a crock of shit! The agonizing truth was out there to be found, but was hard to swallow for a society that based itself upon high moral standards and brotherly love. The easy choice for a
dysfunctional society bordering upon the verge of extinction would be to totally
block out the past and to forget the torturous machinery and weaponry that man
created to eliminate his fellow neighbors. Travis never actually condemned
the military, but, he seriously wondered if the inhabitants of the North American
Continent fathomed the motivation behind the development of nuclear
weapons. If bombs weren’t developed and dropped for ethical decisions, then why?
rather upon greed and power. Without some sense of organization and group
direction, humans were inevitably doomed to failure; as evident of the fall of communism in Russia. This was indeed a lugubrious situation.
In a strange way, both animal kingdoms were similar in that both species
lacked the stamina to exhaust all options before implementing an
action. Most so-called ethical decisions were based upon fear and anger, and more
selfless actions were based on true love. If it were true that a coward dies a
thousand deaths and a hero but one, then humans would never die out.
Undoubtedly the number one priority of the ant was the colony; the number one
priority of any single person was the individual. Thus, it was safe to conclude
that humans were not ethical. Although this was a very cynical take on humanity, Travis believed that society in whole was heading in a bad direction and if we didn’t do something soon, we could never reverse our course.
He lifted his right arm out of the shelter of his warm igloo to brush the rumpled
hair from his brow. The warm palm felt soothing against the cold flesh as he tried
to awaken the muscles in his face. “Razor stubble,” he mumbled out loud.
He was suddenly roused back to reality by thunderous buzzing at the front
door. “Now, who in the hell could that be?” No one in their right mind would be
ringing his doorbell this early Wednesday morning.
“Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Buzzz. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”
“Ok, ok, I heard the damn bell,” he hollered. “Let me get some clothes on before
my boner freezes and breaks off like an icicle.” Again, his train of thought was
interrupted by the shrill of the doorbell. It was as if the buzzer were being tortured
by some sadistic electrician, and its sonorous cries of pain seemed to reverberate
throughout the entire household.
Travis grabbed dirty jeans off the floor and pulled them up his half-frozen legs.
Although it was mid-April, it still felt like winter here on Prince Edward Island.
The jeans were rigid, almost stiff as he pulled them up over his waist and yanked
the zipper. He reached down and picked up a white LL Bean sweater and proceeded to simultaneously insert his head and arms into the appropriate openings just as the front door buzzer went off again.
Reaching over the night stand by the far corner of the bed, he flipped the switch to
turn on the lamp. Either the power had been shut off for two hours or it was in
fact 6:30 in the morning; the latter being the more probable of the two. “Christ!”
“Buzzzzz. Buzzzzzzzzzzzz. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”
“Yeah, all right, all right will ya!” He knew it sounded crazy to yell at aninanimate object and expect a response, but he did it anyway.
Maybe that’s the first sign of madness, knowing that you weren’t making any
sense even to yourself, let alone a licensed psychologist. He guessed it would have been more asinine to expect a verbal response back from the doorbell, but sometimes we just do things that don’t make sense. Not only are we unethical, but
it now seems that we are not a very lucid society. Boy, this day was going to be a real winner if Travis continued this line of thinking.
The laundry pile on the floor was starting to look more like a vagrant’s shopping cart filled with soda cans, plastic bottles, pillow cases and bed sheets. There was a towel that looked like it had been washed a few weeks ago clumped together on the floor with some shirts and another pair of jeans. Perhaps tomorrow he just might tackle that monster load before it got any bigger; before some Austrian rock climber came to his door, drooling over the possibility of climbing the growing mountain. If these garments had any rights, they would sue for negligence and emotional distress. Any day now, Social Services, commonly referred to as CSS, would come calling to remove his dirty attire and place his garments into some sort of a Foster Laundromat.
Ripped apart from their biological purchaser, these patheticgarments would be just another statistic of the welfare system. They, like
countless victims, would be another non-descriptive folder tucked away in some
file cabinet. And, if the lawyers got a hold of this, all hell would break loose.
Lawsuits, counter lawsuits, back stabbing, defamation of character, vulgarity, and
a whole slew of legal repercussions was soon to follow. Absolutely nothing that
the legal community could scrape from the bottom of the toilet bowl surprised him
much these days. In a society gone haywire, these fast-talking parasites thrived
in shit. If the devil had a paying job, he would be a defense attorney defending
Justin Trudeau on morality issues.
He finished in the bathroom and descended the oak staircase towards the
front door. The bare steps creaked under his weight and each cold Neanderthal
foot landed squarely upon the polished oak, bringing to life the fatigued home.
Upon reaching the foyer, he hesitated just a moment before reaching for the door
knob and pulled the sleeve of the sweater over his right hand. As a youngster he
was often compelled to challenge the flagpole at New Bloomfield Junior High
School in the dead of winter. How an ordinary ice pole had some mesmerizing
inner power baffled the doctors at Summerside Hospital. In a show of courage,
the kids would pit science against future manhood; tongue against frozen object.
Travis usually lost, partially due to lack of intelligence, but mostly due to hisexcessively large tongue. Some of the kids joked that he could lick the back of his
head with his tongue. If this were only true, he would have made many a woman
happy in bed.
The metallic monster boasted the remains of torn tissue, slabs
of lip parts, buckets and buckets of innocent blood, and tiny samples of spongy
ligaments. Each student left enough DNA samples to enable any clever crime
scene investigator to solve all the crimes on the island. These were the
trinkets of war time, worn proudly by the victor, daring anyone to strip him of his
title. Those painstaking images haunted his adolescence and somehow
manifested itself into his manhood.
“Come on ya big ape,” yelled the intruder. “I’m freezing my fucking ass off.
I’ve got frostbite on my nuts. Now open the door. I can hear you behind the
door!” His voice was relentless as was his determination.
“What the hell do you want, Robert?” he snapped back. “It’s not even 7:00
in the morning if you hadn’t noticed! About time you bought a real watch that
tells time!” In the thirteen years that Travis had lived in Cabot, Prince Edward Island, Lieutenant Sterling had woken him up at least on four hundred and fifty
“The door’s frozen solid, asshole,” Travis replied. “Now go home and sleep it off.”
Robert’s responded with, “Hey Travis it’s almost at 7:00 amso, open the door, get dressed and let’s go get some coffee. Starbucks doesn’t stay
open all day, ya know!”
“Yeah they do, you idiot,” he shouted back! Ever since Starbucks opened their first shop on Main Street last year, Robert had to be there bright and early, so he could get a seat next to the roaring fireplace. Yeah, it was nice and warm and yeah, the coffee was ok, but it wasn’t worth the four dollars per cup, that was for sure.
The only reason Robert wanted to go to the coffee shop every morning and
get the table next to the fireplace was because of the local college girls. It was not uncommon to see them standing in line, dressed in their flannel pajamas gabbing away with the barista behind the counter. Robert was an ass man, and never gave up the opportunity to drink in the beauty of a fine backside. If girl watching were a paying job, Lieutenant Sterling would be richer than Bill Gates.
Travis reconciled himself to the fact that he would have to let the frozen bastard in
and proceeded to flip on the outside light. Leaning his one-hundred-and-eighty-pound body against the frame of the door, he jerked it open.
An atomic blast of wind exploded into the dark room and
almost knocked them over. Angered by its own ineptness to gain passage, the cold
stalked the premises of 3930 Mallard Way, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to
vent its built up frustrations. When the solid oak door swung open, it wasted no
time in smashing against Travis, shooting millions of icy bullets
through his bone marrow, crystallizing the red blood cells into one frozen lake.
It then headed upstairs skipping two steps at a time until it had reached the top.
The horned incubus knew the route only too well for it too had traveled themidnight tracks of his mind every night since the horrible accident.
At the top of the staircase it turned towards the two helpless figures standing
by the doorway and in a low throat gurgling voice it pushed words of absolute
hatred down into the frozen foyer. Although Travis was certain that he was the only one who could hear the voice, he knew that Robert felt the evil presence in the cold house.
his shoulder blades and snapped the bones in his neck to draw more attention to
his presence. It hesitated for but a second before it disappeared into the bedroom.
Possessed by Lucifer, the incubus wedged its repulsive torso between the cracks
of the attic door and the frame. It was the voice of Satan, a voice that plagued him
every night and rocked his mind into explosions of searing pain. Travis wasn’t going to let his arrival bother him, but he knew that a confrontation was inevitable.
“Man, it’s windy out there,” complained Robert. “Shit, you would think that
we could just have one day this year when the weather wasn’t below freezing.”
“Come in and close the door behind you,” Travis mumbled. “Fix us some coffee. I’m going upstairs to shower. And, don’t be lighting up any cancer sticks in my kitchen!”
He didn’t care to hear his response. For that matter, Travis didn’t care if Robert
took the time to close the door. Hell, when he got cold enough, he would damn well
slam the fucking door shut behind his fat ass.
Travis snatched the reindeer skin from the wicker chair in the foyer, wrapped it
tightly around his husky frame and proceeded to waddle back up the staircase.
His feet felt like scuba diving flippers slapping upon frozen marble as hetranscended towards the frozen alcove. It was a scene out of Dr. Zhivago.
Upon entering the room, he knew that he wasn’t alone. The beast lay in wait,
hidden in the shadows of the closet. It felt comfortable there, secure from
ridicule and disgust from the Almighty Creator. Wrapped in a bacterial infested
brown wool death shroud to hide beneath, it anxiously awaited the arrival of its
intended victim. The ivory nails scraped the walls leaving deep jagged grooves
to prove its presence as the sour stench of its ancient shroud permeated
through the fibers of the dress shirts and slacks hanging neatly in the closet.
The fanged killer was a composite of hatred and fear, evil and deception that
lived vicariously throughout the centuries, feeding on misery. It was a
rambunctious killer in a hypocritical world filled with vivacious nuns and horny
priests, with vermin politicians and rich lawyers who fed off humans like
blood hungry leaches in a Vietnamese swamp. It lived for the gentle moments of
the night when victims were at their weakest, when they were most vulnerable to
pain. It liked Travis because he was a challenge, unlike the countless others that fell to his soiled feet.
Travis could sense its presence, its starring molten lava eyes burning into the nape
of his skull. They were volcanic pits of burning magma churning about like a pot
of chili on top of a hot stove. A million pieces of hot shrapnel tore through
his body in one incredible explosion inflicting searing pain that pulsed through his
mind and soul. Every synaptic nerve burst like fire balls shooting tiny pitchforks
throughout his frame, immobilizing him emotionally and physically. Life did not
exist, for if it did, it spit forth the bile of hatred into the face of a lonely child and
mocked his entire existence.
fucking hero downstairs? Here to protect you?” It started to laugh, but cut
Travis walked into the bedroom, turned on the overhead light and turned his
attention toward the closet door. He could have easily slammed it shut and ended the antagonism, but instead he chose to respond. “Go to hell!”
“Been there,” it responded sarcastically. “Oh, saw your wife and kid there.
They told me to tell you that they were scared, and that they needed you. They were all huddled together in a corner screaming in pain and begging for their savior to come and free them from this never ending nightmare.” He hit a nerve and drank deep from the tormented soul that stood helpless outside the closet door.
The beast watched as the hero sat down on the edge of the bed. At that moment it knew that all heroes great and small simultaneous fell to their feet and gazed in horror upon this once great storyteller. This mythical father that swore to forever protect his family was defeated. Innocent women and children around the world looked in awe and in fear as they knew only too well his fate, yet they couldn’t stop watching this man. In every life and to every child comes the day when he no longer believes in dreams, forever closing his mind and shutting down his imagination.
That day was finally here, as the boy wept. He was defeated. The man with the inconsolably boyish face with intoxicating light green eyes cried into his hands. The boy who looked like he could have been on the cover of some firefighters’ calendar now resembled a heap of wilted seaweed covering the island coastline. Travis was not a man, rather a wounded boy with a 10-inch dagger in his heart.
“What the hell do you want of me you fucking bastard? What is it? Are you an
addict? Do you need me to survive? What, you can’t live if I don’t feel guilty?
Is that it? Well, I do feel the pain, every fucking hour of every fucking day. If I
had enough courage to stick a gun in my mouth and blow my fucking brains
out, I would. I swear I would!” yelled Travis.
Oh, the Beast loved it when it discovered someone’s Achilles heel. He was a
vampire, sucking the blood of hope from his prey. His fanged incisors punctured
the victims throat just above the jugular as his parched lips closed over the open
wound, careful not to lose one red drop of fluid. It was feeding time at the trough.
“I want the urn and I want your soul now,” he said demandingly.
Travis looked straight into its monstrous face and replied, “You can’t have either, not now, not ever,” and slammed the door shut. It was over for now, quiet for the time being, but it would return. It always returned for another fight. The
onslaught of nightmares was sure to chew away at his subconscious later that
The sour stench of failure to protect his family permeated the very
fibers of his mind, and the click of the almighty 38 assuaged the vein ridden
temples with promises of quick relief from reality. With a simple pull upon the
silver half-moon icon, the child within could forever kiss the wings of immortality
and join the illustrious few that had so cowardly proceeded him.
Travis was not afraid to die, he was just terrified at the prospect of living in a world
that no longer cared for his existence. When a man no longer walks with his
shadow and finds solace in the form of revenge, then it was time to kneel before
the executioner and welcome death in any manner. That was what he had read in all those storybooks when he was just a kid. Perhaps tomorrow Dr. Travis Owen would blow his head off and end the torment, but tomorrow was many hours away.
Ten minutes later, he emerged into the dimly lit kitchen. Twodistinct aromas stung his frostbitten nostrils; cigarettes and coffee. He
often pondered the function of nasal hair. They had to serve some purpose,
possibly to keep the nasal cavities warm, or maybe it was just a part of the
body filtration system. Whatever they were supposed to do, they didn’t do it. The
air was always cold, and he constantly had to blow his nose to breathe.
Now, Travis loved the fresh scent of strong coffee brewing, but detested whatusually accompanied it; cigarettes. Most of the inhabitants on the island smoked.
It was a way of life, an hourly ritual that absorbed much of their spare time and
consumed a good portion of their lungs. Marlboro, Camel and the
other tobacco giants controlled these drones, these obedient junkies just dying for
their next fix.
“Hey, no smoking in the house, moron!” he snapped.
“Oh, sorry dude,” apologized Robert. He tossed the butt into the sink that
still contained the dishes from two nights ago. Lieutenant Sterling knew that
Travis Owen thought little of people who craved the taste of tobacco and who
selfishly forced others to breathe in the stale burning stench. Hell, Robert knew
it, and he even respected his best friend for not smoking. He smoked inside the
house to see if he could get away with it. Although, Sterling was nearing thirty-six, he still acted much like the adolescent, Huck Finn. Telling him not to do something
only made him want to do it even more.
vipers from South America and emaciated alligators from the Bayous of Southern
Louisiana, then dropped a full pack of Marlboros into the pit, Robert would dive in
head first. Simply informing him of the luscious prize floating in snake shit and
alligator spit would be too much for someone with no will power.
Telling him to leave it would be like telling a politician to refrain from taking bribes
from foreign lobbyist groups in Canada. And, telling him not to smoke
would be like telling Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party to keep their pants on in a Texas brothel. It just couldn’t be done.
Robert Sterling and he were the best of friends, despite the name calling,
practical jokes played on one another, and the occasional scuffling matches. In
fact, Robert was the only friend that Travis had. He had been there for him through thick and thin for the past thirty years. It was Robert who helped him pull through the accident in 2014.
They were the best of friends, and they were the worst of enemies to themselves. One could not survive without the other and each of them would have given their life without a moment’s hesitation to save the other. To die alone in a cruel world that never acknowledged or appreciated your existence was unthinkable. If he had one last good memory, one last reason to live to fight, it was Robert. Because of their friendship, Travis survived the accident with a good portion of his sanity intact.
The clink of a spoon hitting the cold tile floor brought Travis back to the present. He was back in his kitchen, Wednesday morning, April 16, 2018, dealing with
another day. He took a sip of his coffee and glanced at the big round Seiko on
the wall just above the sink. The time 10:05 but that’s what it always displayed.
Travis had never replaced the batteries since the death of his wife and son, and that was nearly four years ago.
“You put sugar in this, I hate sugar.” Travis was annoyed, but he expected this much of Robert. “Asshole!”
“Oh, sorry dude,” replied Robert, half smiling. He could barely contain his
“I hate sugar. What time is it?” He took a sip of the coffee and satopposite Robert at the kitchen table. “You know, putting this shit in my coffee
just ruins the whole fucking flavor. It’s not supposed to taste like a Hershey
Chocolate bar as if you didn’t already know that.”
Robert ignored the sarcasm. “Well, to answer your question, my watch is
freezing up, but it looks like Mickey’s little hand is on the six and his big hand is
pointing to something between his legs. Now, I would have to conclude that either
it’s 6:30 in the morning, or that Mickey Mouse is having another bout with crabs.
And, by the soured expression upon the little fucking rodent’s face, I would say that
his balls are on fire.”
table. “Ah, I love fresh brewed coffee in the morning,” said Travis.
“Hey, you might want to open up some of these,” Robert said pointing to the
mail on the table. Might be something important.”
“Yeah, like what. What could be important? If it were that important they could have emailed me instead of wasting paper and stamps.”
“Ya never know. Could be that you won some sweepstakes. You want me to pop
these babies open, eh, Travis?”
Travis pushed the stack of mail across the table. “Help yourself. So, what’s the
bad news today?”
Robert reached down to pick the spoon up off the floor. He proceeded to
unbutton his gray overcoat and withdrew a conspicuous manila envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket. On the front of the eight by eleven-inch envelope, printed in bold letters read, “PRIVATE.”
Travis grabbed the parcel, threw it on the table and shook his head in disbelief.
He knew what sort of repulsive images spackled the five by seven glossy sheets. “I’ll
look at them later.” Working as a freelance psychologist for the government wasn’t all glimmer and glory. There were no heroes to speak of, and nobody really seemed to care anymore. People died every day, animals were beheaded for no apparent reason, children were molested, and the elderly were shunned and forgotten like used diapers. The 21st century held so many positive possibilities for government
reunification, employment opportunities, healthcare reform and a revamping of
welfare issues that it was inconceivable to think change was inevitable. Travis thought to himself, what the hell was Justin Trudeau doing to help the citizens of Canada? He had all the power in his hands, and yet he was just like his father, useless.
Working for the Charlottetown police department, Robert and he had seen thousands of grotesque pictures: decapitated seals, dolphins with their snouts chopped off, baby whales gutted, and even giant sea turtles that had cocaine shoved up their rectums to elude the Coast Guard. No rational explanation for these atrocities were ever given, at least none that would make any sense to a humane society. Travis just couldn’t stomach it this morning. “I’ll look at them later, dude. Besides, I’ve got a new patient to see today.”
Bad news always seemed to live in this kitchen. Life for Travis and his family
was to forever change on December 14, 2014. No matter how many years passed
or how many bottles of Johnny Walker that Travis downed, he couldn’t forget the horror of that day. It always slithered inside his cold bed at night and wrapped its icy bones around his aging body. It clung to him like a vampire feeding upon a fresh kill after a long rest inside his soiled coffin. The strong scent of guano and rotting blood filled the tomb with sickening vapors, pacifying the hungry monster until it could escape its prison of pine. When it drank from Travis, it drank from a succulent reservoir that could only be drilled late at night when the eyelids reluctantly shut themselves hoping for a restful slumber.
But, all that he came to expect and longed for in life changed on that fateful day.
Travis had gotten off work early and was eager to do some Christmas
shopping. It was getting on towards the holiday season and he was excited as a
jack rabbit in heat. He loved Christmas, not so much for the presents that he would receive, but for the joy that it gave to his beautiful wife of nine years and to his five year-old son, Brice. Yes, Travis truly believed in the adage that, “it’s better to give than to receive.” He desired nothing and needed nothing materialistically, but did crave the frantic frenzy of Christmas.
Travis was forced to double wrap all the presents, and then bind them in ducktape as his inquisitive wife would undoubtedly pilfer a preview of coming
attractions. Jill had no patience and their son, Brice, obviously had gotten this from
her side of the family. As crafty as he thought he was, Jill always seemed able
to open the packages and re-wrap them, without showing any evidence of
tampering. A forensic pathologist would have a difficult time linking Jill to
the scene of this crime. God, he loved them.
Come Christmas morning, beside a roaring fire, the family
would sit on the white lama skin rug that barely covered the den floor, and
proceed to rip open the gifts. Jill would hold a present high over her head, still
sealed in tacky duct tape, vigorously shake the box, and say, “Hmmmmmm, let me
see. Could it be a white bathrobe?” and behold, she was right. Now, he knew
that he hadn’t married a physic, rather a crafty lady who could outsmart the pants
off David Copperfield.
Brice, on the other hand, was a typical youngster caught up in the Christmas
excitement. He would immediately grab for the largest gift, expecting to find the
most awesome of presents, only to be sadly disappointed. As a practical joke, Robert, who automatically assumed the title of Uncle, would wrap up a
large box with nothing inside. When he came over later in the morning, as he
had been doing for the past six years, Uncle Robert would blame the Tooth Fairy
for stealing all the big presents.
Lieutenant Sterling would explain that difficult times and the slow economy
caused infirm adults to steal and commit hideous crimes of passion. He never went
into much explanation about crimes of passion, it was just thrown in nonchalantly.
Desperate times lead to desperate measures, and to put it bluntly, “the Tooth Fairy
was a pilfering fag.” Dressed in a baby blue tutu with his hairy butt cheeks
protruding out of his mother’s tiger skin panties, the fairy would sneak into homes
at night and steal all the Christmas presents. The Grinch couldn’t hold a candle to
this sadist! He cared little about the boys and girls who would be disappointed
on Christmas day, he cared only about his nicotine addiction and his prized porno
collection. The Tooth Fairy was especially fond of half-naked pubescent
African girls posing in maternity undergarments. Fortunately, Brice was far too
little to comprehend Uncle Robert’s bizarre imagination. His story lines verged
on the edge of madness.
uncle patrolled the beat, I came upon the fairy breaking into Mrs. Kane’s Cheese
Shop.” Robert would pound upon his chest and contort his face to look more
fearsome and gallant. Speaking in a raspy voice as he knelt in front of the fireplace,
he would continue his fictional story that even O.J. Simpson’s delusional jury
wouldn’t buy. “I came up to him and gave him a good kick in the ass! Yes, sir,
that’s exactly what I did.” He was proud of himself, gloating in his story telling
Brice would giggle like a cackling machine gun and listen attentively to every
word that vomited from Robert’s lips. He just loved the crazy adventures that
seemed to happen only to his favorite Uncle. He often wished that his dad was a
policeman instead of being a boring old doctor who talked to crazy people. When
he grew up he was going to be a policeman, or maybe a cowboy and clean up the
island of all villains. Of this he was certain.
Jill and Travis would cuddle up to one another, she sitting between his legs and
he leaning against the tan leather sofa, sipping his coffee and playing with her long
straight hair. They listened attentively to Robert and laughed along with Brice as
Uncle Robert recounted his escapades of heroism. Every year his stories seemed
to get longer and wilder and almost verge on the brink of idiocy.
“That’s right,” growled Robert.
“What’s crimes of passion?” inquired Brice.
“Never you mind. Now listen, little dude, I gave him a big kick in the ass, like
this.” He proceeded to demonstrate using all the force he could muster. “Bam. I
kicked him so hard that it would have killed any mortal man, but as we both know,
little dude, the Tooth Fairy ain’t no mortal man. No sir, he ain’t no mortal man.”
Brice jumped up and threw both hands in the air. “Like Superman,” he yelled.
Running around in circle he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Look, I’m Superman!”
“Well, not exactly like Superman, in fact, quite the opposite,” said Robert.
“You might say that he was a super power villain. Do you know who O.J. Simpson
or Bill Clinton are?”
Brice stopped running. “No.”
“Well, it doesn’t really matter. The point is this Fairy was more conniving and
detrimental to the fabric of our society as we know it today. Do you understand me,
little dude?” questioned Sterling.
Brice shrugged his shoulders. “Nope.”
“It doesn’t really matter. Now sit down and listen to the story, ok?” Brice
plopped to the floor beside his mother.
“There he was, dressed in a blue tutu and wearing his mother’s wild panties and his
sisters black fur boots, standing knee deep in the snow. He had stashed clumps of
sharp cheddar Cheese in his bra, and I must say, if I were an ordainedminister, I might be tempted over to the gay side!”
“The gay side?” asked Brice? “What’s that?”
“Never you mind,” interrupted Jill. “Just get on with your story, Robert and try to refrain from using such language. It really makes you sound like a homophobe. It really makes you sound stupider than you are.”
Robert ignored her comment and continued with his story. “Now, where was I,” muttered Robert? “Oh yeah, so there I was, man to fairy. He was the first to grab for his bloodthirsty weapon, the infamous fairy wand. I knew that I only had a split second to act, or lose my teeth at the hands of this demigod.”
“So, what did you do?” asked the ever-impatient child.
Sterling grabbed the mug from my hand and took a sip to clear his throat
and to stall for time. He needed a second to unscramble his thoughts and figure out an interesting conclusion to his wild story. Fabricating a tale like this took more
energy and imagination than Robert had anticipated. Sterling gave a sour
grimace, “Yuck, no sugar. How can you drink this shit straight?” Not waiting for a
reply he continued, “I grabbed for my police baton and whopped him over the head.
Yeah, that’s what I did.” He starred at Brice waiting for some sort of response. His
credibility was on the line, and he knew it.
“And?” asked Brice. “Hurry up. What did you do next? Did you punch him in
“He dropped his wand, grasped his skull, and started to cry like a baby with
diaper rash. Not waiting for him to react, I quickly threw my super villain
handcuffs upon his fatigued wrists and tossed him into the squad car. Well, to make
a long story short, he confessed and told me where he had hidden all your presents.
I’ve got them just outside the door over there; that’s if you still want them.” He
jerked his head in the direction of the door way.
Fast as his little feet could go, he was up from the floor and out the door in
less than three seconds. Lance Armstrong would have been awed by his speed and
determination especially since Brice didn’t use drugs to enhance his energy level. And, as Uncle Robert had promised, there in a neat pile by the flower box were his stolen presents.
The following year, to give the charade more credibility, Robert went so far as
to have a fellow officer dress in a blue tutu and come over to the Owen household.
The joke backfired and almost resulted in his dismissal. Jill had taken a picture of
the officer in drag, enlarged it, and proceeded to post it upon the inside wall of
the local post office. Unbeknownst to them, the Captain’s wife had a P.O. box inside
the same location and she saw the pictures. It was no laughing matter; both
Robert and the fellow officer were severely reprimanded and suspended for two
weeks without pay.
This was the typical Christmas day in the Owens’ household. There were plenty
of gifts to open, stories to fabricate, food so delectable it would subdue a finicky
troll, and a bona fide feeling of love and warmth. If love were a transparent coat of
varnish, it had soaked its way into the very foundation of the old Victorian house.
The old two-story white house was warm, cozy, well furnished, and most of all, it
embodied the true meaning of a home; it meant family and safety.
The home was constructed in 1967 by local skilled artisans that appreciated fine workmanship and attention to detail. It was a spectacular custom built Victorian situated on a manicured lot surrounded by hundreds of elderly oaks and seasoned apple trees. This aged arbor bathed the house in a cloud of cool shade during the sweltering summer months. The ornate trellises and intricate moldings that softened the appearance of the rigid structure would be virtually undetectable during the bright summer mornings if not for the brief reprieve from the sun. The trees served a useful function as well as giving an aesthetic beauty to the landscape.
Jill was born and raised in this home and her father likewise before her. If she
had anything to do with it, Brice and his children would one day inherit it. After
marrying Jill in January of 2005, Travis moved into the house.
The events of December 14, 2014 brought those dreams to an end. Travis was driving home down Miller road as usual with tons of presents in the back
of his SUV. A fresh blanket of snow had recently fallen on top of the
bend in the road, he saw it. It looked like two cars had melted into one
horrendous accident. Travis pulled in behind the large black Ford Expedition on the opposite side of the street to see if everyone was alright. It looked like the Ford had lost control and swerved into oncoming traffic. It wasn’t going to be a good Christmas for anyone involved in this accident, that was for sure. He turned his ignition off, opened the car door and jumped out into the cold. It was at that very moment when he saw the other mangled car. It was Jill’s yellow Jeep Wrangler.
allow the audience ample time to soak in all the horror and anguish that these two
had been through. The director’s intention, to leave the beguiled audience with
an impression that they could never forget, something that would stalk their
memories, and plague them at a subconscious level had been accomplished. He
couldn’t have wished for a better scene which now transfixed and mesmerized
He walked to the driver side window and saw Jill and Brice slumped over in a pool
of blood. They were dead, of that he was certain. A sharp piercing pain like that of
a sharp three-pronged trowel dug into his lower spine and ripped its way up to the
nape of his skull. Travis wanted to cry out in pain, close his stinging eyes, vomit his
bowels through his throat, but he didn’t. He had been taught that men dared not
show grief for fear of losing one’s pride. Travis vividly remembered his own father striking him across the face with his powerful fist for crying at his mother’s funeral. From that point on, not a tear did he drop, not a hint of grief crossed his broad Scottish face.
which nightmares could never compare. Brice and Jill knew the car would
hit them. In the last few seconds of their lives they screamed. If the mouth could move, if life could but for one moment surge through the tiny veins in his neck, Brice would utter, “Daddy, make them stop hurting me.”
