Guest post – Konstantine Paradias – The Monkey on the Shelf
Two days ago:
His name was Jonathan Cormack. He was a teacher in Hudson Bay’s Elementary for over a decade and he never had one student (or parent) ever complain, not even once, about his quality of work. He used to have an extensive collection of origami sculptures (made by his own hand), mostly consisting of legal-pad paper cranes. He had also started exhibiting signs of male pattern baldness and used to suffer from symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which his doctor kept identifying as psychosomatic.
This particular moment, however, Jonathan Cormack’s sole concern was trying not to retch while hacking his ex-father-in law’s body into pieces small enough that he could fit inside plastic garbage bags so he could burn them.
His hands had gone slick with blood and he was having trouble with keeping his grip on the hacksaw’s handle. Every now and then, the blade would slip on a joint, or slide across some subcutaneous fat and he’d accidentally lodge it between torn muscles and cracked bones. The first time this happened he panicked, tugged at the hacksaw the wrong way and it snapped in half, forcing him to give up his work halfway, wash his hands as thoroughly as he could and visit Mr. Vignetti’s hardware store to buy a dozen more.
Thankfully, Mr. Vignetti’s cataract had gotten worse these past few months, so he did not notice that Jonathan was wearing his trenchcoat in the middle of July. He was also terribly preoccupied with his youngest daughter’s upcoming wedding to that ‘dirty goddamn mick’, so it never occurred to him to ask what the hell he would need a dozen hacksaw blades for.
“Would you mind me asking you a few questions?”
“Is this about my permit again? If so, I must inform you that I recently filed another claim for-”
“It’s not about your permit, Mr. Rund. It’s about a customer of yours. Do you recognize this man?”
“That is strange. We know he’s a regular here. We’ve found a number of art objects in his house, and we know they have been purchased from your shop. Are you certain you can’t recall, Mr. Rund?”
“In my line of work, officer, faces tend to run together. Sure, you might be able to recall a couple of them during the first decade but when you’ve been at it for as long as I have, you realize that they really don’t mean anything. They’re just masks. Little curtains that everyone pulls around their true visage in a desperate attempt to conceal the everyday horrors they perpetrate in their own head. You can’t put your faith in faces, officer. What you can trust, however, are eyes and names. These are two characteristics that are absolutely incapable of lying. They’re the little telltales of the soul.”
“His name is John Cormack.”
“Ah, yes, the jittery teacher. What about him?”
“He is currently a suspect on two murders; his ex-wife’s and her father’s.”
“My, that is terrible news, indeed. Then again, I should not be surprised that he’d get such a thing pinned on him.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I could see it in him. The anger. The hate. The swarm of tiny little inadequacies that he had come up with. I could see them, feel them coil inside him, holding his ego down into the mud and only giving it room to breathe so they could spit in its mouth then shove it back into the filth again. He seemed to exude this aura, this underdog aura. If you talked to the man for more than twenty minutes, you were immediately overwhelmed with the need to take advantage of him and you sure as shooting knew there would be no retaliation.”
“You claim he was mentally disturbed then? Would you consider him capable of such an act?”
“Oh no, not at all. He could have played out any number of possible scenarios in his mind but I assure you, this man, this Jonathan Cormack, he couldn’t even hurt a fly.”
Two days ago:
When Jonathan Cormack returned home, fresh hacksaw blades in hand, his mind fixed on the work ahead.
I need to chop him up, then bag the small bits, he pondered as he locked the door behind him.
I’ll have to stuff the bigger parts in double plastic bags. I’m not going through the whole business of cutting his goddamn torso again, he thought, as he headed for his bathroom.
Aileen was a close one. Gonna have to take them to the dump and burn them, he jotted down on his little mental checklist as he opened the bathroom door, ready to pick up his work from where he’d left off.
It took him a couple of minutes to make sense out of what he was seeing. Or, to be more precise, what he wasn’t seeing.
Oh shit, he exclaimed in his own mind. Where’s the rest of him?
On the floor, all that was left of his ex-father-in-law was his left arm. It flopped on the floor like some sort of cheesy animatronic effect, splashing around on the congealed blood that was all over the marble tiles. It held onto the water pipes by the pair of naughty handcuffs that he’d bought for Aileen, back when he still had a sex life.
