Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Pallbearer: Sittin' Up With The Dead Part 2

Roll Call

"I see you found their dump right off the bat. Good place for a freak like you."

I kept walking, crunching old flutes and paintbrushes beneath my steel feet.

"Took my job without hesitation. Bet you were falling all over yourself to call in to Home Office weren't you? Look where it got you."

"Mr. Arlee, you're dead. Do me a favor and shut the fuck up."

The paper thin wafer of blood, bone, and synthetic fibers sidled past me, two flattened eyes staring and glaring.

"Of course I'm dead! You didn't get the cannons back online fast enough, you prick."

I ignored him. High school football coaches had nothing on Arlee. Barking commands, waving his arms, jabbing at both you and the erase board with his marker. Napolean... but taller, and with a worse attitude. The bald pudgy manager never once talked about his family with us, but every now and then you'd hear him talking in his sleep. Shouting. Screaming for Maddie to come back, to fix him dinner and rewrap the gash on his leg. From the ring we never saw on his finger, we assumed she never did.

"What are you thinking about up there, you pussy? Thinking about how you blew this? Everybody's dead because of you."


"Oh yeah? Who's alive? Tell me that. Here, I'll help you. Roll call, you pansies! Digger!"

"Here!" Staggering through the rubbish, on stumps, head tucked under his arm. Geoffrey McMann. Liked to sing in the shower. Old Charlie Daniels tunes.


"Here!" A red mist, a spreading blanket, laying down across the yard. Rolling up, a dripping statue that sauntered forward. Brian Juspecyk. Football player before Crysalis. #1 Draft Pick.


"Here!" Closer. The nearest pile of junk, stepping out with a smile. Hollowed out, grinning like the moon, stumbling. John Warner. Dug graves in High School. Threw a damn fine Halloween party.

"Infantry, sound off!"

A fusillade of barked relpies echoed through shadows. Limbs gone, heads gone, bodies ripped in two. Creeping, crawling, hobbling.

"See? We're all here."


"What's wrong Neil? Who am I missing? Your sweetie? Cassie? She chose not to come. Too busy fucking your replacement on the outside."

Step. Step. Step. I clamped my eyes shut but saw them still. Step. Step. Step.

"She's gone Arlee. Already to Takt by now."

"To that slum? Never. Your sweet little Cassie went back home to roost. Ratted you out. What you gonna do now? She's gone and you're a corpse."

The flitting poster of blood and bone cracked a smile that was a boiled meat. St. George looked into his eyes, gaping wide.

"Goodnight Mr. Arlee."

St. George pronounced his last rites with a roar. The incendiary shell caught the flattened ghoul and lit aflame. Reduced to ashes, Mr. Arlee rode the wind.

Tomb next. The spray of crimson issued down its mound of trash like falling fog.

Snap. Crack. Reload. An armor-piercing shell took the ghost in the chest and erupted through. Tomb popped like a three-year's ballon, the red mist dissolving into gnats that flitted away.

Digger and Undertaker lumbered at me, chainguns raised and beginning to spin. St. George faced Undertaker and spoke through a tongue of flame, taking his head and driving him to the ground. I kicked on the left flamer and torched Digger. He dropped his head, arms flailing. A wicker man for a new age.

The popcorn were entrenched ahead of me, machine guns readied. The three rocket teams took aim and fired.

Step. Step. Step.

They missed and St. George began his sermon.

"and lo"

Jim, Mike, Tabitha, Paul.

"though I walk"

Tom, Lenny, Theda, Sarah.

"through the valley"

Mark, Christian, Hunter, Gary.

"I will fear no evil."

Karl, Fred.

"for I am"

Jon, Heather.

"the biggest, baddest, meanest"

Lucy, Rob.

"motherfucker in the valley."


I opened my eyes and pulled Cassie's ring off my pinky.

Piles of discarded refuse left in craters. Easel's shattered splinters. Brilliant eruptions of old paint cans.

No limbs.

I kissed Cassie's ring and slipped it back on.

No harm in sittin' up with the dead 'cause the dead are just lonely. Just got to keep 'em where they belong.



Tap. Tap. Tap.

I looked down.

At my Brute's ankle, a little girl stood.

"Misser, why you makin' all this noise?"

"Just had to make some of my old friends go to bed."

She wiped her nose and lifted her head. Through the mat of brown dangling off her head, I saw her eyes.


They were black. A forest night with cracking branches. An ambulance night. A burglar night. A murder night.

"Misser.... peeze... can you help me? Misser Griblin got caught. He got caught and so did eerbody else. Peeze? Can you help?"

Griblin? Gremlin.

The Blind Children.

Yeah, we flush 'em. Can't afford 'em. Not long-term. Find a trash bin and dump 'em. All going the same place anyway in the end.

Screams. Dentist office, shots, broken arms, and spankings.

Hear they're growing down there. Need somebody to go thin out the population. Good price. You up for it?

"Yes. Yes I can. Here, let me give you a ride."

I scooped up the wee thing, set her on my shoulder. No more than five and a sack of bones.

"Thank you Misser."

"You're welcome. What's your name?"

"S-s-samantha. But Misser Griblin calls me S-s-samson."

"Alright then Samson. Let's go."

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