The fingers dialed, 911. A soft voice answered, “Can I help you?”Like the pounding of a thousand Arabian horses galloping into fierce battle,
sweat beads profusely dripping from their manes, the surge of tears spilled from his
misted green eyes and poured onto the snow. All the bottled-up pain that Travis had tucked away in his empty stomach was unleashed by this lady’s voice. He was no longer a man, rather the feeble remains of a shelled crustacean, ready to be boiled alive and eaten like a lobster.
“Can I help you please?” reverberated throughout the night. “Hello, are
you still there?” asked the telephone operator. She placed her hand over the
receiver to call for her superior. “We’re sending out a patrol car.” Those were her
Travis didn’t hear her, didn’t hear the sirens beside his car, and didn’tnotice the officers, pistols drawn, scurrying about in the woods. He was in a
different world, spring time on a luscious green pasture. The flowers blooming,
bees flitting about, busy gathering pollen from the ripe buds, and the fresh breeze filling his lungs as he laid down upon the blanket of green grass. The blueberry bushes were full of ripe berries and the tart smell attracted the attention of many a hungry insect.
The sun beat down upon his youthful face and hairless chest, the warmthmassaging the tension that wormed its way into his muscular frame. He could see
Jill, clad only in a see-through white sun dress, walking towards him carefully balancing two champagne flutes in one hand, and a bottle of chilled German Riesling in the other.
Her intentions were clear, as were his.
The light beat its way through the skimpy fabric and showed man how he could
truly enjoy life and forever be content. Jill’s vain attempt to conceal her nudity was
thwarted by a thousand bursts illuminating her gracious figure hidden inside the
cloth. The sight of her golden-brown figure, nipples stimulated by the jostling of the
silky fabric against her skin, was truly the creation of a kind and benevolent God.
Travis slouched over the hood of her mangled Jeep and was roused from his dream by a familiar voice.
“Oh my God.” The words were spoken slowly, one by one in slow speed. “Who
could have done such a thing,” moaned Robert. “In all my life, I’ve never seen
such a thing.” He placed his hand to his mouth. “Are you ok?” he asked in a
consoling voice as he tapped Travis’ shoulder.
“Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” Travis was dead emotionallyand physically to the outside world. Nothing seemed to move, the men standing
before him held no solid form; the air molecules snapped like bubbles; and white
objects ceased to reflect any color.
That was the first time that he was to see the apparition hiding in the shadows of
the dimly lit moonlight. Its cranium protruded from the shroud and its eyes burned with anger as it scanned the car. Travis was the only one that could see it, of that he was sure. The beast longed to stay close to the corpses, wanting to run its bony fingers over the slippery child, but more than anything else, it wanted to lick the flesh of all its wetness. The feel of spongy muscles cascading ever so gently over its dry tongue excited the taste buds into a feeding frenzy. Gobs of viral white
leukocytes drained over its jowls and formed a chain link of spit hanging from its
lower lip. It looked more like a rabid German Shepherd nearing death, than the cunning calculated killer that God threw from Heaven.
It bore no horns upon its massive bald skull, nor did it sport a lizard’s tail. It
was just a deformity, a freak of nature belonging in a damp cellar, isolated from
human touch; locked away in Pandora’s Box. It scared Travis right down to the
bone marrow. Every hair follicle stood erect, every nerve moved cautiously before
sending a signal to the brain, and every muscle in his body tensed as the creature
disappeared back into the night. It was feeding time.
He knew that he had seen something, but what? He felt the coldness, smelledits decaying body and sensed its incredible power. Yet, in all the turmoil, Travis
wasn’t sure if the beast were a figment of his wild imagination, or if in fact, the
Devil himself was coming for the remains of his son and wife.
At first, he thought the spirits of the dead bodies were caught in limbo, pacing
back and forth in front of the yellow jeep in search of escape. Unsure of their surroundings, and lacking the insight to find the proper door, these abandoned specters wandered aimlessly by the Jeep. Travis was to learn that this shadow demon was a cursed spirit, not the souls of his recently killed family.
To some, pain can be measured in degrees of unpleasant stimuli that can awaken
the most tender and heavily guarded of nerves. These silos, created by our Maker,
were never designed to be opened, let alone be touched by immortal hands. Perhaps this demon was surveying the crash scene testing God’s reaction or his level of concern for Travis. It desperately wanted to poke its sharp bony fingers into the victim and hear the shrieks of pain and watch Travis sink to his knees and cry out in defeat accepting his new reality, Jill and Brice were dead. But, it had to be careful of God’s wrath and overstepping its boundaries. For the time being, it would sit back and observe Travis, waiting for its time to strike the victim.
The driver of the black Ford Expedition that had plowed into his wife and son was barely injured. A few days after the funerals, Travis learned that the driver had been drinking. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for vehicular manslaughter and was let out early after serving only nine months of jail time. He never got a good look at his face, all he could remember was that he looked Asian.
Travis got to his office around 9:45 and turned on the light. It was a small two room office down on Franklin Street overlooking the fishing docks. The fresh smell of the ocean bathed the room in the familiar scent that he had come to love. His secretary was on vacation for the next three weeks, and that was just fine with Travis because it gave him some time to crank up tunes on the stereo and to sit back and relax alone in the office and alone in his thoughts. He had scheduled his first appointment for 10:00 that morning so the next fifteen minutes were spent listening to Rod Stewart and thumbing through some paperwork. His office was never busy, but he had enough patients coming through the door to keep the lights on, pay the bills, and to survive comfortably on. Travis remembered when he first got his degree and thought he would cure the world of all its problems and make great contributions to society. Boy, was he ever wrong.
The morning sun spanked its warm rays through the office window and baked
his aged face in a cozy blanket of warmth. Travis stared at some photographs on his
cluttered desk and picked up an old picture of a little child clad in a yellow shirt
and a brown blazer. His crooked hair dangled over his olive-green eyes as he lay
with his back against this old Hemlock Tree. The bark of the tree dug into him
as he pushed himself into the seasoned trunk, jostling about like a wild grizzly bear
trying to scratch that one itch that was just out of reach. He was truly happy
pretending that he was Opie Taylor. Life on Prince Edward Island was anything
but easy for the inhabitants, but to a six-year-old boy, it was heaven on earth.
The hair cut was the traditional bowl cut given to him by his older foster sister, who
had aspirations of someday owning her own hair salon. It was a free haircut and that was all that mattered to a six-year-old boy who owned absolutely nothing but owed the world everything. Someday when he became rich and famous he would give back to all those who opened their homes and let loose their drunken anger upon an orphaned child.
Life had a cruel way of playing tricks upon little boys and girls and especially to Travis. It snuggled them in a nebulous fog of deceit, lying to them about imaginary heroes who wore red garments and delivered presents to all the good little children, about tiny fairies who placed trinkets of silver under their pillows at night in exchange for a tooth, and most of all it lied about their moms and dads.
Growing up an orphan and moving from foster home to foster home in search of new parents was exhausting work, especially to a six-year-old boy with dreams of finding a loving family. Each time he thought that he had found sanctuary in a new family, the familiar old blue Pontiac station wagon appeared and took him away to a new home.
No home was better or worse than the previous. Each had their own trials and tribulations and each parent came with a different skill set. Most of the parents were content with the monthly check they received and couldn’t care less about the welfare of the child. To them, this primitive ragamuffin was some unwanted and unplanned offspring destined for failure.
Travis was interrupted by a knock on the office door.
“Come in,” he said.
The door swung open and in walked Bob, his 10:00 appointment. Travis didn’t know at the time, but within the next seven days, this man would change his life forever. He never fathomed that he would meet someone who he hated for so many years and in a matter of a few seconds give him the courage to want to live.
At first glance, Bob looked like the average middle aged man. He had no distinguishable features to speak of, nor did he sport any wild tattoos, ear piercings, nose rings or any other body modifications. His slightly graying hair put him between 40-50 years of age. Besides the slight belly that comes from lack of exercise and a proper diet, Bob was just your average Caucasian businessman. Although, when he turned sideways, he did sort of resemble the American actor, Val Kilmer.
Travis stood up and shook his hand as he came towards the desk. “Good to meet you, I’m Dr. Travis Owen. You must be Bob Hunter”
Bob smiled like a Cheshire Cat as he shook Travis’ hand. “Glad to meet you and
thank you for seeing me on such short notice. Do you mind if I take a seat?” he
said motioning toward the empty chair in front of the desk.
“Please make yourself comfortable. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“No thanks, Dr. Owen.” He was nervous and at the same time looked eager
“Well, Bob, why don’t we start with some preliminary questions, if that’s alright
“Sound good to me,” replied Bob.
“Bob let’s start with a little about you. Tell me about your childhood, where
you grew up.”
“Well,” said Bob, “I grew up here on Prince Edward Island, believe it or not. I’m still a Canadian citizen and ended up marrying an American girl, though she acts more like a Canadian than I do.”
Travis picked up a pen to jot down a few notes. “So, were you born on the island?”
“Actually, I was born in Lachine Montreal in 1964 and I really don’t know
exactly when we moved to Prince Edward Island. I guess it would have to have
been sometime in 1965 after my younger brother was born.”
Travis interrupted him. “So how many brothers and sisters do you have?
“Two older sisters and one younger brother. I was the middle child,” he said.
“And what about your parents. Are they still together? Do they live on the
“Well, yes and no. My mother ran away when I was about two or three years old and I’ve never seen her since. That was almost fifty-three year ago. Now, where she
ran off to is still a mystery. I can only assume that living with my father
probably wasn’t all that pleasant. And if you think about it, four
screaming brats all nine to twelve months apart had to be a nightmare.”
“So, has this affected you in any way?” Travis asked.
“Are you asking me, do I want to kill the bitch for deserting four babies, leaving them to die, maybe. But, then again, I could understand her fear, her frustration at having to deal with an alcoholic husband, having to work all day long at IBM, and
then coming home to a small herd of babies. We were probably a good example for
a pro-abortion poster warning some sixteen-year-old girl of what could happen
if you don’t practice safe sex. On the bottom of the poster it would read, “Please have your boyfriend castrated. He is a fucking asshole to have done this to you.”
Travis had to chuckle at his comment. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Please continue with
your story. Do you remember anything about your life with your mother?”
“I can’t recall much of the whole process. Perhaps I was accidently stoned on
Demerol or maybe I just couldn’t shake the nicotine hangover from the previous
night. Whatever the case, I would love to boast and brag and tell you I remembered
everything about the whole conception process, but to be quite honest, I didn’t do
much except go with the flow. Hell, if it hadn’t been for all those muscular
contractions squeezing me like a python swallowing a ten-pound warthog, I would
never have come out into the real world. Life was just fine in the uterus. The food
was damn good, the rent cheap, no brothers or sisters to share my bedroom with,
and I was floating inside a real woman. It would be almost twenty years
later until any part of me returned to this exact point in my life. Why
would I want to be evicted from this peaceful garden?”
“And you remembered all this?” asked Dr. Owen.
“Hell no,” responded Bob, “but let me go on with my story.” Complaints, I had
a few considering the cramped living space. Life at times was too close for
comfort if you get the double entendre. I occupied much of my free time counting toes and fingers, sucking on my thumbs, and trying new and imaginative yoga positions with my feet over my shoulders and head dangling comfortably between my ass cheeks. From that view point, I got a whole new perspective on the world.”
Bob Hunter was on a roll. Travis didn’t know if he was just rambling on to amuse
him, or if perhaps this was going somewhere. Perhaps his early recollections were
real to him, although it was doubtful. Travis didn’t really care as it
all day. The next client wasn’t scheduled until noon, and Travis sort of enjoyed hearing his Jay Leno monologue.
In truth, Bob was a delightful distraction to his usual run of the mill clients. He was extremely entertaining and had a flair when it came to storytelling. At times his comments were poignant leading Travis to see below the façade and hear the pain in Bob’s voice. Many of his clients chose to use humor to disguise pain and Bob was certainly no exception to that rule. Eventually, Bob would tire of his story and tell Travis the reason for his visit. Of that he was sure.
“The only other concern worth mentioning,” said Bob, “was the pollution
control system, or better yet, the lack of it. I loved my cozy undecorated flat, but
really didn’t care too much for the tenants in the apartment adjacent to mine.
They probably worked for the Phillip Morris Tobacco Company as they were
always lighting up. The fumes seemed to billow through the small opening at
the top of the uterus and drift about the ceiling before eventually filling my
entire apartment. It stung my little eyes and burned the back of my throat
almost making it unbearable for me to breathe. Something would have to change
real soon or I was going to have to move.”
“Besides the yoga training classes and the occasional visits from the sinister
ovary twins and lovable Mr. Bladder, I spent much of my free time tossing and
turning, kicking and punching. My pudgy claws and mighty legs were the
reincarnation of Bruce Lee. I had taught these limbs well, expecting and
demanding perfection in execution of thrust and quick maneuvers. As a student,
I excelled in these lessons and drank deep the knowledge of one so wise and
Travis looked straight at Bob and said, “And you remember all this?”
“No, but it makes for an interesting story. Now, every stance, every move and
every graceful motion of the human body was painstakingly studied through DNA
through my forming body inside the uterus became a raging inferno of knowledge.
My hands became tempered steel swords capable of puncturing the hide of an
elephant, and my feet were now registered instruments of death.”
“I fought many a battle inside this slippery arena thwarting the advancing
armies with blistering jabs and quick lighting thrusts. They were no match for an
unborn JEDI Knight who proudly wore his intestinal belt like a fifth degree black
belted Ninja Master. My Dojo would never forget my triumphs over the lascivious
ovary sisters and their numerous assignation attempts. As an unborn fetus, I was
already a legend inside my mother’s womb.”
Bob hesitated for a moment. Probably stalling for time to think up some more
anecdotes to amuse Travis, or perhaps to figure a way to get to the point of his story.
Travis really didn’t care if Bob wanted to ramble on with his delusional fable as it was not his money he was wasting. Bob paid for an hour and Travis was going to listen for an hour. Ironically, from a fetus’s perspective, Bob’s story might make sense. The uterus probably represented his concept of a time in his life when he felt secure from the outside world. The other body parts and organs probably represented the hostilities of growing up in the real world and having to deal with stress.
“Now, where was I?” asked Bob.
Travis pushed his chair back from the desk and leaned back. “You
were saying something about thinking you were a Ninja inside your mother’s
“Oh yeah,” smiled Bob. “Well, to my close inner circle of friends I showed compassion and loyalty and was happy to share food and drink,
room and board, with every organ in this body. And to my enemies, I was known
as Bobby The Butcher. My hit list contained names like, The Conniving Ovary Twins, Charley The Choking Umbilical Cord, Vinnie The Stinky Placenta Bag, and Pete, The Never Limp Penis. Whenever the slippery cad came to visit, all hell would
break loose. The walls shook, the floor shuddered and all the floating organs sloshed about frenzied excitement.”
“Peter too felt the full wrath of a seasoned Taekwondo Master. The
protruding giant day or night would slither his frilly mushroomed head through the
Unknown Tunnel and act like he owned the place. He had no respect for the
occupants, and never once did he stick around to clean up his mess. No sir, he
was definitely no friend of mine.”
“It sounds like you have a very sarcastic recollection of life inside your mother’s
womb,” said Travis. “I can’t remember anyone ever describing it so comically as you do, Bob. I don’t know if you are auditioning for America’s Got Talent or if you are writing a story for Penthouse Forum magazine.”
Bob smiled and continued. “Of all the intruders, Peter was the master of
deception. He truly was a rival to be reckoned with, almost mythical in
appearance and well trained in the technique of hit and run. I came to hate and
respect this foe, although I knew the day would come when Peter would have to
die. He had a military build, well-formed and hard as a rock, but I felt
me, most of the encounters were surprise attacks, usually late at night or during
the quiet hours of the early afternoon. No doubt about it, he was a military man
down to his very shorts that he put on in the morning. His knowledge of sleep
patterns, his incredible understanding of me and his daily habits led me to believe
that Peter was watching me. Perhaps the Ovary Twins were spying, leaking
vital information through the tunnels late at night to their superior, Peter. One
thing was for sure, these two convulsing spheres sure acted peculiar when Peter
came thrusting through the saloon doors, almost throwing themselves into
“In all my many months of life within the uterus, I had never seen two people
get so excited to see anyone. They burned so hot and itched so bad just like a
couple of baboons with a herd of Amazon Ants chewing away at the lining inside
their rectums. Whether they were acting in cahoots with Peter or were involved
in some love sex triangle, they nonetheless showed their true colors. If Peter was
to be liquidated with impunity, the oblong twins would also have to go.”
“Excuse me, for just a moment,” interrupted Travis. He motioned towards the coffee pot on the table behind his desk. “Are you sure you don’t want a cup of morning coffee?”
Not waiting for Bob to respond, he got up from his chair and walked to the back of
the office and filled his cup. Travis took a quick glance outside the window and noticed some couples holding hands as they trudged through the freshly fallen snow
watch and noticed that it was nearing 11:00 in the morning. Without
turning around, Travis said, “Continue with your story, Bob.”
“Ok. And thanks for the offer,” replied Bob, “but I’ve already had four cups this morning. Now to continue with my story, so the question now is how and when to dispose of these infiltrators. They knew my every move, as they floated near me every day and night, tickled my feet, scratched my back, and bombarded me with low frequency noises and high iterating sounds to drive me insane. It was the same mode apparatus that was used on the Davidian Cult just outside Waco Texas in 1993. If I could just get a few moments alone, a few precious seconds to myself so that I could devise my plan of attack upon these infectious traitors, I knew I could come up with something to banish them forever. Perhaps I could concoct some poisonous substance and force it down their spongy throats, or maybe I would just use one of my many death grips and choke the life from these maggots. My mind was rushing with ideas like a flood of rainwater cascading effortlessly over Niagara Falls at speeds more than 200 miles per hour. Without remorse and without a moment’s hesitation these droplets linked together with billions of other water molecules throwing themselves over the cliff and plummeting to uncertainty.”
It was evident that Bob had a few issues with trust in his life. Maybe he
was trying to tell Travis something about feeling insecure in his marriage or perhaps he had some emotional bonding issues after his mother left him in 1966. He took a good sip from the cup and sat back down in the leather chair.
Bob rambled on with his story. “This was either the act of idiocy or the
unselfish act of heroism. To simply band together in a liquid form with free
thinking hydrogen and oxygen molecules and agree to one general theory of
movement was asinine, at least that’s what I thought. Perhaps I could use some
of my vast pool of knowledge about gravitational pull, combined with my
expertise in buoyancy and push the dreaded three out through the reticulating
esophagus of pleasure. There had to be some way to use the flow of fluids and
constricting muscles to push objects back through the opening, and forever
free myself of their obnoxious behavior.
“The biological clock and its demands would supersede the desires and
aspirations of its only intelligent occupant, me. Global changes were wreaking havoc upon the underflow as the womb seemed to swell like a balloon overnight.
Consequently, execution day for the three untouchables would have to wait. The
walls were slowly closing in on an already claustrophobic baby and temperatures
within the womb were making it extremely uncomfortable. Now, I was no
meteorologist, but certain weather patterns were becoming increasingly noticeable,
especially whenever my head got close to the Unknown Tunnel. I had only seen
people enter through this spongy tube, I had never ventured through these
corridors. Perhaps the mystery behind these climatic changes was directly
related to some event that was happening outside my home and the only way to
know for sure was to leave my safe sanctuary and investigate.
“But, did I have enough courage to boldly go where no baby had gone before?
normal once I returned from my trek. I was already faced with having to rid
myself of Peter and the Oblong Sisters and my absence would give them ample
time to sabotage my home and steal my valuables, though I was rather
foggy as to what I owned in the world. But, one thing was for sure, something
had to change and change soon or I would be forced to seek legal assistance
and press charges against the landlord. I loathed this option, but what
alternatives did I have except to abandon my home that I loved.
Unfortunately, I never got the chance to deliberate much on this, as on March
16, 1964 I was forcefully evicted and thrust into the waiting arms of my mother and father.”
“Wow, that’s quite a story, Bob,” Travis said. “I’ve never heard anyone utter such nonsense in all my life. If the rest of your therapy goes like this, we just might have you committed to the Jerry Seinfeld Clinic for the comically deranged. Tell me, have you ever thought about becoming a comedian or a writer for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon?”
Bob smiled back and said, “Thanks for the compliment. I guess I find it
easier to make fun of my life than to cope with the realities of events and tragedies
of growing up in a dysfunctional world. In my life I’ve learned two things. One, life
is just a part of death, and two, I know of a lot of little people in small places. I’m
not famous, rich, good looking or even that smart. Heck, if I took an IQ test today, I
would probably score around a 55 out of a possible 250. My wife voted against Bill
Ironically, it didn’t sound all that crazy. “No Bob, I’m sure there are millions of people that would like to bend Mrs. Trump over the oval desk and give her a good shagging. Not too sure about the fucking her in the ass, but I’m sure there are a lot of politicians in office that would like to give President Donald Duck a good fuck in the ass.” Bob burst out laughing.
Changing the subject, Travis asked Bob, “Oh, so you’re an American?”
“No, no,” said Bob, “but my wife is. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, but
still have my roots in Canada.”
Travis looked at Bob sitting in his chair. He didn’t look crazy, but then again, no one looked the part and certainly no one wore a sticker across their forehead claiming that they were insane. To him, Bob looked like a frightened child trying to act tough. He had a babyish face with black hair and green eyes. He could by no
means be considered handsome, but he had a look about him that probably got him
into some trouble with the opposite sex when he was younger. His carefree attitude
and his demeanor in the office were probably all just a show. Bob was hiding something from deep inside. At times during the conversation it looked as though he was trying to say something under his breath.
“So, Bob, why don’t you tell me about your father. Do you know much about him or did he also run off?”
“My father, hmm, that’s a good one,” said Bob. “Well, my father was a
professional alcoholic and a bootlegger when he was younger. He brought us back
to Prince Edward Island to be near his family when my mother ran away. I think I was around four years old at that time, but I’m not one hundred percent certain about the exact age. As fathers go, I would probably say that he had good intentions, but just couldn’t get his life straight. My brother and sisters only lived with him for about a year until we were all placed in separate foster homes. I remember hearing from my aunt and uncle that he tried to kill us at one time.”
“Sorry, what did you say?” unsure of what Travis had just heard!
“Yep,” he repeated, “My father tried to kill us once. My aunt told me the
story when I visited her back in 1993. She said that my father was distraught
and probably a little drunk at the time it happened. My father packed all
us neatly inside his car one night, placed a hose into the exhaust pipe and
the other end through the rear window, turned the ignition switch and started the engine. I don’t know how long we were inside the car, but fortunately my aunt was driving by the house and noticed my father slumped over in the front seat. Naturally, she turned off the engine and pulled us out of the car before it was too late. Because of that little incident, we went to live with the grandparents for about a year or so.”
“And did anything happen to you while at your grandparent’s house?”
“Well, my older sister was molested by my grandfather and I almost killed myself jumping off a truck one time.”
“You jumped off a moving truck?” Travis asked shocked!
“Yeah, I was hiding on the side step of his old black Ford pickup truck while he was driving down the road one day and got kind of frightened, not by the truck, but realizing what my grandfather would do to me if he found out. I can remember watching the pavement zoom by and for no logical reason, I thought I had better get off the truck and back home before anyone found out. All I remember was hitting the pavement and blacking out. I don’t really remember how long I was knocked
unconscious, but the next thing I knew I was lying in a bed inside their house and
everyone was nice to me. I thought I was surely in for an ass beating, but
my IQ score of 55 would protect me from the fall. The good thing is that I lived. I
don’t know what kind of damage I did to the road. My grandfather always said
that my head was harder than rock.”
“So, what happened to your father?”
“Well, the only real memory I have of him was him being hauled off to jail one day. I can remember sitting on the steps outside his home in Summerside, PEI and a police officer came to the house and arrested him. They put his hands behind his back, cuffed him and placed him in the squad car. That was the last time I ever saw him until I was around 28 years old. Remember, I said that he was a bootlegger; I didn’t say that he was a smart bootlegger. Anyway, he went to jail for a few years and we went to live with my grandparents until they decided to get rid of us.”
“Do you remember where you went after your grandparents?” Travis asked somewhat concerned.
“I went through a lot of foster homes and the nuns in Charlottetown took care
of me. I can remember going to some homes all excited thinking this house and
family were perfect for me. The next day a car would drive up to the curb and the
family would basically push me out the door. I guess I was considered a problem
child.” Bob smiled when he said this.
“Very interesting,” replied Travis. “I don’t know if you know it or not, but I too was an orphan and eventually adopted. When you think about it, it wasn’t that uncommon here on Prince Edward Island back in the old days. Alcohol probably contributed to most of the unplanned pregnancies on the island and lack of good paying jobs led to families being forced to give away their kids. Anyway, what did you do after you left your grandparents house?” asked Travis.
“I then went to live with the Coulter family in New Bloomfield, on the southern part of the island. They were great. I was so excited because my two cousins were already living with this foster family. What a perfect situation. Not only did they have goats, cows, chickens and horses, but they also had part of my blood family living under one roof.”
“Tell me about the Coulter’s. Were they a good family to live with?”
“The Coulters were a great family if you could just look beyond the shouting matches every night and the raving antics of a knife wielding lunatic who only fostered us for the government checks that she received every month. This forty-five-year-old lady would walk around the old Victorian two story house carrying a knife threatening to stab herself in the chest in front of us if her husband didn’t leave her alone. They argued every day about money. To this day, I’ve never heard anyone argue about money more than these two people. I don’t know how their biological seventeen-year-old daughter had been able to put up with this for so long. If these people had been my parents, I’m sure I would have either slit their fucking throats or run away before I ever hit puberty.”
“Well,” Travis said sympathetically, “the number one reason for stress in any family these days is over financial issues.”
“Yeah, I watch a lot of Dr. Phil these days, Dr. Owen. He would agree with you
a hundred percent on that point,” replied Bob.
Travis didn’t know whether Bob was trying to be sarcastic or if he was trying to read him. For that matter, he didn’t know if half his stories were just a mere fabrication from some raving lunatic, or if he were really telling Travis the truth. To Travis it really didn’t matter, they were real to Bob, and everyone’s reality is different. Bob believed these to be true, consequently they were true to him, not to Travis, the neighbors or any other lucid psychiatrist on the island, but once again, they were true to Bob Hunter.
“Bob, do you have any good memories at the Coulter’s household?”
Bob smiled. “Sure, I remember cutting the heads off all the chickens one day, setting the fields on fire one time, and fondling the seventeen-year-old daughter of Mrs. Coulter. I also remember sleeping on a plank of lumber for three years instead of in a bed and watching the black widow spiders spinning their webs outside my window during the nighttime. I can distinctly remember the wolves howling at night while they were freezing in the forest about a quarter mile away from our house. And, I can remember eating potatoes and cabbage every fucking night for three years until I shit out a leprechaun. Yes, those were some good times,” Bob replied sarcastically.
“I’m sensing a lot of hostility here. Do you want to tell me about the chickens?”
“It may seem like I have a lot of hostility, or bottled up emotion, but I
really had a great time as a kid living in foster homes. I know you hear a lot of
people blubbering on the Oprah Winfrey Show about how screwed up their lives are
because of what happened over thirty or forty years ago. Yep, and there are some
idealistic psychologists who claim that to know the man, you must first
understand the child. I tell you in all honesty, I had fun growing up. It was just
the latter part of my life that I am looking to fix. So, let’s just get to the last five
years of my life and skip over this bullshit and get to the real issue of why I am
Travis knew that he had hit a nerve, but he didn’t realize at that moment how
deep the wound went or how fresh the memory lay. Sometimes the child within ourselves never has the chance to grow up, and never learns how to water the roots of a strong tree. All past experiences, all lessons learned, be they happy or tragic, led to the final path down the garden of good and evil. If Bob wanted to understand the consequences of his decisions now or in the future, he needed to understand the basic concept that every action has a reaction. The reaction for not watering the roots of the tree was death. The action itself was determined by Bob and inevitably performed by Bob.
“Bob let’s get back to the chicken story. What happened to the chickens?” One of his favorite movies was Silence of the Lambs, and he imagined himself just asking Bob to tell Travis what he heard when his father had butchered the little lambs. Fortunately for Travis, he was aware of his words and careful to say chickens rather than lamb.