Flop, flop, flop.
The strange, metallic taste of pure unbridled fear rose up from the depths of his stomach, as he looked around, hoping against hope that any minute now, his ex-father-in-law would magically reappear where he’d left him; that this was all just some sort of hallucination brought on by hysteria and chronic anxiety. As he looked into the bathroom mirror however, suddenly seeing the mangled corpse creep up behind him, he sighed with relief, thinking:
Oh thank Jesus, I’m not crazy after all.
One week ago:
The cat shot up at its feet and hissed at him, the minute he opened the door. Surprised, Jonathan Cormack took a step back and stuck his back to the wall, keeping as much of a distance from it as possible. Carefully, without ever taking his eyes for the creature that kept growling at him, he inched his way inside the shop.
He was halfway over crossing a narrow path between stacks of old books, when he heard Mr. Rund’s voice, booming from under the counter:
“I swear to God, I’ve never seen Smithy hiss like that at a man every single time he’s come to this place. “
Jonathan smiled nervously and nodded. He’d never got along with animals, especially cats.
“Makes sense.” said Mr. Rund, emerging from his weathered oakwood fortress like some sort of Gaelic lord, stretching his arms as if he sought to circle his entire domain. “You keep giving them the impression they could take you on in a fight.”
Jonathan was about to speak up, when Smithy suddenly pounced, making him stumble back, toppling over a stack of books in his wake.
“Get out of here, Smithy!” exclaimed Mr. Rund, his voice suddenly hushed and commanding. The cat, immediately ceased its attack and turned tail. It ran upstairs, but not before hissing at Jonathan for one last time.
“You’ll have to excuse Smithy. He’s always been a bully at heart. But you know what they say about bullies: they shrivel up and die when you put up a fight. Then again, perhaps they don’t.” he said, as he helped Jonathan up on his feet. “Perhaps they simply hit harder, until you finally give up.”
Jonathan thanked him for his help, turning to the pile, trying to put it back in place.
“Don’t bother with that. It was going to topple over any minute now. Encyclopedias are territorial bastards. They don’t mix with anyone that isn’t of their own ilk, not even different editions.”
Jonathan laughed. Did he mean that these encyclopedias were bigots?
“No, I mean to say that every encyclopedia is a bigot. They’re racists and separatists. They’re like the Klan and the Nazi party put together. Won’t even deign to share the same shelf with another kind of book. So, Mr…”
Cormack. His friends call him Jon.
“Very well then, Mr. Cormack. What are you looking for? Some old work of fiction, in a leatherbound tome? Perhaps I could interest you in the Complete Works of Aristophanes? Or are you in the mood for something a touch more obscure? I have recently acquired an edition of Jorge Luis Borges’ unpublished stories. Of course if you’re feeling morbid, I do possess some of Franz Kafka’s notes, recently unearthed by a contact of mine. He claims to have found them hidden under the floorboards of his very bedroom, miraculously unharmed by the ravages of moisture! Then again…”
Jonathan cut him off. He said that he was merely looking for something decorative, to fill in the empty spaces from where his wife’s things used to be. Mr. Rund went on then, without missing a beat:
“Ah! How about this then: a Louis Quatorze mirror frame, the glass shattered by Robespierre himself, as the great unwashed rushed inside the Versailles! No? Then what would you say about this babushka doll. It’s an exact replica of Anastasia Romanov’s favorite toy! It’s said to contain three dozen dolls, each a product of excellent Russian craftsmanship!”
Jonathan waited until Mr. Rund was done with his pitch, before he took a look around and pointed at a certain thing, perched high on a shelf, just beyond his reach. He asked for that.
“That one? Are you certain?”
Jonathan told him he was.
“That’s a stuffed monkey. Granted, it used to belong to Robert Fortune and is said that he had received it as a personal gift from a mandarin’s widow during his days as a spy for the East India Company, but still, isn’t it a touch…morbid?”
Jonathan thought Mr. Rund did try to persuade him toward the morbid just a couple minutes ago.
