Read This Rotten World (Book 1) Online

Authors: The Vocabulariast

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This Rotten World (Book 1) (4 page)

BOOK: This Rotten World (Book 1)
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Chapter 8: Nightsticks

 

Mort
staggered under the Interstate Bridge. He was spun around, only to see the bane
of every homeless man's existence. The cop in front of him reached for his belt
and pulled out his nightstick, a quick flick of his wrist sent Mort to the
ground clutching at his knee. Mort sucked air in through his teeth.

"Get
up." The officer pulled him to his feet, and then threw him back down on the
ground. Mort wished the cop would make up his mind. The cop kicked over his
cart, and Mort decided his best option would be to pull a "deer in the
headlights" maneuver and lie completely still. From off to his right, he
heard the pained groans of one of his friends. It sounded like his cop buddy
had a partner.

"You
can't sleep under the bridge. Get your lazy ass up, and get the fuck out of
here," yelled the partner's voice.

Mort
decided he would take one for the team. "Run!" he bellowed. His voice
echoed underneath the overpass, and his cry of "run" was repeated
throughout the clearing, picked up by the dozen or so homeless men who camped
nightly under the overpass. While the cops watched his friends run off into the
night, Mort attempted to crawl away. He didn't think his knee was broken, but
it certainly wasn't going to be operating at a normal level for a while. Just
as he reached the edge of the clearing, the cop that had thrown him to the
ground whacked him across the back with his nightstick. He rolled over on his
back and put his arm up to ward off another blow.

The cop, a
pudgy, pink-faced man whose uniform strained at the buttons, raised his arm
above his head to deliver another blow. In the dull glare of the streetlights,
Mort saw a figure charge the officer from behind and knock him to the ground.

Mort
scrambled to his feet and rubbed his knee. "Thanks," he muttered to
his savior as he began to run away.

The man was
familiar to him, but he didn't reply. He believed everyone called the guy Dirty
Kurt. His fingers were always stained as if he had been scratching in his ass,
and he had the most unpleasant odor of any homeless person he had ever had the
pleasure of meeting, and he had met a lot of them.

As Mort
turned his back and hobbled away, he heard the cop begin screaming wildly. He
turned around briefly to see Dirty Kurt biting on the hand of the cop that had been
giving him a beating. The cop's partner appeared and began clubbing the
homeless man on the back. Dirty Kurt fell to the side, and the two cops began
pummeling him. Mort should have left then, but something didn't quite seem
right. Dirty Kurt made no move to defend himself. Every time he was hit, he
just got back up again, gnashing his teeth and reaching for the cops.

Mort
couldn't just walk away; Dirty Kurt had saved him. The least he could do was
take a little of the punishment so it wasn't two on one. He hurried back as
quick as he could. When he got close enough, he yelled, "Hey, asshole. Why
don't you try that with me?"

The
pink-faced cop's partner turned to look at him. He had a weasel-ish look about
him, and he sneered right at Mort as he fixed his grip on his nightstick.
"You want some too? You should have crawled back into the sewer while you
had the chance."

Weasel
walked towards him, but was stopped when Dirty Kurt grabbed him by the ankle.
Dirty Kurt sank what was left of his teeth into the thigh of the cop. The cop screamed
and shoved at Dirty Kurt's face with his free hand, while his pink-faced
partner whacked Kurt a few times more. The cop that was being attacked fell to
the ground, and Kurt immediately began crawling up the cop's prone body, scratching
and pummeling him in the process.

Pink-face
tried to pull him off, but Dirty Kurt wouldn't budge. He began gnashing his
yellow teeth, and biting at the cop on the ground. Without hesitation, Mort
moved to help the cop get Dirty Kurt off of the man. There was clearly
something wrong with Kurt, more than just your classic anti-authoritarian
violence.

"Easy
there, Kurt. Let him go, man."

With the
help of the other officer, they pulled Kurt off the cop. Weasel got up off the
ground, and checked on his bites and scrapes while his partner held Dirty Kurt
on the ground. Weasel gave Dirty Kurt a kick in the ribs. It didn't seem to
bother him.

"C'mon,
man. You ain't got to do that," Mort pleaded.

Weasel
waved a finger in his face and said, "You shut your goddamn mouth. What
the fuck are you guys on down here anyway?"

Pink-face
ignored the questioning and said, "Help me out here, Dave. Let's get this
guy cuffed. He's giving me the fucking creeps."