“It’s a dumb story, but if you want to hear about it, ok,” mumbled Bob. “Let’s
see, I was about six years old, maybe seven and I had watched Mr. Coulter sometime during the summer nonchalantly stumble into the chicken coup, grab a hen right off her roost with his dirty fat hand firmly around the neck walk outside heading toward the woodpile stacked up against the old red barn. He proceeded to pick up the axe that was leaning against the freshly chopped woodpile, lay the chicken’s head on a stump and with one flick of the wrist, the poor chicken was decapitated. The blood gushed all over Mr. Coulter’s hand and the body jerked back and forth for a minute or so until it went limp. Well one day later that week I got the inclination to help Mr. Coulter with his chores. I grabbed the axe, went into the chicken coup and proceeded to chop the heads off every chicken. It was sort of funny after the first few because even without heads they would run around the yard for a few moments until they dropped dead. I must have decapitated ten to fifteen birds before Mrs. Coulter busted through the front door of the house and dashed madly towards me and ripped the axe away from me. All I can say is, that is one beating that I probably deserved.”
The story didn’t seem to rattle Travis much. In fact, he had heard numerous
stories of kids imitating adult activities. Travis was looking for more of a reaction,
some sort of epiphany in Bob’s face when he finally realized why he had suicidal
instincts or the desire to kill and mutilate women. God knows it was too early to
diagnose this man, but all indicators pointed to either a serial killer in training,
or a rapist on the verge of being born. Travis didn’t know at this point if he liked Bob, but he knew that he needed to know more of his story.
“Bob, why don’t you tell me about Mrs. Coulter’s daughter. You say that she
was seventeen years old. Was she seven or seventeen?”
Bob brushed his hair across his face and smiled at Travis. “Dr. Owen, she was
was seventeen, tall, thin with long black hair. I believe her name was Marie and
she was one messed up chick. She used to beg me to rub her legs and go up her
pant legs until I reached her crotch area. I never got that far, nor did I understand
what she wanted from me. She said that it felt good and that it was just a game
to see how far my hands could reach up her pant legs. At other times she used to
brag to my cousin, Kathy who was almost sixteen years old, how she used to make
out with these guys in their cars. Since I was the only available boy in the room,
Marie used to practice on me.
“And how did you feel about that?” asked Travis.
“How do you think I would feel?” responded Bob. “I loved it! How many
seven-year-old boys could boast about making out with a seventeen-year-old girl?”
“I guess not too many,” replied Travis. “Did you ever see Marie again?”
“Yeah, I saw her again in 1993 when I came up to visit some of relatives. And, she
still looked hot although she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. I
remember that she had a young daughter who was around sixteen or seventeen
years old, and she looked hot. It was kind of strange because you could tell that
Marie looked at me like I had all the answers in life. I knew she wasn’t happy,
probably suffering from some form of depression. She just looked at me and, I
guess, she wondered what I had done in life, the places I had been, and why I was
Bob stopped for a moment to reflect on his last statement. It was profound even for Bob. It was true, when he was young, he was the happiest kid in the world. It’s only when he grew up that things turned ugly.
Travis took this opportunity to interrupt Bob. “So, I guess she never moved off the island?”
“No, she was born and raised on Prince Edward Island, and will probably
die here. She always fantasized about meeting someone from America, falling in
love and living happily ever after. When she heard that I had been adopted by
a great family in New York, educated at some of the finest schools in America,
had traveled the world all by the age of twenty-one, well I guess she felt some
Travis turned his head towards the clock on the back wall. It was almost 12:00 and
his next appointment was probably waiting outside his office door. “Bob,
we’ve just got a few moments left today. Why don’t you tell me about the
adoption. Do you remember how you felt when you were told the news?”
“Sure do, Dr. Owen. It came as a shock to me, but one day Mrs. Coulter asked
me how I felt about being adopted to a family in America. I was elated to say the least. Finally, a family wanted me. Well, a few days later the nuns picked me up in their car and drove me down to the Charlottetown Hotel and introduced me to my sisters and brother whom I had not seen in over three or four years. I remember looking at my brother and thinking how stupid looking he was wearing a pair of shorts, black socks and with an Indian feather stuck in his head. Evidentially, he either thought we were being adopted by Sitting Bull or he thought it was still Halloween.”
“What about your adoptive parents? What do you remember about them?”
“The first time I saw my adopted mother with her husband I thought she was
his daughter. I had never seen a good-looking blond-haired woman before and
what happened to his hair. It was probably the first time that I had ever seen a bald man before and I kept on wondering if the old fucker was going to croak on the way back to the USA.”
“Did they like you when they first saw you?”
Bob slouched down into his seat. He was uncomfortable, and I could tell from
the expression on his face that he really didn’t know how to answer this question.
“Well, I don’t think they disliked me at first sight,” responded Bob. “I just
think they looked at me and took pity. I mean, I was dressed in clothes that were
donated to some orphanage, probably hadn’t showered in over a half a year, and
in dire need of a good haircut. Whatever the reason they said yes to the nuns, was
beyond me. I probably wouldn’t have adopted me, but life is like a game of poker.
You never know what cards you’re being dealt, and you don’t know if the other
person is bluffing.”
“But you liked them, right?”
Bob nodded his head. “Sure, wouldn’t you? I thought I had just won the fucking
lottery. These were the first people in four years that wanted to adopt me. If you stop and think about it, I was basically the ward of the state since they arrested my father.”
Travis hesitated a moment before continuing. “Did anything happen during your
initial visit with your new family?”
“Well, yeah,” laughed Bob. “I can remember giving everyone the finger and
telling everyone in the restaurant to go fuck themselves. I can also remember
going to the bathroom and leaving the door wide open and yelling to my American parents as I was sitting on the toilet. Boy, I must have been a sight to see.”
“Yeah, the first night at the hotel I drowned, or should I say almost drowned
in the pool. I didn’t know how to swim and slipped into the deep end. My brother
and sisters were somewhere, probably hanging around the parents for some
attention. I slipped under the water and, of course, started to panic. I can
remember I couldn’t breathe and started swallowing water until I sank to the
bottom of the pool.”
Travis looked at Bob in amazement. “That must have been a terrifying experience.”
“Yes and no,” said Bob. “After a moment or so, after the panic settled in and
I realized that I was going to die, well I don’t know how to explain it, but a
calmness overcame me. And then after I had given up, I looked up and saw a
light and somehow, I managed to get to the surface of the pool. No one pulled me
up, I just relaxed and somehow, I got to the surface whereupon I coughed up a
bucket of water. I can remember grabbing hold of the pool ledge with
my scrawny arms absolutely terrified at what had just happened and looking at
my new parents and realizing that they didn’t even notice or care what had just
occurred. That was probably the first time that I truly realized that these idiots from New York were going to suck as parents.”
“Seems almost too hard to believe, Bob that they didn’t notice.”
“Well, it’s the truth,” said Bob. “I never told them about this experience
really didn’t care.”
“I don’t believe that they didn’t care, Bob, I think that it was just an issue of
not paying attention,” replied Travis.
“Perhaps, but looking through the eyes of a child who almost drowned, I felt
certain that they just didn’t care. And, at that moment I realized that I would be
the only one who could or would protect me. Yes sir, at just eight and a half years
old, I decided to take responsibility for myself.
“That’s a profound statement, Bob. I hate to break this up, but I do have
another appointment waiting for me outside, so we will have to continue this
tomorrow. Is 10:00 am ok with you?”
Bob got up and walked over to the window. He glanced outside for a few seconds scanning the area as if he were searching for something or someone. Turning his attention to Travis he said, “10:00 am tomorrow morning is fine with me, Dr. Owen. Thank you for your time and help.”
Before Travis could respond, Bob was out the door. He sat back down in his chair
and brushed the hair from his face and took a few moments to reflect on the past
two hours. Bob was a strange character, comical to say the least, but a bit messed
up in the head. Travis didn’t know what Bob wanted from him, salvation or perhaps he just needed someone to talk to besides his wife. He wondered what his wife must think of his sense of humor and his crazy stories.
But then again, perhaps Bob didn’t have a wife or maybe his wife had died years ago in an airplane crash. Maybe she left him at the alter or maybe she died of cancer. He wore a wedding ring, but a lot of guys wore rings these days. Perhaps, just perhaps, this whole cockamamie fable was Bob’s way to confessing to the murder of this wife and kids.
Travis just couldn’t shake the feeling that Bob was trying to tell him something important. He was using his life story gauging Travis’ willingness to accept or believe in ridiculous things. Maybe tomorrow he would cut through all the bullshit and tell Travis the reason for his visit.
The crisp snow crunched under the steel belted radials of his Jeep as Robert and Travis sped off towards Cabot Bay. Robert sat back in Travis’ car as his chauffeur drove the treacherous roads to their destination. Though it was only a fifteen-minute drive, it seemed to last for hours. All the potato farmers and the sixty thousand residents on welfare were either sitting down for an early supper, or sleeping off an early hangover, dreaming of sugar plums and winning the lottery. If drinking and sleeping were a paying job, they would all be millionaires.
Hey, do you mind turning on the heat. I know it’s April but its freezing outside” asked Robert. “You may be half polar bear, but us warm blooded mammals need artificial heat to keep our balls from turning into snow cones.
Even though it was 4:30 in the afternoon, the sun still was blanketed in a
cozy sheet of clouds. Travis had to chuckle at Lieutenant Sterling’s graphic
metaphor. Robert sure wasn’t the typical run of the mill boring officer who
got off pushing around his badge. For that matter, Robert rarely ever carried
his badge. He probably lost it in some hotel room, or threw it into a snow bank
in some drunken state.
“Yeah, sorry,” Travis responded. “I was just thinking about my new patient today. His name is Bob Hunter. Ever hear that name before?” He gave the knob a twist to
full strength and the soothing air pushed its way through the frosted vents.
Robert didn’t answer right away. “I don’t think so, although it does sound vaguely familiar, but it’s a pretty common surname. Hey, how about you and I doing a little ice fishing later this evening down at the lake? Sound good to you, dude?”
Ice fishing was the one activity that Travis truly enjoyed though most of the time
he never caught anything. The only thing biting was, frostbite. To him, it was
the sport, not the victory of landing a ten-pound largemouth bass that made ice
fishing fun. It was a tradition, a time of peace in the world when he could unwind
and let his mind relax. Robert and he would lounge about in summer lawn
chairs clad in warm LL Bean Duck boots, jeans, jackets, and sit back while
drinking a few beers.
Lieutenant Sterling was by no stretch of the imagination a prejudiced man. He
referred to everyone as, dude or fag. He called everyone by that name, even his
superiors down at the station. In fact, Sterling had a brother who was still
in the closet, figuratively speaking of course.
Roger, his younger brother, favored himself a poet and dabbled in writing for the
local paper in town. Nothing he wrote ever made any sense to Robert. To him, it was nothing but bullshit. The only poem that Robert understood, or thought that he understood was the one about a skeleton hiding in a closet. It was a
cryptic poem that tickled the boy in Sterling, though he missed its intended
message by a mile. Roger was so proud of it that he had it framed and hung
in the downstairs den for all to see:
About bones and secrets?
None in my closet
That’s for sure.
I would know
I hide in there.
And if I see
A bony cadaver,
Out he goes
Into the cold cruel world.
No secrets in my closet,
That’s for sure!
Though simple in language, it was ironic how utterly transparent the message
was. The ability to foresee the future was a curse to those who understood the
mechanics behind Karma. In life every action had its own consequence and to
change the outcome would have a devastating effect upon everything in the
present. In fact, if the future could be altered for a fraction of a second, the
present could and would never exist. For the sake of the Sterling household it
was best that Roger kept his secret even if it meant drowning in his own shame.
Travis leaned forward and with his right hand flipped on the radio. It was tuned to
C107, the local country and western station on the island. It wasn’t that he was
crazy about this sort of music; he just couldn’t stomach loud rock-banging noise
accosting his ear drums today. Soft music, strong black coffee, and a good
piping hot shower in the morning gave Travis the mental strength to face the day.
He took a long sip from his coffee mug and carefully placed it into the holder
mounted on the dashboard. The warm liquid sliding down his esophagus
brought temporary relief to his tensed body, and a tranquil moment found space
heard that name before?” he asked Robert.
“Nah, it doesn’t ring a bell,” said Robert. “Should it?”
Travis shook his head, “Guess not. Interesting character to say the least. He was
an orphan from the island that got adopted by an American family over thirty-five years ago. I don’t know, he reminded me of someone that I thought I knew.” Travis didn’t say a word for the next ten minutes and drifted off into his own world as he drove down the road.
Travis listened to the tires gripping the asphalt as the Ford rolled down the road. The rhythmic sound of the treads hitting small patches of ice took him back in time.
It was a just another Friday night, August 1999, and Robert and he were busy drowning their sorrows and hogging the pool table down at Okeeth’s Bar and Grill. The name really didn’t fit the establishment as the only food served were burgers and fries, and neither of these were grilled. The grease looked like it hadn’t been changed in over five years and the burgers tasted like baboon shit. Travis knew, that he had never actually tried eating baboon shit, but, if it had a taste, it probably had the same texture and smell as the burgers that were served at Okeeth’s. The only reason why anyone ate the food in this dump was to absorb some of the alcohol.
Naturally, Sterling was the only one ball shy of sinking the eight ball, but that
didn’t matter to Travis. He played the game for fun, not for the competitive thrill
that surrounded most sporting events. He enjoyed the atmosphere of Okeeth’s.
If they got rid of the pool table and the dart board, he would still frequent the
bar and would probably have just as much fun. Just watching the people and
listening to the gossip was his cup of tea. Fuck, he sure didn’t come for the baboon ass burgers!
Travis vicariously took pleasure from the happier moments of others. He was the professional voyeur that bathed in the Fountain of Youth and wrapped himself inside the invisible force field of laughter. Watching the drunk
them with their eyes was enough pleasure for him. This was the real game in
life, the ultimate thrill, and that’s how he met Jill back in 1999.
It was manifest that the concept of marrying for love had not seeped its way onto the small Province yet. The archaic Puritan belief that holy wedlock precedes love was and still is an absurdity practiced only by hermaphrodites and color-blind nymphomaniacs. Granted, there were probably a few color-blind alcoholics inside Okeeth’s in 1999 and perhaps a handful of homosexuals at the far end of the bar, but they weren’t looking for love, not this evening.
To Travis, Canada was like a California sushi roll, tightly wrapped inside a thin gritty sheet of seaweed, and garnished with shredded ginger root and green wasabi. Wolfing down the raw materials with the speed and grace of a dedicated samurai, the Japanese tycoons would gulp down hot sake and poison the liver; the government.
Travis wasn’t fond of the Japanese, but if it had not been for an incident back in 1999, he would never have met Jill. It all started one night, mid-August. Travis came upon a couple of men dumping toxic waste over the side of a garbage barge that was heading for the landfill in Newfoundland. Thinking that the fog would hide their actions, the immoral polluters tossed ten open barrels of toxins into the nebulous St. Lawrence River, quite aware of the consequences it would have upon the marine life ecology. They would have dumped the other fifty or, so barrels had it not been for the drunkard spilling his putrescent vomit into a cardboard box on a nearby pier. The alcoholic was none other than Travis.
Having witnessed firsthand the selfish disrespect for the environment, Travis angrily waited for the barge to dock for the night. At around 10:00, the garbage vessel maneuvered itself within three feet of the pier and dropped anchor for the night and waited to unload the other barrels into the river. Though the putrid stench of fecal matter and decomposing carrion nauseated Travis, he suppressed the urge to puke and jumped aboard the ship. The two smaller Japanese men, taken by surprise, and the ire that flowed through their attacker, were no challenge for Travis Owen. All in all, four major bones were broken, six ribs smashed, three black eyes, and one minor concussion. Travis came out of the scuffle with a fractured wrist.
Sadly, politics and justice were simply incompatible in a capitalistic society. One of the Japanese seamen that Travis had roughed up was a nephew of Satsumo, a big investor who raped the Canadian land of precious lumber and other raw materials. Charges were quickly brought against Travis and before the bruises had even begun to heal, he was sentenced to ten days behind bars. Even Robert couldn’t help him here. Instead of receiving a medal, he was given the royal shaft. By defending his country, Travis was branded an extremist and a villain for assaulting two innocent bystanders who mistakenly drained ten drums of Biofane into the St. Lawrence waterway.
The botulinum toxin was a synthetic drug that mimicked botulism poisoning by affecting the neurological system upon animals and in very rare cases, a form of elephantiasis of the major organs. Essentially the animal would either suffocate internally from muscle paralysis or die a most horrific death by severe toxic shock syndrome. Since the organs were prone to grow at a phenomenally fast rate, they outgrew their space in a matter of just a few weeks, assuming they were able to survive the bacterium clostridium spores that attached themselves onto their living organs.
Biofane was neither rare or even unique. It was just strange that someone would have such a large quantity of this outdated botulinum toxin. In fact, the government was well versed on the effects of Biofane as it was tested during the Vietnam War on the North Vietnamese troops in 1971 and upon the villagers. Why someone would willingly want to kill off the larger sea creatures with high doses of Biofane was to be kept a national secret. And how some group or company was able to purchase this deadly toxin from The United States government was indeed a perplexing question. That is assuming it was purchased, for the alternative was far more alarming.
Travis served the ten days in a cold cell block; a drafty attic that housed the undesirables of society. During his brief incarceration, Robert stopped by every day to bring him the daily paper and to deliver his mail. Although his body was imprisoned, his mind was unconfined and eager to join humanity.
Upon his release from prison, Travis and Robert hit almost every bar on the east coast of the island in one night until they finally ended up at Okeeth’s. At around 4:00 o’clock in the morning, Travis was rushed to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. That was how he met Jill, she was the doctor on call that morning.
“Morning sailor boy, how are we today?” questioned Jill. “It seems that you and your friend tried to drink the island dry last night. You nearly broke your skull on the pool table. I stitched you up, gave you ten stitches behind your right ear.” Her demeanor was perky and optimistic, rather peculiar for someone at work at 4:00 in the morning. Nevertheless, it was a refreshing characteristic that Travis admired.
Although the thought of responding nauseated him, Travis felt the compelling urge to offer a feeble reply. “What the fuck, of my fucking head.” He placed his hands over his ears to feel for the stitches. Sure enough, she had given him a few stitches. “God, I wish I were dead. Hey, where is that asshole friend of mine, Robert?”
Dr. Jill Koty moved to the other side of the examination table to get a closer look at her self-destructive patient. Travis didn’t move a muscle. He reminded her of a baby Labrador Retriever with his floppy ears, soft watery green eyes and a naïve innocence that all babies are born with. She didn’t see a man upon the table, rather a timid boy in his mid-thirties in need of some guidance and direction in life. “You’re in the city morgue,” smiled Jill.
Travis dropped his numb legs over the edge of the metal table and forced himself up. His head throbbed, and his gut ached for relief, but that would take hours, and perhaps days to come. He smacked his dry mouth open and tasted the vile remnants of soured food clumps under his swollen tongue. “Funny, I don’t feel dead,” groaned Travis. “Can I have some aspirin, please?”
“You were almost legally dead,” said Jill. “Had it not been for your partner, you probably would have drunk yourself to death. Fortunately for you, your friend had the good sense to call an ambulance after you fell and cracked your head on the pool table.” She turned towards the cabinet, opened a bottle of aspirin and extracted two tablets. Jill filled a glass with water from the tap and handed the aspirin and water to Travis.
He plucked the tablets one at a time from her open hand and threw them into his open mouth and swallowed. “Thanks, I don’t need the water.” Travis attempted a genuine smile but fell short of a scowl. The bitter taste of aspirin lingered in his esophagus, and he wished he hadn’t refused the water.
“You know, death isn’t a pretty picture,” snapped Jill. “Life is a once in a lifetime gift that we need to take advantage of. Just think about it for a second. For over four and a half billion years you were nothing, not even a speck of dirt in the universe and one day, you’re born. That’s a pretty amazing feat and after you’re gone, you’ll never ever get to come back. Wake up and smell the coffee.”
Travis wasn’t sympathetic to her eulogy. He was taunting her, baiting her to keep the conversation going. Although he wouldn’t admit it to himself, her soothing voice assuaged his pounding temples and the acrid liquids that sloshed about in his stomach. “Then why do we all die?”
“The question isn’t why, but when?” Jill stared straight into his eyes. “If the dead victims of alcohol abuse could speak, don’t you think that they would ask for more time, ask for another chance. But, you sit there all smug, pissed off at the world for some reason, just looking to die.” She stopped for a moment and placed the full glass of water into the sink.
Travis didn’t respond. He was too afraid of pissing her off and ending the whole conversation.
She placed her hand upon his knee as he sat motionless on the table and continued her lecture. “Do you really want to die without experiencing life? Is that it?” She was not expecting a response. “No, of course not. What, do you like the thought of rotting in the earth while maggots and bugs of every size and shape parade about inside your colon?”
“I thought I would just be cremated,” he replied sarcastically.
“You don’t get the point, do you?” exclaimed Jill. Dying is not the solution to your problems, it’s the end!”
“Ok, ok, yes I get your point. You win.” He took a good look at the young doctor, finally seeing her for the first time. Her long golden-brown hair, milky brown eyes, her small face with a sultry mouth and high cheek bones that accentuated her perfectly shaped nose made her something good to look at. Though she only stood five feet six and weighed no more than one hundred and ten pounds, her physical beauty and elegance was that of a super model. He could picture her strolling down the cat walk in a black Perry Ellis designer dress giving life and eroticism to these expensive garments. Photographers would be snapping their shutters and buyers would be filling out purchasing orders as she strut her body up and down the elevated platform. Jill was a ten, way out of his league.
He had often seen billboard ads displaying fine liquors with streams of beautiful women, scantily clad in lingerie toasting in the Near Year, but he never expected to come face to face with the real McCoy. She had that drop everything and look at me look, and Travis was under her power. The image of XO Brandy sleeping in a crystal goblet flashed to mind when he looked at this creature. The only problem and it wasn’t really a problem was the idea that he was fantasizing about this doctor.
“What are you staring at?” asked Jill. She smiled as though she knew what he was thinking.
Caught off guard, he tried vainly to lob the ball back into her court. “Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just that, well you know how it is. I guess I was expecting some balding doctor with goat breath telling me….”
A quick rap upon the door saved Travis from further embarrassment. It was Robert. For once, his interruption was welcomed.
“Hey dude, ya mind if I come in for a sec, eh? Hey, nice bump on the head. You’re lucky you didn’t crack your head wide open last night.”
Without waiting for an invitation, the clodhopper darted into the room carrying a bouquet of red roses in one hand and a pizza box in the other from Papa Johns. Lieutenant Sterling was a good-looking man. His boyish face and husky frame only added to his irresistibility with the younger sorority ladies. Travis could only guess what reaction Jill would have towards Robert and his sophomoric charm. Most folks accepted his bizarre sense of humor and just chalked it up to immaturity, and the rest just thought he was a fucking asshole. Travis could really give a shit as to what people thought of Robert, he just prayed to God that his actions wouldn’t offend Jill.
“Where did you get the flowers?” asked Travis. “I hope you didn’t spend a ton of money on my account.”
“Didn’t spend a dime,” replied Robert. “Some old babe sleeping in a wheel chair in the hallway was clutching the vase in her arms. She didn’t even stir or flinch when I started removing them one by one from her vase. Hey, who is the babe in the white coat?”
Travis turned his head and smiled. “Thanks shit for brains! This is Dr. Koty. You can introduce yourself now that you’ve made a fucking jerk of yourself.”
“So, you swiped some flowers from a dying woman, nice touch,” smiled Jill.
“Well, ah,” he was taken off guard. Robert’s vain attempt to apologize fell upon deaf ears. He was embarrassed, not for committing the act, rather for getting caught. He motioned to Jill, “Here, do you think she wants them back?”
“Jill shot a smile to Robert and laughed. “I’m just kidding.” It was a sensual giggle, a melodious flow of genuine emotion. Travis was awed by the eerie control it had over his mind, like the alluring appeal the Sirens held over Homer. “Hey, cheer up that sour puss on your face, boys. What, yah can dish it out, but you can’t take it, huh?”
There was no doubt about it, Travis liked this lady. She was not your run-of-the- mill stuck up bitch, that was for sure. The more she talked and rustled her body in those tight fitted jeans, the more he wanted her.
“Hey, what the hell are you doing?” interrupted Robert. “I’m trying to communicate. That little bruise on your head must be affecting your hearing. The lady said that you could leave, at least that’s what I got from the conversation, though she didn’t exactly say it. Let’s get the hell out of here before she finds something seriously wrong with you.” He pointed towards the exit. “Hey, come on! No telling how many people with the clap have sat upon that table before you.” Robert handed the cold pizza box to Jill. “Here, this is for you.”
“She took the box from Robert. “Thanks,” smiled Dr. Koty. “Listen, if you ever need any help, here’s my card.”
Travis reached out and grabbed it from Jill. “Thanks.”
“You need to get a handle on that drinking problem before it kills you.” She glared at Travis. “You can call me anytime.”
He was shocked. Could this lady be flirting with him or had he misread her intentions? Travis kept his eyes upon the white tile floor and fumbled with the card. Much to his own surprise he blurted out, “Won’t your husband mind some stranger calling your house?”
“Not married,” responded Jill. “And besides, that’s not my home number on the card.” She leaned her buttocks against the cold metal table and grinned. “I’m in the phone book if you want my home number.”
A devilish smile broadened across his Cheshire face. Though Moses parted the seas and destroyed the pursuing Egyptian army, he never gloated in his victory. Had Travis been in his place, he probably would have ripped down his loin cloth, turned around and mooned Egypt. The cat was out of the bag and he knew the ball was in his court. Travis ran his burly hand through his baby soft brown hair, partly to get a better look at the doctor, and partly out of necessity. Even though his bloodshot green eyes were half shut from lack of sleep, they seemed to sparkle to life. His broad Scottish face in need of a good shave, belonged in a cologne advertisement. Despite his sloppy appearance, he made the muscles in Jill’s body ache with anticipation.
“Then, I will call,” smirked Travis.
“Good,” replied Jill. “You may be a bit on the slow side, but, who knows. Call me.” She smiled and smacked the top of the pizza box with her left hand. “Now, get out of here.”
Jill didn’t have to wait long. In fact, that very night at around 8:00, Koty received her first of many calls from Travis. The following Saturday night, Jill and Travis lay naked together in her spacious waterbed. The fire sparkled and snapped as it chewed the dead wood to gray embers and threw shadows about the walls. Flames licked the boards as monsters of the fire took shape and danced to the Baroque tunes upon her Sony stereo system.
Pachelbel lured the most intimate of shapes intertwining body parts and suggestive sexual innuendoes to dance the forbidden Lambada on her barren walls. It looked much like a Roman orgy, an expression of wicked desire hidden by the day, awakened by the night. All inhibitions were cast aside as the music controlled the speed and tempo, the passion and the intensity of both fires burning hot into the cold night. That evening, Lancelot found the Holy Grail, and Travis touched serenity. In just a few hours he was to learn the true meaning of life, and he was happy, for his happiness came from deep within.
His train of thought derailed again when the bright lights of an oncoming car hit his eyes. It was not uncommon. For safety reasons, everyone on the island drove with their headlight on regardless of it being day or night.
It was August 2016 at Okeeths Bar, August 2016, two and a half years since the death of his wife and son. Travis and Robert were busy at the bar slamming down some cold beers and watching the ladies.
From the corner of his eye, Travis caught a glimpse of two men kissing. It
struck him as peculiar that these two men had no inhibition about showing
sexual advances in such a red necked establishment. But, he wasn’t there to judge
or be the jury, he was there to drink, to play and to unwind before going home. Around midnight, a fist fight broke out near the men’s toilet and ended their fun for the evening.
“Guess you better go over there and break it up, Lieutenant Sterling.”
Although he wasn’t on duty, Robert knew what he had to do. He grabbed for
the beer mug on the end of the pool table and quickly gulped the Canadian larger
down in one swift motion. A gut-wrenching burp, like that of a weary
camel complaining of thirst, forced its way up his esophagus and expelled from
his open orifice. On a burping scale, it rated a good eight or a weak
Hoping to get a chuckle from one of the college girls who patronized Okeeth’s,
Robert yelled, “Excuse me.” He made damn sure that anyone within ear shot
And having said that, Robert lifted one leg into the air, like a dog ready to
do business on a tree, and proceeded to give off a low pitch straight from the large
intestine, fart. On a scale of one to ten on how to impress women, a liberal
“Oh, what a disgusting pig,” uttered one of the girls. “Your parents must be so proud of you.” She gave him a scowl that could turn any dick limp in five seconds.
Lieutenant Sterling didn’t respond. There were plenty more fish in the sea,
and unquestionably better-looking girls that had a better sense of humor.
Robert just couldn’t understand why girls constantly put on such false
pretenses and acted like dainty debutantes when they had the same exact bodily
functions as men. Perhaps they didn’t divulge the fact that they had to burp or
fart, they chose to quietly secrete unwanted gas after they got married. God
forbid someone should hear the Queen of England rip a deep baritone fart in front of some dignitary, while making a speech. Robert could just imagine the
headlines: QUEEN GIVES ROYAL SIGN OF APPROVAL, or ROYAL GAS
Hell, some of the most influential people in the world farted, picked their noses,
expensive appetite and his love of garlic probably left patches in his drawers,
rather than the customary racing streaks. To accept his title, to wear the
most holy of rings, he had to be considered a great man of the cloth. And what about a saint. They had to do some sort of miracle to be elevated to this position. What miracle did the average saint accomplish? Not vomiting in public upon seeing all the dying children in Somalia.
