Sacred Objects – Indie Horror Short Story
A bizarre relationship between two disturbed men reaches its breaking point when one confronts the other about quitting their malicious hobby.
Pages – 008
Published – Jan 10, 2012
Publisher – Smashwords.com
ISBN – 9781465968739
Rating – CA-13
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Rain fell hard, like ball bearings dropping from the sky. A dozen people were underneath the bridge, seeking shelter. Above their heads there was a steady rush of cars on the highway, the occasional thunder of a truck.
Mouse looked down at his hands.
“It’s the rain fella,” said the man standing next to him.
The man was old, with white hair and bushy white eyebrows.
Mouse looked at the old man.
“Hands itchin’ fella? It’s the rain.”
Mouse nodded, lowered his hands to his sides.
A short distance from the bridge a dozen policemen were wrapped in clear plastic. Some wore uniforms underneath. Others wore suits. They’d finished putting up yellow tape that blazoned the words CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS. Now they walked around hunched over, adding small flags to the ground in places where they noticed something the people under the bridge were too far away to see.
The body was nude. Her throat was purple. Her eyes looked up into the rain. The old man said, “You’re a big one, fella.”
Graham sat at the table in the kitchen, his sleeves rolled to his elbows, his jacket draped over the chair to his left. His suit was fifty years old, at least. He’d bought it secondhand, had it cleaned and tailored. He had a whole closet full of suits like this.
On the table in front of him were the pieces of 1911 Colt .45. They were spread out on a towel along with an array of brushes, cleaning rods, oils. The gun was almost as old as Graham’s suit. According to Graham it had killed a lot of people, even before it came into his possession. He’d stolen if from a neighbor when he was a boy. The neighbor had fought in the Vietnam War, and had been a part of something called the May Lay Massacre. Graham used to cut the man’s lawn, clean the gutters on the man’s house.
“Sometimes when I went over to Mr. Calley’s house to do chores for him, he’d tell me about the day he and his soldiers killed five hundred Vietnamese people. Five hundred, imagine that! Mr. Calley said he blew some of their brains out with this pistol, this one here. You know what that makes this? What they call a ‘sacred object.’ That’s what happens to ordinary things when they’re a part of something big, something big like a massacre. They’re not ordinary anymore. Saying this is an ordinary old pistol is like
calling the Shroud of Turin an ordinary old dust rag.”
Mouse had heard that story more times than he could count.
When Mouse walked in, Graham was cleaning the slide of the 1911 with a bluehandled brush. He stopped and looked up. “Did you talk to the cops?” “No,” Mouse said.
Graham continued cleaning. “Did you talk to anyone else?”
“An old man.”
“You’ve got to stop doing that. The cops are going to notice a seven-foot giant hanging around crime scenes.”
“I can’t do it anymore,” Mouse said.
“I know you can’t. That’s what I’ve been telling you. You can’t hang around. Just
dump them and go.”
“No… not that, not just that.” Mouse had meant something else. I can’t do IT anymore. He’d been drawing up the guts all day to say those words to Graham. He’d practiced in the car before he’d come in the house. The words had sounded strong then. But here, inside, they’d lost their strength. They were weak. So weak that Graham had not understood what they meant.
Mouse tried again. “I can’t do it anymore.”
The brush went still in Graham’s hands. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying… I can’t do it anymore. Can’t do this anymore.”
Graham’s mouth widened to a grin. He wasn’t looking at Mouse, he was still focused on cleaning the metal in his hand. “Say the word.”
“The word. You never say the word. You think I don’t notice how you avoid saying it, but I do. You don’t like giving it a name, even when it’s something as small as… crushing a bug that got into the house.”
“I’ve said it before.”
“Never to me.”
Mouse opened his mouth, started to say a word, stopped. “What difference does it make?”
“Exactly. What difference does it make? After all the times you’ve done it, what difference does it make, saying the word?” Mouse looked at the floor.
“What difference does it make after all the times you’ve held their final breath in your hands, after all the times that they’ve begged for their lives.” He paused. “After all the times they’ve begged you to stop violating them?”