“I meant morbid in a contextual sense, Mr. Cormack. Then again, I cannot deny a customer what he has set his eyes upon. Give me a minute so I can take it down from there. Thankfully, you’ll change your mind when you take a closer look at it.”
Mr. Rund bought the stuffed monkey down from the shelf, momentarily feeling the creature writhing in his hand. The sensation lasted only for a moment however, giving the shopkeeper the impression of a fleeting fantasy, perhaps some sort of hallucination brought on by senility. He looked at the creature’s snarling face, its unnaturally long fangs gleaming in the light, its beady eyes full of some sort of animalistic, calculated malice, the crooked black claws on its fingers gleaming in the light. Feeling a little bit like an old creep show host, he handed it over to Jonathan slowly, mourning violins echoing in his mind.
Any minute now, he’s going to feel uneasy and hand it back to me. He’s going to say it feels eerie, wrong somehow.
Jonathan Cormack said he’d take it. Mr. Rund just sighed and rang it up for him, all the while trying to discern the deception on Jonathan’s great big smile. He’ll be back tomorrow, tops. He thought. He’s going to tell me he heard it shuffling round the house or that he found some of his bananas half-eaten and he’ll end up buying the babushka instead.
But Jonathan didn’t return the monkey. In fact, he didn’t set foot in the shop until five days later, his clothes and skin reeking of blood, his eyes big as saucers, specifically requesting a book on Chinese burial purification techniques and an Chinese to English dictionary.
Two days ago:
Jonathan stifled a scream, as his ex-father-in-law’s reanimated corpse lunged at him, its mouth hanging wide open, its one remaining hand reaching out to grab him. The thing tried to moan, but the air rushed out of the hole in its neck, silently spraying blood on the nearby wall instead.
As it grabbed onto his arm, Jonathan stepped back, stumbled on some discarded towels gorged with blood and tripped. The corpse tumbled along with him on the floor, its weight pinning him down. Jonathan watched as it started biting at him, its teeth clicking mere inches away from his face.
Where’s the goddamn-ack! His trail of thought was violently interrupted, as his ex-father-in-law’s reanimated corpse sank its fingers into his neck, pinching his windpipe shut. Fighting against the rising tide of panic, Jonathan searched around and then found the thing he was looking for:
His trusty claw hammer. The head was still coated with some of Aileen’s dried blood. It kind of looked like a homogenous layer of rust, as if it had been let on the edge of that sink for centuries, waiting to be discovered.
The reanimated corpse tightened its grip on his neck and Jonathan saw pretty white flowers blooming into his field of vision. Fighting back his panic, he reached out as far as he could, grabbed the hammer and brought it down on his ex-father-in-law’s head, claw first. He felt it tear into the flesh and rebound on the skull. The second hit chipped at the bone. The third one, fueled by sheer, atavistic rage, sank through the bone, driving the claw straight into the brain. Following the book’s guidelines, Jonathan turned changed the angle of the claw, making sure it got deep and scrambled the brain as much as he could. The corpse’s grip loosened just a little, but still held.
For fuck’s sake, Ian! Let me fucking go!
With one final twist, Jonathan heard the skull crack and felt the claw sink deep into something soft and wet. The hand’s grip loosened. Tossing it off him, he started breathing in the air in long, satisfied gulps.
I’m getting better at this.
Six days ago:
“I’ll be taking the Klimt too.”
Jonathan nodded: okay. Aileen groaned, cocking her eyebrow, then took it down.
“And the vase. The one my uncle gave us on our anniversary.”
Jonathan loved that vase, but he didn’t even make a move. She took it off the shelf and shot him an angry look.
“Are you even going to try and stop me?”
Jonathan nodded: no.
“For fuck’s sake, John! Why are you doing this? You love this painting! You loved that vase! Why are you letting me take them away?”
Jonathan muttered: I don’t know.
“Do you see now? See why this couldn’t work between us? You never put up a fight! Over anything! You always let me do whatever the hell I wanted and you always let everybody else walk all over you! Why, John? Why can’t you stand up to me? I’m your damn wife, I’m taking everything you love away and you won’t even fight back?”
Jonathan said: I got all these things while I was with you. They don’t mean anything if you go away. Aileen stared at him in silence for a while, then spoke, her voice a touch softer.