Conceivably his actions might be regarded as vulgar by the public,
and perhaps it should only be practiced behind closed doors, but Robert
didn’t care. All those politicians, and Canadian actors like Jim Carrey and William Shatner, together with the rich and famous were just ordinary individuals without protective shields, money! Just once he would love to see Justin Trudeau yank out a green slimy bugger from deep inside his nasal cavity and smear it upon a Senate Bill
awaiting approval. Not only would it demonstrate his absolute
disapproval of their proposal, but it would show the ordinary side of this man.
Though clothed in the finest suits, served the best gourmet meals, pampered by
expensive hair stylists, and altogether treated like demigods, Trudeau, Celine Dion, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Bush, and even Elvis were just typical people with skeletons in their closets.
And what of Elvis Presley, was he not a glutinous pig who supposedly committed suicide at the age of forty-two. It was a known fact that the King of Rock and Roll
listed as cardiac arrest. Now, if these girls or any woman for that matter, could
picture Celine Dion digging for gold, or Mel Gibson playing with himself, would
they still have the same respect and admiration for them? Robert swore to
himself that when he found a girl who acted just like him, he would drop to his
knees and propose to her. Obviously, these two college girls were not worth the
effort of trying to establish a friendly rapport or a warm bedside screw!
Robert brushed past the two ladies standing by the pool table. “Well excuse
me fine gargoyles,” he muttered under his breath.
“Jerk,” replied one of the girls.
He authoritatively sauntered his way to the scuffle at the end of the bar and
barked, “Excuse me, break away boys. Time to head on home!” Robert looked
back towards the pool table, but the girls had already left. He just wished he
could have gotten in the last word.
A crowd of ten or more slightly inebriated bystanders formed a tight huddle
around the two fighters. It was an impenetrable circle and these vultures were
protecting the rotten carrion in the middle. They chanted loud slogans and
howled like wolves after a fresh kill. Blood was what they wanted to see, the red
lubricant that pumped life through narrow veins and drove sharks into feeding
frenzies. One of the lads hollered, “Kick the shit out of the fag, eh!”
Robert drove his body through the tightly woven crowd of onlookers and
proceeded to crash his empty mug over the head of the large lumberjack who was
watched in slow motion as the glass mug burst into tiny fragments and plunged
to the floor with segments of ripped scalp and droplets of blood. They licked
their desirous lips and circled their ivory fangs like erections with parched
tongues as life surged into their incisors. The piquant scent of blood titillated
the spongy tissue in the nasal cavity and teased the voracious spectators as they
anxiously awaited more blood to spout from the open wound.
The hefty bearded gentleman, who was a dead ringer for Kenny Rogers,
grabbed his aching skull with both hands. “OUCH! Shit, my fucking head!”
The crowd, having seen enough bloodshed for the evening, stepped back as
the lumberjack fell to his knees, clutching his head in his calloused hands. He
moaned and grunted some gibberish as he thrashed about upon the dirty wooden
floor, tearing a hole in his red shirt from a protruding nail. “Yah God damn son
of a bitch. Why the fuck did yah go and do that for?”
Travis walked over to the crowd and said, “Hey, good job. Your diplomacy was
admirable!” He slapped Robert on the back.
“Yep, and look here,” said Robert, “Only one broken mug in the whole
place. Not an easy task, if I do say so myself.” He was proud of himself.
“Yo,” bellowed the short fat nosed bartender from behind the bar. “Do you
mind getting those two ladies off the floor. I’ve got an image to keep and I don’t
need any bad publicity. Yah get my meaning.”
Travis took a long swig from his half empty glass and turned towards the bartender.
“Well, if it’s all the same to you, and your friend being the local authority and
all just get rid of both. And tell that fag to kindly keep his puckered ass out of my bar.” He puffed on his cigar and blew the thick black smoke into Travis’
face. If ever he felt the need to ram a burning log down someone’s throat, it
was then and there.
The fat little bartender never knew how close he had come to needing plastic
surgery. Although it was his place of business and he undoubtedly had to tolerate
raucous arguments and disorderly conduct, he needed to be more humane. This
was a bar, not a church. People thronged to these dimly lit shacks to vent built
up frustrations, to relieve tensions and most importantly, to have fun. If this
fat bartender couldn’t understand his line of business, then
perhaps he shouldn’t be in the bar industry. Nevertheless, Travis still had the urge to slam his knuckles into those fat cheeks to teach the old grump a lesson. Though
he preached peace, he wished he could have decked the son of a bitch!
Sterling knelt and tapped the young man on the shoulder. Although
he couldn’t see his face, Robert could swear that he had met this person before.
Something about his body position and smell were vaguely familiar, but he just
couldn’t remember where and when they had met. “Yo, can you get up by
yourself?” He was always sympathetic towards the underdog.
The man with his bloody face rolled over onto his back and starred into Robert’s shocked face. Now he knew why the shape of his body was familiar. “Christ,” yelled Lieutenant Sterling. “Roger, what in the fuck is this all about?”
“Damn, do you need to see a doctor?” Travis asked. He called towards the bartender. “Hey, let me use your phone,” he demanded.
“Just get his fairy ass out of my bar,” replied the bartender. “Use your own fucking cell phone. What do you think I am, a fucking operator?”
This was gasoline to the fire! Robert jumped to his feet and kicked the
lumberjack in the ass with all his might. “Kick my fucking brother will you!” He
landed five or six good kicks before Travis pulled him away. Any kick boxer from
Thailand would have been in awe as to the ferocity and speedy delivery of
Robert’s foot. He tried in vain to connect his steel boot to the plump belly of
the unconscious monster before Travis managed to push Roger and Robert out of the bar. Both brothers stumbled to the car without saying a word to one another.
The three of them drove home in silence, no music blaring on the radio,
no laughing, and no uncontrollable burps from the peanut gallery tonight. It was
a silent time, a time to reflect upon the evening occurrences and a time to think
about dealing with this situation in the morning over a cup of hot coffee. Travis glanced up from the road and looked at Roger in the rearview mirror. Roger stared back at him full of fear.
Although Robert deep down knew that Roger was a homosexual, he was a shocked
nevertheless. He just couldn’t shake the nausea, the twisted burning sensation
in his stomach. Robert fought the urge to break the silence with some smart
ass comment or some profound statement that would dissolve the tension inside
To the unobservant, ever so slight sexual innuendoes that passed between
Roger and his male companions went unnoticed. A few times, Robert had
glimpsed, or thought that he had caught sight of his younger brother brushing the
buttocks of his school chum in of all places, the Sterling kitchen. At first, not
wanting to admit what he had just seen, Robert pushed it aside as being a
wild hallucination brought upon by the demons that lived at the bottom of a Jack
Daniels’ bottle. However, as time passed, and each scene seemed to grow more and
more intense and passionate between the two, it became evident that perhaps
Roger was indeed gay. And, it was up to Roger to tell the rest of the family, to
come out of the closet and to live his life.
Thinking back on it, it seemed rather peculiar that Roger would pull these
stunts in plain view when he was in the closet. Maybe he intentionally
forgot to lock the door or perhaps the latch mechanism had finally worn out.
Whatever the case, Roger was brazen inside the bar, very out of character.
Unfortunately, Roger would never get the chance to divulge his secret to the
family. It would be the last ride that Robert and his younger brother would ever
share. At the tender age of twenty-nine, that same evening, Roger removed
Robert’s 357 Magnum from its holster, walked downstairs into the den, and put
a bullet through his left temple. It was that quick and that simple.
The funeral was held at Keaton’s Funeral home, down on East Bay Street in New Bloomfield three days later. Not many people attended, just close friends and family. Travis sat next to Robert and neither spoke a word through the whole ceremony. When the funeral was over, everyone got into their cars and headed home.
No suicide note, nothing to explain his behavior was ever found. The survivors
were the real victims, the ones who asked why, who felt guilty for not seeing the signs. Naturally, the family along with many of the local neighbors
mourned the loss, but none as much as Robert. He was awoken by the
initial blast that discharged the hollow pointed slug that bore a tunnel through
his brother’s head. It was his 357 Magnum that took Roger’s life, and it was
his discovery inside the bar that drove Roger to suicide. Of that he was absolutely
If only he had sat down with Roger that night and told him that he loved him and that he embraced him for being a great little brother. He knew that it wasn’t a choice being straight or gay. Roger was exactly who God wanted him to be in life, and that was fine for the Sterling household.
Sterling blamed himself for Roger’s premature death, and for that he let self
pity play its course. He would have to live with the shame and the disdain from
his own family and from his friends for being at the bar that night and for not locking away his guns. To survive emotionally, Robert needed to dig deep inside himself and find the fragile boy from years gone past. It was the same lad who walked barefoot in ankle deep snow, who passed the summer hours skipping stones on the pond behind the old deserted school house and, it was the same child who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of seven. Robert was a survivor.
There was nothing out of the ordinary, at least nothing upon the surface. It was
an open and shut case, and the boys down at headquarters would see to that. They
didn’t want any extra work tossed upon their already vast pile of unsolved cases.
Besides, the only peculiar circumstance in Roger’s death was the fact that he was
right handed and the wound was positioned near the left temple. Preliminary
investigations revealed the presence of powder burns inside the wound and tiny
fragments of brain tissue upon the knuckles of his left hand.
It was an easy scenario to read especially for any intelligent detective. Not
much imagination or groundwork went into his suicide. Roger placed the
revolver to the left hemisphere and pulled the trigger. The powder burns
suggested that the muzzle of the 357 was jammed into his head, undoubtedly a
nervous reaction. And, the presence of skin tissue upon his knuckles indicated
that he had in fact pulled the trigger. If this were a homicide made to look like a
suicide, the absence of evenly splattered blood would strengthen that theory and
reopen the case. However, all the key elements were in place and nothing more
needed to be done. The case was officially closed within three days of his death.
It was late Thursday afternoon, April 2016 when they reached the destination in Cabot Bay. Travis gave the emergency brake a good yank and turned the car ignition off. It gave a few sputters, as though it wanted to start up again, and then abruptly died. Perhaps next week when his secretary returned from vacation, he would have time to take the car down to the local garage and get it tuned up. “We’re here amigo,” he said.
Robert rubbed his bare hands together and blew a hot jet of breath into the
middle of his open palms. The cold blast from the open door sent a shiver down
his tensed spine. “Christ, it’s nippy. I tell yah, I’ve got goose bumps the size of
golf balls rubbing up against my hemorrhoids to stay warm! What time is it?”
Travis chuckled to himself. Even in the mist of danger, dangling over a crocodile pit
with hungry cannibals arguing over his various limbs, Robert would make
jest of his situation. He always extracted some wise ass comment from his
They chatted with one another as they waddled up towards the palisades in
the freshly fallen snow, making small talk.
Fortunately for them, the six feet of snow below them had frozen solid, facilitating their trek up the hill. It would take an ice pick and a few hours of back breaking work to reach the frostbitten grass below this snow crest. Life wasn’t easy on the island and Mother Nature did her damn best to keep it an icebox year-round. As seasons go, this was considered a modest year with temperatures dipping as low as minus 30 Celsius. Fortunately for them, the sun had broken through the clouds and the snow flurries that blanked the frozen tundra were only ankle deep. An octogenarian with a solid oak cane and a new hip replacement would have no trouble walking in the snow this day.
They huffed their way up to the rocky cliffs and took a quick gander at the scene.
Ten feet below them lay the remains of some skinned harp seals. Travis shouted to one of the officers below. He was tagging the remains with a green aerosol can.
The only reason Travis was here was for companionship and perhaps to lend some theories into the psychology of the killer or killers. Since Travis was a licensed psychologist, Robert had convinced the city officials that Travis would be invaluable in helping them solve these killings. And besides, he needed a chauffeur.
“Hey, George, what do you make of it?” Travis shouted.
George was an old timer with the police department. He had been working
as an officer for close to twenty-five years, a few more years than Robert.
However, when the promotion came up, Robert was given the new position as
committed and as diligent a worker, he had a few blemishes that couldn’t
be overlooked or tolerated. George was a boozer and a wife beater. As
people go, old man Davis was a decent sort of a fellow, a bit robust and unrefined,
but a good man just the same.
Travis could empathize with George’s drinking problem, but spouse abuse was
something he couldn’t stomach, not even from his closest friends. Like most
drunkards on the island, George drank to kill the boredom of the winter months.
One bottle led to another and before the sun had time to set, George was already six sheets to the wind. An argument would inevitably arise, followed by an exchange of blows, and Betty Davis would cower to the bedroom to lick her wounds.
Over the past decade, Lieutenant Sterling was called out to the Davis residence
on at least seven different occasions. Not surprisingly, no charges were ever
brought against the assailant for fear of retribution. Betty was no dolt. She knew
that the local police force couldn’t offer her adequate protection from her
husband. Robert tried to coax her into pressing charges, but his pleas fell
upon a broken woman. Just once he wished that Betty would muster up the
courage to push a steak knife through George’s eardrum deafening the wrinkled
walrus for life. He conjured up other more insidious acts of retribution, but death
for this wife abuser was far too lenient.
With deep wrinkled lines crisscrossing the nape of his fattened neck and
weathered, giving it an aged leathery look. Had he been a prisoner of Auschwitz,
the Nazis would have made a car seat cover from his tanned hide!
Besides his leather skin, the only other identifiable characteristic was his
yellow fishing overalls that he wore under his standard issue police jacket. He
looked more like Captain Ahab than a police officer. Some folks were born with a silver spoon, George was born with a pair of yellow overalls. Pushing the scales at three hundred pounds and in desperate need of some proper grooming skills, this manatee had two vices. The first being alcohol, and the second being Cuban Cigars. He loved to gulp down expensive dark rum while entertaining everyone with boisterous Shakespearean soliloquies, flapping his burly Popeye arms while chewing into his Cuban Cigars as if it were a 16-year-old Taiwanese vagina. It was hard to believe that an uneducated couth as George could read comic books, let alone be able to recite Shakespeare from rote memory. But, he did and more surprisingly, he delivered it with such intensity that all in the room would listen attentively.
Travis cupped his hands over his mouth and blew a gush of hot air into his palms.
“Damn, it’s cold this morning,” he said.
“Could be worse,” replied Robert.
Travis didn’t respond. He studied George as he crouched down over a dead seal and watched as he turned the half-frozen body onto its back. Some blood smeared
“Bingo,” he shouted to the two of them standing on the cliff. He plunged his bare
hands into the slit just below the belly of the seal. “Looks like they got the heart
and the, ah, let me see. Yep, they got the damn liver also. What do you make of
this, doctor?” he asked.
He didn’t bother answering him. To Travis, it looked like George enjoyed this kind of work. All he could think was that the person or persons responsible for these senseless killings were either laughing at their incompetence or were watching them from afar thinking this was fun.
No doubt about it, George was a unique character, a bit red necked, a bit
eccentric, a bit stupid, and a bit dangerous. He was the kind of man
that you would want right beside you in the trenches especially when the shit
hit the fan. George evidently cared little for his own body, and his excessive
over eating and his fear of soap and water made him an easy target, even at a
a lumberjack convention. So, why did his reverence for this despicable act offend Travis so much? Travis just couldn’t shake the feeling that something or someone had gotten to George. There was just too much crime and death in his life these days and the sight of George just rubbed him the wrong way this particular morning.
“Hey, George,” yelled Robert. “How’s the wife?”
Robert knew just what button to push to infuriate George Davis. He
knew only too well that George’s wife was sleeping with the seventeen-year-old
neighbor from down the street. Even though his wife was nearing forty and the
considered attractive. No one could understand what she saw in George. He was
neither remotely handsome nor did he have a good personality. Some of the
inhabitants speculated that either George was a God in bed, or that he was to
inherit a fortune from his senile uncle in Montreal. Whatever attraction that
George possessed remained unbeknownst to the islanders and would undoubtedly
follow him to his grave.
“Yah son of a bitch,” roared George. He plunged his nail bitten pudgy fingers back
into the belly of the dead seal and removed a handful of her bloodied small
intestines. Holding it up over his head as the blood trickled its way down his
wrist, George shouted, “If I get my damn hands on that little bastard, I’ll squeeze
his testicles till they pop in my hands like rotten goose eggs!”
He clamped his hand shut and squeezed the intestines till they oozed through
the cracks between his dwarf fingers and flung the placenta like remains onto
the white snow.
Travis turned towards Robert and smiled. “Glad to see him taking it so well,” he said jokingly. “You sure have a way with people. Maybe you should run for Mayor!”
“Hell tried that once. Got my ass kicked by every church going pastor pissing
creep from Mexico to the North Pole. Next time I decide to run for office, I’ll
know who to jerk off and whose nipples to pinch,” replied Robert.
Although the political life held job security, a full pension upon retirement
out for it. The mayor, the big brass down at headquarters and all the other
pencil-pushing ass kissers sooner or later sold their morals and their ethical values
in exchange for the almighty dollar. When it came down to it, the mayor and his
ass-loving followers represented special interest groups; other political allies,
and close friends and relatives. One thing for sure, old Mayor Jenkins took care
of himself first and foremost, the commoners were left out to dry. Fuck that jerk!
Robert dug his hand into his jacket pocket in search of a cigarette. He
couldn’t control his nicotine urge for more than fifteen minutes without hitting
the panic buttons. If there were only two cigarettes left on the planet, Lieutenant
Sterling would steal both! “Ah, fuck the office job!” Robert cleared his
throat. “Yah, know, this looks familiar. We’ve seen this before.”
Travis nodded his head, “Yeah, looks real familiar. Probably one of my patients
pissed off over my bill,” he said sarcastically.
Robert smiled and gazed upon the scene below. “Nah, probably the Japs or that fucking bastard, Satsumo! One of these days I’m going to catch that sneaky slanted-eyed bastard and nail his ass to the wall.”
“Probably will,” replied Travis. “I just hope that I’m there to witness it.”
George made his way up the hill. “Did someone say something about those
Sterling pulled out the Bic lighter and drew his thumb down the cog wheel. It
sparked to life, but the morning wind instantly killed the flame. “Damn wind,”
complained Robert. He gave it a good shake. “About empty over here. What’s
Travis was not amused. “Go use the lighter in the car.” Sterling didn’t need to
be told twice. He turned around and made his way down the hill to the car.
“Shit,” grumbled George as his foot punched through the snow. “Let me tell
you something about those yellow vermin from the West.” Obviously, he had
caught wind of the conversation and felt compelled to throw in his own two cents.
Robert returned from the car, puffing away. “East, you mean from the East,”
“Who gives a rat’s ass if they come from the East or from the fucking West,”
bellowed George! He cleared the phlegm in his cancerous mouth and spat near
Robert’s boot. “I mean, let’s face it, what’s geography got to do with it
anyway. In the good Lords eyes, they ain’t nothing but excrement from a
baboon’s asshole. So, what does it matter if I say that they come from the fucking
East, West, or from the fucking center of the earth! The plain truth is that they
ain’t nothing but shit, pure and simple.”
“Eloquently said. Have you ever considered running for mayor,” laughed
Robert. “So, George, how do you really feel about our neighbors from the East?”
“What do you mean, how do I really feel?” George was becoming frustrated by
Robert’s antagonistic words. “What dolt who walks the Earth on two feet
balancing 175 pounds of mass with the aid of ten toes and wipes his ass with
fucking Japs did this!”
Travis didn’t want to mediate or choose sides. If the two wanted to fight so late in
the day, then so be it. “That sounds great George, but I really don’t think it was the
Japs that did this. I would say that it was done by some sick bastard living on the
island. The question isn’t so much who is responsible, but why they are doing it.
George shook his bulky head and hunched his shoulders in total defeat. “Yah
got me, doctor.” he replied. “Yah got me.”
Friday morning arrived quickly. Travis turned on the light to his bedroom,
pulled on some slacks, threw on a sweater and headed for the bathroom. He
didn’t really care what he looked like. No matter how much he shaved and combed
his hair, he still looked like the ugly bastard in the mirror from the previous day.
After brushing his coffee stained teeth and throwing some cold water onto his face, he toweled off and headed downstairs to make some coffee.
Just as he reached the downstairs foyer, Travis heard a car pulling into the driveway. “Hmm,” he thought to himself. Robert was running late this morning. Probably had too much to drink last night and ended up in some bed with one of his old girlfriends.” Travis turned on the outside light and unlocked the door, expecting his arrival.
After a quick cup of coffee, Robert and Travis headed out for their usual morning
ritual, Starbucks and girl watching. They got to Starbucks around 8:30, got some
coffee, and settled into their usual spot next to the fireplace.
“You got any plans later today?” asked Robert.
“Nothing much,” replied Travis. “I’ve got a few appointments, but after four o’clock it looks good. Why? What do you have in mind?”
“How about going out for a drink or two tonight? They got some party going
on down at the Phi Beta Phi fraternity tonight next to The Thirsty Clam.
“The Thirsty Clam?” Travis asked. “Is that down in New Bloomfield?”
“Yep, I’ll drive,” replied Robert.
“Why not? Sure, that sounds great,” Travis replied sarcastically.
Travis didn’t have much to say this morning. He was hoping that he could get to the office early and listen to some music before his first appointment, Bob, arrived. Besides, he needed to catch up on some paperwork and needed to fill out the state insurance forms since his secretary was still on vacation. They drank their coffee, in silence. Travis finished first, patted Robert on the back and headed down the street to his office. Although it was a cold morning, the walk felt good, and it gave him just enough time to collect his thoughts.
Travis stopped in the deli near his office to buy a newspaper. Since he 20 minutes to spare before his first patient arrived, he thought he would catch up on the news about the war in the Middle East. He didn’t support the war, but he definitely believed that something had to be done about these terrorists here and abroad. His oldest sister, who became an American citizen moved to Paris, Maine. She was a soldier and on active duty in Iraq. They weren’t close and hadn’t seen or talked with each other in over five years. Nonetheless Travis still worried about her and the other fighting American and Canadian men and women. Perhaps he was just a shitty brother as he didn’t even attend her wedding and for that matter, he never met and didn’t know who in the hell she had even got hitched to. Not only was he a shitty brother, but a selfish one at that. Little did he realize her fate or her predicament.
The cold sound of iron rolling the tumblers counter clock wise roused the grungy
hostage from her dead sleep. The slightest rotation of the key flipped the
life as the cell door swung open.
The naked body, lying face down upon the floor, covered in filth and stale urine
resisted movement. Her once beautiful youth, short brown hair, and voluptuous
body now gave way to a half-starved soldier with but one objective, survival!
It had consumed her mind for the past eight weeks, every hour, every sunset, and
every meal that she could force down her throat allowed her to stay one more
day on earth and one more night inside her cage. Forty iron poles, eight feet
tall and five inches in girth held Captain Samantha Jones captive. Each bar
was evenly spaced 9.6 inches apart tantalizing the possibility of escape, yet only
a child could squeeze through the openings. She was trapped, sentenced to life
without parole, though innocent of all crimes.
No jury would exonerate her captors, and certainly no peers could have
foreseen the wild behavior of man upon a trapped animal. In the spirit of the night,
free of disguises and false pretenses, naked to the world, Captain Jones would
ponder the existence of mankind and religion. To sit in judgment of man and
pass sentence, was this not God’s rightful domain? And, if God had indeed
bestowed this authority upon mortals for some berserk reason, did he intend for
them to abuse it? Though she asked thousands of questions, they burned down to
the same conclusion every time: God did not exist or if he did, he would not have
let this happen to Samantha.
Trapped in this prison, somewhere in a bombed-out building in Iraq for
learned what it must have been like for Travis’s uncle, who had been a POW in
Vietnam. Thousands of American and Canadian soldiers lost their lives fighting
the spread of Communism in Asia. They were the lucky ones. They died without
knowing the truth. The survivors were sentenced to walk the earth, not
understanding what they fought for, nor were they to be forgiven for their actions if
and when they returned home.
That war was ludicrous, unlike this war. Over fifty thousand soldiers had lost
their lives fighting for the control of Vietnam. Man had fought for religious
freedom, for the honor of a nation, to abolish slavery, and even for global safety,
but never for something as meaningless as that.
Travis’ uncle, Charles Owen, returned to Canada a changed man. He would
recite horrid stories of the physical and mental torture that he had been put
through, though no one cared to listen. He described in detail how the
Vietcong would beat the prisoners with barb wire and toss the wounded soldiers
into pools of murky water holes. These prisons were nothing but eight feet deep
trenches in the earth covered by bamboo poles wrapped tightly together to thwart
escape. Leaches, worms, and centipedes would bubble with excitement when fresh blood dripped from open wounds and they latched themselves onto the host bodies and sucked the men dry. The men would scream in pain as these snail like creatures clung onto the tattered shreds of hanging flesh and chewed away until they had their fill.
Samantha listened attentively, flabbergasted beyond belief, yet strangely
excited by these dark stories. Charles would go into intricate detail,
describing these shallow holding pits, these watery graves that were filled with
fecal matter, drowned rats, and venomous snakes. To liven up the morality of
the men, a POW would be removed from the hole, decapitated, and tossed back
down into the filthy cesspool. It was not uncommon to awaken in the morning
with your buddies severed head floating near your groin area. Samantha now
understood why Charles had taken his own life in 2013 after returning home from a fishing trip to Vancouver. He simply didn’t want to live, and she, more than any other person on the planet, could sympathize and understand his private hell.
Charles, along with many of the other survivors, suffered from post-traumatic
stress disorder. A sense of numbness, depression and genuine guilt for their
atrocities plagued him. Images of napalm burning the flesh off young children and their futile attempts to suffocate the flames were almost comical. They rolled on the ground, calling for their mothers as they pealed the burning flesh from their arms to lessen the pain, but to no avail. Their survival was bleak, much like Charles’ sanity. Only half of Charles Owen returned, the other half lay trapped in the lush green jungles of Vietnam.
Samantha was lured into Charles’ nightmares by the desire to understand
human behavior during captivity in its most primeval form. She felt the hunger,
the burning desire of a vampire who hadn’t fed in over a week. The itch to drink
nerve in her body. The need to dig through the dirt, to pry open the rotting
coffins, and to fondle the dead bones of tortured soldiers pacified her dark sadistic
side. And, the only way to appease this perverse lust, other than exhuming grave
sites was through osmosis. Samantha saw what Charles had seen, touched what
he had felt, tasted what he had eaten, and heard his screams of fear through his
Charles Owen needed some venue to release the emotional pain that gnawed
at the base of his spine, and Samantha was the only one who opened her heart. He
loved to tell the story about the snakes being dropped into the pit and this, more
than any other story, epitomized the true meaning of psychological torture. The
prisoners, madly clinging to the muddy walls, would shrill in horror as the worm
like demon slithered towards them.
It was probably the first realization that he was about to die at the hands of this
venomous reptile, rather than the actual bite, that caused the soldiers to cry out
in agony. Never again would his comrade get to see his three children splashing
about in the bath tub. Their excitement, the laughter, the bubbles, all etched in
his mind flashed before him as the venom worked its way quickly throughout
his blood stream, forcing him to loosen his grip. He could hear the laughter of
the yellow hyenas above, jabbering away and exchanging money, as if it were
a game to them. And, it finally dawned upon him, as his boyish face and
for life was the real torture. He was now free of pain and torment.
Samantha often contemplated suicide, of ending the suffering, the constant
molestation, and most of all, the mortification of another human. She lay witness
to the brutal and inhumane murder of the other female soldier in her cell. She
could never forget how the men forcefully stripped, bound and gagged her and then
forced Samantha to watch the brutal decapitation of her only friend, Private Lauren Hunter. If she could have given up only one of the five senses that day, it would have been the ability to hear. Her racking screams of immense pain touched every sensitive nerve in every limb, every muscle, every hair follicle upon her fatigued body, and yet they continued until Private Hunter lay headless upon the bloodied floor. If there were a God in heaven, he had forsaken her that day.
For the next couple of days, she vaguely remembered living, except for the
cold feel of the damp iron bars on her swollen hands. Once or twice a day
the cage door would be opened, and food and water brought into her cell. They
treated her like a dog with scraps of meat, tidbits of bean curd tofu, rice and
whatever else they chose to drop into her bowl for that day. Occasionally, an
Al-Qaida guard would toss a few dates or some rotting fruit into her bowl. Samantha was kept on the verge of starvation every day. Her captors chose to prolong the agony of life at its most basic of forms by providing her with just enough water to sustain adequate body fluids, and morsels of fats and amino acids to energize the heart.
Every other day, like clockwork, someone would open the door to the
upstairs, bring in a hose and wet her down. It was a chapter from the past
chronicles of early treatment of mentally handicapped patients inside some
insane asylum. Until Marie Montessori and other enlightened thinkers forever
changed these conditions and the treatments for the mentally disabled, they were
left in the hands of masochists. Euthanasia was even considered a humane remedy
for these afflicted people, a not so bizarre phenomena that many civilized cultures
practiced. But, to place someone inside a cage and blast them with a water hose,
that was asinine. Samantha tried to conceal her nakedness from the hooded
terrorists who gawked at her through the cell. Some would even shove their hands
through the bars to grope a feel of her ivory flesh. They couldn’t contain
themselves, couldn’t even wait until she was properly bathed. This perverse
pleasure they received, though only a quick fondle, whet their appetite for what was
soon to follow.
