(Chirp, Zen, Bloody)
It’s like a scene out of a Stephen King book. Surreal, otherworldly. The kitchen is clean, spotlessly so. The counter top gleams next to the shiny stainless steel sink. A kitchen towel hangs from the oven handle, ends neatly together and unwrinkled. I stand in the doorway and look from one side to the other, seeing the old refrigerator, so old it has a hammered-metal freezer door inside. It has the old metal ice trays too, the ones where you have to lift the metal piece in the center to break the ice cubes loose. The overhead light is bright and white.
You might expect June Cleaver or someone to zip in every morning, cheery and chirping while they make coffee in the old percolator and fry up slabs of bacon and eggs for her husband and children. Walking into the house you could forget you were forty plus years old and once again be a ten-year old child, making sure to wipe your feet so that you won’t track mud on your mother’s floors.
I move through the kitchen and stand in the archway leading to the living room. The house is silent, zenlike in its calm. It’s a dry and cold silence, the kind when no one is nearby to disturb the air or breath into it. Why, you would just never know there is a dead body in the foyer with a bloody knife messing up that nice clean floor next to it. What have I done, and wouldn’t June be pissed?
June’s apron is a little messy now, but that’s alright she won’t be needing it anymore. No more chopping or cooking, vacuuming or washing clothes. She won’t have any more reason to be mad at me for tracking dirt into the house from the garden; or for watching mean tv shows like CSI and Hill Street Blues. She wants to watch baby shows like Gilligan’s Island and Lost in Space reruns over and over while she eats chocolates one by one from the box. She always offers me one, but I know her game, she’ll snatch it away at the last second and laugh while she pops it into her mouth.
Geoffrey pulled up to the house and parked by the back door. He looked in the mirror and checked his part, smoothing his hair down with a small comb. He stepped out of the car, hitching up his too short pants as he did so. The wood framed screen door twanged as he opened it and went into the house.
“Mama?” He called, stepping into the kitchen. “Mama?” He went through the kitchen and poked his head into the living room. Is she here? He thought back a minute, yes, her car was in the garage, the door left open. She’s here somewhere.
“MAMA!” Geoffrey screamed when he saw her legs, splayed in the foyer. “Mama!“ He ran forward, falling to his knees and almost sliding the last few feet into her. He stopped himself before he hit the blood, his mouth open in one long continuous howl. He reached for her but kept snatching his hands back. Unable to bring himself to touch the blood, he could not make contact. “Help, help her please!” He cried to the air, to the house, to his own weak self.
Geoffrey scrambled backward and quick-crawled down the hallway to the phone. The 911 dispatcher would later swear that she had talked to a child.
“911, what is your emergency?”
A continuous whining and crying.
“This is 911,” the operator repeated, “what is your emergency please?”
“Mama,” more crying, “blood on the floor and she won’t like blood on the floor…”
“Is your mother hurt?” The dispatcher asked. “Is she bleeding?”
Geoffrey looked bleakly back into the hallway and shook his head, while big fat tears rolled down his face.
“Lots of blood. She’s hurt! She needs help please, please?” Geoffrey babbled into the phone.
“Is she conscious?” The dispatcher asked. “Can she talk?”
“N-no, I don’t think so,” Geoffrey answered. “There‘s a knife.”
“Alright is anyone else there with you? A grownup? Anyone?” The dispatcher asked.
“What’s your name son?” The dispatcher asked.
“Geoffrey, the police are on their way. I want you to just stay there, okay? Can you do that? You need to stay there and let the police in when they come. Are you sure there‘s no one else there?”
“N-no. I mean yes. Are they going to help my Mama?”
“They’re going to try Geoffrey. They’re going to try.” The dispatcher replied. Suddenly the dispatcher heard a noise on the other end of the phone. A deeper man’s voice came clearly over the line.
“Geoffrey! What have you done?”
Click. The line went dead.
George stood over June’s body, looking down. He was still angry, and still wanted to hurt her but the kid had gone and called the police; it was time to leave if he ever intended to get out. The evening darkness would hide their escape. It would be hard to get Geoffrey to go, but there really was no choice was there? Already Geoffrey was holding his head and rocking back and forth, like he had done as a child. Now there’s a blast from the past, thought George. Geoffrey was very familiar with that position.
He remembered the first time he had rescued Geoffrey. George had already been in there a while when she threw Geoffrey in the closet – kicking and screaming and crying uncontrollably. He screamed until he was hoarse and then just sat on the floor, holding his head and rocking. Back and forth. Back and forth. George had waited until Geoffrey was quiet before speaking to him.