Weasel and
Pink-face managed to cuff Dirty Kurt's hands behind him, but he was still too
much to handle. While they began the process of cuffing his legs, Mort tried to
wander off discretely. Weasel hadn't forgot about him. "You stand right
there, old timer. We got some questions for you."

He did what
he was told. It's not like he could have escaped on foot. His knee was swelling
up quickly, and he knew he would be limping for a week or two.

Weasel and
Pink-face had Dirty Kurt bound like a calf, his hands behind his back and
cuffed to his feet. They picked him up like a suitcase and attempted to drag
him to the police car. When he started gnashing his teeth and foaming at the
mouth, they dropped him on his stomach, and Pink-face went to the back of the
car, popped the trunk, and produced a nylon mesh hood, which they quickly
cinched over Dirty Kurt's head.

They picked
him up once more and placed him in the back of the car. Weasel turned to Mort
and said, "You're next."

Mort looked
at the man as if he were crazy. "You must be out of your mind if you think
I'm going to sit back there with that man!"

Pink-face
placed his hand on the butt of his nightstick. Mort looked at him, and he knew
there was no getting out of it.

Weasel put
a restraining hand on Pink-face and said to Mort, "Do yourself a favor and
just get in the back before we have to put you back there. I appreciate your
help, so why don't you just let me be nice to you? Huh? Save us all some
trouble here, pal."

Mort walked
over to the back of the police car as Weasel opened the door. Dirty Kurt was
still struggling in the back seat, and he showed no sign of tiring. Mort
plopped down in the back as Weasel slammed the door behind him.

As the two
police officers got in the car, he studied the bites on their necks, shallow
but bloody. All he wanted to do was get booked and get a good night's sleep.
Mort looked at Dirty Kurt and silently hoped that they didn't have to share a
cell together.

Chapter 9: Dustin and Bill

 

Dustin hung
up the phone. The police were on the way. He thought about calling the owner of
the bar, an abusive Chinese man who treated his employees like shit, but then
figured against it. It didn't really matter to Dustin; tonight was definitely
his last night slingin' suds behind the bar of The Sleazy Goat.

He looked
at the puddle of blood surrounding the old man on the floor. What a shame. He
had seen the man in here plenty of times, drinking until close, but he had
never quite remembered the man's name because he had always paid with cash. Oh
well, it wasn't his problem anymore. He just wanted the police to show up and
take his statement so he could get the hell out of there.

After
stepping over the dead young man on the floor, Dustin hopped over the counter,
his beat up, old Chuck Taylor's squeaking on the lacquered wood of the bar. He
grabbed a pint glass and poured himself a beer, which was at least half foam.
As he turned around, Dustin noticed two things... Teach was missing and the old
man was sitting at the bar looking at him. The old man's gray windbreaker was
soaked in blood and his eyes were vapid. A thin streamer of bloody drool
dripped from his mouth and slowly made contact with the bar, where it began to
coil like a snake.

Dustin's stomach
flipped at the site. "Hey, are you alright?" The old man just looked
straight ahead, his head bobbing side to side like a cobra being charmed by a
snake charmer. Dustin followed the old man's eyes to see what he was staring
at. Apparently, he was being mesmerized by his own image in the mirror behind
the bar. Dustin raised his glass to his lips, and drained the entire beer,
though it stung his throat to do so.

When he
belched, everything changed. The old man's gaze shifted from the mirror behind
the bar to Dustin's face. A primal scream erupted from his bloody maw. Dustin,
startled by the unexpected yell dropped the pint glass. The old man began
climbing over the bar, leaving one of his dusty old tennis shoes behind in the
process.

"Easy,
man. I already called the cops. They're on their way."

The old man
didn't appear to hear him, or if he did, he didn't care. Dustin backed into the
bar of the office and slammed the door shut. He turned the lock on the door,
and flinched as the door shook on its hinges. He yelled over the thudding,
"The cops are on the way!"

It made no
difference. The old man kept pounding on the door. Then suddenly it came to
him... Bill, that was his name.

Chapter 10: Code Red and Endcaps

 

Rudy hiked
across the street. In the still of the night, he could hear sirens. The
buildings around him made it hard to tell exactly where the sirens were coming
from, and as a police car swerved around the corner, he nearly had to jump out
of the way to avoid being run over. If it had been anyone else, he would have
shot them the bird and tried to find some sort of rock to throw.