One after another they would lie upon her, grunt gibberish, pant and howl like humping dogs during anal intercourse, and ejaculate inside Samantha. They didn’t bother with introductions nor did they bother to place a mattress upon the cold floor. It was a raw, cold and violent fuck. At first, Samantha tried to resist, but day after day, she no longer had the strength nor the will to fight back. If she resisted, they would hold her down and like a fine piano tuner, twist her toes until they snapped in their fingers. The shock wave of pain traveled from her toe to her
mouth in a micro second, causing her to pass out in shock. In the end, it was they
who triumphed, so why struggle?
After the jackals had their fill, the door to the outside world would shut,
and once again, she would be all alone in her cage, her cell for life. Weak from
the cold and drained from her ordeal, Samantha would curl up like a cat in the
dry straw at the other end of her cage. She blocked everything out and spent
the hours looking at the cobwebs high above her head. Samantha studied the
tiny spiders as they wove their intricate traps, woven to absolute perfection. In a
way, they too were prisoners inside this cell.
Samantha marveled at their ability to sense movement, be it another spider
ready to spar for territorial rights, a fly, or an insect struggling to free himself
from the silk bed of death. These insects were trapped, with no hope of escape, yet
they tried in vain to break away. She wondered what it must be like for that
helpless fly, seeing those hideously ugly spiders with razor sharp fangs rapidly
approaching. Did the fly scream out in horror and plead for mercy? If so, what
did he say?
“Please, please, don’t hurt me. Let me go, please. I won’t tell anyone. I
promise. Here, take anything you want. Anything. Just let me go home!”
It was ludicrous to even assume that the fly had any bargaining rights. The
only valuable possession that he owned was his body, and that was the only thing
that the spider needed or wanted.
Samantha wondered what was going through his mind at that last moment. Did
his tiny heart pound against his hairy chest releasing millions of endorphins,
giving him almost human like strength? And what did he see just before his
inevitable demise; a webbed tunnel of light? Evil, that’s what he saw. This
creature that stalked the silk web of death, maneuvering her enormous body on
threads with such dainty precision that would make one of the surviving descendants of The Great Wallendas, cringe with envy, crunched her giant jaws together as she approached her dinner. Her kaleidoscope eyes focused on the victim with such intensity, that it left the fly in a state of immobility.
If life were only the struggle to survive, then she was no more important or
significant than the helpless fly in the spider web. Both she and the fly responded in the same manner when death was not an option, unconditional acceptance. But, Samantha didn’t want to accept death. She needed an alternative, another way to get even. To die in a stinking country trying to bring about stability to Iraq like some doomed fly stuck in a web was an abomination to mankind.
Samantha remembered reading about wolves who would chew off their own
paw when snared in a trap. If she were in the same situation, would she be
able to cut off her own limbs to save her life? The answer she always came
up with was, no. And, this fly, soon to be injected with a solution that would
liquefy it from the inside out, did it not feel pain? In his intrepid struggle to free
himself, he tore his left wing from his shoulder and his two legs, entangled in the
orb detached themselves from his body. Why did he not cry out in pain or pass
If this were the case, then her theory on fear and pain would undoubtedly win
her a nomination for the Nobel Prize in some category. The fear of death was
more mentally painful than the physical torment that it brought.
Therefore, without fear, pain could be more readily accepted because in essence,
we only fear pain, we don’t understand it. Once we can fully comprehend
the unknown, like the early navigators who feared the uncharted oceans, we
are no longer afraid to live in our hostile world. The magnitude of this
discovery and the domino effect it would have in the field of warfare alone was
enough to dedicate years of selfless research.
Samantha speculated that perhaps man could rid himself of fear, but what
about pain? For all practical purposes, pain could be separated into two
distinctive categories; mental and physical. It was well-known that many
individuals had the ability to block out physical pain. Documented studies have
proven to the world that some people were able to walk upon burning coals
without incurring any major injuries. Others can inflict serious
cuts without ever dropping one single droplet of blood; and some have even
guzzled ethylene glycol, been bitten by venomous snakes, and have even driven nails through their palms without any detrimental effects. Somehow these unique oddities have been able to intercept or misdirect the messages sent from the nerve senses to the brain stem. If they could do it, then why couldn’t everyone?
The nerve center in every respect, was very similar to a car engine. The key
or stimuli brought about the same reaction every time. For example, if someone
wanted to place his hand over a burning match fifty times in a row, the same
reaction would occur all fifty times; the simpleton would experience
excruciating pain. The synoptic nerve firing mechanism was nothing more than the
pistons firing in the engine block of an auto. If something were to hinder the
piston from going up and down, the car would stall. Thus, if something could
block the relaying messages between the neural transmitters, even for a fraction
of a second, a mutated code would reach the brain, rather than the original
message. This ability was within us to control the degree of suffering.
The other form of pain, much like a destructive time bomb, was mental pain.
Our brain, like a computer chip, stored images, memories, both good and
bad, and when retrieved and played back, caused emotional responses.
Samantha applauded the uniqueness and complexity of the mind. If the physical
pain didn’t kill, then surely the mental pain would. But, as she had already
figured out, physical pain could be blocked out and that left humans with only
the emotional distress. Could this too be controlled, erased from the memory
banks, and if so, how to go about doing it? How could Samantha forget the
anguish of seeing her comrade, arms flinging wildly in the air and her body
jerking with violent spasms, as the hooded men decapitated her?
Samantha had so many questions muddling about in her cranium that she
didn’t hear the men running frantically about above her head. Something
dashed about in various directions, taking orders from their leader. A heavy
wooden crate crashed to the wood floor tossing its contents everywhere. Someone
in authority barked out an order and within seconds, the mess was given priority
attention. The distinctive sound of a sharp metal object sliding across the floor was
unmistakable. Samantha knew what was happening, and she knew what lay
inside the broken crate, a serrated machete!
Killing was an intricate process in war. The sight of blood speckled upon the
body of an American soldier would awaken the evil in the most docile of man.
Like hungry piranhas, they would ferociously tear into their victim, using sharp ivory fangs to rip the tender flesh from the bones. It mattered little that she was a magnificent creature that was only doing her job, trying to defend Iraq from the insurgents who wanted to keep the country in a state of chaos. To these men, she was the mother-load that miners dreamed about, a 475 million year old intact trilobite fossil that paleontologists drooled over, and Jessica Simpson and
Madonna rolled into one sushi roll that made desire burn deep in the heart of
a sumo wrestler.
But, to those who loved nature, understood the beauty and importance in the
changing ecosystem of life, she was just an unfortunate victim of circumstance.
An American captive was the quintessential element of success to an Al-Qaeda
terrorist. She was the expensive Russian caviar, a Rolls Royce, a white sable
fur coat, a first-class ticket upon the Concord, and it was the open invitation to
to escape prosecution did so crave the symbol of capitalism: Samantha.
The suffering she would soon have to endure would have caused the strongest
of soldiers to shed tears. Genghis Khan, known for his brutality and his insatiable
thirst for blood, would undoubtedly have doffed his helmet in respect and pity
for Samantha. Upon hearing her eerie gut-wrenching cries of pain that could
be heard two blocks away by her platoon, Jack the Ripper would have thrown
away his scalpel and turned himself into Scotland Yard. And, if John Wilkes
Booth could have seen all the bloodshed that blanketed the cold cell, he just might
have spat on Lincoln’s cheek, rather than blowing off half his fucking head.
A shriek of robust excitement erupted overhead causing the hooded terrorists
to jump up and down upon the wooden floorboards high above Samantha’s head.
It was like watching a football game in overtime and the receiver mystifying the
coaches, fellow team members, and the spectators, by lurching into the air and
catching the ball with just one hand in the end zone. The crowd roared,
arms flung high into the air, spare tires flopping like jack hammers digging into
concrete, and boobs jostled about clockwise in a pitiful attempt to spring forth and
“You fucking sons of bitches,” screamed Samantha. She shook the bars until
Samantha began reciting the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, who art in Heaven.
Hollowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” She didn’t
finish before four hooded men walked down the stairs. The
leader dressed in all black now stood in front of her cell gripping the serrated
machete in his right hand and yelled to his followers to open the iron cell door.
They rushed in and threw Samantha onto the cold damp floor and
placed the machete against her exposed neck. The group began chanting louder
and louder as the leader torn into her skin with the blade. Samantha tried to
kick and scream and plead for mercy, but her attackers continued sawing through
the veins and muscles in her neck. She was dead.
Travis never knew what his sister went through, never had the chance to tell her
that he loved her and that he was so proud of her. Did she serve her purpose in life?
If all lives were somehow interrelated, what was her role? Perhaps, just perhaps
she had already served that purpose and God had forgotten to end her scene
in the great performance of life. And then again, maybe God was not the producer
rather the director of this play.
Travis heard a knocking on the office door and put down the paper. Bob was one punctual fellow, that was for sure. He only wished that his other clients were as thoughtful as Bob.
“Good morning,” Travis said as Bob entered the office. “Hope you are doing fine on this cold Friday morning.” Travis tried to smile, but Bob looked like hell. “If you don’t mind me saying, Bob, you look like someone ran you over with a truck. Did you not get enough sleep last night or did you stay out all night drinking?”
“I wish that were the case,” replied Bob. “Nah, I have a slight health issue. Nothing worth talking about.”
“Is it serious?” questioned Travis.
“Not really. You might say that things are what they are, and I will get over it, one way or the other,” replied Bob.
Murasto Satsumo relaxed into the white leather upholstery as his limo raced down Interstate 95 towards Portland, Maine. Though it was a long and tedious trek from the island, it was one that Murasto savored. The driver maneuvered the effulgent bullet pass the big rigs carrying lumber as they hogged the left lane and antagonized the smaller vehicles. It took considerable concentration and dexterity to avoid the massive giants of the road. His job and probably his own life depended upon his mastery, his ability to deliver his occupants on time and in perfect condition. This he took seriously.
Satsumo was too busy talking with someone on the phone to notice the driver weaving in and out of lanes. He wasn’t worried, he trusted his driver with his own life and the lives of all his friends and their wives.
“Ok Bob,” he grunted. “But if you fuck this up, I will hurt you bad. Do you hear what I am saying?” Satsumo didn’t wait for a response before hanging up the phone. “That guy is a fucking idiot,” he said out loud. “Fucking guy can’t keep his mouth shut or his stories straight.”
Satsumo gazed out the dark tinted windows and noticed an 18-wheeler on the shoulder of the highway. This caught his attention as it bore the Teamster name and insignia. Years ago, when the Teamsters were young with excitement and ready to tackle the Pinkertons with baseball bats and splintered planks, then and only then did the union matter. Those were the days when Jimmy Hoffa looked out for his boys, when vibrant oxygen coated the red blood cells and pumped hope into their souls. It was a time when the American worker knew where he stood in life, a time when families and organizations took care of each other. Satsumo laughed to himself. Had the American dream not been ruined by bureaucratic slime accepting phony contributions from wealthy individuals and foreign entities, America would still be a first-rate country. And yes, he considered himself a key factor in the displacement of power, yet he was not the slime.
It amazed Satsumo that the American emblem was that of a Bald Eagle, a crafty specimen that preyed upon the helpless. With its spiked beak and razor-sharp talons, this evolved dinosaur soared the clouds, ever ready to pounce upon smaller creatures. This prevarication could only exist in a fantasy world where heroes still walked in silence, and man and ecology lived in a state of harmony. The eagle symbolized purity and strength, two characteristics that long ago ceased to exist in America. Perhaps the turkey, as Ben Franklin had suggested, would have been a more appropriate representation of American pride and intelligence. It was obvious to Satsumo that this vast open territory with all its immense natural resources was the prey, and the imperial Japanese were the circling vultures eyeing their victims from above, ready to strike!
Satsumo, nearing fifty with just a tinge of gray to show his age, gulped his soda water and crunched an ice cube. He welcomed the icy cubical slowly melting in his warm mouth, the feel of its smooth body on his coarse tongue as it floated in a sanctuary of a thick saliva. When most vulnerable and completely unaware of impending danger from his yellow stained incisors, he would crunch into the cube breaking it into tiny fragments. The power to destroy flowed through his 160-pound body like a bulldozer crashing through a straw house.
Satsumo considered himself a Shogun, an effective master of deceit and deception, capable of controlling his own environment along with all those near him. He prided himself in the fact that he would kill anyone that got in his way, no matter friend or foe.
He was by no stretch of the imagination a good-looking guy. In fact, just the opposite. Although fit as a fiddle and in overall great shape, Satsumo was pathetically ugly, even for a wealthy Asian tycoon. His face was gaunt, and his sharp piercing nose made him look more like the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. His eyes were completely dark, and void of emotion. His skin appeared to be in a constant state of psoriasis with red, itchy scaly patches across his forehead. His black greasy hair was just beginning to show a tinge of gray along with some flakes of dandruff mixed in for good measure. Yes, if this Asian tycoon were not filthy rich, he would surely have a struggle attracting any female upon the planet.
Even though Satsumo was only five feet seven and weighed 160 pounds, he was formidable. It was not uncommon to find him working out between two to three hours every evening at the local dojo down the street from his office. He had studied Shito-ryu, a form of karate, for the past 15 years and was a well respected and feared competitor both in and out of the ring. Satsumo excelled in Shitro-ryu as it relied on a more upright technique and stressed the importance of speed and agility rather than brute force. He was a master at avoiding his opponents’ attacks while being able to deliver punches and kicks that leveled men twice his size and half his age.
Ironically, although half of his upper body was covered in tattoos of ancient dragons, colorful fish and morbid depictions of samurai battling to the death, Satsumo was not a member of the Yakuza Gang. Many of his affiliates and even some members of his immediate family belonged to the infamous Japanese Mafia. Satsumo, however, never pledged his allegiance to the Yakuza. He did not want to be owned by anyone and he never allowed anyone to give him orders.
Beside him, sitting with her head against the opposite window, was his faithful companion, Meitsu Yuramiti. Though technically not his girlfriend, she was always beside him attending to his every whim. The 20-year-old albino girl behaved and acted like someone twice her age and this pleased Satsumo immensely. He enjoyed the company of a refined pale skinned girl with the looks and body of a high school cheerleader.
Meitsu Yuramiti was the daughter of his close friend, Nuraki Yuramiti, a very wealthy and distinguished businessman from Taito, Japan, just 25 miles East of Tokyo. Satsumo first met Nuraki Yuramiti in 1986 while attending The University of Tokyo, earning their degrees from the esteemed school of Engineering. They were the best of friends and at time, the worst of enemies, especially when they were drinking or fighting over a pretty girl. This constant bickering and drunken behavior went on for over 20 years. Whatever their differences or competitiveness, a good bottle of Sake and a few, average looking pubescent hookers could repair their loyalty and respect for one another.
In just under two decades, Nuraki, with the help of his close friend, Satsumo had built two highly successful businesses. The pharmaceutical business, Yuramiti Enterprises and the high-tech manufacturing company, Baldung, were well positioned in Tokyo to dominate the world in their respective fields. Both companies together employed over 8,400 loyal workers and enjoyed high rankings on the Nikkei Index.
It was Sunday morning and Travis was busy cleaning up the dishes from the previous night. Although he had a working dishwasher, he much preferred to clean everything by hand. He haphazardly dunked the plates under the facet, more to hear the water than to clean the gunk off the dishes. Although his body was physically in the kitchen, his mind was five thousand miles away and his lack of concentration on the job at hand was evident to any professional dishwasher.
Travis glanced at his iPhone to see if he had missed any late-night calls. He had trouble opening the screen as his hands were still wet from washing the dishes, but he eventually was able to swipe the screen open. “9:50 am,” said Travis. “That was a good night’s sleep.”
He and Bob had a very interesting session the other day, and Bob asked if he could stop by at 10:30 this morning to discuss something that he needed to get off his chest. Something was bothering him and who knows, perhaps he just wanted to come clean. For the past week Bob had been wasting Travis’ time and blowing a lot of money in the process. Maybe everything had been building up to this point and finally the secrets of the world would be revealed to the almighty psychiatrist. Although it was Sunday, Travis made an exception and agreed to see Bob at his house.
Travis was interrupted by the sound of someone knocking on his front door. “Come on in, Robert,” he yelled from the kitchen. Travis was by no stretch of the imagination a psychic, he just knew by the knock on the door and the thunderous force he used to make his presence known, that it could be only be Robert.
As Robert entered the kitchen, he opened the upper cabinet door next to the microwave and grabbed a blue coffee mug without being giving any direction or invitation. He knew that Travis’ house was his house and whatever he had, he was more than welcome to use, eat, throw away or fuck. As usual, Robert was dressed in his uniform, probably slept in it overnight and forget it was Sunday.
He poured himself some coffee and tossed in four sugar cubes before taking a seat at the kitchen table. “So, what’s the 911?”
Travis finished drying off the last plate and placed it on the counter with all the other clean dishes. Without looking at Robert or responding to his question, he grabbed his coffee with his right hand and sauntered over to the table and sat across from his best friend.
He sat there for more than a minute gazing into the black fluid in his mug, enjoying the fresh scent of good coffee and the brisk clean air on this sunny day in April of 2018. Travis could easily be hypnotized into a false sense of tranquility by simply swirling his coffee and watching the ripples slosh against the rim of his mug. To Travis, freshly brewed coffee was his aphrodisiac and if he could afford to buy Kopi Luwak coffee that came out of the ass of a Civet Cat from Indonesia, he would gladly give it a try.
In life there were only two distinctive vices that rich people enjoyed and made known to the rest of the world. The ability to brag about their accomplishments and the second vice, the courage to attempt crazy feats of madness. Other sick vises such as pedophilia, or wearing baby diapers and shitting yourself, or the hankering to stuff your pecker through a glory hole in some disgusting bathroom inside Walmart were nefarious vices that were to be kept private among priests and church goers.
Of course, there were other vices, but they faded in comparison to the private vices that the rich and famous could afford to show to the world. For that matter, Travis had an estimated five public vices that he tried to keep completely private to the rich and poor of the planet, exotic coffee being number one.
How this Indonesian delicacy came to fruition and somehow landed in the laps of the extreme elite, is to this day mind boggling and utterly sidesplitting. Why any normal person would think of feeding coffee beans to a Palm Civet cat and follow it around until if defecated and then decide to extract the beans from cat shit was asinine. And to further add humor to an already crazy idea, grind those beans into coffee and sell it for fifty dollars per pound.
Now, talk about a vice! This was true blackmail information that only a sick comedian could think up. Travis could just imagine the hours of time wasted on the extortion letters. Hell, if you knew your neighbor or your boss was drinking cat shit, no telling what other deprived fantasies were floating around in the old brain sack! This was pure gold blackmail special ops intel on the coffee drinking simpleton.
But, it was no crazier than those wine connoisseurs, or a master sommelier that would spend thousands of dollars on a 2010 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac, or for the super-rich that that could afford to buy a 1992 vintage bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon for a cool half million dollars. In life, everyone had a vice or an addiction to something. Travis was just fortunate that his addiction to Tim Horton’s ground coffee was affordable and made more sense than drinking coffee that started in the intestines of the Indonesian Civet Cat.
The second vice was more about self-glorification and came with bragging rights. At times, we all possessed these vices in smaller doses, but some took it to the upper limits of hell. To most people, these acts of lunacy teetered on the verge of madness.
In Japan there were many people that tempted culinary suicide by eating the deadly poisonous pufferfish. The smallest mistake in the preparation could result in a most excruciating death. Just two paltry milligrams of the neurotoxin, Tetrodotoxin were enough to restrict the muscle movement that controls the breathing. Yet, for all its side effects, thousands of people every year gulped down the Fugu fish, praying to their Almighty Savior that the chef had the knowledge and the years of training to expertly remove the deadly organs from the fish. Perhaps it was just a show of courage among friends, or perhaps the fish was utterly delicious and that was just enough to push fate.
And yet, there were thrill seekers that pushed it to the limits by parachuting out of airplanes, or base jumping off tall high-rise buildings in the middle of the night for the bragging rights that they survived the fall. This sort of braggadocio killed and was far more dangerous than the first vice. Hell, why not play a game of Russian roulette with six people and six bullets inside the chamber? This was not a vice, it was a death wish!
“Hey, did you hear what I just said,” asked Robert? “You look like you’ve been daydreaming about some hermaphrodite with a huge cock and tiny furry balls!”
Travis just looked up from his coffee mug and smiled at Robert. Damn, that asshole had a joke for every occasion. “Yeah, I heard you,” replied Travis.
“I asked you over because Bob is stopping by at 10:30 this morning and I wanted you to hear what he had to say. Maybe you can dig through all his bullshit.”
Just as he was finishing his last statement, someone rang the doorbell. It was Bob, and he was early. That was rather odd as Bob was always extremely punctual, never too late and certainly never too early for any of his appointments. Travis walked out of the kitchen to answer the front door as Robert relaxed in his seat. At first glance, standing in the doorway of his home, Bob looked more like a zombie character on The Walking Dead show, minus the missing appendages. He was extremely pale with dark black eyelids like he hadn’t slept in two days and his smile had vanished from his usual joyful demeanor.
In less than a minute, both men appeared in the kitchen as Travis made the introductions and motioned to Bob to take a seat at the table. Robert and Bob shook hands.
“Good to meet you, Bob,” said Robert. “Can I get you some home brewed Tim Horton’s coffee?”
Bob shook his head and took the open chair next to Travis. “No thanks. I had my fill at breakfast this morning. I could go for a glass of water, if that’s not too much trouble,” said Bob.
Travis walked over to the sink, took out a clean glass from the cabinet. “Do you want any ice in this Bob?” asked Travis.
“Nah. Good old Prince Edward Island tap water is fine with me. You know, it amazes me how much we spend every year on bottled water. Seems like everyone is dehydrated on the planet carrying around a plastic bottle like it’s a baby pacifier. I mean, I grew up drinking out of the toilet, no joke” replied Bob.
Travis handed him the glass and sat down. “I remember when we were young, Robert and I would drink straight from the local ponds and lakes on the Island. We didn’t worry about diseases or impurities in the water, Hell we just drank it. Now, as far as drinking straight out of the toilet, that’s just fucked up. You, Bob, are one sick bastard,” joked Travis.
Bob just nodded his head in agreement and smiled. “I’ve been called a lot worse. Shit, the crap that I pulled when I was a kid would have sent me to jail or at least had my head examined.” Bob took a long sip from his glass and placed it directly in front of him on the table. He glanced to Robert in his slightly bedraggled police uniform and then shifted his gaze upon Travis. “So, I guess you are wondering why I wanted to meet with you today before I head back to the states tomorrow evening.” It was more of a statement than a question.
“So, what’s on your mind, Bob?” asked Travis.
Bob unzipped his North Face jacket with his right hand and proceeded to pull out what looked like a small package that a butcher would give you and placed it on the kitchen table. It was in the same kind of wrapper, a brownish wax paper, but this was not from any local butcher shop on the Island.
“Well, what did you bring us, Bob? asked Robert. “I hope your brought us some good steaks for grilling. I could eat a polar bear today.”
Bob didn’t respond. His expression was deadpan. He bit his lower lip. He needed a moment to collect his thoughts. He looked at the package on the table, folded his arms across his chest and cleared his throat.
The three wise kings all sitting at the kitchen table, each bearing gifts for the new born king just starred with blank expressions at the package for almost one silent moment. Everyone knew about gold, and certainly most people in that time used frankincense, but who in their right mind would bring myrrh. Ironically, back in biblical times, myrrh oil sprinkled over hot coals was used as aromatherapy treatment. It was also used as a spice and a natural remedy to purify the dead and even today it’s used for its antioxidant properties in the treatment of cancer.
It was kind of strange when you really thought about it and the myth about The Three Wise Men bringing gifts to a newborn baby. In the first place, why did all three Kings bring completely different gifts? Did they call each other before they departed that evening to figure out what to wear and what each other was bringing to the show? If you were Joseph and Mary, wouldn’t you have preferred that all three kings just brought gold? With gold, they could have purchased anything they wanted or needed like a nice room at the local hotel instead of camping out in a barn with all the cow and goat shit. No, instead the two cheapskates decided to chintz out and bring frankincense and myrrh to the party. They probably pilfered the gifts from their own households, wrapped them in cloth and tried to pass the slightly burned frankincense off as a newly purchased gift on their way to Bethlehem.
Secondly, why were three strange men showing up late at night in satanic robes wanting to check out little boys under a star? Obviously, pedophilia was rampant in the church and there were plenty of innocent kids to molest in Jerusalem, so why venture 8 miles South to Bethlehem? Perhaps the old saying, “What happens in Bethlehem stays in Bethlehem,” was the right tag in 4 BC.
And lastly, what quantity of gold, frankincense and myrrh was socially acceptable to give to the Lord and Savior of all mankind. Was there a list on The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem that stated how much gold you should give to a close friend, or a relative, or someone that you just met at a Bris Ceremony? Was it socially inappropriate to show up with too little of a gift and have egg in your face? Would there not be some sort of competition among the Three Wise Men as to who brought the best gift to the party? Certainly, the king with the gold was the hit of the evening while the other molesters were the brunt of many a joke at temple.
The myth of Jesus was all fine and dandy for Travis, but he knew that this package didn’t contain myrrh, so what hidden secret was scrupulously wrapped neatly inside the wax paper coffin.
“So, Bob,” said Travis, “do you want to tell us what is inside the package and why it was so important that you come over here today?”
“Well, let me begin by telling you a little story first that starts in Tokyo and ends in Prince Edward Island,” replied Bob. “Do either of you know anything about Sumo Wrestling?”
Robert chimed in. “Yeah, you mean those fat fuckers that wear diapers and slap each other across the head. I’ve seen it on TV although, I just don’t get it. I mean, why would anyone want to get that fat and parade around in a diaper with their balls hanging out?”
Bob didn’t bother responding back to Robert. Not that he didn’t want to, he just wanted to continue his story and without interference. It was a complicated tale and only Bob knew where it would end and how it would forever affect the lives of everyone on the island, especially Travis.
“There is a lot of respect and a lot of money involved in the Japanese sport, and The Japanese Sumo Association watches over it like it was the blood of Jesus Christ. Heck, this religious sport has been around for over 1,500 years and still growing stronger every day in popularity and attendance. These guys are like demi-gods in Japan, especially those that reach the level of Yokozuna, Grand Champion. There are only six Grand Sumo Tournaments per year with each wrestler competing in 15 individual bouts, so you can imagine the amount of illegal money that must be passing through the hands of the Yakuza. Imagine if here and in the USA that we only had six major baseball games per year or better yet, just six football games per year, what kind of hype would there be around those matches!”
Bob stopped for a moment and started to slowly unfold the brown wax paper in front of him on the kitchen table. “You would have madness in Las Vegas, and all the bookies would be rolling in the dough taken in windfalls of cash on just six matches per year. That would breed serious corruption and a definite need to control the outcome, consequently there would be cheating in the games. Just how much money do you think is bet on the Super Bowl every year? You know, it’s a fact that almost 4.7 billion dollars was bet on the Super Bowl in 2017. That’s not me making up those figures, you can check with The American Gaming Association. They keep all these stats and figures,” said Bob.
Unfolding the last piece of the wrapper, Bob exposed a light orange round organ no larger than a human heart. “This my friends is a genetically altered seal lung fresh from the beaches of Prince Edward Island. And, you thought that the only two exports were potatoes and Prince Edward Island oysters.” His sarcastic wit went unnoticed by both Robert and Travis.
“What do you mean, genetically altered?” asked Travis.
Bob pushed the package towards Travis. “Maybe genetically altered is not the right word for what we are looking at. Perhaps I should say, chemically mutated. You probably noticed the discoloration of this lung. It should resemble a human organ in shape, size and color as this seal was probably no more than 250 pounds. What I am saying is this lung should be a darkish red color, not a light orange color.”
“Let me take a stab at this,” interrupted Robert. “What you are telling us is that someone used some sort of chemical on these organs on purpose. I guess that explains all the dead animals strewn about upon our beaches. But what about all those animals that were blown into tiny bits? Over the past few years, we’ve seen thousands, or millions of body fragments wash up on the shoreline. They were in so many pieces that we couldn’t tell if it was a walrus, seal or even a whale. It almost looked like someone used dynamite to blow a hole in the poor creatures.”
“Yes and no,” replied Bob. These animals were alive with the chemicals already inside their bodies for months or even years. They swam the oceans, feeding off the sea while ingesting toxins that caused their livers, kidneys and other major organs to almost double in size. These creatures were cultivated like an oyster farmer, meticulously attending his crop. Anyway, you get the picture.”