“Hey,” he whispered.
Geoffrey heard the voice in the pitch dark and startled, tried to scream. His voice, dry and scratched from yelling wouldn’t do any more than squeak. He froze, trying to hold his breath so that he could hear.
“I said, hey.” George whispered. “What‘s the matter with you?”
Geoffrey heard him again. It was George. He was mean and Geoffrey didn’t like him much, but you can‘t pick your own brother. Geoffrey started sniffling again but the bigger boy cut him off. “Oh no you don’t, if you start screaming again she’ll come back and we‘ll get another beating.”
Geoffrey squeezed out a few more tears and wiped his nose on the back of his hand.
“What?” He asked.
“What do you mean, what?” Asked George.
“What do you want?” Geoffrey asked, voice scratchy.
“I don’t want anything.” George said angrily. “All I said was hey.”
Geoffrey thought about that for a moment.
“Hey,” he said.
“What?” Said George.
“Oh shut up stupid!” George said back. Geoffrey sat up a little straighter.
“Am not!” Geoffrey raised his voice. George needed to calm him down or they would never get out of here.
“Okay okay, I’m sorry, okay?” George said. “You’re not stupid.”
With all of their back and forth they almost missed the lock turning. Both boys froze, eyes open wide as they stared at the door. For several minutes nothing happened. Geoffrey trembled and finally reached for the door knob.
“No. She’s waiting for us to come out,” George whispered. They listened intently and could hear nothing but the Skipper yelling at Gilligan at the top of his lungs from the living room.
“We gotta go. If she thinks we fell asleep she’ll lock the door back and we gotta spend the night in here.” Geoffrey said. He had been there before too. He had awakened to the pitch dark, in absolute terror. She had not let him out until the morning. “What if she’s out there, waiting?” he asked, scared.
“Well, normal for you.” George sneered. ” Act like you were just hanging up your coat and you’re glad to see her.”
“What are you going to do?” Geoffrey asked.
“I’m going to stay in here,” George replied, pushing Geoffrey out the door.
Geoffrey stepped out, closing the door quietly behind him. He raised his eyes, looking left and right. Mama was not there. In his stocking feet he slipped behind the couch in the living room, her great body reclined on it, head resting on a throw pillow. She was asleep. Geoffrey stood and watched her, trembling. He loved her. He hated it when she acted that way. He only wanted to please her.
George now squatted in front of Geoffrey, snapping his fingers.
“Okay man, we gotta go.”
Geoffrey rocked on, oblivious.
“Geoffrey. We have to leave. The police are going to come and lock you up man. They’re gonna think you did it.” That caught Geoffrey’s attention.
“I didn’t do it George, I gotta tell them!” But George pushed Geoffrey against the wall.
“You ain’t gonna tell them nothing, cause they aren’t going to believe some whiney baby little boy who can’t even talk on the phone right!” He grabbed Geoffrey by the collar and dragged him to the back door. Geoffrey stumbled going down the steps, but he gained control and righted himself, managing to get back to the car without falling.
“Drive!” George instructed. “Now!” Geoffrey looked at the house as he backed out, and the mailbox with his last name on it, “Addison.“ Somehow he knew it was the last time he would ever see it. He turned slowly out of the driveway and stopped in the road. George slammed the car into drive, then pushed his hand down on Geoffrey’s knee, jamming his foot against the gas pedal. Holding on crazily, Geoffrey barely turned the wheel in time to avoid knocking down the trash cans by the road. They peeled out of the gravel driveway, peppering the mailbox with gravel and sand.
“Don’t put the lights on yet.” George instructed. They reached the end of the road and turned north, while a mile back, at the southern entrance to the road George could see several police cars running hard, lights flashing and sirens screaming.
“Keep going Geoffrey, don‘t use the brakes.”
“Where are we going George?” Geoffrey asked.
“I’ll know when we get there, okay?” George didn’t like being questioned. He kept looking behind them, and finally, satisfied that they weren’t being followed, instructed Geoffrey to get on the highway. They headed north.
Marcie Bruno snapped her gum and stood at the cash register, twirling her hair around her finger. It was late, and she should be mopping the floors but that was crap. It would ruin her manicure. The same went for stocking the cooler, or washing the shelves. The place was old as dirt anyways, who cared?
Marcie’s boss had called her in to work on her day off. Steve’s grandmother had died three times now, the management changed over so fast in this place that no one kept track of stuff like that. Funny how she always died on a Saturday night, so that he couldn’t make his 11-7 shift. This time there had been no one else available so she had to go in. The manager was going to work Marcie’s shift in the morning, so at least she didn’t have to work tomorrow.