“John, I’m going to leave now. I’m going to leave because you never once told me the things you told me right now, in all our years of marriage. And I’m going to walk out that door and you’re never going to see me again unless you get off your ass and stop me. Okay?”
She waited for a long time. Jonathan didn’t even get up. She turned around and walked out of the bedroom, painting and vase in hand. Jonathan could hear her high-heels clicking on the floor, then suddenly stop halfway across the living room. He knew she was waiting for him to make a move, to protest, to stop her. All it would take was a half dozen steps and a couple of words; it wouldn’t even be a fight, just a brief assertion of dominance that would bring her back.
“And what the hell is this shit?” he heard her shout, her voice dripping bile. She had obviously noticed the stuffed monkey, set where her old mineral collection used to be. He heard her high-heels clicking again, then a muffled thump.
“Have fun with your monkey, Jonathan, you spineless little bastard!”
Jonathan nodded: okay.
Then he heard a sharp whoosh noise, a short gasp and the vase cracking into a million pieces, as it crashed onto the floor. He rushed into the living room and saw the scene:
The vase was now a web of shards, spread out all over the floor.
There was a splatter of red all over Danaë’s breasts.
Aileen was laying on the floor, twitching uncontrollably, her hand clamped down over the gaping wound on her neck, blood gushing out in a steady stream.
Jonathan did his best, he would swear he did. But she was losing blood fast and he panicked. He tried to calm her, to apply a tourniquet, but Aileen started jerking her body even harder, bloodied foam shooting out of her mouth. She was burning up, beset by some strange fever. He rushed for the phone and was halfway through dialing 911, when she stopped moving altogether.
He dropped to his knees, his mouth gaping and with tears streaming down his eyes, as he looked at her dead body. The shards of porcelain dug into his knees and shins, but he didn’t care. There was nothing else but him, his dead wife and the steady pulse of pain rising in his body.
Had he not been that busy grieving, he would have noticed the bloody footprints on the floor.
Had he taken a moment to recollect himself, he would have reacted the moment Aileen got up from her place on the floor and attacked him, digging her teeth into his shoulder.
Jonathan screamed and pushed her away. Her teeth, sunk into his flesh, ripped long serrated lines on his body. He barely had a chance to notice the blood seeping into the fabric of his shirt, when she pressed on the attack again, this time clawing on his thigh. The pain barely registered to Jonathan’s brain. At that point, adrenaline had soaked his brain, honing every sense in his body into a perfect edge.
With a fury he never knew he possessed, he struck at Aileen’s face with his knee, feeling the nose break and snap under his knee. Surprised by his reaction, she let go of his thigh. Flailing his legs wildly, he struck her in the chest, driving her back against the wall. Grasping for a weapon, he got hold of a shard of the broken vase. The edges cut the flesh of his fingers, but he was well past feeling any pain now. He simply ran toward her and pushed the knife into her belly.
Aileen snarled at him, blood gushing from the wound on her neck. In the long moment before she raised him in her arms like a ragdoll and slammed him through the bathroom door, Jonathan took a close look at the wound on her neck.
It looked as if it had been inflicted by teeth.
As he crashed into the bathroom, his back hurt so bad it could have been on fire. His hands flailed around uselessly, tearing at the shower curtain; he threw it on his ex-wife like some sort of gladiatorial net, giving him brief moments of respite, as he looked for a weapon.
It was then that he noticed the claw hammer, the one he had used to set up his new bathroom mirror. Grabbing it, he brought it down on her in one fluid motion, feeling the blunt side slam onto her shoulder. She snarled and ripped at the curtain, clicking her teeth hungrily. It was only then that the realization struck him, like some voice-over cue from a Romero flick:
…can be killed by removing the head, or destroying the brain.
Jonathan Cormack, the regular every day Jonathan Cormack, would never have raised a hand to his wife. Hell, he never even raised his voice during their long, winding arguments that went on for days. He had never, not once, stepped up to a bully, got into a fight with a drunk, or even insulted a fellow teacher, despite the colleague being undeniably unprofessional and insulting.