Mouse’s face started to feel hot. He knew if he looked in a mirror, he would see his face turning red.
Graham continued. “What, do you think I don’t hear you at night? You think I don’t hear the floorboards creak as you sneak downstairs like a kid looking for dirty magazines?”
Mouse looked up. The 1911 was reassembled. Graham’s hands hadn’t stopped working, even as he talked, and they could put the weapon together blindfolded—a skill Graham practiced. He placed the gun aside, next to a ammunition clip with a gleaming bullet at its top.
“How many has it been? Twenty? Twenty-five? After that many, what difference does it make to say the word?” The question hung in the air.
“Say it,” Graham urged.
“I can’t take it anymore,” Mouse said. His voice sounded panicked. But stronger, at least a little stronger.
“Can’t take what anymore?”
And right then, Mouse almost said it. Almost.
“I can’t take…. The things we do to the girls. I don’t want to do those things anymore. I don’t want to be like you.”
Graham stood up fast. His chair fell backward and hit the floor with a bang. Mouse jumped at the sound.
“Don’t you dare act like I’m the sick one in this! Don’t you dare act like I make you do anything! You wanted this. When we were in the hospital, you told me you didn’t want to be scared anymore. Do you remember what that was like? Being seven feet tall and frightened of your own shadow? Why they called you Mouse? You said you didn’t
want to be scared and you asked me to show you how.” Graham stopped. His nostrils flared.
Mouse thought. He remembered the white floors, the bed that was too small, his face feeling dirty because they only shaved them once a week. But how he’d felt, what he’d said, how he’d gotten there, those things were lost.
Graham bent and picked up the chair, righted it. He straightened his shirt collar. He said, “Come downstairs, I want to show you something.”
“Who is she?” Mouse asked
“A bad driver. She nearly hit me when I was coming home. She was talking on her cell phone and driving faster than the speed limit. That’s very dangerous in a rainstorm.”
The girl—or was it a woman? Mouse wasn’t good at guessing ages—looked at him with wide, wet eyes. The irises were brown. Graham had removed her clothes. She sat in the chair in only a bra and underwear. Silver tape strapped her chubby legs to the chair’s thin wooden ones. More tape held her arms behind her back. Her skin looked waxy under the florescent lights mounted on the basement’s ceiling.
“So you took her?”
“She thinks her conversation, that arriving somewhere a few minutes earlier, she thinks these things are more important than the safety of other drivers sharing the road.
Well, I don’t value her safety much either.” The girl-or-woman shook her head.
Graham said, “I’ve been thinking about what you were saying upstairs. I think you’re right. What we’ve been doing… we should stop. It has gone on too long. But I don’t think I can, Mouse. Not alone at least. I will need your help. I need you to help me. Remember when I helped you? When they let us out of the hospital?”
Mouse did. Graham had given him a place to live, given him food, given him clothes.
Graham said, “But this one, if we let her go, she’ll go to the police. She’ll tell them what I did and they will lock us away. It won’t be the hospital this time. We’ll go to prison. You might be okay in prison. You’re big, strong, ugly. But the men in there would tear me to pieces. I wouldn’t even make it to the gas chamber for them to snuff me out legal and proper. They’ll cut me open and let me bleed out on the shower floor, after they’ve had their way with me. After they’ve violated me every way they could think of.”
The girl-or-woman looked from Mouse to Graham to Mouse with her big, wet eyes.
Graham said, “Look at her. She’d love to see that happen. She’d love to see me held down and sodomized and gutted.”
The woman shook her head. But Mouse thought about it. Graham was right.
Graham said, “Just this one, then we’ll stop.”
Mouse raised his arms. The woman’s neck felt hot in his hands. Her pulse tapped against his palm, quicker as he gave her the squeeze. He looked at the wall above her head, away from her eyes.
How many would this make? Twenty-nine. Graham may have lost count, but Mouse knew the exact number. Twenty-nine. Was that enough for a massacre? It wasn’t five hundred, but there were only two of them, not a whole battalion.
Why not, he thought.
His hands: sacred objects.