But it was
a cop, so he just swore under his breath, and continued walking down the
street. The rain-slick pavement reflected the orange streetlights. The chill of
the night was finally present, and he was glad that the mugginess of the day
was finally gone.

As he
approached the convenience store, a mom and pop store run by a family of Asians
who apparently never needed to sleep, he saw a man stumbling down the road in
the distance. The man was dressed in a puffy green jacket with an orange lining
that could be seen every time he took a shambling step. He appeared to be
having some trouble walking. Rudy wondered if he were simply drunk or retarded.
Either way, he hoped the man was gone when he got out of the convenience store
because he looked like the type of person who would ask for spare change. Rudy
had no change to spare, out of principle rather than shortage.

The store's
bell rang as he entered the store, but there was no one behind the counter. He
didn't mind. He hated the way they stared at him as he walked through the
convenience store's cramped aisles. Maybe it was his red hair or the fact that
he weighed close to three bills, but every time he had used this particular
convenience store, which was quite often, the owner had always stared at him,
watching his every movement, his eyes squinted and locked on Rudy the entire
time. The feel of the store owner's eyes boring into his back always left him a
little unnerved. He probably had some sort of shotgun underneath the counter,
just waiting for the right person to fuck with the wrong man.

The store
wasn't big enough for the amount of inventory they had on hand, so Rudy had to
turn sideways to make it through some of the aisles due to all the warm beer
and sodas still packed without rhyme or reason in boxes and crates. The cold soft
drinks were located in the back of the store; along the way, he grabbed a
couple of candy bars and a bag of chips. After all, what good was Code Red if
you had nothing to wash down your gullet?

When he
pulled the door of the cooler open, he heard the door chime again. He paid it
no attention, as his eyes were affixed to the 20 oz. plastic bottles full of
glowing red liquid at the end of the store. He grabbed one and shoved it under
his armpit. With his free hand, he grabbed another bottle and let the door of the
cooler shut on its own. The intensity of the door's slam over the hum of the
coolers suddenly made him realize how quiet the store was.

He didn't
know why he did it, but he looked up at the circular security mirror to see the
man from outside approaching his position. The man bumped some stacked
six-packs of Genesee Cream Ale, knocking the green cans to the ground, but he
didn't seem to care. He continued his approach. Rudy looked over his shoulder
to see if the owner was visible yet, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Rudy turned
to the approaching man and said, "Hey, how's it going?" His adrenal
glands had dumped their contents into his circulatory system, and he felt the
impending doom of a fight or flight situation coming on, as he was not
especially skilled at fighting nor flighting. The man simply looked at him, his
head down and his arms outstretched towards him. His fingers clawed at the air.

Rudy backed
up against the wall as the man slipped on a can of Genesee that he had knocked
over. He tumbled forward, cracking his jaw on one of the aisle's metal endcaps.
There was little room to maneuver or run, so Rudy began to slide sideways down
a narrow aisle that would take him to the counter and near the front door. He
was at the counter when the man in the back of the store finally got back to
his feet. His jaw was crooked, and blood dripped down the front of his shirt,
but he kept approaching, clumsy and plodding, but with a determination that
made him seem more like a robot than a man. Rudy had images of The Terminator
dancing through his head.

The man
came closer, and Rudy looked at him, fear bubbling up in the back of his
throat. He fumbled around in his pocket, and pulled out a twenty dollar bill.
He crumpled it up and threw it on the counter. "Keep the change," he
yelled as he bolted for the front door, the bell again chiming.

If Rudy had
bothered to walk behind the counter, he would have seen the store clerk lying
on the ground in his own blood, bite wounds covering his throat and arms. But Rudy
didn't see him; he ran out of the store, clutching his Code Red, chocolate
bars, and a bag of chips in the chill night air.

"What
the fuck is wrong with people?" he wondered aloud.

When he had
reached safety, which in this case was a block up the road, he stopped, tried
to catch his breath and turned around. There was the man, still spilling blood
from his nasty jaw wound, coming out of the door of the convenience store...
nothing in his hands. His head looked one way then the next. Upon spying Rudy,
the man began a slow plod in his direction.

"Fuck."
Rudy clutched his goods to his body and began running, something he hadn't done
in a very long time. Five long strides into it, he already knew he wouldn't be
able to keep up the pace.

BOOK: This Rotten World (Book 1)
7.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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