“Now,” said Bob, I guess I should address the other issue. “Killing is an intricate process especially in the whaling industry. It’s kind of imperative that enough explosives be used to maim the mammal but not to blast him to kingdom come. The gunnery had to estimate the size of the beast, calculate both body surface with approximate weight when she breached and determine the proper amount of explosive to be used. If done correctly, the initial burst of the steel arrow ripping through the oily flesh in her skull, combined with the blast of the explosives, would immobilize her. The second harpoon needed to penetrate near the dorsal fin, though tragically, it often missed its mark.”
Travis turned to Robert. “Sounds like Bob may have some inner knowledge here.”
Bob just ignored Travis and continued with his story. “Now, still very much alive and not impervious to the hot steel burning away at her cerebral cortex, the Humpback would try in vain to escape her inevitable execution. Her body would arch and fall, and her head would pound against the hull of the ship to quicken death. The air sacks in her lungs would fill with blood rich in minerals and shoot up through the blowhole.”
He stopped for a second to look at the expression on Travis’ face, hoping to get some sort of reaction. Neither he nor Robert showed any emotion. Perhaps, they were just numb or in disbelief. Regardless, Bob continued his story.
“The sight of blood speckled upon the body of this defenseless giant would awaken evil in the most docile of men. Like hungry piranhas they would thrash out at their captive, using razor sharp gaveling hooks to tear apart the tender flesh. It really didn’t matter if the creature was still very much alive as they dissected her body like a drunken pathologist at the city morgue. To them, this was sport,” said Bob.
“I remember eleven months ago, I was on one of those Japanese whaling ships, just 10 miles north of Saint Peters Bay heading towards Newfoundland. It was probably sometime during springtime, but I can’t remember the exact day,” said Bob. “Anyway, we came upon a herd of walrus all nestled upon a floating sheet of ice, perhaps ten or fifteen good sized male bulls just resting themselves in the cozy warmth of the afternoon sun. The gunnery spotted a decent sized walrus and pulled the trigger piercing the moist flesh of the six-hundred-pound male just right below the left flipper. In what seemed like a micro fraction, the walrus exploded into a million bloody fragments. The other ten or so cows, frightened by the blast, instinctively flung themselves into the murky waters that befriended and protected them from the impending onslaught.”
“One baby walrus, confused by all the commotion and far too petrified to move, stood alone helpless on the bloodied ice pack. He roared in panic and tried to scuffle over to the remains of his deceased father. I was no more than twenty feet away from the carnage and noticed that one of his hind flippers had been blown clear off. In almost an act of defiance, like a condemned man refusing to don a blindfold before ascending the gallows, the baby calf faced our ship, shook his head and just growled at us. Although in great physical pain, his flipper bone torn in half and protruding through his skin, he still had the courage to fight back. Even the unscrupulous gunner had to respect this defiance, had to admire his helpless foe in his last moments on earth. Yet, his respect and pity were no match for his thirst for pain and bloodshed and with his itchy trigger finger tapping the cold metal half-moon icon, he squeezed off another shot. The baby never knew what hit him as the hot poker passed effortlessly through the skull and proceeded to tear his head off his little frame.”
“I just slumped down and pressed my back into the cold metal of the ship,” said Bob. “It was the first time that I realized that we were nothing but evil and evil killed for the joy of killing. I really hated this vessel, but even more than that, I despised myself for putting myself in this situation. At that moment, I realized that I needed to savor the hate, in hopes that justice would prevail, and these bloody criminals would eventually pay for their barbaric torture of these gentle creatures. Maybe someday, someone would witness these atrocities and somehow these killers would be brought into court. I just couldn’t believe that I was the only person who knew what was going on off the coast of Canada. Others must have seen something, heard some bellowing screams of pain, and yet this senseless killing continued. Why? Was the government that ignorant or did they just not care?”
“I’ve done some bad things in my life,” said Bob, “but this senseless killing was too much for me to take. I guess my boss thought it would toughen me up, or perhaps he wanted to make me see what I was getting paid for. You know, it’s different eating steak and visiting a slaughter house to understand how that steak landed on your plate. That impression never leaves your mind!”
Travis was surprised by Bob’s sense of shame. Money and power made people do terrible things, made them look the other way when they knew right from wrong. If Bob took this job for just the money, then he was no more a sleazebag than the average father trying to provide for his family. Now, if Bob took this job, fulling understanding his job responsibilities and the consequences it would have upon the overall environment, then in his eyes, Bob was a fucking asshole. “So, you are saying that these ships are just killing for the sport? Am I hearing your correctly?” asked Travis.
“Yep, and believe me, it gets a whole lot worse when you know the complete story,” replied Bob.
“Anyway, it’s not uncommon for both our governments to look the other direction when green crisp dollar bills slip into the filthy pockets of rapacious politicians. You know, if their constituents realized how utterly corrupt their representatives were, they would be expeditiously relieved of office and hung from the nearest light post. Like the situation that now confronts Syria and Iraq. The senseless bloodshed of innocent children and the rape and pillage of virgin women, while our politicians look the other way. If Japan with all its vast resources of money chose to cut down all the Redwood Trees in California, the government would unquestionably fulfill their fantasy. And, if they also wanted to purchase all the uranium and start stockpiling a nuclear arsenal, once again, both governments would hand over the blueprints and help. I was never a student of political science in school, but at least I understood the fine line between political rhetoric and political corruption. Any drone bee with half a pot of honey in his belly can sniff out soured swollen receptacles brought on by the early winds of August. In other words, the politicians no longer worked for the common masses, rather they worked for the influential foreign lobbyists. If the genocide of whales pleased the Japanese, then so be it!”
Travis got up from the table to get another cup of coffee. He motioned to Robert, but he shook his head. He filled his cup to the brim and took a long hard sip, cleared his throat and said, “So, where is this story going, Bob? We’ve got animals being chemically poisoned, and we’ve got mammals being blow into tiny bits all for the amusement of some Japanese fanatic. What is the commonality in these actions, or am I just missing something here?”
“Well,” said Bob, the common dominator in this story is a decade old discovery that happened off the coast of Prince Edward Island and you, Travis.”
Travis looked confused. “Me, what the fuck did I do?”
“It’s not so much as what you did that caused all this, it’s what you discovered ten years ago,” replied Bob. “Do you remember that incident long ago between you and a few Japanese sailors on a pier?”
Travis nodded his head and smiled. “Oh, you mean the ass-whooping that I gave those slimy bastards that were dumping chemicals into the water. Hell, I should have been given a medal instead of spending time in the slammer. Do you know what they were illegally dumping over the side of their ship?” asked Travis.
“Biofane,” replied Bob. “Yeah, I know all about it. Hell, the name was stamped in big blue letters all over the outside of the drums. You would have thought these idiots would have been more careful to conceal their illegal activities.” Bob spread out his arms and pointed at the seal lung in the brown wax paper. “There you have it, gentlemen. The effects of Biofane on the ecological system.”
Robert was becoming agitated at the way the whole story was unfolding and the different twists and turns that Bob was leading them down. “Bob, if you have this great secret, and you may be implicit in the whole damn thing from the start, why not just get to the point of your story? Again, how are these two or three things related? What are we supposed to be looking at?”
“You are looking at the effects of Biofane on the mammals on and around the island, Robert,” replied Bob. “In a nutshell, this chemical basically causes the organs to grow at a demoniacally fast rate, essentially suffocating the victim from the inside out. It causes muscle paralysis by blocking signals from the acetylcholine molecule. In rudimentary terms, acetylcholine is the chemical that our nervous system releases to activate muscles.”
“Bob, are you trying to give us a biology lesson or is this leading somewhere?” asked Robert.
“Hold your horses,” responded Bob. “Here is where it gets complicated and interesting at the same time. There are two different uses for what we are looking at in that little brown wax paper. I know this sounds ludicrous, and believe me, I know you are going to think me crazy, but the Japanese sumo wrestlers eat this to bulk up and to overpower their opponents. It’s like the holy grail of quick energy, like the sports drink, Red Bull. It doesn’t give them wings, but it does give them incredible bursts of energy and the ability to withstand the barbaric slapping and shoving that occurs inside the ring. If you have ever watched the sport on TV, you would know what I am talking about. These massive wrestlers smack each other in the face, shoulders and everywhere else on the human body in hopes of overcoming their opponent, either pushing him to the ground or by throwing him out of the ring. The matches at the tournaments might only last a few moments or so, but they are fucking intense and can cause bodily harm with each thunderous blow from their powerful arms. They act just like two ferocious grizzly bears with huge paws violently fighting to the death.” Bob stopped for a second to take a drink of water.
“You know, when you think about it,” continued Bob, “it would be no different from our professional athletes using steroids. Just look at Lance Armstrong. Hell, he took enhancing drugs for years, so he could win the Tour De France. Or look at baseball; you’ve got Manny Ramirez using human chorionic gonadotropin to stimulate the testosterone in his body, and for what? So, he could hit more home runs than everyone else! And, what about Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds or even Alex Rodriguez. Now granted, the last three players never really admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs, but we all know, they did it! The only reason they got caught was because these performance enhancing drugs were found in their blood and urine tests. Now, if you had a drug that was completely untraceable in any drug test, don’t you think every professional athlete today wouldn’t risk it for the fame and fortune? Hell yes,” shouted Bob. “The drugs are virtually undetectable in the human body. If they were ever drug tested, it would just show up as some form of botulism poisoning. That’s it! Plain and simple! The fat bastard had mistakenly eaten some bad food!”
Travis held up his hand and stopped Bob in his tracks. “I guess what you are saying is that these fat bastards eat this, or drink this meat to gain the advantage over their opponents all for the sake of winning the match?”
Bob nodded his head in agreement.
“And,” continued Travis, “the drug is virtually untraceable in any blood and urine test administered throughout professional sporting events worldwide.”
“Yep,” replied Bob. “And what’s more, they could barbeque one of those organs on the hibachi grill down at Benihana of Tokyo, wolf it down ten minutes before entering the Dohyo ring and nobody would know the difference.”
“And let me interject here,” said Robert, “I would guess that all the mumbo jumbo that you were talking about earlier about the illicit gambling and the advantage someone would have over knowing the results of the match would make that person or persons very rich. Am I correct?” Robert knew he was right, he just wanted to hear Bob say it.
“Yep, you are right,” replied Bob.
“So, I guess at this point in the story you are going to tell us who or what entity profits from eating these chemically altered organs, is that not correct, Bob?” asked Robert.
“Boy, you catch on fast,” smiled Bob. “Yuramiti Enterprises owns a pharmaceutical empire in Japan and is run by your old friend, Murastro Satsumo. Does that name ring a bell, Travis?” asked Bob. He didn’t wait for a response. “It should, you kicked the shit out of his nephew a few years back and ended up doing some jail time for it.”
Travis just stood there with his coffee in hand as he leaned against the kitchen sink and smiled. He knew he didn’t have to respond, he knew that Bob was going to continue with his tale. Some of the story was starting to make sense now and looked like it was winding down to the finale. Regardless, Travis could see the direction that Bob was heading now, and he was ready to hear more.
“You see,” said Bob, “Satsumo currently owns and runs Yuramiti Enterprises and he is in bed with the Yakuza. And to swallow that red pill and delve even deeper into the black hole, you will discover that Satsumo is heavily invested in a sumo wrestling stable, known as the Cojo Shan and operated by Katsumara Shinzo. Currently, and for the past six years they have produced more Yokozunas than any other clan in the history of sumo wrestling. Since 1749 there have only been 72 sumo wrestlers that have reached this distinction and two of them came from the Cojo Shan stable. Obviously, everyone in the industry knows that cheating goes on; they know from statistics that some wrestlers purposefully throw the bouts so that their competitors can have a better record and thus be promoted into the next hierarchy within the sumo wrestling federation. They are unstoppable, extremely powerful and rich beyond belief. Because of them, the Yakuza has benefited financially.”
“Why would a sumo wrestler purposefully throw the match? I thought they had honor and pride,” asked Travis.
“They do,” responded Bob. “They do have pride and honor, but they also understand the importance of money and ranking. In a tournament they must fight 15 separate opponents during the weeklong festivities. If a wrestler has already won eight bouts, he just might throw the next bout to someone that has only won, say six or seven matches. I mean, they get judged and promoted regardless if they won eight bouts or ten bouts of if they won all 15 matches, so why not help your fellow wrestler. Remember, they only need to win 8 matches to get to the next level.
“And, since their clan is eating this mutated meat, they are able to win more bouts than any of the other clans in Japan, is that correct?” asked Robert.
“Quite Right,” replied Bob.
“Since the Yakuza has the advantage with this performance enhancement meat by-product they obviously bet on this clan to win the tournaments. Am I correct once again?” replied Robert. He didn’t wait for a standing ovation or any response from the houseguest. “I would also have to surmise that hundreds of millions of illegal gambling dollars are won or lost each year during these matches. Since the Yakuza are complicit in this doping scam, they know who to bet on to either win or throw a match.”
Travis walked over to the table and stood beside his chair. He placed his big cold hands on the back of the chair and leaned his body forward. “I get what you are telling us. I mean it does make sense with all the dead animals washed up on the beaches, but why blow up the animals? It doesn’t make sense unless they are just doing it for the fun. Are they doing this just for the sport, Bob?”
Bob lowered his head and looked at the brown package. It took him a few seconds to reply. “Yep.” His speech was slow and deliberate as he realized that the two men at the table were now judging him as he was working for Satsumo. Although he didn’t participate in the killings, he was just as culpable as the fucker who pulled the trigger.
Both Travis and Robert shook their heads in complete disgust. After a brief silence, Robert spoke. “So, they kill for sport and they carve up the other animals for the tainted meat to be exported to Japan all for the sake of these fat fucking sumo wrestlers. How much of this meat do they shove down their throats to win?”
“Believe it or not, they actually just cut it up into thin slices like sushi,” replied Bob. “Hell, one ounce of the meat is more than enough for any 400-pound sumo wrestler to feel the drugs pulsating through his veins. I guess it would be the equivalent of someone who shoots steroids before a competition. He or she just needs 5-10 milligrams to feel the effects. I mean, you don’t want to overdose on the performance enhancement drugs. But that is only part of the puzzle and the other two parts are going to be difficult to hear, especially for you, Travis.”
Travis just scratched the back of his head in disbelief. “You know, Bob, you’ve been coming to my office for the past few days and never mentioned anything about any of this. I mean, you literally wasted three days of your life sitting in my office regurgitating stupid stories of your past and delusional anecdotes of childhood experiences. Why are you telling us all this now?”
Bob sat back in his chair and exhaled. “I know how you must perceive me at this moment. Hell, I dreaded telling you, but I knew that this secret was too big to hold inside. It was killing me, killing me slowly from the inside. From the first time on that ship, I knew something had to be done to stop the madness, and you still haven’t heard the rest of the story. If you think what I’ve told you so far was disgusting, wait until you hear the worst part. And, Dr. Owen, I had to waste your time in your office as they probably had me followed. It was just a ruse to get to this point where we could talk privately outside the office without extra ears hearing our conversation. I couldn’t take the chance that they had your place bugged, Dr. Owen.”
“What do you mean worse?” shouted Robert. “What the fuck could be sicker than what you’ve told us so far?”
“Let me tell you a little story about Yuramiti Pharmaceuticals,” continued Bob, “and the purple apple. How much do you know about Botox?”
The black limo slowly pulled into Miller’s Fish Factory in Angio Rustico, just three miles East of Cavendish and came to a halt about 20 feet from the front entrance of the processing facility. The Fish Factory served two functions for Satusmo. First and foremost, it was a processing facility for many of the local fisherman on the island. It had been a family owned and operated business for over 60 years and at its peak in 2000, it employed 10 full time workers. The fisherman would dock their boats to the pier adjacent to the factory and unload their haul for that day. Once the fish were inside the building, they were cleaned, sliced up and packaged for shipment.
Miller’s Fish Factory also served as a front for his other business which was a far more profitable venture. This is where all the dead contaminated organs from the seals, whales and walruses would eventually call home. From here, they would be cleaned and packaged and shipped immediately to Yuramiti Enterprises to be used in the production of the synthetic Botox knockoff, The Purple Apple. This 5000 square foot facility could easily process over a thousand pounds of organs per month netting millions of dollars with each shipment to Japan. It was the perfect front.
Although it was Sunday evening, the lights in the head office along with the neon lit sign showed signs of life. Someone was in the office, probably the accountant finishing out the paperwork for the Saturdays’ haul of white tail tuna. The driver turned off the ignition, exited the driver side door and walked to the rear of the vehicle. He respectfully opened the door for Meitsu.
Meitsu sat for a moment to collect her thoughts and reminisce about Cavendish and her favorite book, Anne of Green Gables. Although she knew Lucy Maud Montgomery had made up the fictional town of Avonlea, nonetheless, it was based on the rural community of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island where L.M. Montgomery grew up. Meitsu wondered what it was like back in the late 19th century growing up as an orphaned girl having the Gulf of St. Lawrence just outside your window. The clean air and the voracious rolling winds fondling the salty waves as they crashed on the rocks just below her house would make anyone dream about living on the island. It was no wonder over 30 million copies of her book had sold worldwide and why the Japanese flocked in droves to visit, Cavendish, PEI every year.
Although the thought of growing up as Anne was tempting, it was not the reality that Meitsu envied. It must have been incredibly tough to have grown up on PEI in the early 19th century considering all the lack of necessities that we take for granted today. True, the open space and red clay roads winding through the potato farms was breathtaking, especially during the few weeks of summer, but what about the other 48 weeks of winter. Meitsu had many opportunities to pass the cold winter nights huddled up to the fireplace as the blistering Nordic winds howled outside her rental home in Charlottetown. There were not enough logs to burn or enough blankets to hide under to keep this angelic wolverine warm enough through the winter months. Her body ached from the shivering spasms and the veneers in her mouth were starting to show signs of cracking. It was during these harsh winter months that she longed to be back in Tokyo soaking her body in her favorite hot-spring bath house at the local Onsen. She preferred the Onsen bath houses over the local Sento bath houses for the privacy factor and for the natural hot spring water that cleansed her body of all the impurities in the air.
She would soak in the hot springs for hours on end, enjoying the minerals in the water as they surrounded her pale skin and coated her in a thin mist of relaxation. Every worry, every harsh element would wash away in the tub as she floated away in her own private Idaho. She would think about Anne of Green Gables running barefoot in the tall summer grass as the sun tickled the red freckles on her face and the wind pushed through her long reddish-brown hair. Anne may have been an orphan, but Cavendish, PEI adopted her hook, line and sinker. It was funny, but the further away Meitsu got from her roots and traditions, the more she needed to be free like this little girl from Avonlea.
“Do you need help getting out of the car?” interrupted the driver. He extended his hand, but Meitsu politely brushed it away.
“No, I don’t need any help. I just wanted to take a moment to collect my thoughts,” she replied. “What happened to my old driver, Mr. Harris?”
“Don’t know, they just called me in at the last moment to fill in for him,” answered the limo driver.
“Have you ever visited the Anne of Green Gables house in Cavendish?” she asked. It was more of a statement than a question as she really didn’t care how he answered the question. Meitsu was simply making small talk and feigning interest in what the driver had to say.
She could smell the pungent odor from the processing plant although the crisp salty ocean winds tried to disguise the fish guts, but, to no avail. Meitsu started walking towards the office door as the limo driver obediently followed close behind her.
“Yes, Miss Yuramiti, many times,” replied the driver. “As you know, it’s only a five-minute drive from here. I’ve taken my wife and kids many times. Naturally, the kids like the amusement park. The wife and I enjoy walking the grounds and enjoying the panoramic views. Would you like me to drive you there tomorrow?”
She walked straight ahead not bothering to turn around. “No, that’s quite alright,” replied Meitsu. “But, thank you for the kind offer.”
Upon reaching the door, she took a moment to take in the beauty of the harbor before stepping into the office. She loved the ocean, loved the boats docked to the wooden piers like babies tightly nestled in for the night being lulled to sleep as they rolled back and forth in the waves. The lobster fishing vessels with all their crates neatly piled on the decks and the others with their green fishing nets hanging from the hoist cranes were eye candy to Meitsu. The smell of the ocean and the night lights shimmering off the waters’ edge was intoxicating even for an Asian city girl.
She turned around and addressed the driver. “Go back to the car and wait for me. This shouldn’t take but twenty or thirty minutes.”
Meitsu waited for the driver to almost reach the limo before she grasped the knob and twisted the handle to the left. Although the knob was cold to her touch, she knew that whatever waited for her inside the office was far colder and more unsettling especially to those victims inside.
She opened the door and walked over to the man standing in the middle of the room and politely said, “Hello Mayor Jenkins.” Although Satsumo and two Yakuza members were patiently standing in the dimly lit corner of the room, she did not acknowledge their presence. She knew they would be there, they were always there to make sure that things were done correctly and in a timely manner.
Mayor Jenkins extended his clammy open palm and shook Meitsu’ tiny porcelain hand. “Good to see you again, Miss Yuramiti. Sorry it has to be in this situation, but business first, as I always say.”
Meitsu detested Mayor Jenkins. He was just another pawn in Satsumo’s game of chess, another greedy politician that would do anything for money. His black polyester suit was two sizes too small for this 300-pound warthog, almost cutting off the circulation to his elephantine neck. Not only was he fat and ugly, but he usually smelled like a rancid fart with a bad case of halitosis. His yellow stained teeth bragged the fact that he chain smoked non-filtered cigarettes since childhood and the whiteheads and blackheads that covered his face indicated that his diet was rich in oils and fats.
Meitsu often wondered why he couldn’t afford to visit a dermatologist on a regular basis. Some of the zits just below his fat jowls and next to his slightly crooked nose that bent to the left were oozing puss right in front of her face! He was one disgusting pig and the mere fact that he touched her tender skin before showering gave Meitsu the creeps.
“How was your ride?” interrupted Satsumo. He stepped out of the comfort of the shadows and stood in front of her.
“It was fine,” she replied. “What happened to the regular driver?”
“I had him drop me off here along with Mayor Jenkins and another guest waiting for us in the other room,” replied Satsumo as he motioned to the door behind one of the goons. “His youngest daughter was graduating from High School tonight and asked for the night off. We can all fit comfortably in your limo once I finish up here.”
Meitsu bowed and smiled, “Of course, Satsumo. I would be only too happy to be surrounded by such distinguished gentlemen.” She was the quintessential host, trained in every aspect of politeness and charm and that is why Satsumo adored her. Meitsu could open a thousand doors with her bewitchery and placate those unsuspecting victims that were soon to leave this world. To Satsumo, she was far more valuable and effective than the two Yakuza gangsters that lurked in the shadows of this dimly lit office. Looking at them, you just knew you were in danger. They couldn’t hide who they were nor, could they misdirect the crowd. They were there for one thing and one thing only, to deliver pain and punishment to some unsuspecting soul.
Satsumo respected these trained butchers for their years of selfless devotion and their undying adherence for the code. Each would gladly chop off his own finger to show respect to his leader, and each would undoubtedly kill when called upon. Sure, they were not as cunning and shrewd as Meitsu, but what they lacked in charisma they more than made up for in their maniacal behavior.
Satsumo motioned towards the rear door at the back of the office. “Gentleman, it is getting late and I have some unfinished business that awaits my attention. If you would all follow me into the next room I have provided you with some live entertainment.” The broad smile across his face could only mean one thing and that was bad for anyone behind that wooden portal. Meitsu had come to recognize his facial language only too well and knew how to interpret his sardonic sense of humor.
The three walked to the rear of the office as Satsumo graciously opened the door for his two guests. He turned towards the two Yakuza members and told them to wait outside until he was finished. Whatever he had to do, he was in no need of their assistance.
Upon entering the dimly lit windowless room, Meitsu immediately saw a bloodied man hanging by his wrists from a meat hook from one of the rafters in the room. This was no ordinary room, rather it was where the fish were carved up into tiny pieces before they were packaged and shipped off the Island. Besides a few metal tables for the employees to hunch over and work, the room was barren of furniture and direct sunlight.
The victim’s hands were securely bound in standard gray duct tape as his body dangled in the air, inches off the ground. The large man was shirtless and shoeless, and his body showed signs of traumatic physical abuse either from the blunt side of a meat cleaver or from a very dull machete. There were five or more large syringe needles sticking out of the right side of his neck and one needle jammed into his chest cavity just below his heart. The needles were barren of any liquid.
His face had numerous cigarette burn marks and someone had taken the time to forcefully pull out his two front teeth with a pair of Craftsman pliers. The two teeth and the blood-stained pliers along with a dozen or so half smoked cigarettes lay on the floor in a congealed pool of the victim’s own blood. It was evident that this interrogation had been going on for some time as the blood splatter was beginning to thicken and turn a darkish red color. Although the fat man was conscious, he was fading fast and would probably die of blood loss within the next few hours or sooner if Satsumo had anything to do with it.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” asked Mayor Jenkins. He victoriously patted his large belly, slipped his burly hands into his trouser pockets and grinned. “How are you doing, George? Looks like your fat mouth has gotten you into trouble once again.” I told you to keep your big mouth shut, but you had to try to impress everyone down at the station that you had things under control.”
Jenkins walked up to the victim and proceeded to slowly encircle the body gloating from ear to ear. The puss from his zits was bubbling from his open pores in anticipation and he was starting to sport what appeared to be a boner while watching George struggle to say alive. Meitsu and Satsumo stood there watching the mayor become more and more aroused by the gruesome scene.
“Well, Mr. George Davis,” he said as he shoved his face within inches of the hanging man. “If this is what you mean by control, I don’t envy you now. No sir. All you had to do was keep your trap shut and take your cut of the money. But, no, that was too hard for a simpleton like you to understand. We all benefited from Mr. Satsumo’s generosity, everyone on the island you fucking idiot!”
George started to make some gurgling noises in a vain attempt to speak. “Fuck you mayor and that fucking Jap next to you.” Each word was a struggle to escape the hollows of his bloodied mouth and even harder to understand as the missing teeth caused the words to sound more like hissing rather than actual words. Regardless, all three present in the room knew what George was trying to say even if his diction was impaired.
“Too bad your wife isn’t here, George,” laughed Mayor Jenkins. “She would love to have seen this. With you out of the picture, she finally gets the relief that she deserves.” Jenkins slowly turned his back to George. “And, she will never get to know what happened to her abusive pig of a husband.”
Satsumo decided it was time to interrupt the happy homecoming. “What we need to know from you, George, is did you tell anyone?”
George arched his head back and spit a wad of blood from his mouth onto the cold cement floor just below his feet. His body ached from the torment and his mind was pulsating as the synaptic neurons fired electrical and chemical signals to the effector cells warning the human that he was in serious trouble. It felt like an electrical eel had slithered inside his warm brainstem and decided to shock the pons and the medulla at the same time causing his eyes to violently ping pong back and forth inside his sockets. The pain he was feeling was incredible, but it was not caused by any eel, rather George was starting to feel the effects of the drugs that were injected directly into this neck. The highly concentrated dose of The Purple Apple was rapidly seeping into his vital organs and causing irreparable damage to the soft tissues. At this rate he would be dead in 20 minutes.
Satsumo was becoming impatient. “Tell me old man, who did you talk to?” He took his left index finger and jabbed it into George’s eye.
George screamed out in pain as his onlookers stood there waiting for him to either die or pass out. Satsumo stepped back and took a long hard look at his victim. True, he wanted George dead, but he had to respect George’s ability to withstand pain, as he was sure it rated at least an eight on the pain threshold factor. No doubt about it, this fat bastard was one tough cookie.
“Answer me,” grunted Satsumo. “I mean let’s face it Officer Davis, you know that you are about to die, so, why not avoid more pain? You tell me what I want to know, and I will make the pain go away.” He took a few steps back just in case George was going to spit on him. “So, tell me what I want to know! Who else have you been talking to?”
George tried to respond but all he could muster was a loud gurgling noise. His time was rapidly coming to an end as his bodily functions were shutting down on him. The pain he felt in his upper shoulders and arms was violently burning throughout his entire body and it took every ounce of energy to just stay awake. Although George categorically knew that he was going to die, nonetheless, he fought for every moment on earth.
George may not have been a polished man or even a decent husband, but what he lacked in sophistication and eloquence, he more than made up in raw courage. He was the type of man that you would want to guard your back, the type of man that you could count on when the nasty shit hit the fan. George would never back down from a fight and he would rather die protecting his honor than take the easy way out. Consequently, his honor and code of values would inevitably lead to his death in the next twenty minutes or so.
He opened his eyes and starred at the three witnesses standing before his execution and wondered where they had gone wrong in life. He could understand that greed was the force that drove Mayor Jenkins and Satsumo to commit to a life of debauchery and malfeasance, but what about the albino girl? She didn’t look like she possessed a mean bone in her tiny body. Perhaps she too was just a victim of circumstance and being forced to take part in his death. But, whatever the case, she was here to witness the last moments of his life. And, in a twisted sort of way, he needed Meitsu to be there as she was the only good thing left in this room. If he were going to die, he wanted someone with compassion to look straight into his eyes and tell him that everything was going to be alright.