But what he did next ( Repeatedly slamming his hammer into skull of the thing that was once his wife. Feeling something cave in with an audible crack. Watching a torrent of blood, as it slid from under the curtain onto the tiled floor), came naturally to him. No switch was flipped. There was no moment of dramatic introspection. Times like these, Jonathan hoped life was more like a movie.
When he was done, Jonathan Cormack vomited violently in the sink. Had he passed out, he would have surely died, since Aileen got up immediately after that and attacked him again.
Five days ago:
Mr. Rund had told him that the monkey used to belong to man named Robert Fortune and that it was a gift from a mandarin’s widow. A quick Google search on the thing revealed that it was a black snubbed-nose monkey, a species that was indeed indigenous to China.
With his wife’s legs banging at the bathroom walls behind him, Jonathan Cormack Googled Chinese Myths. Slowly (but tenaciously) checking each of them, he managed to pin down the abilities and characteristics of the thing in the bathroom, which he theorized his ex-wife had turned into:
-Seemingly impervious to damage.
-Reanimated from the dead.
His last Google search produced a name: jiangshi. Hungry dead. No available means of disposal of such a thing. He was about to lose hope, when he noticed a footnote, which he followed. It mentioned that the means and methods on the disposal of the cursed dead were mentioned in Chinese exorcism manuals.
He knew there was only one man in town that had any chance of possessing such a book.
Mr. Rund heard Smithy snarling, and then bolting straight for the staircase, his hairs standing on end, his eyes wide with terror. In all his years, he had never once seen that cat so spooked by someone and he had met a lot of really dangerous people.
His surprise was even greater, as he realized that the person that had sent his cat fleeing with its tail between its legs had been the underdog himself, Jonathan Cormack. Without fanfare or even a hello, he told him he needed help with something. Mr. Rund inquired if it had anything to do with his purchase. Mr. Cormack did not even deign to reply.
He simply inquired on whether he had any Chinese manuals concerning proper burial purification methods. Mr. Rund told him that yes; he had, but that the texts were in mandarin. So Mr. Cormack also bought a Mandarin-English dictionary, paid for it, then left.
As the door slammed shut behind him, Mr. Rund noticed that he was suddenly awash with a feeling of dread, the likes of which he had not felt in a long time.
Four Days Ago:
From the pages of Liaio Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker, as translated by Jonathan Cormack:
The presence of a jiangshi is not a random occurrence. It is the product of a powerful curse at work. It is a curse that has either been placed upon a specific person (or his offspring), as a means of exacting revenge from beyond the grave; or it is the product of contamination by a cursed object that has slain said individual, causing immediate reanimation of the dead body.
Make no mistake: even though Jiangshi do bear the likeness of the cursed individual, their original qi has fled their body. They are merely automatons, incapable of feeling pain and able to remain fully functional, despite all damage inflicted to the body. Jiangshi have, in fact, been known to posses the ability to maintain control on separate parts of their body, even after they have been severed. The proper method of disposal is this: the jiangshi must be contained and bound for seven hours, while a Buddhist monk performs the ceremony of exorcism on it, dispelling the dark energy which fuels it. This method allows for a proper burial in accordance with tradition.
The second method is this: the jiangshi must be torn, limb from limb. Then its parts should be fed into a great fire, until the flesh and the bones have been burned. Afterward, the ashes must be gathered and scattered across seven li toward all directions. The scattering is important, since in some cases, it has been recorded that the jiangshi posses the ability to remain functional, even when reduced to ashes.
Jonathan went with the second method.
Three Days Ago:
The hardest part, thought Jonathan Cormack as he was scattering the last handful of Aileen’s ashes from the top of the hill overlooking the interstate, was the clean-up. God, I hope I don’t ever have to do that again.
He shook the old tin can of marmalade he’d used to store Aileen’s ashes, making sure he hadn’t missed any of it. He shook it for a good long while, then tossed it as far away as he could, into the interstate. To his horror, he watched it bounce on the hood of an oncoming truck, ricocheting over the asphalt and into a ditch.
He went back to his car and started the engine. On his way home, he realized that the tears wouldn’t come. Jonathan Cormack had already grieved over his ex-wife, when he let himself go and cried his eyes out as he was tossing her chopped limbs into the fire. He’d said his goodbyes then. He’d made his peace.