She took a Seventeen magazine off the rack and sat behind the counter. When the cream-colored Buick LeSabre pulled up she hardly even glanced over as she hit the button to start the gas pumps. A few minutes later she sighed and put down the magazine and glanced out the window. Wow, that’s an old lady car if I ever saw one. So lame, I oughta text Julie, she thought. Then she saw the guy pumping the gas. He was looking straight at her, and he was cute!
Marcie grabbed a make-up mirror and lip gloss from under the counter. She kept them handy for just this type of occasion. Snapping her gum, she checked her bangs in the mirror, pulling a little here and there to make them stand up just right. A set of bangle bracelets jingled lightly as she applied more lip gloss. Hot mess baby, yea!
Dinnggg Dongggg. The door buzzer sounded like a doorbell. What moron came up with that idea she didn’t know, but every time she heard it she felt like yelling, “Avon calling!” Sometimes she did too, just for the fun of it. It was after midnight, and the blue laws being what they were in her little Texas town, she had locked the doors to the beer cooler at two when they quit selling. The young man checked one of the doors and came to the counter. He had a smile on his face and wore his jeans and t-shirt like they were poured on. Marcie was in love.
“Now I know,” the man began, “that it’s past two am. But I also know that I just have this powerful thirst.” He rubbed his stomach all slow-like. “And I think a pretty, sweet girl like you just might be able to help a guy out.”
Marcie looked at him, smiling. A total come on.
“Am I supposed to fall for that?” She asked, giggling. She tossed her hair back over her shoulder. “I don’t suppose you got any ID…?”
“George. My name is George, and you are…Marcie.” He leaned in and tapped the name tag pinned to her left breast one time. “Come on Marcie, are you going to help me out?” He leaned back and smiled again.
Marcie looked left and right, there was no one else around. George had a bit of a wild look in his eye, king of dangerous. It was powerfully attractive to a seventeen year old who had never been anywhere.
“Awww, why not. But you can’t tell nobody, I could get fired and lose my job. My mama would kill me dead!” She stopped and thought for a moment. “How am I gonna do it though?”
George laughed and crossed his heart. “I won’t tell anybody, I swear it ma’am!” They both laughed. Marcie nodded, she had it.
“Okay. Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to go and stock the cooler, see? I can’t take a chance on you being seen walking out the front door with a six-pack. When I bring the boxes out to the dumpster, like, I might not have emptied one all the way and it might still have a six-pack of Miller Lite in it, see?”
“Or Budweiser,” George hinted.
“Fine, or Budweiser.” She said, laughing prettily. “So all you have to do is park over there near it, and after I take the trash out…”
“I got it. You uh, you gonna join me later?” George asked. “What time do you get off?”
“That sure would be nice,” said Marcie and she giggled. “But I don’t get off till seven am. It totally sucks.”
“So lock up and sit with me a while, who would know? It’s not like you got Mardi Gras in here tonight.”
Marcie giggled again. He was just so cute. Julie was gonna die when she heard about this. He paid for his gas and went back out to his car, casting a meaningful glance over his shoulder as he went. She texted Julie to tell her about it and headed back into the cooler.
About five minutes later Marcie came out the back door with three soda flats and a beer box. She set the lot down on the ground by the dumpster, the flats sitting sideways in the beer box. The Buick was on the side of the building. She started to wave and realized that it wasn’t that guy George. It was a younger looking guy with his hair parted in the middle and plastered down on his head. He had on heavy black glasses and was sitting kind of prissy-like in the back seat. He didn’t tell me he had a friend, she thought, and then a second later, where IS George?
Marcie started toward the car. It looked like George in the back seat, but it wasn’t him. Just as Marcie rounded the corner of the building and got a good look at the guy in the backseat, the county sheriff pulled into the parking lot. He pulled up to the front of the store and rolled down his window.
“Marcie!” He called to her. Then he saw the car she was next to. “Come on over here a minute.”
“I’m coming Mr. Paul,” she called back. She turned back to look in the car. The back door on the other side was open and the guy was gone. How weird!
“Marcie! Come here please!” Deputy Paul Deacon called again, stepping out of his car. There was an edge to his voice. Paul had known Marcie her entire life. She was a little on the wild side, but basically a good girl.
“Okay okay, I’m coming!” She left the LeSabre and went to see what the officer wanted. She snapped her gum and took her time as she walked up to him, teen nonchalance rolling off her in waves. The deputy told her to go back inside the store.
“What’s going on Mr. Paul?” Marci asked.
“Have you seen a young man, dark hair about a head taller than you? That might be his car.”