His mind was racing in five different directions at the same time. On one hand, he was trying to rationalize life and the barbarity of human behavior while at the same time he was thinking about his legacy and what others would say about him after his death. Would they say that George was a principled man who strove to push others to be better, or would they say that he was a fat drunkard that got what he deserved in life? Granted he was a terrible husband, but that shouldn’t define him in life, at least that’s what he thought. Could his peers not overlook this tawdry character and judge him on his civic duty as a police officer? He never took bribes and he always took the honorable path in life, even if it meant fewer promotions and less pay. Surely the two would equal themselves out.
George was fading in and out of consciousness and faintly caught the image of a man to his right wielding what looked like a large blade with serrations on the spine of the knife. He felt a slight thud to his leg but couldn’t quite grasp the connection behind the cold dull sensation that he was now feeling and the man madly slashing into his kneecap like a bushwhacker making his way through the jungles of Brazil. It appeared that the Asian man was trying to server his right leg just below the kneecap, but once again, that made no sense at all.
Satsumo, intent on dismembering George limb by limb, delivered four hard swipes of the blade to the right side of the victim until the severed leg fell to the floor. To any mortal man on any planet in the cosmic universe, the sheer pain of a butcher hacking off a limb would have thrown the body into horrific spasms. However, George was now impervious to any new pain, thanks in part to the tetrodotoxins that were flowing through his bloodstream. The silos that housed all the unpleasant sensations in the human body were completely filled with every measure of torment that God had sadistically injected into every human soul. Nothing at this point could hurt George. He looked up and just smiled.
“Damn!” shouted Satsumo. “That fucker is one tough bastard! Tell you what, George, here is what we are going to do,” he said as he walked over to the left side of the amputee. “After we hack off all your limbs, we are going to throw your body into the fish grinder in the back of the building, mix you up with the other fish and sell it to Purina. Think about it, thousands of cats will enjoy the taste of George Davis.” He laughed victoriously but stopped short to see the reaction on George’s face.
George said nothing. His face was dull of any expression and hope as he hung there dangling from the hook. In the last show of courage, George attempted a respond, but was far too weak from the drugs and the loss of blood. George was done, he couldn’t go on. He just smiled, closed his eyelids and died.
“I think our hero has kicked the proverbial bucket,” joked Mayor Jenkins. With his right index finger, he poked George twice in the bare chest. The lifeless body showed no signs of movement. “I guess we will never know who he talked with.”
Satsumo dropped the machete onto the bloodied floor. It bounced off the cement and sounded like a small hammer hitting a giant cathedral bell high above all the churchgoers. “What you need to do, Mayor Jenkins, is to take George’s police issued revolver, go over to Dr. Owens and kill both he and Lieutenant Sterling.”
Mayor Jenkins was confused and shocked. “What do you mean,” he said. “I’ve never killed anyone in my life.”
“It’s very simple,” yelled Satsumo. “You just point the gun and pull the trigger. The bullets do all the work. And don’t forget who caused this mess. These people work for you Mayor Jenkins and you need to clean up the loose ends! Do I make myself clear?”
“But why do we have to kill anyone else,” asked Jenkins. “I mean, George didn’t tell anyone. I’m sure of it! He would have confessed.”
Satsumo turned and walked straight towards Mayor Jenkins stopping within two feet of the greedy politician. “Mark my words, Jenkins, you will get rid of those nitwits. I can’t take any chances.” His words were slow and decisive. “If you use George’s pistol, they will trace it back to the police department and eventually back to Officer Davis. And, since they won’t be able to find his body, they will naturally think George killed them and left the island. Now, do I make myself clear?”
Before Mayor Jenkins could answer, Satsumo turned towards Meitsu and headed out the door. He turned back just as he reached the knob and said, “Make damn sure you and the two goons behind the door clean up this mess before you leave. Don’t forget to dispose of the body,” he shouted as they disappeared through the doorway.
Travis sat on the tan leather sofa in the den, holding onto his hot cup of day-old coffee trying to wrap his head around everything he heard earlier in the day. Although the coffee wasn’t super-hot, nonetheless, it hit the spot, he was too exhausted to make a fresh pot. He needed some time to digest the news, and time to figure out how to deal with the business at hand.
Only one table lamp with a large white shade illuminated the spacious den, otherwise it was completely dark in the room. Travis glanced at the small grandfather clock upon the fireplace mantle and nodded to himself. It gave off just enough light for Travis to see. “Christ, it’s almost 10:30,” he said aloud. He suddenly turned towards the far end of the fireplace and said, “I’m sure you’re there, I could smell you coming into the room.”
He took a long sip and turned his attention towards the empty Queen Anne Wingback chair with the elegant bone top grade leather upholstery and the nail head detail that rose up the arms of the chair. It was the first bit of furniture that Dr. Jill Koty and Travis had bought together after he officially moved into the house in 2000. He loved that chair, not because it was stylish, but rather for the symmetry that it brought to the cold den. It meshed perfectly to what Travis’ always wanted in a den with a huge fireplace, mantle and genuine comfortable places for friends and family to sit.
“So, you now know the truth,” uttered the grotesque creature. It pushed his skeletal body into the cool leather Queen Anne chair and folded his legs across its lap. Its breath was obnoxiously vile tonight and Travis could see each word leaving his parched lips as the temperature in the room dipped below freezing.
The beast did not come to argue tonight, it came for company. It was probably the first time that the two had ever sat across from one another and not said a word. It was also the first time that Travis felt a tinge of empathy for the cold beast as he cowardly hid in the shadows of the night. Travis just watched the demon as he slowly and methodically swayed his head back and forth like Stevie Wonder on stage.
“So, what have we learned, my dear Travis?” whispered the creature.
Travis sat for a moment before responding. He knew it was insane to talk to invisible spirits, but many sane people talked to themselves. Einstein talked to himself all the time and look what he accomplished in life. And better yet, Abraham Lincoln often talked to the dead soldiers late at night in the White House from the battlefields of Bull Run, from the Battle of Antietam and even from the Battle of Gettysburg. In fact, in July of 1863 then Vice President Andrew Johnson recorded in his journal about a conversation that he overheard involving Abraham Lincoln and a Confederate Lieutenant that was killed in Pickett’s Charge.
On the third day of the assault, the 23-year-old Lieutenant, a Mr. Henry Williams from Charleston, South Carolina stepped from the tree line and began the grueling half mile or so march across the open fields. He advanced to the halfway mark before the Union launched a murderous cannonade and wiped out the advancing infantry. Lieutenant Williams was dead before his body even hit the cold ground.
President Lincoln had many a long conversation with Lieutenant Williams late at night on the gravel circular road in front of the Thomas Jefferson statue. He could be seen talking into thin air as he walked in circles gently kicking the white flower peddles onto the flat-rolled lawn. They would talk about family and the war and those that they loved and those that they lost.
Ironically, although the Lieutenant was a Confederate soldier he held no ill feelings towards Lincoln. The only thing that preoccupied his thoughts were his family and life after the war. How would this all pan out? Would the South secede from the Union? He had a lot of questions to ask the president, and Lincoln being the true gentleman that he was, answered truthfully and with sincerity.
“I don’t know,” President Lincoln would answer. “I’m sorry that you died and I’m sorry for every single soldier involved in this war who tragically lost their life holding onto their convictions. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in the abolition of slavery or succession from the Union, before you really every got to live your life.”
“Thank you,” replied the soldier. “In a different time and a different place, I would have been proud to stand behind you and defend the principles of this great nation.”
That would be the end of the conversation for the evening and Mr. Lincoln would slowly walk back to the White House. He would return to the same gravel road night after night haunted by the spirit of Lieutenant Williams.
Travis was in good company with the many spirit talkers that proceeded him in life. If he were deemed crazy than all those politicians, actors, scientists, teachers and all the rest of the people on the planet were just as bonkers as Travis.
“What I have learned,” replied Travis, “is that the world is a fucked-up place.”
The beast just sat in the chair and continued to examine his trophy as Travis struggled to wrap his mind over the past 12 hours of his life. He just learned that not only were they eating these contaminated organs to boost energy levels in Sumo wrestlers, but they were also synthesizing the toxins in the samples to produce a form of Botox.
“How in the hell did they come up with this idea, this idea of infecting animals and using their organs in the first place?” asked Travis. “It doesn’t make any sense. The correlation between a chemical weapon that was used in Vietnam and marine mammals, it doesn’t compute. No one could come up with this idea of, hey let’s feed this poison to mammals and then harvest them, and then synthesize the chemicals inside the tissues to produce one of the most toxic substances in the world. No one in their right mind would even think of doing this,” yelled Travis.
“But you are wrong, dead wrong,” replied the beast. “And, it’s not as far-fetched as an idea as one might think. Just look at all the food you eat. Where do you think it comes from? Look at the chicken industry. The food you eat has so many antibiotics and growth hormones in it that would make any epidemiologist cringe. And who do you think benefits from all these foreign toxins? The pharmaceutical industry, you idiot! Remember the adage, you are what you eat.”
Travis sat there motionless as he listened to his tormentor. There were so many sleepless nights that this bastard had destroyed, so many dreams that he invaded and infected with hatred and despair, and, so many hours of sheer gut-wrenching pain that he so graciously bestowed upon a widower. Travis knew that he hated this cadaverous creature with every muscle in his body, but the creature was making sense.
“I hear what you are saying,” responded Travis. “I guess in a haphazard sort of way, the end product or end result was developed in some laboratory decades ago by a deceptive alchemist before the consumer had a chance to figure it out for himself.”
The demon nodded his approval. “I don’t know if he was being deceptive or if that is the right terminology, perhaps a better label would be insightfulness,” replied the creature. “Just think about it for a second. Develop the disease before you create the cure; that is the perfect recipe for disaster and disaster spells money. Your government, the food industry, the oil and gas sector and yes, even the pharmaceutical industry work in this delusional way.”
“You mean that we are a reactional society that has no morals,” said Travis sarcastically.
“You said it, not me,” replied the beast. This Botox knock-off that Bob Hunter told you about earlier today is just a byproduct invention from some entrepreneur taking charge of his financial situation. Obviously, he had help in synthesizing the process, probably a bunch of chemists and epidemiologists working closely together to produce one of the most toxic substances known to man today.”
“So, how did they come up with the idea of making this Botox knock-off?” asked Travis. “Was it created by accident or did they intentionally set out to produce this toxin and finally, how did they think of using sea mammals in the process?”
“Good questions,” replied the beast. “First, yes they intentionally set out to create the toxin. You are aware how easy it is to get botulism poisoning?” he asked.
“Well, I know that you can get botulism poisoning by eating foods that were improperly canned or from preserved foods,” replied Travis.
“Correct,” responded the beast. “Preserved foods can contain the botulinum toxin and the bacterium clostridium botulinum spores can be found in plants, in the soil, water and in the intestinal tracts of some animals. Remember from Biology 101, canned foods such as fruits, vegetable and fish that are low in acid, are a great source of foodborne botulism.”
“Ok, I get the connection,” replied Travis.
“Yeah, I figured you would understand the ABC’s of this toxin,” he replied sarcastically. “But what you didn’t expect was the connection between the Biofane toxin that you stumbled across over a decade ago and the marine ecology. Since most biotransformation occurs in the liver, the complex enzyme-based process altered the chemical structure of those organs. Next, throw in a mad chemist, and improperly canned organs infected by Biofane, and viola, we now have a new strain of botulism poisoning ready for consumption. All you need now is a way to synthesize the toxic mash with some bacterium clostridium botulinum and you have developed a new and deadlier neurotoxin. Hello Purple Apple, goodbye Botox! Not only is it cheaper to make, but its effects are longer lasting than traditional Botox.”
The beast stopped for a moment for Travis to digest the enormity of the situation and the financial impact of the Purple Apple upon mankind.
“Travis, do you know how many famous drugs were developed and sold all over the world today because of animal research and testing? Look at drugs like Nexium, Celebrex, Viagra and even Oxycontin, just to name a few. Hell, they used rats, Beagle dogs, rabbits, mice and some monkeys in the research and development of these drugs. And go back a hundred years or so. Whale oil was used in oil lamps, soap and even used in margarine. During WW II, whale oil was an essential ingredient in the production of nitroglycerin. And, finally, there are even some rumors still out there that NASA used synthetic whale oil to lubricate the Hubble Telescope. Absurd as it sounded, it was a well-known fact that synthetic whale oil was resistant to freezing and able to keep its density at very high pressures even in subzero gravity. Christ, Travis, scientists have been injecting and dissecting animals for the past few hundred years,” explained the beast.
“But, tell me, if you knew that you could make billions of dollars in the future by injecting citizens with toxins that were approved by the FDA, wouldn’t you?”
“You’re asking me if I would deliberately kill hundreds of thousands of large sea mammals with toxic drugs that would chemically change their inner organs, all to produce this Purple Apple concoction, hell no!” shouted Travis. “Think about the consequences to the environment, to the water, to the other fish and aquatic species that call the ocean their home. That’s immoral and downright evil.”
The creature unfolded his legs and settled into the wingback chair. He was ready for a fight and he loved what Travis could offer him day or night: confutation.
“Travis, taking the moral ground is passé. Take a hard look at your everyday cosmetics that you currently use, shaving cream, hair gels, lip balms, lipsticks, sunscreens, expensive perfumes and even your face moisturizers. The list goes on and on, but you must know that shark liver oil is used in lip balms and sunscreens and lanolin that is made from sheep wool is used in moisturizers and shaving cream. You kill millions of animals every day for profit! And, let me stop you for a moment and educate you on morality,” interrupted the beast. “Do you eat cereal?”
“Of course,” answered Bob.
“And did you feed your son, Brice cereal or did you ever buy a plastic bottle of water,” asked the demon?
Travis didn’t answer the question, he just nodded his head. He knew where this was leading, but let the demon continue with his line of thought.
“Cereal has a lot of chemicals, and not all of them are natural,” smiled the beast. “The cereal is inside a plastic bag and as we all know from our history lessons; tiny miniscule particles of plastics are showing up in everything that we eat and drink these days. Here is where the oil and gas industry truly benefit from this symbiotic relationship. As we all know, you can’t have plastic without oil. You, my fine sir, were essentially feeding poison to your kid. Obviously, you didn’t consciously put the poison in his mouth, but you are somewhat culpable.”
“With that logic, we are all culpable and it doesn’t end there, does it?” asked Travis.
“Quite right,” replied the beast. “Once ingested, twenty or thirty years down the road, we start showing the signs of disease, perhaps cancer. Now who comes into play? The pharmaceutical industry. And, who gets rich off all three sectors?” The beast motioned with his hands for Travis to pipe in with the obvious answer.
“Politicians and lobbyists,” replied Travis. “So, from your train of thought, I am immoral because I fed my dead son chemicals that would probably have ended up killing him in the long run. And since I voted for these politicians, I am just as liable and evil as Satsumo and Yuramiti Enterprises. Is that what you are insinuating?” asked Travis.
The creature smiled at Travis. His vampire fangs glistened in the darkness of the night as droplets of saliva were trickling down his sharp incisors. He started to sway back and forth like a blind musician listening to music as the droplets of saliva plummeted onto his dirty wool shroud that covered his disgusting body.
“So, how does this end?” asked Travis. “I can’t defeat a man like Satsumo and certainly can’t stop or bring down a pharmaceutical empire halfway across the planet. And if Bob Hunter is correct, there are millions upon millions of consumers over there that use this Botox concoction on a regular basis. I mean, how does one stop a well-oiled machine with hundreds of franchises selling this Purple Apple all over Asia?”
“You can’t stop it,” replied the beast. “But, they will find you and stop you!”
“Well, if I can’t stop it, then why are you telling me all this?” asked Travis.
“Hell, I didn’t tell you anything that you didn’t already know,” he sarcastically replied. “Bob Hunter let you in on a little secret that will probably end in your death and the death of your friends and neighbors.”
“Again, why are you telling me all this at 11:00 on a Sunday evening?” asked Travis. “Why? Are you trying to give me a heads-up warning or are you trying to be my best friend? And really come to think of it, why would they even concern themselves with someone like myself? I’m just a psychiatrist.”
The beast lifted his right hand to his mouth and wiped the saliva away from his chapped lips. “Yes, you are a psychiatrist, but you are a psychiatrist that knows too much about Satsumo’s business, and, this guy is holding a grudge against you.”
“Because I beat the shit out of his nephew a decade or so ago?” yelled Travis. He shook his head in disbelief. Travis knew the answer, he just wanted to hear how absurd it sounded coming out of the creature’s mouth.
“Yep,” laughed the beast. “He has a score to settle, and, since you now know the truth, he can’t afford this information leaking out to the public. Way, way too much money for the pharmaceutical company and the Yakuza gang to ignore. You are a persistent thorn in their side, Travis. Time to snip that thorn,” he said.
Travis was interrupted by a loud crash from the kitchen. Someone or something had broken one of the window panes on the back door.
The beast just smiled from ear to ear. “I believe you have a guest at the back door.”
Bob Hunter grasped both sides of the toilet bowl, exhausted to within inches of passing out in pain as his stomach muscles vibrated his inner organs. He couldn’t force himself to throw up anymore and wanted the dry heaves to stop and give his body some respite. A long foul-smelling chain of slimy mucus dangled from his lower lip and slowly made its way down into the bottom of the toilet bowl. Bob tried to spit it out or shake it off his lower lip, but it just clung there like a fat parasite swaying in the wind, taunting the water below. He finally had to use the back of his right hand to remove the rest of the spit from his face. Bob grabbed the white hotel towel, wiped his hands clean and threw it onto the bathroom floor as he headed back into the bedroom. He would leave it for the maid to clean up.
He managed to make it to the bed before collapsing into the fetal position. Bob was sick, deadly sick and only he and his doctor knew how much longer he had on this earth. Pancreatic cancer was a death sentence and had taken the lives of such great men like Steve Jobs, Michael Landon and his favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, so why would Bob think he had even a remote chance of beating stage 4 pancreatic cancer? He knew at best chance he might have another six months to a year to live, but he just couldn’t take that chance.
Everything that could have been done and every experimental medication that he had tried, failed. The disease had metastasized and spread to his other organs including his spleen and liver and surgery and chemotherapy were no longer viable options. He had come to grips with his predicament in life but needed a few more days to expose Satsumo and make things right in the world.
Although Bob was only 46 years old, he felt like he was living in the body of a 65-year-old man. Sure, he had done some terrible things in his life including cheating on his 35-year-old wife, Private Lauren Hunter who was busy fighting in Iraq. She was serving her third tour in the Middle East and Bob was hoping to dear God that he would get to see her one more time before he died. He would ask for her forgiveness and then apologize for leaving her.
He knew that she would understand his loneliness, the three years of uncertainty without a friend to talk to and without the companionship of a loving spouse. The last time he had seen her in person was over four months ago on leave over the Christmas holiday. She looked worried, even frightened as she knew that his cancer was rapidly infesting other parts in his body. But, she still clung onto hope that some new drug, or some new procedure would save his life.
Private Hunter cherished the moments that she got to spend with Bob. He was her rock, the one true point of happiness in her life and undoubtedly the only reason why she wanted to return home for good. She would look into his face and see the pain in his brown eyes and the hurt in his forced smile. She knew the battle that he fought emotionally and physically every day since he was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Though it was a death sentence, she too was the victim in this story and would ultimately die of a broken heart because of his disease.
Lauren could never tell Bob about all the gruesome atrocities in Iraq. He would never let her go back to that hell hole if he understood how dangerous and volatile the situation had become. The newspapers and television reporters had vacated the premises and now chose to concentrate on newer and juicier stories about President Trump and the wall he wanted to build on the Mexican border rather than the ongoing war in the Middle East. The media, well aware that factions of ISIS and Al-Qaida were still operating throughout Iraq and Syria, simply chose to look for newer stories that would sell papers.
And, besides, how could she look into his baby brown eyes and tell him about the senseless bombings inside local markets filled with women and children looking to buy fresh fruit and other produce for their evening supper? How could she even attempt to describe the carnage of seeing little boys and girls with partially blown off heads and missing limbs screaming for their mothers as they clutched handfuls of dates in their tender hands. Their bloodied bodies howling in pain as they wiggled back and forth in the caustic dirt, begging for relief from all the pain that chewed up and down their spinal cords. She just couldn’t open up to Bob and bring him into her disgusting world at this point in his life. Some pain was just too gruesome to share, even with the love of her life.
She told herself that this was her last tour, the last time that she would put her life in danger protecting a country that could care less if she lived or died. Private Hunter didn’t want to alarm Bob about the attacks on her compound nor did she want him to know that she and the other female soldiers were sitting ducks in Iraq.
Both Private Hunter and Bob had decided six years ago when they first married to put off having kids and to concentrate on their jobs. Through the military, they had decent health coverage and through Yuramiti Enterprises, they would be able to comfortably retire within the next few years with a chunk of change in the bank. Sure, they both knew that Bob had to look the other way when dealing with Satsumo and sometimes he just had to sell his soul to the devil to get things done. But, it paid the bills and at that point in their lives, that was what mattered most to Mr. and Mrs. Hunter.
Bob, for all intents and purposes, was a logistic and procurement genius in the pharmaceutical arena. During his earlier years, he had worked for some of the largest pharmaceutical giants in the world such as Pfizer, Merck and Johnson & Johnson. When these companies needed to find new chemical sources or needed to weed through all the bureaucratic red tape, they called on Bob. He had that je ne sais quoi charisma that opened doors and opened communication channels around the world. With his comic wit and intelligent repartee, Bob easily navigated through the business channels being ever so careful to avoid stepping on or demeaning fellow employees.
He made miracles happen in the logistic channels, speeding up shipments from all over the world, saving hundreds of millions of dollars for these pharmaceutical giants. Just one day’s delay, could cost millions in profits along with possible spoilage or cross contaminations of these valuable lifesaving drugs. Bob not only knew, but constantly practiced his negotiation skills on those who could get things done, those individuals that could open doors and expedite his shipments. To Bob, it was the little people in the company that really made things happen, not the CEO’s or CFO’s of Wall Street.
Yuramiti Enterprises was an up and coming giant in the pharmaceutical industry and desperately needed someone with Bob’s skill and connections. They were having issues in facilitating delicate materials from North America and reached out to Bob in late 2008 with promises of a huge salary and all the benefits that he could ever want. Naturally Bob jumped at the offer of working for the prestigious pharmaceutical giant from the Orient and immediately began his new life with Yuramiti Enterprises. Not long after that, he was introduced to Satsumo.
Since Bob was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years ago, he often wondered if this were divine intervention or some sort of sadistic payback for all the bad things he had witnessed at Yuramiti Enterprises. Why did it happen to him? He was not the mastermind behind the Purple Apple and he certainly wasn’t responsible for the tainted organs that were shipped over to the sumo wrestlers in Japan. Bob wasn’t totally innocent, that he knew, but he wasn’t the terrible beast that killed people and animals. That honor fell upon Satsumo.
Bob missed his wife and often fell asleep dreaming of her infectious smile and positive attitude. She was the one constant, the one drug that helped him endure the endless chemotherapy treatments over the past 18 months. He did worry about her being a female soldier halfway across the world, but he was confident that her fellow comrades had her back and would make sure that she came home safe and sound. She would try to assure him that the war was basically over, and the bad guys had either disbanded or been killed. She was simply doing basic patrol and training the new Iraq army to take over. Little did he know her tragic fate for had he known, he would have stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
The room was beginning to spin faster and faster as he lay on the hotel bed. That nauseated feeling coming back as he fought the need to throw up all over the clean sheets. Bob could taste the pungent flavor of semi-dry vomit as it edged its way up his esophagus, but pushed it back down into his stomach. He just needed a few moments of normality in his life, a few seconds to relax before he needed to call back Nuraki Yuramiti.
By ratting out Satsumo, Bob realized that he assuredly put Travis and his friend’s life in danger, but the rewards far outnumbered the risks. He wasn’t stupid or naïve in his thinking, Yuramiti Enterprises was the 900-pound gorilla in the room and impossible to take down, of that he was certain. The pharmaceutical empire was an octopus with sharp tentacles dipped into the pockets of hundreds of political figures and heads of large conglomerations around the world. They could not be stopped or put out of business, but they could be forced to stop the senseless dumping of toxic substances into the oceans.
And besides, Yuramiti Enterprises had the technology and processing in place to synthesize the Purple Apple from scratch. They didn’t need new chemically altered organs from Canada. The only reason for the continuous farming of these organs and the senseless killing of the marine mammals was for Satsumo and his wrestling clan in Japan. Satsumo was just plain greedy and trying to burn the wick from both ends.
The hotel phone ringing in his ears brought Bob back to his temporary reality. It was Sunday evening, 10:15 pm and Bob was curled up in a fetal position on his hotel bed. From a distance, he looked more like a rolled up giant caterpillar preparing his silk cocoon, awaiting his transformation into a butterfly, rather than a sick man.
Bob reached over to the nightstand and picked up the phone. “Hello Nuraki,” he mumbled. “I’ve been waiting to hear back from you although I was under the impression that I was going to call you back on my cell phone.”
“Bob, good to hear your voice my old friend,” replied Yuramiti. “I figured that I would reach out to you this evening. Sounds like you aren’t doing so well.” It was more of a statement rather than a question as Yuramiti was aware of Bob’s health.
Bob slowly sat up in bed and looked at his reflection in the mirror. He looked like shit and felt even worse. His throat was rough and dry, but he felt obliged to respond in an upbeat tone. “Yeah,” he replied. “I’ve definitely felt better. Obviously, you got my last message?”
“Yep. Not too surprised. I guess I knew, or had some suspicions, but never wanted to open Pandora’s Box. Kind of my fault, when you think about it, Bob” replied Yuramiti. “You go your whole life wanting to leave a legacy for your family, believing in your friends and then shit happens. You hear some rumors, gossip inside the boardrooms and strange looks from your friends, and deep down, I mean deep down, I knew that it was true.”
Bob didn’t say a word. He just listened attentively to the tame voice on the other line. Granted, he wanted to interrupt Yuramiti, to scream in his ear and tell him to fucking kill Satsumo and stop the madness, but he knew better.
“I really don’t know what to do Bob. I know what I must do, but it’s a tough pill to swallow. Regardless, this will end tomorrow, one way or the other.”
“I understand,” replied Bob.
“Is it true about Meitsu and Satsumo?” asked Nuraki.
Bob hesitated before responding. “Yes, it’s true.”
I’m just outside of Fredericton, New Brunswick now and heading to PEI. See you tomorrow, Bob.” Yuramiti hung up the phone before Bob could reply.
Travis jumped up from the leather couch, picked up the wooden baseball bat next to the fireplace and walked out of the room. He carefully maneuvered his large frame from the hallway and into the kitchen, doing his best not to alert the intruder to his whereabouts. It was darker than usual in the house, but he knew every nook and cranny and felt safe in the shadows of the old Victorian homestead.
As he entered the kitchen, he immediately saw the shattered pieces of broken glass strewed about the white tile floor, being very careful not to step on the shards in his bare feet. The moonlight reflected off the glass and illuminated the room in a kaleidoscope of images and patterns upon the walls and cabinetry. The cool wind of an early spring hollowed through the broken panes as the hairs on Travis’ arms stood to attention. Although Travis couldn’t see anyone in the room, he knew he wasn’t alone.
Travis slowly worked his way over to the kitchen door and started to close it with the end of the baseball bat when he suddenly felt a throbbing sensation at the nape of his skull. His vision blurred and his head felt like it was splitting open. Travis passed out and fell to the kitchen floor.
He lay on the floor in a small pool of his own warm blood for a moment or two before he started to regain consciousness. When he was able to open his eyes, he saw two black shoes sitting in a chair in front of his face. Although his head was pounding, he managed to push himself up into a sitting position on the kitchen floor.
“What the hell happened?” he asked. “Who are you?”
The intruder reached over to the small lamp on the kitchen table and flicked it on.
“What the fuck are you doing in my house, Jenkins?” yelled Travis. “You coming for a donation or asking for my support in the upcoming mayoral election?” He brushed the hair from his green eyes and felt the back of his head. It was bleeding but could have been a whole lot worse. Travis realized he was in danger, but he knew he couldn’t show any fear, at least not to Mayor Jenkins. If he could keep him talking and distracted, then he might have a chance to overpower the zit infested pig.
“Funny fucking question coming from a dead man,” replied Mayor Jenkins as he sat there in the chair pointing the gun in Travis’ direction. Jenkins was enjoying himself, playing the tough guy with the snub nosed 38 revolver not three feet from the victim’s temple. “I got to be honest with you Travis, when Satsumo told me to come over here and put a bullet into your thick skull, I initially had some reservations. I mean, I’ve known you all my life, hell, grew up with you on the island and it never dawned on me to just kill you. But now looking at it from a different perspective, I should have done this a lot sooner in life.” He started to laugh and pat his belly with his left hand.
“You will excuse me if I refrain from laughing,” Travis sarcastically replied. “All along, I knew that I didn’t like you, Jenkins. You and the other phony politicians and city council members never did anything for the betterment of the islanders. It was all about the bribes, all about the foreign investors to you and to your cronies. Tell me, did you ever intend on doing something right in life?”