Wonder if that’s what serial killers do. If they act like I did. Am I turning into a serial killer? No. No you haven’t killed anything when it’s already dead and you just make sure it stays down.
He was looking for a place to park his car, when he noticed Ian’s car, parked in front of his house. He caught a glimpse of his ex-father-in-law and felt his stomach drop all the way down into his testicles. The man was a huge, mean son of a bitch and he’d always been looking for a reason to pick a fight with him. Now, he was definitely aiming to kill him, after realizing his daughter had gone missing for three days right after visiting her ex-husband.
What if he called the cops? Then the CSU Hudson Bay guys are gonna come over, run my bathroom through their computers and then they’re- his trail of thought stopped dead in its tracks. Holy crap, what if they find the damn monkey?
He hadn’t considered the stuffed monkey during his three-day ordeal of chopping Aileen to bits, burning her, and then scattering her to the seven winds. Sure, he had found it hidden behind the couch, with its horrible little mouth stained with dried blood
And sure, he’d locked it inside an old munitions box he’d found in a garage sale, but the thing was kicking and screaming in there, fighting against the walls of its prison with all the strength it could muster. There was no way he’d keep it hidden from Ian. And now, of course, he wouldn’t have the time to check on the proper means of disposing it, either.
He had no plan. He’d have to wing it. Jonathan Cormack had to become bolder, ballsier, tougher than he had ever been bef-
“Come on out, you son-of-a-bitch!” screamed his ex-father-in-law from outside his passenger seat window. Jonathan turned and saw him, his face flushed, his graying hair standing on edge. There was murder in those eyes, this much he could tell. He got out. Ian grabbed him by his shirt collar and slammed him against the side of the car.
“Where. The fuck. Is my daughter?”
Jonathan asked Ian to calm down. Ian would have none of that.
“You listen to me, you black piece of shit! My baby came over to see your sorry worthless piece of ass three days ago. She promised she’d call me the minute she came home. When she didn’t I hoped against hope she wasn’t screwing your sorry hide. When she wouldn’t answer her cellphone, her home number or even show up in her work, I knew there was something wrong! Now, you tell me what the hell you done with my baby, or I swear to god, I’m gonna ram a breading knife up your goddamn asshole and twist it.”
He stopped for a breath.
“And I guarantee it, you’re gonna be dyin’ a long time.”
Jonathan asked Ian to keep his voice down. He told him he could explain. Aileen came by three days ago. They had a fight. She told him she never wanted to see him again and that was all there was to it. Now would he mind letting him go?
“No. And I also don’t fucking believe a word you’ve said. So here’s what we’ll do, asshole. We’re going to go inside and I’m going to check. And when I’ve made sure you ain’t lyin’ then I’ll maybe let you off the hook. What do you say?”
Jonathan nodded: okay.
And so, Jonathan led Ian in. And the minute they crossed the living room, with his ex-father-in-law following right behind him, Jonathan could hear the munitions box rattling from its hiding place under the bed. He knew, right then and there, that the jig was up. He also knew that Ian would stay true to his word and keep him a long time dying.
“What the hell is that noise?”
Jonathan lied. He told him he couldn’t hear anything.
The box rattled harder in response. Ian rushed inside the bedroom. Jonathan followed suit, shouting at Ian, pleading with him not to go in there, to wait for just one bloody minute, so he could explain, for fuck’s sake, Ian shouldn’t open the goddamn box, it’s not what he goddamn thinks it is!
“What the hell is this? You stuck an animal in there, you sick fuck?”
The stuffed monkey jumped on Ian’s neck and sank its teeth the minute he raised the lid. Jonathan saw it twist its head, tearing at the flesh, ripping the jugular open and reveling at the sensation of hot, fresh blood spraying its face and its little glassy eyes. The huge man staggered back and fell on Jonathan’s teak wardrobe, his hand clamped on his neck wound.
The creature jumped off the dying man and onto the bed, staining the sheets with blood. In some strange way that Jonathan never quite fathomed, this was way worse than it killing his ex-wife or her father. This was the one insult, the one crime this thing perpetrated that signed its death sentence.