Marcie tensed a little and Paul caught it. “What is it Marcie, you have seen him haven’t you? He’s not inside is he?” The deputy looked over her shoulder into the store. Marcie shook her head.
“No, well, I guess there was a guy,” she looked back at the cream-colored car, “but I don’t know where he went! What’s going on?”
“Marcie, go back inside the store and lock the doors. Right now.” The deputy said.
“Well, okay, but I was taking the trash out, I left the back door open.” She replied. The deputy, still looking into the store stopped and looked at her. He reached back and took the keys out of the ignition and put them in his pocket.
“Get in my car and lock the doors.” He took her by the arm and moved her to the front seat. “Get in and stay there!”
Marcie was by now a little freaked out. I wonder what he did! She thought to herself, and I almost got in the car with him! She didn’t know what he had done, but it had to be pretty serious if Deputy Deacon had his gun out. The deputy stepped inside the store and moved out of sight. Marcie waited.
All of a sudden two hands slapped the window by her head. Marcie screamed. It was the George guy, his hair sticking up all over the place and a crazy look on his face. He tried the door handle but it was locked.
“Come on Marcie, open up!” He called to her. When she didn’t respond he slapped the window again, harder. Marcie screamed again. Panicked, she started honking the horn. Come on Mr. Paul, come on! The guy pounded on the window one last time and raced for the LeSabre. He jumped behind the wheel and had just turned his key in the ignition when the deputy ran out of the store. Marcie was still honking the horn and pointing furiously at the Buick, which was now backing out toward them.
Paul ran to the side of the store and looked around the corner. The car, backing up, came almost even with him for a second. He had his gun out, but as he looked into the window of the car he stopped and just couldn’t shoot. It was a kid. Just a boy from the looks of it. He pointed the gun and yelled for the boy to stop, but of course he didn’t. The car skidded sideways as it peeled out of the parking lot. Paul ran back to his cruiser and grabbed the door handle but it was locked. Marcie sat in the driver’s seat, texting her friend Julie. Paul yelled at her to open the door. She did and he pulled her out, hopping into the driver’s seat himself.
“Marcie, go back inside and lock the door. Another deputy will be here in a few minutes. You stay inside until they get here!” He started the car and rolled down the window. “Hey, was there more than one of them?”
“Funny you should ask,” Marcie replied. “I think there was two of them. But I’m not sure. I only, I saw…” she stopped, because she wasn’t sure what she had seen. She waved him off. “Go. Go ahead, I’ll wait for the deputy.”
Paul put on his flashers and siren and his powerful cruiser screamed out of the parking lot. Marcie went back inside the store and locked the doors. She decided to heck with texting Julie, I’m calling, I don’t care if I wake up her mom!
Meanwhile, as he drove the LeSabre at eighty mph down country roads, Geoffrey was scared. He was in trouble and he knew it. Looking in the rear view mirror he could see the flashing blue lights of the deputy’s car getting closer.
“What do I do George? Where do I go?” He asked, but George was silent. “Georgggge!” He screamed. He looked at the mirror again and George’s angry eyes stared back at him.
“This is it Geoff-ie,” George taunted. “They’re coming to take you away!”
“Me! Me?” Geoffrey screamed back. “I didn’t even do it. You did it didn’t you!” George only smiled. Geoffrey’s driving became more and more erratic as his panic level rose. “Ohmygosh You killed her! You killed Mama!”
“They’ll never believe you Geoff-ie boy. They don’t even know that I was ever born!” George yelled back, laughing like a maniac. “Geoffrey’s going to jail! See what the doctor makes of that!”
As the cream-colored Buick went around a bend in the road there was a sign on the left that read “County Rock Quarry.” Geoffrey swung the wheel a hard left and tore down the dirt road, kicking up a rooster tail of dust behind him. A smaller sign a hundred yards down the road said “Dead-End.” George sat up and took notice.
“Geoffrey where are you going? This is a dead-end.” But Geoffrey didn’t answer. Behind them now were two cruisers, engines and sirens screaming. Half a mile ahead was a big machine with lights and conveyor belts. A dump truck had backed up to it and was ready to load sand and rock into a large hopper in the morning.
Geoffrey blew past the dump truck and drove up the first side road he came to. They went uphill around a giant mound of gravel and came out to a clearing, maybe a quarter-mile wide and half a mile long. It was surrounded on two sides by the woods, one side by the gravel mound and then a lake – at the bottom of a thousand foot drop off!