Jenkins smiled and shook his head. “Nah. You see Travis, it doesn’t matter what is considered right or wrong in life. The only thing that matters, is the person standing at the end of the day, and it sure ain’t you!”
“You won’t get away with this, Jenkins,” replied Travis. “There are others that know.” He looked straight into Mayor Jenkins face as he shifted his body and leaned back against the fridge for support.
“Don’t get your hopes up too much,” laughed Jenkins. “You see, we already know about the squeaky wheel. What, you think Satsumo didn’t hear that Bob was blabbering about the Purple Apple to George Davis?”
Travis tried to look unfazed by this revelation. Now he started to understand what George was trying to imply the other day. He knew about all this shit that had been happening over the past few years. For all Travis knew, George himself may have been involved in it, been on Satsumo’s payroll all along.
“Fuck,” Travis whispered under his breath.
“Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, Travis. Don’t want to hurt that little noggin on top of your shoulders,” he said as he shook the gun in his face. “Nah, you got it all wrong, Travis. Officer Davis may have known something about Satsumo’s enterprises, but he didn’t play the game. And, that is why George Davis is now cat food!” He took a moment to pause. “Do you like the gun, Travis? Do you recognize it?”
Mayor Jenkins couldn’t control his emotions any longer and laughed until his face turned purple. Although Travis was unaware of George’s unfortunate demise, nonetheless, he picked up on the subtle references. George was dead and that was his issued revolver that Jenkins had bludgeoned him with over the head. Things were starting to make a little more sense.
“So, let me guess, you are going to shoot me with Officer Davis’ revolver and blame it on him. Is that correct?” asked Travis.
“Wow, for a shrink, you catch on quick, Dr. Owens,” laughed Jenkins. “You should have been there to see George beg for his life and squeal like a pig as we butchered him alive. You should have seen it. It was hilarious. After he died we lowered his fat ass into the fish grinder.”
Travis smiled. He knew Jenkins was lying. George may have been a fat bastard and a bad husband, but he would die a million deaths rather than beg for mercy or squeal like a pig. Besides, he had known George his whole life and never once saw him back down from a fight. Officer Davis would spit in the face of death and laugh at his tormentors rather than give them any satisfaction.
“You may have killed George, and that may be his gun,” responded Travis, “But he would never have begged for mercy, even if it meant his death!”
Mayor Jenkins shrugged his shoulders and pulled back the trigger of the revolver. “Yeah, you’re right Travis,” replied Jenkins. “He may not have begged for mercy or cried out, but he sure felt the agony as we hacked his body into pieces and threw him into the fish grinder. And what do you think was going through his feeble little mind as his body dangled from a fishhook?”
Travis remained calm as Jenkins lowered the gun to within inches of his left eye. “I don’t know, why don’t you tell me?” he said calmly.
Jenkins un-cocked the gun and leaned further back into the kitchen chair. Travis secretly fantasized that the fat bastard would lean back too far, break the chair and crack his head open upon the floor.
“Well,” responded Jenkins triumphantly, “as George dangled about on the fishhook inside Miller’s Fish Factory, he had to realize his fate. I mean, come on, even that fat idiot had to fathom the bleakness of his situation.
“Miller’s Fish Factory,” said Travis. “Hmm, I should have guessed. Old man Miller was a good man, was well respected by his employees and most of the islanders. Too bad his son ran the business into the toilet and sold out to a Japanese investor. And let me guess,” he said as a light bulb went off in his head, “headquarter central for Satsumo enterprises?”
“Yep,” smiled Jenkins. “Everyone was in on it but you stupid fucking idiots! We all made money, that is everyone except the three of you dingbats. But, don’t despair, we’re going to throw Lieutenant Sterling’s ass into the fish grinder after you’re dead. You know, I’m kind of sorry that both you didn’t end up in the grinder together.”
Jenkins hesitated for a moment before he continued. “Now, I know what you are thinking, Travis, and I applaud your efforts. You figure that I will sooner or later slip up and make a mistake, giving you the opportunity to knock me down and take my gun and then you and your butt buddy, Robert will be off to Millers.” He shook his head. “No, that is not going to happen. This really is the end of the road for you and your family line. I don’t want to give you any false hope, Travis. No one knows that I am here and unfortunately the cavalry isn’t waiting outside the front door ready to bust in and save your ass.”
Travis didn’t respond. He sat there motionless on the kitchen floor patiently waiting for Jenkins to make the slightest mistake.
“But, Travis,” continued Jenkins, “before I put a bullet through your brain, I thought I would rock your world with one more bit of unsettling news.”
“What more could you tell me that I already don’t know?” asked Travis. “Hell, the cat is out of the bag. What, are you going to tell me that you guys are selling the tainted organs to Burger King or grinding it up and putting it into our Tim Horton’s coffee?
Jenkins chuckled under his breath. It was funny and would be utterly hysterical to think of actually doing something like what Travis had just suggested. He could just imagine the little kids munching on a Whopper and challenging their friends to a fist fight. That would be hilarious!
“Nah,” replied the jovial mayor. “We had your wife and kid killed four years ago!”
All the blood immediately drained from his face upon hearing the news. His once deadpan expression changed to shock.
“I see that I’ve now got your undivided attention, Travis,” he said gleefully. “Now, I know what I would want to know next if I were in your place. Obviously, your little brain is racing a mile a minute and perhaps a little part of you may think I’m just bluffing and just teasing you. Far, far from the truth, my dear old friend. We had them killed and staged to look like an accident.”
Travis just sat there reeling from the news. When Jenkins turned his head to yawn, Travis quickly took the initiative, reached out and grabbed a large shard of glass, careful not to draw any attention to his movements. Fortunately, his actions were protected by the darkness of the room as he discreetly slid the sharp object beneath his right leg.
Stalling for time and the right moment to attack, Travis asked the inevitable question. “What are you trying to say? Someone intentionally ran into my wife? Is that what you are trying to tell me?” he asked in disbelief.
“Oh, boy, you do catch on fast,” laughed Jenkins. “Yeah, and the irony of the whole situation is that the drunk driver was Satsumo’s nephew. You know, the one you got into a fight with over a decade ago. The one you beat to a pulp for illegally dumping toxic waste into the water. You know, in one way it really was an accident. You were the intended victim, not your wife. The nephew was just supposed to force you off the road, but he was too damn drunk and ended up crashing his SUV in the process.”
Travis was silent. He was transfixed by every word that escaped Jenkins fat lips.
Jenkins continued his rant. “Didn’t it ever occur to you, or didn’t you ever question anything about the drunk driver? I mean, had my family just been killed by vehicular manslaughter from a drunk driver, hell I would want to know more. Travis, the bastard didn’t even serve his full sentence. If I’m not correct, the Asian prick only served a few months behind bars. Hello, earth calling!”
He stopped for a moment to catch his breath. “Listen, Travis, your family was run off the road. They didn’t have a fucking chance. I mean, the bastard drove straight for them.” Jenkins pointed his gun into thin air like he was giving directions. “It must have been almost comical in a way. The two screaming at the top of their lungs as the SUV drove straight towards them. Oh no, please don’t hit us!” he laughed as he shrugged his shoulders and contorted his face.
“But, why?” asked Travis.
“I would say that it wasn’t personal, but it was,” laughed Jenkins. “Evidently Satsumo had some beef to settle with you. I don’t know if you know this about him, but he holds grudges, some that go back decades. It was just time to settle this score.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Travis thought he spotted a shadowy object moving just outside the kitchen door. Maybe it was imagination, maybe it was the beast wanting to say goodbye or then again, perhaps it was one of Jenkins’ accomplices. Whatever the case, he knew that he had to do something now. Travis slowly grabbed the piece of glass under his right leg and started to cough in an attempt to clear his throat.
A faint jingling of two keys slapping together just outside the kitchen door was just the diversion that Travis needed. Jenkins quickly stood up and pointed the revolver towards the direction of the sound. When he did that, Travis jabbed the four-inch shard of glass into Jenkin’s left ankle with all his might lodging it deep into his tibia.
Surprised and in horrific pain, Jenkins dropped the revolver onto the floor just as someone came bursting through the unlocked door. It was Robert. Travis quickly grabbed the 38, stood up and jabbed it into Jenkins’ check.
“About time you finally showed up you lazy bastard,” shouted Travis. “I was starting to think that I was a dead man.” Travis shoved Jenkins back into the kitchen chair with both of his hands. “Sit down, you fucking piece of shit,” he yelled. “Time for payback!”
Travis looked at his best friend and nodded his head. “How did you know I was in trouble?”
Robert placed his revolver back into his holster and walked over to the fridge to get a beer, briefly turning his head in the direction of Mayor Jenkins. “I see you have a nice chunk of glass sticking out of your ankle there, Mayor Jenkins. Hope it don’t hurt too bad,” he said sarcastically.
Grabbing a cold Budweiser, he deftly gave the top a quick twist, threw the cap at Jenkins and proceeded to take a long swig from the glass bottle. “Man, I needed that,” he shouted. “Wow. That is good,” he said as he placed the bottle on top of the open fridge.
Robert turned his attention to Travis and replied, “Yeah, Bob called me about 45 minutes ago and said that your life may be in danger because of all the shit he told us earlier today. Told me to meet him at Millers’ tomorrow around 11:00 AM and bring any friends that happened to show up this evening. I guess he was referring to Mayor Jenkins?” He hesitated for a moment to notice the gash on Travis’ hand. “Hey, you know you’re bleeding. May need some stiches.”
“Probably do,” replied Travis. “Hey, do you mind shutting the fridge.” Travis didn’t wait for a response. He walked over to the kitchen entrance and flipped on the light switch and turned his attention to Jenkins.
“Jenkins, this is going to hurt you more than you can imagine,” grinned Travis. “It’s not like you don’t have it coming! The good news is that we’re not going to kill you, but the bad news is that I’m going to hurt you really bad for what you’ve done to me and my family!”
Travis placed the revolver on the kitchen countertop and proceeded to open the top drawer next to the utensils. He reached in and grabbed a roll of duct tape from the back of the drawer and threw it over to Robert. “I give you the honors. Make sure you tie him up nice and tight for the night. Don’t want him escaping before tomorrow.”
“You know you can’t do this!” screamed Jenkins in a panic. “I am the mayor! You are the law! You can’t do this!”
“Actually, we can technically hold you for a while, or until the jail opens up tomorrow morning,” replied Robert. “And, besides, you are now a criminal, a fugitive from the law. Hell, you broke into this house with a gun and tried to kill Travis. And yes, we could haul your ass down tonight, but I want you to squirm all night long. You can think about all the shit you have done recently and let that sink in real slow. Think about what your co-workers and city officials will say about you in the newspapers and on the local news. You may wish that you had died tonight.”
“A stolen gun from a dead police officer,” interjected Travis. He took a moment to look directly into the frightened eyes of the mayor. “It can and will be traced back to George Davis.”
“They killed George?” yelled Robert.
“That is what this fat bastard said. No reason not to believe him now, especially after all the events of the past seven days,” replied Travis.
“When I get out of here I will see to it that you both are put in jail for the rest of your life,” screamed Jenkins. “This is kidnapping! Do you hear me! I need medical attention. I’ve got a fucking piece of glass in my leg!”
Jenkins had never been so terrified in his life. He couldn’t believe that the circumstances of events had changed so quickly. Ten minutes ago, he was the one holding the gun, and five minutes ago he was the one sitting in the catbird seat grinning from ear to ear. What in the hell had happened and how was he going to get himself out of this mess? Satsumo would surely kill him for screwing up so badly. Lastly, how was he going to be able to sit in a chair, tied up all night long with a shard of glass sticking out of his tibia while bleeding all over the floor?
“Tie him up good and tight, and wrap some tape abound his fat mouth,” yelled Travis. “I don’t want to hear him blubbering all night like some injured walrus.”
So, you want to leave him all night tied up to this kitchen chair?” asked Robert.
“Sure, why not. Hell, not more than ten minutes ago this bastard broke into my house and tried to kill me,” replied Travis. “What would you have me do? Make a bed for him upstairs and tuck him in? Hell, why don’t I read him a bedtime story first?”
“Ok, ok, I get the sarcasm,” said Robert. “I’ll tie him up tight for the evening and gag him, so we can get some sleep.”
“Come on, let’s get some rest. Big, big day tomorrow! I’m going to bed,” said Travis as he slowly walked out of the room and up the stairs towards his bedroom.
The three men drove along Highway 6 heading east towards Angio Rustico on their way to meet up with Satsumo. Although it was just a short distance from Cabot, the Monday morning drive seemed to take forever. The half inch of snow from the previous night and the complete lack of sleep didn’t make it any easier on the weary travelers.
Travis reached over with his left hand and pressed the black window lever just a bit to allow some air into the SUV. The fresh brisk morning air felt good on his face as the car roared down the road towards its destination. He took the opportunity to check out the mayor in the back seat as he sat there slouched over, withering from the pain in his right ankle. Obviously, Jenkins had discretely tried to remove the glass by himself, but it proved a far more difficult task than he had anticipated. Travis figured that it would have to been seen and extracted by a professional who knew what they were doing rather than by a bumbling fool like Jenkins.
Maybe, if Jenkins could have pulled out the glass, he could have attacked Travis and slit his throat and thrown the car into a nearby snow bank giving him enough time to escape the vehicle. He didn’t know what he would do after that or where he would run to or for that matter, he didn’t know if he could hobble away in his current condition. Jenkins realized that his plan sounded asinine, but he needed some hope and any plan was better than no plan. Obviously, the unlikelihood of him overpowering the two captors in the front seat using just his bare hands and escaping to safety was a fantasy. If only he possessed the moxie and the know-how to delicately extract the shard from his leg, he would be able to fix this whole debacle. Of this he was somewhat certain.
“You know you don’t have to do this, dude,” said Robert. “Hell, I can book him for attempted murder and keep you completely out of everything. Once we go down this path, there is no way coming back. Do you hear me?”
Even with his slight headache and the throbbing pain in his right hand, he was able to navigate the black ice and snow drifts from Sunday evening. Obviously, no one had bothered to salt or plow the roads this morning, making the travel a bit more treacherous. Travis quickly looked at Mayor Jenkins in the rearview mirror to see if he was paying attention to the conversation. His petrified expression said it all.
“No, Robert,” he replied with a slow and somber voice. “I’ve got to do this, not just for me and the others on the Island, but for Jill and Brice. I’m sure they would want me to right the wrong.”
“Yeah, but we could drop this piece of shit off at the police station and have Miller’s raided later this afternoon,” he said. “Right now, you are technically kidnapping the mayor.”
Travis turned his head and said, “You know, he’s not the Mayor once he broke the law. He’s just another criminal in my book and besides, knowing what we already know, don’t you think Satsumo has others on his payroll at the station? Hell, probably half of the city council members and even The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts are on his payroll. We can’t take that chance!”
No one spoke for the next ten minutes until they reached Millers Fish Factory. As they slowly rolled into the driveway, Jenkins looked out of the window and noticed only two other cars parked near the entrance of the building. Besides those vehicles, the parking lot was eerily vacant. He recognized the black limo but had no clue as to the owner of the other black SUV. He only knew that all hell was going to break loose and bodies were going to start piling up. It would take a miracle for him to keep his job, let alone get out alive.
The car came to a grinding halt a few feet from the black limo as Travis yanked on the emergency brake. It was more out of habit than necessity as the vehicle was equipped with four rotors rather than rear drum brakes. Nevertheless, it was routine, something Travis learned from his father when he first started driving and something that he never forgot to do. He turned off the car and looked at Robert.
“We go in there,” he said, “and there is a good chance that we’ll never come out alive. Who knows what Satsumo has up his sleeve or how many goons are standing just behind that door over there ready to sucker punch us or put a few bullets in our heads. For that matter, Robert, we really don’t know if this isn’t all just a set up.”
“So, what are you trying to say, Travis?” asked Robert. “You don’t think we can trust Bob? You think he is setting us up?”
Travis shook his head. “No, I trust that crazy bastard even though I’ve only known him for less than a week. “I guess what I am trying to say is that I am going in there one way or the other with the fat bastard in the rear seat as my human shield. I’ve got to do this for me.”
Robert didn’t hesitate before he responding. “Well, I’m going in there with you.” He turned his head to the mayor in the back seat. “Now Mayor, I realize that we have absolutely no hope of shutting down this Botox franchise industry, but we are going to put a stop to the new killings on the island. So, kiss your pension goodbye and get ready for jail because you and all the other corrupt fuckers are done.”
“You’ll never stop Yuramiti Enterprises or the Purple Apple craze in Asia,” replied Jenkins under his breath. “What they are doing is not illegal over there. Yeah, it may be cruel and inhumane treatment of the wildlife around the island, but it’s not something that other pharmaceutical companies haven’t been doing for decades.”
Robert emitted a short laugh. “Hah! What, are we going to get? A life lecture on the principals of morality?” he asked. “Yeah, it may not be illegal, but what you did was! Taking bribes and looking the other way as a duly elected official is considered somewhat illegal,” yelled Robert.
“And don’t forget about attempted murder,” said Travis sarcastically. “And, if the shit about George Davis is true, hell that throws another charge on top of that. I think it’s called being an accomplice to murder?”
Travis just couldn’t control his anger anymore. He leaned back and slammed his injured fist square into Jenkins’ nose as hard as he could. The cartilage in his nose shattered into fragments from the blunt force as pools of blood instantly gushed from both his swollen nostrils.
Mayor Jenkins immediately placed both hands over his nose in a vain attempt to stop the blood flow from his open wounds with no luck. The more pressure he applied, the more it bled. “What the fuck did you do that for?” he screamed out in pain.”
Travis didn’t feel like he needed to explain, at least not to a dirty politician like Jenkins. Both he and Robert exited the vehicle. “You got the gun?” asked Robert.
Travis patted his jacket pocket with his bandaged hand. “Yeah, just hoping that I never have to use it. Never shot a revolver in all my life,” he said as he opened the rear driver side door for Mayor Jenkins. “Get out of the car you piece of shit,” he shouted. Not waiting for Jenkins to respond, Travis grabbed the back of his down jacket and tugged him forcefully from the car almost throwing him to the ground. “Let’s go,” he said pointing to the office door. “And pick it up you limping bastard, don’t want you falling behind and missing all the fun.”
The three men made their way through the frozen ground and up the stairs to the office. A small sign was tapped to the front of the wooden door that read, “Closed.” It didn’t provide any other tidbits of information or give a reason for the shop being closed on a Monday. Perhaps they were busy renovating the dive or maybe business was so slow that they had to close the shop and lay off all the employees. It really didn’t matter to Travis, he only knew he needed to go inside. He reached for the door, turned to Mayor Jenkins and said, “You first, Jenkins. We don’t want any surprises waiting for us behind door number one!”
He turned the knob and pushed Jenkins through the threshold of the door, half expecting a hail of gunfire slicing through the mayors’ upper torso, but that only happened in the movies. Travis and Robert withdrew their guns and entered right behind the mayor using him as a shield against any incoming bullets. Fortunately, no one was standing behind the door waiting to surprise them, however, someone had been waiting for them in the room. Unfortunately, karma has a way of dispensing its own justice!
Two dead Asian assassins lay crumpled upon the frigid concrete floor in the direct middle of the room with fresh gunshots to their heads. They were facing each other on the floor as if they were talking when someone took them by surprise. Their guns were still holstered, and it appeared that they were enjoying a morning cigarette before they were murdered. Obviously, they knew the killer or killers and weren’t expecting someone to plant a bullet into the backs of their skulls!
No telling how long these Yakuza gang members had been waiting for Travis and Robert to appear, perhaps minutes or hours before they even arrived. Travis didn’t recognize either of the men, but Jenkins instantly knew who they were. He removed his hands from his bloody nose and said, “They were Satsumo’s bodyguards.”
Travis was shocked. It was the first time that he had seen someone murdered. “This shit is starting to get real,” he mumbled.
“You ok?” asked Robert.
“Yeah,” he replied. “I guess, in the back of my mind I kind of figured this would get really ugly, but you really can’t prepare yourself for something like this.”
“Yeah, I know, but let’s get this done,” said Robert as he pointed to the office door in the back of the room. He was starting to become impatient. “If Bob did his homework, this will end today, one way or the other.”
“And if he didn’t?” asked Travis.
“Then we are all dead men,” said Robert.
The three walked to the back of the room carefully avoiding the fresh pools of blood oozing from the open head wounds. There was no dis-colorization of the blood and no signs of coagulation, consequently Robert guessed that the two had been shot at close range just a few moments before their arrival. The poor suckers didn’t even see it coming!
Travis reached the rear office door, turned the knob, pushed it open and came face to face with Nuraki Yuramiti. He was holding a black 45-millimeter Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol with a 4-inch silencer that was pointed directly at his stomach. It smelled of fresh gun powder and Travis take his eyes off the sleek object which now mesmerized him like a King Cobra ready to strike its victim. One slight flick of the trigger and Travis was a dead man!
Although the cylindrical object scared the living shit out of Travis, the hypnotic allure of its design and function was intoxicating, even for someone facing the wrong end of the stick. Travis realized that if the Asians wanted to kill them, they would surely all be dead by now.
Yuramiti was not alone, he had two other thugs along with an albino lady to watch his back. He lowered his gun and placed it on the table just behind Meitsu. Travis didn’t know if this were some sort of trick or if in fact this was a genuine gesture of peace.
“Gentlemen, please come in. I’ve been expecting you,” said Yuramiti. “My name is Nuraki Yuramiti and this is my only daughter, Meitsu.” He respectively bowed to the three visitors and motioned for them to enter the room. “Please close the door behind you,” he said.
Robert and Travis put their guns away and walked into the room with Jenkins. “So, you’re not going to kill us?” asked Robert.
“Kind of a stupid question since you already put your guns away,” laughed Nuraki. “If I were a man without honor I would lie to you and then have you killed. But, since I live my life with a code of values, I would never stoop so low. Actually, you and your friends have helped me clean my house and for that, I am truly grateful. I have my beloved daughter back and now understand the full depths of betrayal and deception that has plagued my family for the past five years. Having said that, I still have some unfinished business,” he said pointing to the cold metal cutting table at the end of the room. The table was covered with a white sheet and was obviously hiding something underneath the fabric. What that was, no one knew except Nuraki and Meitsu.
Yuramiti hesitated for a second or two before he continued. “Now, whether you live or die really depends on the decisions you make today. I have to end this with extreme prejudice and I need your cooperation. If you help me, I will help you,” he said patting Meitsu on the shoulders.
“Do you mind if we take a seat?” asked Travis as he pointed towards the empty office chairs up against the wall facing the office door.
“Please, help yourself,” he replied as he motioned for them to sit. “Do you need a towel or something for your associate?” he asked looking at Jenkins. I see he is bleeding badly from his nose.”
“That won’t be necessary,” piped in Robert as he shoved Jenkins into the empty seat next to him. “Sit down and shut your pie hole.” he said as he smacked Jenkins on the back of the head.
“Now, if you would let me continue. I will personally take care of Satsumo. The experiments on the sea creatures and all the whaling expeditions off the coast of PEI will stop immediately. On that, I give you my word. May I ask, what did Bob tell you about the Purple Apple?”
Travis cleared his throat before answering. “Everything.”
“I assumed so,” replied Yuramiti. He lowered his head in shame and in a very solemn voice he said, “I know it doesn’t sound right or pretty. Sometimes one does things without considering the consequences. How this all started over a decade ago, should never have happened, but it did. Today the product that we have created and trademarked sells all over Asia and employs thousands of workers. We produce a product that millions want and need, and we no longer need to kill or infect any new animals.”
“You did all that just to produce a Botox knock-off? All for money?” asked Travis.
“It’s not just a knock-off. It’s far stronger and superior with a longer lasting effect. And, yes, we did it for money. But when you think of the many different applications and how it has helped people with migraines, and chronic pain, with depression and with people that have cerebral palsy, and the list goes on and on. This is a miracle drug!”
“Yeah, but it’s still just a knock off,” interjected Robert.
“Again, you both are correct,” replied Yuramiti. “But isn’t acetaminophen and Tylenol or Advil just a knock off of Bayer Aspirin?”
“Sure, but Aspirin is produced naturally, from Willow bark, not from one of the deadliest toxins on the planet,” said Travis.
Yuramiti just stood there looking at the three seated men. “I’m not here to debate semantics on the effects of injecting poisonous substances into our bodies and I’m not here to ask for your permission to produce and sell the Purple Apple,” replied Yuramiti. “As I previously stated, we no longer need to export animal organs from PEI to Japan to produce our drug. It’s all done in the laboratories now, behind closed glass and carefully regulated by our national drug agency. It’s cheaper than Botox and far stronger.”
“So, what do you need from us?” asked Travis as he sat there glaring at Meitsu.
“I need you to look the other way. I need you to forget everything that has happened,” replied Yuramiti. “Yes, I know what we do or did is seriously frowned upon. And yes, I understand that killing is against the law. But, what is worse? Kill those that are killing or just a slap them on the wrist? The Purple Apple will survive with or without you.”
“Don’t really understand where you are going with this,” said Travis.
Yuramiti took the opportunity to sit down in the empty chair next to Travis. “Let me spell it out for you, my friend. You have a cockroach lying on a table over there not more than twenty feet away,” he said pointing to the end of the room. “At one time I considered him to be my closest friend and would have given him almost anything he needed or wanted. In return, I find out that he stabbed me in the back with the banks in Tokyo and had the nerve to sic the Yakuza on me and my family. He stole the ownership of my company in Japan and defiled my daughter,” he said angrily. “Yes, that man is a cockroach!”
“You’ve got Satsumo tied up under the sheet over there?” asked Travis. He was surprised, but knew that Satsumo must have been somewhere inside the building. The limo and the two dead henchmen in the other room gave it away.
“Yes, do you want to tell him something?” smiled Yuramiti. “Here, come with me,” he said as he stood up. “The rest of you can sit and wait. I believe that this is for Travis and his eyes only. Kind of therapy for the psychologist if you get my meaning.”
They both walked to the end of the room while the others waited in silence. Travis’ pulse became irregular and beat faster and faster as each foot slapped the cold concrete floor awakening the beast within. Travis wanted to run over to the table and snatch the sheet and throw it to the ground and look into the eyes of the man who stole his wife and child. To every beginning, there awaits its end as every high comes with a low. For years, this man had buried himself inside his subconscious, had infected Travis with fear and depression and had mocked his entire existence. He was a killer, a thief, a child molester and everything that Travis despised in the world and he was a few feet away from justice.
Travis wanted to grab him by the throat and squeeze his windpipe shut while scratching his eyeballs with a rusty nail. He wanted to see him swell up with fear as Travis slit open his chest with a scalpel and plunge his fist into the incision angrily clutching his organs and sending his body into convulsions. He wanted to burn the skin off his feet with a blowtorch while throwing salt onto the wounds, but more than anything else, Travis wanted him to feel the pain that he had suffered for the past five years.
When they got to the stainless-steel gurney, Yuramiti took the honor of grabbing the white sheet with his hand and flinging it to the ground, exposing the naked body of Satsumo. He was bound and gagged, and his body showed serious signs of physical abuse from the hands of his captors. Yuramiti had carefully tied his hands behind his back and bound his legs in rolls of heavy-duty fish line that dug into his skin every time he squirmed on the cold steel table. His mouth was wrapped in duct tape to conceal the screams of pain that bellowed from his throat as his captors pulverized his body with planks of wood they had broken off the nearby pallets.
The mere thought of all the torture that this body had endured nauseated Travis to the very core. However, the coup de grace that caused him to almost vomit his innards was the sight of the giant meat hook sticking out of the groin area. Someone had jammed the rusty meat hook straight into Satsumo’s ball sack and severed his penis in half. Even for Travis, a man bound on revenge, this was overkill.
“So, this is the man that has ruined so many lives,” said Travis. “The man that cheated the sumo profession out of millions, the bastard that jokingly killed off thousands of innocent animals in and out of the water, and this is the man who killed my dreams.” Travis just shook his head in disbelief. He didn’t look anything like the terrible beast in his mind, rather a frightened naked little man who knew he was going to die. The desire to rip this animal apart with his bare hands dissolved as Travis gazed into his eyes. “Goodbye asshole,” he mumbled under his breath. “See you in hell!”
At that exact moment, Travis knew the beast would never bother him again. He would be free of the torment that plagued him every night since the death of his family. Seeing Satsumo dying on the table brought closure to his inner demon.
“The question I put before you, Travis, is this. Can you look the other way, put what you have suffered in the past, and let me and my colleagues rid the world of this cockroach?”
Travis nodded his head twice and said, “Yes, but tell me, what are you going to do with him?”
“Don’t worry about that. After you leave the building we will torture him a few more hours before we cut him up and throw him piece by piece into the fish grinder,” he said smiling at Satsumo. “I hear Purina cat food can’t get enough of that Asian fish flavor.”
Travis smiled and chuckled to himself. Yeah, he thought to himself, cats really do love the flavor of Asian men.
Travis smiled at Yuramiti, turned to Robert and said, “Come on guys, let’s get out of here before someone changes his mind. We still need to drop this piece of shit off at the police station.”