Jonathan had had enough. Fuck Buddhist manuals, he thought. Fuck proper procedure and banishing methods. Fuck pranas, fuck stances and fuck prayer strips, I’ve had enough of this goddamn monkey!
Grabbing the edges of his sheets, he threw them over the animal and shut it inside the bundle. In its dark, satin prison, the monkey squealed and screeched. Jonathan started spinning the sheets like some sort of improvised flail, with the monkey at the end forming the weighted head. With a roar, he raised his hand high, making a great arc, then slammed it on the floor. The monkey squealed. He slammed it again.
Dokk. Dokk. Dokk. Dokk.
He went on slamming, even long after the squealing and the squirming had stopped. He went on until the shape of the monkey was gone and there was nothing left but bits of broken skin, hay and shattered bones, bouncing around inside the fabric. Feeling suddenly calm, he topped the bundle with a tight knot and then put it back in the munitions box. He took a look at Ian’s body. It hadn’t reanimated yet.
He had to make the most of what little time he had.
Two Days Ago:
He could still hear Ian’s teeth clicking from inside the black plastic bag. He always started biting when he came close, as if the severed head could somehow smell him and kept trying to get to him.
Placing it aside, he broke the bones of his severed arms with his hammer, hacked them into bits, and then placed them inside another black bag. He did the same with the legs. The torso, he placed inside three separate plastic bags. Then he took the remains of the stuffed monkey from inside the munitions box and loaded his car, headed for the junkyard.
In a couple more hours, he’d be free as a bird. Unless any of the neighbors happened to hear the ruckus and wanted to check on him, and he had forgotten to lock the door and they headed inside and saw his bathroom looking like a slaughterhouse on a busy day and notified the police, which would launch an investigation, having theorized him responsible for his ex-father-in-law’s manslaughter.
Which is exactly what happened.
A couple of weeks later:
The investigation verified that Jonathan Cormack had, in fact, killed both his ex-wife and ex-husband-in-law, then hacked their bodies into pieces and burned them. The news shook Hudson Bay to its very core. Its people were shocked, dumbfounded even by this turn of events; the principal of Hudson Bay’s Elementary School confessed that he had always considered Jonathan ‘a deeply troubled man’ and that this had come as no surprise to him, really.
The mayor of Hudson Bay took it upon himself to take advantage of the media onslaught pouring into his town to set an ad campaign in motion that would provide a steady influx of tourists to the town. Jonathan’s house was turned into the ‘Hudson Bay Butcher museum’. The campaign was a flop. Not a soul came to visit Hudson Bay that summer.
Mr. Vignetti, the hardware store owner, was offered a heavy sum by the PR people of the Solingen Corporation so that he would not disclose the fact that the hacksaw blades used by Jonathan Cormack were manufactured by their company. Ignoring his daughter’s constant protestations, Mr. Vignetti chose to spend the money he received on building his daughter and that ‘dirty mick husband’s of hers’ a ‘proper goddamn beach house’, instead of performing his much-needed eye surgery for his cataract.
Jonathan Cormack was never seen again. The police found his car parked by the gate of the abandoned Hudson Bay junkyard. They also found a drum barrel filled with the burnt remains of Ian O’Malley. DNA tests performed on the blood stains inside Cormack’s car verified the identity of both his victims, as well as trace amounts of sawdust, stuck between the car seats. No one thought twice about that last bit, however. A few months later, a dispatch call was sent to the Hudson Bay police department, verifying that a man fitting Cormack’s description had been run over by a truck as he was crossing the interstate. The upper half of the body (which was never found) had been dragged away by wild animals into the bushes, according to the official statement. No one would have believed the officer that filed the report if he’d told them he saw it crawl away.
Mr. Rund discovered (thanks to Smithy’s inquiring nose), that the stuffed monkey had returned to its original place on the shelf somehow, albeit smashed, broken and with both its glass eyes missing. He never bothered to fix the thing and in fact buried it six feet deep inside his back yard. Then he paid a man to pour cement over it, just to make sure.
You can check out Konstantine’s work over at Shapescapes http://shapescapes.blogspot.gr