The sheriff’s cars hadn’t come up here yet. They probably knew that the only way out was the way they had come in. Geoffrey pulled up in the middle of the clearing with the hood pointed toward the road and turned off the car. They sat in the dark. He looked at himself in the mirror, his hair was no longer combed neatly and parted in the middle. His eyes were red and puffy and wild looking like George’s. Two hectic red spots rode high on his cheeks, and he could feel his heart pounding in his throat. George realized that he was gasping for breath. He was horrified at what his brother had done, at the situation they were in, at the loss of his mother, but most of all at himself.
“Now look what you’ve done!” George said angrily. “How are we supposed to get out of here? They are so going to come and take…you…away!”
“Well George,” Geoffrey said calmly, as realization hit. “If they get me at least they’ll get you too.”
“What do you mean, get me? They can’t prove I did anything. I can sneak away now and no one will ever know I existed. Mama never let me leave the house, you know that.”
“I know it George, that’s why I have to drive everywhere. You never learned how.”
“That’s right so you just better be careful of what you’re doing before…”
“Before what George? Before you do to me what you did to Mama?” George scoffed at that, but Geoffrey saw a flash of uncertainty in his eyes. “If you hurt me, you only hurt yourself. You’re nothing but a murderer George, and that’s bad.” Geoffrey said, suddenly tired. “I will never get away from you. If I got to jail you’re going too aren’t you?”
“That’s right buddy boy, I’ll be sitting on the cot right next to you.” George replied with a nasty sneer. Geoffrey nodded, his mind made up. He looked in the rear view mirror and saw that flicker of uncertainty in George’s eyes again. He was going to get the upper hand for once. One time in his life (the one that mattered apparently) he was going to be the one making the decisions.
The deputy’s cars slowly came up the road. They had silenced their alarms, and now cautiously but relentlessly rolled forward. When they saw Geoffrey sitting in the middle of the clearing they came to a stop. Deputy Paul Deacon was in the lead. He opened his cruiser door and stepped out, bringing a bullhorn with him. Another deputy and a passenger got out of the second car. As the deputy lifted the bullhorn to speak, Geoffrey checked the mirror to make sure George hadn’t run off on him again, but his brother was still there.
“Do it. Do it Geoffrey!” George goaded. “Run him down!”
Outside the deputy stepped forward and spoke into the bullhorn. He craned his neck this way and that, trying to see into the LeSabre.
“Boys, come on out of the car now. Open the door slowly and step out of there.” The loudspeaker crackled.
“He can’t see you.” Geoffrey said to George, no longer surprised. The only response was more laughter.
Meanwhile the deputy continued talking, but Geoffrey had heard enough. He turned the key in the ignition. George reached over and pushed Geoffrey’s knee one more time, making the engine roar. The deputy dropped his bullhorn and scrambled back to his car, nearly tripping into the dust as he went. George bellowed his glee.
“Ready George?” Geoffrey asked calmly.
“Ready? I was born ready! Do it. Do iiiit!” George was practically salivating.
George put the car in gear, keeping his left foot on the brake. He put his right foot on the gas pedal, slowly increasing the pressure until the car was leaping against the brake like a crazed animal. He looked into the rear view mirror one last time, and as he met George’s eyes his crazy brother finally understood what he intended to do.
“No! Not that! If you kill yourself you’ll kill me too! No way you little pissant baby stupid!” It was the worst thing George could think of to call him.
Geoffrey didn’t respond. When the pedal had reached the floor Geoffrey released the brake and the car shot backward. George screamed, raging against the prison he now found himself in. Unable to escape he screamed and cried and clawed against the iron hold that Geoffrey had on him. The car picked up speed as it approached the halfway mark to the edge of the cliff.
As it the passenger from the second cruiser ran forward. Dressed in chino’s and a white lab coat, his tie flapping in his face, the man ran toward Geoffrey yelling.
“No don’t do it! Come back! Nooo…aaahhh!” The car went over the cliff with a roar and then it was gone. The man fell to his knees in the dust. The deputy came and yanked him up by the arm.
“I didn’t see the second guy doc.” Paul Deacon looked past him to the cliff.
“There was no second guy deputy,” the doctor replied, pulling his arm away. “Geoffrey George Addison was a classic case of Dissociative identity disorder.”
“In English doc, if you don’t mind.”
“Split personality. Geoffrey and his “brother” George lived inside his head.”
“I guess they died inside there too.” The deputy said. The doctor looked back angrily as the deputy walked away, talking into his radio.
Geoffrey sailed backward, looking at the stars as he gently floated down. It was…blissfully quiet. George had finally been silenced, once and for all. Geoffrey smiled and looked to heaven as everything went dark.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The End ~ ~ ~ ~ ~